DISCLAIMER: This is a continuation of the New Path I and II series. It probably would be a good idea to read those first for a better understanding of what is going on.
As always, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org I respond to all email.
"We can't hold her any longer unless you agree to press charges," the Sheriff informed the women. Taylor looked over at Sarah to see her reaction, but the young woman's face remained passive. 'I guess it's up to me to make this decision,' she thought.
"It it's any consolation, she's been very cooperative since she sobered up. Some of her friends came in to see about bailing her out already."
Taylor thought sadly, "Yes, they would rally around her. They always have.' Which was probably why she had never gotten the help she needed.
"You did a nice job on her nose, Doc. You gave her something to think twice about. I don't believe she will be bothering you anymore."
Taylor nodded but deep down she wished she could believe that.
"Well, what do you want to do?"
Sarah looked over at Taylor, her eye was still half swollen and bruises stood out vividly on her neck. In her anger she wanted Brice to pay for what she had done but at what cost? What would going public do for Taylor's career in this small town? Everything would come out in court. Sadly she thought that Joe's selling drugs and beating her would be accepted easier than their relationship would ever be. Looking closer at Taylor she realized the turmoil that her friend was going through. No matter how either of them felt at this moment, they both knew that this case would not be taken seriously. Leaning over, she touched Taylor's arm and simply replied, "It will be o.k."
Taylor looked back confused for a moment and then nodded at the trusting eyes, "Are you sure?"
Sarah nodded in reply and stood up pulling Taylor with her. She waited until the tall woman addressed the officer.
"I don't think we will be filing any charges, just make sure she understands to stay away from us," Taylor told the sheriff. She hoped they weren't making a big mistake. She could loose more than her job if Brice was intent on revenge.
"I don't think you'll have anything to worry about," the sheriff replied pleased that he wouldn't have to fill out the mountain of paperwork required for a simple 'chick fight'. After all, it was just these two women, no big deal. 'What a waste, that little blonde was kind of cute,' he thought closing the filing and putting it away.
They left the building walking toward Taylor's car and Sarah looked back toward the rear log. She saw Brice come out of the building to be greeted by her friends like visiting royalty.
"Look at that!" Sarah exclaimed, "It sure didn't take him long to let her go."
Taylor looked over as Brice got into the waiting car and replied, "Let's just get out of here." Taylor needed to take her mind off the events of the past week and decided to take Sarah to her favorite restaurant, the place where she was first captivated by those green eyes.
Sitting in the sun, enjoying their drinks Sarah commented, "This place seems familiar, do you come here often?"
Taylor smiled and replied, "not since the day I saw you here."
"I've never been here, at least not that I remember," Sarah looked around puzzled by Taylor's statement.
"Well, you weren't exactly here," the raven-haired woman replied. "You were sitting in a car over in that parking lot." Taylor pointed to the warehouse next door before lightly resting her hand on top of Sarah's.
Sarah thought hard for a moment and looked back at Taylor, her jaw agape. Taylor laughed as Sarah blurted out, "White shirt and jeans." Taylor nodded her head surprised at Sarah's recall.
"That was you?'
Sarah shook her head at the memory and replied, "I just remember how relaxed and peaceful you looked and wished I were you." Her voice trailed off at the unpleasant memories that followed that train of thought.
"Hey, I'm sorry. I didn't mean for you to be sad," Taylor replied concerned and gently caressed the hand under hers.
Sarah half-smile in an effort to shake the cold that had drifted through her senses. Taylor stood up hastily, throwing a few bills on the table, and turned to Sarah.
"Come on. I know somewhere I want to take you. It's my special place that I found when I first moved here."
They drove up the coast past the edge of town where the brush took over and civilization seemed to have ended. Pulling off on a side road that was barely passable by car, Taylor kept driving until the road ended and the beach began. Taylor got out and removed a blanket from the trunk before taking Sarah by the hand and leading her down to the beach.
"It's beautiful, how did you ever find this place?' Looking up and down the beach, Sarah couldn't see any sign that anyone but them had ever been there.
"Too much time on my hands so I went exploring for a quiet place of my own," Taylor replied and stopped to spread the blanket. Sitting down, she patted the spot next to her for Sarah to sit. They sat side by side, shoulders touching as they soaked up the peace and serenity of their private cove.
"Are you worried about Brice?" Sarah asked quietly. She had been thinking about her decision all afternoon and whether she should have interfered with what was basically Taylor's decision.
"Kind of," Taylor replied turning to face Sarah, "Do me a favor?"
"Be careful for awhile and don't go anywhere alone?"
Sarah looked up into concerned eyes and understood the depth of Taylor's fears as they mirrored her own.
"As long as you promise me the same! I don't know that I would do if something were to happen to you," Sarah admitted as she looked out over the water.
Taylor reached over and gently tugged her chin back toward her. "Same here!" You're a part of me in here," she replied lightly touching her own chest. Eyes locked in silent understanding as hearts skipped a beat in time.
"I've never wanted anything more in my life then I want you," Taylor murmured. Sarah leaned closer until Taylor could feel the woman's breath on her face and the gentle head when she asked, "Love to me." As the afternoon gently slipped away, they strengthened their bond both emotionally and physically.
Sarah shivered slightly and Taylor moved to get her shirt.
"No, don't move," the young woman moaned. Taylor tucked the smaller body under hers, wrapping her arms firmly around her lover as she looked down into sated eyes.
"Are you o.k."
"If I was anymore O.K., I'd have to be dead!" Sarah teased reaching up to lightly nip the bruised lips above her.
"Do you have any idea just how much I love you?"
"I think I have a pretty good idea," Taylor grinned placing light kisses along Sarah's jawline until she reached her favorite spot high on the woman's neck. She began to lavish the attention it deserved until she felt the woman's breathing catch.
"If we keep this up, I'm not going to be able to walk," Sarah whispered huskily into Taylor's ear. Taylor stopped and leaned up on her elbows to look down at her lover. Sensing disappointment she saw the smile turn to a frown.
"What?" Taylor asked, momentarily scared.
"I didn't say I wanted you to stop. I was just warning you that I may be not be able to walk afterwards!" she grinned mischievously.
Taylor leaned down to capture Sarah's lips in response and didn't stop until both women were breathless and only then, did she give way to Sarah's gentle explorations.
The evening chill eventually chased them back to the car and home. The evening was no where near ending for the two women as twilight found them still locked in one another's embrace.
Sarah awoke to a familiar weight pressed against her back and instantly smiled. Never in her entire life had she felt so whole and happy. She knew instantly that no matter what, this was a love worth everything, and she would fight heaven and earth to keep it. Little did she know then, the reality of this promise.
The next few weeks flew by in a blur of togetherness as they moved forward in their relationship. Sarah couldn’t wait to get home from classes to cook for Taylor, and the doctor rarely seemed to have to work late these days. Memories of Brice had slipped to the background and both women had relaxed their vigil hoping she was gone for good. Friday was the last day of classes for Sarah and she was looking forward to a little more free time to spend with Taylor. They had even talked about going to the Keys for a long weekend. Sarah was late getting out of her last exam and hurried across the semi-deserted parking lot to her car. Her mind a while of activity planning their upcoming trip. She never saw the car that was parked next to her’s nor the occupants that waited for her. As she fumbled to unlock the door, she was shoved roughly from behind and dropped the load of books she was balancing.
“Well, well! Look who we have here, “ Brice called out as Sarah spun around from her attackers only to be pushed backward against the car again. Sandwiched between two women she watched as Brice exited the other car and walked over.
She took her time walking over and looked down at Sarah smugly, “Well, you are a cute little thing aren’t you. I can see what Taylor sees in you. The woman reached over and touched Sarah’s hair causing the younger woman to flinch in response.
“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you unless you give me reason to, “ Brice replied with a smile that said otherwise. “I understand now why she left me without so much as a drop dead. It was because of you.”
“No, we met after she moved here,” Sarah replied nervously. Her trembling turned to anger at the smug look that her fear brought to Brice’s face.
“Then why won’t she talk to me?”
“Because you hurt her,” Sarah replied defiantly as she pulled in vain to free her arms from her captors' grip. Brice’s face stiffed and she leaned closer to the shorter woman.
“I hurt her! She broke my nose!”
“You attacked her!”
“She wouldn’t talk to me, she just shut me out completely,” Brice replied angrily and began to pace back and forth. ‘Unstable’ was the first word that popped into Sarah’s head but she ignored the working and pushed dangerously.
“Oh, so that’s an excuse to choke her!”
Brice’s steps hesitated, as she looked back at Sarah surprised. “She made me do it!”
“No one makes you hurt someone else!”
“No! She knows how I am. She should have provoked me! It was her fault!” Brice was adamant about that. Sarah snorted, her anger overriding her senses and she snapped.
“Grow up and stop blaming Taylor for all your problems. It’s not her fault that you are nothing more than a bully!”
Sarah’s head snapped backward into the car from the force of the blow. Her eyes swam for a moment as hands held her standing.
“You’re just like her! You think you are better than the rest of us!”
When Sarah’s eyes refocused, her left eye still watering from the pain, she found Brice standing in her face. The woman leaned close enough for Sarah to smell her fetid breath causing her to recoil.
Brice smiled at the response and said, “Tell Taylor this isn’t over, either she talks to me or I go after everything that means anything to her! You got that?”
Sarah looked Brice in the eye without responding afraid to make a move either way for fear the woman would go off on her. Brice turned back toward the car and the arms that held her dropped. Sagging against her car door she watched as the women pulled away. Shaking hands collected her books; she quickly got into her car and locked the door behind her. Leaning back against the seat she willed her heart to stop pounding. When her breath finally evened out, she looked in the rearview mirror to find her cheekbone below her eye was red. She knew she would have a bruise there by tomorrow.
“Terrific!” she muttered starting the engine. On the drive home, she debated what to tell Taylor. She knew the woman’s response would not be a good one and she was afraid the doctor would get hurt. But, this wasn’t going to go away either and it looked like their safe heaven was about to change. By the time Sarah reached the house her eye had stopped stinging but was still tender and puffy. Taylor’s car was already in the driveway and with a sigh Sarah collected her books and walked slowly toward the house.
“Hey! Where have you been?” Taylor called out from the living room.
“At school finishing up my finals,” Sarah called back and remained in the kitchen nervous. Hearing approaching footsteps she wrenched open the refrigerator door and stuck her head inside in an effort to hide her face.
“I thought we’d go out for dinner,” Taylor replied from just on the other side of the metal door.
“Oh, o.k.” Sarah remained where she was trying to figure out what to do next.
“Are you looking for something special or trying to cool off?” Sarah felt Taylor’s arms wrap around her from behind and she instinctively leaned back into the strong body behind her, sighing at the welcome contact.
“What’s wrong?” Taylor’s concerned voice whispered warmly in her ear as her arm moved around to close the metal door. Sarah didn’t move or reply as she felt a tear slip down her cheek, at the thought of the possibility of loosing all this, a sob escape from deep within.
“Sarah!” Taylor gently turned the woman around and saw her face for the first time.
“Oh God, what happened?” She searched Sarah’s eyes hoping it wasn’t what she had feared but as the tears came harder she knew and pulled the smaller woman to her in a fierce hug.
“I’m so sorry,” Taylor whispered over and over as Sarah clung to her.
“It’s o.k. It’s not your fault!” Sarah pulled back to look up at her lover. “You can’t take the blame for her anymore!”
“But, if I had done what I should have with the sheriff, she never would have been free to do this to you!”
“It was just as much my fault for that too.”
“No, it was my responsibility!” Taylor moved away to grab a kitchen towel and opened the freezer. Retrieving ice and wrapping it in the towel she took Sarah by the hand and led her to the living room sofa. Gently she held the ice to the swollen face and smoothed back the hair from her lover’s brow. Sarah saw the clench of her jaw and grasped Taylor’s hand bringing it to her lips.
“Let’s not do anything rash, O.K.” she murmured against the smooth flesh.
“She has to be stopped,” Taylor replied flatly.
“Let’s just wait awhile longer, maybe she’ll get bored and move on.”
“I can’t just let her do this to you and walk away!” Taylor lightly outlined the bruising eye with a shaking hand before quiltily looking away.
“No! Don’t you dare take this on your shoulders too!” Sarah pulled Taylor’s attention back to her in an attempt to make her understand. “You are not responsible for her actions, anymore than I was for Jose’s!”
Seeing a glimmer of truth in the statement, Taylor reluctantly nodded and kissed the hand that caressed her cheek.
“We do this together, right?” Sarah asked sliding closer and putting her arms around her lover’s body.
“Together,” Taylor agreed and drew Sarah into a kiss.
The next day they went to the Sheriff’s office to file out a complaint against Brice. The deputy wasn’t thrilled with them ‘causing extra work over a chick fight’ but the women ignored his attitude and didn’t leave until they had a restraining order against the women.
Over the next two months, the two women stayed close to the house and Sarah never went out alone for fear of running into one of Brice's friends. A week after the incident, the Sheriff's department had called to inform them that Brice had been picked up on a drunk and disorderly charge and, that her arraignment for the assault had ended up with a trial date. Taylor had made arrangements at the clinic to be off for the rest of the week, in anticipation of the outcome of the trial. The day was sunny and warm but neither woman noticed as they drove in relative silence to the courthouse. Today's proceeding would change a lot of things and neither knew if they were actually prepared for this outcome. They had talked long into the night and knew that no matter what, as long as they were together, they would survive whatever happened today. Sarah was to testify first and told what had happened during the two altercations with Brice. She hadn't been asked for any details to their relationship and Sarah left the stand feeling worried for Taylor. The courtroom was half-full as she watched Taylor take the stand. Taylor's testimony did not go as smoothly and Sarah's heart ached for what her friend was going through. The defense attorney did not leave any stone unturned, as he described the doctors past relationship with Brice, and then Taylor's abrupt disappearance and the effect it had on his client's emotional state. The defense did its job and focused sympathy toward Brice and the final result was that she was to enter a rehabilitation center for a period of 6 months. Taylor and Sarah tried to be hopeful as they left the courtroom. Maybe with help Brice could change her life, only time would tell.
Taylor returned to work encouraged by the attitude of the clinic, either they hadn't heard of the problem and those that did we're sympathetic for the couple. No one seemed to have a problem with their relationship and Taylor was relieved that they would not have to move.
"We can't hide forever, what do you say we go out tonight? Taylor asked over the telephone.
Sarah propped her feet on the deck rail and cradled the phone on her shoulder, "Mmm where?"
"We could try that new place down on US1, they have live music and I hear the food isn't bad either, " Taylor suggested.
"I'll be home around 6 PM. I'll make reservations for 7:30."
"Sounds good, " Sarah replied laying her head against the lounge chair and looking out over the water.
"You sound way too relaxed. I wish I were with you," Taylor said softly into the telephone.
"I am and so do I."
"Well, maybe we will have to see about that trip down to the Keys. How does this weekend sound?"
"I can't wait!"
"Me either, I'll see you soon," Taylor replied hanging up and wishing she had told Sarah that she loved her. Public displays of emotion came hard for her, after years of hiding; it was still the one thing she hadn't been able to change totally about herself.
Sarah closed the telephone as a smile broke across her face as she anticipated the evening ahead.
The club overlooked the ocean but the ambiance stopped there. It was nothing more than a glorified cowboy bar and Taylor sighed hoping the food was worth the trip. The club was crowded and they waited almost an hour past their reservation for an open table. The table was worth the wait as they sat overlooking the water as evening drew near. The food turned out to be surprisingly good even if the atmosphere was noisy and lacking. There bar was located near the exit and you had to pass by it coming and going. Mostly men typical of country bars crowded the entire length of the bar. Finishing their meal they settled back with a couple of drinks and waited for the band to begin. The music turned out to be very country and after about fifteen minutes, both women were making faces at one another and decided to go home. Signaling their waiter, Taylor mouthed that she wanted their check. He finally arrived but instead of brining the check he put a drink down in front of Sarah.
"I didn't order this," she replied to him and looking confused at Taylor.
"The gentleman at the bar sent it over, " he informed her.
"Could you take it back and tell him 'no thank you', and then bring us our check?"
"You don't want to accept the drink?" he asked uncertainly.
"No, tell him I appreciate the offer but, we are ready to leave," Sarah replied firmly.
Taylor sat watching the exchange and casually glanced at the man in questions. He looked like a John Wayne wanna-be. All he really needed was his had to complete the look. 'This is not good,' she thought slightly worried. He looked like he was a regular here and she was beginning to feel uncomfortable with the looks he was sending over their way.
The waiter soon returned but, again, with no checks. This time he placed two drinks down on the table and embarrassed said, "The gentleman said he was sorry, he didn't mean to leave you out."
Taylor shook her head and replied, "No, just the check please!"
The waiter looked mortified and took the drinks back over to the bar. After another ten minutes had passed, Taylor decided to go get the check herself and stop off at the ladies room. She finally caught up with the waiter and paid him as soon as he totaled their bill and headed down the back hall to where the restrooms were located.
Feeling uncomfortable waiting for Taylor alone amidst the stares of the men from the bar, Sarah grabbed her bag and headed toward the back where the restrooms were located. She had to pass the cowboy and his friends at the bard and tried not to make eye contact with any of them. Holding her breath she thought she was safely past them when a hand reached out to pull her in the corner where they stood.
"I was hoping that your friend would leave," he remarked and held out a drink to her.
"Excuse me but, she's waiting for me and I'm leaving."
"Want to dance?" he asked ignoring her comment totally.
"No, thanks." Sarah moved to walk around the man but he stepped over and persisted, "Why not?"
"Because I don't dance and I'm here with my friend."
"I could get one of my friends to keep her company and then you and I can get better acquainted." The cowboy leaned in closely and Sarah could smell the beer on his breath and turned away.
"I don't think so." She took another step away and tried to move around him but found that she was blocked in by the rest of his friends.
"What's the matter you too good for me?" he asked amidst chuckles from his friends.
"No, I'm just not interested. I'd like to leave if you'll excuse me."
"Come on just one dance, you might like it," he persisted and tugged on her arm.
Sarah roughly pulled her arm out of his reach and looked at the man, "I really don't think I'd be good company for you. I'm sure there are plenty of women here who would be charmed by your offer."
In a flash his hand shot out and grasped her arm tightly. "You too good to dance with me?"
"No, I'm just not interested in you at all. I'm here with someone!" Sarah had tried to keep her voice calm and not say anything that would cause any trouble but, by now, she was getting angry. By the look on his face, he finally got the message and pulled back. His friends were outright laughing at the turn of the conversation. His hand went back to her arm and tightened painfully as his face reddened.
"You're with her!"
"Yes!" Sarah replied shortly and tried to pull her arm loose.
"You are one of them?"
Sarah didn't answer him but continued to fight to free her arm. He jerked it painfully and drew her closer to him.
"Maybe you just haven't met the right man."
Sarah's anger spiked recklessly and she retorted, "I don't think there is one!"
The men around her burst out into laughter as her remark hit home to their friend. His red faced darkened and he shoved her back against the bar. Sarah struggled to break free and looked around for help but the other patrons were more into watching the show then trying to stop it.
"I said let me go!" Sara shouted over the noise of the bar and finally someone hollered out, 'Let her go Jim. She's not your type!' causing renewed peals of laughter and crude comments.
"No, she just needs a man to show her what' what!" he laughed back, his eyes glinting dangerously.
Sarah wrenched her hand free as anger took over all reasoning and she bit off, "Do you know where I can find one?"
"That's another one for the lady!" someone shouted out as the group continued to egg on their friend's embarrassment.
"She ain't no lady!"
"I'm more lady than you'll ever have!"
"You got a smart mouth, maybe I should teach you a lesson."
His body contorted in rage as his hand reached out, and Sarah felt a familiar explosion send her head backwards. However, this time, she didn't just take it. She fought back! She was no match for him as he repeatedly slapped her and finally she just took a defensive pose and tried to take cover. No one seemed to be making a move to stop him until Sarah saw a flash out of the corner of her eye and the slapping stopped. The cowboy was slammed against the bar next to where Sarah cowered and winded dropped to his knees with a loud thud. Those around them quickly quieted as Taylor stood looking down at the man. If looks could kill, his life would have been forfeited that day. Cold blue eyes matched the icy voice that said; "Don't you ever touch her again!"
She had left the ladies room to hear the joking and her heart almost stopped when she saw that Sarah was in the middle of the growing circle. With the first slap, something had snapped in Taylor and all she knew was that she would do what ever it took to stop him. She stood looking down at him as he gasped trying to get to his feet. Taylor stood intent to land another blow to this pig as Sarah put a trembling touch on the woman's arm, breaking her concentration. Turning to Sarah, her face softened and she pulled her lover away from the bar.
"Are you O.K." she asked scared of the blood that was on her lover's face. She was a doctor and had seen her share of blood but it never prepared her for seeing it on Sarah. Putting an arm around the trembling woman she held her up and looked back angrily at the rest of the silent crowd.
"And you all are pitiful excuses for human beings. How could you just stand there?"
No one wanted to make eye contact with either of them as they moved past them to the exit. The manager of the club caught up with them Taylor helped Sarah to the car.
"What happened?" he asked looking at Sarah.
"Ask your guests back there!" Taylor snapped sarcastically.
"I was in the backroom until someone came and told me there was a problem out front. Is she o.k."
"No, she just got the crap knocked out of her by one of those rednecks in there!" Taylor answered through clenched teeth and she tried to rein in her anger.
"Which one?" he asked seriously.
"Blond, plaid shirt at the end of the bar," she replied unlocking the car door. "But, what does it matter it might as well be all of them. Not one of them tried to stop him!"
"Is there anything I can do to help? Do you want me to call the sheriff?"
"No, we will be fine!" Taylor sighed, her anger quickly deflating to sadness. They had been through so much in their brief time together. Why couldn't people just leave them alone!
"If you're sure then, I'll take care of this myself." He held the car door opened as Taylor helped Sarah into the seat and closed the door as Taylor walked around to the other side.
Taylor shook her head sadly, "What are you going to do throw the whole bar out?" He looked at her unsure of how to respond. Taylor closed her door and started the car, pulling away without any further comment. She drove a couple of blocks until they reached the beach road and she pulled the car over. Taylor leaned over as far as the bucket seats would allow and pulled Sarah into her arms.
Sarah needed to feel a connection with Taylor at that moment as memories of Jose ravaged her mind and she let everything out and sobbed out of control. All she could see was that familiar hand that came down upon her again and again until it was just a blur of pain and darkness.
Taylor felt the stinging tears that flooded her eyes as she helplessly rocked her lover in her arms.
"I've got you, your safe now," Taylor soothed and kissed the blonde head beneath her cheek. Guilt crept in a she silently cried, 'How can I protect you, when it comes from every direction at once? Why can't everyone just leave us alone!'
They sat like this for a long time until the sobs had long ago quieted and Taylor pulled back to assess her friend's injuries.
"I got blood on your shirt," Sarah responded wiping at the smear of red that ran down the front of the woman's T-shirt.
"I don't care about the shirt," Taylor replied trying to wipe the rest of the blood and tears from Sarah's face.
"I only care about you! I'm sorry I wasn’t there for you when you needed me."
Sarah shook her head and placed a hand up to Taylor's mouth to silence her. "If it weren't for you, I never would have gotten out of there. Again, you've rescued me," she answered quietly. Leaning over she claimed the mouth her fingers touched in a silent need that went beyond their understanding that night. But, neither questioned its source as they gave of themselves to calm the tide that threatened to wash over them.
Later that evening entwined as one Taylor lay with Sarah and listed to the gentle breathing of her lover and friend. She would have a black eye and a sore nose but, luckily, nothing worse. Taylor's thoughts would give her no rest this night as she contemplated the turn of her life. If someone had asked her six months ago if she would feel like this, she would have said never. She did not expect to ever feel the depths that she did with this woman who was so different from what she thought she wanted, and different from everything that she had pictured her life would hold. Maybe, that's why her life had always been incomplete, her mind looked one way and her heart another. 'What we think we want is not necessarily what we need,' she thought and pulled Sarah closer, thankful that her heart had triumphed in this battle.
Taylor sat up in bed quickly in the morning light to find Sarah attempting to get out of bed.
“Where are you going?”
“To the bathroom, if I can make it!” Sarah whispered back, her head feeling like it wanted to explode.
“Wait, let me help you,” Taylor replied jumping over the edge of the bed to give Sarah some support.
“My head feels like a well-worn soccer ball!”
“Yeah, were a matched set now,” Taylor joked. Sarah let Taylor lead her as far as the bathroom door and then pushed her away.
“I think I can do this on my own. Why don’t you go make some coffee and I’ll be there in a minute.”
“You sure your o.k.?” Taylor hovered hesitantly and Sarah nodded slowly in response.
“Leave the door open so I can hear you,” Taylor instructed and turned toward the kitchen.
“Excuse me?” Sarah asked sticking her head out the doorway amused.
“You know what I mean!” Taylor wagged a finger at her smiling and went into the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee. Looking over the assortment, she selected one, “Sweet Dreams it is”.
As the coffee brewed Taylor looked into the refrigerator to see what was available to eat. The cupboard was pretty bare and she groaned. They were going to have to go shopping today.
“What’s the matter?” Sarah asked as she made her way into the kitchen, her eyes squinting in the bright morning sunshine.
“Your eyes sensitive to the light?” Taylor asked concerned and lifted Sarah’s chin to look at the woman’s pupils. They seemed fine and Sarah looked up at her tolerantly amused.
“No more than normal when I wake up and get hit full in the face with blinding light,” she answered chuckling.
“Ha, Ha,” Taylor replied and went back to her inventory of the refrigerator.
“Can’t you find what you want or are you waiting for something to just jump out at you?”
Taylor stuck her tongue out at the blonde and opened the door wider for her to take a look inside.
“Oh, I see.”
“Guess we’ve been kinda busy. Move out of the way and I’ll make a list so we can go shopping,” Sarah replied and nudged the taller woman aside.
Taylor relinquished her hold on the metal door and poured them both a cup of coffee and hopped up on the counter to watch the woman in action.
Reading her completed list to Taylor she looked up and asked, “Anything else you can think of?”
“Not off hand.”
“Well, then what are you waiting for? Let’s get ready and go shopping.”
“Ugh! Do we have to go now?” Taylor whined not wanting to move from her perch.
“Better now than later when it will be really crowded,” Sarah warned. She knew how much Taylor hated going shopping. “I could go myself if you really don’t want to go.”
“No way, and miss an opportunity to spend some time with my favorite lady!” Taylor hopped down off the cabinet and pulled Sarah gently into her arms.
“You feel up to this? I could just go with your list.”
“No, I feel fine. I wouldn’t dare send you alone. Lord only knows what you would come home with!” Sarah retorted and kissed her lover on the tip of her nose.
“Hey, I resemble that remark!” Taylor complained.
Sarah laughed and tugged Taylor towards the bedroom to get dressed.
Taylor pushed the cart up and down the aisles and Sarah loaded it up with items on her list. Sarah was surprised at how well Taylor was behaving in the crowded store. She usually would have started fidgeting and mumbling by now. She looked up at her lover’s profile and saw a mask of complacent boredom.
“Hey, what about some ice cream?” Sarah tempted and was instantly rewarded with a big smile from the doctor. “Chocolate this time?”
“Sure,” Sarah replied and had to jog to keep up with Taylor as she headed for the freezer section.
“Hey, wait up!”
Driving home with the top down and the sun warming their bodies, Taylor had an idea. “Hey, how about we unload all this stuff and grab a few things and head down to our cove?”
“Oh, yes..Let’s do it.”
Taylor unloaded the groceries and put them away as Sarah packed them a picnic basket.
“Yep, all set,” Sarah replied and handed Taylor the basket.
They arrived at their cove to find it basically the same as they left it, still no sign of any human disturbance. Taylor spread their blanket and set the picnic basket within arms reach and the two women settled down next to each other. The sun felt good on Sarah’s sore bones, she smiled when Taylor’s hand slid over to grasp hers and squeezed it in reply. Taylor rolled over onto her side and studied Sarah’s profile. Sarah felt a familiar sensation and opened her eyes to find Taylor watching her.
“What?” she asked softly.
“Just marveling at where I am in life right now,” Taylor answered thoughtfully.
“Is it a good or bad place?”
Taylor frowned and answered, “Definitely good! Just different then I expected.”
“How so?” Sarah rolled over to face her lover and moved in closer so that they almost touched.
Taylor moved a strand of hair from Sarah’s face and rubbed her hand along the smooth cheek before beginning.
“I just never expected to fall in love with someone so different from anything I have ever known.”
“You’ve seen Brice. Outside of the abusive nature, I’ve always been attracted to her type, physically. But, then you came along and turned my world around, “ Taylor answered and kissed Sarah lightly on the lips.
“So, you weren’t into uncoordinated blondes,” Sarah teased.
“Never before now.” Taylor pulled Sarah into her embrace and kissed her soundly. “I prefer them now,” she replied huskily.
“That’s a good thing for me,” Sarah answered, “any regrets?”
“Not one. I’m just glad that I saw past my brain to my heart before it was too late. I was looking in the wrong place all this time.”
Sarah pushed Taylor backward onto the blanket and looked
down at her lover murmured, “Good answer,” and began to place gentle kisses
along the woman’s jaw and neckline.
“Umm, definitely prefer them,” Taylor whispered as Sarah moved to capture the woman’s lips with her own. Their tongues danced in a journey of passion and rediscovery. Sarah made a trail of kisses across Taylor’s body removing any clothing barriers that hampered her path. Taylor was more than obliging as long as Sarah gave up a piece of her own in return. The pounding of the surf matched the rhythm of their bodies as they took their passion one step higher.
Taylor ran her hand down the length of Sarah’s body as it lay on top of her. Sarah shifted in her sleep moaning.
“Hey wake up, honey,” Taylor gently shook Sarah’s body.
“Come on we need to get dressed. I think we’ve had just about as much sun as we can handle,” Taylor explained looking down at their slightly pink flesh. If she had slept any longer they both would have been in big trouble.
Taylor helped sort though their scattered clothes to find Sarah’s first and handed them to her. When both women were dressed they pulled over the picnic basket and feasted on what was inside.
Sarah finished cleaning up the kitchen and went into the living room to find Taylor building a nice cozy fire. Sarah settled on the end of the sofa and listened to the music Taylor had put on.
“What are you listening to?”
Taylor looked over her shoulder and answered, “Kenny G”.
“Umm,” Sarah murmured and listened to the smoky strains of an alto sax. Taylor stood up and brushed her hands off, smiling she turned up the volume and walked back to stand before Sarah.
“Dance with me,” she asked and held out a hand.
Sarah shook her head and tugged unsuccessfully on the outstretched hand.
“I don’t know how, remember I’m the uncoordinated one.”
Taylor grinned but remained standing and replied, “Come on. I’ll teach you, just following my body.”
Sarah reluctantly allowed herself to be pulled up off the sofa complaining, “But, I’ll step all over you.”
“I’ll risk it.”
Taylor stood close behind Sarah and put her hands on the smaller woman’s thighs and placed Sarah’s on top of her own. Taylor pulled Sarah back toward her until every part possible connected. Leaning down she whispered in Sarah’s ear, “Close your eyes.”
When the young woman did as she was instructed, Taylor began to move her hips to the sensual rhythm of the music.
“Do you feel the music?”
Sarah shook her head nervous of making the wrong move. Taylor whispering in her ear was having another effect all together.
“Relax, feel me, listen to the rhythm. Can you picture the ocean gently rolling in and out again? Forget about everything but us,” she whispered huskily and placed a kiss on Sarah’s neck. Feeling Sarah shiver, she smiled and continued her assault of words and movement.
Sarah gave into the sensations of Taylor’s body, moving slowly behind her and when she moved her hand to Sarah’s stomach; her breath caught and Sarah swayed to the music’s sensual tone.
Taylor kissed her way down Sarah’s neck to her collarbone and back up reaching her ear; she lightly lipped the edges of it as she dipped her knees to the music. Sarah stayed with her through a few more dips as the music neared its end. She turned Sarah in her arms pulling her close she placed Sarah’s hands on her hips, and Taylor put hers around the young woman’s neck pulling her in for a kiss.
“Wow!” Sarah’s eyes sparked as her chest heaved from the experience. She breathed into Taylor’s shoulder and then looked up again.
“Is it always that that?”
“No, sometimes it’s even better, “ Taylor grinned at the woman’s wonder.
“Well, let’s keep practicing then!” Sarah demanded as the Music began to play again. She pulled Taylor close and rested her head against her breast as they swayed to the music. ‘There’s definitely something to be said for jazz,’ she thought to herself smiling.
The women continued to dance as the fire burned and their own spark caught and they made love the glow of the fire’s warmth.
“That wasn’t really dancing was it?” Sarah asked sleepily, her head nestled back against the side of Taylor’s shoulder. Taylor arms were wrapped snugly around Sarah and she whispered in response, “Does it matter?”
“No, not one bit.”
“I’m home!” Taylor called out as she walked into the kitchen. Something smelled exceptionally good and she went to peek into the pots bubbling on the stove.
“Touch it and you're dead, baby!” Sarah growled from behind the snooping woman. Taylor threw her hands up innocently replying, “I’m just looking!”
“Where have I heard that before?” Sarah replied and slid her arms around her lover's waist.
“What is it?” Taylor turned to face Sarah and brushed a kiss across her lips.
“Spaghetti sauce,” Sarah replied going back for seconds on Taylor’s lips. Their romantic moment was cut short by a rumbling from Taylor’s stomach.
“Let me guess, you skipped lunch again,” Sarah scolded, looking up at the sheepish grin on Taylor’s face.
“We were busy!”
“I guess I’ll have to start packing your lunch from now on. It’s the only way I can make sure you will eat right.” Sarah dropped her arms and turned to the sink to fill up a pan with water.
“You’d actually do that for me?” Taylor asked surprised.
“Sure, why not?’
“I don’t know?” Taylor shrugged. “No one’s ever done it before, I guess.”
“Come on, you mean your mother never packed you a lunch for school?” Sarah asked handing Taylor the pot of water to put on to boil.
“No, she worked and usually left the house before I did.”
“What did you do for lunch?”
“She usually gave me money to buy it but, most of the time, I skipped it to save for something else,” Taylor explained.
“My mother didn’t work. She would pack us a lunch every day. I even had a little metal lunch pail with a thermos until it broke.”
“How’d that happen?”
“I was in the third grade and I hit some kid with it, after that she gave me only paper bags,” Sarah grinned embarrassed at the memory.
“You hit someone with your lunchbox?” Taylor pulled dishes out of the cupboard to set the table but wanted to hear the rest of the story first.
“He was always picking on me. Every time I would walk home he would always come around pushing me down, throwing rocks and stuff. One day I guess I had enough and when he came up to me, I nailed him with the box. He broke my thermos and dented the whole side of the lunchbox. After my mother punished me for fighting, she threw it away. I remember crying for days.” Sarah’s face saddened for a moment and then brightened mischievously, “Yeah, but ole’ Danny never bothered me again after that!”
Taylor began laughing at the sight her lover must have been at that age wielding her trusty lunch pail. The more she thought about it, the harder she laughed until tears ran down her face.
“It wasn’t that funny!” Sarah complained trying to keep a straight face but the harder Taylor laughed, the harder it was for Sarah to remain firm. She finally gave in and the two women laughed themselves silly.
“Mmmmm, this is excellent,” Taylor replied with a mouth full of pasta.
“Glad you approve, it’s my specialty.”
“I know I chose you for a reason,” Taylor replied with a twinkle in her eye.
“Oh, so your saying you keep me around for my cooking?”
“That and one other thing,” Taylor answered concentrating on twirling the long pasta on her fork.
“One other thing, huh?” Sarah asked blushing.
Taylor nodded and answered, “Yeah, I love your dancing.” Taylor pushed a huge forkful of spaghetti into her mouth and looked up at Sarah triumphantly.
“Oh, yeah!” Sarah stabbed her meatball and waved it at Taylor menacingly. Taylor chewed rapidly trying to warn Sarah but the object took that moment to grow wings and flew off the fork directly and smack directly against Taylor’s chest.
Sarah’s jaw dropped in surprise and then she began laughing as Taylor desperately tried to catch the offending object before it landed in her lap.
“I’m so sorry,” She choked between the giggles. “I didn’t mean to throw it honest!” She covered her mouth in an attempt to stifle the laughter that arose.
Taylor dumped the meatball back into her plate and looked from the mess on her shirt to the hand full of sauce that she held.
Sarah couldn’t contain herself at the look on Taylor’s face and doubled over as the tears filled her eyes. Taylor frowned as she looked down at her hand and then a grin reached her lips when she looked at the laughing woman.
“No! No! Come on Tay, it was an accident.!” Sarah cried and took off running. Taylor scrambled after her and caught her just inside the kitchen. Pinning her to the wall she proceeded to paint Sarah’s face with the saucy mess on her hand.
“Ewww! Stop! Sarah cried as Taylor wiped her hand across her chin in an effort to clean the last of the sauce on her palm. Holding the young woman’s hands over her head, Taylor looked down at her helpless lover.
“Laugh at me will ya!” she chuckled.
“Aw, come on Taylor let me go, this feels yucky!” Sarah begged.
“I don’t know?” Taylor replied, “Looks pretty good to me.”
“Yeah, it’s probably in my hair too!”
“Not yet!” Taylor warned and Sarah stopped struggling and looked up at her lover with the saddest eyes she could muster.
“Give it up, I know all your tricks!”
“I look good huh?” Sarah asked using her eyes to her fullest benefit.
“Yeah, good enough to eat,” Taylor replied tasting Sarah’s lips lightly before running a tongue along the woman’s jaw. Sarah’s legs went weak and she was thankful that Taylor was holding her against the wall. ‘Jeez, play with fire and you get burnt.’ Sarah moaned as Taylor worked her way towards her lips. ‘Burn, baby burn!’ she moaned as lips slipped across each other until both women were stained red.
Sarah watched Taylor silently looking out over the ocean. The woman had been sitting there for the better part of an hour. At first Sarah wasn’t concerned by her lover’s quiet reflection but it has been going on for two days now. She had given her space and hoped Taylor would come to her but it hadn’t happened. Sarah couldn’t watch any longer, sliding open the glass door she stepped out onto the deck and approached the silent figure. Placing her hands on her lover’s shoulders she leaned down and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Taylor placed her hands on top of Sarah’s and smiled that half smile she does when she’s concentrating on something.
“Just thinking,” she replied absently.
“It’s more than that, you’ve been quiet for two days.”
“Sorry,” Taylor apologized and pulled Sarah around to sit on her lap. Rubbing her hand absently up and down the blonde’s back she continued to look out over the water.
“If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s o.k. I just want you to know I’m here if you do.”
“I’m sorry. It’s not that I’m that I’m trying to keep a secret. It’s just work that’s bothering me,” Taylor explained.
“Ever since the trial, things have changed at the clinic.”
“Have you lost patients?”
“Just the opposite. Oh, I’ve lost some of the older ones but I’ve had to turn away new patients. It seems there are a log of young woman who would rather see me than any of the male doctors in town.”
“So, what’s the problem?” Sarah inquired brushing a lock of wind blown hair out of Taylor’s eyes.
“Dr. Hastin. I hear he’s been complaining that we are turning into a women’s practice.”
“He has a problem with that?”
Taylor grinned up at Sarah’s defensive attitude when it came to Taylor and tried to explain. “He’s lost some of h is old clients who don’t feel comfortable with me around,” she said wryly.
“Idiots!” Sarah muttered.
Taylor hugged her soulmate to her in silent thanks for her support.
“So what are you going to do?” Sarah hoped it didn’t involve moving. She liked their life just as it was but, she also knew that she would follow Taylor anywhere.
Taylor had thought about this question for awhile now and finally verbalized it, “What would you think If I opened a women’s center, a clinic strictly for women?”
Sarah looked down surprised for a moment but quickly warmed to the idea. “I think it would be great, especially if there is such a need,” she replied thoughtfully. “But, what about Hastin?”
“That’s where the problem lies. I don’t think he’ll be too thrilled. He would consider it competition.”
“But, you just said he was complaining of all the women coming in and loosing his old patient’s. Wouldn’t this alleviate his problem?” Sarah asked confused.
“In theory yes, but he’s a good ole’ boy who thinks that women have specific roles to play in life and that the men should stay in charge.”
“I know! It’s really getting tiresome,” Taylor replied.
“So are you going to do this?” Sarah asked curious of the gleam she saw in her lover’s blue eyes.
“Well, I passed by this building on my way home that I think would be perfect. Want to take a look at it with me tomorrow?” Taylor looked up, her eyes sparkling with excitement.
“You’re going to do it?” Sarah asked excitedly.
“I’m going to look into it,” Taylor corrected.
They spend the rest of the evening going over their finances and the start-up costs involved in opening a clinic. Sarah had one more semester left of school and decided that she could hold down a part-time job and finish at the same time. Taylor was hesitant but Sarah won out in the end.
“This would be perfect,” Taylor whispered to Sarah.
“It already has smaller offices that can be used as exam rooms. A little paint and carpeting and we’d have the building at least. Then all we’d need is equipment and patients.”
Taylor turned back to the owner of the building and said, “Well, thank you for showing us the space,” Taylor smiled shaking the owners hand.
“May I ask what purpose you need this space for?” the redhead woman asked curiously.
Taylor hesitated and then replied honestly, “A women’s clinic, I’m a physician.”
The owner’s eyes brightened and Sarah noticed her interested was piqued.
“So, what are you asking in terms of rent and move-in costs?” Sarah asked her.
“I could rent you the space for $1,000 a month and 1 month security.”
Sarah frowned at the price, “That’s a bit high for only 1,200 sq. ft.”
Taylor looked at Sarah surprised but contained her reaction and watched the young woman come alive.
“Well, what did you have in mind?” the woman asked. She liked the idea of a women’s clinic, they could sure use one in this town.
“We were looking for something around $600., same as security.” Sarah offered casually looking over the room once again.
“Oh my, that’s bit low. I could probably go down to $750., same security but, I’d need a six month advance in the rent.”
“Would you excuse us a moment to discuss this?” Sarah asked grabbing Taylor’s arm and leading her a short distance away.
“Well, what do you think?” she asked.
“I think your something else!” Taylor replied her eyes telling Sarah more than words ever could. Winking Sarah looked past Taylor’s shoulder to see the owner was busy looking over something near the front.
“I think your something else too!” Sarah whispered and trailed a bold finger down the front of the doctor’s blouse. Taylor’s sharp intake of breath was the desired effect and Sarah smiled mischievously.
“Your bad!” Taylor scolded softly and looked hesitantly over her shoulder to see if the woman was watching them but, when she saw she wasn’t, she turned back with a glint in her eye.
Sarah took a step back shaking her head and indicated that the other woman was watching and Taylor stopped in her tracks. The redhead was still not paying them the slightest attention but Sarah figured Taylor didn’t need to know that fact right now.
“It’s less than we budgeted for so that will give us more money for the equipment,” Sarah stated. Taylor had pulled together everything she had for this venture. If it failed all they would have left would be a big mortgage on the condo.
“I think this will do nicely,” Taylor smiled nervously.
Sarah grabbed her lover in a brief hug before dragging her to the owner to finalize the arrangements.
Keys in hand they headed back to the car and home to begin their search for equipment suppliers and furniture.
“When are you going to tell Dr. Hastin?” Sarah asked as the women relaxed on the back deck after dinner.
“Monday, I guess. No sense in putting it off,” Taylor sighed excited and scared at the same time. Sensing her companion’s fear Sarah reached over to grasp her hand and held it as they watched the day end together.
By he look on Taylor’s face as she entered the house, Sarah knew the news had not gone over well with Dr. Hastin.
“Depends your definition of bad. Does unemployed come in there somewhere?” she answered sadly.
Sarah put her arms around Taylor and held her close. “He fired you?” She had expected many reactions but this wasn’t one of them.
“Not in so many words. My contract’s been up for a few months and he’s chosen not to renew it as of today, is how he put it,” Taylor replied looking away.
“There’s more isn’t there?” Sarah nudged Taylor to get her attention back.
Taylor looked down and nodded. “Let’s just say I was extremely surprised at what an unpleasant man he can be.”
“What did he say?”
“Just that I was making a big mistake and that now one will go for the idea of “our type” of clinic in this town.”
“Our type?” Sarah inquired, her blood heating up at the ramifications of that phrase.
“He called it a ‘lesbian abortion clinic’ and didn’t appreciate the humor I saw in that title,” Taylor answered grinning.
“What a jerk! He did you a favor though,” Sarah replied.
“How’s that?” Taylor asked kissing Sarah lightly on the lips.
“You got a call today, the equipment is going to be delivered next Wednesday. Now you can be their first hand to set it all up.”
“Than I guess everything worked out for the best,” Taylor offered though still worried about Dr. Hastin’s behavior. She didn’t tell Sarah of the veiled threat she received and tried to put it from her mind and concentrate on the task ahead.
“We’ve got a clinic to open!” Taylor said firmly.
“Yes, we do!”
“What the hell happened here?” Sarah asked as they stepped over broken glass. The front window was smashed and a brick lay as a guilty reminder on the floor amidst the shards and splintered wood. Taylor checked out the rest of the building and found everything in order.
“Just kids probably, you know how they are with empty buildings,” Taylor offered in explanation and picked up her cell phone to call the owner.
Sarah looked at Taylor’s unsure if this was all there was to it but not seeing anything, she began sweeping up the glass. Getting off the phone, Taylor came over and picked up the brick, taking it outside to drop in the dumpster in back. Taylor looked around outside and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. She hadn’t told Sarah about the slashed tire and notes she had received.
Taylor’s heart skipped a beat and she hurried in to see what was the matter.
Sarah stood holding a crumpled piece of paper and looked more, angry than anything else.
“What?” she asked hesitantly.
“What haven’t you been telling me?” Sarah demanded.
Taylor took the paper and read the note, nothing different from the other ten she had received over the past week.
‘Last warning to forget about your new venture. We don’t need your kind in this town.’
Taylor folded the paper and placed it in her back pocket before looking back to Sarah.
“How long has this been going on?” she asked quietly.
“Awhile,” Taylor responded. “It’s no big deal,” she added instantly regretting it when Sarah went rigid and stared back at her furiously. She should have told her everything from the beginning but she just hadn’t wanted to worry the young woman. Taylor was hoping it would blow over.
“Did you just say ‘no big deal’?”
Taylor nodded keeping her face blank and waited for the fury to be unleashed and said, “I thought you would worry if I told you.”
“How dare you think for me! Do you think I’m some child that needs to be protected? Well, I’m not! I need a partner, not a mother!” Sarah vibrated with anger with she looked at her lover. It was more out of fear than anger that made her react so violently but she could help her emotions.
“I’m sorry. I know it was wrong of me,” Taylor pleaded trying to calm her lover.
“I thought we were equals. I don’t need a babysitter Taylor, I’m your partner,” Sarah snapped.
“I know, I was wrong. You are my partner, not my child.”
“How many things lately haven’t been accidents?” Sarah stood face-to-face with her contrite partner. “Let me guess, outside of the notes, there was the paint incident, your mysterious flat tire, and now this.”
Taylor nodded and hesitated, leaving out the dead rat in the mailbox.
Sarah noted Taylor’s thoughtful pause and threw up her hands; “There more isn’t there?”
“I just didn’t want you to have to worry.”
“Maybe this was a mistake,” Sarah said running her hand through her hair as she looked over the damage.
“What do you mean?” Taylor asked feeling fear creep into her body.
“All this!” Sarah threw her hands wide to encompass everything around her.
“You we were a mistake?” Taylor’s voice cracked.
“Don’t even go there!” Sarah warned.
“Then the clinic?”
“It’s just too dangerous,” Sarah nodded.
“We’ve got everything invested in it!” Taylor snapped.
“We could go somewhere else,” Sarah suggested stubbornly.
“It’s all I’ve got, I’m not running away again!”
“At what cost?” Sarah demanded.
“I’m through running,” Taylor said with finality and turned to get started with the last of the painting. Sarah stood watching her partner in disbelief.
“You would jeopardize everything for pride?”
Taylor turned, “You don’t understand. This has nothing to do with pride, you of all people should know that.”
“Then what do you call it?”
Taylor hesitated looking at Sarah with dark stormy eyes before turning back to her painting and flatly stated, “I though you knew me. I thought you understood. I guess I was wrong.”
Sarah felt her eyes burn and replied, “Yes, I guess we both we’re wrong!” She turned on her heels and ran out the door. Taylor stood staring at the wall silently berating herself for her actions. She could have handled this better. ‘I just can’t run anymore but, I can’t lose Sarah either,’ she cried to herself. Thinking about Sarah, she realized that she had the only keys to the car, and that meant Sarah was on foot. Feeling an instant of fear for some unknown reason she dropped her paintbrush to follow after the woman. Taylor only got as far as the front door when, she felt herself flying backwards into the building and a crushing weight hit her. Her last thoughts were of Sarah as the darkness came upon her.
The explosion rocked the block as neighbors and storeowners poured out of their buildings to see what had happened. Sarah was two blocks away when she felt and heard the blast. In an instant, she heard her name and felt a rush of fear, turning she began running back toward the clinic and Taylor.
The whole front of the building had collapsed and so had half of the wooden structure’s roof. Sarah tried to get in but was pulled back by an onlooker as another wall dropped to add to the rubble.
“Let me go, Taylor’s in there!”
“You mean someone is in there?” he asked.
“Yes, Dr. Morgan!”
“You wait right here. I promise you we’ll get her out!” he instructed.
The stranger went back and said something to a group in the crowd and a women ran back into her store as two men walked forward.
“Ma’am, my name is Ted. We sent for help. Do you know where exactly the doc was last?”
Sarah shook her head now, thinking about their argument. ‘Why did I have to be so stubborn!’ she cried.
“She was painting the inside wall,” Sarah cried picturing her last glimpse of Taylor’s determined back as she worked.
“O.K., Take it easy were going to get her out!” Nodding to the two other men, they proceeded to pick their way carefully through the rubble.
“Hey watch that back wall, looks like it could go at any moment. We need to get something to brace it up or the rest of this place is going to come down too!” he told the other men and they worked they way back out.
“Where are you going?” Sarah asked frantically.
“We need to get some tools to brace up the back wall. It’s too dangerous until we do,” he told her calmly.
“But, Taylor’s in there, we have to get her out!”
“We will, but it won’t do her any good if that wall comes down. We’ll never get her out then.”
Siren’s were heard as the Sheriff pulled up and got out. Ted apprised him of the situation and he went back to his car to radio for back up and EMS.
“It doesn’t look good,” he notified the dispatcher, “better call Dr. Hastin.”
Equipment arrived and the men began working on the wall and removing debris but there was still no sign of Taylor. While they were watching the rescue efforts a car pulled up and Dr. Hastin got out and came up to the Sheriff.
“It is really Taylor?”
“You did this!” Sarah screamed and struck out at the doctor. The Sheriff grabbed her and held her back demanding, “What’s going on here?”
“This is all your fault, you’ve been threatening her ever since she told you about this clinic! You’ve slashed her tires and threw a brick through the front window!” Sarah accused the doctor.
“I’ve done no such thing! Yes, I was angry when she said she was leaving. I may have said some things I regret but, I would never do any of these things to her,” he adamantly replied.
“Then who?” Sarah as suspiciously.
The doctor shook his head confused and the Sheriff replied, “Don’t worry I’ll find out!”
A cry came from inside of the building and the Sheriff released Sarah as the three of them rushed forward.
‘Oh God, please let her be all right. I’m begging you!’ Sarah cried in silent prayer.
The doctor rushed forward followed by the Sheriff who tried to keep Sarah back to no avail.
“We found her lodged in a pocket of the roof support in the corner by the back wall. Good thing we shored up the wall first, it would have fallen right on top of her,” Ten told the Sheriff. “She’s one lucky lady, the roof cross-over kept most of the debris off her.”
The doctor began his cursory examination of Taylor and motioned for the EMS attendant that is was o.k. to move her.
Sarah touched Taylor’s lifeless hand as she looked down at her battered body and then back up to the doctor, her eyes pleading for an answer.
“I don’t know yet. We’ll have to get her to the hospital for x-rays. She’s alive and strong, and that’s what counts right now,” he told her gently moving her from the scene. Sarah nodded and watched as they strapped her lover to a backboard and loaded her into the waiting unit.
Sarah paced outside the emergency waiting room for news. All they could tell her was that the doctors were working on Taylor. People she had never met before would stop to offer their sympathy and support for ‘the doc’. It did little to console the grief and guilt she felt at that moment. Taylor was right; they both needed to stop running from life and make a stand somewhere. If only she had seen that sooner maybe she could have been there when this happened. Staring out the window she shivered looking at the sunshine as it danced along the water. The palm trees gently swayed in the warm afternoon breeze. She didn’t think she would ever feel warm again.
She turned to see Dr. Hastin standing in the doorway. He looked slightly disheveled and tired but, when his face broke into a huge smile, Sarah launched herself into his arms sobbing.
“She’s pretty banged up but, basically, she’s in one piece with no major injuries. Couple of bruised ribs and 20 stitches on her thigh was the worst of it. She’s still out but, I think she’ll be just fine in a day or two,” he explained.
“Can I see her?”
“Sure, come on. You can stay for awhile and then I’m taking you home to rest. She’s not going anywhere for awhile.”
Sarah quietly entered the room and went to the bed where Taylor lay pale, her face unmarred by the recent happenings. Pulling up a chair she grasped her lover’s hand and sat content in just being near her until the doctor returned for her. He dropped her off at the house and told her to rest and not return to the hospital until tomorrow morning. Sarah walked through the house and the silence began to unnerve her and she stepped out onto the patio. She sat listening to the ocean until the stars began to come out. Shivering with the chill night air she went inside and lay down on the couch. She didn’t want to lie in their bed without Taylor. An hour later she was up and restlessly pacing again. After she had showered and dressed, she looked at the clock to see it was 2 AM.
“Well, it’s the next morning!” she said outloud and grabbed the keys to her car. Taylor’s car was still at the clinic. Memories of the destroyed building urged her on as she sped toward the hospital. It was relatively quiet at this time of the morning and she had no trouble sneaking up to Taylor’s room.
Approaching the bed she noticed her lover had not moved any. Sitting down in the chair she grasped Taylor’s hand and laid her head on the bed next to Taylor’s pillow.
Taylor’s eyes felt heavy as she pushed her way through the haze. Assessing her body, she found her side ached and her leg burned slightly. She also felt a weight on her arm and hand, slowly opening her eyes to see a blonde head next to her, and the weight was the woman holding onto her arm and hand. The woman was asleep and her soft sighs made Taylor smile. Finding her other arm trapped by IV’s, she slowly pulled her arm free of Sarah’s grasp and stroked the blonde head softly. Unsure of what had happened to her, she was just glad that Sarah had come back.
“I don’t know what I’d do without you.” She whispered her voice hoarse and dry. She felt like she had swallowed a load of concrete mix.
Sarah felt a calming sensation run through her body. She was somewhere warm and the insistent touch made her feel safe. As she awoke she realized there was a gently tugging on her hair and she turned her head slightly to find blue eyes looking back at her.
“Taylor!” Sarah whispered relieved. “You’re awake!”
Taylor smiled back at her lover and motioned for Sarah to come closer. Sarah gently said on the edge of the bed and leaned down to hear what Taylor had to say. Instead of words, Taylor captured Sarah’s lips and they spoke a language few are lucky to ever know.
Pulling back, Taylor asked, “What happened?”
“The Sheriff’s not sure, there was an explosion at the clinic and you were trapped,” Sarah explained as tears pricked her eyes. “Oh, Taylor, I was so worried that I had lost you. I’m so sorry for the stupid way I acted. Nothing is more important than us.”
“I know,” Taylor replied. “I should never have kept everything from you. I’m sorry for the way I acted too.”
“No, I never should have run away,” Sarah replied.
“I’m glad you did this time,” Taylor grinned.
Dr. Hastin said you were going to be fine. You have two bruised ribs and twenty stitches in your leg.”
“No wonder it hurts to move,” Taylor smiled up at Sarah, “But, my lips don’t hurt for once. Kiss me!”
Sarah always tired to be obedient and did what she was told until Taylor became aroused and tried to move.
“Whoa, I think that’s about enough excitement for you!” Sarah announced and sat back up. Taylor groaned at the pain and loss of contact. Looking up into sparkling green eyes she said, “I love you!”
Taylor rested her hand on Sarah’s thigh to maintain a much-needed connection to the woman and asked, “What do you want to do now?”
“Watch you sleep!” Sarah replied smiling.
“No, after that.”
Sarah wiggled her eyebrows suggestively causing Taylor to laugh and gasp in pain.
“No, way after that,” she whispered slowing her breathing to a less painful level.
“Sorry!” Sarah offered. “Anything you want to do is fine with me. Where you go, I go, we’re a matched set.”
“You better believe, it honey! I’d live naked on the beach if it meant having you with me!”
“You wouldn’t be able to get rid of me!” Sarah laughed at the thought.
Taylor yawned and squeezed her lover’s leg in acknowledgement.
“Close your eyes and rest. I’ll be right here when you wake up,” Sarah whispered and lightly rubbed Taylor’s cheek.
Dr. Hastin walked into Taylor’s room to find Sarah sound asleep in the chair next to Taylor’s bed, her head cushioned on the mattress and Taylor holding onto the young woman’s hand.
‘What a pair,’ he thought smiling.
Sarah’s head peeked up when he reached for Taylor’s chart at the foot of the bed.
“Good morning, young lady. Do I need to ask how long you’ve been here?”
Sarah grinned sheepishly in reply.
“I thought so,” he answered smiling back. “So how’s our girl?”
“She was up for awhile last night,” Sarah answered.
“How did she feel?”
Taylor interrupted, “If you two insist on waking me up talking, the least you can do is ask me!”
Dr. Hastin chuckled, “I see she’s back!”
Sarah nodded and smiled from ear to ear and he could see the joy that simple statement had brought.
“Well, since you are both here, I’d like to talk to you,” he said.
“Is something wrong?” Sarah asked instantly concerned.
“Nothing physical,” he replied grinning at Taylor.
“Ha, ha!” Taylor replied and the two women relaxed to listen to what he had to say.
“You’re retiring?” Taylor asked surprised.
“Yes, I’ve been at this profession long enough. Now, I just want to relax and fish for awhile,” he responded.
“So, what do you think of my offer?”
“It’s very generous of you but, why? I thought you didn’t approve of a women’s clinic? “ Taylor asked trying not to sound suspicious of him.
“Forget what I said, it was done in anger and hurt. I thought your leaving would stop my retirement plans. But, I realize there is no reason why you can’t run a clinic out of my office. The male patient’s I can refer to Dr. Griggs on Sunrise. He’s a good man.”
“But, we still have the problem with the individual who caused all this,” Sarah replied sadly.
“Don’t worry about that, it’s been taken care of,” he replied firmly.
Taylor and Sarah looked at him questioningly and he explained, “It seems you had an altercation with a gentleman at club recently. Well, the owner and some of his friends heard him bragging how he was getting even and teaching you a good lesson. After they heard about all of this, the Sheriff’s office was flooded with calls all naming the same guy. He quickly confessed and the Sheriff has already remanded him over to the state for trial. So, it should ease your mind to know the town stands behind you Taylor.”
Taylor looked at Sarah, whose eyes brimmed with unshed tears. “What do you think?”
Sarah smiled and replied, “Wherever thou goest….”
“I live for her since that moment we first met.
I do not remember how she captured my heart,
Or where it went.
I live for her from each rising sun.
Thus remain until each day is done.
I live for her because she makes my soul
vibrate with the strength of ten women.
I live for her and it is not a burden.