ANOTHER LIFETIME

K. Stoley

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

          The surf broke gently as the sun peeked over the brightening horizon.  Kelly sighed and brushed the sand off her hands.  She always expected to hear a symphony begin whenever she witnessed a new day breaking.   It was her favorite time of the day, everything was fresh and clean, almost as if you could start all over from that point and nothing from yesterday could weigh you down.  Taking a deep breath she closed her eyes and let the gentle breeze caress her face as it gently ruffled her long blonde hair.  Opening her eyes, she found that she no longer had the beach to herself as sandpipers began their frantic foraging for food.   Kelly always found them to be comical as they ran to chase the outgoing waves and then scrambled back as a new wave rolled up the beach.  It was sort of like her life, chasing something and then when it turns to face you, run away.

 

          Kelly had left the house early that morning to spend some time alone.  She did her best thinking at the beach, away from her roommate and other distractions.  Lately, her roommate and her boyfriend were beginning to annoy her with their constant presence every time she came home.  Here, she could sit in relative peace and contemplate life.  ‘Yeah, there’s that!’ she thought frowning and looked down at her watch.  “Oops, late for work.  I guess we’ll have to put off those life issues for another time.” 

 

          Kelly shook the sand out of her towel and threw it over her shoulder.  Picking up her shoes, she headed toward her car.  Arriving at work, she met up with her co-worker and friend in the parking lot and they walked in together.

 

          “So, how’s it going in accounting?” Brenda asked falling in step with Kelly as they headed towards the lobby.

 

          “The usual at this time of year.  Boy, I really hate tax time!”

 

          “That’s why I work in procurement.  We just buy the stuff and let you worry about where the money comes from!”  Brenda chuckled and held the door open for Kelly to pass through first.

 

          “Ha! Ha!” Kelly retorted dryly.

 

          Brenda came off as a toughie, but in actuality, was a softie with a big heart.  She had honey blonde hair with grey eyes and was at least a foot taller than Kelly, but then again, everyone seemed to be taller.  Brenda had invited Kelly to lunch on her first day of work and they had been friends ever since.  Brenda was Kelly’s self-appointed protector and keeper of her virtue.  Brenda joked that, “she kept the wolves at bay!”  Kelly just liked the outspoken woman and also that she didn’t have to deal with any unwarranted advances from the men or women in the office.

 

          Kelly put her purse away and booted up her computer as Brenda perched on the end of the desk.  “So, when are you going to let me set you up?”

 

          “Set what up?” Kelly asked distracted with logging in her password.

 

          “With a date!” Brenda whispered exasperated at her friend’s lack of interest in engaging in a life.  Brenda knew that there had been someone a few years back but all Kelly would tell her was that it wasn’t what she thought.  ‘Then what was it?’ Brenda asked herself on more than one occasion.

 

          “Come on Brenda, we’ve been through this before.  I’m just not interested,” Kelly explained.  “What you can do is tell me how I can get rid of my current roommate.”

 

          Brenda frowned, “They still got you hiding in your bedroom?”  Kelly nodded knowing this would cause a lengthy reprimand from her friend on how she should stand up for herself. 

 

“Kelly……”

 

Inwardly she sighed, but was relieved she had effectively sidetracked Brenda from her other quest.

 

“I know, I know, it’s my house and I should lay down the law, but I can’t afford to have her move out either!”

 


          “Well, you’ve just got to talk to her then,” Brenda replied.

 

“O.K., I will,” Kelly conceded.  Brenda got up and headed towards the doorway, “Well, I should get to my office.  You’re still bowling tonight right?”  When Kelly hesitated she whined, “You promised and last week was fun wasn’t it?”

 

“Oh, all right,” Kelly capitulated, wondering how she had let them talk her into joining the company bowling league last week.

 

“Great!  Lacy will be glad to see you.”

 

Kelly smiled at the thought of Brenda’s partner, she was a feisty redhead and some of the two women’s antics were legendary.

 

“Yes, I’ll enjoy seeing her too,” Kelly admitted, “See you at lunch?”

 

“You bet!” Brenda replied and left the office.  Kelly looked back up as a blonde head poked back into her office.  “Just so you know, I haven’t forgotten about the other thing, nice try!” she smiled and disappeared again.

 

Kelly stared at the empty doorway and thought idly, ‘maybe I should let Brenda fix me up’.  Cringing she shook her head to rid it of those thoughts and delved into her heavy workload.

 

Six o’clock came too quickly.  Kelly realized that she should have left over an hour ago but there was too much left to do.  She debated skipping out on bowling but decided a change would do her good.  Throwing her things in to her briefcase she hurried out the door and to her car.  She was going to have to hurry if she was going to make it home to change and be at the bowling alley on time. 

 

Kelly made it to the lanes just as everyone was warming up.  Lacey called out to her and she quickly hurried over.

 

“About damn time!” the petite redhead announced.

 

“Sorry, I got hung up at work,” she smiled apologetically.

 

“Anyone we know?” Brenda asked coming up from behind balancing three mugs of beer.  Kelly ignored the remark and looked around, “So, who are we bowling tonight?”

 

“I don’t know, but it’s position night so you’d better bowl your ass off!” Brenda replied.

 

“We’re bowling Angel’s team,” Lacy whispered to her teammates.

 

“Shit!” Brenda exclaimed and downed three quarters of her beer.  “I’m going to need more of these.”

 

“Go easy honey, remember last time?”  Lacy replied as Brenda walked back to the bar.  “How can I forget, I still have the scar!” she grumbled.

 

“What happened?” Kelly tugged on Lacy to get her attention away from her mate’s backside.

 

Lacey looked up grinning and purred, “Ohh, I love how she moves.”

 

“Put your hormones in check and tell me what happened, what scar?”

 

“Last time we played Angel’s team, we were winning and Angel dropped her ball on Brenda’s foot and nearly broke it.  She said it was an accident but I know better.  Angel doesn’t like to lose.  Needless to say, Brenda could hardly walk, let alone bowl and we lost the last game.”

 

“And she got away with that?” Kelly asked surprised.

 

“Well, sort of..,” Lacey replied hesitantly.  Kelly’s eyebrow raised in question as Brenda returned from the bar.  “So, did you tell her about the flat tire yet?”

 

“You didn’t!” Kelly asked Lacy who shook her head pointing at Brenda.  Brenda looked over embarrassed and justified, “Well, it cost about as much as my x-rays and stitches did!”

 

In response to Kelly’s second inquiring look, Lacy grinned and replied, “You should have seen Brenda trying to hobble across the parking lot after she did it.  She tripped and fell right on her ass on a piece of glass, six stitches.”

 

Kelly shook her head and the three women burst out laughing.

 

“Hello Brenda,” a voice drawled and Kelly turned to face a peroxide blonde with hazel eyes.

 

“Hello Angel,” Brenda stonily replied.

 

“How’s the foot?” she asked with a malicious twinkle in her eye.

 

“Works just fine, want to see?” Brenda replied swinging her foot for emphasis, there was no doubt about where she wanted to put it either.”

 

“Oh, that’s funny, you’re such a comedian!” Angel replied heading down to the lane to get in some practice.  Lacy and Brenda followed and the lines between the two lanes were quickly drawn.

 

“Oh wonderful!  I’m in the middle of a war zone,” Kelly muttered as someone brushed past her from behind.  Kelly stumbled as the tall woman moved passed her without a word.

 

“Excuse me!” Kelly retorted sarcastically and the woman turned icy blue eyes her way, regarding her coolly.

 

Kelly stood her ground and stared back, ‘Well, if it’s a war you want, you go it!’ she thought and walked past the woman who continued to stand watching her.  Kelly acted as if she couldn’t care less as she changed into her bowling shoes and retrieved her ball.  The woman had moved to sit down on Angel’s side but was still regarding her coolly.  ‘I bet you could freeze ice cubes on her butt!’ Kelly thought as she picked up her ball and angrily rolled it for all it was worth down the lane.  It wasn’t a pretty sight but the speed made up for it and she got a strike on the pin action alone.  Feeling relieved, she walked back toward her seat and decided to calm down a little and not push her luck.

 

“Nice throw,” a throaty voice murmured and Kelly looked up to see it came from the ice queen herself.  Kelly looked back surprised and nodded but received no response in return. 

 

“What the hell is her problem?” Kelly asked Brenda as she went back to retrieve her beer.

 

“She’s just trying to psyche you out.”

 

Kelly shrugged. She tried to concentrate on the game at hand, but as the night wore on, more than one occasion she would look up to find blue eyes looking back.  At first it was unsettling, but as the evening progressed, they became familiar.  It might have been the beer manipulating her actions, but Kelly began to look back boldly.  At one point, she thought she caught a twinkle in the blue orbs, but looking again, she didn’t see anything but ice.   The woman moved with a slow grace that reminded her of a prowling panther, causing a shiver to ripple through Kelly.

 

Halfway through the last game the two teams were tied.  Whoever took this game took totals and the competition was tense.  Lacy and Brenda watched Kelly bowl, she was relaxed and doing very well, which they attributed to the quantity of beer she had consumed.  They knew they would be driving her home, but they didn’t want to jinx the game by stopping her now.  They justified it by saying that she needed to let go and have some fun anyway.  

 

“My turn to buy!” Kelly smiled and walked over to the bar.  Waiting for their order she leaned against the rail and watched the TV screen behind the bar.  She felt a presence next to her and the familiar voice caused another shiver to go though her.

 

 “Are you a football fan?”  Kelly turned to face the ice queen who casually leaned sideways against the rail.

 

“Depends on whose playing,” Kelly replied.

 

“Who’s your favorite?” The ice queen handed the bartender a twenty when he placed four beers in front of them.  Kelly looked up confused wondering what happened to her order.   “They’re on me,” the tall woman replied and picked one up, taking a sip.

 

“Than…thank you,” Kelly stammered, “you didn’t have to”.

 

“I know, I felt like it,” she replied.   “By the way, my name is C.J.”

 

“Kelly,” the blonde offered quickly as she attempted to pick up all three glasses together.

 

“Here, let me help,” CJ offered and took the last glass and started walking back towards the lanes, setting it down on the table she looked over at Kelly’s two stunned friends and walked down to her side of the lane.

 

“What was that all about?” Brenda asked suspiciously eyeing the beer in front of her.

 

“I don’t know,” Kelly admitted.  “She asked if I was a football fan then paid for the drinks.”

 

“They’re up to something,” Brenda retorted pushing the glass away from her.

 

“You think everyone is up to something!” Lacy replied sarcastically and took a healthy swallow of her beer and smiled, “see, I’m still standing!”

 

“Very funny!”

 

Kelly shook her head, chuckling at the two, went down to bowl out her tenth frame.  Out of the corner of her eye she looked at the raven-haired woman, but she was in deep conversation with Angel.   Hesitantly she questioned the woman’s motives and decided, ‘Sorry Honey, but I’m not throwing a game for a measly beer!’  Kelly turned and threw a strike to cement her decision and went on to finish with a respectable series.  The crowning achievement was that her team won and Angel was one unhappy little camper.

 

“Certainly doesn’t live up to her name does she?” Kelly drawled to Brenda who snickered her agreement as they packed up their belongings.

 

“How are you feeling?” Brenda asked curiously.

 

“Not as drunk as you think,” Kelly replied dryly.

 

“Rats!” the blonde exclaimed and jammed her ball into her bag.

 

“Listen, Lacy is tired and wants to go home, but I want to go get something to eat; if you’re willing to drive me home afterward.”

 

“Sure, why not,” Kelly replied and went down to get her bowling ball off the alley return.

 

“Nice game,” CJ called out.  Kelly looked up and smiled, “Thanks,” noticing Angel turn to say something under her breath to the tall woman.  CJ looked down at Angel and said, “Get a life,” before walking away.  Kelly tried to hide her smirk when Angel looked over her way angrily.  Quickly packing up her things, Kelly met up with Brenda and Lacy not wanting to walk out alone.  

 

The two women quieted as soon as Kelly approached and she stopped asking, “O.K., what are you saying about me now?”

 

“Who said we were talking about you?” Brenda asked defensively.

 

“Because I’m you favorite topic of conversation lately.”

 

Lacy snickered and looked over at the sheepish look on her mate’s face.  “We talk about other things too!”  Brenda indignantly shot a dirty look at her lover.

 

“Name one right now!” Kelly quickly challenged.

 

Brenda stammered as Lacy burst out laughing,  “Good one Kelly.  See you at home, Bren,” and left with a wave over her shoulder, she definitely didn’t want to get in the middle of this row.

 

Brenda grabbed Kelly’s bag and walked toward the parking lot barking, “Come on smart ass let’s go.  I’m hungry!”

 

Kelly snickered and followed.  She had parked next to Lacey’s car and the three women met up again.  The lot had emptied quickly and there were only a few cars left around them.   Brenda took Kelly’s keys and put the bag in the trunk.

 

“Hang on a minute,” her friend called and ran over to Lacy.  Kelly tried not to watch as the two women wished each other good night, and good morning by the looks of it.  Wishing she had her keys to get into the car, Kelly turned and leaned against the passenger door with her back to the couple.  A movement in her peripheral vision brought her attention to the car parked across from them in the next lane.  A light went on in the interior and ice blue eyes looked at Kelly, then back to the couple behind her, before returning, with a quick wink the light was extinguished and Kelly watched  the car pulled away, thinking, ‘I wonder what the C.J. stands for?’

 

“Ready?” Kelly heard from over the top of the car and turned to see Brenda dangling her keys in silent question.

 

“Sure, you can drive.”

 

“Goody!” Brenda replied and unlocked the doors to Kelly’s car.

 

“Why?  Are you afraid of my driving skills?” Kelly asked as they buckled up drove out of the parking lot.

 

“Only when you’re angry,” Brenda replied matter of factly.

 

“Oh and do you plan to get me angry?”

 

“God, I hope not!” Brenda responded in mock fear.

 

Kelly looked back suspiciously.  “Just drive!”

 

Brenda wanted a burger, so the two women found themselves at the A & B Grill where Brenda proceeded to order more beer.  They sat laughing and drinking until everything became funny to them.  They were well past having a serious conversation when the waitress cut them off.   With nothing more to drink, they decided it was time to call it a night and they pulled each other out into the warm night air.

 

“I can’t drive you home,” Kelly announced, “I’m too drunk!”

 

“Then I guess you’ll have to take me home with you,” Brenda tried a seductive glance which ended up looking more like a lecherous leer, and Kelly’s laughter caused them both to stumble.

 

Holding on to each other, Kelly said, “I think we should just leave the car and walk to my place.  Good thing it’s only two blocks over!”  They helped each other maneuver through the deserted streets towards the house.

 

“Keep your voice down or you’ll wake up ‘the roommate from hell’ and I really don’t want to have to explain this tonight”.  Kelly thought about Donna’s face if she actually were to see the two women stumbling in drunk and a giggle escaped before she could contain it.  As giggles go, this one was infectious and the two women ran down the hall to her bedroom trying to shut each other up.

 

CHAPTER 2

 

          The alarm ripped through the morning bringing a deep groan out of Kelly.  She felt a heavy weight against her back and moved to untangle herself from Brenda’s grasp.  She had fought the sleeping woman all night and finally giving up and let her wrap her arms around her.

 

          Groggily, Brenda reached over at the loss of contact and woke up.  “Lacy?”

 

          “No Kelly!” she replied sarcastically.  Grey eyes quickly popped open and closed just as fast when the sunlight hit her and moaned,  “Ooh, my head”.

 

          “Yeah, tell me about it.”  Kelly cautiously made her way to the edge of the bed.  Sitting up she dangled her feet and debated if her legs would hold her body up yet.

 

          “Did I use you as my body pillow last night?” a hesitant voice asked from the bed behind her.

 

          “Uh-huh.”  Kelly groaned getting up and gingerly walking around the bed to her dresser.

 

          “Sorry,” Brenda offered and buried her face back under the pillow.  Kelly leaned over and lifted the edge of the pillow and tried to grin.

 

          “Don’t worry about it, at least you called me Lacy!”

 

          The look of shock and fear on Brenda’s face brought an abrupt bark of laughter out of Kelly, who quickly grabbed her head moaning and headed into the bathroom.  After a hot shower she was feeling a little more human and stepped back into the bedroom.

 

          “Hey, it’s your turn!  I’m going to make some coffee.”  Kelly slapped at Brenda’s rear end and headed to the kitchen.

 

          “I’m up!  I’m up!” Brenda cried and staggered into the bathroom blindly.

 

          Kelly leaned her head on the counter top as she waited for the coffee to finish dripping.  She heard Brenda come up behind her and said, “We’ll run by your house so you can get changed before work.  Or we could give a whole new meaning to ‘casual Fridays’” 

 

          “I beg your pardon?”

 

          Kelly lifted her head slightly to face the voice.  Instead of Brenda, the ‘roommate from hell’, Donna looked down at her strangely.

 

          “Headache,” Kelly mumbled lamely.  Donna shook her head and walked to the refrigerator getting the milk and closed the door loudly.  Kelly wasn’t sure if it just seemed that way to her this morning or if Donna was upset.  Either way, there wasn’t much she could do about it right now.  Kelly straightened up and poured a mug of coffee with shaky hands.

 

          “Are you all right?” Donna asked from the kitchen table as she poured herself a bowl of cereal. 

 

          “Yeah, I just need some coffee.”

 

          “Hey, Girlfriend!  About last night…, do I need to worry about telling Lacy anything?”  Kelly looked up as Brenda entered the kitchen buttoning up her shirt obliviously and cleared her throat.  Brenda looked up to see the other woman and exclaimed, “Oh shit!”

 

          Kelly sighed and looked at Donna’s judgmental expression, grabbing her purse and her half-dressed friend she replied, “no, nothing worth mentioning!” 

 

          “Hey, I want some coffee!”   Kelly pulled Brenda out the front door without saying another word; they walked down the block to retrieve Kelly’s car from the restaurant parking lot.

 

          Lacy opened the door to two women wearing dark sunglasses looking the worse for wear.

 

          “I figured something like this had happened,” she replied and stepped back allowing the hung-over women to enter.  “Coffee?”

 

          “Oh yes, please!” Brenda replied.

 

          “Not you!  You need to go get ready for work!”  Lacy pushed the protesting woman down the hall toward their bedroom before coming back to pour two mugs of coffee.  Sitting down at the table, she set one mug at the seat across from her.

 

          Kelly sat down and took of sip of the heaven-sent brew and asked, “Are you mad?”

 

          “No.  I had an idea she was up to something.  So, did she get the information she wanted from you?”

 

          Kelly shook her head gingerly and answered, “Nope!”

 

          Lacy chuckled and got up to pour coffee and cream in a travel mug before pulling a bottle of aspirin out of the cupboard.  Placing two tablets next to the mug she handed another two to Kelly.

 

          “So where did you end up?”

 

          “My house,” Kelly answered and swallowed the chalky pills with the rest of her coffee.

 

          “What did you roommate say?”  Lacy retrieved the pot and refilled Kelly’s mug.

 

          “Don’t ask!”  Kelly groaned as Brenda came into the kitchen dressed and ready for work.

 

          “She thinks Kelly has gone over to the other side,” Brenda teased popping the aspirin into her mouth and grabbing the travel mug to take a sip.

 

          “What trouble did you cause now?”  Lacy asked watching her lover try to swallow the pills with the hot coffee.

 

          “Why do you think it was me?” Brenda replied to the accusation.

 

          “Because it usually is!”

 

          Brenda looked down sheepishly and headed toward the front door with her mug.  Kelly got up, putting her mug in the sink she came to her friend’s rescue.

 

          “No, it wasn’t Brenda’s fault, all she did was come into the kitchen half dressed this morning!”

 

          “What?”

 

          “It wasn’t like that at all!”  Brenda looked between the two women with a trapped expression on her face.  Kelly winked at Lacy who tried to hide her smile and sternly reply “Your both late for work.  Brenda we’ll discuss this tonight.”

 

          Brenda paled visibly and Kelly started laughing.  Brenda looked up at her lover to see the twinkle in her eye and let out a breath.

 

          “Thanks a lot you guys!  Pick on a woman when she’s sick!”

 

          “Whose fault is that?”  Lacy retorted and pushed the giggling women out the door ahead of her.  They got into separate cars and headed toward their respective offices.  Brenda followed Kelly until they reached the office and they split up when they entered the building.  Brenda went in search of more coffee and Kelly just wanted to get to her office where it was dark and quiet.  She knew Donna would be calling soon.

 

          In an effort to smooth things over, Kelly agreed to spend part of the weekend with Donna and go shopping.  On Sunday, Kelly escaped to the beach and sat on the edge of the top of a picnic table with her feet resting out on a nearby bench.  She balanced herself and sat looking out over the calming blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  Deep in thought, she never sensed the figure that approached her and took a seat to her right on the bench of the table.  Kelly’s eyes scanned from left to right, following the shoreline until they focused on the calming blue again, the color suddenly deepened and she realized it wasn’t the water she was staring at and she grabbed the table for support.

 

          Hands reached out to steady her and CJ’s concerned voice said, “I didn’t mean to startle you.  I thought you knew I was here.” 

 

          “Sorry, I guess I wasn’t paying attention.”   Kelly felt like such an idiot and ducked her head embarrassed.

 

          “I get lost here too sometimes.  It’s a good place to lose yourself,” CJ offered, aware of the woman’s discomfort.

 

          “It’s my favorite place.”

 

          “Yeah,” CJ took a deep appreciative breath and let her body soak up the sunshine in response.  Kelly looked out at the ocean, tongue-tied when it came to small talk.

 

          After a few moments of silent contemplation of the water CJ turned to Kelly.  “So, are you going to be a permanent bowler this season?”

 

          “Yes,” Kelly replied hesitantly, she didn’t want to be put in the middle of any feud that might be brewing.

 

          “Angel can be pretty competitive,” CJ offered when she saw the woman’s reaction to her question.  Kelly nodded but didn’t say anything further.

 

          “Well, I’d just like you to know that I have nothing against your friends.  I’m just there to bowl, not to wage a war.  I have to work with Angel and I’m trying to keep my work relationship from turning into a problem,” CJ explained.

 

          “They’ve gotten carried away with their need to win,” Kelly replied.

 

          “And what is it that you need?” The ice queen asked looking straight at Kelly.

 

          “What?” Kelly wasn’t sure what CJ was getting at, but the question brought emotions to the surface that she wasn’t prepared to face at the moment.

 

          “I guess I’m saying I can understand feeling so passionate about something that I could lose my perspective on things”.

 

          “Oh yeah, I guess so,” Kelly answered in reply, unsure why this conversation wasn’t exactly as it seemed.

 

          “Well, I had better get going.  I’ll see you Thursday night then?” CJ replied standing up. 

 

          “Sure, at bowling,” Kelly answered and watched the tall woman walk away.  Reaching her car, she unconsciously turned, tossing her long raven-hair over her shoulder and waved.   Kelly feebly waved back as she concentrated on breathing in and out.  Her heart skipped a beat when she jumped down from her perch and leaned back against the table edge as she watched the white convertible pull away with the dark mane flowing in the breeze.

 

 

CHAPTER 3

 

          Kelly didn’t mind that the week was flying by so quickly; it was one of her busiest yet. By 5 PM on Thursday, she had cleared her desk and was heading home to get ready for bowling.  After a quick shower she dressed in her new jeans and white T-shirt, as an after thought she pulled on a vest and left for the bowling alley.

 

          “What’s the occasion?” Brenda asked as soon as she saw Kelly.

 

          “No occasion.”

 

          “Then why are you all decked out?”

          “Excuse Brenda, that’s how she says, “You look nice!” Lacy replied pulling Kelly away with her to the bar to save her from any further inquisition.

 

          “Thanks.”

 

          “No problem, if she wasn’t so loveable, she’d be a pain in the ass!”

 

          Kelly laughed as they approached the bar and pulled out her money.

 

          “Put your money away, what will you have?” Lacy asked as she ordered a beer for herself and one for Brenda.

 

          “I think just a coke.  I’m sticking to the light stuff tonight,” Kelly replied.

 

          They began their practice and Kelly looked around to find CJ, but she didn’t see her and was somewhat disappointed.  Kelly took her turn practicing and sat down behind the lanes by herself waiting for the game to start.  A waitress approached and set a drink down in front of her without comment.

 

          “Wait!   I didn’t order this,” Kelly looked up and the waitress pointed down the lanes to where CJ stood.  The dark-haired woman raised her glass in a toast and smiling Kelly picked up her glass and saluted back.  She watched as CJ waved and went down to bowl before turning to find Brenda and Lacy looking at her like two mischievous puppies.

 

          “What?”

 

          “I thought you weren’t drinking tonight,” Brenda remarked pointing to the beer in her hand.

 

          “I think it depends on who’s buying,” Lacy piped up.

 

          “Come on Lacy, that’s not true.  I really had no intention of drinking, but I didn’t want to refuse and cause more trouble among everyone.”  Kelly wasn’t sure where she came up with that reasoning but it did have a ring of truth to it.  She didn’t want any more trouble with Angel, but she also didn’t want Lacy to feel slighted either.

 

          “Oh, is that why?” Lacy replied, the disbelief evident on her face, and by the color of Kelly’s cheek’s she was right.  Chuckling, she went back down to the lanes to bowl.

 

          “Who’s buying is not the point.  I want to know why!” Brenda pulled the chair out next to Kelly and leaned into her friend nudging her gently to respond.  “So, what’s between the two of you?”

 

          “Nothing!  It’s a simple friendly gesture.  We ran into each other at the beach Sunday and we agreed that we don’t want to be in the middle of your war.”

 

          “You met at the beach and didn’t tell me?” Brenda attacked this new information like a piranha at feeding time.

 

          Kelly rolled her eyes and answered, “There’s nothing to tell, we had a five minute conversation in passing that’s all!”

 

          “Oh, a quick conversation and then she’s buying you beer today?  I think someone’s interested.”  Brenda leaned back looking satisfied with her deduction. 

 

          “Oh right!”  Kelly replied sarcastically.  Brenda just nodded her head in a self-satisfied manner, irking the hell out of Kelly. 

 

          Exasperated, Kelly threw up her hands and announced, “I give up!  I’m going to bowl!”

 

          Kelly gave Lacy an ‘if looks good kill’ glance in passing and she hurried to Brenda to find out what happened. 

 

          “Looks like my little friend has an admirer.”

 

          Lacy stood behind Brenda and put her hands on her lover’s shoulders as she leaned down to talk.  “Is that what she said?”

 

          “No, she’s denying the whole thing.  Actually, I don’t think she knows it yet or she’s really burying it deep.”

 

          “If I had known she was interested, I would have watched you two more carefully,” Lacy said quietly.

 

          “I didn’t think she was either,” Brenda replied thoughtfully and then tugged Lacey’s arms down around her neck.  “But, you have nothing to worry about my love.  I have eyes only for you!”

 

          “And what lovely eyes they are too!” Lacy murmured, kissing the top of her lover’s head relieved.

 

          “Hey, look who’s coming this way,” Brenda whispered causing Lacy to glance over to see a tall woman walking towards them.

 

          “Hi!” Brenda called out when she came even with them.  “I’m Brenda and this is Lacy.”

 

          “Hi!  I’m CJ.  How’s it going?”

 

          “Pretty good, and yourself?” Lacy asked politely.

 

          “O.K.,” CJ began and when both women turned to listen she continued,  “Listen, I really wanted to talk with you two about last week.  I wanted you to know that I bowl on Angel’s team because I work with her not, because I like her and I really don’t want to be a party to any of her ‘win any cost’ obsessions.”

 

          Lacy nodded in understanding and Brenda spoke up, “Would you be interested in going out to dinner with the three of us after bowling tonight?  Maybe we can get acquainted and put the Angel thing behind us.”

 

          “I’d love to,” CJ replied and looked down to where Kelly was bowling, her attention momentarily drifting away from the conversation.  Lacy looked over to Brenda and winked in agreement.

 

          “So, is Chili’s O.K. with you?” Brenda asked breaking her attention away from Kelly. 

 

          “Sure, that’s fine with me,” CJ answered flustered at her lack of concentration.

 

          Kelly waited for her turn to throw her second ball and tried to get herself calmed down.  She didn’t know why she had been so angry; it wasn’t as if Brenda hadn’t teased her before.  Now, she had a split to try to pick up in hopes of salvaging this game.  Brenda was way off base on this one.  It wasn’t as if she didn’t think CJ was cute, just the opposite. Kelly thought back to the memory of long black hair floating out of a convertible.  Half paying attention to what she was supposed to be doing, Kelly approached the alley and paused to try to concentrate on her target.  A flash of blue eyes shimmered in her mind as she released the ball and a loud thud brought her instantly back to the present as she watched her ball head straight for the gutter.

 

          “Shit!” Kelly exclaimed and turned to look right back into those blue eyes.  Trapped and embarrassed, Kelly ducked her head and slowly walked back to the table where CJ stood talking with her friends.  Kelly sat down in an empty seat and began changing her shoes without any comment.

 

          “Hey, don’t sweat it Kel, that was tough one,” Lacy patted her on the back and went to retrieve their balls from the rack.   Kelly could feel a blush heat up her cheeks and kept her head down.  Brenda squeezed her knee and whispered, “you still beat me.”  Kelly nodded putting her shoes in her bag thinking, ‘If they only knew why I missed!’ and kept her head down in confusion.

 

          “I guess I’ll see you guys at Chili’s?” CJ’s voice spoke from behind and Kelly looked up.

 

          “Yeah, if you beat us there, get a table.”

 

          “See you there,” CJ replied looking at Kelly.  Kelly felt a sudden panic and swallowed her question, ‘where?’  CJ smiled at her and walked back towards her team.

 

          “You O.K.?” Brenda asked putting an arm around her shoulder unsure if her friend’s behavior was totally attributable to her bowling but offered,  “It was only one gutter, the rest of your game was pretty good.”

 

          Kelly smiled at her friend wondering just how to tell her friend that wasn’t the problem.  Brenda saw the look of fear and worry in her friend’s eye and wished that Kelly would confide in her.

 

          “You guys about ready, I’m starving,” Lacy interrupted her thoughts, bringing back Kelly’s ball and setting it in the woman’s bag.

 

          “You’re always starving,” Brenda commented, zipping up her bowling bag and handing it to her lover.

 

          “That’s because you never cook!”

 

          Kelly interrupted the playful bickering to ask, “Where are we going?”

 

          “Chili’s, didn’t you hear us talking about it earlier?”

 

          “No, guess not.”  Suddenly, Kelly felt uncomfortable, almost fearful and added, “I think I’ll pass on dinner tonight and go straight home.  I’m kinda tired.”

 

          Lacy and Brenda looked at one another and the latter motioned for her to go ahead to the car.  Lacy nodded and headed out to the car and left Brenda to talk with her friend in private.

 

          Brenda took Kelly’s bag from her hand and set it down before speaking.  “Kelly, can you tell me what’s going on with you?  I’m serious now, you’ve really got to talk to someone.”

 

          Kelly looked up at Brenda and felt her eyes burn at her friend’s truth, lowering her head she nodded. 

 

          “You know that I’m here for you, if you want to talk?”

 

          “Yes, but I can’t right now,” Kelly answered looking at down at her shoes.

 

          “Is it about CJ?”  Brenda inquired.

 

          Kelly shrugged her shoulders and looked up.  “I don’t know anymore.  I’m so confused about everything lately.”

 

          “Is it because of what happened before?”  Brenda tried to get her friend to open up on this subject many times and each time Kelly refused to discuss her past. 

 

          “I think so,” Kelly answered.  “It’s just, things don’t seem to make sense anymore.  They haven’t for a long time,” her voice trailing to a whisper.

 

          “So, talk to me, maybe together we can sort things out,” Brenda offered, and moved to put her arm around Kelly’s shoulder.  Kelly dropped her head on Brenda’s shoulder briefly before straightening up and looking at her friend.  “Do you think we could save this until tomorrow.  I really don’t want to talk tonight.”

 

          Brenda was disappointed but smiled, “Sure, we can talk whenever you want.”

 

          Kelly nodded and picked up her bag again and they walked out together.  She knew her friend was disappointed, but she just didn’t think she was ready to go down that road.

 

          “Will you at least come out with us tonight?” Brenda asked as they approached the cars.

 

          Kelly looked at her friend and saw the concern in her eyes and nodded, “Sure, I’ll follow you guys.”

          Lacy hearing the end of the conversation offered, “Why don’t you ride with her Bren’?  This way I can listen to my music and not yours,” she offered jokingly, to lighten the mood a bit.

 

          Kelly grinned and nodded her head toward her car and Brenda followed along winking back at Lacy.

 

         

CHAPTER 4

 

          Kelly followed behind the two women as they entered the restaurant and headed to their booth.  Lacy and Brenda slid into one side and Kelly looked up to see CJ sitting on the other side and slid in beside her.   She wasn’t sure if it was more disconcerting to be sitting across from those blue eyes or close enough to her feel the woman’s body heat.   Their thighs were almost touching in the small booth and Kelly wasn’t sure if could make it though the meal or not, or why it bothered her so much.

 

Brenda kept the conversation lively much to Kelly’s relief as she fell silent in observation of the woman next to her.  She noted how her eyebrow arched in question, how the blue of her eyes changed color depending on the emotion, and how they twinkled when she laughed.  So intent was she on her casual observations that she didn’t realize that a question had been posed to her until those blue eyes turned her way and she saw the eyebrow arch in question.

 

“Huh?”

 

“I asked if you were ready to go, or do you want to sit staring all night?” Brenda was standing next to her grinning.  She hadn’t even realized that her friend had gotten up.

 

“Where have you been for the last half hour?”

 

Kelly blushed a deep red as she scrambled to get up, “Sorry, I must have been in a daze.”

 

“I’ll say,” Lacy replied putting her arm around the embarrassed woman and leading her towards the door.  When they were well ahead of the other two she quietly asked, “Is everything o.k.?”

 

Kelly nodded and replied, “Yeah, I guess I’m just tired.”

 

“Do you want us to drive you home?”

 

“No no, I’ll be fine,” Kelly reassured her.

 

Brenda and Lacey moved off toward their car and Kelly was left with CJ.  Their cars were parked near one another and they walked silently toward them.  CJ walked to Kelly’s car with her and broke the silence by asking, “Did my coming tonight upset you in anyway?”

 

“No!” Kelly blurted out a little too loudly and lowered her head feeling her face begin to burn again.

 

“I guess I’m just tired.  I’m sorry I wasn’t better company,” she continued a little more quietly.

 

“That’s O.K.  I just wanted to make sure my presence wasn’t making you uncomfortable,” CJ replied.

 

“No, not at all,” Kelly lied, “you don’t make me uncomfortable at all.”  Looking up at CJ she smiled trying to hide her nervousness.  ‘This is ridiculous!’  Kelly thought.  ‘I’m a grown woman acting like, I don’t know what!’

 

“It was good to get together tonight,” Kelly offered. “I had fun.”

 

“Me too!  Thanks for letting me tag along.”

 

“Any time.”

 

CJ turned toward her own car and then paused and turned around again.

 

“I was wondering, are you a Dolphins fan by chance?” CJ asked.

 

Kelly smiled, “Is there any other team?”

 

CJ laughed and replied, “Well, would you be interested in going to Sunday’s game?  I have two tickets on the fifty yard line,” CJ enticed her.

 

Kelly was caught off guard and the words came out of her mouth before she could catch herself.

 

“Sure.”

 

“Great, give me your address and I’ll pick you up,” CJ offered digging in her purse for something to write on.

 

Kelly rattled off her address and telephone number as CJ wrote it down.

 

“The game starts at three, how about I pick you up at two?  We can grab a snack at the stadium and then go out to eat after.”

 

Kelly nodded and replied, “O.K.”

 

“See you Sunday then,” CJ waved and walked toward her car.  Kelly opened her door and got in, releasing the breath that she had been holding.

 

 

CHAPTER 5

 

“Wow!  These are terrific seats!” Kelly was surprised when CJ had said fifty-yard line but she didn’t know she had meant this close to the field.

 

“My boss is a season ticket holder and when he can’t make a game, he gives me the tickets.”  CJ was happy that Kelly seemed to be in a better mood now.  They had gotten off to a rocky start the other day and her roommate seemed to have an attitude about something.  ‘Almost as if I had a sign on my forehead - “Gay here!”’ she frowned at the silent thought.

 

“CJ?”

 

“Yes.”  CJ brought her attention back to Kelly and looked at her inquiringly.  The late afternoon sun played off the highlights of her golden hair and CJ’s frown turned into a smile.

 

Kelly briefly glanced backward to see what CJ was smiling about, but didn’t see anything special.  Looking back she said, “I’m really sorry about earlier.  Brenda calls Donna, ‘the roommate from hell’.”

 

“Does she have a problem with all your friends or was it just me in particular?”

 

Kelly was puzzled at the question and thought for a moment before replying.   “Well, I don’t know.  I haven’t had too many friends lately.”  Outside of Brenda sleeping over, but she wasn’t about to explain that one to CJ.

 

“I think you’re the first in quite a while,” Kelly concluded

 

“Whose house is it anyway?”

 

“Mine,” Kelly replied waiting for the inevitable comments about taking charge.

 

“It’s a nice house,” CJ simply replied.

 

“Thank you.”

 

Kelly was surprised at the turn of the conversation.  CJ was proving to be very different from most people she knew, especially Donna.  She still couldn’t believe what had happened earlier and that CJ was taking it so lightly.  She had to have sensed something was wrong.

 

As usual Donna and Larry were at the house when CJ arrived a little early.  After brief introductions, Kelly went to her room to finish dressing and left CJ with the other two, her first mistake.  Kelly hadn’t been gone five minutes before Donna came waltzing into her room and point-blank asked, “Is that woman a dyke?”

 

“What?”

 

“Larry says that she is and he’s usually right about these things,” Donna replied smugly.

 

“I don’t know.  I haven’t asked her!  Does it really matter?” Kelly asked amazed at the woman’s stupidity.

 

“Well, that depends if you’re going to start inviting those people over a lot.  I’m not really comfortable with that.  You know what they say about guilt by association.”

 

“That’s their problem!” Kelly replied angrily.  “I don’t pick and choose my friends based on their sexual preferences.”

 

“Are you going tell me next that you’re one of them?”  Crossing her arms over her chest she gave Kelly one of her famous, ‘I’m not happy with you right now’ looks.

 

“No,” Kelly instantly replied, second mistake.  She should have wiped the look off Donna’s face and then thrown her out!

 

“That’s good to hear.  It would just be too awkward, if you know what I mean,” Donna replied before going back to the living room.

 

“Even if I am, you have nothing whatsoever to worry about!”  Kelly remarked quietly as she hurried to finish dressing and rescue CJ from who-knows-what was going on out there.

 

When Kelly entered the living room, CJ was still standing by the door waiting and Donna and Larry were no where to be found.

 

Seeing Kelly, CJ relaxed, “Ready?”  After the looks she had received from the other two she was more than ready to get out of there.

 

 

“You hungry?” CJ asked nudging Kelly lightly to pull her back from wherever she had gone.

 

“Sure,” Kelly replied looking up at CJ, still frowning in thought.

 

“Hey, don’t worry about earlier, it was no problem really.”

 

“O.K.” Kelly’s face smoothed out and a smile lightened her earlier countenance.

 

“We can snack now and go out for a real meal after the game.”

 

“Sounds good,” Kelly replied.

 

“I’ll go get us something, any preferences?”

 

“Whatever you’re having is fine.”

 

“Pizza?”  CJ asked getting up.

 

Kelly nodded and CJ winked before taking off up the stairs.  Kelly watched CJ’s agile body take the steps two at a time, her long legs carrying her quickly to the ramp and out of sight.  She caught a guy blatantly checking CJ out as she passed him but the woman didn’t even give him a glance in passing.  Kelly turned to face the field and thought, ‘So what if she is’.  A part of her deep down was happy with this revelation.

 

CJ returned with pizza and drinks and found that Kelly had donned her sunglasses as the afternoon sun had turned to face them.  She found herself momentarily disappointed that she wouldn’t be able to see the green eyes.

 

The game turned out to be an exciting one and Kelly found herself nearly hoarse from cheering.  After the game they went to dinner.  Kelly was surprised at how relaxed she felt with CJ and wondered why she was so uncomfortable in the beginning.  The two women found they had a lot in common and spent the evening talking and laughing.  When the check arrived, they both reached for it at the same time.  CJ was quicker and slipped it out from under Kelly’s hand, and handed it back to the waiter with her credit card.

 

“Hey, what’s my half?”

 

“Nothing,” CJ smiled.

 

“Come on, I can’t let you pay for everything!” Kelly protested.

 

“Why not?”

 

“Because it wouldn’t be fair.”

 

“It’s my treat.  I asked you out,” CJ replied.

 

“I know but…”

 

“No buts, it’s done.”  CJ took her copy of the charge and waved it smiling at Kelly.

 

“O.K.  But, next time it’s my turn!”

 

“So, there’s going to be a next time?” CJ asked thoughtfully.

 

“I had fun today, how about you?”

 

“Yes, actually it was one of the best afternoons I’ve spent in a long time,” CJ admitted.

 

“Me too!”

 

CJ pulled into Kelly’s drive and the porch light instantly came on.

 

“Oh Lord!” Kelly murmured embarrassed.

 

CJ started chuckling and stated, “I take it you don’t have sensor lights.”

 

“Not the kind you think!”  Kelly looked over shrugging and asked, “So what are you doing tomorrow night?”

 

“Why?”

 

“Want to catch a move?”

 

“O.K.” CJ replied looking at the curtain move in response to someone watching them from the house.  ‘Worse than parents,’ CJ thought amused.

 

Kelly caught what CJ was watching and sighed.  “Why don’t I just shoot myself now and put myself out of this misery?”

 

CJ turned to look at Kelly seriously and Kelly caught something in the blue eyes that she didn’t quite understand.

 

“Don’t let them get to you.  Remember you decide what’s right for you, not them.  If it gets too much for you, you might want to consider getting a different roommate.”

 

Kelly nodded and replied, “It may soon be time!”

 

“Maybe we should meet at the theatre so you don’t have to go through all this,” CJ offered her distraught friend.

 

“Not a bad idea.”  After setting a meeting time and location, Kelly got out and waved as CJ backed out of the drive and pulled away.  Sighing, she turned to the house and went to face the inquisition.  Walking in the door she found that Larry was still over and her anger flared.

 

“Do me a favor, next time you two are so interested in what I’m doing, why don’t you just come outside and see for yourselves.”  Satisfied at the silence that followed her comment, Kelly turned and headed to her bedroom.

 

“Well, excuse me!” Larry replied sarcastically and opened the refrigerator to check out its contents.  Kelly slowly turned and looked directly at him.

 

“Don’t you have a home to go to and your own food to eat?”  Catching the look on Donna’s face she spun around and headed to her bedroom, this time locking the door.  They looked so surprised at her response that it was well worth the silent treatment that would soon follow.

 

Monday flew by in anticipation of seeing CJ and not having to face her roommate.  If she worked things right, she wouldn’t be getting home until after Donna was asleep, even if she had to sit at the beach and wait.  She didn’t mention her plans to Brenda because she didn’t want to have to listen to her blow everything out of proportion.  They were just developing a nice comfortable friendship. ‘Nothing more’, she told herself.  Leaving work, Kelly went to the mall to kill some time before meeting CJ and still ended up arriving early to the theatre.  Rolling her window down halfway, she laid her head back and the light breeze lulled her to sleep.

 

CJ arrived and parked as close as she could to Kelly’s car and got out.  Walking towards the car she realized that Kelly was asleep, quietly approaching the driver’s side, she peeked into the window.  Kelly looked peaceful in her sleep.  CJ reached in to brush a lock of hair off Kelly’s face and stopped herself from running her fingers through the golden locks as green eyes instantly popped open startled.

 

CJ leaned on the door chuckling softly.  “You know you shouldn’t fall asleep with your window down, you never know who might reach in.”

 

“You scared the crap out of me!” Kelly replied with an embarrassed laugh.

 

“Sorry, I couldn’t resist.” 

 

Kelly opened her door and rolled up the window, locking the car before turning to CJ with a grin, “I’m just glad it was you!”

 

“So, what are we going to see?” CJ asked as they headed towards the entrance.

 

“We have choice of three movies starting soon.”

 

Deciding on a movie they went inside to purchase their tickets.  Kelly bought a bucket of popcorn with butter and the two women shared it.  Throughout the movie slippery fingers would slide over each other in the bucket and Kelly’s breath would catch in her throat.  After the first ten ‘I’m sorry', both women gave up apologizing and made a game out of scrambling for the popcorn together.

 

          As the movie neared its end, Kelly wiped a hand across her eyes to erase any evidence of her crying.  She hadn’t expected the movie to take this turn, nor react so strongly to it.   ‘The movie was supposed to be a comedy’, she groused to herself.  ‘God, just what I need to do, start bawling, must be PMSing or something!’  Taking a deep breath she tried to relax and not concentrate so hard on the screen in an attempt to gain control of her emotions once again.  Suddenly, she felt a warm hand cover hers and grasp it lightly.  Kelly’s breath caught and she looked up in the darkened theatre to CJ’s face.  CJ just smiled and winked at her before turning her attention back to the screen, her hand remained gently resting on Kelly’s.  Kelly lost all track of the rest of the movie as her mind and emotions focused on this one sensation.

 

 

CHAPTER 6

 

          The lights in the movie theatre came up CJ casually removed her hand from Kelly’s lap and gathered their things. 

 

          “Ready?”

 

          “Yes,” Kelly murmured softly at the loss of contact, and stepped out into the aisle as CJ waited for her to proceed her. 

 

          “God, I can’t believe we ate all that popcorn,” CJ replied as they threw away their empty containers.

 

          “I think we ate our week’s quantity of fat in that one binge.”

 

          CJ laughed and held the door open for Kelly to walk through.

 

          “Are you hungry?”

 

          “Not really,” Kelly replied looking over at CJ for her reaction.

 

          “Me either, want to skip dinner and go to the beach

 

          “O.k., maybe we can walk off a few of those calories,” Kelly replied, “Do you want me to follow you?”

 

          “No, why don’t you come in my car and I’ll bring you back here afterward, in case parking is a pain.”

 

          “O.K.”

 

          They discussed the movie as they drove over to the beach and CJ parked next to a meter.   They removed their shoes and walked along the sand mostly talking about past favorite movies and actors.  After a while they fell silent and just continued walking side by side.

 

          “So, tell me a little about yourself,” CJ prompted nudging Kelly’s shoulder lightly.

 

          “There’s not all that much to tell.” Kelly replied laughing nervously.  “I work, love the beach and now, I bowl.”

 

          “There has to more to it than that!  What about friends?  I know you have them,” CJ replied smiling down at the blonde.

 

          Kelly looked up laughing, “Yes, I do.  You’ve already met Brenda and Lacy.  They’re probably my closest friends.  I know lots of people but, more like acquaintances than friends, you know what I mean?”

 

          CJ nodded and looked away toward the water, “Is they’re anybody special in your life?”

 

          “No.”

 

          “How come?”

 

          “What?” Kelly stopped walking and looked up at CJ

 

          “I asked, Why don’t you have anybody special?” CJ replied looking seriously at Kelly.

 

          Kelly looked away from the blue eyes and shrugged her shoulders, “Haven’t really thought much about it,” she replied and stooped to pick through a pile of seashells.

 

          “Why?”

 

          Kelly didn’t look up and remained looking intently at the shells.  “Does it really matter?”

 

          “Yes it does.”

 

          Kelly stood up and threw one of the shells into the ocean before asking, “Why?”

 

          “Because I care.”

 

          “You hardly know me,” Kelly chuckled and continued walking.  After a few seconds she realized she was walking alone and turned to find CJ still standing back where she had left her.

 

          They looked at each other in the darkness and Kelly finally asked, “What do you want from me?”

 

          “I want to know what hurt you so much that you won’t even engage in life,” CJ answered from the darkness but didn’t make any effort to move closer.

 

          Kelly was glad that it was night and she couldn’t see CJ’s face very clearly.  This conversation was beginning to dig uncomfortably deep and she was feeling afraid.  “What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

         

          CJ took a step closer and answered, “All it means is that I see you spending so much time pushing people away and I just wanted to know why.”

 

          “Let me guess, you’re a shrink,” Kelly answered jokingly.

 

          “No, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care.”

 

          “Don’t worry ‘doc’.  I’m not withdrawing from life,” Kelly answered tightly.  Her nervousness was beginning to make her angry.

 

          “Aren’t you?”

 

          “Excuse me?” Kelly put her hands on her hips and glared back giving a great impersonation of the ice queen.

 

          “You’re doing it right now!” CJ threw up her hands and took a step closer to see Kelly’s face clearer.

 

          “You are so full of it!”  Kelly replied and began walking back up the beach, brushing past CJ.

 

          “Then why are you running away?” CJ asked exasperated.

 

          Kelly didn’t stop but began running toward the car.  She wished she had driven her own car.   Reaching the sidewalk she looked both ways, unsure of which direction to go. Finally, she turned left and started walking.  With each step came the tears until she could only see a blurred landscape in front of her.  Her mind whirled as her footsteps took her further and further away from the source of her discomfort.  ‘Why does that woman get to me?  I can handle even Brenda’s digging, so why can’t I do the same with her.  Anyway, I’m not a case for her to work on.  She doesn’t know half of what she is talking about.’  Her steps slowly dissolved her anger and all that was left were the tears that she wasn’t have much success in stopping.  She reached the corner and before she could step off the curb a car pulled in front of her and the door swung open.

 

          “Please get in!”  CJ asked calmly.  “I don’t want you walking by yourself at this time of night.”

 

          “I don’t need you!”  Kelly shouted at the woman.

 

          “O.K.  Please get in the car.  I will take you to your car,” CJ tried to calmly reason with the distraught woman.  Never would she have dreamed that she would take her casual observations so deeply.

 

          Kelly looked around frantically and realized that she didn’t know which way to turn next and quietly got into the car and sat as close to the door as she could get, refusing to looked over at CJ.

 

          CJ sighed and began a silent drive back to the movie theatre.   Pulling into the parking lot she spoke for the first time, “I’m sorry that I’ve upset you. I never intended to hurt you.”

 

          “It’s o.k.”  Kelly opened the door quickly she just wanted to go home and hide.   Before she could get out completely CJ grabbed her arm and held her back.

 

          “Wait!”

 

          Kelly tugged on the arm but didn’t turn around.

 

          “Please?”

 

          Kelly stopped but still didn’t turn around to face the woman.

 

          “I don’t want to leave it like this.  I don’t want you angry with me.  Can we just forget what I said and be friends?”

 

          “I can’t,” Kelly cried struggling to get free.  CJ let her go when she realized that Kelly was going to hurt herself in the struggling.  “Come on Kelly, don’t run away.  Talk to me!”

 

          Kelly pulled her arm free and got out of the car fumbling to unlock her door.  She heard CJ open her car door and footsteps approaching as she jumped behind the wheel and locked the door.  Grinding the starter, she threw the car into drive and peeled away leaving CJ standing alone in the parking lot.

 

          CJ got into her car and drove around looking for Kelly’s car.  Finally, she headed towards the woman’s house; she had to make sure that she had arrived home safely.  Driving past the house she saw that Kelly’s car was in front and went on past towards home.   

 

          Kelly went straight to her room, glad for once that Donna wasn’t anywhere around.  Throwing herself on the bed she cried herself to sleep.

 

 

CHAPTER 7

 

          CJ paced her office for what seemed like the millionth time before she sat down and picked up the telephone.  After a few calls, she dialed one last time and waited for the phone to be answered.

 

          “Brenda?”

 

          “Yes.”

 

          “Hi, it’s CJ from bowling.  I’m really sorry to bother you at work but I need to talk with you.  Can you be free for lunch in say fifteen minutes?”  After listening a few more moments she ended the call and picked up her jacket before heading out the door. 

 

          Brenda entered the restaurant and found CJ already seated at a booth and went over to her.   ‘Man, if I didn’t have Lacy, I could go for her big time.  She is hot!’ she thought taking a seat across from the dark-haired woman.  

 

          “Hi!”

 

          “Hello.  I’m glad that you were free for lunch,” CJ replied nervously.

 

          “What’s up?” Brenda asked.  She had an idea it had something to do with Kelly, especially from the way the young woman had been acting this morning. 

 

          “It’s about Kelly,” CJ began and paused when the waitress came over to take their drink order.

 

          “I had a feeling it was,” Brenda replied after the waitress walked away.  “What happened?”

 

          CJ looked directly in Brenda’s face and said, “We went out last night to the movies and then went for a walk.  We started talking and I simply asked her why she wasn’t interested in engaging in life.”

 

          “Oh boy!” Brenda’s breath whistled past her teeth.  “You hit a sensitive spot.”

 

          “What do you mean?”

 

          “Well, I’m probably her best friend, or at least as close as she has let anyone get to her.  I know that there is something deep down that has been eating at her and she won’t talk about it.  I’ve tried and I can’t get her to open up,” Brenda explained.

 

          “Has something happened?”

 

          “I think so but, it was a long time ago.  I just don’t think she ever got over it.”

 

          “I see,” CJ simply replied and lapsed into silence as their food arrived and they began to eat.

 

          “Do you like her?”  Brenda asked and watched as CJ hesitated with her fork in mid-air and then shakily set it down before looking up to answer.

 

          “Why do you ask?”  CJ asked trying to appear calm and let the other woman take the lead.

 

          “Well because, I’ve seen how Kelly is acting lately and today she is about as jumpy as you can get without flying out of your skin.  Someone says hello to her and we have to pry her off the ceiling.”

 

          “Is she that bad?” CJ asked biting her lip in concentration.

 

          “Yes.  So, are you going to answer my original question?”

 

          “Yes, I like her, “ CJ simply answered and waited for Brenda to respond.

 

          “Qualify ‘like’, “ Brenda asked leaning on her elbows on the table, their food quickly forgotten.

 

          “Like, I can’t get her out of my mind.  I don’t know what it is about her, but, she’s gotten to me and I don’t even know her that well,” CJ answered frustrated at her conflicting emotions.

 

          “So, do you want to get to know her better?”

 

          “What do you think?” CJ answered sarcastically.

 

          “O.K., here’s what were going to do.”

 

 

          “Hello.”

 

          Kelly’s breath caught in her throat at the familiar voice and turned to look into blue eyes.

 

          CJ stepped into the office and closed the door behind her.   She had followed Brenda back to the office and the woman had showed her which office was Kelly’s.  Kelly continued to regard CJ silently.

 

          “I hope I’m not disturbing you, but I really need to talk with you,” the tall woman explained and waited for an invitation to sit.

 

          Kelly was so shocked to see CJ in her office that she continued to watch the woman hover around her desk until it dawned on her and she motioned for her to sit.

 

          “How did you know where I worked?” Kelly asked and instantly knew by the look on CJ’s face.

 

          “Let me guess, Brenda!”

 

          CJ nodded and replied, “I was going to call your house but I wasn’t sure how your roommate would respond and I didn’t want to cause you any more trouble.” 

 

          “Donna’s moving out this weekend,” Kelly replied curtly.

 

          “I’m sorry.  I want you to know I didn’t mean to upset you last Friday.”  CJ tried to form what she wanted to say before she said it so that there would be no repeat of their last conversation.

 

          Kelly’s anger quickly diminished with CJ’s obvious sincerity and she replied, “No, I’m sorry I over reacted.”

 

          “But, I shouldn’t have pushed you so hard.”  CJ sighed relieved that Kelly wasn’t ready to throw her out of the office just yet.

 

          “It’s o.k.”

 

          “Can we still be friends?” CJ asked hesitantly.

 

          “I don’t know,” Kelly replied as the doubt began to erode her resolve.  She had decided that she would stay as far away from this woman as possible; but here she was back again, and Kelly couldn’t say no.

 

          “You do, Kelly,” CJ replied without backing down.

 

          Kelly’s green eyes flashed a warning.

 

          “What are you running from?” CJ asked before she could stop herself.

 

          “What difference does it make?” Kelly retorted.

 

          “It makes a difference to me!”

 

          “Why?” Kelly asked quickly getting up and pacing behind her desk.

 

          “Because I care.”

 

          “You don’t even know me,” Kelly snapped back.

 

          “Then why does everything I say affect you like this?”

 

          Kelly stopped pacing and looked directly as CJ with a sudden feeling of claustrophobia.   CJ sensed Kelly’s direction, reaching the door before her she placed her back against it and faced the young woman.

 

          “What are you running from?” she asked again.

 

          Kelly couldn’t deny her attraction to this woman, any more than her uncontrollable desire to be enveloped in CJ arms, but her guilt and denial kept her rooted to her spot as the tears trickled down her cheeks.

 

          “Please don’t do this to me,” Kelly pleaded in a whisper.

 

          “Do what?” CJ asked taking a step toward the woman.

 

          “Make me feel,” Kelly whispered and turned away as her shoulders shook with silent sobs.

 

          CJ, no longer hesitant, grasped the woman from behind and turned her into her arms and held Kelly as the woman cried.

 

          “It’s o.k. Let it out,” CJ whispered and rubbed Kelly’s back as she held her tightly.

 

          It felt so right to Kelly, to be in this woman’s arms and to be held by her. “Why?” She asked out loud.

 

          CJ knew only Kelly could find those answers for herself and replied, “Talk to me.”

 

          Kelly nodded her head slightly, she needed to talk.

 

          “Do you want to sit down?”

 

          Kelly shook her head sharply and clung tightly to the taller woman.  She couldn’t face those blue eyes and say the things she needed to say.

 

          “O.k., we can stay like this,” CJ soothed and waited for Kelly to begin.

         

          Kelly told her about Peter and about her failure to be what he needed; and finally, what Peter had told her about herself, but she couldn’t get passed the thought that she hadn’t been enough for him.

 

          After she became silent, CJ took a deep breath; she had a better understanding of where Kelly was at this point in her life.  She had let fear become guilt and had locked herself away as what she saw as punishment, instead of facing the fear and dealing with it for what it was.

 

          “Do you think Peter felt this way?”

 

          Kelly shrugged her shoulders.

 

          “It sounds to me like Peter knew you pretty well and wanted you to be happy.”

 

          Kelly sniffed and replied, “yes”.

 

          “Do you think you could have saved him?”

 

          “No, he had cancer,” Kelly answered confused at the question.

 

          “Then why are you living with guilt?” CJ asked calmly.

 

          Kelly shifted uncomfortably and replied, “Because I wasn’t what he needed.”

 

          “You were exactly what he needed.  He didn’t need a lover, he needed a friend, and you were there.”

 

          “I…….” Kelly stammered unsure of what she needed to say.

 

          “Is the thought of being gay so terrifying to you?” CJ held her breath and waited for Kelly’s answer.

 

          “I don’t know.”

 

          “You’ve spend your entire life running from it haven’t you?” CJ asked pulling back and looking down into wet, green eyes.

 

          Kelly whispered, “Yes.”

 

          “Stop running and face your fear.”

 

          Kelly looked up and lost herself in CJ’s blue eyes.  In slow motion she moved to brush her lips across CJ’s soft mouth.  At that slight touch, a silent moan rumbled through Kelly and when CJ pulled her in for a deeper kiss, she verbalized it as warmth spread through her body. 

 

          Breaking the kiss, Kelly stepped back blushing and breathing heavily.

 

          “I’m sorry, I can’t believe I did that!”

 

          “I’m not complaining, “ CJ answered smiling easily at the blonde.

 

          “I don’t know what I’m doing,” Kelly replied.

 

          “You’re following your heart Kelly. Don’t try to analyze it because you can’t fit it into one of your perfect little formulas.  Love doesn’t work that way.”

 

          “Is that what this is? Love?” Kelly asked.

 

          “I’d like to hope it’s the beginning of it because I’ve fallen hard for you.”

 

          CJ could see Kelly’s confusion and uncertainty and offered, “How about we take this slow and spend some time together, no pressure, no expectations?”

 

          “ O.k.” Kelly agreed.

 

          “Great,” CJ smiled warmly.  “How about Saturday night we go to dinner?”

 

          “That would be good as long as it’s after Donna finishes moving out.  I don’t want to leave them there alone.”

 

          CJ nodded and offered, “Do you want me to come by earlier and keep you company, or would that cause a problem for you?”

 

          Kelly hesitated and decided she really didn’t want to be alone with Donna and her boyfriend. She didn’t care anymore what they thought about her anyway.

 

          “You wouldn’t mind?” Kelly asked hesitantly.

 

          “No, not at all.  I can be over around 3 PM, if that’s all right?”

 

          “Perfect.”

 

          “Well, I’ve got to get back to work now,” CJ admitted.

 

          Kelly was unsure of how to respond until CJ hugged her briefly and left the office.

 

 

CHAPTER 8      

 

          “Wait!  I think that’s mine!”  Kelly snapped, her nerves were frayed beyond belief.  She was tired of arguing with Donna and Larry over whose stuff was whose.  She had already let them take a lot of her stuff and leave garbage behind, but the bowl Larry held had been her grandmother’s and it was all she had left of the woman. 

 

          “Donna said it was her’s,” Larry announced wrapping it in paper to put in the last box.

 

          “No!  It was my grandmother’s.  Give it to me,” Kelly replied trying to remain calm.

 

          Donna walked into the room at that moment and Larry turned to her, “Didn’t you tell me to pack this?”

 

          “Yes, it’s mine,” the woman replied.

 

          “No, Donna it was my grandmother’s and you know it!” Kelly’s voice rose as she wondered how she could ever have called this person a friend.

 

          “I don’t think so, “ Donna replied with attitude.

 

          “I want it back right now!” Kelly demanded.  She was about ready to wipe that look off Donna’s face.

 

          “Grow up!  It’s just a bowl,” Larry replied placing it in the box.  Kelly moved quickly to take it back but he was quicker and pulled the box away from her.

 

          Kelly was so frustrated she wanted to cry.  “I’ve let you take a lot of things that we both know belong to me, but I won’t let you take that too.  It’s all I have of my grandmother.  Now give it back to me!”

 

          “I don’t think so,” Donna repeated smiling.  Kelly moved toward the bowl again and Donna stepped in front to block her path.

 

          “Don’t touch my things!”

 

          “I think you heard her say it was her grandmother’s I suggest you give it back to her!”  Everyone turned toward the voice to see CJ standing in the doorway.  Her body tense at the display before her.  She could hear the screaming coming up the driveway and by the sound of Kelly’s voice she knew it hadn’t been good.

 

          “Now!” she reiterated coming into the kitchen.

 

          “This is no concern of yours!” Larry spoke up and moved to pick up the unsealed box to take it to his truck.

 

          “I wouldn’t if I were you,” CJ warned him and stood blocking his way.

 

          Larry hesitated, weighing his options and looked over at Donna.  Kelly took the opportunity and jumped forward grabbing the dish that lay in the top of the box, and stepped back from everyone.   Momentarily stunned everyone turned to look at Kelly, who stood with her back against the wall clutching the wrapped package to her.  Before the other two could react, CJ moved past them to stand in front of Kelly.  Larry set the box on the table and turned to CJ. 

 

          “I think you’ve got everything you’re going to take from this house.  I suggest you leave now,” CJ ordered blocking their way to Kelly.  CJ put a hand behind her to touch Kelly in reassurance that she was safe.

 

          Kelly stood behind the broad shoulders of CJ and watched for Donna and Larry’s reaction.  As her heart pounded in her chest, she felt a warm touch on her arm and saw CJ’s fingers reaching for her and she moved forward into them.  The instant touch was both calming and electrifying for different reasons and she began to breathe again.

 

          “Come on Larry, I don’t want any trouble with the girlfriend here.  If Kelly wants to destroy her life, I don’t want to be associated with it,” Donna replied and turned to go out the door.  Larry silently picked up the box he had set on the table and followed Donna out.

 

          “Wait!”  Kelly called out from behind CJ.  CJ looked questioningly over her shoulder at Kelly.  Kelly looked up and told CJ, “I want her all of her keys!”

 

          CJ turned to the two in the doorway and raised her eyebrow in question to them.  Donna pulled open her purse and removed two keys from her keychain and threw them on the kitchen table.  “Don’t worry, I won’t ever be coming back here!”  Donna spat as Larry carried the box out to the truck, turning she slammed the door behind her.

 

          CJ instantly turned to Kelly and grasped her by the arms, “You O.K.?”

 

          Kelly nodded with tears of relief in her eyes.  She was never so happy to see someone as she was CJ a few moments ago.

 

          CJ took the bowl out of Kelly’s clenched hands and placed it on the table before wrapping her arms around the woman and pulling her close.  Kelly rested her head against CJ’s chest and listed to the quickened beat of the other woman’s heart.   When their hearts had slowed and beat in unison Kelly spoke up, “Thank you for doing that.”

 

          “Hey, I just figured I’d even the odds.  Two against one never sat well with me,” she replied chuckling.

 

          Pulling back, Kelly looked up and smiled.  Resisting the urge to kiss her, CJ stepped back and asked, “So, did they get away with a lot?”

 

          “Pretty much so, looks like I’ll have to do some shopping soon.”

 

          “Damn, I wish I had gotten here sooner then.  You shouldn’t have let them get away with it!”  CJ pronounced and began picking up stray wrapping paper and garbage that the couple had left behind.

 

          “It was just easier this way,” Kelly explained quietly.

 

          CJ turned and realized what she had said.  “Hey, don’t worry about it.  Things can be replaced, they’re not important.  We’ll go shopping one of these nights, O.K.?”

          A smile edged Kelly’s face and she nodded.  After the two had surveyed the damage Donna and Larry had caused and set things right, they headed out the door to dinner.

 

          After dinner they went for a brief walk on the beach and CJ grasped Kelly’s hand as they walked in the twilight.  Kelly entwined her fingers with CJ’s and smiled in the darkness wondering why she ever feared this woman.  That night as CJ took Kelly home, a light peck on the woman’s cheek was all CJ offered, and Kelly stood staring down the road long after CJ’s car had pulled away.

 

          “Hey, come on in I’ll be ready in a few minutes,” Kelly stepped back to allow CJ into the house.  They were headed out to go shopping to replace some of the things Donna had taken.

 

          “Have you got your list ready?”  CJ asked hovering in the doorway.

 

          Kelly looked at her funny and answered, “Yes, What’s going on?”

 

          CJ went back out to the porch and walked in with a wrapped box.  “I was wondering if this was on your list?” she asked and handed a package to Kelly.

 

          “What did you do now?” Kelly asked embarrassed by the gift.

 

          “No big deal, just thought you could use this the most.” 

 

          Kelly opened the paper and box and found a new coffeepot and a huge smile spread across her face. “How did you know I need my morning coffee?”

 

          “I didn’t I just know that I can’t live without it and I took a shot it was the same with you.”

 

          “You’re a life saver!”   “In more ways than one!’ Kelly thought to herself.

 

          “Ready?”

 

          “Yes, I’ve got my list and I’m ready to shop!”  Kelly followed CJ out the door, locking it behind her and got into CJ’s car. 

 

          “I can’t believe she took all this stuff,” CJ complained walking to the car loaded down with packages.

 

          “I know, I should have stood up for myself, but I just wanted it be over.”

 

          “Well, now you don’t have to put up with her and I think we made a great haul today,” CJ announced stowing the packages in the back of her car.

 

          “Are you hungry?” Kelly asked CJ as they pulled out of the mall parking lot.

 

          “Yeah, actually I am.”

 

          “Would you be interested in coming back to the house and I could fix us something to eat?” 

 

          “That’s sound great!” CJ replied and headed toward Kelly’s.

 

 

CHAPTER 9

 

 

          “Spaghetti O.K?”  Kelly asked looking over the refrigerator door at CJ sitting at the kitchen table.

 

          “Yes, it’s one of my favorites.”

 

          “Good, I made some sauce yesterday and it will only take 10 minutes to heat some pasta and we’ll be in business,” Kelly replied pulling everything out of the refrigerator.

 

          “Can I help with anything?” CJ asked from right behind Kelly.  Kelly slightly jumped and turned to find CJ standing very close to her. 

 

          “You want to set the table?”   Kelly’s hands trembled as she tried to tear open the box of pasta.  CJ reached over and took the box from Kelly and pulled the top off it before handing it back and going to the cupboard to get the dishes.

 

          ‘Get a grip Kelly!’ she admonished herself as she put the water on to boil. 

 

          CJ leaned against the counter and watched Kelly move about the kitchen, preparing dinner.  Everything was precision and she had the moves down to a science.  CJ was amazed as she, herself, was very inept in the kitchen and mediocre at any cooking except making coffee.

 

          Kelly was aware of CJ watching her and she tried to ignore the feelings that were running through her and concentrate on the task at hand.  Finishing up she went to the counter where CJ was standing and reached around her to get the platter for the pasta.  CJ didn’t move and Kelly brushed up against her arm and the contact brought a flood of warmth to her very core. 

 

          CJ did everything she could to restrain herself from wrapping her arms around Kelly as she brushed up against her. She didn’t want to push the woman, but she was loosing her mind with desire every time the woman came near.

 

          “Ready?”

 

          “Oh, Yes!” CJ replied.

 

          “Hungry huh?” Kelly laughed at CJ’s enthusiastic response.

 

          “Oh, yeah…um…I guess I am,” CJ blushed at almost being caught.

 

          They shared a nice quiet dinner with each one stealing glances at the other.

 

          “You are a good cook, this is fantastic,” CJ replied appreciatively.

 

          “Thanks, it was the first thing my mother taught me how to cook.  When your Italian it’s a mandatory skill,” Kelly replied grinning.

 

          “Well it’s a skill you’ve honed to perfection.”

 

          “Thank you again.  So, tell me about yourself.  Have you lived here all your life?”  Kelly inquired, pushing her plate away.

 

          “Yes, I’m a native, born, raised and educated in Florida.  Haven’t really had a desire to live anywhere else I guess,” CJ replied shrugging.

 

          “I can understand why, I love the weather and the ocean.”

 

          “So, you weren’t born in Florida?” CJ inquired.

         

          “No, I’m from the freeze-your-butt north,” Kelly replied grimacing, “but, you couldn’t make me go back for all the money in the world.”

 

          “I’m glad to hear that,” CJ replied.

 

          Kelly smiled warmly and said, “I know you work with Angel, but what do you do?”

 

          “I work in insurance, I’m a claims adjuster.   I’m the lucky one that gets to go out after hurricanes and assess the damage, “ CJ admitted wryly.

 

          “Sounds interesting!”

 

          “Not really, especially when you are knee deep in mud and debris, not to mention the smell,” CJ grimaced at the thought.

 

          “Ooh, I hadn’t thought about that,” Kelly answered frowning.

 

          “Not so glamorous huh?”

 

          Kelly shook her head grinning and got up to start clearing the table.  “What do you do between hurricanes?”

 

          “Well, there are always theft, fire, auto accidents and the assorted commercial accidents that keep things lively.”

 

          The women continued talking as Kelly loaded the dishwasher and CJ began making some coffee. 

 

          “You interested in watching some TV?”  Kelly asked as she poured coffee into two mugs and carried them into the living room.

 

          “Sure, any good movies on?” CJ asked settling down on the sofa next to Kelly.

 

          Kelly flipped through the channels until they decided on an old movie.  CJ had never seen it but Kelly had and warned her that it was a tearjerker.  As the movie played, Kelly slowly found herself leaning closer to CJ until their shoulders touched.   CJ slipped her arm around the back of the couch and let her fingertips lightly brush Kelly’s shoulder.   CJ looked down at the blond head resting close to her shoulder and decided to just go for it and brought her hand down onto Kelly’s shoulder and gently pulled her closer so that her head rested fully against CJ’s shoulder. 

 

Kelly sighed and shifted to get more comfortable and snuggled up against CJ as she fought to keep from getting emotional over the movie.  She liked the feel of CJ’s arm around her and the smell of her perfume reminded her of a light tropical breeze floating across the night air.  She wasn’t sure if it was the complete sense of peace that she felt or the movie, but she felt the tears begin to well up in her eyes.  Blinking rapidly, she tried to still the flood that seemed intent of coming.  ‘Oh, wonderful…now I’m going to start bawling like a baby!’ she thought to herself and nonchalantly sneaked a hand up to wipe away the first tear to slipped down her cheek.

 

          CJ watched the movie and reveled in the feel of Kelly tucked up against her side.  She loved the smell of her hair and the fresh light fragrance of her shampoo.  She absently started stroking Kelly’s arm lightly as she continued to watch the movie.  The movie was indeed a tearjerker and CJ felt herself getting involved in the scene and blinked back tears.  Looking down she noticed Kelly pull a wet hand away from her face and smiled thinking, ‘I guess we have this in common too.’ 

 

          As the movie ended, neither woman stirred as they tried to get a grip on their emotions.  CJ finally chuckled and leaned down to whisper in Kelly’s ear, “I think we should have brought Kleenex to watch this movie.”

 

          Kelly nodded but couldn’t look up as the tears continued to roll down her face.  The warm breath in her ear made her shiver. 

 

          “Hey, you o.k.?” CJ asked concerned and shifted to pull Kelly up to face her.  She saw the tear stained face and gently wiped the woman’s cheek with her hand.  “What’s wrong?”  CJ asked, it had to be more than just the movie, maybe she had pushed to far and scared her.

 

          “Does my holding you bother you?” CJ asked hesitantly.

 

          Kelly looked up teary-eyed and replied, “No, please don’t think that!” 

 

          “O.k., then tell me what it is?”

 

          “I don’t know, it’s stupid.  I’m crying because of the damn movie and because I’ve never felt so good as when I’m near you,” she answered looking up into blue eyes expecting to see ridicule and laughter in them.  Instead, she saw an intensity that took her breath away, and when CJ leaned in for a kiss, Kelly moved up to meet her.  The touch of their lips ignited a fire deep within them as they barely touched upon the depth of their passion.

 

          CJ pulled back before they took this too far and too fast.  She didn’t want to do anything to scare Kelly and hinder their relationship.  Kelly looked up at her with undisguised lust and asked, “Why did you stop?”

 

          “Because I don’t want to rush you into anything you’re going to regret later.”

 

          “The only thing I would regret is if you didn’t want to go any farther,” Kelly replied looking away momentarily uncertain.

 

          CJ pulled Kelly’s chin back to face her and huskily replied, “That could never happen.”

 

          “Then kiss me again!”

 

          CJ leaned down and captured the waiting lips and deepened the kiss.  Kelly responded to all CJ had to offer and the two women lay on the sofa kissing until both were breathless.

 

          CJ paused to look into Kelly’s eyes for reassurance that things were still o.k. with the young woman.  In answer Kelly pulled CJ back down on top of her and said, “Don’t stop” before attacking the lips above her again.

 

          CJ broke of the searing kiss and asked, “Are you sure?”

 

          “I’m sure that I’ve never felt this way about anyone, not even Peter.  I never needed him as much as I do you and I don’t think I ever wanted him as much as I do you right now,” Kelly replied confirming that desire consumed her.

 

          CJ nodded and got up off the couch and looked down at Kelly.  Kelly was afraid she had pushed things too fast until CJ offered her hand and gently pulled Kelly up and led her down the hall to the bedroom.  Never in all her life had Kelly ever felt what she was feeling at this moment.  There was a fire growing inside of her that threatened to erupt at any moment, an ache so deep inside her that only CJ could touch.  She looked up into blue eyes and knew that her soul had already been claimed. 

 

          CJ reached over to shut the light off. She reasoned it was to ease Kelly’s first time but mostly, CJ wanted to feel and taste every part of this woman and commit it to memory; for that she had no need to see.

 

          Kelly was thankful when the light went off and she could still see CJ illuminated by the pale glow of the moon, and when the tall woman pulled her into her arms, she closed her eyes and gave way to every sensation.

 

          As CJ kissed along Kelly’s neck to her ear she whispered, “I want you”.  Kelly ran her hand up and down CJ’s back to her firm butt and moaned when CJ whispered her desire.

 

          “Take me,” was all she could manage to reply.

 

          CJ slowly pulled Kelly’s shirt from her jeans and tugged it gently over the blonde head.  The creamy smoothness of Kelly’s skin made CJ want to kiss every inch of flesh her lips and hands came in contact with.

 

          Kelly did not want to be deprived of any of CJ and plucked lightly at the woman’s shirt asking, “Can I?”  CJ pulled the shirt off in one quick motion and continued her assault along Kelly’s breast, kissing the valley as she reached around to undo the clasp of her bra.  Kelly followed all of CJ’s leads and CJ felt an erotic pulse to this action.  Every move she made, she wanted Kelly to parrot and the woman did so without hesitation.

 

          Naked, CJ pushed Kelly gently backward onto the bed and lay down next to her.  Their hands and lips explored the unfamiliar, yet familiar, planes of each other’s bodies.  Kelly was lost in the sensual feel of touching CJ and every returned touch caused her blood to burn more intensely.

 

          When CJ whispered, “Can I touch you?” Kelly groaned as CJ’s mouth circled her breast and her hands made their way down her body, lightly teasing the flesh as they traveled.  Desire overrode Kelly’s fear as CJ brought her higher and higher until she teetered on the brink.  When CJ’s lips touched her, she soared over the edge into waves of pure ecstasy.

 

          Arms held her tightly as her breathing returned to normal but the fire was still there, banked to a slow burn.  Kelly looked up into blue eyes darkened by passion and moved to kiss CJ, savoring the new taste she found there.  Pushing CJ onto her back, Kelly began kissing her way to her desired goal, she wanted to make love to this woman more than anything.   Armed with what little knowledge she had, she began her exploration and didn’t stop until she felt CJ let go and cry out.

 

          Kelly looked out the window at the moon, content and sated in CJ’s arms.  She had never known anything as powerful as this and she knew without a doubt she loved the woman who held her.  She felt alive for the first time in her life.  She now understood what Peter had been trying to tell her.  Leaning down she kissed the flesh beneath her cheek.

 

          “You still awake?” CJ asked quietly.

 

          “Uh-huh,” Kelly answered back.

 

          “You o.k.?”

 

          Kelly could hear the hesitancy in that question and turned to rest her chin lightly on CJ’s shoulder.  Eye to eye she peered at CJ and smiled responding, “Oh, yeah!”        

         
          CJ smiled back, relieved and brushed a lock of hair out of Kelly’s eyes.  She had never fallen so hard or so fast for anyone as she had for this woman.

 

          “I love you,” CJ whispered as a tear slipped down her cheek.  Kelly looked back with a lump in her throat and answered, “I’ve waited my entire life for you.  I just didn’t know that until tonight.  I love you too!”

 

 

CHAPTER 10

 

“Hey!” came the low smoky voice over the phone.

 

“Hey yourself!” Kelly purred back.

 

“What have you planned for this weekend?”

 

“Nothing why?” Kelly asked.

 

“Want to go away with me?” the sexy voice continued, “I really want to spend a couple of days, and nights, alone with you.”

 

“I don’t know. I’m kind of involved with someone right now,” Kelly replied hesitantly.

 

“So, bring her along,” the voice replied.

 

Kelly started chuckling, “Ooh CJ, your bad!”

 

“To the bone, baby!”

 

“Are you coming over tonight?”

 

“Do you want me to?” CJ asked kicking herself for her insecurity.

 

“Always!”  Kelly replied immediately.

 

“Well then, how can I resist,” CJ answered relieved.  “So will you go away with me this weekend?”

 

“Your serious?”

 

“When it comes to you, I’m always serious.”

 

Kelly smiled as a warm rush passed through her at CJ’s admission.  “Sure, where are we going?”

 

“Oh, that’s a secret!”

 

“Oh CJ, How do I know what to pack?” Kelly complained.

 

“You won’t need much in the way of clothes!” CJ teased.

 

Kelly blushed and looked around even though there was no one in her office.  It was lunchtime and even the offices around her were vacant.  It wasn’t like they could hear CJ’s side of the conversation, but she was still trying to get use to their banter.

 

Feeling brave she replied, “I’ll hold you to that.”

 

“Then it’s a date!  I’ll see you after work,” CJ said.

 

“CJ?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Bring your jammies?” Kelly asked hesitantly

 

“Will my birthday suite do?” she teased.

 

“Perfectly!  I’ve filled the hot tub.”

 

Kelly looked up smiling when she heard the screen door open and CJ walked through carrying her briefcase and duffel bag.  Kelly knew CJ wouldn’t admit it, but she carried the duffel bag in her car all the time now.

 

CJ dropped her things on a chair and wrapped her arms around Kelly as she worked in the kitchen, kissing her soundly before releasing her to grab a vegetable that Kelly was chopping.

 

“You know, I’ve been thinking.  If it’s alright with you, maybe I could leave a few things here,” CJ asked pretending it was no big deal.

 

Kelly knew what it took for CJ to make that suggestion, putting down the knife, she turned in CJ’s arms to face her looking up intently.

 

“I was thinking more like, maybe you could bring all your things over,” Kelly replied.

 

“Yeah?” CJ asked happily surprised.

 

“Yeah!” Kelly confirmed smiling.

CJ looked closely into the smiling green eyes and saw herself reflected there; leaning down she claimed Kelly’s lips and gave her the answer she was looking for.

 

*******************

 

CJ loaded Kelly’s bag into the trunk and opened the door for the pestering woman.

 

“Come on, tell me where we are going,” she begged.   Kelly had tried every persuasive tactic she could come up with, but none had worked and she finally reverted to pure begging to get an answer out of the grinning woman.

 

“You’ll know soon enough.”  Was all CJ would say.

 

“I had to pack almost everything I own because I didn’t know what kind of clothes to bring!” She accused trying to guilt CJ into responding.

 

CJ just smiled and replied, “There is only one outfit you need.”  Leaning over she kissed Kelly deeply and then said, “Yep, all packed!”

 

Kelly looked around see if any of the neighbors were watching.  But, after a few of their romps in the hot tub, she doubted any of them had any doubts of their own.

 

CJ held the car door open and wiggled her eyebrows suggestively as Kelly got in still blushing.  Closing the door she chuckled and walked around to the other side.

 

Heading south, Kelly looked over at CJ curiously trying to figure out their destination.  CJ smiled and continued to look straight ahead.  Reaching their turn-off, CJ continued west across the state.  Her boss had a house on the beach and let CJ use it whenever she liked.  This weekend, she wanted Kelly selfishly to herself.  CJ had agreed to move in with Kelly, but hadn’t given her a definite date as yet.  As much as she wanted to move in, she felt Kelly was rushing things and didn’t want her to ever regret anything about their relationship.

 

As it turned out, the trip was two-fold in purpose.  One to discuss the move and two, CJ had just received word that she was to go up to North Carolina to help out with the hurricane relief.  She could be gone from a month to six weeks.  Unfortunately, she was being sent with Angel, but she wasn’t going to tell Kelly this bit of news.  Angel could be a problem, but CJ wasn’t interested in the pushy woman.   She had constantly rebuffed her approaches in the past and would continue to do so.

 

They were almost to the house and CJ looked over to find Kelly curled up against the door asleep.  She instantly looked to make sure the doors were locked and lowered the A/C away from the sleeping woman.  The last thing she wanted was Kelly sick while she was gone.

 

Chuckling to herself she thought, ‘Oh, you’ve got it bad CJ, now you’re playing mama too!’  Shaking her head, she turned into the drive of the property and shut off the engine.  Kelly hadn’t stirred and CJ scooted over closer to the woman and began to lightly kiss her cheek.

 

“Mmmm,” Kelly murmured sleepily.  “Just one more minute,” she mumbled.  CJ grinned and whispered in the woman’s ear, “Baby, I want you now.”  Kelly sat straight up blinking rapidly and said, “O.k., I’m there!”

 

CJ burst out laughing and Kelly looked around confused before her face turned red when she realized what had just happened.

 

“I’m sorry, I could resist,” CJ replied and kissed the woman again on the cheek.

 

Kelly’s eyes narrowed as she replied, “ It’s not nice to tease!”

 

“Who said I was teasing?” CJ asked in her sexiest voice.

 

“Ooh, put up or shut up!” Kelly answered back huskily.

 

 

CHAPTER 11

 

Kelly awoke in a huge bed wrapped in warm arms with the sound of breaking waves close by.  Rubbing her eyes, she looked around the strange room and untangled herself from her sleeping partner.  She followed the trail of discarded clothes until she found CJ’s oxford shirt and slipped it on, the tails reached mid-thigh on her and she smiled as CJ’s scent still clung to the fabric.  Picking up the hastily cast off clothes, she set them in a pile on the back of the sofa and walked to the door wall.  Opening the blinds she was rewarded with a panoramic view of the Gulf, sliding open the door she stepped out on to the deck overlooking the beach.  Breathing deeply, she sat down on a deck chair and watched the morning pleasantly unfold.  She looked out over the water as the sun danced off the slight waves.  It was calmer than the Atlantic and she thought about the raven-haired beauty she left sleeping in bed.  CJ was everything she had ever wanted in a mate and more.  She was softer, more attentive, and more open than anyone she had ever known.  Kelly wondered why CJ hadn’t committed to moving in yet and hoped she wasn’t having second thoughts.  After last night she highly doubted it, but that little nagging feeling was still there.

 

Kelly sensed CJ before she felt her arms slide around to circle her shoulders from behind and she didn’t flinch like she normally did when someone touched her neck.

 

“Good morning!” CJ’s husky voice tickled her ear as she lightly nipped an earlobe.  Kelly shivered each time the woman did that.  Smiling, she wrapped her arms behind her around CJ and pulled her down for a searing kiss.

 

“Do you have any idea how much I love you?” Kelly asked after breaking apart.

 

“Show me!” CJ replied silkily and tugged Kelly out of her chair and back into the house.  They made it as far as the sofa, where they made love as a light morning breeze blew through the door cooling their heated bodies.

 

It was almost 11 AM before they stirred from the sofa and moved to the shower.  By noon they had eaten a light breakfast and were out on the deck again relaxing in the sun.

 

The area was residential and except for an occasional beach walker, they had an unobstructed and quiet view of the water.

 

Dozing in and out of sleep, the two women spent the day relaxing.  CJ awoke to the sensation of cold prickles dotting her heated skin.  Cracking open an eye against the afternoon sun, she saw a shadow leaning over her.  The shadow took shape as Kelly, who stood holding an ice cube over her and as it melted, ice cold drops sizzled on her skin.

 

“Ooh, you’re gonna pay,” CJ growled as Kelly backed up squealing and ran down the deck steps.  CJ looked over at the ice bucket on the table and grabbed a huge chunk of partially melted ice.  She chased Kelly toward the water, her long legs easily overtaking the shorter woman.  She caught her and stuffed the mass of melting ice down the front of her one-piece bathing suit.  Kelly jumped around screaming as she tried to dislodge the offending object.

 

“Oh, God that’s cold!” Kelly tugged on her suit frantically as the bulge dropped lower and lower down the front of the suit.  CJ felt sorry for Kelly and tried to pull the chunk of ice away from her body, plucking at the front of her suit she held it.

 

“Oh, get it out!” Kelly squealed pulling at another chunk that had broken off and was slipping around her side.  Shrugging, CJ stuck her hand down the front of the suit and tried to reach the mass.  Out of the corner of her eye, she saw movement and looked to see a neighbor watching them curiously.  Quickly pulling her hand out, the ice hit back against Kelly’s skin and she squealed again.  CJ grabbed Kelly by the hand and pulled her toward the water.   CJ kept leading Kelly out until she was almost chest deep in the water and tugged off the top of her suit to remove what was left of the trapped ice.

 

Kelly sighed as the tepid Gulf waters warmed her cold skin.  “Oh, that was cold!” Kelly giggled.

 

“Serves you right!” CJ laughed pulling up on Kelly’s bathing suit.  She quickly slipped her arms back through the straps and righted the top before turning around to face shore.

 

CJ swam a little ways out and Kelly followed until her feet barely touched the bottom.  “Hey, I can’t go any farther!” she shouted and turned to see shore was quite a ways off.

 

CJ turned and walked back to Kelly and wrapped her arms around her waist and held her afloat.  The water only coming to CJ’s chest.  Kelly wrapped her arms around CJ’s neck and leaned in to kiss her.

 

“Thank you for this weekend.  I’m having a great time.”

 

“Me too!” CJ replied kissing the tip of Kelly’s nose.

 

CJ carried Kelly out deeper, the water making her weightless as the young woman clung to her and wrapped her legs around her lover’s waist.

 

“Hey, where are we going?”

 

“Scared?” CJ asked concerned.

 

“Sort of.”

 

“I’ve got you.  I won’t let you go under,” CJ smiled, but turned to head back to slightly shallower water.

 

“I trust you,” Kelly returned the smile.

 

“Oh yeah?” CJ questioned and dipped them low in the water.

 

Kelly’s eyes got big and she clasped her body as close to CJ as she could and hung on.

 

“That’s better!” CJ murmured in her ear.

 

“If you wanted a hug, all you had to do was ask!”

 

CJ chucked as they continued to float about in the water.

 

“What do you say we go out to dinner tonight.  I know this little place on the water that serves great seafood,” CJ offered.

 

“Sounds good,” Kelly replied with a questioning look on her face.

 

“What?”

 

“Do you come here often?”  Kelly asked looking at a point over CJ’s shoulder.

 

“Quite a bit actually,” CJ responded before noticing Kelly’s reserve and added, “but never with anyone.”

 

Kelly looked directly into blue eyes, surprised but happy and asked, “So, I’m the first?”

 

“Yep, first and last,” CJ answered before claiming Kelly’s lips to convey to her just how much she meant that statement.  When the kiss broke, Kelly smiled and hugged CJ tighter.  “I’m glad I am the first and the last.”

 

“Want to head in now and get ready for dinner? We could check out the little shops along the main street if you’re interested?”

 

“Shopping?”  Kelly pulled back, her eyes lightening up at the suggestion.

 

CJ laughed and responded, “Sure, why not! “  Turning around, she headed back to shore and didn’t release Kelly until the water was up to the woman’s waist.

 

Showered and dressed in shorts and t-shirts, they headed into town.

 

Walking down the main street, Kelly wanted to stop at almost every shop they passed.  She found some cute things for the house and decided to decorate the bath in a tropical fish motif.  CJ groaned at the suggestion, but Kelly talked her into it.  In return, CJ got Kelly to buy a two piece aqua swimsuit that had a sport bra top and shorts for bottoms.  She liked the way it teasingly hid Kelly’s soft curves.  Putting their purchases in the trunk, they headed toward the restaurant. 

 

The restaurant was a small quaint affair that overlooked the Gulf and, as the sun set, they were rewarded with a tranquil view of the peaceful water.  Dinner was conversation was light as both women enjoyed their meal.  After dinner, they sat back with their wine, each lost in their own reflective moment.

 

“Have you given anymore thought as to when you might be moving in?”  Kelly asked casually, the questions had been preying on her mind and she wanted to know what was up.

 

CJ ran an absent hand through her hair, Kelly noticed it was something she did when she was worried or nervous, and began to be concerned.

 

“Well, that’s something I wanted to talk to you about this weekend,” CJ finally replied.

 

Kelly took a deep breath, she had a feeling there was more to this weekend than just being alone, and they could have done all this at home.

 

“You know that I love you right?” CJ asked.

 

Kelly nodded suddenly unsure of where a statement like that would lead up to.

 

“And, I would never go anything to intentionally hurt you,” she added.

 

Kelly didn’t say anything and waited for CJ to continue.

 

“I just don’t want us rushing into anything that might be regretted later.  I want us to take our time, living together is a huge commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.”

 

‘But, sleeping over every night is all part of dating!’ Kelly thought sarcastically and quickly squashed that emotion.

 

“I don’t want there to be any doubts in our relationship,” CJ concluded.

 

‘There weren’t any until now,’ Kelly thought sadly.

 

“Now, for the bad news,” CJ half smiled apologetically.

 

“That was good news?” Kelly blurted out before she could stop herself.

 

CJ looked at her quizzically and Kelly just shook her head and asked, “What’s the bad news?”

 

CJ looked down and toyed with her wineglass until Kelly reached over and placed her hand on the nervous fingers, causing CJ to look up into concerned eyes.

 

“Tell me,” she asked softly.

 

“I have to North Carolina to help with the claims from the hurricane,” CJ replied.

 

“That’s your job!”  Kelly said relieved.

 

“Yes, but I’m going to be gone for at least a month,” CJ replied.

 

“Oh,” Kelly stated, her heart dropped a little before she perked up again.  She wasn’t going to let CJ know this bothered her.

 

“It will be O.K., we can talk on the phone and it will be over before you know it.  I will you, but I’ll be right here when you get back,” Kelly answered smiling.

 

“So, your saying you’ll wait for me?”  CJ asked half-jokingly, but half-serious too.

 

“Of course silly, you’re the one I love.  There isn’t anyone else for me,” Kelly replied pushing down at the fear that threatened to surface.

 

CJ smiled and grasped Kelly’s hand in her’s . “I promise I will call every night and I will miss you.”  Tears stung her eyes with relief at Kelly’s acceptance of everything. She swallowed the nagging guilt of not telling her about Angel.

 

“Let’s go home,” Kelly requested, her eyes burning with a need to connect to her lover and to shut everything else away for a time.

 

CJ paid the check and led Kelly to the car.  The drive home was quiet as Kelly sat next to CJ, who kept her hand firmly on the blonde’s thigh in an unconscious act of possession.

 

Barely making it through the door, they once again left a trail of discarded clothes in their need to reaffirm their fragile connection.

 

 

CHAPTER  12

 

CJ awoke to find green eyes peering down at her intently.

 

“What’s wrong?” she asked sleepily.

 

“Nothing, just watching you sleep,” Kelly replied lightly running a hand down the side of CJ’s cheek.

 

CJ turned her face to kiss the palm of that hand.  “Are you sure your o.k.?”

 

“Yes, I’m sure,” Kelly replied and leaned over to lightly kiss CJ on the lips.

 

CJ flipped Kelly over and rested on her elbows looking down into green eyes, smiling she said, “I love you,” and nuzzled her way across Kelly’s neck.  Reaching a particularly soft spot, she gently began to suck the flesh as her hand lightly grasped an already alert breast as she gently rolled the nipple.  CJ gently nipped and suckled her way down until Kelly was on fire and she wrapper her legs around CJ’s body.  CJ could feel her lover’s head and desire as it warmed her belly and she groaned as her mind and body was consumed with the need to accept this offering.    

 

It was late afternoon before the women could rouse themselves to get going.  They quietly packed the car for the journey home.  CJ dropped Kelly off and kissed her good-bye.  There was still a lot of work to finish before she caught her early morning flight.  Kelly too tired to think, cried herself to sleep that night.

 

The phone rang over and over before CJ finally hung up sadly.  “where is she this early,’ she thought to herself trying not to let her insecurities come to the surface.

 

Kelly rushed through the terminal, she needed to see CJ one more time before she left, and seeing the familiar back, she broke into a run.

 

Feeling something familiar, CJ turned in time to see Kelly running toward her and moved in the woman’s direction.  CJ enveloped Kelly in her arms, hugging the woman tightly.  As onlookers stared at the couple, CJ put her arm around Kelly and led her to the deserted Delta Gold Club Lounge.

 

“I had to see you,” Kelly said hoarsely in her ear.

 

“I was just calling you,” CJ whispered against the blonde’s head as she held her tightly.

 

They were alone, or so CJ thought, and she kissed Kelly long and deeply, committing every second to memory as tongues danced across each other in a need to consume.

 

“Oh God, I love you!” CJ murmured kissing Kelly again and again. They remained in each other’s arms until CJ’s flight was called.  Slowly, they left the lounger and walked toward the gate.

 

Sitting by the window, in a high back chair, a blonde watched the reflection in the window as the couple embraced.  Her face was a display of the worst of emotions and hatred was evident in her brown eyes.  She waited a few moments before collecting her things and moving toward her flight.  A smile replaced the sneer, but it wasn’t much of an improvement.

 

 

CHAPTER 13    

 

CJ stepped out of the shower with shampoo still in her hair and wrapped a towel around her.  Hurrying to answer the insistent knocking at her hotel door, she opened it slightly to look down at Angel.

 

“What’s up?” she asked tired.  They had been running non-stop for a week and she had only spoken to Kelly once and had fallen asleep on the phone.  There were at least six messages from her due to missed calls.  CJ had hoped tonight would be different.  A new storm had been brewing since they arrived and they were barely keeping up.

 

“Just got a call that we need to head out to Kitty Hawk, transportation leaves in fifteen minutes,”

 

‘Shit!’ CJ thought.  “Come on in, I was taking a quick shower, let me rinse off and we can go,” CJ replied and grabbed her clothes to head back into the bathroom.

 

Angel took a seat on the bed and flipped on the television as CJ stepped back into the shower. The phone rang next to the bed and Angel looked at the closed bathroom door before lifting the receiver.

 

“Hello?”

 

“CJ?” a hesitant voice asked.  Angel smiled when she recognized the voice.

 

“Ah..no, she’s tied up at the moment,” Angel replied with the right amount of hesitancy.

 

“Will she be free soon?” Kelly asked wondering who this woman was in CJ’s room.  “I’ll wait.”  She didn’t want to miss another call with CJ.

 

“Well, she’s in the shower right now and I’m standing here dripping on the rug, can I have her call you back?” Angel replied trying not to laugh.  There was silence on the other end as Kelly’s throat closed.  Finally, Kelly answered, “Tell her Kelly called.”

 

“Oh, hi Kelly.  I didn’t recognize your voice.  It’s Angel.”

 

“Angel!  I didn’t know you were with CJ,” Kelly replied confused at what was going on.

 

“Oh, CJ didn’t tell you?  We go way back so, we try to arrange to be on the same trips once in awhile,” Angel replied slapping a hand to her mouth to stop from laughing.  Hearing the water shut off, she quickly concluded the call.

 

“Well, I’ll tell her you called.  I just want to get back in there before she uses up all the hot water.  I really don’t want a cold shower, at least, not tonight.”

 

“Oh,  yes, that would be dreadful!” Kelly replied sarcastically and hung up dissolving into tears.

 

CJ came out dressed and looked at her suspiciously, “Who were you talking to?”

 

“No one, it’s the TV, boy was that funny!  You ready?” Angel replied and headed for the door.  CJ looked at the phone hesitating.  She wished Kelly would return her call so she could at least hear her voice before they left again.  She wasn’t sure when she’d have the next opportunity to call.  In the field, there was no set time schedule.

 

“Come on before we have to find another ride!”  Angel complained.  CJ grabbed her overnight bad and stuffed a few clean shirts into it and sadly followed Angel out the door.  Angel smiled satisfied by the look on the taller woman’s face.

 

Kelly went through the motions at work, she had the receptionist screen her calls, and at home she let the answering machine do the same task.  She just didn’t want to talk to CJ period. She felt used and foolish.  She could just imagine the good chuckle CJ and Angel were having at her expense.

 

After three weeks of Kelly’s behavior, Brenda showed up on her doorstep and demanded to know what was going on.  Kelly finally told her about everything.  At first, Brenda was angry.  She wanted nothing more than to beat the daylights out of CJ.  She couldn’t believe she had helped the woman get to Kelly in the first place.  Finally, Brenda calmed down and concentrated on helping Kelly get over the woman.  Between herself and Lacy, they kept the young woman busy and away from dwelling on CJ.

 

CJ was frantically pacing in her hotel room.  After weeks of trying to get in touch with Kelly, and being rebuffed at every turn, she needed to decide a course of action.  Deciding, she picked up her planner and searched for Brenda’s number.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Brenda?”

 

“Yes, who’s calling?”

 

“It’s CJ.”

 

“What the hell do you want?”

 

“Excuse me?” CJ asked confused at the sudden hostility.

 

“Listen, you stay away from Kelly.  You go near her or hurt her again. I’ll make sure you live to regret it!” Brenda threatened angrily.

 

“What are you talking about?  Who hurt Kelly?” CJ asked worried.

 

“Oh, please!  You and Angel really make a good team!” Brenda replied and slammed the receiver down.  Having a second thought she took the phone off the hook and climbed back into bed next to her warm partner.

 

“Who was that?” Lacy asked sleepily.

 

“Wrong number!” Brenda replied and snuggled up to her lover and waited and tried to go back to sleep.  ‘I can’t believe she had the nerve to call here!’ Brenda thought yawning.

 

CJ tried to call Brenda back for the next 45 minutes, each time she got a busy signal.  ‘What the hell was that all about?’ she thought and then remembered Brenda’s mention of Angel.  ‘What does Angel have to do with this?’ she wondered, grabbing her keys she went to find out.

 

Angel opened the door to face CJ and groaned, “We just got back!  I’m still trying to get the mud off my body.  Want to help?” she asked seductively.

 

On the way to Angel’s room, CJ had a chance to think about the recent events.  The last time she heard from Kelly was just before they left this last time.  Certain that Angel had done something while she was in the shower, CJ was livid by the time she arrived at Angel’s door.

 

CJ backed Angel up into the room with her icy blue stare and menacingly asked, “What did you do or say to Kelly?”

 

Angel’s seductive look quickly fell as she licked her lips nervously and replied, “What are you talking about?”

 

CJ’s eyes narrowed at the telltale sign.  Pushing Angel back against the wall, she tried to calm her raging anger.

 

“Don’t bullshit me with your lies.  What did you tell her?”  CJ shouted, her voice trembling.  Angel barked a nasty laugh and replied, “Paybacks are a bitch, aren’t they!”

 

“What did you do?” CJ’s anger began to turn to panic as she watched angel sneer.

 

“Oh nothing, really.  She called while you were in the shower and I said you were too busy to come to the phone.  She asked why I was there and I told her we went way back and that we were old friends.  Isn’t that right CJ?” she asked sarcastically.

 

CJ felt physically sick and stepped back from the mocking woman. 

 

“Why?”

 

“Because you deserve it.  We had something going until you saw her,” she replied bitingly.

 

“We had nothing going, but a working acquaintance!” CJ answered totally amazed at Angel’s perception of things.

 

“Come on CJ, you know it was only a matter of time before we got together, we were clicking,” Angel stated.

 

“I don’t think so Angel.  I tolerated you, not made a pass at you!”

 

“We can still have something special, if you give me a chance,” Angel offered reaching out to CJ.

 

“Forget it, you disgust me more now than when I first met you, and I didn’t think that was possible!”  CJ replied pulling away from her touch and walking out the door.

 

Returning to her room, CJ packed her things and called the airport.  One final call to wake her boss to tell him she needed to return home for personal reasons.  After listening to him rant and rave, she finally interrupted and said, “Fine, I quit then,” and hung up the receiver.

 

Collecting her things, she headed to the airport to catch a flight home.  She hopped it wasn’t too late and prayed she hadn’t lost Kelly for good.  Due to the storm, CJ had to wait 3 hours until she finally got a plane out and arrived home at 2 AM.  She drove directly to Kelly’s and used her key to let herself into the quiet house.

 

Walking into the bedroom, CJ saw the sleeping woman and her heart flip-flopped the way it always did in her presence.  She wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed with her and hold her close.  CJ hesitated for a moment before walking around to Kelly’s side of the bed.  The blonde lay on her side hugging the other pillow, ‘My pillow!’ CJ thought hopefully.

 

Sitting gently on the edge of the bed, she leaned over and kissed Kelly lightly.  The woman stirred, slightly smiling as CJ whispered, “Kelly wake up, it’s me.”

 

Kelly thought she was dreaming as the light lips touched her and she heard a familiar voice whisper to her.  She felt her blood rise in response and she smiled.     This dream wasn’t like the others that had plagued her sleep since that telephone call.  There was no fear or was there?  Suddenly, she realized that she wasn’t dreaming and the whispering voice was accompanied by a light touch.  Kelly’s eyes flew open and she scrambled to get away from the shadow sitting next to her.  Hands reached from the darkness, grabbing at her and Kelly cried, “No!”

 

CJ reached to stop Kelly and called out, “Kelly, it’s me CJ.  It’s o.k., calm down!”

 

Kelly froze, “CJ?” she whispered.

 

“Yeah, honey, it’s me,” CJ answered relieved that Kelly was aware of who she was.  Kelly pushed herself further away from CJ’s grasp and roughly, “What do you want?”

 

CJ sat back at the rebuff and replied, “I want to know what the hell’s going on?”

 

“Why don’t you tell me.  Did you and Angel have a nice laugh over naďve Kelly?” she asked angrily. 

 

CJ stood up and ran a tired hand through her hair.  “All I know is everyone is mad at me and I didn’t do anything!”

 

“Was it just a simple conquest for you, is that it?” Kelly asked as the tears burned her eyes.

 

“No!” CJ answered sharply, “You know it wasn’t!”

 

“No, I don’t know that.  All I know is when I called you, I found Angel with you.  You lied to me,” Kelly replied as a tear slipped down her cheek.

 

CJ moved toward the woman, but froze when Kelly held up her hand, “No! Please don’t touch me,” she asked softly trying to control her emotions.  Leaning over, she turned on the bedside lamp and almost gasped at how tired and ragged CJ looked.

 

“Kelly, I don’t know what Angel told you, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth.  I have never before, not now, nor ever will I have anything to do with that woman.  Hell!  I won’t even be working with her anymore!” CJ replied pacing frustrated.

 

“Why?” Kelly asked leery but still curious.

 

“Because I had to quit to come here!” CJ answered as she stepped in front of the bedroom window and leaned her forehead against the cool glass.  He head was beginning to pound, she couldn’t remember when she had last eaten a decent meal.

 

“You quit your job to come here to talk to me?” Kelly asked surprised.

 

CJ turned to face Kelly and went to knee at the side of the bed.  “Do you honestly think I could just use you?” she asked, her voice thick with emotion.  Kelly didn’t know what to say, her heart screamed, ‘no’, but her head was confused.

 

“I know I was wrong in not telling you that Angel was going on the trip, but not because of anything going on between the two of us, but because I know how you felt about her.  I couldn’t have anything to do with someone like her.”

 

CJ rested her elbows on the bed and rubbed her face in her hands tiredly, “God Kelly!  I love you, doesn’t that count for anything?” she whispered.  Looking up through teary eyes, she pleased, “I will do anything to be with you, just tell me what you want from me.”

 

Kelly looked down and read the sincerity in CJ’s eyes.  She knew her lover was telling the truth.  Once again Angel had manufactured trouble.

 

“Come here!” Kelly ordered.

 

CJ looked up unsure until she saw forgiveness in the green eyes that she loved.  Slowly she got up and knelt on the edge of the bed waiting.

 

“Closer!”

 

CJ scooted herself next to Kelly and looked deeply into her lover’s eyes.  “I am so sorry,” she offered as the tears began to form anew.

 

Kelly cupped CJ’s face and brushed away a tear with her thumb.  “No, I’m sorry.  I didn’t give you a chance to explain.  I took Angel’s words as truth, instead of asking you.”  Kelly pulled CJ forward until the woman was balancing over her and pulled her in for a searing kiss.  Lips locked and sought forgiveness from each other until they broke for air.  Kelly pulled CJ down into her arms and held her against her breast, brushing a kiss across the top of her head.  CJ wrapped her arms around Kelly’s body and whispered hoarsely, “I thought I had lost you and I didn’t know what to do.”

 

Kelly soothed CJ’s tired brow and replied, “It’s o.k., were o.k.  I love you CJ.”

 

CJ’s arms tightened and she replied, “I love you too.”

 

Kelly rocked CJ as she felt the exhausted woman relax until she heard her even breathing.  Snuggling down, Kelly tried to get CJ in a more comfortable position, but the woman would not relax her grip around Kelly’s body.  Kelly leaned over and shut off the light, content to hold her life in her arms.

 

 

CHAPTER 14

 

"Is that the last of it?" Kelly asked stretching her back slowly.

 

"Yes, I didn't realize how much junk I had collected," CJ replied frowning as she stacked the last of the boxes in the garage.

 

"Ready for a break?"

 

"Sounds good," CJ smiled and followed Kelly into the house.  The blonde looked exceptionally cute in her shorts and rolled-sleeved T-shirt.  CJ watched her from behind and wasn't paying attention when Kelly stopped dead, and bumped into her.  Grabbing Kelly, to keep from knocking her over, she looked quizzically at what had caused the sudden cessation of movement.  CJ's leather sofa sat in the middle of the living room piled with the clothes from CJ's closet.

 

Kelly groaned, "Ugh!  I forgot about those!"

 

CJ grinned mischievously with a sudden idea and edged up closer to Kelly to wrap her arms around her.  Leaning down she whispered in Kelly's ear, "You know I can think of a better use for that sofa!"

 

Kelly shivered as the warm breath tickled her ear and the suggestion tickling other parts of her body.  Leaning back into CJ she drawled, "I'll just bet you could.  If only leather could talk!"

 

"Nope sweets, this would be a christening of sorts," CJ replied and pushed Kelly forward without breaking body contact.

 

"You've never on it?" Kelly asked giggling.

 

"Hey, give me a break, it's not that old!" CJ complained and began pulling the clothes off the sofa and throwing them on the floor.

 

"Hey!  You're going to pick those up!" Kelly stated firmly.

 

"It will be worth it!" CJ replied pushing Kelly on the couch before falling on top of her.  Kelly's body instantly molded to CJ's as the woman began kissing her.  Kelly loved the feel of CJ laying over her.  The taller woman rested her weight between Kelly's legs, which instinctively wrapped themselves around CJ's body.

 

Little unpacking got done the rest of that afternoon as the woman found out how hot leather could actually get.  Finally, they moved their party to the Jacuzzi to relax tired muscles.

 

"Ahh…this feels good," Kelly signed leaning back against CJ.  CJ swept Kelly's wet hair aside and began kissing and licking the water from her neck.

 

"Ooh, that feels good too!" she added and turned on CJ's lap to face her.  Leaning over, Kelly began to lightly kiss CJ's jaw and work her way up to an earlobe to lightly nip it before working her way around to give equal attention to the other ear.

 

"I never realized a roommate could be so much fun," Kelly replied between kisses.

 

"Oh yeah, we do have our perks," CJ laughed.

 

Kelly looked deeply into blue eyes and asked, "Are you o.k. with moving in now?"

 

"Yes, after this incident with Angel, I realized that this is right for both of us," CJ replied.

 

"How so?"

 

"I realized that I needed to make a commitment to you, and that you needed one from me.  This way there will be no misunderstandings about who I really and truly love, and who I am desperately in love with," CJ replied and kissed Kelly with every bit of emotion and feeling she had within her.

 

Kelly kept her eyes closed for a moment after CJ broke off the searing kiss.  Opening sparkling green eyes she smiled, and simply said, "Right back at you, my love."  Kelly rested her head on CJ's chest, her face turned toward her lover's neck.

 

CJ hugged Kelly to her and held her against her body, resting her cheek against Kelly's forehead as the water gently bubbled around them relaxing every inch of their bodies.  CJ began to hum lightly until Kelly whispered, "What song is that, it's very nice." 

 

CJ kissed Kelly's forehead lightly and softly began to sing,

 

 <Everybody searchin for answers. Everybody tries to find some meaning in their life.  Where do we belong.  Who will be our shelter.  Looking for salvation.  A haven from the storm

 

We all need something to believe in.  We all need a light to see us through. We all need something to believe in.  I found something to believe in you.

 

I was like a wayward ship drifting out to nowhere.  Tossing in the raging waters tryin' to find my way home.  You must be an angel watchin' over me.  Your lovin' arms my harbor.  Now I know I'm not alone.

 

And now that I have found you, I'll never let you go.  Now my search is finally over.  Because you’re the only truth I'll ever know.  You know that we all need something to believe in, we all need a light.  We all need something to believe in..  I found something to believe in, in you.>

 

 

Kelly could feel the vibrations of CJ's singing as she listened to the deep smooth tone of her lover's voice.  'What a voice!' she thought and let her body be comforted by the steady rumble against her ear as she listened to the words and CJ's hand gently stroking her back.

 

CJ finished softly and kissed Kelly on the top of her head and whispered, "That's how I feel about you.  I love you so much."

 

Kelly lifted tear-laden eyes and looked deeply into CJ's baby blues and asked, "You do?"

 

CJ nodded as a tear slipped down her cheek, "Every word," she added thickly.

 

"I can't help but wonder what I finally did right in this world to have you in my life, "Kelly answered. 

 

CJ smiled and replied, "You were just you."

 

Kelly shivered and whispered, "Let's go inside."

 

Later that evening, as they lay in each other's arms Kelly approached a sensitive subject. "Are you going to go back to your job then?"

 

"I don't really have much of a choice unless I want to start job hunting.  Mr. Evans did offer me a sweet deal to come back.  Guess he missed me," CJ chuckled.

 

Kelly half-smiled, her worries still lay with the fact that Angel would be there.  "What about Angel?"

 

CJ sighed, "There's nothing I can do about that, and yes, we will probably be sent out together again.  You've got to trust me Kelly.  It's you I want in my bed and in my life."

 

"I'm sorry," Kelly replied hugging CJ tighter.  "Its not you that I don't trust, its her.  She can be pretty vindictive."

 

"Yeah, well, if she tries anything, I'll just sic you on her!"  CJ chuckled.

 

"You bet!  Then she'd better watch out!" Kelly retorted.

 

"So, we o.k. on this?" CJ asked sleepily.  She didn't want to have a problem every time she went to work.  She needed Kelly to trust her more than anything right now.

 

"Yes because for once in my life, I have total faith in someone.  You gave up everything to get us to this point.  How can I not love that, and you?" Kelly replied as Morpheus' arms drew them both closer.

 

"Good, because I've fallen hard for you, baby! "CJ murmured.

 

"Ditto, like a rock!"

 

 

CHAPTER 15    

 

While Kelly got ready for work, CJ went over her planner and called out, "Hey Kelly!"

 

"Whaa…?" Kelly mumbled coming out of the bathroom with a toothbrush sticking out of her mouth, trying to keep the toothpaste from foaming out.

 

"Cute!" CJ replied grinning.

 

Kelly pulled the toothbrush out and quickly stuck her tongue out at CJ before continuing to brush her teeth.

"Be careful what you ask for!" CJ warned, the twinkle in her eye taking off any edge of a threat.

 

Kelly just sarcastically replied, "Oooh!" and looked back with a question in her eye.

 

"Oh yeah!"  CJ shook herself to get her thoughts off Kelly's body and back to her original idea.

 

"I have to go for a week of training next month in New York.  Do you think you can get away for a long weekend and join me?"

 

Kelly nodded enthusiastically and raised a finger to tell CJ to wait.  Popping back into the bathroom, CJ heard the water running and stop before arms wrapped tightly around her neck assaulted her from behind.

 

"When?" Kelly asked excitedly.  CJ laughed and pulled the blonde around to sit in her lap.

 

"In two weeks," CJ replied kissing the excited blonde.  "Mmmm, you taste good!" CJ murmured before going back for a second and third taste, making them both late for work.

 

Thursday night bowling took on a new meaning with CJ on the same team as Angel.  CJ had decided she didn't want to just quit and leave the rest of her co-workers hanging.  Luckily, tonight CJ's team was only two lanes down from Kelly's, and CJ spent her time sitting with Kelly, Brenda and Lacy.  The later two having heard the story, readily apologized to CJ and got back to the business of being friends.

 

Brenda had never seen Kelly so happy, there was a marked difference in her friend now.  She seemed surer of herself and smiled a whole lot more.  Lacy almost fell out of her chair when she heard Kelly laugh heartily for the first time.

 

Angel kept her distance, but Kelly could feel her eyes like daggers digging into her back.  Turning she looked over at the woman and Angel did nothing to hid her outright hatred, shivering slightly, Kelly looked away.  CJ noticed the change in Kelly and looked over in time to catch the exchange between the two women.  Placing an arm around the back of Kelly's chair, CJ gave Angel a look of her own.  One that warned, 'Back off or you'll deal with me again!'

 

Kelly sighed at the instant love and protection CJ offered and couldn't help but feel secure as she smiled back at Angel.  After a few weeks of this silent war, Angel moved on to safer ground and Kelly and CJ relaxed a little as they prepared for their trip to New York.

 

"So, I'm leaving on Monday and you'll join me Friday morning, then we'll have the whole weekend before returning on Sunday night," CJ told her over the phone. "I've got everything set and I'll bring our tickets home tonight."

 

"Oh, I'm so excited," Kelly replied.  "What are we going to do?" 

 

"Well, I thought I'd get us some theatre tickets for Saturday night," CJ offered.  "Interested in seeing "Jekyl and Hyde?  I hear it is very good!"

 

"Great!  I've never been to a Broadway show before."

 

"Well Sweetie! Then you are with the right person.  I'll take care of all firsts!"  CJ purred sexily.

 

"Oh really?  Then you should know that I've never done it in New York," she informed CJ.

 

CJ snickered and replied,"Consider it done!"

 

Kelly couldn't wait for Friday morning, she slept very little that night in anticipation of her trip.  She told herself the excitement was about going to New York, but she knew it was about seeing CJ.  She didn't like having the house all to herself for the past four days, and nights.  It was just too quiet and she had found herself sleeping with the TV on for company.

 

Kelly paced the living room waiting for Brenda, the woman was supposed to take her to the airport on her way to work.  Brenda wasn't expected for another fifteen minutes, but Kelly was anxious.  When Brenda finally pulled up in the drive, Kelly was already out the door with her suitcase.

 

"A little anxious aren't we?" Brenda teased easing her truck back onto the street. 

 

"Yes, I couldn't even sleep last night!"

 

"Have you ever been to New York," Brenda asked grinning.

 

"No, I haven't.  CJ has been there many times and has promised to show me everything.  I can't wait to see her," Kelly answered biting her lip.

 

"It's only been four days…you've got it bad little girl!" Brenda laughed.

 

"Yeah, I seem to remember a toughie who was in tears when their mate was in the hospital for two days," Kelly retorted.


"Lacy was in the hospital, I thought I was going to lose her," Brenda defended herself.

 

"Give it up, she was in for a simple procedure, she wasn't on deaths doorstep!" Kelly laughed at Brenda's indignant look.

 

Both women looked at each other and began laughing.  "I guess we both have it bad!" Brenda conceded.

 

 

CHAPTER 16

 

CJ waited impatiently for Kelly's plane to arrive.  She had purposely left the hotel early so that she would be on time and now they announced that the flight would be late.  CJ could hardly believe that it had been four days since she had last seen her little blonde.  It seemed more like a lifetime ago.  Grinning to herself, she got up as the doors opened and they announced the flight's arrival.

 

Standing off to the side CJ waited until she saw the familiar face exited the doorway and look around.  She didn't move but just stood watching as the green eyes scanned the crowd and then instantly pause before turning to look directly at her, as if sensing her.  Her breath caught in her throat at this instant connection.  She had an unquenchable desire to be near her lover and began moving to intercept her.

 

Kelly looked for CJ but there were just too many people around the gate, suddenly she had a feeling and looked to her right instantly meeting blue eyes that smiled in recognition.  Making her way through the crowd, Kelly moved as quickly as humanly possible in a quest to feel CJ's touch.

 

As they neared both women were suddenly aware of those around them and they had to be content with a brief hug before releasing one another. CJ thought sadly, 'In a nicer world, things like this just wouldn't matter and love would be love.'   Shaking these thoughts away, she grabbed Kelly's bag and steered her through the crowded terminal. 

 

"Boy, I've missed you," CJ whispered down to Kelly as they waited for a cab back to the hotel.

 

"Me too!  I don't think I've slept more than four hours the entire time you've been gone!" Kelly replied.

 

"Great! Does that mean you're going to sleep all weekend?" CJ teased.

 

"Oh, don't worry honey, I've gone a week without sleep before and I guarantee I can do it again with no problem.  Do you think you can keep up is the question?" Kelly replied.

 

"Ohh, just wait until we get to the hotel baby, you'd better have more than words to back up that statement," CJ whispered as the cab drove them towards the theatre district.

 

Kelly looked into baby blues and smiled seductively as her hand slipped onto CJ's thigh, causing the woman's breath to catch in her throat.   CJ grinned mischievously as she slipped her hand on Kelly's knee slowly moving it upward along her inner thigh.  Kelly quickly let go of CJ's leg and grabbed the questing digits and held the hand on her lap tightly.  CJ keep wiggling her fingers trying not to laugh out loud.  Kelly moaned as she felt her body reacting to this foreplay.

 

Leaning over she whispered in CJ's ear hoarsely, "If you go any higher, I'm gonna slip off this vinyl right on the floor!"

 

CJ leaned down closely to Kelly's ear and replied, "That's ok…we'll add it to your list of firsts!"

 

Kelly shivered at the feel of CJ's warm breath of her ear and felt her body pulse in response to her heightened desire.  Looking up, she saw wide brown eyes staring back at her in the mirror.

 

"Where are we staying?" Kelly asked watching the cab driving eyeing them in the rearview mirror.

 

"The company put me up at the Marriott Marquis, right in Time Square.  So we will be walking distance to everything!" CJ answered curious at the change in conversation.  She looked at Kelly raising her eyebrow in silent question.  Kelly smiled and dipped her head towards the cabbie.  CJ looked directly at the driver and gave him her impression of the perfect ice queen.  As he caught the icy blue orbs in his mirror, he quickly averted his eyes back to the road.  Kelly giggled slightly and CJ looked sideways and winked.

 

Arriving at the hotel, CJ leisurely lead Kelly up to the room seemingly calm in her demeanor.  Kelly marveled at how cool her partner could be, as the blood boiled in her veins making every nerve-ending tingle.  CJ opened the door and allowed Kelly to proceed her into the room, turning to close the door she felt a warm breath on her neck as Kelly slipped into her arms and began kissing and nibbling the side of her throat.

 

"I've missed you!" Kelly murmured between nibbles.

 

CJ groaned at the wonderful feel of the soft warm flesh of her lover in her arms.  It has seemed like forever since she had last felt such excitement.  Turning she pulled the shorter woman closer and gave her the lead as she continued ravishing the side of her throat. 

 

"Me too!" There would definitely be marks in the morning but CJ didn't care as she pulled Kelly toward the bed. 

 

Falling on the bed, CJ pulled Kelly on top of her as the blonde continued her assault of CJ's body, removing clothes in her quest to taste every inch of CJ's flesh. CJ could feel her body responding and began unbuttoning Kelly's blouse in her need to feel the joining of flesh.  Kelly sat back and straddled CJ's waist and began to slowly finish unbuttoning the blouse.  Leaning her shoulders back she let the material slide from her arms to fall behind her before reaching around to undo her bra.  CJ's hands reached up to help, but Kelly shook her head no, and the arms dropped down to the bed as CJ watched the performance begin. 

 

The bra soon went the way of the blouse and Kelly slowly leaned down to brush her lips across CJ's in a light caress.  Kelly's long hair tickled the bare breasts and belly as she gently placed kisses down CJ's chest, reaching an attentive breast she gently lipped the nipple before circling it with her moist tongue, and taking it into her mouth to gently suckle and run her tongue along the tip.

 

CJ's hands could no longer remain still as she began to unbutton Kelly's jeans and attempt to slide them down her hips.  Kelly paused in her ministrations and stood up on the bed, standing over CJ's prone body, she slid her jeans slowly off and kicked them aside.  CJ looked up at her lover and hoarsely said, "Those too!" and pointed to the black lace underwear.  Kelly grinned and slowly slid them down her legs as CJ felt the heat rising from her own body.  Kelly hooked the black garment with her finger and let them drop on to the rapidly growing pile of clothing and smiled seductively. 

 

Kelly slowly lowered herself to kneel between CJ's legs.  She slowly ran her hands up the inside of CJ's thighs and let her fingers gently brush across soft, most hairs on their way back up to CJ's breast. As Kelly stretched slowly up CJ's body, she could feel the woman's rapid heart beat.  As her heart began to match the rhythm, she kissed CJ deeply and let her tongue tell the promise of things to come.  

 

CJ groaned and whispered, "What are you trying to do kill me?"  To which Kelly just chuckled and began her journey back toward the other neglected breast.  Kelly didn't want either one to feel slighted and gently rolled a nipple between her fingers as her tongue danced along the ridges of the other. 

 

"Please Kelly, I need you now!" CJ pleaded and Kelly moved up to lean in closely to her ear whispering, "Tell me what you want!" 

 

CJ shivered, overcome with passion as Kelly took the lead for the first time.  She knew it would happen, but she never expected to have such erotic undertones.  Her body was engulfed in flames of passion and she needed Kelly more than ever to quench this fire.

 

Kelly pulled back and blew a rush of cool air across CJ's wet nipple and watched as her lover gasped.  CJ closed her eyes to the rushing of blood and said, "I need to feel you inside of me."

 

Kelly's lips continued lavishing attention on the two mounds while her hand slipped farther down to pay homage to another. Kelly straddled CJ's thigh as she parted the wet folds and slipped a single finger inside to lightly circle the swollen nub. Tracing a light path to her entrance she paused and looked up at CJ for permission, which was quickly granted.  Slowly she inserted her finger as the woman moaned and began slowly moving her hips.  Kelly slid down as she worked her finger, slowly setting the rhythm.  Exposing the prize she sought, she placed a kiss on the glistening flesh.  Kelly and CJ began a steady rhythm as CJ could feel herself steadily rising and tried to hold on.

 

"Come on Baby, let it go     ," Kelly softly asked sending CJ toppling over the edge as wave after wave of sheer rapture hit her.  Kelly graciously accepted the treasure offered, and softly kissed and licked her way up CJ's sweat-kissed body.  Kelly lay on her side and pulled CJ over into her arms, hugging her as she waited for CJ to come back to her. 

 

"God Kelly, where did that come from?" CJ asked rolling Kelly over and looking down into smoky green eyes.   Kelly smiled and simply replied, "From you."

 

"I don't think I've ever been in that league.  You constantly surprise me, you know that?" CJ asked her eyes bright with love for the woman beneath her.  "You complete me in so many ways.  I just never realized how much."

 

"As you do me," Kelly replied smiling. "We are such complete opposites in everything, but yet, where it matters, we are one."

 

"I know, I've never felt for anyone what I do for you.  I've looked my whole life and never found this," CJ replied as a tear dropped to her cheek.  She leaned down and kissed Kelly putting every ounce of herself into that one kiss.   She continued kissing her lover until she could feel the body beneath her respond.  She wanted to worship Kelly as she had done and began her gentle explorations.   CJ didn't stop until Kelly cried out her name and then moved up to hold Kelly in her arms once again.   "I love you," CJ whispered.  "Ditto!" Kelly smiled at the old joke and curled herself around CJ as they fell asleep.  There was no need for further reassurances, as both women knew each was the keeper their souls, and they wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

 

It was evening before the women finally left the hotel in search of food.   Deciding on Italian, they headed across the street to Sofia's.  After dinner they walked down Broadway for a bit and stopped off for coffee and cheesecake before returning back to the hotel.

 

"Ugh!" I ate way to much!"  Kelly complained holding her stomach as she moved toward the bed.  CJ was already propped up on her pillow channel surfing.  Tired, they had decided to turn in early so they could go walking in Central Park early the next morning.

 

"Come here," CJ requested and adjusted the pillow next to her for Kelly.  Kelly climbed up into the bed and lay back against her lover.  CJ wrapped her arms around Kelly and as they watched TV she lightly stroked Kelly's stomach.

 

"Better?" CJ asked.

 

"Mmmmm…" Kelly murmured happily.

 

CJ leaned down and kissed the top of Kelly's head. "Want to select a movie?"

 

"Sure, nothing sad though," Kelly replied, "Either a comedy or action."

 

"How about both?" CJ offered and highlighted a movie for pay-for-view.

 

"Lethal Weapon IV O.K.?"  CJ asked before making the final selection.

 

"Is that still out?  I heard it was really funny."

 

"Lethal Weapon IV it is, "CJ replied and set up the movie before dropping the remote on the night stand.  Her other hand steadily continued tracing a light circular pattern on Kelly's stomach.

 

Kelly sunk deeper into CJ as her body relaxed to her lover's gentle touch. Before long, her stomach was feeling tingly and she signed deeply in peace.

 

"Feeling better?"

 

"Much, thank you," Kelly replied and pulled the magic fingers to her lips for a brief kiss.  Kelly held CJ's hand against her stomach as they continued to watch the movie.  Both women content in the simple peace of holding one another closely.

 

'This is all I'll ever need,' CJ thought to herself.  'From out of nowhere, she walks into my life and I know I'll never be the same, and I don't think I would want to.  I never want to lose this.' CJ's arms unconsciously tightened their hold until Kelly squirmed to look up at her questioningly.

 

"What's wrong, honey?" she asked shifting to look at her lover.

 

"Nothing, just thinking, why?" CJ asked wondering how Kelly could always sense her moods.

 

"You were holding me very tightly," Kelly replied as she lightly drew a fingertip down CJ's clenched jaw and watched as it instantly relaxed.

 

CJ grinned and replied, "I'm sorry," and lightly ran a hand down Kelly's ribs causing the woman to giggle and squirm away.  The movie quickly forgotten as blue eyes met green.

 

"Oh-Oh, I think someone's ticklish!"  CJ's eyes sparkled with mischief. 

 

"No, CJ! Not that," Kelly begged backing away from her advancing lover.  CJ's fingertips tweaked Kelly's side.  Kelly tried scrambling and got herself tangled up in the sheet and blanket, and began falling off the bed in her haste to get away.  CJ reached out for her only making matters worse as they both landed in a heap on the floor, taking the covers with them.  Kelly landed with a thug and tried crawling away but CJ was quicker and overtook Kelly, pulled her backward and rolling on top of her.  CJ tickled Kelly until the woman was laughing hysterically.

 

"No more CJ, please.  I have to go to the bathroom," Kelly cried trying to catch her breath.  CJ relented when the pleading green eyes turned her way frantically.  CJ tried to help Kelly untangle herself from the covers and watched as the blonde scampered away.  CJ chuckled and got up to remake the bed.  After setting everything in order, she switched off the TV and crawled into the bed once again, and rolled over on her side and closed her eyes.  CJ felt Kelly get into the bed and reached out to pull her towards into the pocket her body had created.

 

"All better?" she grinned asking.

 

"Yes, no thanks to you!" Kelly retorted smiling.

 

CJ just grinned and closed her eyes relaxing into the peace of her life.  Warm and comfortable with her arms around Kelly, her life was finally complete, it was perfect.

 

Kelly settled in and pushed herself backward as close to CJ as she could and pulled CJ's arms tighter around her until she could feel CJ's breath warm on her neck.  Sighing contently, she closed her eyes and drifted toward sleep.  CJ responded by lightly kissing an exposed earlobe before joining her lover in their dreams.

 

 

CHAPTER 17

 

Dressed in sweats and running shoes, they decided to take the subway to Central Park.  It was early yet as they walked along the path around the park before turning into the interior trails that snaked through the park.  The paths were empty and still as the two women held hands and quietly walked along until the path finally came out near the canoe rental.

 

"There's a restroom over there and I really have to go," CJ remarked pointing in the direction of the closed rental hut.

 

"I'll wait over here," Kelly decided pointing to a bench near the edge of the trees.  Kelly sat down, taking off her shoe to remove a stone.

 

"OK, I'll only be a minute," CJ smiled and leaned down and kissed her lightly before turning in the direction of the building.  It was early yet and the rental office was locked down and she hoped the facilities weren't locked as well.  CJ circled the building for a minute before she found what she was looking for and smiled when the door pushed open.

 

Kelly tried to fix her shoe and find the offending pebble as she turned it over and slapped the heel.  Sensing someone behind her she turned just as she was grabbed from behind. Before she could get a good look, she felt a hand clamp over her mouth and the smell that emanated from the hand and body behind her made her gag.  She was lifted in the air easily as she kicked and fought her attacker.  She dropped her shoe and began flailing with her hands as he turned unfazed down another path and carried her deeper into the wooded park.  Finally succeeding in kicking him in the knee, he dropped her and as she tried scrambling away, he caught her again.  She turned to see a tall, hairy man.  He was a huge man with a full dirty beard and dead brown eyes looking out from the mass of matted hair.  Kelly opened her mouth to scream but was rocked by a blow that snapped her head back, sending her into immediate darkness.

 

He had been watching the two women for nearly an hour as they walked through the park.  He had almost given up knowing that the tall one would be a problem, but the little one was so perfect for his purpose.  He watched them hold hands and kiss and disgusted thought, 'guess she'll learn the other side soon enough'.  He continued stalking them until his break came and the tall one left to enter the buildings.  Quickly, he moved in and scooped up his prize.  Picking up the slight woman, he threw her over his shoulder and carried her toward his place.  She slipped away once by kicking him in the knee, but he easily subdued her in an effort to keep her quiet.  He soon reached his home, which was nothing more than old Army surplus, a torn tarp and some wood to hold it up.  It kept the rain off and it was better than nothing.  He had to make do with a lot less in his life.  He laid her down on the sleeping bag and moved to his footlocker, unlocking the Army issue lock, he pulled out a half-full syringe, his last fix.  As she started to awaken, he stuck the needle into her arm and pushed the plunger down.

 

Kelly felt the needle prick and then the warmth that flooded through her body before she gave in to the dark quiet that followed.

 

He hated wasting his last juice, he was going to need his own soon, but he needed to keep her quiet until he could make the deal that would keep him supplied for awhile.   His place was well hidden, he knew a lot about hiding in the jungles, and had been at this camp for nearly two months without discovery.  He had learned to put it up high, most people were too lazy to climb or look up, and he had hid it well.  The blonde would fetch him enough juice to keep him going for at least two weeks.  Feeling his edge coming off, he hurried out of the park to make the trade.

 

CJ exited the building and went in search of Kelly.  She wasn't where she had left her and went down by the water to find her.  Seeing no one there, she went back up to the bench where she had left Kelly. 

 

"Kelly!  Where are you?" CJ called out, but received no reply.  Looking around CJ felt the fear and dread rise in her throat.  Looking around she kept calling, but all was quiet, too quiet.  CJ stopped and tried to calm down and saw the shoe lying by the path.  She felt like she would be sick as she ran over and picked it up.  Feeling the tears prick her eyes, she knew it was Kelly's and started running down the path yelling Kelly's name.  After a two-hour search, stumbling through the woods she came out onto the road and ran for help.

 

Kelly awoke to the sensation of being on a cloud and looked up at a patchwork of colors.  Her mind tried to focus on where she was, but it wouldn't cooperate and she slipped back into the darkness.  Awaking again, she heard noises in the distance, but couldn't respond.  Her arms and legs were rubbery and unresponsive, and she couldn't find the strength to move so she just went back to her quiet dark place.

 

He stood watching as the tall one paced next to a police car.  There were too many people in the park to risk collecting his prize just yet.  He had made a sweet deal for the woman and was anxious to have it over.  He waited as his anger increased toward the people keeping him from what was rightly his.  He needed the stuff bad.  He had gotten a little on advance, but he knew that in a couple of hours, he would be crawling with bugs and wouldn't be good for anything.  Crouched behind the building, he let his anger build as it kept his rush alive and focused his attention on the tall raven-haired woman.

 

CJ was frantic with worry as she waited by the squad car.  The search had been on for most of the day and they hadn't found Kelly yet.  'Oh Kelly, where are you?' CJ cried to herself.  The police had someone at the hotel in case she went back there, but so far, the woman had just disappeared.  As evening drew close, they began to give up the search as the light waned.

 

"You can't just stop looking!" CJ demanded to the officer in charge.

 

"Ma'am, we can't see anything anymore.  Maybe she just walked out of the park.  We'll check all the streets in the surrounding area.  I suggest you go back to your hotel and wait," he informed her.

 

The officer opened the car door and CJ hesitated, looking back at the wooded area her eyes narrowed before she turned and got into the car.  She felt like she was abandoning Kelly and thought, 'I won't give up until I find you Kelly, I promise!'  CJ sat as the tears streamed down her face unheeded as the officer drove her to the hotel in silence.

 

The man watched as the last car pulled out of the park before heading down the path.  His anger now a full-rage as he headed to his place, all thoughts of business had vanished from his drug infested mind as his only goal was pain, and he know the perfect way.  Smiling, his eyes took on a possessed look as he moved toward his prize.  He hadn't felt this good in a long time, not since his tour when he could satiate his hunger everyday.  Things had changed when they shipped him home, but he always found a way to get what he needed and tonight would be no different.

 

Kelly woke on a smelly cloth and promptly leaned over and threw up.  She couldn't get her mind around anything but fear and her body felt so tired and uncooperative.  She rolled off the smelly tarp and tried to stand and only succeeded in falling over.  After several attempts, she shakily stood erect and tried to focus her swimming vision.  Her stomach was still rolling as she slowly moved out from under the tent.  She looked down into the darkened woods and fearfully cried, 'CJ where are you?'  She needed to find CJ and put all her effort into focusing on her blue-eyed lover.  She worked her way down to the path and turned when she heard a rustling in the bushes to her left.  Unable to see exactly what it was, she began running in the opposite direction fearful that the hairy man had returned.

 

The officer took one last look through the densely wooded area that was rarely traveled; looking up he saw a bit of cloth and climbed up towards it.  Shinning his flashlight around the deserted tarp he saw that it was empty.  'Doesn't seem to be inhabited, probably just some homeless used to stay here,' he thought and headed back to command.  He felt bad for the missing woman and had taken one more look around before giving up until tomorrow.

 

Kelly ran on until she felt weak and stopped to be sick again.  Leaning over a log she wiped her mouth on the back of her hand and tired to quell the queasiness in her stomach.  She took a deep breath and continued stumbling down the path, in which direction, she didn't know.  The only thing on her mind was CJ.

 

The man arrived back at his place enraged to find his prize was gone.  He had seen the officer snooping around and knew it was time to move on, but not before he had his juice.  He knew the officer hadn't found her, so she must have taken off on her own, and he also knew she couldn't have gotten far.  He listened to the night sounds, his senses were alerted to movement and headed in their general direction.  He paced himself and quickly caught up.  He was so close, he could almost smell the fear that emanated off his prey, and it pleased him.

 

Kelly sensed she was not alone and looked over her shoulder causing her to stumble and fall.  She could feel his hands reaching out for her as she scrambled to get away, running down yet another path.  Her fear overriding all other senses as she ran full out over the uneven ground.

 

CJ had let the officer drive her back to the hotel and watch as she entered the lobby before pulling away.  The lobby opened on two opposite streets and CJ quickly walked across and exited on the other side and hailed a cab. 

 

"I need to first go to a store where I can get a flashlight and then I'll tell you where from there," she told the driver handing him a $100. Bill through the small window.

 

He looked at the money and back up to the very determined woman with ice blue eyes, and nodded, stuffing the money in his pocket, he turned the meter off.  A half an hour later CJ exited the cab at the park entrance.

 

"You sure about this?" the driver asked, wondering what she wanted in the park at night.

 

"Completely!" CJ answered coldly and turned disappearing into the darkened woods.  Sam watched amazed at the woman's determination, or stupidity, he wasn't sure which it was.  He was off duty so he locked the doors and waited.  He didn't have anything to do and fingered the bill she had given him and thought, she just might need a ride back.

 

Kelly ran on until she could barely breath and stopped to rest for a moment.  She heard a nose to her left and cried out before clamping her hand over her mouth and running up the path.

 

Hearing a sound, CJ ran in the direction it came, running full hilt into a wall of a man, who quickly grabbed at her.  CJ lashed out with the flashlight as hard as she could at the head of the hulk.  She heard a crack before being plunged into darkness.   She slammed the now defunct light one more time before it slipped out of her hands and she tried to evade the searching hands.

 

The man felt the slight pain and something run down his face, but his goal was within sight and the rage would not let anything register except completing his task.  The second hit tore open his scalp and he could feel warmth flowing down his cheek, but he disregarded this and grabbed for the woman who blocked his way.  CJ ran back down the path and turned to her left trying to evade her pursuer.  She wondered if this man had taken Kelly.  He was too strong to take on face-to-face, two bashes of her flashlight had been relatively ineffective in even slowing him down.  She needed another plan.  The moon was coming out from behind the clouds as it did, she saw a flash of gold and ran for it.

 

Kelly felt the arms grab her from behind and she screamed and fought with all her might to get away until she heard the one voice she needed and turned into those arms sobbing.

 

"Kelly, it's me CJ!  Come on baby, stop!" CJ whispered trying to get Kelly's attention without giving away their location. At the sound her voice, Kelly instantly attached herself around CJ's neck and sobbed.

 

"It's ok honey, I've got you now," CJ whispered and held the woman as tight as she could without hurting her.  'Oh God, I thought I had lost you and I don't think my heart could take it this time.'

 

"CJ," Kelly stuttered into her shoulder.  CJ could hear the terror in her voice, "What honey?" she replied trying to peel the woman off of her so she could look at her.  CJ looked down into green eyes that held a look that made CJ shutter.  She had never seen anything so dark and went to pull the woman back into her arms until she saw that she was looking past CJ.  CJ turned slightly to see a shadow descend upon them just before she felt a weight hit her, and then that was all she remembered.

 

Kelly screamed into the night as CJ collapsed against her.  The man grabbed Kelly and pulled at her but she remained attached to CJ, who lay partially over her body.  Kelly grasped CJ to her as tightly as she could and the man would have to break her fingers and arms to get her to release CJ.  Hitting the blonde and instantly silencing her, he looked down at the still women and wondered if they were dead.   Lifting the taller woman, he carried her back up the path toward his place, dropping her on the ground he went back for the blonde.  When he finally had both women lying side by side he removed the rope from his locker and tied them together.  He would just have to see about altering his deal and maybe getting more for two instead of one.  He hesitated looking down at the two women and felt the rage creep up as images flashed in front of him.  He stopped trying to gain control, his hands clenching as the sweat ran down his dirty brow.  He closed his eyes to stop the vision before him and finally turned and slammed his fist down breaking a wooden stool, his one piece of furniture.  He quickly scurried down to the path away from the women while he still could, and told himself that they wouldn't be worth anything if he let the rage take over.

 

Sam awoke from his slumber in the cab, and looked at his watch.  'Shit, two hours, where the hell could she be?' he thought to himself.  'Maybe she left out the another way and hailed a cab.'  Starting the cab, he turned on the lights to see a big man come out of the woods and hurry across the street.  He was no different than the many homeless that inhabited the streets of New York, but there was something different about the way he looked and acted that sent off alarms in Sam's head.  He picked up his cell phone and dialed his friend at the precinct, asking for his neighbor who was a patrol officer.  After a brief conversation with Tony, he promised to wait where he was for him.  About twenty minutes later, Tony arrived. 

 

Tony arrived back at the park and filled Sam in on what had happened earlier that day.  Sam confirmed Tony's suspicion as to the fare he had dropped off.  There was no doubt it was the woman who had lost her friend.  Tony had a feeling he should have checked out that homeless site more thoroughly and considered whether he could find it again in the dark.  Time wasn't on their side, and if the man in question was involved, he would be returning shortly.  Tony didn't want to meet his kind in the dark, alone. 

 

"Sam, I'm going to go in and try to see if I can find his camp.  If I'm not out in twenty minutes, call the precinct and ask for Captain Jacobs and fill him in on what's happening," Tony replied before going to his trunk and pulling out a black case.  He opened the case and pulled out a gun.  "If you see the guy coming back, call the Captain, and then shoot this flare straight up into the air to warn me.  You got that?"

 

"Yeah, are you sure you want to go in without backup?" Sam asked nervously.

 

"We don't have time to wait for them to get here.  Just do what I tell you and everything should be fine," Tony replied feeling less confident that he sounded.  He turned his flashlight on and off to check the batteries and went down the path towards the interior of the park.

 

CJ groaned and opened her eye to find herself lying on her side with her hands tied behind her back. Rolling over brought and instant moan from someone behind her and she realized that there was a hand just beneath hers.  She was tied to Kelly and lying on an old army sleeping bag.  Her head felt like it was ready to explode and she could feel Kelly shivering behind her. She wished she could turn around and put her arms around her to keep her warm.

 

"Kelly?" CJ called out hoarsely.  "Can you hear me honey?"

 

"CJ?" Kelly mumbled and moved her fingers around trying to touch warm skin.

 

"Yes Kelly, I'm here," CJ answered and grasped Kelly's hand the best she could.

 

"I'm so cold CJ," Kelly shivered uncontrollably.  Her whole body felt as if she were under a block of ice.  "He gave me a shot of something earlier and I don't feel so well," Kelly replied unsure if she was going to be sick or if her stomach was just shaking because she was cold.

 

"Kelly, I wish I could hold you right now.  Just concentrate on my voice, we are going to get out of this and I'm going to take you back home where it is warm.  I promise you that I will never leave your side for one moment.  Can you hold on for me?" CJ asked trying to keep her voice calm and reassuring as she moved her feet against the bindings.  She found that the ropes that held her feet were looser than the ones on their wrists.

 

"I'll try CJ," Kelly replied and continue shivering.  She moved as close as she could to CJ's body in search of body heat and the familiar feel of her lover.

 

"Good girl," CJ replied as the bonds loosed when Kelly moved closer.  CJ had her foot just about free and if she could remove her running shoe she could get her foot past the bindings.  Tugging against the shoe, she could feel it giving way.   She pulled hard and Kelly whimpered but CJ's foot was free.

 

"I'm sorry Kelly.  Did I hurt you?" CJ asked concerned

 

"No, it's o.k." Kelly replied shakily.

 

CJ quickly divested herself of her other shoe and freed her legs from the bindings.

 

"Kelly, listen to me," CJ ordered.  "I want you to try to move you legs and to stand up when I say so."

 

"OK," Kelly answered and moved her legs until they were free of the rope bindings. 

 

"Are you ready?"  CJ asked.

 

"Yes."

 

"Ok first let's try to sit up with our backs against each other."  The two women moved and CJ tried to give Kelly as much leeway as possible until she felt her shoulder starting to dislocate.

 

"Wait!" CJ called out in pain.  Kelly stopped instantly, the pain in her wrist was becoming unbearable but she didn't want to say anything to CJ.

 

"My shoulder is going to give, we have to move to the left," CJ called out trying to keep her shoulder immobile.  Kelly didn't say anything, but tried moving left and cried out in pain when the bonds cut into her wrist.  She could feel the blood running down her hand.  CJ quickly countered and moved back to the right, too quickly, and she felt her shoulder pop.

 

"Oh God!" CJ groaned.  Kelly heard the joint give and CJ cry out.

 

"CJ? What do you want me to do…? are you ok?"

 

"Give me a minute," CJ replied. She didn't want to say anything to Kelly who was already in shock from whatever that mad man had given her. 

 

"Are you ok? What happened?" Kelly's voiced was edge with fear.

 

"Nothing, I'm o.k. just twisted my shoulder a little.  Give me a minute and I want you to lean your back against mine and try to stand up using me as a brace."

 

"O.k., just give me the word," Kelly replied waiting.

 

"O.k. now, on three we go.  One, two, three!"

 

Slowly the women pressed against each other and CJ used her legs as leverage and let Kelly push hard against her back.  CJ bit her lip at the pain of her shoulder being touched but continued to push her legs until she was standing up.

 

"O.k.," CJ replied weakly, breathing hard.

 

"What's wrong?" Kelly asked.  She knew CJ was hurting and could tell she was hiding it.

 

"I'm o.k." CJ replied taking a breath through her clenched teeth.  Her arm hung limply behind her and she knew that her shoulder was definitely dislocated.

 

"We need to find something to cut this rope.  It's too tight for us to loosen ourselves," CJ added and looked around the darkened room.

 

"There's a chest of some sort over here," Kelly replied kicking at an object in the corner.

 

"Let's turn slowly so I can get a look at it," CJ answered and moved gingerly toward the object. Every tug on the shoulder brought stars to her eyes and a sick feeling in her stomach.  Quelling the nausea she motioned for Kelly to sit on the footlocker.  CJ felt around the metal until she came to an edge that was sharp.

 

"Kelly, move towards me and down to the edge of this box. There is a sharp part that I want to try to cut the rope with.  Be careful!"

 

"O.K.," Kelly replied and slowly felt her way long the edge of the metal along with CJ.

 

"Here!" CJ called out and stopped and positioned their wrists against the metal and began rubbing.  CJ gritted her teeth as each movement sent waves of pain through her shoulder. 

 

Kelly kept the rhythm going in hopes that they could free themselves and get as far away from this place as possible.  The past day was a nightmare that she wanted to end.  She wanted her and CJ to just leave this place and go home.

 

CJ pulled on the rope and felt it give, pushing her shoulder to the limit she rubbed the rope harder against the metal.  "Are you ok?" she asked Kelly.

 

Kelly nodded and answered, "Yeah, you?"

 

"O.k."

 

CJ pulled as hard as she could before she saw pinpoints in front of her eyes.  The rope snapped and she quickly used her good hand to unwrap their wrists.  Free she grabbed Kelly and hugged the woman to her with one arm and leaned against her lover's shoulder trying to keep her focus off the excruciating pain that shot up her arm.  "We've got to get moving," CJ murmured to Kelly.

 

Kelly nodded and moved away from CJ as they made their way down to the path.  Reaching the path, Kelly turned to move down the path and heard a blood-curdling scream from behind her.

 

The pain exploded in CJ's head as her arm was wrenched from behind.  She spun around to once again face their nightmare.  A light flashed across the sky illuminating the dried blood on his face and she could feel the heat that radiated from him.  His eyes pulsed with the need to give light to this primal rage.  CJ watched as he looked beyond her to Kelly.

 

'Oh God!' CJ thought before screaming, "Kelly.  Run!"

 

"No!" Kelly shouted back coldly.  "Not this time!"

 

"No, Kelly!" CJ cried out as he twisted her arm again.  The light faded, leaving them once again in darkness as CJ heard Kelly's voice and cringed.

 

"You want me, you freak!  Come and get me!"  Kelly taunted her voice cold and serious.  Her only goal was to get him away from CJ.  He could feel the rage taking over and when the blonde defied him, it was as if the floodgates had opened and everything from the past rushed forward to be heard.  His head ached and his body craved the need to respond and let the voices take control.   The tall one was of no consequence and her threw her aside and focused his attention on the one.  The one that stood before him defying him to hurt her and he wanted more than anything to fulfill that desire.  He no longer saw Kelly, she had become the face of the many that had gone before.  The many whose voices screamed from his head and there was only one way to silence them, Kelly would have to join them.

 

CJ landed against a tree and tried desperately to get up.  It felt like slow motion as she fought to get to her feet and watched as he advanced on Kelly.

 

Kelly stood rooted to her spot as the hulk moved away from CJ.  She watched CJ get to her feet and as he neared she shouted, "Run CJ!"

 

"Not without you!" CJ yelled back and ran towards her.

 

"No!" Kelly shouted and gave up her plans of running.  She had wanted to make sure CJ had gotten away first before she did.  Instead, Kelly moved to intercept CJ as he leaped towards her from across the path.  A loud explosion rang out in Kelly's ear and the man stumbled but kept coming.  Kelly was pushed roughly down to the ground as a stranger appeared from behind and proceeded to keep shooting until the hulk dropped to his knees and then fell to his face in the dirt.  His one hand extended in a final bid to reach Kelly.

 

CJ leaped over the prone figure and landed off-balanced in a heap near Kelly and crawled to reach her.  The pain in her shoulder was nothing compared to the one in her heart at almost losing Kelly.  Kelly shivered until CJ's arm went around her and squeezed her tightly.

 

"Are you two o.k." Tony asked as he cautiously approached the man on the ground.  He rolled the body with the toe of his shoe as he kept his gun trained on him.  It had taken four bullets to finally bring him down, each one lethal in it's own right.  He had seen this before with junkies high on crack.  They were almost super humans, but this superman was silent.  Tony moved to the two women who were getting to their feet and leaned down to help CJ up.  Tony immediately released her arm when the woman cried out.

 

"Is it broken?"

 

"No, just dislocated," CJ replied gritting her teeth.

 

"Let's get you to a hospital.  What about you?" he turned to Kelly.

 

"No, I'm fine," Kelly replied.  Her whole focus was on CJ and she put her arm around her waist and helped her maneuver over the rough path. 

"He injected her with some drug," CJ told the officer and he nodded in acknowledgement.

 

Tony led the way with his flashlight.  They reached the edge of the woods as tires squealed and lights flashed illuminating the three as they came out of the woods.  The women were quickly taken over to the EMS units and as they tried to load them into separate units, CJ fought them.

 

"No!" 

 

The paramedics stopped and watched as she climbed into she same unit as Kelly.  Kelly looked up relieved when she saw her familiar blue eyes enter the ambulance.  She smiled and replied, "I know, you said you wouldn't leave me alone again."

 

"Not ever!" CJ answered and sat on the bench next to Kelly's stretcher.  The paramedic started an IV on Kelly and when CJ looked questioningly he replied, "This will help flush out whatever drug he used and help with shock."

 

CJ nodded and leaned her head back closing her eyes.  She felt fingers gently grasp her hand and she opened her fist to hold them tightly.

 

The paramedic moved to CJ and immobilized her arm until they could get to the hospital to set it.

 

CJ looked down at Kelly and whispered, "I think for our next vacation we'll just stay home in bed."

 

 

CHAPTER 18

 

Kelly kept running as the sweat poured down her face.  She could hear the pounding of her heart and the smell of the dirt as the hands reached up to grasp her.  In the darkness, she again felt his hands upon her and screamed.

 

"Kelly!  Wake up!  You're just dreaming, honey.  You are safe!" CJ called out restraining Kelly's flailing arms.   CJ could see the tears streaked face of her lover and prayed for the green eyes to open in recognition.

 

Jerking awake, Kelly looked up into concerned blue eyes and reached for CJ's body.  "Oh God, not again!" Kelly cried looking around to the familiar surroundings.

 

It's o.k.  I've got you, you're safe," CJ whispered and held her tightly.

 

"I'm sorry," Kelly replied hoarsely.

 

"Don’t worry about it.  Remember, the doctor said it was going to take some time."

 

CJ rocked Kelly until she felt her even breathing and looked down to see her fast asleep.  It was the same scene almost every night.   Unless Kelly wore herself out and was totally exhausted, she would have these nightmares and CJ was at a loss, once again, to help.   CJ spent all of her free time working out to ensure that there would never be a repeat of what had caused this in the first place.  But, deep down she knew that this had to stop.  They couldn't go on this way.

 

The next morning neither woman looked like they had slept much as they quietly got ready for work.  CJ thought it was too soon for Kelly to be going back to work, but she knew better than to voice that opinion.  Kelly tended to be more independent lately and, CJ couldn't blame her.  She hadn't been able to protect her.

 

CJ's shoulder was still tight and her new workout regimen wasn't helping its recovery, but it was something CJ felt she needed to do.

 

"Want me to drop you off?" CJ asked quietly as she poured another cup of coffee for herself.

 

"No, I'll be fine!" Kelly replied a little tightly.  CJ looked up at her and Kelly sighed.  Setting her mug down CJ walked over to Kelly and looked down at her without touching the blonde and offered, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean anything by the offer."

 

Kelly looked up into hurt blue eyes and wrapped her arms around CJ who responded readily.  'I'm still hurting her,' Kelly thought silently and hugged CJ tightly.  "I'm sorry, I'm just tired and out of sorts.  I didn't sleep well."

 

'Again!' CJ thought anxiously, 'I know love, I'm awake too!'

"It's o.k. maybe tonight we can go to bed early and catch up on some sleep," CJ offered and kissed Kelly's brow lightly.

 

Kelly leaned up and captured CJ's lips and kissed her long and slow trying to somehow convey how sorry she was for everything.

 

CJ drank from Kelly's lips as a dying man to water.  She didn't want to lose this connection, but couldn't get past the feelings that she had failed Kelly when it really mattered.  Breaking off the kiss, CJ stepped back guiltily and responded, "I've got to get going, got an early meeting."

 

Kelly nodded and watched as CJ walked out the door and felt a part of herself leave with her lover.  "That never would have stopped you before," Kelly whispered as she heard CJ's car start up and pull away.

 

CJ's body was so tense by the time she arrived home that she quickly changed and headed to the den where she had set up her weight equipment.  She lifted more than the doctor had authorized and didn't stop until the burning pain in her shoulder would make her gasp.  Gingerly, she got up off the bench and headed to the shower to let the hot water run down her aching body.

 

Kelly came home to find CJ in the shower and knew she had been working out again.  Sometimes she did it two times a day.  This excess was going to do permanent damage if CJ didn't stop, but Kelly didn't know how to stop her.  Their lives were running out of control and Kelly feared the sudden stop at the end that awaited them.

 

"Hey!" CJ greeted as she came out of the shower with just a towel wrapped around her.  The water still glistening on her shoulders.

 

"Hey yourself!" Kelly replied smiling through her thoughts and pushing them away.

 

CJ leaned down and kissed Kelly lightly before being pulled into a fierce embrace and deepened the kiss in keeping with the moment.  The towel was soon discarded as CJ undressed Kelly and their frantic actions were not those of lovers, but as desperate souls trying to re-unite.

 

"You hungry?"  Kelly asked quietly as they lay in each other's arms.

 

"No, not really," CJ responded.  Kelly could remember when an opening line like that would have brought a different response from her lover.  Closing her eyes to the tears that threatened, Kelly rolled over and tried to sleep to block out her life.  That was until CJ's body wrapped itself around her like a cocoon and she realized that this was the only truth to her life.

 

CJ felt the instant withdrawal and her heart tore.  'What are we doing to each other?' she thought and rolled to tuck herself behind Kelly.  She wasn't ready to give up on them and hoped, in time, Kelly could forgive her.

 

 

CHAPTER 19

 

"What are you two doing, trying to kill each other?" Brenda asked.  "Lacy said CJ looked as if someone had used her body for a launching pad.  And you, look like you just went ten rounds in the ring."

 

"CJ's been pushing her workouts too far, I think," Kelly answered and avoided acknowledging the rest of the question.

 

Brenda wasn't so easily distracted, "And what is your story?  Are you two having problems?"

 

Kelly looked away and shook her head no.

 

"Come on, talk to me.  We're friends right?"  Brenda pushed lightly as Kelly stared out over the water.  Brenda had suggested they go away from the office for lunch and they sat on the deck at Two George's waiting for their check.

 

"I'm just not sleeping very well," Kelly replied.

 

"Are you still having nightmares?" Brenda asked and when Kelly nodded she let out a silent whistle and knew that the two women were having a very rough go of it.

 

"What did the doctor say?"

 

"That is would take time, but it's been nearly a month!" Kelly replied frustrated.

 

"Maybe you need to see another doctor?" Brenda offered.

 

"A shrink?  I don't think so!" Kelly retorted throwing some bills on the table and getting up.  She didn't feel like waiting any longer for the waitress to bring their check. 

 

"Hey!  It was just a suggestion.  I'm not saying you need one!" Brenda replied following the tense body out of the restaurant.

 

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to snap at you," Kelly said as Brenda drove them back to the office. 

 

"It's o.k. that's what friends are for," Brenda smiled and squeezed Kelly's arm lightly.

 

"I know you care, but it's just hard to talk about it."

 

"Have you talked to CJ?"

 

"Not really, she has her own concerns," Kelly replied not blaming CJ for feeling the way she did.

 

"What's that suppose to mean?" Brenda retorted slightly annoyed.

 

"I've put a lot of strain on our relationship lately.  I wouldn't blame her if she wanted to pull back for awhile."

 

"Is that what she told you?" Brenda asked warily.

 

"No, not in so many words, but it's understandable," Kelly replied.

 

Brenda shook her head, "I think you two are getting your signals crossed and need to sit down and talk."  She had a feeling they were both finding faults in themselves and feeding off their own insecurities and not really looking at each other.

 

"You're probably right," Kelly answered, but really wasn't sure how to approach this or how to apologize and make things right again.

 

CJ had to go out of town for three days; there was no way she could get around it.  She just hoped Kelly wouldn't take it as her abandoning her again.  After dinner they sat on the couch watching TV and CJ was glad that Kelly still let her hold her at these times.  She breathed deeply, the mixture of scents that made up her lover who was already engraved on her heart.  Taking a deep breath, she approached the topic she had been dreading.

 

"Kelly?"

 

"Hmm," Kelly replied looking up from CJ's shoulder questioningly.

 

"I just wanted to tell you that I have to go to Atlanta for a few days next week.  Will you be o.k?"

 

Kelly felt the fear rise up, but quickly squelched it.  "Sure, I'll be fine," she answered steadily and smiled.

 

CJ noted the smile never reached her eyes and just nodded.  "I tried to get out of it, but I can't.  Maybe Brenda could stay over and keep you company?" CJ asked hesitantly.

 

"I'll be fine!  I don't need a babysitter!" Kelly retorted and got up, moving into the kitchen.

 

"I didn't mean it like that!" CJ replied hurt at Kelly's outburst.  She didn't know how to talk to her anymore for fear of Kelly finally having enough and walking away for good. 

 

Kelly opened the freezer door and wanted to stick her head inside. She had done it again to CJ and waited for the tall woman to walk out and leave, but when she turned she saw CJ still sitting and looking at her.

 

'Shit!' Kelly exclaimed and moved toward CJ.  Sitting down next to CJ, she grasped her hand and held it.  "You didn't deserve that and I know it's not what you mean.  I’m sorry!" she offered and kissed the clasped hand.

 

CJ pulled Kelly up onto her lap and answered, "It's o.k. We're both just tired."

 

Kelly nodded and kissed CJ's cheek as she fought back the tears thinking, 'Stop crying, it doesn't solve anything.'

 

CJ looked up into sad green eyes and felt an overwhelming need to try to repair the damage she had caused.  Their kisses started out hesitantly, but as their need rose, so did the passion and CJ lifted Kelly off her lap and onto the couch.  As slow as they tried to go, it never lasted as their search for forgiveness overrode any other desires.  It was late into the night when CJ led a sleepy Kelly to the bedroom and exhausted, they slept without dreams or thoughts.

 

 

CHAPTER 20

 

CJ called every night from Atlanta and could hear the exhaustion in Kelly's voice.  Whenever she called, she could hear the TV playing in the background and knew Kelly wasn't sleeping at all.  Her fears were confirmed when she arrived home on Friday.  Kelly stood at the gate, thin and gaunt and CJ was torn at what to do.

 

Kelly watched for CJ until she saw the familiar tall figure step through the doorway.  CJ looked tense and her normally bright eyes were tinged with sadness.  She didn't care who was watched, she ran up to CJ and engulfed her in a fierce hug.  CJ's arms instantly circled Kelly and lifted her off the ground in return.

 

CJ drove them home after stopping off for a bite to eat.  She even ordered dessert in hopes of getting Kelly to eat again.  Arriving home, CJ dropped her bag and led Kelly to the bedroom, stripping clothes away as she undressed Kelly and pushed her into the bed.  She shed her own clothes before curling up around her lover.  It wasn't long before Kelly's breathing evened out and CJ could relax and join her.

 

Kelly's nightmares returned the following evening and after settling the distraught woman down, CJ slipped out of the bed and went to the den and began lifting weights.  She didn't know how to relax anymore and the only thing that kept her mind calm was to push herself physically until she had nothing left to give.

 

Exhausted, CJ lay back on the bench to catch her breath.  Her shoulder throbbed from overuse and she quietly acknowledged that no matter how hard she worked out, all the muscles in the world wouldn't have stopped what happened.  It had taken four bullets to do that.  She was so deep in thought that she hadn't sensed Kelly's presence and jumped when she knelt down next to her.  CJ turned to touch her lover and sadly noted the dark circles under Kelly's eyes.

 

"We can't go on like this," Kelly said softly.

 

CJ nodded and pulled Kelly closer.  "I know."

 

"I love you CJ," Kelly's muffled voice replied as she buried her face in CJ's sweaty neck.  She loved the smell and saltiness of her lover and kissed her neck.

 

"I love you Kelly don't ever doubt that!" CJ stood up and pulled Kelly to her feet.  "We need to resolve this before it destroys what we have."

 

Kelly nodded as she felt the tears begin again.  "I'm so sorry that I ruined everything and caused so much trouble."

 

"You?  No, that wasn't your fault!"  CJ replied realizing that this was what had been tormenting Kelly.

 

"If I hadn't wanted to go to the park when you wanted to sleep in, none of this would have ever happened," Kelly insisted and walked away toward the kitchen

 

"No, if anyone is to blame, it is me.  I should have been able to take better care of you," CJ replied and caught up with Kelly. Kelly spun around answering, "You shouldn't have to always take care of me!"

 

"But, I want to," CJ answered and pulled Kelly into her arms.  "You are the most important thing in my life!"

 

"And, I keep causing you so much pain," Kelly replied looking away.

 

"No! You cause me so much joy!" CJ answered back.

 

Kelly looked deeply into CJ's eyes, "What a pair we make."

 

"Hey, I kinda like us," CJ answered grinning.

 

"Maybe we've both been blaming ourselves for something we couldn't control in the first place," Kelly replied.

 

"You're right.  It's something that happened that we have to accept.  Neither of us made it happened and I don't think we had any control in changing the outcome," CJ agreed.  "I'm just glad that we made it out in one piece."

 

"I've got to stop being afraid to sleep and to dream.  I think that's causing the nightmares because I dwell on it so much.  And, your working out to the point of exhaustion isn't going to change what's happened either."

 

Kelly ran a hand down CJ's muscular arm and grinned, "Although the results have been something else."

 

"So you like?" CJ asked flexing her more defined arms.

 

"Oh yeah!" Kelly leaned over and kissed CJ softly and whispered, "Especially when they are wrapped around me."

 

"Mmmm," CJ replied deepening the kiss and tightly holding Kelly.  Breaking off the heated exchange CJ looked down and asked, "Want to take a shower with me?"

 

"Ooh, I thought you'd never ask!  I have another idea for your workouts too!" Kelly replied seductively and grabbed CJ's hand to lead her back to the bedroom.

 

"Sounds intriguing, tell me more."

 

"Oh no, I think I'd rather show you," Kelly replied and pushed CJ into the bathroom ahead of her. 

 

Kelly held up CJ's hand above her as the moonlight illuminated the slender fingers. 

 

"What are you doing?" CJ asked amused.

 

"Memorizing all my favorite parts of you," Kelly replied.

 

"Oh!" CJ replied confused.

 

"Hmmm!"

 

"What?"

 

"This is going to take awhile," Kelly informed CJ rolling over on top of her.

 

"Why is that?" CJ asked grinning.

 

"Well, because there are so many favorites!"

 

CJ chuckled and Kelly leaned down to lightly kiss her lips, murmuring "Definitely a favorite!"

 

CJ's hand stroked Kelly's back as the blonde progressed her way across CJ's face proclaiming each part a favorite.  She then leaned in and whispered warmly in CJ's ear, "I think every part is a favorite of mine, but I think I'll keep check to make sure."

 

CJ moaned as Kelly's hand trailed lightly across her nipple and Kelly was rewarded with an instant response.  There love making that evening had certainly turned to a less frantic approach as Kelly took her time sampling each part of CJ's anatomy.  CJ could attest to it's slowness as her mind and body went crazy with frustration as Kelly painstakingly explored each and every part before bringing her to the pinnacle, and calmly asking her to step off.  CJ did so without a moment's thought, and jumped into the fire that only this woman could create.

 

 

CHAPTER 21

 

CJ's eyes slowly adjusted to the light streaming in the bedroom window and tried to focus on the clock next to the bed.

 

"What time is it?" a muffled voice asked from her chest.  CJ looked down to see one green eye trying to open.  Unsuccessful, Kelly sighed and snuggled closer.  CJ leaned down and kissed the blonde head that was burrowing her face between her breasts.

 

"It's noon!" CJ announced and the green eyes flew open in panic.

 

"Today's not Saturday is it?" Kelly asked hopefully.

 

"No, Friday, we're late for work," CJ chuckled.

 

"Late?" I'll say we missed work all together!"

 

"Would that be a problem for you?" CJ asked curiously.

 

Kelly thought about her calendar and a slow smile spread across her face, "Nope!"

 

"Want to get an early start on the weekend and play hooky?"

 

"Can you?" Kelly inquired excited about the possibility.

 

"No problem.  Let's call in then and tell them we won't be coming in today, "CJ replied reaching for the phone and punching in her office number.

 

"Hello, Janet?  This is CJ.  Yeah, can you mark me out on the board today.  No, I'm fine.  I just have some personal business to take care of," CJ replied reaching for Kelly's body grinning.

 

Kelly laughed and moved out of reach, getting out of bed, she padded down the hall to the guestroom to use the other phone line.  The only good thing Donna left behind was a separate line for Kelly's computer. 

 

Kelly called her office and informed the receptionist of pretty much the same thing CJ has told her office.  Hanging up she returned to the bedroom to find CJ still in bed looking very comfortable.

 

Kelly couldn't resist and launched herself across the room to land on top of CJ.  She looked down at her grinning lover and announced, "It's personal business time!"

 

CJ's eyes darkened as Kelly leaned in for a kiss and the blue-eyes woman quickly deepened the kiss and rolled her lover onto her back.  Kelly's arms instantly wrapped around CJ as she leaned up on her elbows to peer down at her favorite color of green.

 

"Any problems?" CJ asked as she lightly nipped and kissed at Kelly's neck.

 

"Not at all," Kelly replied as her breathing escalated in response to CJ's actions.

 

"Good!" CJ murmured moving down Kelly's chest to gently kiss an already hardening nipple.  Lavishing attention on each breast she moved back up to taste Kelly's lips one more time before beginning her journal down Kelly's body.  She circled Kelly's navel with her tongue before gently dipping in.  CJ could feel Kelly quiver with each new kiss.  Kelly's arousal was evident as she widened her legs to allow CJ to fit completely between them. 

 

"I need you CJ," Kelly asked in response as CJ settled between her legs, and her nipple brushed across Kelly's already wet hair. CJ caught her breath and groaned.

 

"You are so wet baby," CJ whispered roughly and made her way back up to Kelly's lips while trailing her hand down and parting the moist flesh in search of Kelly's opening.  As CJ's tongue entered Kelly's mouth, she slowly slid her finger into Kelly.  Each mimicking the others moves until Kelly thought the two were connected.  Kelly moaned and clung to CJ as she moved her hips to join in the dance.

 

"Oh, God CJ!" Kelly cried into her lover's mouth.  CJ backed off and stilled her body to look down at Kelly with undeniable desire in her eyes and asked, "I want to see you.  I want you to look at me, let me take you there," she replied huskily.  "Show me, baby," CJ whispered and began to slowly stroke her as she looked directly into smoky green eyes.

 

Kelly gasped and fought to keep her eyes open when CJ gently circled her thumb around her swollen nub.  She fell into CJ's blue eyes and rode the passion that she saw reflected.  As she reached higher, CJ's eyes became darker with unspoken desire and Kelly wanted to fulfill that desire.

 

As the tempo increased, CJ looked deeply and whispered one last time, "Show me!"  Kelly fought to keep her eyes locked on CJ's as he shouted CJ's name and tumbled over the edge.  CJ continued to rock Kelly as wave after wave washed over her until she reached up and pulled CJ down for a searing Kiss.  Only then did their eyes leave one another.

 

CJ tucked Kelly's head under her chin as she held the woman to her breast. They lay quietly enjoying the closeness that they shared until CJ heard giggling.

 

"What's so funny?"

 

"I'll never look at 'personal business' the same way again," Kelly replied.

 

"Oh yeah!" CJ answered stroking Kelly's back warmly.

 

"I tend to see a lot of things differently these days, thanks to you!"

 

"Is that a good or bad thing?" CJ asked.

 

"Oh, definitely good!" Kelly replied kissing the flesh beneath her.

 

"Mmmm, I'll second that!" CJ remarked.  "Is there anything special you want to do today?"

 

Kelly moved up to look down into CJ's eyes and replied, "Just this," before kissing her deeply.  After a few moments Kelly pulled back and added, "Do you mind?"

 

"Not one bit," CJ was able to respond before lips descended upon her leaving her breathless.  Kelly continued to leave CJ breathless as she showed CJ just how much she meant to her.  Blissfully exhausted, they spent the remainder of the afternoon in bed just holding one another and napping.

 

 

CHAPTER 22

 

Kelly awoke and rolled over to find the other side of the bed empty.  She looked towards the darkened bathroom and then listened for sounds, not hearing any, she got out of bed.  Grabbing a robe she thought miffed, 'If she's working out, I'm gonna hurt her!'   Padding down the hall barefoot, she looked into the den to find it empty.  Relieved, she continued her search and became worried when she found the house empty.  Looking in the drive she noted CJ's car was still there and looked around until she noticed that the door to the garage was ajar.  Opening the door, she heard the scraping of boxes and found CJ by the front of the garage door rifling through a box in only her boxers.  Kelly leaned against the doorway and watched amused at CJ's frantic search.  Finding what she was looking for she turned toward the door and jumped when she saw someone watching her.

 

"Jeez, you scared the crap out of me!"  CJ replied holding the box to her rapidly beating heart.  She hadn't heard Kelly come out of the house.  "How long have you been standing there?"

"Just long enough to gaze at your cute outfit!" Kelly replied grinning with her finger poised over the control panel for the garage door opener.

 

CJ looked down and realized how little she hands on and looked up grinning.  The grin quickly disappeared when she realized where Kelly's hand was.

 

"Ah, no…you wouldn't," CJ replied nervously laughing.

 

"I wouldn't?" Kelly taunted.  "I think the neighbors would definitely appreciate the view," she added tapping the button lightly.

 

CJ began to edge her way toward Kelly slowly trying to get out of the direct view of the overhead door.

 

"Un-uh!" Kelly warned and CJ froze to her spot.

 

"Come on Kelly! What do you want?" CJ pleaded looking around for something to cover herself with.  Kelly tossed her a discarded ball cap chuckling.

 

"Very funny!" CJ replied putting the cap on her head mockingly.

 

"You can play for my team any day!" Kelly replied and hit the button brining the door upwards.  CJ screeched and quickly grabbed a box as Kelly hit the button again, stopping the door partially open.  Kelly began laughing until she saw the glint in CJ's eyes and her steady advance toward her.  Throwing caution to the wind, she hit the button again and ran through the house to the master bathroom and locked herself in.  She could hear CJ scrambling over boxes in her haste to get back into the house.

 

CJ climbed and pushed boxes out of her way before the neighbors got an eyeful.  It was Saturday morning and they were bound to be outdoors.  She had already heard the lawnmower running earlier.  She reached the back door and slipped through as the door crested the halfway mark.  Punching the button one last time, she went in search of her little prankster.  Walking into the bedroom, she saw the closed bathroom door and sat on the foot of the bed flipping the small box in her hand.

 

"Too bad Kelly!  Here I was going to surprise you with a present," CJ called out.  Through the door she heard a muffled giggle and response, "Guess you got the surprise instead!"

 

CJ smiled at the comment and acknowledged silently that she sure had been surprised at Kelly's playfulness.

 

"Why don't you come out and see what I was going to give you."

 

"No, it's a trick!" Kelly called back.

 

"No trick, I promise.   I have it here in my hand," CJ answered.

 

"Really?" A hesitant voice asked from behind the door.

 

"Yes, I do have something for you, but now, I don't think you should get it.  That wasn't a very nice thing to do!" she taunted.

 

"I'm sorry!"

 

"You'll have to do better than that," CJ chuckled knowing Kelly wouldn't be able to hold out much longer.

 

"Promise me it's not a trick?" Kelly asked nervous but excited at the exchange between them.

 

"Oh, I promise you there is a present out here," CJ replied thinking slyly, 'Just which present remains to be seen.' 

 

"O.K., CJ I'm really sorry.  I don't know what came over me," Kelly offered unlocking the door and peeking out to locate her lover.

 

CJ reclined back on an elbow and continued playing with the box in her hand.

 

"CJ?"

 

"Yes?" CJ drawled and looked up at the contrite woman, who watched her, skittishly ready to bolt at any sudden movement.

 

CJ held up the box, "See, I told you the truth."

 

Kelly slightly relieved edged closer to the bed until she was within reach of CJ.  CJ flipped the box over her shoulder onto the bed and grabbed Kelly pulling her down onto the bed next to her and proceeded to tickle all the spots she knew would drive Kelly nuts.

 

"Paybacks are a bitch!" CJ chuckled as Kelly howled with laughter and squirmed to get away. CJ held her down and continued the onslaught until tears ran down Kelly's cheek.  She stopped and leaned down to softly lick the tears away.  Kelly instantly stopped resisting and wrapped her arms around CJ.  CJ slid off Kelly to rest on her side but kept her leg draped over Kelly's thighs and looked down at her lover.

 

Kelly looked up still breathing hard and asked, "Are we even now?"

 

"No, not quite yet," CJ replied and reached over Kelly's head to retrieve the discarded box.  Kelly flinched in reaction to CJ's movements instantly stilling CJ's hand in midair.

 

"Hey, I'm not going to hit you.  I would never do something like that to you," CJ told her softly, concerned and hurt that Kelly might think her capable of something like this.

 

Kelly put a hand to caress CJ's cheek and replied, "I'm sorry it was a knee-jerk reaction.  I know you would never hurt me.  I'm sorry."

 

CJ nodded and leaned down to kiss Kelly tenderly and nibbled lightly on her lips before pulling away.

 

"I was just reaching for this," CJ said and pulled the small box over to Kelly.

 

Kelly looked at the box and then back at CJ questioningly.  "Go ahead, it's for you," CJ said softly handing the box to Kelly.

 

"For me? Why?" Kelly asked taking the offered item.

 

"Because I love you and wanted to get you something special while I was in New York.  Then everything happened and I put it away until now."

 

Kelly's glistening eyes looked up at CJ acknowledging what had almost happened to them.  They had almost lost something precious because of their inability to talk about their fears.  Kelly pulled CJ down kissing her warmly in an effort to put the past behind them. 

 

"I love you," she whispered hoarsely.

 

"I love you too!   Open the box," CJ replied leaning back on her elbow.  Kelly opened the box to find an intricately designed gold chain nestled on a velvet lining.  She gasped and looked up at CJ speechless.  CJ leaned over and gently lifted her chin to close her gaping mouth.

 

"CJ it's beautiful, this must have cost a fortune!"  Kelly blurted out, her hands shaking as she tried to touch the present.  "I've never received anything so beautiful.  I can't take this, it's too much!" Kelly finished pulling her hand back from the jewelry in fear she might break something.

 

CJ chuckled at Kelly's surprise and took the chain from the box to place it around her neck.  "For me, your worth more than this necklace.  Wear it for me," CJ asked as she slipped it around Kelly's neck and fastened the clasp.  The gold lay glittering warmly against Kelly's neck and chest.  CJ leaned over and kissed the chain where it lay against Kelly's skin.  Looking up she said, "I would buy you the world and it still wouldn't be enough to show you how much I love you!"

 

"I love you so much CJ and I don't need the world.  I just need you," Kelly replied and pulled CJ back on top of her and proceeded to show her just how much with her body.

 

Neither woman h ad much desire to leave the house as they stood in front of the open refrigerator door.  CJ stood behind Kelly with her chin resting on the shorter woman's shoulder and her arms wrapped about her waist.

 

"Pretty pathetic, huh?" CJ asked.

 

"Yeah, but I can come up with something," Kelly replied.  She really didn't want to go out into the real world just yet.  She was enjoying the little cocoon t hey had build this weekend.   It had been a time of healing and discovery for both women.  They thought each had known the other but they were surprised at how much they had learned over the past two days.  They had talked, laughed, cried and made love, and now they were just hungry.

 

"I can either make a nice, fresh sauce in the microwave or something with eggs.  Those are your two choices," Kelly reported over her shoulder.

 

"You can do sauce in the microwave?" CJ asked surprised.  Kelly had been a wealth of surprises lately.  These revelations had opened anew world for both of them.  Some were good, like this but, some had made CJ want to hold her tightly and take away the pain.

 

"Sure, give me twenty minutes.  It's not as good as the slow cooking method, but it's lighter.   Do you like chunky sauce?" Kelly asked.

 

"Sure, I'll try anything once," CJ replied slapping Kelly's bottom lightly before stepping back.  Kelly shot her a look and replied, "Oh, really?"

 

CJ wiggled her eyebrows suggestively at Kelly's reply.

 

"I'll have to remember that!"

 

 

CHAPTER 23

 

Monday morning came to quickly for both of them as they reluctantly headed out to their respective jobs.  Kelly was sitting at her desk trying to sort through her inbox when the intercom buzzed.

 

"Yes?"

"Kelly?  There is a delivery for you at the front desk, do you want me to sign for it?" the receptionist asked.

 

"Sure, I'll come by in a minute to pick it up," Kelly replied.  Kelly got caught up in her work and as she got ready for lunch, she realized that she still hadn't picked up her package.  When Brenda came by to pick her up, they headed to the lobby to retrieve it.

 

Sitting on the front desk was a oblong box and Kelly's face questioned at the New York return address, no name just an address.  Mary smiled her knowingly and winked.  "I think someone has an admirer."

 

Kelly grinned and opened the box and stopped cold when she saw what was nestled within the tissue.  Stepping away from the box she suddenly felt ill as scenes flashed in front of her face.  Brenda grabbed her arm concerned when she saw how white Kelly had become.  She looked over into the box and saw a single running shoe sitting silently within the box.

 

"Shit!" Brenda exclaimed under her breath and moved Kelly away from the box to sit down in the waiting area.  Returning to the receptionist she wrote down a number and said, "Call this number for me and as for CJ.  Tell her Brenda said to get over to Kelly's office as soon as she can.  It's important."

 

"Sure, is everything o.k?" Mary asked concerned looking over at Kelly who sat with her head in her hands rocking slowly.

 

"It will be when she gets here, so hurry up and call.  When a tall raven-haired beauty shows up at a run, let her through.  I'm taking Kelly back to her office to wait," Brenda replied pointing to the phone again to get Mary dialing before she moved back to Kelly.

 

"Kelly? Come on honey, let's go back to your office," Brenda softly spoke as she lifted the blonde from her seat.  Kelly gave her a blank stare and followed without question.  When they arrived at Kelly's office, Brenda sat her down; Kelly immediately curled into a ball with her head in her lap and rocked slowly.  Brenda sat nearby with her arm around Kelly's back and reassured her softly as they waited for CJ.  Twenty minutes later, Brenda heard someone running down the hall and in ran a tall and extremely frightened woman. 

 

"What happened?" CJ asked when she saw Kelly and instantly dropped to her knees in front of the rocking woman.

 

"Baby, what's wrong?  Come on Kelly look at me," CJ crooned to an unresponsive Kelly.  Pulling Kelly up to look at her, the green eyes flickered once and then again as recognition began to set in and Kelly burst into tears and flung herself at CJ.  CJ fell backwards taking Kelly with her and sat on the floor holding her sobbing lover.

 

CJ looked up at Brenda questioningly, her blue eyes wet with unshed tears.  Brenda proceeded to tell CJ about the package and the running shoe.  At the mention of the shoe, CJ closed her eyes as a stab of pain ran through her at what Kelly must be going through. 

 

"Sh-h-h, its o.k. Kelly, he can't hurt you anymore.  It's over….," CJ whispered and rocked the woman in her arms.  She held her tightly until she felt Kelly became still and looked down to see Kelly calming down.  Sometime during this period, Brenda had slipped out of the room and closed the door to give them some privacy.

 

"You o.k. now?"

 

Kelly nodded and whispered hoarsley, "I don't know what happened all of a sudden, I saw everything as it happened that day and I just couldn't go there again."

"I’m sorry you had to go through that again.  Let's get out of here and go to the beach.  I think we are both through for the day.  We can pick up some lunch and go look at the water," CJ suggested and Kelly slightly smiled as she nodded her approval. 

 

CJ stood up and pulled Kelly to her feet and into her arms.  She leaned down and gave her a soulful kiss to remind her that she was safe and protected this time.  Kelly leaned into the kiss and savored the feelings that flowed through her body.  She knew that no matter what had happened that day, it meant nothing to her anymore.  What was happening now was all that was important and she focused on the woman in front of her and kissed her with everything she had in her, and rocked both their worlds.

 

 

CHAPTER 24

 

The two women sat quietly in the car looking out over the ocean.  The beach was busy during the season and neither one wanted to go out among the masses.  CJ's arm was draped across the bucket seats of her car as she idly played with Kelly's hair. Kelly rested her arm on the console and leaned into CJ so that she could rest her head on her shoulder.

 

"How are you doing honey?" CJ whispered and kissed the top of Kelly's head.

 

"Good now.  I'm sorry I dragged you away from work so abruptly.  I just opened the box and saw…." she paused shivering involuntarily.  CJ dropped her arm to Kelly's shoulder and pulled her closer wishing she hadn't bought a car with bucket seats.

 

"It's over and he's never going to bother us again," CJ replied pressing her lips to the top of Kelly's head and kept them there.  Kelly nodded and tucked her head closer into to CJ.  She couldn't explain the simple peace she felt from being near her lover.  It was as if nothing else mattered anymore.

 

"I feel kinda stupid," Kelly mumbled a little while later.  "It was just a shoe!"  Lifting her head up she looked at CJ with a lopsided grin.  CJ leaned over and kissed Kelly lightly on the lips and replied, "It wasn't really the shoe, it was just everything it represented." Kelly nodded and looked deeply into blue eyes and said, "I'm just glad that you were there for me."

 

"I'll always be here for you, Kelly."  CJ leaned down and captured the upturned lips and poured all the love she had for the woman into that one kiss.  Breathless, they parted and smiled at one another.  "There isn't anything else in this world that I could want more than what I have right now," Kelly whispered as her green eyes twinkled in total happiness. 

 

"I want to be everything you need Kelly," CJ replied, "I want you always to be feel safe and loved." 

 

"Oh, I do!" Kelly replied and brushed her fingertips across CJ's reddened lips.  "You are everything I've needed to complete myself."

 

"I feel the same way," CJ replied and let out a shaky breath.  "You are the other half of my existence."

 

Kelly smiled widely and leaned into to be hugged by CJ and be held tightly.  "I love when we do this."

 

"Me too!"

 

  As the afternoon sun warmed the interior of the car, they decided to head home, stopping first at CJ's office so that she could close up the files that she had abandoned in her rush to get to Kelly.

 

"Follow me," CJ instructed as she led Kelly through a maze of cubicles toward her's.   "Unlike some lucky people, we work in a fishbowl!" CJ teased smiling over her shoulder at Kelly.  Kelly poked her in the back and giggled.    Most of the cubicles were empty as many of the representatives were out in the field.  The few that remained, CJ just nodded at and kept walking, keeping Kelly close behind her.    Kelly just smiled at eyes that acknowledged her and felt like she was under scrutiny as they continued to curiously watch the pair walk down the hallway.

 

"I feel like a guppy in a feeder tank," Kelly whispered to CJ's back.  CJ chuckled and reached back to grasp Kelly's hand and led her toward her cube in the back.  As they neared the end of the row CJ pulled Kelly even with her and put her arm around her waist possessively.  Kelly was curious at this action until they passed the next to last cube and she looked in to see Angel look up at her.  Kelly looked away as she and CJ turned into the last cube.  CJ's office was a fair size cube with a desk, credenza, numerous filing cabinets, and a computer workstation. 

 

"Wow, your office is bigger than mine," Kelly exclaimed quietly. 

 

"Yeah, but unlike yours, it doesn't have a ceiling and a door!"  CJ moved to her desk and began straightening up files and motioned for Kelly to have a seat.   "This will only take a second and then we'll go get something to eat, O.k.?"

 

Kelly nodded grinning as her stomach growled its approval.    "I heard that!" CJ replied without looking up.

 

Kelly giggled and whispered, "Guess I forgot to eat."  


"Yeah, that's when I know something is serious…when you don't eat," CJ replied with a smirk.

 

Kelly blushed and stuck out her tongue again.

 

CJ raised her eyebrow in question and Kelly rolled her eyes, "Jeez can't you think about anything else?"

 

CJ thought for a moment before replying impishly, "Nope!"

 

Kelly began to giggle soon followed by CJ and she walked around the desk holding her finger to her mouth to shush both of them.  Kelly tried but the giggles kept erupting until CJ grabbed her and kissed her soundly, turning the giggles into sighs.

 

"I've daydreamed about doing that in here since I first met you," CJ whispered in her ear as she held Kelly closely. 

 

'Kinda risky don't you think?" Kelly asked motioning to the ceilingless room.

 

"No, not really.  The only one who could possible hear us is Angel, and you know how much I care about that!"   CJ whispered chuckling.

 

Kelly slapped CJ on the butt before releasing her and replied, "Go finish up so we can get out of here."

 

CJ grinned and moved back to her desk and shut down her computer, filing the last of the folder, the two women made their way out of the office.  Passing Angels cube, CJ looked over with the largest smile on her face she could muster noticing that Angel was already fuming.

 

"Guess she must have heard us,' CJ thought happily as she led Kelly out of the maze and into the afternoon sunshine.

 

After dinner they decided to head back to the beach for a long walk along the sand, and ended up sitting on the sand looking out over the ocean as it began to turn dark.  Kelly sat between CJ's legs, leaning back against her enveloped within the taller woman's arms.

 

CJ leaned down to kiss an exposed earlobe and said, "Well Babe, I think we should head home."

Kelly sighed and replied, "Yeah, I guess you are right…It's just so peaceful here right now."

 

"Mmm, yes it is," CJ purred her response and continued kissing her way down Kelly's neck. Kelly hugged the arms wrapped around her and turned her face to have one of those kisses land on her lips.  Smiling CJ responded by kissing her deep and long.  Finally, breaking the kiss in exchange for oxygen, CJ groaned and stood up, leaning down to help Kelly to her feet. Hand in hand they headed back to the car for a quiet drive home.

 

 

 

CHAPTER 25

 

"Damn!" Kelly breathed out walking into the house from the mailbox.  She turned the letter over in her hand and looked at the date once again.   Looking up she met CJ's inquisitive eyes.

 

"I just got a letter from my sister.  She wants to come for a visit," Kelly explained with a frown.  CJ nodded and replied, "Is that a problem?"

 

"Well, that depends on whether I'm ready to tell my family about us," Kelly answered hesitantly.

 

"Why do I sense that it is more than just us?" CJ asked.

 

Kelly walked over and leaned against the kitchen counter next to CJ, not looking at her she replied, "She doesn't know about me."

 

"Oh boy!" CJ replied running a hand through her hair.   Kelly leaned up to gently straighten the hair that CJ had disturbed.

 

"What do you want to do about this?" CJ asked, wondering where she could crash for a couple of days while the sister was visiting.

 

"I'm not sure," Kelly replied.

 

"I guess I could stay over Brenda and Lacy's while she is here," CJ offered.

 

"No!" Kelly replied quickly.  "I don't want you going anywhere.  Just give me a bit to get a grip on things."

 

"O.k., whatever you decide is o.k. with me.  When is she coming?"

 

Kelly looked back down at the letter in her hand and cringed.  "Next weekend."

 

"O.k," CJ replied wondering just what was going through Kelly's head at the moment.  She didn't want to put any pressure on her, but wasn't sure exactly what she was feeling about the whole thing herself.  Finally admitting that Kelly had to decide this one, she turned back to her, "I'm going to get started on mowing the grass."

 

Kelly nodded putting the letter on the counter and replied, "I'm going to get started draining the Jacuzzi and cleaning it."


"Have fun!"

"You too," Kelly laughed and headed out to the back patio.

 

CJ put on her ball cap and hit the garage door opener to push the lawn mower out and get started on the grass.  It was already hot and humid and as she went up and down the lawn, she felt the sweat begin to run down her face and thought, "I should have gotten an earlier start!'  

 

Kelly turned the valves on the Jacuzzi and began to pump the water out. As she watched it's slow progress she decided to start bailing the water out in an effort to complete the draining quicker.   Progress was slow, and after about ten trips she looked over the side to see that the water level had only gone down about two inches.

 

Finishing up the front yard, CJ made her way into the back.  She watched as Kelly leaned over the water to check the filters and drain.  CJ slipped through the screen door onto the patio and crept up behind Kelly.  Kelly never knew what hit her as her body was unceremoniously dumped into the Jacuzzi.  CJ stood laughing when Kelly came up sputtering in the water. 

 

"Ooh, you're gonna pay for this!" Kelly threatened standing up in her soaking clothes.

 

"Promises!  Promises!" CJ replied jumping back when Kelly send a wave of water in her direction.  Kelly looked at CJ for a moment and her eyes narrowed as she hatched her plan.  Slowly, she began to pull off her sodden clothes.  Standing in the middle of the Jacuzzi, she pulled her T-shirt over her head and dropped it over the side, next she unhooked her bra and dropped it on top of the shirt.

 

CJ's breathing increased as she watched Kelly strip right in the middle of the patio in broad daylight.  She quickly looked around to see if any of the neighbors were being graced with her performance.  Not seeing anyone around, her eyes went quickly back to her lover.

 

Kelly had seen the shock register on CJ's face before her eyes darted around for signs of onlookers.  Kelly didn't care, she didn't think anyone was close enough for her to worry about and the look on CJ's face was worth it all.

 

Next, she slipped her shorts slowly down into the water and lifted them up with her foot to flip them over the edge of the Jacuzzi.  The water slapping against CJ's legs, but the woman seemed not to notice this as she watched Kelly steadily.  Kelly smiled and sat down before pulling her panties off and letting them dangle by her toe over the side of the Jacuzzi. 

 

"So, are you going to just stand there staring or what?" Kelly asked seductively moving toward the side of the Jacuzzi.  She rested her elbows on the edge of the tub and let her body stretch out behind her.   CJ moved toward her and sat on the edge of the tub looking down at her lover, before she knew it Kelly reached up and pulled her backward off balance, and CJ landed with a large splash in the middle of the tub.  Kelly backed away to sit on one of the underwater ledges as CJ stood up with her clothes stuck to her body. 

 

"I seem to remember someone once mentioning paybacks!" Kelly replied smirking.

 

"Oh yeah!  Let me tell you about them!" CJ answered and slowly began pulling the wet clothes off her body.  Kelly swallowed as each piece was removed and her heart raced at the possibilities.  

 

CHAPTER 26

 

CJ put down the report she was working on when Kelly climbed into bed.  Resting her chin on CJ's shoulder, Kelly said, "Dana's plane gets in tomorrow at 7:30 p.m."

 

"Do you want me to go to the airport with you?" CJ asked, they hadn't really talked about this weekend visit from Kelly's sister and CJ wasn't sure what she was exactly suppose to do.

 

"I've been thinking about this and I was wondering if you would mind if I went to the airport by myself.  I want to tell her about us," Kelly asked hesitantly, looking up into blue eyes for a sign of disapproval or hurt.

 

CJ smiled warmly and replied, "I think that would be a good idea."  She was just happy that Kelly relieved and nervous that Kelly was going to open this up to her family.  "Will you have a problem with the rest of your family?"

 

"That depends, I'm going to ask her not to say anything, but if she does, then I probably will," Kelly answered seriously.

 

CJ's heart fell slightly at the ramifications of this event and asked, "Will you be able to deal with that?"

 

Kelly took a breath before replying.  "I've decided that if they can't accept me then I will just have to make a new family…with you.  Do you mind?"

 

"Mind?" CJ stammered, she could believe that Kelly was willing to give up her family for her.

 

"Well, if it's too much I would understand," Kelly answered quickly to CJ's response.  She didn't want to push CJ away, but she needed to go forward with her life.

 

CJ blinked quickly to stop her eyes from tearing and pulled Kelly into her arms tightly.  "I want that more than anything!  Even if they do accept all of this, I still want you!  You are already my family Kelly and no blood could make us closer."

 

"I was hoping you would say that," Kelly answered with a grin and leaned down to kiss CJ.

 

"We're not going to be sisters or anything are we?"  CJ asked, her eyebrow raising in a question.

 

Kelly looked back confused, "No, why?"

 

CJ flipped Kelly on her back and grinned replying, "Because I wouldn't want to do this with my sister," and leaned in for a deep, wet kiss.

 

Kelly moaned, "Me either," as her hands began to roam over CJ's backside.  Chuckling, CJ continued to dispel any sibling thoughts.

 

Kelly looked in the mirror one last time and jumped when CJ slid in behind her in the reflection. Wrapping her arms around Kelly's waist she rested her chin on her shoulder and looked deeply into the reflection in the mirror.

 

"Are you sure you want to do this?" CJ asked concerned.  She could feel Kelly's body quivering and she knew it wasn't just from her touch. 

 

Kelly leaned back and closed her eyes and nodded, "Yes, I have to do this."  Even knowing that Kelly needed to tackle this one on her own, CJ wanted her to know that she would support any decision that Kelly wanted.

 

"I'll be waiting for you here then," CJ replied kissing the side of Kelly's head murmuring, "I love you."  Kelly turned in CJ's arms and looked up at her.  "God, I love you so much!"  Tightening her hold CJ leaned down and kissed Kelly soundly.  Lifting her head from the kiss CJ returned to lightly peck Kelly's lips and answered, "You can do this."

 

Kelly laid her head on CJ's shoulder for one last hug and pulled back grinning nervously said, "Well, it's show time!"

 

"Come on my little trooper," CJ chuckled and led Kelly out to her car.  Closing the door she made sure Kelly's seatbelt was buckled before leaning in through the window to give her one last kiss.  "I'll be waiting right here."

 

Kelly nodded and winked at CJ as she back the car out of the driveway.   CJ watched the car drive away and walked back into the house.  CJ decided it would be good time to finish up all her reports and be free for whatever Kelly and Dana decided to do this weekend.  She was just about finished and looked up at the clock realizing that Kelly and Dana would be home any minute.  When the phone rang, CJ wondered if the plane had been delayed.

 

"Hello?"

 

"CJ?" Her bosses voice boomed over the line.  CJ sighed and knew that this couldn't be a good sign.  He only called for one reason and that was to go back on their agreement that CJ wouldn't be traveling except in the rare emergencies.

 

"Yes?" she answered briskly.

 

"I hate to bother you but, we've got a minor  emergency here," he tentative responded.

 

"And?" CJ asked abruptly.

 

"And, there's been a huge fire at the Towers and we need to get a claim going fast, and I need you to cover for Angel tonight," he replied tersely responding to CJ's attitude.

 

"I don't think so.  Angel is on her own.  I thought we had clarified that subject when I agreed to come back to work?" CJ replied angrily.

 

"Listen, I don't know where Angel is at the moment or we wouldn't be having this conversation."

 

"So, that makes me responsible?" CJ asked incredulously.

 

"Listen, I need you to go over there so we can file this claim quickly," he shortly answered.  "Are you going or not?"

 

"What are you going to do about Angel?" CJ retorted.

 

"Nothing, why?  She's unavailable…not uncooperative!"

 

"Isn't she on-call this week?" CJ asked trying to restrain her anger.

 

"Yes," he answered hesitantly.

 

"And you don't see a problem with this scenario?"  CJ could feel the anger building and her face turning all shades of red to purple.  Tapping her foot she waited for his response.

 

"Listen, I'm in a bind here and would hope that I could count on you for your support, instead of standing here arguing about Angel," he replied evenly.

 

CJ saw red instantly and didn't even hear the front door open as she exploded into the receiver.  "How dare you talk to me about loyalty.  I've given you my ass for the last 8 years and in return, you've pushed every shit assignment my way because you know I will do it without complaint.  You give others the plush calls because you're afraid they will complain, and then you have the balls to sit there and talk to me about loyalty!"

 

Kelly and Dana stopped dead in the doorway and watched as CJ proceeded to knock over a chair in her pacing anger.  Kelly had never seen CJ so anger or so violent and she stepped back into Dana who looked from Kelly to CJ.   Kelly wasn't afraid of CJ, she was just nervous at what would cause CJ to react so intensely.   Dana wasn't sure what was going on but, she didn't like the looks of the tall woman and after Kelly's coming out to her, she was worried that maybe CJ had bullied her into this relationship.  Kelly didn't seem fearful of her, which was one good sign.  Kelly had told her about her relationship with CJ.  Dana wasn't really surprised about Kelly being gay but, she was surprised that Kelly was living with a woman.  She had always thought that Kelly would eventually come around and find someone, and that this whole gay-issue would end.  Now, she was faced with the reality of this tall, angry woman being Kelly's girlfriend. She wasn't really sure all that happened in New York but, she  knew that nothing like this ever happened before she met this woman.

 

CJ listened for a moment before snorting and replying, "You know what you can do with that raise.  I’ll go and cover for Angel this time, but you had better made some serious changes or next time you will find yourself talking to empty air!"  CJ slammed the phone down hard and turned in time to see two very wide-eyes women staring back at her. 

 

'Oh Shit!' CJ thought, 'I'm really not in the mood to deal with this right now!'  Grabbing her briefcase she looked at Kelly and stiffly replied, "I'm sorry.   I've got to go out."  CJ looked at Dana who narrowed her eyes suspiciously and she sighed, she didn't have time to explain. CJ just walked out the front door and got into her car and squealed her tires down the street.

 

"That I take it was CJ," Dana asked curtly.

 

Kelly nodded and took a deep breath before replying.  "I don't know what happened to make her angry like that.  I've never seen her react that way before, to anything.   I'm sorry.  I'm sure she will explain when she comes home later."

 

"Kelly are you sure you know what you are about right now?" Dana asked.

 

"What do you mean?"

 

"Well, I come down here to visit you and you inform me that one, you are gay and two, you are living with someone.  Then we get here and I see this woman tearing up the house and slamming out the door with not so much as an explanation to you," Dana answered watching as Kelly walked over to pick up the overturned chair.

 

Kelly looked up at her sister and replied, “She isn’t normally like this.  CJ is the sweetest most caring person I’ve ever known.  A lot has been happening at work and she’s been under some pressure.  I promise you when she gets home you’ll get to see the real CJ and you will like her.”

 

Dana looked skeptically at Kelly and asked, “She hasn’t ever been physical with you has she?”

 

“No!  CJ’s not like that at all, trust me!  She’s a marshmallow!” Kelly laughed nervously.  She didn’t like the way this conversation was headed and Dana already had a chip on her shoulder about CJ.

 

“Well, Kelly, what do you expect me to think…You first tell me that you are gay and then that you are living with some woman, and then we get here and she acts the way she did.  How did you think I would react to all this?” Dana asked throwing her hands up in the air.  It was a lot to have dumped on her as soon as she got off the plane.  She wasn’t upset about Kelly being gay, just the suddenness of it all.

 

“I’m sorry Dana if what I said has upset you.  I just wanted you to know what was going on before we got home.  I love CJ and we are making a life together.  I hope you can understand that and respect it.”

 

“Kelly, I just worry about you.  You tell me you’ve found out that you are gay and at the same time you are living with someone.  Are you sure she didn’t convince you of this?” Dana asked.

 

“I haven’t been interested in anyone for a long time,” Kelly simply replied.

 

“What about Peter?  You weren’t gay when you were with him?” Dana pressed.

 

Kelly smiled when she didn’t feel the pangs of guilt that had always been associated with his name.  “Dana, Peter is the one that made me first face who I am,” Kelly explained.  He knew before I did!”

 

“But….you we’re going to get married,” Dana stuttered shocked. 

 

“Yes, we probably would have been because that is what everyone expected.  But, it wasn’t what either of us really wanted.  I have what I’ve always wanted.  I’m just sorry that Peter had to die before he could find what he was looking for too.”

 

Dana looked at her sister dumbstruck by yet another revelation.  “I don’t know what to say.”

 

“Just say you can accept me and CJ,” Kelly asked.

 

“You are my sister, and I love you, nothing will ever change that,” Dana replied.  Kelly looked at her, noting the obvious omission of CJ.

 

“Give me time with CJ, I don’t know her yet, “  Dana added in response to Kelly’s look.  Kelly nodded and accepted her sisters willingness to at least try.

 

“What about Mother and Dad?” Dana asked.

 

"I was sort of hoping you wouldn't say anything to them but, I won't ask you to lie for me either."

 

"You should know that mother's been asking a lot of questions lately about you and why you don't call.  She talked to Donna last week and found out that she had moved out," Dana replied.

 

"Oh God!  What did she say to mother?"  Kelly demanded to know.

 

"I don't know for sure," Dana replied quickly, "something about she should ask you about that."

 

Kelly stepped back and looked at her sister questioningly, "Is that why you are here this weekend?"

 

Dana looked away and then back at Kelly answering, "Yes.  I thought it would be better if I came instead of mother."

 

"What are you going to report back then?"  Kelly asked sarcastically.  She was hurt that her sister would actually spy on her for their mother.  One of the reasons Kelly moved so far away from home was to get out from under her oppressive manipulation of Kelly's life.  Her mother and her were not close anymore.  Kelly knew she was a disappointment to her mother.  She had never approved of anything Kelly tried to do with her life so, she had finally had to get away before she lost sight of her own life all together.  Dana leaned toward her mother's attitude about life and they got along very well.  Kelly was easygoing and funny like her father, who argued constantly with her mother.  They had a definite personality clash going on.

 

"Kelly, I won't say anything to them if you don't want me to.  I'll just tell her she has to talk to you if she pushes the issue."

 

"O.K." Kelly smiled not really feeling relieved, but she didn’t want to argue about it all weekend.  "Why don't we get you settled and then how about I get some wine and we can relax and catch up on things?" Kelly offered.

 

CJ was weary when she let herself into the quiet house.  Kelly had left a small light on for her and she extinguished it as she walked through the house to the bedroom.  She reeked of smoke and just wanted to take a quick shower and curl up beside Kelly.  She had some explaining to do, but it could wait until morning.

 

Opening the bedroom door, she heard the low volume of the TV as Kelly lay asleep at the end of the bed.  CJ bent down to place a kiss on her temple as she began pulling clothes off moving toward the shower.

 

Kelly's nose sensed the acid smell of smoke and opened her eyes to see CJ standing with arms reach naked, picking up her clothes.

 

"Ooh, a present.  Is it my birthday?" she purred reaching out to touch the flesh before her.  CJ turned grinning and dropped to her knees at the end of the bed and kissed Kelly.

 

"I need to take a shower…I stink!" CJ replied standing up.

 

"It's o.k. I'll wait for you," Kelly answered stretching herself like a contented tabby.

 

CJ hesitated as she watched her lover's body sensually move before her, quickly going into the shower thinking, 'Guess I'm not as tired as I thought!'

 

Drying off CJ combed her wet hair back and went into the bedroom to find Kelly propped up on the pillows flipping through the TV channels.  Looking up to see her naked lover, she tossed side the remove and moved over to make room in the bed as she pulled the covers back.

 

"Come here!" she commanded and CJ readily complied.

 

Kelly loved the way CJ looked wet and with eyes filled with desire watched as she slid between the sheets and moved toward Kelly's arms.  Kelly kissed her before asking, "Are you o.k."

 

CJ nodded as she nibbled her way down Kelly's neck, noting that Kelly was already naked, only aroused her more.

 

"Want to talk about it?"

 

CJ looked up with hunger in her eyes and replied, "I'm sorry for my reaction earlier.  Can we talk about this tomorrow?"

 

Kelly nodded and pulled CJ in for a deeper kiss.  CJ moved over Kelly and began a gentle exploration with her hands and mouth as Kelly moved beneath her.

 

"I'm just glad your home," Kelly breathed heavily as her body began to come alive.

 

"Me too, it's the only place I ever want to be!"  CJ's reply was muffled as she kissed her way down Kelly's abdomen.  CJ's hand teased the soft moist curls as Kelly moaned.  CJ moved her lips back up to Kelly's breast and took a harden nipple into her mouth rolling it gently with her tongue as he hand continued to stroke the soft curly blonde hair.

 

"Oh CJ, I need you!"  Kelly moaned as she ran her fingers through CJ's shower dampened hair.  CJ looked up smiling and moved to capture Kelly's lips.

 

"You've got me, babe." CJ replied nibbling lightly on Kelly's bottom lip.

 

"I want to make love to you, " Kelly replied running her hands down CJ's soft hips.  She loved the feel of the flair of flesh beneath her fingertips.   CJ looked down with absolute love for this woman and rolled over pulling Kelly on top of her.

 

"I want that too," CJ replied huskily.  She could put aside her desires for Kelly's body for a moment and let her lover fulfill her need first.

 

Kelly straddled CJ's hips and CJ could feel how wet Kelly was as she pressed herself against CJ's sex.  Kelly slowly rocked forward as she leaned down to lightly run her tongue along CJ's lips until they parted to allow her full entrance.  Slipping her leg between CJ's she gently worked her body down between CJ's thighs until she was eye level with CJ's breast, and her mouth firmly attached to a hard nipple.  Kelly loved the feel of CJ's body, it wasn't hard, but soft and full that belied the strength that was actually there.  CJ's workouts had diminished but her arms were still firm and strong and Kelly liked the difference between CJ's body parts.  Kelly moved down to kiss the moist curls and lightly ran her tongue down as CJ opened herself wider to Kelly.  "That feels so good!  Please touch me," CJ moaned.

 

Kelly kissed an inner thigh before lightly fluttering her tongue against CJ's aroused sex.  She could feel CJ trembling beneath her and reached a hand up to capture her lover's and interlaced their fingers together as she proceeded to make love to every part of CJ's body and soul. 

 

CJ's need to conquer was quickly dispelled as she opened herself to Kelly and gave her everything she commanded as a tear slipped down her cheek.  Kelly moved up to hold CJ tightly, she rocked the tired woman whispering softly in her ear.

 

CJ was lulled to sleep by Kelly's soothing ministrations and reveled in how good it felt to be held and taken care of instead of always trying to be the stronger.  Kelly had changed her whole world in such a short time.  The things CJ thought so important before Kelly, were inconsequential to her now.  The reality was that she had finally opened her eyes and found her heart.

 

 

CHAPTER 27

 

CJ rolled over and met with an empty bed and sat up before she heard the shower running.  Smiling, she stretched and got out of bed and headed in that direction.  CJ could make out Kelly's silhouette on the smoky shower doors and quietly slid the door open and stepped into the stall behind her lover.

 

"Don't even try it!" Kelly called out over her shoulder as she reached up for the shampoo.  CJ chuckled and wrapped her arms around Kelly from behind.  "How did you know it was me?"

 

"I felt the draft when you opened the door," Kelly replied turning to face CJ.  CJ kissed her and asked, "Can I shower with you?"

 

"Well, since you are already here, how can I refuse?  You can wash my hair!" Kelly announced grinning.

 

CJ groaned and began nipping the flesh on Kelly's neck. Kelly slapped her lightly and remarked, "Be thankful I'm letting you see me naked in this bright light!"

 

"Ooh, but I like you naked," CJ crooned and ran her hands down Kelly's body.

 

"Got a little too much smoke last night didn't you?" Kelly replied sarcastically.  CJ wrapped her arms tightly around Kelly and answered, "I like everything about you, especially all the curves of your body."

 

"Yeah well, there's plenty of those!"

 

"And, I love each and every one of them.  When I touch you, I want to feel flesh.  If I'd wanted just bones, I'd have gotten a mannequin!"

 

Kelly burst out laughing at that remark and kissed CJ soundly.  "You're just being nice, but thank you!"  She handed CJ the shampoo bottle and turned around.

 

CJ lathered Kelly's hair and ran her fingers through the blonde locks.  She slowly massaged Kelly's scalp until it tingled and so did the rest of her body.  Kelly couldn't believe the sensations she was feeling from simply having her hair washed.  CJ's long fingers gently tugged on her hair as Kelly closed her eyes to the rapid beating of her heart.

 

CJ leaned Kelly into the water to rinse her hair thoroughly before moving it aside to place a kiss on Kelly's neck.  "That felt so good," Kelly remarked as CJ continued nibbling down her neck.

 

"Just wait until I do the crčme rinse," CJ replied smoothly and reached for the next bottle.  By the time she was finished, Kelly was tingling all over and when CJ turned her around, she quickly fell into her arms and locked their lips together.

 

"God, think I could get you to do this every morning?" Kelly whispered in CJ's ear as she nibbled on an earlobe.

 

"I think something could be arranged," CJ replied running her hand down the back of Kelly's thigh and lifting Kelly's leg to wrap around her.  CJ leaned Kelly back into the cool tile as she kissed her deeply.  Grabbing a bar of soap, she proceeded to lather Kelly's body and paid extra attention to bathing very perky breasts.  Rinsing the soap off Kelly's body, CJ licked the water from off the hardened nipples.  Kelly wrapped her leg tighter around CJ and put her arms around the tall woman's neck to balance her quivering body.

 

"Please…CJ," Kelly begged, her green eyes beseeching blue for more.

 

CJ kissed Kelly and sucked lightly on her bottom lip as her hand reached down between Kelly's folds and gently stroke the tingling nerve.  Slowly, CJ ran her tongue along Kelly's lips and entered her mouth and body at the same time, and the dance had begun.  Kelly increased her movement in response as CJ took her places she used to only dream of before.

 

CJ held Kelly as she waited for her breathing to return to normal and whispered, "I love you!"

 

"I know," Kelly replied, "just like I know that I love you more than anything."

 

"I'm sorry about last night," CJ said and pulled back to look into bright green eyes.  "Was your sister upset?"

 

"Yes, but we talked.  It took a whole bottle of wine but, she's willing to give you a second chance," Kelly replied laughing.

 

"Oh, she is…is she!"

 

"Yeah, she even admitted that I have great taste in women.  Of course, she was pretty far gone by then!"

 

CJ rolled her eyes and replied, "Can't handle her liquor, huh?"

 

"No but, I didn't need any wine to already know I had great taste," Kelly replied kissing CJ slow and hard.

 

"I'm glad," CJ answered hugging Kelly to her as they stood under the water a moment longer.

 

CJ leaned over to shut off the water as Kelly said, "My parents sent her to find out what's going on down here.  It seems that my mother talked to Donna last week."

 

CJ pulled back quickly and raised her eyebrow.  "What did she tell them?"

 

"According to Dana, she just told them they should ask me what I'm up to.  So, that's what Dana's here for!" Kelly answered.

 

"You're kidding, she's here to snoop?  Is she going to tell them?" CJ asked.

 

"No, she said fi they press her, she will just tell them to ask me.  I don't want her to have to life for me."

 

"No, that wouldn't be a good thing.  What do you think will happen," CJ inquired.

 

"I'm not sure.  Once my mother gets on a scent she doesn't let up.  But, you know, I'm not going to worry about it because you mean more to me than all their petty biases and attitudes."

 

"You will still have your sister," CJ replied encouragingly, "and me!"

 

"Looks like it, as long as you make a better impression," Kelly retorted.

 

CJ opened the glass doors, stepping out to grab the towels and replied, "O.k., I'll try, but I'm not making any promises, especially if she thinks I'm cute!" 

 

Kelly threw her towel at CJ before grabbing CJ's, and wrapping it around her body and replying, "Oh yeah, as long as you get her drunk first!"

 

"Hey, whatever it takes!" CJ answered.  Kelly turned around and got right up in CJ's face before saying, "Don't even go there!"

 

CJ chuckled trying to look innocent, "Who me?"

 

Kelly snorted and turned to walk out the door as CJ grabbed her from behind, giggling CJ wrestled her to the bed ad climbed on top Kelly.  They continued wrestling as CJ tired to remove Kelly's towel and finally resorted to tickling her causing Kelly to squeal.

 

"Stop CJ!  Please!"  Kelly cried laughing hard as tears were coming down her face.  CJ relented and leaned down to kiss her deeply as the bedroom door flew open and Dana stormed in.

 

"Kelly!  What's going on?  Are you o.k.?"

 

CJ and Kelly quickly broke their kiss and looked up at the irate woman.  CJ looked back down at Kelly, who looked up and began to giggle taking CJ with her, and both women began laughing hysterically.

 

Dana's face went from white to pink to red and she stammered……"I'm…..sorry….I thought you….never mind!" and left the room quickly.

 

CJ rolled off Kelly and tried to regroup as Kelly sat up wiping her eyes.   "Well, I just made a great second impression!" CJ remarked.

 

"Oh Yeah!"  Kelly giggled.

 

"Maybe we had better get dressed and salvage what's left of my reputation," CJ announced and got off the bed pulling Kelly with her.

 

"Just offer to take her to breakfast," Kelly giggled.

 

"Quickest way is through her stomach like you, huh?"

 

"No, she's worse!"

 

CJ rolled her eyes, "I didn’t think there was any," CJ chuckled removing her towel and snapping it at Kelly's rounded bottom as she tried to dress.

 

"Very funny!"

 

 

CHAPTER  28

 

Dressed they went in search of Dana and found her on the back porch.

 

"Hungry?" Kelly asked.

 

"Always!" Dana replied looking up sheepishly.

 

"Dana, I want you to meet CJ," Kelly said touching her sister's shoulder to let her know it was o.k.

 

"I think we just met!" Dana replied dryly, "Sorry about that."

 

CJ stepped forward and smiled, "Don’t' worry about it.  I'm glad Kelly has a sister who cares enough to worry about her welfare.   I guess we have that in common Dana."

 

Dana nodded relieved that she hadn't made too big an ass of herself.   She looked CJ in the eye and saw no hint of animosity and smiled in return.

 

Later, at breakfast, Dana thought, 'CJ doesn't seem so bad.  She's actually a sweetheart and very considerate of Kelly, not to mention gorgeous with killer eyes!'  Dana blushed at her thoughts and wondered what her mother would say about that.  Kelly excused herself from the both leaving CJ with Dana.  Both women were nervous, alone in each others company, and finally Dana asked, "So, how long have you known my sister?"

 

"About three months," CJ replied.

 

"Seems longer the way you two get along," Dana offered.

 

"It was like that from the start.  We just seemed to hit it off."

 

"Do you love my sister?" Dana blurted out before adding, "I mean, she's not just some straight conquest is she?"

 

"Yes and no," CJ replied confused.  Dana's head perked up at the uncertainty of the response and CJ smiled and tired to clarify her response.   "Yes, I love her desperately and no, she'll never be a conquest to me!  If the truth were known, she conquered my heart from the start.   I was just a little slow to realize it."

 

"Slow?  How?"

 

"In the beginning, I thought her just sweet and that there was just something about her I wanted to get to know.  I've never been attracted to blondes," CJ explained.  "But, I finally realized that the important things in life are the one's that capture your heart, not your eye.  Eye candy is nice, but that's all it is.  It won't comfort your soul or love you unconditionally!"

 

"Wow!" Dana exclaimed, "I don't think I've ever heard anything so beautiful."

 

"I love your sister, heart, body and soul." CJ replied shrugging her shoulder for lack of a better way to say it.

 

"I'm glad because Kelly deserves it."

 

"I deserve what?" Kelly asked slipping into the booth next to CJ.

 

"Me!" CJ replied grinning.

 

"Oh yeah!  My punishment!" Kelly retorted, her eyes sparkling as she looked at CJ.

 

"You better believe it baby!"

 

The rest of the weekend was spent together as the three women explored the city and went down to the beach at sunrise, before taking Dana back to the airport.

 

CJ hugged Dana good-bye and stepped back as Kelly moved in to hug her sister tightly with tears in her eyes.  She had never been close with her sister as she felt this weekend.

 

"Dana, its o.k. if you tell mother.  I don't care anymore that they think or say because they will really never understand this love," Kelly said and placed her hand in CJ's.

 

"They might not, but I do," Dana winked and left to board the plane before she started crying.

 

Hand in hand, CJ and Kelly left the airport.  The silence was now broken, there was no need for secrecy or fear.  The legacy that bound her to the guilt was past and Kelly was finally free to live.

 

The End.

 

 

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