FINDING MY WAY
BY MAVIS APPLEWATER
PART FIVE - THE CONCLUSION
FOR DISCLAIMERS SEE PARTS ONE THROUGH FOUR
Thanks to the talented Callie for the cover artwork for this story, visit Callie Creations at http://surf.to/calli
A special thanks to all of you who have stayed with me through all five parts of this series. Your emails kept me going. I hope you enjoyed the ride, I certainly did. A small warning part five is slightly longer than the previous four installments. Having said that I humbly offer you the conclusion of Stephanie's journey. Enjoy!
As Always For Heather
Finding My Way
The morning after Allison's birthday, I called the office and explained to Grace that we would both be out sick. I could hear her chuckling when I told her this. If she only knew the truth . . . that we had come very close to finally being together if not for her ex-girlfriend insisting on a late night snack, which resulted in Allison ending up in the emergency room with food poisoning! It would appear that the fates were against us. I vowed then and there that if I ever came across these so-called fates I would kick their collective asses! Well at least I gave Grace some gossip for the rumor mill. Everyone on campus was already convinced that we were having an affair. Now if someone would just convince Allison everything would be fine.
After Grace convinced me not to worry about our classes since it was a review day anyway, I informed her that Allison was indeed very ill, though I didn't go into the gory details. Then I asked Grace to contact Allison's teaching assistant so he could administer her exams next week. Grace agreed. Now, I just had to find her exams so I could fax them over to her. I was quite certain they were stored somewhere in her computer. I just hoped that they were in her home pc. As I went through the living room I noticed that Chris had left already. "Sure spread botulism and run you coward!" I thought to myself. It was safe to say that I have been in better moods, but a lack of sleep after spending the night in the emergency room will do that to a girl.
I trudged up to Allison's office and found the exams in the computer easily. I successfully resisted the urge to look around her computer files and printed the exams and faxed them off to Grace. I went back down and checked on Allison. I found her fast asleep. I felt her forehead and noticed that she was still running a slight fever. Nicole explained that would be normal. Still, I would need to change her clothing and the bed sheets. I would wait until she was somewhat awake for that. Getting her ready for bed last night had been a struggle. Chris tried to help but Allison seemed to respond only to me.
I heard someone knocking on the front door. I kissed Allison gently on her brow and went to answer the door. I found Mrs. Giavanni standing on the other side holding two large plastic containers. I took them from the elderly woman immediately. "Stephanie you no look so good." She exclaimed as she bustled into the apartment. "Nicole called. She told me everything." She explained as she shooed me towards the kitchen. "Now this one is plain broth. Nicole said you should try to get Allison to eat some of this." She took one of the containers from me and placed into the refrigerator. "Clean!" She said with joy. "I never see it clean before. I knew you would be a good influence on her. Now this one is for you." She continued taking the other container from me. "This one chicken soup. I make myself." She shook her head in horror. "Clean but empty." She pointed to inside of the refrigerator. "You girls no eat right. Why you go out to eat so late? See what happens." She chastised me.
I chuckled slightly and offered no defense for my actions. I knew that Mrs. Giavanni never understood why anyone would go out to eat in the first place. "Could you keep an eye on Allison?" I asked wearily. "I need to get some stuff from my apartment since I will be staying up here for a few days."
"Go." She shooed me away.
"Thank you." I sighed heavily. "What about you? Do need anything done?"
"No." Mrs. Giavanni answered. "The food order you did for me last weekend was good. I'm going to my son's for the holiday. I wanted the family to come up here but his wife insisted. They think I'm to old to cook for everyone." She snorted angrily.
Before I left to get my belongings from my apartment, I asked Mrs. Giavanni when she thought it might start to snow. Knowing the woman never missed the weather report, she said the guy from channel four said it would begin soon. I learned sometime ago that even though Mrs. Giavanni had cable she only watched channel four. She watched the station from six am until she went to bed the only time she would switch the channel was when Martha Stewart on. She had many unkind words for Martha. She liked to point out that anyone could do the things that old Martha did if they had all of that money and a full staff people. I explained to my landlady that Allison had planned to close up her place on Cape Cod for the winter. She offered to have her son Anthony do it. It would be the least he could do after all that his cousin had done for him.
I was startled by her admission. She just shrugged it off without a care and shooed me downstairs. She ordered me to hurry up and get what I need so I could get some rest. I knew better than to argue with her. Upon returning to Allison's apartment I found Mrs. Giavanni dusting. She had called Anthony and he agreed to lock up the summerhouse for Allison. He would pick up the keys from Mrs. Giavanni since she had a spare set. Allison was still sleeping. I thanked her and sent her on her way as quickly as I could. The woman loved to talk, granted normally I found her a little difficult to understand but a wonderful storyteller just the same. Today all I wanted was a hot shower and to climb back into bed.
I was exhausted by the time I reentered the bedroom. The sight of Allison trying to stand up unnerved me. "Stop." I commanded her. "I'm going to be . . ." she gulped. I understood immediately and dropped my belongings and rushed to her side. "Okay." I reassured her. "But you can't do it alone." With my assistance Allison made into the bathroom. I held her hair back while she became ill. "I don't understand why can't I?" She moaned weakly from her spot in front of the toilet.
"Because there is nothing in your stomach." I tried to explain. "I'm going to run a bath for you." This little trip into the bathroom provided the perfect opportunity to change Allison and the bedding as well. I started to run the water as Allison muttered something about a shower. "I don't think so." I answered softly. "You don't have your sea legs yet and I doubt I could support you. Stay here I'm going to get you something clean to put on." Allison simply groaned weakly in response.
Upon returning to the bathroom I found her still lying there with her face pressed up against the porcelain. I quickly tested the water and found it to be acceptable. I turned off the faucet and returned my attention to Allison. As sick as she was the woman still looked adorable.
"Okay stretch let's get you into the tub." I assisted her to a somewhat standing position. "What are you doing?" Allison mumbled as I began to undress her.
"You might enjoy your bath more without your pajamas." I explained.
"Oh." She answered absently as she tried to help with the removal of her clothing.
"Not to worry." I reassured her. "I saw everything you had to offer last night."
"Really?" She questioned as she stepped out of her flannel lounge pants. "And?" She asked as I helped her into the bathtub.
"Well with the exception of the unnatural shade of green your skin had turned, I enjoyed the view." I answered her as I handed her a clean washcloth and some soap.
"Hmm." She shook her head in confusion. "Why isn't anything making sense?"
"You are very sick sweetheart." I patted her gently on the shoulder. "Now if you promise not to drown yourself I need to change the sheets on the bed." She gave a mock salute but her glassy eyed expression concerned me. Reluctantly I left her and tore the sheets and blankets off of the bed. I then fluffed up the feather bed, put on clean sheets and blankets and raced back to the bathroom.
Much to my relief I found that Allison had managed to clean herself without drowning. My relief proved to be short lived when she began to struggle to stand up. "Hold on there tiger!" I ordered she obeyed instantly.
"I need to wash your hair." I said to her gently.
"How did you know about that?" She asked absently.
"Know about what?" I asked as I lowered the shower massage and retrieved her shampoo.
"Tigger?" She explained. "David used to call me that."
"Wow she must really be out of it, she never wants to talk about her brother." I thought as I gently washed and rinsed her long tresses. I also thought about how much I would like to do this again. Of course when I wasn't completely exhausted and she wasn't delirious. After Allison was cleaned and dried I helped her change and put her back into bed. She began to toss and turn. I went to the kitchen and heated up some broth for her. I also grabbed her medicine a large glass of water and some Gatorade I brought up from downstairs.
Allison held down most of the broth, took her medicine and drank everything I gave her. I tucked her back into bed and brought her dirty linen and clothing up to her second floor kitchen and threw everything, including the clothing I was wearing, into the washing machine. Having done all of that I headed back into the bedroom. I had not given a thought to my own nakedness until I walked into the bedroom and quickly realized that Allison was awake. I blushed furiously and buried my face in my hands. "Beautiful." I heard her mutter. I looked up to find that she had rolled over and went to sleep. I didn't know if should feel embarrassment or anger over the events that had just transpired. I simply dragged myself off to the bathroom and took a very long shower.
The next few days were spent taking care of Allison. She seemed more and more coherent but not consistently. Her fever had lessened but was still hanging on. I informed Maureen about Allison's state of health and it was agreed that Allison's teaching assistant would give her midterms. Mrs. Giavanni came by frequently to check on her and bring food. Allison was keeping more down but her diet was still restricted to broth. By Sunday evening I was exhausted. I looked forward to the day when Allison would wake and not need to have everything explained to her as to why she was sick. I also spent my time fielding calls from Nicole and Chris. Chris updated me on the case against Allison. It appeared that my suspicions were on the money. Nicole managed to convince her parents not to come up and to just let Allison rest. She was taking the train up so she could sit with Allison in the morning while I was at work.
I set the alarm and crawled into bed with Allison. Even though she was fast asleep she pulled me into her arms. This had been our routine for the past few days whenever I crawled into bed with her. I quickly drifted off to sleep.
The dream was so vivid, I was touching Allison and she was caressing me in return. I moaned as I felt her suckling my nipple, my legs opened for her and she pressed her thigh between them. Out of instinct I lifted my knee and slid my thigh between her legs. "My God she is wet!" My eyes flew open this was no dream! I found myself lying beneath her our legs entwined just as I had been dreaming. Much to my surprise both my hands were underneath Allison's nightshirt cupping her breasts. I quickly pulled my hands from her. "Stephanie." She called out dreamingly. I felt her brow with one hand. Apparently her fever had finally vanished. It was also painfully clear that Allison was still asleep.
Her hips began to sway in a slow gentle movement causing my hips to follow her lead. Our legs and hips began to rock together in a slow rhythm. She pressed her body tightly against mine and allowed her lips and tongue to feast on my neck. "Oh god." I moaned as I felt our desire touch even through our clothing. "I need to stop this! She isn't awake. She doesn't know what she's doing. Oh but it feels so good!" As my mind screamed at me to stop her, my body fought its own battle. I continued to rock against her as I slid my hands down her strong back to her buttocks. I grabbed her cheeks and pushed her against me. "Oh yes." She moaned as the pace of our grinding became more urgent.
My thigh began to tremble as my breathing became ragged. All too familiar demons chose that moment to arise. I was so close I knew that I was about to go over the edge. I could feel her body reacting in a similar fashion. We were both so close and it was so wrong. "No!" My mind screamed as I gently pushed her off of me. Allison rolled off of me without protest and drifted back into her slumber. "It was the right thing to do." I told myself as tried to regain control of my breathing. "If we are going to make love I want us both to remember it." I collected myself and climbed out of bed. I grabbed a clean t-shirt and a fresh pair of boxer shorts and headed into the bathroom. Two things occurred to me as I took a long cold shower. The first was that what I said to myself was true. The gentleness of the moment and the way our bodies connected I was making love to her. For the first time in my life it wasn't just sex, I had been making love to someone. The second thing I realized was that if Allison was that good when she was sound asleep, I really wanted to know what she was like when she was wide awake! Damn it would probably kill me but what a way to go!
After climbing back into bed I tossed and turned for hours before finally returning to sleep. Fortunately or unfortunately I wasn't awakened by anymore erotic dreams. The next morning I awoke and reached out for my companion. I was surprised to find Allison's side of the bed empty. I heard the shower running in the bathroom. "Idiot." I growled as I looked at the alarm clock noting that I had a good two hours before I had to get up. I threw the bed covers aside and followed the sounds of running water.
I rapped on the glass door to the shower and was greeted by a startled gasp from inside. "Are you all right?" I called out in a tense tone. The water stopped and the door opened slightly. Allison's dazzling blue eyes peered out shyly. For the first time in days she looked like her old self. "I'm fine." She answered shyly.
"Can you stand up okay?" I pushed wiping the sleep from my eyes.
"Yeah?" Allison answered in a confused voice.
The telephone began to ring. "I'll get that. You be careful." I ordered her. "Oh okay." Allison responded still confused by my actions. I just waved a dismissing hand at her and stomped off into the bedroom. "Hello." I snarled into the telephone.
"Whoa." Chris' voice chuckled on the other end. "Someone is grumpy."
"I need sleep, Chris." I snarled. Then I took a calming breath before continuing. "I'm sorry it's been a long couple of days."
"How's our girl doing?" Chris asked.
"Much better. She is in the shower." I explained.
"That's a good sign." Chris sighed with relief. "Maybe when she has her strength back the weather will change and send the two of you a nice rainstorm." She laughed.
"What is it with you and the rain anyway?" I asked not really wanting an answer.
"It's not me blondie." Chris said seductively. "It's her. It makes her . . . how do I put this delicately?" She teased. "It makes her horny as hell." She blurted out.
"If that was delicate I would hate to hear you tell a children's story." I laughed then I paused for a moment. "Really?"
"Oh yeah." Chris sighed deeply. "And it's not just the rain." Chris continued. "Rain, sleet, snow any change in the weather sets her off. I swear that woman is a sexual barometer."
"Uh huh." I squeaked out as my mind reeled at the implications of what Chris had just told me.
"Well I just wanted to check in." Chris offered. "Glad to hear she is doing better. I'm going to fax over some information to you later. Talk to you soon. Bye."
"Bye Chris." I replied sheepishly. "I need to start following the weather reports." I told myself as I hung up the telephone.
Allison entered the bedroom in a clean pair navy sweat pants and a well-worn Harvard t-shirt. "How are you feeling?" I asked absently. "Like I've been kicked in the head by a mule." Allison grumbled as she ran her fingers through her hair. "I've got one hell of a hangover."
"Oh no." I groaned realizing that Allison had forgotten what had happen. "Allison . . .” I began slowly.
"I should feel better later." Allison interrupted me. "I mean if you still want to play hooky that is? I must admit I was more than a little surprised to find you in my bed this morning. Did I forget something important?"
"Almost." I sighed heavily. "Allison sit down." I patted the bed next to me. She complied although her startled expression remained in place. I took another calming breath as I tried to figure out the best way to explain everything to her. Somehow it had been easier when she was delirious. "Allison sweetie, you don't have a hangover."
"That's not what my head is screaming." She laughed.
"I'm sorry I was so forward in the bathroom but I was afraid that you might fall." I tried to explain.
"Okay?" She looked at me oddly.
"Allison what day is it?"
"Friday." She answered as she continued to stare at me.
"No?" She laughed.
"Today is Monday." I replied flatly.
"What?" She gasped. I watched as she tried to process what I had just told her. "Monday? How can that be?" She asked.
"Do you remember going to the diner in the South End on Thursday after dancing?" I asked she nodded in the affirmative. "Well you and half of Boston ended up with food poisoning. The board of health shut the place down. It was in yesterday's Globe."
"Food poisoning?" Allison was trying to put the pieces together.
"You were very sick so Chris and I took you to the ER at MGH. The doctors wanted to keep you overnight but you weren't thrilled with the idea. So Nicole and I arranged it so they would release you but only if someone could stay with you. So I did." I took a breath and allowed her to catch up on what had happened.
"I remember something . . .” Allison said absently. "You coming to me and saying that you were taking me home."
"That's right." I confirmed. "Now climb back into bed you still need your rest and frankly so do I."
"But if it is Monday then I have midterms to give." She protested.
"No you don't." I argued. "Your TA is giving them. I faxed copies of your exams over to Grace on Friday. Maureen has already signed you out for the rest of the week. And your cousin Anthony closed up your house in P-Town. Your sister is on her way over to stay with you while I go to work. There is nothing you need to do except get some rest." Having said that I crawled back under the covers and waited for her to join me.
Finally she crawled into bed with me. I released a sigh knowing that she wasn't going to fight me on this. "You did all of that for me?" She asked as she curled up next to me. "Yes." I answered with a yawn. "Thank you." She offered sweetly.
"You are welcome." I yawned again. "Now go to sleep I have a couple hours left before I need to get up."
"I can not believe that you did all of that for me." She repeated. "Thank you."
"Anytime." I yawned. "Now ssh I need sleep." I snuggled up against her.
"Ugh!" I groaned.
"Sorry but I seem to recall a few other things that have me confused."
"Such as?" I growled and lifted my head to face her. I found her blushing.
"Well for some reason I recall you standing in my bedroom naked."
"Okay I can explain that." I stammered. "I was doing laundry and decided to wash what I was wearing. We were alone in the apartment and I thought you were asleep."
"Well that makes sense." She smiled. "I do that all the time. One of the advantages of living alone."
"Okay if that is settled can I get some sleep?" I pleaded hoping that was all she remembered.
"Did you give me a bath?" She went on.
"Yes." I answered. "Whenever you needed to change your clothing and get cleaned up I helped you."
"That was sweet of you." Allison said honestly. "But there is something else . . . I can't seem to sort out what was real and what was a dream."
"Allison." I cut her off there was no way we were talking about this now. "You slept most of the time. I'm sure everything will come back to you. Please I need to get some sleep."
"I'm sorry." She apologized and snuggled up against me placing my head on her chest.
I listened to her heart beating steadily and once again we were both fast asleep. I was awakened by the sound of the alarm clock. Allison stirred slightly as I cursed and shut the annoying clock off. I showered and changed into a pair of jeans and a simple white turtleneck. I glanced quickly outside noticing the frost building up. Winter was definitely on it's way. I went to Allison's walk in closet and grabbed a black wool sweater. I hoped that she wouldn't mind. I also prayed that when she woke up she would remember what day it was. I brewed a pot of coffee for myself and Nicole. I quickly learned that Nicole shared her sister's addiction for caffeine. I toasted a bagel and ate it while flipping through my paperwork.
I was placing my work into my briefcase when I heard footsteps approaching the apartment door. I was snapping my briefcase shut when I heard noises still shuffling around outside of the door. I peeked through the peephole and chuckled at the sight I was spying. I swung the door open quickly startling the Nicole and Roger the cop caught up in a major lip lock. Roger blushed as Nicole laughed. "Blondie." She greeted me. "Thanks again for the ride Roger." She kissed him gently on the cheek. "Nice to see you again." Roger offered shyly to me. "Officer." I replied with a smirk as Nicole brushed past me.
I closed the door and gave a knowing look at the younger Kendell woman. "You know you can get cooties by doing that." I pointed out.
"It's true." She agreed. "We learned that in med school. Unlike when you stick your tongue down my sister's throat, which is perfectly hygienic." She teased me.
"Nicole halte!" Allison barked from the bedroom doorway. "Impur bouche."
"That's not what Roger said." Nicole laughed.
"Mauvais." Allison grumbled.
"Okay play nice you two." I warned the both of them as they rolled their eyes in unison.
"I see that you have returned to the world of the living Ally." Nicole noted effectively changing the subject. "How is she today?" She directed this comment to me.
"Her fever broke last night." I answered. "She has been keeping down more food nothing solid yet. She's not delirious any longer, I think." Allison growled at me. "She also showered by herself this morning." I continued ignoring Allison's obvious discomfort.
"I also went potty by myself." Allison grunted. "What am I a two year old?"
"Allison you were very sick." Nicole tried to calm her down. "If it wasn't for Stephanie the doctors were going to admit you."
Allison simply pouted in response. "I have to go." I offered. "I'm taking the car if that's alright?" I asked Allison who simply nodded in response. "Why not?" Nicole answered. "She's grounded." She pointed to her sister. "And I'm not allowed to drive, yet."
Allison looked at her sister with surprise. "I was going to tell you later." Nicole explained. "I went to see that judge and I have my learners permit." She reached into her pocket and produced a long white sheet of paper with her picture on it. "I had a very long talk with the judge and he could see that I've changed. But if I screw up again he made it very clear that I will be looking at some serious jail time."
"What?" Allison snapped. "Nikki you should have let me handle this for you." Nicole held up her hand in protest. "Allison I have to do these things myself." Nicole explained calmly. "And he's right. I should have been locked up for what I did. I'm an ER doctor I know better than to get behind the wheel of car after drinking. I could have killed someone." Nicole stressed.
The two remained silent for a moment. Allison started heading for the kitchen. "Where are you going?" I asked her bruskly effectively stopping her in her tracks. "I smell coffee." Allison answered shyly.
"No." I said firmly.
"Why?" She whined like a child.
"Allison no." Nicole confirmed. "You were dehydrated no caffeine."
"But." Allison whimpered.
"Maybe by Wednesday." Nicole suggested.
"Wednesday!" Allison gasped in horror. "But . . . but today is Monday. It is still Monday isn't?"
I rushed to Allison's side as she whimpered. "Yes, sweetie it is still Monday." I reassured her. "Just two more days and you can have some coffee. I'll get the hazelnut blend you like so much. Okay?" I patted her on the shoulder.
"It's not fair." She pouted as she tugged gently on the sleeve of the sweater I was wearing.
"I know Allison." I comforted her wrapping my arm around her waist. "It's not fair."
"You get to have coffee and Nikki can have coffee." Allison continued to whimper and then a surprised look crossed her face. "Is that my sweater?"
"Gotta go." I said hurriedly as I dashed into the kitchen and filled my travel mug. I returned to the living room and gathered up my belongings and threw on my coat. There was no way I was giving up that sweater. It was comfortable, warm and most importantly it smelled like Allison. "Oh sure rub it in." Allison snorted as she pointed to my travel mug. I just shrugged my shoulders and headed towards the doorway. Allison followed me. "Have a good day at work." She said softly then as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do she lowered her head and placed a gentle kiss on my lips.
We broke apart quickly both startled by the kiss. "That was . . ." Her voice trailed off. "I know." I answered her thinking about how perfectly normal it seemed for her to send me off to work with a goodbye kiss. "Stephanie could we do that again but could you have sip of coffee first?"
"Oh sure use my body to satisfy your caffeine jones." I teased taking pity on her I took a healthy sip of coffee.
Allison lowered her head once again as I puckered my lips to greet hers. I gasped slightly as she ran her tongue across my lips. Instinctively I parted my lips and allowed her entrance. I moaned not caring that she was simply trying to taste the coffee I had just consumed. The kiss deepened as she wrapped her arms around me pulling me closer as our tongues began to battle for control. Suddenly this had nothing to do with Allison's caffeine addiction. "Are you saying goodbye to the girl or giving her a dental exam Allison?" Nicole teased.
Allison growled and sneered at her younger sibling. "I have to go." I patted Allison gently on the arm. "Have fun with your sister."
"Stephanie." Allison's voice stopped me. "It looks nice on you. The sweater it looks good on you, it brings out your eyes." She smiled sweetly at me. "Now I could definitely get use to starting my mornings like this." I thought as I finally left the apartment. Behind the now closed door I could hear some choice words in French being tossed around.
As I stepped out onto the front porch I was greeted by a most unwelcome sight. Courtney was approaching slowly. "This is going to be fun." I cursed silently. "Hi." She greeted me with a forced smile. I did not respond. "I heard Allison was sick and I wanted to give her this." I noticed that her hand was shaking as she handed me what appeared to be a greeting card sealed in a lavender envelope.
I accepted the card gingerly taking note that she had dotted the "i" with a little heart. "God how young is this kid?"
"Fine." I grumbled as I tried to push my way past her. The events of the past few days had only convinced me further that Rita had been correct. Little Courtney set me up and I fell for it.
"Wait." She called out as I was heading towards Allison's car.
Turning towards her approaching figure I cast an icy stare at the young woman. "Look." She began very cautiously. "I owe you an apology."
"For?" I retorted coldly.
"I think you know." She offered to my icy glance. I was not going to back down I needed to hear her say it. To admit that she had lied. "For the morning after Halloween." She whined. "I lied to you and you were right I was being a bitch." She blurted out finally. I released a breath I hadn't realized I had been holding. "You don't need to worry about the card." She went on to explain. "It's just a thank you. She's been so nice to me helping me study for the bar exam and all. The firm I work for is so small and I have to put in a lot of hours. None of the lawyers there have any time to spare and . . ."
"I'll see that Allison gets this." I cut her ramblings deciding it was time to let the girl off the hook.
"Thanks." Courtney said quickly. "Again, I'm sorry for lying to you. I don't know why I did it."
"Don't worry." I said warmly. "You'll grow out of it."
"Hey." She shot back with a smile.
"Sorry." I replied. "Do you need a ride?"
"No thank you." She answered. "I have my car. The firm gave us the week off for the holiday. I'm driving home to Providence."
"Have a nice Thanksgiving." I offered as I deactivated the car alarm.
"You too." She responded but remained standing in place. "Stephanie I'm still a little confused about something?"
"What?" I sighed as I glanced at my watch.
I watched as she shifted nervously from one foot to the other. "It's that I ran into Peter in Providence the other day." She began cautiously. "And well the thing is that he kind of gave me the impression that the two of you were still together. I just can't figure this out since all Allison talks about is you. That and I heard the two of you were pretty hot and heavy at The Galaxy last Thursday."
"What did you just say?" I blurted out in horror.
"About Peter." I demanded. Come on Courtney focus!
"Well I uhm . . ." She stammered. "I ran into him and we exchanged the usual funny running into you. I asked about you and basically he said something about you doing great and the two of you were spending the holiday with his family. I thought it was strange since you told me that the two of you split up. You know, right before I lied about sleeping with Allison."
"I remember." I spat out. "And we did split up. I haven't seen him since that morning. I swear if you are lying again." I threatened her.
"I'm not." She defended herself. "I just thought I should say something to you. I'm sorry."
"No I'm glad you did." I steadied myself. "Thank you."
Courtney and I parted company. I drove to the campus and went directly to my office. I picked up my messages and headed out to give my first exam. While my students were busy with the midterm I studied my messages. Most of them were from Peter wanting to know my plans for Thanksgiving. Granted I was not looking forward to spending the holiday alone but there was no way I was going to spend it with Peter and his family. I needed to have a chat with him. I didn't trust Courtney and for good reason, I would talk to him and get to the bottom of this.
After I administered my last exam for the day I headed directly to my office and pulled up my emails. Once again many were from Peter. I dialed his office immediately. When he answered I lit into him instantly. "Peter its Stephanie." I spat out harshly.
"Stephanie where have you been?" He spat back in an accusing tone.
"I'm sorry." He offered weakly. "It's just that I've been calling you for days. I didn't get an answer at your apartment. I can't help if I'm jealous."
I calmed myself. "Peter I'm sorry I flew off the handle." I apologized. "Allison has been very ill and I have been staying with her."
"Thank God." I heard him sigh.
"Peter did you run into Courtney last week?" I asked him carefully.
"Yes." He answered after a brief silence. "I . . . uhm . . ."
"I'm sorry." He gasped. "Look I'm having a hard time telling people about this. I still don't understand it and well I really don't believe it."
"Oh Peter." I sighed. "I know this is hard especially after all the years we have been together."
"About Thursday?" He began hopefully.
"No Peter." I was gentle but firm.
"But." He protested.
"I'm sorry." I sighed again. "Have a nice holiday and my best to your family." Having said that I hung up before he could say anything. After the holiday Peter and I were going to have a very long talk. It was time he knew the truth.
When I returned home I found Allison and Nicole in a fierce battle over some video game. "Did you two have a nice play date?" I asked them noticing Mrs. Giavanni puttering around. "Tia Maria I can clean my own apartment." Allison scolded her. Mrs. Giavanni for her part ignored her niece and continued to dust.
"I'll put this away." Nicole offered breaking down the play station.
For my part I put my briefcase down on the bookshelf that was nearest the front door. I slipped off my shoes and went over to the sofa and joined Allison. "Help." She whispered to me softly.
"Mrs. Giavanni?" I called out. "Why don't you take a break?” I suggested calmly.
The elderly woman shrugged her shoulders and complied with my request. "How was school Stephanie?" Mrs. Giavanni asked.
"Good thank you." I answered. "And how was our patient today ladies?"
"She ate some soup and toast." Mrs. Giavanni offered.
"How did she do with the soup?" I asked them both ignoring Allison grumbling next to me.
"Good." Nicole answered. "She is much better. Keep her on the antibiotics and no coffee until Wednesday and then only a little. Keep getting fluids into her including the sport drinks you have been giving her. You might want to keep an eye on how much she urinates." Nicole suggested. "If she gets plenty of rest and things keep going this way she can enjoy a nice meal on Thursday."
"Hello!" Allison shouted. "I am sitting right here you know."
"Don't listen to her." Mrs. Giavanni scolded. "She's been a pain in the ass all day." I choked at Mrs. Giavanni choice of language. "She kept trying to sneak upstairs and work on her computer or do laundry."
"I did not." Allison lied.
"She did." Nicole confirmed.
"Rat." Allison snarled.
"Tia Maria finally got her to sit down." Nicole explained ignoring her sister.
"How did she manage that?" I questioned.
"She threatened me." Allison grumbled.
"I did not!" Mrs. Giavanni protested.
"She did." Allison teased.
"That fresh mouth of yours is gonna get you serious trouble some day young lady." Mrs. Giavanni scolded.
Allison ignored her Aunt and flipped on the television. "Come on Tia Maria." Nicole said. "You promised me dinner before I had to leave."
"Okay but first I heat up the plate I brought over for Stephanie." Mrs. Giavanni explained in broken English. "Eggplant parmesan."
"I'll eat it later." I replied. "Thank you for doing that. You two go eat." They said their goodbyes and left us alone.
I reached to the back of the sofa and grabbed the blanket that rested there and covered up Allison. "I don't know how to thank you for everything you have done for me over the past few days." Allison said with sincerity as she moved part of the blanket over my legs.
"You could spend the rest of your life with me." I thought to myself. "Don't mention it." I replied aloud settling myself in closer to her. "Stephanie I've been meaning to ask you something." Allison began shyly. "What are you doing for Thanksgiving?"
"Nothing." I answered honestly.
"Well it's just that . . . well I've been wondering . . ." Allison stammered.
"Yes." I prodded her.
"Well I um. I meant to ask you this before . . . would you like to spend it with me and my family?" She finally blurted out and then blew out a breath as if she had just run a four-minute mile.
"I would love to." I answered her quickly before she could change her mind. "So where is the family gathering? The compound in Hyannis?" I joked.
"No the estate at Chestnut Hill." Allison answered plainly. "The family lost the property on The Cape years ago."
"Oh my God she's not kidding? How am I going to fit in with these people?" I was suddenly very afraid even after meeting Nicole. "Don't worry." Allison reassured me as if reading my thoughts. "It's not all that. It will just be my sister who you already know. Then there is just Mom and Dad and Gaia of course. She's my great grandmother. You'll love her. Oh and she is Haley Ballister's daughter in law so the two of you can talk about that."
"Thanks." I sighed with relief suddenly noticing the television. The fighting and swordplay was confusing. "What are you watching?" This certainly didn't seem like a show that Allison would watch.
"Nothing." Allison answered sharply as she quickly reached for the remote control. She was not quick enough as I snatched it up and pressed the information button.
"Xena Warrior Princess?" I questioned her with disgust.
"Oh is that what this is?" She lied.
"How could you watch this?" I shook my head in amazement.
"Hey." Allison argued. "Have you ever seen this show?"
"No." I answered flatly.
"Just give it a few minutes." Allison said. "This is a good one."
"You've seen this episode before?" I was in shock.
I watched in bewilderment not understanding how someone with Allison's intelligence would sit through such dribble. "I don't get it." I said bluntly. "Why doesn't she just use a fishing pole? And what's with this goof falling all over her? How can you watch this stuff? I mean the historical inaccuracies alone are . . .” Then something caught my eye. "Why are they taking a bath together? Are they . . . are they flirting with each other?"
"Ssh." Allison put her finger to my lips to quiet me. "Just watch."
I watched the television show as my body began to react to the two women. Watching the very tall lead and her little sidekick interact with each other was having an interesting effect on my libido. When the show ended I was drooling and speechless. Allison looked at me and with a smirk she asked, "So are you a Xena fan now?"
"I could probably sit through another show." I said trying to sound casual about it. "When is it on again?"
"Tomorrow at five." Allison chuckled. "Well that makes your lesbianism official then. I finally get my toaster oven."
"Not yet there is still something else we need to do and I want to do it now!" My mind screamed.
"Stephanie I need to ask you something." Allison began slowly
"Yes." I answered her eagerly knowing that the answer to anything she asked me at that moment would be a heartfelt yes. I could feel the heat rising in my body. Suddenly I was embarrassed by my thoughts as a slight blush crept across my face.
"Are you all right?" She asked me with concern.
"I'm fine." I stammered feeling my blush return.
"Wow that Lucy Lawless really pushed your buttons."
"I um . . . um . . ." I shouldn't have tried to defend myself speaking at this point was futile.
"Stephanie likes Xena." Allison teased me in a singsong voice.
"Knock it off." I snapped as I gave her a playful push she grabbed me to defend herself. Her movements caught me off balance and somehow we I ended up laying on top of her. I was gazing deeply into her eyes as I lowered my lips to hers. Just as I was about to kiss her she pulled away.
I shivered at the abrupt movement but decided to let it go for now. I pulled myself up and ran my fingers threw my hair. "So what did you want to ask me?" I asked her simply. Allison leaned over to the coffee table and retrieved two sheets of paper and handed them to me. I glanced at them quickly as I scanned the long list of names; I realized that it was the fax Chris had promised to send this morning. There was a brief note at the bottom. "Stephanie, I got these names from a friend of mine. Guess what two things these women have in common? Talk to you soon Chris." I sighed knowing the answer to Chris' query. I returned the papers to Allison. "What were you doing upstairs?" I asked Allison in a lame attempt to divert her attention.
"Never mind that." Allison responded dismissing my question. "I'm more than a little curious as to why my ex-lover is faxing you a list of women's names. Care to enlighten me?"
I was not ready to go into this with Allison, in fact Chris and I had agreed that she would be the one to tell Allison if my suspicions were correct. Now there was no way to avoid it. I couldn't lie to her. "Stephanie?" Allison pushed in a strained voice. "Come on what is it?" Allison diverted her gaze from me as she scanned the list. "I know some of these women." She added absently.
"Allison." I started carefully, hating what I was about to do. "You and all of these women have something in common." Allison just stared at me blankly. "What?" She asked innocently.
Beaumont." I blurted out
quickly and then just as quickly braced myself for her reaction.
"Well Jessica has certainly been a very busy girl." Allison said with a smile. "But that still doesn't explain . . ."
"Wait." I cut her off. "You're not upset."
"No." She answered honestly. "Should I be?"
"Frankly yes." I spit out.
"Because there are so many." I pointed out.
"And?" Allison laughed. "I'm sorry I don't mean to laugh but I learned of Jessica's track record quite some time ago."
"But so many?" I repeated.
"I get it!" Allison snapped. "Sorry." She offered quickly. "Okay I'll admit to see it printed out on paper is a bit much. But Jessica is my past. Any feelings I had for her are just that, the past. I got over that woman years ago." Her voice was firm and honest. It was true Jessica was the past.
"I'm sorry." I apologized as I gently touched her arm.
"That still doesn't explain why Chris faxed these names over to you." Allison continued. "And what did she mean by these woman have two things in common?"
"You and all of these women have another thing in common." I said very carefully.
"Now wait a minute!" Allison jumped in. "I don't know what Chris is trying to pull here. I have been tested for everything and I do mean everything. Several times in fact." Allison pointed. "Which I only did because of Chris and Jessica. Stephanie I am perfectly healthy."
"That's good to know." I said without thinking. I pulled my arm away from her as I realized not only what I had said but what my saying it implied. "And you?" She asked me with a mischievous smile.
"I had a full physical when I joined the faculty here at Haven. It included all the blood work under the sun." I answered proudly and then feeling a little adventurous I added a little something. "You could eat off of me."
Allison was suddenly plagued with a coughing fit. I patted her back gently as she gasped for air. "You okay there sparky?" I teased her as she began to regain her breathing. She held up a hand to indicate that she was fine. "Do you need some water?" I offered feeling only slightly guilty for her present condition. "No thank you." She croaked out. I gave her a few moments to regain her composure. "So are you going to tell me what this is all about? Or are you just going to torture me all evening." She finally managed to ask me.
"Tough call." I said dryly as I debated the possibilities. "Define torture?" I wiggled my eyebrows at her in a suggestive manner. Okay I was stalling. But no one said I couldn't have a little fun while I did it.
"Stephanie?" Allison pleaded in exasperation.
"All right." I grumbled as my bluff had finally been called. "First let me explain that I had no intention of telling you this, Chris was the one who lost the coin toss." Allison just stared at me blankly. "I think Chris got these names from a bartender in the city. I mean who else but a bartender knows all the dirt on who is knocking boots with whom?"
"Knocking boots?" Allison scoffed. "Tell me did you learn that expression at Yale?"
"Anywho." I continued ignoring the jab at my alma mater. "Chris was working on an idea I came up with. Well it was more of a theory really." I stopped my ramblings when Allison cleared her throat and rolled her hand in a 'get on with it' motion. "Well to make a long story short . . .” I stammered.
"Too late." Allison snickered.
"Okay okay." I conceded. "All of the women on that list and yourself were not only involved with Jessica Beaumont, but are now being or have been investigated by the New York's District Attorney's Office." Allison's eyes widened at the revelation. "To be more specific they are being investigated by Simon Brenner." I blew out a long cleansing breath and waited for the other shoe to drop.
It came quietly. "He knows." Was all Allison said and then for a very long time she said nothing at all. "Jessica you idiot." Allison suddenly snarled in disgust. "She must have written it down somewhere probably in the damn organizer she never let out of her sight. It all must be in there, names, dates how else could he have known when I was . . .” She stopped suddenly as her face grew ashen.
"When you were with her." I finished for her.
Allison hung her head in shame and began to rub her eyes. "Chris knows all of this?" She asked numbly.
"Yes." I responded softly.
"God she must be pissed." Her voice drifted off as she spoke. She lifted her head and looked at me. "You know the funny part of all of this fiasco is that if it had been any other attorney handling this case I would have just come clean from the get go. The firm assumed that because of my prior relationship with Chris that if I had anything to hide I would tell her."
"Ironic." I said quietly.
"Tell me about it." Allison agreed. "Chris was the one person I couldn't tell about this. I didn't want her to know what an idiot I had been falling for Jessica's lies again. More importantly that I had turned to her because of it. Just how did all of this come out in the first place?"
"That was my fault."
"But how did you come up with this?" Allison was amazed. "I mean I know how intelligent you are but this is incredible."
"First off you are a terrible liar Allison Kendell." I explained. "You are also anal as the day is long."
"Thank you." Allison groused.
"You told me that you were with Jessica for eight months." I continued. "Chris said it was six. Not a detail either of you would screw up. Then you said something about being involved when you first met me. But you weren't with Chris at the time. When you tried to cover up the slip up I knew that you were lying. So I started to put the pieces together and came up with Jessica."
"You are a very clever girl Stephanie Grant." Allison said with a genuine sincerity. "You have a little Laura Holt in you."
"Now who is she?" I groaned.
"Did you never watch television?" She laughed.
"Apparently not as much as some people." I teased her.
"Timing is everything." She sighed thoughtfully. "Take us for example if things had been different then so much we've put each other through would have never happened. Then there is Jessica the first time I met her I was clueless. Hell I was a kid back then. When I found out about her husband I broke up with her immediately. Years later I found myself trying a case with Jessica as opposing counsel. After the trial was over she told me that she and her husband were separated. Little did I know that Jessica's version of being separated meant she hadn't seen him since breakfast. Of course when I figured it out I walked away. I don't blame her really she grew up in a different era and coming out was never an option for her."
"She may have to." I said directly. "She's your alibi."
"She won't." Allison argued.
"But she . . ."
"She won't." Allison repeated. "I've already asked her."
"She's just going to let her husband railroad you?" I said in disbelief.
"Yes." Allison confirmed my question without any hint of emotion.
"This certainly explains a great deal to me." I said bluntly. "Now I understand why you ran away from me. The way I kept putting off breaking up with Peter. After what Jessica had pulled and then there is Brenda of course."
"How do you know about Brenda?" Allison asked in shock.
"Chris." I offered weakly.
"What else has she been telling you?"
"Nothing." I lied.
"Stephanie?" She pushed.
"I swear that was it." I held my hand. "Scouts honor. Look it's raining." I teased.
"No." Allison blushed furiously. "Oh god she didn't?"
"What?" I answered with feigned innocence.
"Oh my God!" Allison gasped as she buried her hands in her face.
Then suddenly her words were echoed through the wall. "Oh my God!" which was quickly followed by, "Yes! Yes Baby yes!". I turned and stared at the wall. "They are at it again." Allison groaned. "Our lady cop has a new girlfriend. It sounds like they are almost finished." The sounds continued until someone thanked Jesus loudly.
"So that is who I heard on Halloween night." I whispered as the last pieces finally came together.
"Who did you think it was?" Allison asked in bewilderment.
I didn't answer her as I struggled to find a way to explain the bizarre events. "Time to put your cards on the table girl. Tell her. Tell her now!" My inner voice screamed. "I think I need to go to bed." Allison yawned. "You would think that after all of the sleep that I've had in the past few days I would be wide awake."
"Allison wait." I said suddenly. "There is something else that you need to know."
"There's more?" Allison responded in a frightened tone.
"Yes." I answered with a slight smile trying to reassure her. "Now hold on it's nothing bad. I know now why you shut me out before I broke up with Peter. But do you know why I was avoiding you after I did?"
"Frankly no." Allison's voice was as smooth as velvet. "I'm more than a little curious. I thought of million reasons why. Maybe you needed more time or maybe weren't interested in me. I was going insane. Finally I just backed off and started staying on campus and away from you. I was trying to give you some space."
"I understand that now but at the time I didn't." I had to laugh at the situation. "I thought you were dating Courtney."
"What?" Allison laughed. "She's a bit young for me don't you think? Well she's not that young."
"Yeah right." I scoffed as I got up off of the sofa and went over to my briefcase and retrieved the card Courtney had given me earlier. I walked purposely over to Allison and handed it to her. "From Courtney." I offered. Allison looked at it briefly before tossing it onto the coffee table.
"She dots her "i's” with little hearts. Maybe she is that young." Allison conceded. "That still doesn't explain why you thought I was dating her. I only had the one date with her and you were there for most of it."
My only response was to jerk my thumb in direction of the wall that had previously been filled with the sounds of passion. "How could you think that?" Allison countered in a horrified tone. "You were the one I was making out with the night before and that night as well. Did you really think that I could kiss you and then bed her?"
"Not entirely." I argued.
"What does that mean?" Allison asked me directly. "I only went out with her in the first place because of you."
"Excuse me?" I was stunned.
"You still hadn't said anything to Peter." Allison explained. "And yet you were flirting with me but he was still in your life. I knew that until you ended things with him I could never be in your life. I told you that more times than I can count. Finally one night out of desperation I went to the club. Courtney asked me out and against my better judgment I said yes. It was a stupid attempt to get over you."
"Allison." I pleaded with her. "I understand that now but at the time I didn't know if I was coming or going."
"How, after the way we touch one another, could you think that I would sleep with that child?" Allison protested. "Damn it Stephanie even as sick as I was over the past few days; last night I dreamt about touching you." "Okay, girl let that one slide for the moment. No need telling her she wasn't dreaming."
I had hurt her but she wasn't giving me the chance to explain everything. "Stephanie I think that we need to slow things down here." She said heavily. "Take a break from all of this whatever this is."
"How much slower would you like to go?" I spit out realizing that I was being dumped. "I mean without my moving back to Connecticut?"
"Stephanie." She protested. "Maybe we should just be friends for right now."
"Fine." I shouted in anger as I tore her sweater off my body and tossed it at her.
"Keep it." She offered. "It really does look good on you."
"You can't have it both ways Allison." I said hotly. She just looked at me with a stunned expression. "You can't just dump me and then try to flirt with me." My anger was building. "I know how I feel and there are things you don't know. But if you want to play at being buddies then fine. Frankly I am tired of the games." Having said that I stormed out of her apartment and raced down to my own.
My heart sank when I realized that I did not have my house keys. "Crap." I scowled as I stomped back upstairs and stormed back inside Allison's apartment. "I forgot my keys." I bellowed as I gathered up my coat and briefcase. "Your Aunt is staying with you tomorrow the instructions for your meds are on the bottle."
"Stephanie?" She tried to stop me.
"Don't." I cautioned her.
"I'm not dumping you." She choked out. "But we cannot start something now."
"Whatever you are running from this time Allison get over it and soon!" I shouted and stormed back downstairs.
Of course once I entered my apartment I realized that I had left most of my clothing upstairs. "Forget it!" I snarled as I tore off my clothing and climbed naked into my futon. I spent a sleepless night trying to figure out just how things spun out control so quickly.
The following day was definitely the calm before the storm. I gave my exams and headed home without checking on Allison. I made a light supper and watched that evening’s episode of Xena. I didn't enjoy as much as the other one. Probably because the two women weren't together through out most of it. There was the blonde and some clumsy guy who was entertaining but was no match for the leather-clad warrior. Disgusted with everything I went to bed early in a vain attempt to catch up on some sleep.
Wednesday morning I gave my last mid-term for the semester and wished my students, "Happy Holidays". I turned in my paperwork and wished everyone at the office a happy holiday and picked up Allison's midterms from her teaching assistant. I started to walk home in the cold when I was greeted by the sound of a car honking its horn. For a brief moment I hoped it was Allison. I turned and spotted a familiar black Honda. It was Hal the physics professor who lived in our building. "It's much too cold to be walking." He called out to me in his crisp British accent. "Care for a lift home Dr. Grant?"
Hal and I chatted about the weather and the upcoming holiday. Being British meant that, Thanksgiving wasn't a huge deal to him. But he was grateful for the time off and he planned on spending it with his girlfriend and her family. I didn't elaborate on my plans not really knowing just what they entailed at that point. I looked at Hal's well-pressed suit and noted that he was a classy dresser in both men's and women's clothing. After first meeting Hal, it took me awhile to understand that just because a man liked to dress as a woman did not mean he was gay. I thanked him for the ride when we arrived at the house.
I went into my apartment trying to decide on whether to take a shower or go to the local video store and rent some movies to past the time over the holiday weekend. There was a knock on my door. Somehow I knew before I opened it that she would be standing on the other side. "Hello." I greeted her cooly.
"Truce?" Allison offered shyly.
"Hmm." I grunted.
"Still want to spend the holiday with my family?" She asked hesitantly.
"I don't know." I replied honestly.
"I meant what I said about keeping your friendship." Allison said warmly.
I just stood there staring at her as my mind told me one the thing and my heart another. Why were the two in constant conflict lately? "Please." Allison prodded. "I don't think I could bare it if I lost your friendship."
"Fine." I agreed reluctantly. My heart had won out against my better judgment I packed an overnight bag and met Allison at the car. The cold winter air sliced through my body. I was thankful that Allison's car had heated seats. As we drove down Rte. 128 it began to snow. I found myself wondering if what Chris had told me about Allison's reactions to the changing weather were true. As we drove in the mass of holiday commuters the only sounds in the car were emanating from the windshield wipers.
The silence was unbearable. For some reason I wanted to scream. "Was this what finding love was really like?". I found it difficult to understand that I would find that one person I wanted to be with for the rest of my life only to end up miserable. I felt the pain rip through me. How was I going to sit down to dinner with her family? Knowing that there was a wall between us. "Stop the car!" I shouted suddenly.
Allison was visibly shaken by my screaming. Somehow she managed to pull the car over safely into the breakdown lane. Not without several other cars honking their horns in anger. Once the car came to a complete stop I jumped out slamming the door behind me. Allison followed me as I began to pace on the snow-covered pavement. Her face was painted with a startled expression. "You're such a jerk!" I shouted finally. There I had said it. "I met you in August and from the first moment I saw you, I knew. I knew! You are the one. Because of this my life has been turned upside down." I blew out a heavy breath as I finished not certain my words made any sense but somehow not caring.
"I never asked you to turn your life upside down." Allison argued.
"Didn't you?" I countered loudly. "You encouraged me every step of the way. And when everything was starting to make sense again you ran away."
She just stood there looking guilty with her hands stuffed into the pockets of her camel hair coat. She closed her eyes and lowered her head. "Don't you dare!" I screamed. The anger in my voice began to frighten me. I felt as if I was fighting to stay alive. "Is this why I came out? So you could leave me?" I accused her. "Tell me why? Just tell me why you are running away from me. From us?"
"Because I have no secrets." Allison's voice trembled. "In a matter of a few weeks you know everything there is to know about me. Jesus Stephanie we never even dated. But you know my entire past. I'm completely exposed. You even stepped in and solved my legal problems. I've nothing to offer you."
"What about your heart?" I said deeply.
that." Allison winced. "I asked you out and you shot me
down every time."
"I thought that you were dating Courtney!" I explained in a huff.
"That's another reason we should stop this." Allison shot back. "How could you not trust me like that?"
"Because when you did bother to come home she was there." I tried to explain.
"I was helping her study for the Bar Exam." Allison explained. "Damn it you know me. How could you think that I would be so shallow as to sleep with her then ask you out?"
"Because she told me that she had slept with you." I fired back. There it was finally out and it felt good.
"What?" Allison gasped. She stood there completely stunned.
I took a few breaths and collected myself before speaking. I had to make her see what I had seen and why I thought what I thought. "The morning after Halloween." I began to explain calmly. "Courtney told me that the two of you slept together."
I watched as Allison's expression changed rapidly from stunned to outrage. "That little . . ." Allison sputtered. "I swear to you Stephanie I never touched her. The only reason she spent the night was because she had been drinking and was in no condition to drive. When she tried something I let her down gently. I explained that I wasn't interested in her that way. I also was very honest about my feelings for you and how it looked as if we might finally have a chance to explore a relationship. She said she understood."
"Of course she did Allison." I laughed. "But being the bright girl that she is the first thing she did was run to me and tell me about having sex with you. She knew I'd back off." I shook my head at the irony of the situation. "Allison I did not discover the truth until very recently."
"Yes she's a very clever girl." Allison said coldly. "She made certain she got to you before I did. You must have thought that I was a first class jerk asking you out after sleeping with her." Allison shivered as she spoke.
"Jerk was one of the nicer things I was thinking about you." I confessed. "There something else. I didn't realize that you were asking me out. For a date I mean. You were weren't you?"
"Yes." She asserted and then her face dropped. "I keep forgetting this is all new to you." She apologized sincerely.
"So now that this is all out in the open where does this leave us?" I looked at her hopefully surprised by the tears now running down her face. I rushed to her side quickly. She simply took me by the hand and led me back to the car. Allison opened the door for me and I seated myself. She closed the door and walked to the other side of the car and got in.
I watched as the normally stoic woman dried her tears and collected her thoughts. "Allison what is it?" I asked softly taking her hand in mine.
"I took the position at Stanford." She said gravely.
"That's it?" I laughed thinking that what was bothering her. "Allison I'm not thrilled but it is only for six weeks. I will miss you but . . .” She held up a shaking hand and stopped me.
"Stephanie I agreed to an extended series for the seminar." She answered as the panic washed over her. "I'll be gone for four months."
"Four months?" I shrieked. Then I quickly calmed myself this was not the end of the world. After everything we had been through this separation was a mere drop in the bucket. "When did this happen?"
"Right before my birthday." She explained. "Of course had I been thinking clearly on that day we wouldn't be sitting here now."
"Oh of course we would." I laughed. "So why did you agree to it?"
"I thought that the time apart would be good for us." She sighed. "Somehow my going to California would give us the distance that we need and maybe our friendship would survive. Then the other night everything was coming out and suddenly I realized what I had done and I panicked. How could we start seeing each other now? I'll be leaving in a few weeks and it's not fair to you. You just came out you should be out meeting women and dating."
"You are insane." I said in dismay. "I've already gone out and met other women. One of which landed me in the emergency room. Thank you very much. Allison do you want me to go out with other women?"
"No." She answered sadly.
"Then what is the problem?" I asked her directly. "Allison I know how my heart feels. I love you." I finally told her and it felt good! "I love you now and I will still love you four months from now."
"You can't know that." She warned me. "But if it is true and when I come home and we both still feel the same way then let's start things off right this time. What we have had up until now has been . . . I honestly don't know what it has been."
"Bedlam." I offered teasingly.
"Pretty much." She laughed in agreement. "For now let's just be friends and put all of this tension behind us." I'd rather put you behind me but I can go along with this even if I think the whole idea is ludicrous. "So can you wait?" She asked me sweetly.
"I have spent my whole life looking for you." I said as I gently touched her cheek. "I can wait until . . ."
"April." She concluded with a heavy sigh. "Stephanie I'm not being foolish. You could meet someone while I'm away."
"So could you." I argued. "I will leave it up to the fates. Deep down I know that we are meant to be together. I also know that even though I don't agree with this I can try. Though I doubt we will wait."
"What do you mean?" She protested.
"Allison we've had better reasons than this to keep our hands off of one another." I explained. "And we've failed miserably."
"Stephanie . . ."
"I'm serious." I offered in my own defense. "I'll go along with this plan of yours but I'm telling you right now you'll never make it."
"I'll never make it?" Allison snorted as she started the car and pulled back into traffic.
"You won't." I reasoned with a touch of humor.
"And what makes you so certain that I will be the one to cave in?" Allison protested in a cocky tone. "I'm an adult and I think that I've behaved fairly well under the circumstances."
"Sure whatever you say." I answered blithely.
"Stephanie." Allison wasn't about to drop this. "I am very serious about us waiting."
"I know." I responded. "I promise to behave myself. If this is what you want I will wait."
"But you don't think I will?" Allison argued.
"And just why not?" Allison was on the defensive. "As I recall most of our close calls were not initiated by me."
"True." I agreed. "You're right Allison. I'm sure that you can control yourself for the next month and a half." Come on Allison take the bait.
"That's right." She said sternly.
I allowed her to drive in silence while she stewed over what I had said. I knew that I had challenged her and it was just a matter of time before she would bring the subject up again. "I can show as much restraint as the next guy." Allison snapped finally.
"Of course you can." I patted her gently to reassure her.
"You really think
that I'm going to cave in?"
Allison whined at the thought that I could doubt her.
"Yup." I said with a smack of my lips. "I'll even bet you on it."
"Challenge my morals will you? Allison scoffed. "Fine you're on. So what's the bet?"
"Loser installs a shower massage in my apartment for while you are in California." I offered simply.
"What?" Allison objected. "Why are you so certain that I will lose?"
"Just do." I shrugged.
"Fine when I win you can . . ." Her voice trailed off.
"Thinking about already." I laughed playfully. "Aren't you sport?"
"No." Allison lied. "I just can't come up with anything right now. But I'll let you know when I do."
"Uh huh." I laughed again.
"Hey." She protested again.
"Allison." I was enjoying this little game. "One of the reasons I think that I'll win is because of that dream you had the other night."
"It was just a dream." Allison defended herself.
"No it wasn't."
"Of course it was." Allison chuckled. "Not to burst your bubble or anything but you are certainly not the first woman I've had an erotic dream about."
"It wasn't a dream." I stated simply as if I was telling her the time of day.
The car swerved briefly out of control after a few frightful moments Allison regained control of the vehicle. "What are you saying?" She demanded.
"It really happened."
"No it didn't." She spit out.
"Yes it did." I confirmed. "I woke up from a similar dream to find you on top of me and we were fondling each other." I watched in amusement as her jaw hung open. "I know I should have stopped it sooner but it was gentle and it felt so . . ."
"right." She concluded in embarrassment. "How far did things go?" She stammered.
"Let's just say not as far as they could have." I answered with a blush recalling the feel of her body moving against my own. "I ended up taking a very long and very cold shower."
"No more sharing a bed." She answered firmly. "I meant what I said about waiting Stephanie. I don't want to ruin our friendship. Now let's just change the subject."
"Fine by me." I agreed. "Nice weather we're having." She growled irritably at my observation. "Gotcha!" I thought triumphantly. I would abide by Allison's wishes even though I silently prayed that she would not. I meant what I said I spent a lifetime looking for her and if I had to wait until April to be with her I would. "April! The gods certainly must be bored."
As we entered the Chestnut Hill section of Newton I could not help but gasp at the sight of the grand houses that lined Commonwealth Avenue. "Do your parents know I'm coming?" I asked shyly as I watch one mansion after another pass by. "I called and told them I was bringing a friend." Allison answered simply as she pulled into a long driveway. The exterior property was surrounded by a large brick wall. The house was enormous and yet beautiful. The best way to describe it was grand. "Oh my God!" I gasped in horror seeing the large white columns that adorned the front. "This is where you grew up?"
"Yes." She responded plainly. "Why?"
"It's . . . just so . . ." I fumbled. "Allison I grew up in a two bedroom apartment that is smaller than the apartment you live in now." I explained helplessly.
"Oh." She answered in an embarrassed tone. "Would it make you feel any better to know that up until just a few years ago the bank owned most of it?"
"No." I answered with a laugh.
"It's a hand me down." She fumbled. "The roof leaks and the heating is shot. If it wasn't for the fireplaces you would freeze at night."
"Well in that case how could you bring me to such a dump." I teased trying to ease the sudden tension between us. "Come on it's cold out here. Will Nicole be here?"
"Sure she lives here." Allison explained as she retrieved our bags.
"Good maybe she can teach me some new words in French." I added trying to ease my nervousness about meeting her parents.
"Trust me Nicole is not the person you should learn any new words from." Allison chuckled. "Not if you ever want to be able to have a conversation in public that is."
"Oh yeah." I snorted. "And you have such a pure mouth, Harvard."
"What?" She protested as we made our way up the walkway.
"Are you forgetting what you said to me on your birthday." I pointed out.
"Huh?" Allison thought for a brief moment. "Oh, that. I thought you might be hungry." Allison shrugged as we stepped up onto the expansive front porch.
As I looked at the massive oak door adorned with brass I felt down right shabby. I checked my wool coat and faded blue jeans. I should have changed before leaving Haven I noted. Perhaps I should just enter through the back like the rest of the help. Allison slung our bags onto her broad shoulders and placed one hand on the small of my back and swung the door open with the other. She ushered me quickly. "Come on it's cold out here." She flashed me a reassuring smile as she whisked me in the house.
As we entered the marble laden foyer we were greeted by frail looking woman. "Matilda." Allison greeted her with a hug that seemed to engulf the tiny woman. "Why on earth are you working today?" Allison questioned her as she stepped back. "She has a maid? This is going down hill mighty quick!"
"Allison." Matilda patted her arm gently. "Are you getting taller?" Matilda smiled brightly at Allison. "No." Allison laughed. "Perhaps you are getting smaller." Allison teased. "So why are you working on the day before Thanksgiving? I would have thought you would be cooking up a storm for all of those adorable Grandchildren of yours."
"I will be just as soon as I finish up here." Matilda asserted. "This is a busy time of year for my company." Matilda pointed out.
"Why not have your staff do this?" Allison pushed with genuine concern. "What is the point of owning your own business if you still do all of the work?"
"Kids they all want to go home and be with their families." Matilda sighed. "What can I say? Family is important."
"You work too hard." Allison chastised her.
"You sound like my husband." Matilda shook a disapproving finger at her. "And don't take that tone with me Miss. you aren't so big that I can't still take you over my knee." Matilda warned her for brief moment I thought I saw a hint of fear in Allison's eyes. "Besides no one but me cleans this house for the holidays. Especially with you bringing home a new lady. Now how could I trust someone else with that?"
"She's not . . .” Allison started to protest.
"Now where are your manners?" Matilda scolded her. "Doux bebe’ introduce me to your new friend."
"Dr. Stephanie Grant this is Matilda Thornsby." Allison offered obediently.
When Matilda took my hand in both of hers I was shocked. She appeared to be so fragile but her grip was like iron, she almost crushed my fingers. "A pleasure to meet you Mrs. Thornsby." I said respectfully remembering my Connecticut upbringing.
"Such a sweet angel." Matilda said softly to Allison as she released my hand and patted me gently on the cheek. I looked into those dark brown eyes and found nothing but a sense of loving acceptance. "Tell me Dr. Grant." Matilda proceeded in a professional manner. "Do you have a house that is just too big for you to clean on your own?" There was something in her manner that made want to tell her 'yes' simply to please her.
"She has an apartment." Allison said quickly to save me.
"We do apartments." Matilda pointed out.
"It is all the way up in Haven." I explained.
"I see." She said casting a knowing glance at Allison. "I will give you my card then. I know what a slob this one is." As if by magic her business card appeared and was placed in my hand.
"We don't live together." Allison tried to explain. "And I am not a slob."
"Please! I have been picking up after you since you were in diapers." Matilda snorted. "If you want to know where the pictures are I can show you Stephanie." Matilda offered I noticed she dropped my formal title. As far as Matilda was concerned I was family.
"Thank you Mrs. Thornsby." I accepted with glee.
"No." Came a deep growl behind me as Matilda started to show me the way to the family albums.
"You are no fun at all." Matilda scoffed. "What are you afraid of that . . . she'll see your cute little tushy?" Matilda laughed.
"Hey it's my tushy and no one is seeing it." Allison asserted forcibly.
"Like I said she is no fun." Matilda sighed. "How do you put up with her?" Matilda teased me. "Your lady is very sweet Allison."
"She's not my lady." Allison corrected her.
"Much pretty than the last one." Matilda said ignoring her last comment. "She was too tall and too white. I don't like big scary white women they make me nervous."
"What am I?" Allison laughed making a sweeping gesture regarding her height.
"You are my doux bebe." Matilda pointed out as she pinched Allison's cheek. "And you always will be."
"Fair enough." Allison agreed. "Speaking of scary white women has old lady Kendell been around yet?"
"No, thank God!" Matilda scoffed. "That is why I came early. I parked my van in the back so I could make a quick getaway. I hate that old woman. She's always treating me like I'm a maid just because I'm black. Every time I see her she tosses her coat at me and orders me to get her a drink."
It appeared that at first glance I had also fallen into the same prejudice. The combination of the grand home and a woman of color dusting the furniture. I had automatically assumed that she was the maid. Not the owner of a cleaning company. "So does everyone around here speak French?" I inquired.
"Not Dad." Allison chuckled. "Mom refuses to teach him. I think she does that so she can talk about him without him knowing it. Although I think he understands more than Mom would like. Matilda speaks several languages." Allison added proudly.
"That is what my degree is in." Matilda sighed. "I thought I could travel and be a translator. But all I was offered was secretarial positions. To relax I would clean my house from top to bottom. My best friend suggested that I should do that for a living. I was appalled. Then she explained that I should start my own business. In fact she offered to be my first client since she lived in a big house and with a baby on the way she needed the help. My business grew almost as fast as the baby girl my friend had." She pinched Allison's cheek again. "Doux bebe."
There wasn't a doubt in my mind who Matilda's friend was. I also knew that Matilda was probably the only person alive who could get away with pinching Allison's cheek like that. "What is that you keep calling her?" I inquired as Allison groaned at my question.
"Doux bebe." Matilda smiled. "Sweet Baby. And she is too." Matilda reached for the cheek again and gave it a playful squeezed. "David is my petite homme, which means little man. And Nicole is difficulte!"
"Trouble." Allison translated. "The translations are a little rough at times. Gaia's family is from Quebec and with her native heritage Mom's French is a little iffy. Matilda speaks a more formal version."
"But my grammar is lacking." Matilda pointed out.
"Great day in the morning!" A deep voice boomed from a room somewhere off to our left. I was a little startled by the outburst. Allison and Matilda didn't seem to take any notice. "Dad's home." Was Allison's only response.
"Yes he has been watching football all day." Matilda answered. "Not to worry your Mother made certain that he lit a fire in your room for the two of you."
"The two of us?" Allison grimaced as I chuckled. Matilda just stared at us blankly. "Hold on it is the middle of the afternoon? How can he be watching football? I didn't think there were any games until tomorrow."
"Who knows." Matilda answered with a shrug. "But if there is a game on that man can find it. I need to finish my work you two go on and say hello to your Father."
Allison dropped our bags on the winding staircase and took me by the hand. "Come on time to meet Dad." Allison gave me a gentle tug on my sleeve and led me to the room the shouting had been coming from earlier. She opened the door revealing a large den with mahogany wood covering the walls. In the center of the room sat the largest television I had ever seen in my entire life. A silver hair gentleman was reclined in an oversized leather armchair.
Wrapped up in the game and with his back to us he failed to notice our entrance. "Great day . . .” He began to shout once again.
"in the morning . . . you call that a pass!" Allison bellowed out.
"Allison!" He screamed with delight as he jumped out of his chair and rushed over to his daughter. He swept the taller woman up in his arms. His brown eyes twinkled as he set his daughter down taking a step back from her. "Let's have a look at you child. How are you feeling?"
"Much better Pops." Allison reassured him.
"And this is?" He smiled at me.
"Dr. Stephanie Grant this is my Dad, Jefferson Kendell the third." He took my hand gently as Allison made the introduction.
"Jefferson is fine." He scolded Allison. "You're a doctor?" He asked eagerly.
"Relax she's not that kind of doctor Pops." Allison teased him.
"So you're a book worm like my little girl then?" Jefferson teased his eldest child as he reached up and ruffled her raven hair.
"Pops!" Allison protested indignantly.
"What? Not getting to big for your britches are you?" Jefferson laughed. "I could still take you over my knee." He warned her.
"Pops you have never spanked me in your life." Allison laughed. I suspect that Matilda had never either. "So who plays football on the day before Thanksgiving?" She asked.
"Classic sports." He answered with pride.
"So this is an old game?" Allison questioned him.
"What's your point?" He groaned.
"No point Pops." Allison chuckled. "Basically you are not really watching the game. You're just hiding in here so Mom won't catch you smoking your cigars?"
"I am not smoking." He lied. "My God it's genetic!" I thought wryly.
"Nice try Pops." Allison chastised him. "Next time try cracking a window."
"Speaking of football." He cut in before his eldest child could lecture him. "When your Mother told me you were bringing home a friend I got an extra ticket for the game tomorrow."
"The game?" Allison gasped as her face paled. "Oh no."
"Something wrong Allison?" He asked with concern.
"No." She blurted out. "Not a thing. We should go find Mom."
"Okay then." He turned attention back towards the television. "Oh by the way I lit a fire in your room so the two of you will be warm tonight."
"About that Dad." Allison began dryly. "Stephanie and I are not . . ."
"Of course not." Jefferson laughed. He had the same laugh as his daughter I was amazed by the way their personalities matched.
"Where is Mom?" Allison groaned in defeat.
"In the kitchen with Gaia." He answered absently.
"Amazon!" Nicole called out from the doorway. "And you brought the blonde." Nicole raced over and hugged the both of us. "Now how are you feeling?"
"Much better." Allison answered her.
"And you, how is the knee?" She directed the question towards me.
"No problems." I reassured her.
"Good." Nicole smiled. "I have something to show you Allison." Nicole was practically beaming.
"She doesn't know yet?" Their Father inquired.
"No I was saving it as a surprise pops." Nicole reached in the pocket of her jeans a pulled out a plastic chip.
"Nikki your five year chip." Allison swept her up in a hug. "I'm so proud of you little sister."
"It is still one day at a time." Nicole confessed as Allison released her. "I never thought I would see the day when I would earn this." She said proudly as she clasped the chip in her hand.
"Great day in the morning!" Jefferson shouted once again. I couldn't help but notice he was facing the window and not the television. "What is it Pops? Another bad play?" Allison teased him.
"No." He answered sadly. "The whitest woman in America just pulled up."
"Grandma's here!" Allison and Nicole shouted in unison.
"Someone had better go and warn your Mother." Jefferson advised gravely.
"I will." Allison and Nicole jointly volunteered.
"Cowards." Jefferson scoffed. "Go ahead then." He said as he waved to his daughters.
"Wait the pool!" Nicole stopped us. "Drinking, homosexuality, democrats or those people? I will go with homosexuality."
"Drinking." Allison stated with a shake of her head. "She'll be thirsty."
"I'll have to go with Nicole on this one." Jefferson answered. "Sorry Allison but the new girlfriend."
"She's not my . . . ugh!" Allison groaned. "Never mind I'm sticking with drinking and I say ten minutes for those people."
"Five." Jefferson threw in.
"No way." Nicole argued. "Matilda just left I'm going with fifteen."
"Standard wager?" Their Father inquired.
"Of course." Nicole answered.
"What the hell was that all about?" I asked in confusion as we made our way from the den down a long corridor. "Just wait." Allison stated simply as we entered the kitchen. The kitchen was a mix of modern fixtures and colonial architecture. At the stove stood a woman with jet-black hair that appeared to be graying slightly. By her stature and chiseled features I could see just where Allison and Nicole had gotten their striking good looks from. She flashed a familiar brilliant smile at us as we entered the kitchen. Seated in a wheel chair at the kitchen table was a tiny woman with gray hair. Her tanned features reminded me of something out of a southwestern painting.
"Allison." Her mother greeted her pulling her eldest child into a warm embrace. "Gaia!" The woman called out. "Allison elle est ici!" The elderly woman simply smiled up at Allison. Allison made her way over and bent down and gently kissed the frail woman on the cheek. "So this is what families are suppose to be like?" I thought to myself as I watched them interact. "Mom this is my friend Stephanie Grant." Allison introduced us.
"Welcome Stephanie." Her Mother greeted me with a warm hug that surprised me greatly.
"It is very kind of you to invite me, Mrs. Kendell." I offered.
"Pauline please." She instructed me. "Gaia, je vous presente Stephanie. Une amie de Allison."
"No Mother." Allison protested. "Did you put them up to this?" Allison asked Nicole in an accusing manner.
"Now would I do that?" Nicole chuckled as she climbed up to sit on one of the kitchen counters.
"Yes!" Allison scolded her. "You little rat."
"Hush girls." Pauline scolded her bickering daughters.
"Just what did I miss?" I had to ask since it appeared that the Kendell siblings were not going to volunteer any information.
"My Mother just introduced you as Allison's girlfriend." Nicole chuckled.
"Mom." Allison began wearily. "Stephanie and I are just friends."
"It's true Mrs. Kendell." I added finally deciding it was time to help Allison out.
"Pauline." She corrected me. "Mrs. Kendell is my Mother-in-law."
"Speaking of the wicked witch of the east." Nicole cut in with an ominous tone. "She's here."
"Merde." Pauline grumbled as her daughter’s eyes widen at her expression. Heck even I know that one. I could detect a slight tsk from Gaia who obviously disapproved of her grandchild's use of language. "Put me down for drinking and seven minutes." Pauline announced.
Just then an extremely thin and overly pale woman burst into the kitchen. Although she was very well dressed there was something about her attire that just screamed of ostentatiousness. Perhaps it was the fur coat and jewels in the middle of the afternoon. That or the way her make up appeared to have been applied with a spatula. She was definitely trying to appear much younger than she was. Her attempt failed miserably.
"Why is it that I am forced to meet with my family in the cook's area?" She demanded in a shrill tone.
"Because I'm cooking." Pauline explained turning her attention back the stove.
"Children." The woman snarled at Allison and Nicole.
"Good afternoon Mrs. Kendell Ma'am" The siblings responded absently in unison.
"Sorciere." Allison muttered under her breath.
"What was that child?" Mrs. Kendell demanded.
"Do you really want to know?" Allison answered flatly while raising a single eyebrow in a challenging gesture.
The elderly woman wisely chose to ignore Allison's challenge. "Nicole get off of that counter and fetch me a martini." Mrs. Kendell ordered.
"Mother." Jefferson spoke firmly. "I've explained to you before that we no longer keep alcohol in the house."
"Nonsense." She sniffed.
"You know that it is true and we do it out of respect for Nicole." Jefferson asserted.
"Ridiculous." She sniffed once again. "Why on earth would you do that?"
"Because I'm an alcoholic." Nicole said dryly. "And everyone including myself is more comfortable with my living in a house where there isn't any liquor."
"There are no drunks in the Kendell family." She protested in horror. As she did this money began to change hands around her. I watched as Nicole and Jefferson handed over twenty dollar bills to Allison and Pauline. "Now Nicole get down off of the counter and fetch me a martini." I noticed something familiar in the manner in which Mrs. Kendell spoke. It was the same way the matrons back in New Haven spoke with their lips barely moving. They could be saying, 'nice weather we are having'. Yet it always sounded like a put down.
"Our children have been allowed to sit on the counters since they could lift their bottoms up there." Jefferson countered.
"It is uncivilized." Mrs. Kendell chastised him. "And I repeat there are no drunks in the Kendell family."
"That would explain Father's twelve martini lunches." Jefferson snickered.
"Don't be fresh Jefferson." She responded coldly. "I don't know why I even bother coming over here? I just came over to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and once again I find myself being treated in a most unpleasant manner."
"Mrs. Kendell we do not celebrate Thanksgiving out of respect for Gaia." Allison spat out in a terse manner.
"Please." Mrs. Kendell scoffed. "The poor thing does not even speak English."
I looked over to where Gaia was sitting happily shelling peas. She seemed quite unaware of what was happening around her. For the briefest of moments I wish I could be as oblivious as her. It was quite clear that Jefferson's mother was a first class snob who didn't care about her family. It was also painfully clear by the reaction of her family that the household rules had been pointed out to her on more than one occasion. I did not like this woman, perhaps it was the way the temperature dropped the moment she entered the room.
"I do not understand what it is with these people." The obnoxious woman continued. "They come to this country and will not even learn to speak the language. If it wasn't for us they would have been exterminated years ago." At that moment everyone checked their watches and then handed over their money to Pauline. I was beginning to catch on as to what was happening here.
"For starters Gaia's people lived here long before the pilgrims showed up." Allison scolded her. "And the only reason they faced extinction at all was because of people like us."
"Don't get fresh with me young lady." Mrs. Kendell shot an angry glare at Allison. I made a protective step next to Allison. The woman took a quick glance at me and then looked away in disgust.
"Do you want to play?" Allison whispered in my ear.
"Yes please." I whispered in reply. Allison pulled me in front of her and wrapped her arms around me tightly. I played along and reached up and caressed Allison's cheek tenderly. Allison in turn lowered her head and began to nibble delightfully on my neck. I honestly don't know which felt better our touching or knowing that we were pushing the old witch's buttons. I could see Allison's father smiling from behind his now very uncomfortable mother. The woman's complexion actually grew even paler than before at the sight of us cuddling like lovesick teenagers.
"Why is it every time I come into this house you people are throwing money around?" She choked as Allison continued her exploration of my neck.
"The family collection of course." Pauline answered as she tucked the money into a cookie jar. "This money is for helping the women in Afghanistan. Care to contribute?" Pauline baited her.
"Always throwing your money away on these silly causes of yours." Mrs. Kendell sneered. "You should pay more attention to what is going on under your own roof." She shot a look of disgust at Allison and myself.
This proved to be all the prompting that Allison needed. She placed her fingers under my chin and raised my head to look at her. I swallowed hard as she lowered her lips to mine and captured them in a passionate kiss. I didn't care if everyone was watching. Personally I would have made love to Allison then and there if I thought it would kill this nasty old woman. Then again even if it didn't kill her . . .
"Where is David?" The old woman demanded breaking the spell.
Allison's body tensed as she pulled her lips from mine. Everyone including myself just glared at her in amazement. I wasn't even a part of the family and I knew enough to know that David's absence was a sensitive issue. "Damn what is wrong with you woman? Even I know David is a cult! And I am sure that you do as well!" The look of pain on Pauline's face was unmistakable. "Mother!" Jefferson snapped in anger. "Time to go." He grabbed her roughly by the arm and led her out by the arm. Nicole and Allison were instantly by their mother's side. As the two tried to comfort their mother I could hear angry voices coming from the front of the house.
Jefferson returned and brushed his children aside as he took his wife lovingly into his arms. "I'm sorry Baby." He cooed. "I think that maybe you should lie down for awhile. Allison can finish up here after all she is the best cook in the family."
"What?" I exclaimed.
"Allison you didn't do that again did you?" Her mother questioned her in an accusing tone.
"What?" Allison tried in vain to defend herself.
"Stephanie you must forgive my thick headed daughter." Pauline sighed. "She is always telling her girlfriends that she does not know how to cook. "
"Hey tell a woman that you can cook and you will never see another restaurant." Allison argued. "Besides I have to be in the mood to cook for me it is an all day project. And for the last time Stephanie is not my girlfriend."
"Yeah right." The group chuckled.
"Apologize to Stephanie." Pauline instructed her child. "Now."
"I'm sorry." Allison muttered as Nicole laughed. As their parents left the room.
"It is quite all right." I answered letting her off the hook. "This simply confirms what I have suspected for sometime."
"Can't put nothing past you can I?" Allison said with a slight hint of flirtation.
"Honestly Stephanie." Nicole chimed in. "You really should get this one to cook for you. Her chocolate chip pancakes are the best."
"Really?" My mouth was watering already.
"No." A tiny voice protested from behind us. "Her lasagna and that cheesy garlic bread is the best."
I turned in shock to find Gaia smiling back at me. "I thought you didn't speak English?" I stammered.
"Of course I speak English." Gaia confirmed. "It was one of the things that saved me from the reservation when the Catholics arrived to save all of us heathens." I stood there dumbfounded as I tried soaking in this revelation.
"I told you that Gaia was Haley's daughter in law." Allison reminded me as she began to chop celery like a master. "You are so busted Professor Kendell." I teased her as I watched her culinary expertise. She simply wiggled her eyebrows playfully.
"Are you the one who is writing the book with Allison?" Gaia asked me.
"Yes." I answered her respectfully.
"Nicole child I am finished here." Gaia said gently as Nicole slid off of the counter and went to take the bowl of peas from her. "You help your sister child. I am going to visit with Stephanie. Come with me and I will show you some of my mother-in-law's papers. You must help me though. My spirit may move freely but my body is imprisoned."
Allison stopped what she was doing and undid the brakes on the wheelchair. She showed me what to do and how to move the chair properly. "Go ahead." Allison insisted as she placed a gentle hand on my shoulder. "I have to warn you of something. Gaia knows things." I just stared at her blankly. "Trust me she just knows things."
"Uh huh." I answered not having the slightest idea of what she was talking about.
I managed to wheel Gaia into her room without any problems. She instructed me to open a large hope chest and that was filled with books and papers. She directed me as to just what I should remove. I handle each item with respect as I placed them on the bed. "Come give me your hand." She spoke softly.
I sat on the bed an offered her my hand which she clasped gently. "You have come home." Was all she said as her eyes smiled up at me.
"Excuse me?" I questioned her.
"You have been searching for two things since your birth." She explained tenderly. "Love and a family. This is your family now."
"Gaia." I spoke softly. "Allison and I are not lovers."
"There is more to love than just the physical." Gaia explained. "But that will come sooner than you expect. Although you have already suspected that it would. You have captured each other's hearts. When your heart found Allison's you found your way home. I know that you are troubled that she has not told you what is in her heart. You spoke first and are bothered that she did not say the same."
"How did?" I stammered. Okay this is getting a little creepy. It was true! I was bothered by the fact that I told her that I love her and she didn't say the same thing. She confessed that she cares about me and that she desires me but she never said that she loved me.
"I will tell you." She said warmly as she patted my hand. "You sit there and listen like you did with your grandmother."
"How did you know that I told her I loved her?" I asked slowly.
"I just know." She answered gently. "Not to worry child, she loves you and when you hear her tell you will no longer have any doubts about the path that you have chosen. Trust me child." She reassured me. "Pauline and Jefferson adore each other. Theirs is a perfect union. Their children grew up knowing this, seeing it every day through the good times and the bad. Each of them assumed that they too would find what their parents had. Not understanding that finding the one person is not as easy as it would appear. Each of them gave their hearts to the first person who asked for it. When their own relationships failed to live up to their parent's it hurt them deeply.
Allison was proud and felt that she needed to make her parents proud of her. Since her heart had failed her she threw herself into her work thinking that money would make her happy. It didn't. The day she walked away from everything she assumed that she had failed. Even though she started to walk a path true to herself her heart was still cold. Until now. You have melted her heart. Never doubt this; she needs you to let her love again. She is afraid don't let her fear stop her from loving you.
David, being the middle child, tried to do everything that his big sister did. He loved a woman for a long time and she was a good woman. But she was not the one. When she left him he was lost and met people who misled him. He will find his way home soon. After the snow kisses the dawn a few more times. Nicole, the wild child, was the baby. She never wanted for anything. Allison and David were always there for her. No matter what; they would protect her. What she needed was to fly and you cannot truly fly if you know there someone there to catch you. Nicole hid instead flying thinking she could hide inside a bottle. She knows all of this now and she is finally free. "
"I don't need to know all of this." I tried to explain to her.
"You do." Gaia answered with a slight nod. "You look at Allison and you wonder why she won't let you in? They grew up watching the perfect couple and when their own relationships failed to meet this level of perfection Allison and her siblings learned something very new to them. They learned fear."
"Why are you telling me all of this?" I questioned her.
"Because this is now your home." Gaia said with a quiet smile. "You have brothers and sisters. Your father called many places home. Do not hate him. This hater has already controlled you for far too long. Your father never meant any harm. He was young and no one ever taught him the importance of responsibility. Your mother was also young and unable to resist his charms. Stephanie do not seek out your other family. You will not be welcomed. Embrace your new family."
"How can you know all of this?" I argued hoping that perhaps she was wrong and yet praying that she was right.
"I just do." She answered simply. "You are in Allison's blood. She will see that very soon."
Gaia decided to let me off the hook and changed the subject. She told me about Haley. I listened to her stories carefully. I found myself envious of what Haley and Eleanor shared so easily. I know that at times I still had my own doubts of how quickly I came out. Was it really the right choice or did I simply jump into this without thinking? Why after everything I had felt and admitted was I still having these doubts?
"Because you are afraid." Gaia said breaking me out of my musings. "You followed your heart and now your head is trying to rein you in like a wild steed. Since you decided to travel this road how do you feel about yourself?"
"I'm uncertain." I admitted as she just stared at me in disbelief. "Damn how do you do that? I feel like for the first time in my life I truly know myself and it feels right. But everything happened so soon!"
"Trust your heart child." She instructed me. "Allow yourself to be happy."
I nodded in agreement as Gaia started telling me about her childhood. I was thankful for the change in subject. Gaia had fled Canada as a young girl to avoid being placed on a reservation. Her travels led her to Haley and she ended up working for her. She told me that she knew early on that someday she would marry Robert, Haley's son. Robert had enlisted in the navy and for many years he traveled. When he retired he returned home to his mother. He fell in love with Gaia and even though she was much younger than him they married. She had never had the opportunity to know Eleanor since she had passed on years before Gaia had been born. But Gaia explained that Eleanor's presence could always be felt.
After Haley's death it was Robert who had placed the stone between their grave markers. Gaia and Robert decided to spend their twilight years traveling. Just at the time she thought she was about to become a crone she was surprised. It was not the change of life she was experiencing, she was pregnant. Her son Graham was Pauline's father. I badgered her constantly for more details the story was fascinating. I wanted to know more about Haley and Eleanor.
Night had fallen while we had been talking, our conversation ended when there was a knock on the door. Allison peeked her head into the room to let us know that dinner was ready. I assisted Gaia out to the family dinning room as Allison trailed behind us. Once Gaia was settled Allison pulled my aside.
"I put our bags in my old room." She explained. "I can't seem to convince anyone that we are not a couple."
"Don't worry about Allison." I tried to reassure her. "It's not like we haven't shared a bed before. Look I am sorry about teasing you on the drive up. I promise to keep my hands to myself. It will be fine." I hoped that she believed me.
"There's just one more thing." Allison whispered. "It's about the game tomorrow . . ."
"Girls please sit down." Jefferson insisted.
As we took our seats I could not help but notice how tense Allison was. Perhaps I should stay up late and wait until she is asleep before going up to her bedroom. Dinner was simply wonderful. Allison did not eat much since she was still feeling the effects of the clams from her birthday. I listened to the conversations during dinner. I could not believe how everyone exchanged stories. The banter never ceased during the meal. I was surprised to be included in the chatter. This was a real family! The way they laughed and talked over each other these people truly cared for one another. Growing up I wasn't allowed to talk during a meal. The only time the conversation became stilted was when David was mentioned. His absence had created an immeasurable void. Allison had seen him once or twice at the airport, only to run away at the sight of her.
The conversation turned quickly to politics. I was amazed by the people they knew and spoke of so casually. People that I had only read about in the papers. I started to feel out of my element when Jefferson noticed my discomfort. "Stephanie you're not a republican are you?" He asked sincerely.
"No sir." I answered quickly. "I can't afford to be."
My response received a round of laughter from my dinner companions. "Good then you can stay for dessert." Jefferson teased me. "And please call me Jefferson." He pointed out. "Now about the game tomorrow . . ."
"Oh God." Allison groaned as her body tensed up.
"Are you okay Sis?" Nicole asked from across the table. "It's not your stomach is it?"
"No." Allison answered in a shaky tone. "I'm fine really."
All eyes were on Allison who was squirming in her chair. "Allison what is it?" He father asked with concern.
"Nothing really." She lied.
"It must be something." He pushed. "Every time I mention the game you get all tense."
"What game?" I asked hoping to distract everyone's attention from Allison.
"The game Stephanie." Jefferson boasted proudly. "The only football game that matters. I have been taking my family to my alma mater's Thanksgiving, sorry Gaia, game since before little Ally could walk. In fact that is where I proposed to Pauline." Wow this guy really loves football.
Nicole suddenly dropped her fork and stared at me in horror. I turned to Allison who was seated to my right in hopes for some kind of explanation. She was far too busy chewing on her bottom lip to help me out. "One of the proudest moments of my life was when my baby told me she was going to law school at my alma mater." Jefferson continued unfazed by his daughter's discomfort.
"Oh so you're a Harvard man?" I said absently still not fully understanding the problem. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. "Harvard” I muttered to Allison. "So the game would be . . ."
"The annual Harvard vs. Yale game, of course." Jefferson advised me.
"Oh no." I whispered to Allison. "How bad is this?"
"I don't know it has never happened before." Allison answered through clenched teeth.
"Will someone please tell me what is going on?" Jefferson asked in concern.
I looked around to find everyone staring at us. I gave Allison's hand I gentle squeeze and decided to offer myself up as a sacrifice. Knowing that full well it was no big deal for Allison to bring home a woman. But a Yalie was quite a different story. "Jefferson I think I know what is going on." I began carefully. This could be a problem, Allison and I my get separate rooms yet."
"Well enlighten this old man." Jefferson urged me on.
"My undergraduate degree is from UConn." I explained.
"Fine school." Jefferson commended me.
"Thank you." I answered quickly then I took a deep breath before lowering the proverbial boom. "My advance degrees are from Yale."
There was an eerie silence. I held onto Allison's hand for dear life and wondered how much a taxi back to Haven would cost. "Now Pops I know how much the game means to you." Allison offered in my defense.
"Stephanie?" Jefferson addressed me in a stern voice.
"Yes Sir?" I squeaked.
"Have you ever been to the annual game?" He cross-examined me.
"No Sir." I answered honestly. "I don't really understand football."
"Then I will have the pleasure of explaining it to you tomorrow." He answered gently. "Oh but if Yale wins. . . which they won't you are walking home." He added with a laugh.
"Agreed Sir." I answer with relief.
"Stop calling me sir." He grumbled. "I can't believe this is what was worrying you Allison. I find your girl perfectly charming." He smiled at me.
"She's not my . . .” Allison started to protest. "never mind."
Everyone relaxed over dessert while Jefferson tried to teach me about the finer points of football and just why Harvard was going to crush Yale. After everyone had finished eating we cleared the table. Everyone including myself helped with the clean up process. I felt like part of the family as we all joked around in the kitchen. Then I helped Allison put Gaia to bed and retrieved Haley's papers that she had offered me to read. Nicole left for a meeting and the elder Kendell's excused themselves for the night.
I found myself looking for an excuse to stay downstairs until Allison was asleep. She didn't say a word as she took my hand in hers and led me upstairs to her bedroom.
Allison opened the door to her bedroom and allowed me to enter before her. The room was lit only by the fire blazing in the fireplace. In the middle of the room was a four-poster bed. I jumped slightly as I heard the door closing behind me. I placed the papers I was now gripping tightly on a bureau near the door. My palms were sweating as I just stood there feeling like a virgin on her wedding night.
"I will get the light." Allison said softly from behind me. I could only nod in response.
I spotted my overnight bag on the floor and picked it up wondering what I should do next. Allison's body brushed against mine as she passed me on her way to the nightstand. I swallowed hard as I watched her body bathed in firelight walking towards the nightstand. She reached for the lamp on the table and then stopped her movements. Allison turned to me and gazed at me with an intensity I had never seen before. I dropped my bag and crossed over to her quickly. She met me half way and without a word we found ourselves wrapped up in each other's arms. Our lips pressed together as our bodies met. The heat was unbelievable as our mouths parted and our tongues met dancing together with passion.
We gasped as we broke apart as the need to breath overcame us. "I'm terrified." I gasped. In response she placed her fingers gently on my lips and silenced my fears. "I love you." She whispered sweetly. "And I want to make love to you." She began to kiss my neck while her hands trailed down my sides. I felt her tugging my turtleneck out of my jeans and strong hands sliding up under the material. I arched my back as she cupped my breasts gently. Then suddenly her touch vanished and she stepped slightly away from me. I panicked for a brief moment before my fears were gently quieted with a tender kiss.
Allison lifted my shirt from my body and tossed it onto the floor. Then her hands found their way to my bare shoulders and I trembled from her touch. Allison pulled me towards her and wrapped me in her arms. I captured her lips and kissed her passionately. I felt my bra depart my body and fall to the floor. "How do you do that?" I moaned against her lips. She laughed lightly as she pulled her lips from mine. "You inspire me." She whispered hotly in my ear.
She looked at me as her hands ran down my face then lowered to caress my neck. My skin trembling from her touch. "You are so beautiful." She said softly as one hand descended further down and cupped my breast. Nimble fingers began to tease my nipple her eyes never leaving mine. I shuddered as I felt my nipple becoming erect. Her eyes closed slightly as she lowered her head and captured my nipple in her mouth. Teasing it slowly with her tongue and teeth. I moaned deeply as my head spun out of control. I ran my fingers through her dark hair and found myself pushing myself further into her mouth.
I thought I would collapse as she moved her mouth to my other breast and lavished it with the same attention. I could feel my passion growing between my legs as she feasted upon my breast. Her tongue moved from my breast and kissed and tasted it's way down my cleavage. Her hands covered my now aching breast and teased my nipples until I thought I would explode. I groaned deeply as Allison's mouth sampled my exposed skin moving across my chest down my ribs and lavishing attention to my abdomen. Her hands never leaving my breasts until she had sunk fully onto her knees.
My body went cold as her kisses ceased and her hands left me. I felt a surge of warmth as she began to unbutton my jeans. With each button my heart raced faster and faster. I felt the denim being gently pulled down my body. She paused briefly to remove my shoes and socks. Then she lowered my jeans down to my ankles and I eagerly stepped out of them. I stood there before her clad in nothing but my panties while she kissed her way up my thighs.
I opened my legs to her as she ran her strong determined hands over the sheer fabric of my panties. She looked up at me with a lustful gaze. The intensity of blue was so captivating it made me gasp in anticipation. I knew what she was asking. "Yes." I trembled not in fear but with desire. Slowly she slid my underwear down my thighs her mouth following their path. I stepped out of my panties and Allison's mouth began to retrace its path back up my body. I was on fire from her touch and shaking from the power of what was happening between us. I felt her hands hold me tightly as I opened myself up to her even further.
A cry escaped my lips as her warm breath blew gently across my blonde curls. Her tongue began to slowly tease me. "Please." I begged slightly embarrassed by my eagerness and wetness as I pulled her closer. I felt her tongue exploring my passion and I moaned as I felt it enter me. Her tongue parted me slowly and teased me as she plunged it in and out of my opening. I whimpered when it departed, only to moan once again as she began to taste me. "Oh Allison . . . yes." I growled as she thrust two fingers inside of me and captured my clit in her mouth.
Wrapping my fingers in her hair I pulled her further into me as my hips began to thrust against her. Her movements became more rapid and directed. My knees became weak as I gasped for air. Somehow she held me upright as my hips began to thrust wildly. I could feel my body trembling and was suddenly frightened. I leaned back to find a desk behind me. With one hand I held onto the desk tightly, while the other hand was firmly attached to the back of Allison's head.
I could feel one of Allison's arms wrapped tightly behind my back. I closed my eyes to keep the room from spinning while Allison's fingers and tongue quickened their pace. Shades of crimson filled my head as a strange buzzing began in my ears. My body began to shudder uncontrollably. My screams were trapped in my throat struggling to be free. With each thrust of my hips I was eager to feel more of what Allison had to offer. I could feel her responding to my neediness taking me deeper. I opened my eyes briefly and swooned at the sight of her crystal blue staring up at me from between my thighs. "OH God!!!!" I screamed my voice finally freed. Allison responded by sucking my throbbing clit harder. "Yes . . . oh . . . yes . . . Allison . . .." I screamed louder and louder as my body exploded in ecstasy. I was gasping for air as I began to collapse against the desk behind me. Allison laid her head gently against my stomach while her fingers remain inside of me. My body continued to tremble with the waves of aftershocks from our passion.
Allison began to kiss my stomach gently as her fingers began to tease me once again. I tried to catch my breath as her ministrations began once more. I reached the crest much faster this time. I screamed over and over again as she kept pleasing me. I was losing my grip on the desk and my body started to slide. Before I realized what was happening Allison had captured me in her arms. I was panting, trying to ground myself as she embraced me tighter. Allison kissed me gently and I tasted myself on her lips. "Was it? Did I please you?" She asked me tenderly.
"Are you joking?" I croaked out since my voice was spent. Allison simply held me tighter. "I don't think I can stand much longer." I offered weakly.
"Then I shall take you to bed." She moaned hotly in my ear. My legs began to tremble from her offer.
"Can't walk that far." I responded in a daze. Without a word she lowered my trembling body unto the plush carpeted floor and lay down beside me. She gently caressed my breast as I tried to control my breathing.
After a few moments of lying in her arms I began to regain my composure. "What are you thinking?" She asked as she kissed my brow. I snuggle in closer to her. "You'll think it is foolish." I answered shyly.
"Never." She cooed softly into my ear.
"It's just that I . . . thought I was frigid." I admitted in embarrassment.
She laughed at my admission. "Don't laugh." I pleaded as I swatted her playfully.
"I'm sorry." She responded in a serious tone. "Why would you think that?"
"I never experienced an orgasm before tonight." I swallowed hard as I tried to explain this.
"I think we dispelled that myth." She said proudly.
"Twice." I confirmed.
"Never?" She asked thoughtfully.
"I came close a couple of times." I confessed. "In high school with my best friend and then the other night with you."
"When I was asleep?" She laughed. I poked her in the ribs. "Sorry." She apologized and turned towards her looking thoughtfully into my eyes. "Stephanie." She began in a seductive tone. "I am just beginning. I'm going to make love to you until you scream out my name and beg me to stop."
I trembled at the thought of her proposition. "Is it always like this?" I asked nervously. "Is this what it is like between women?"
"Sometimes." She answered me soothingly. "It really depends on the women. There have been women I have been with who probably think that I was the worst lover they ever had."
"I find that very hard to believe." I said in amazement.
"Sometimes it comes down to emotion." Allison explained tenderly. "If your heart is not there or you just don't click physically then its just sex. I think we connect and as I said I want to make love to you."
"We do connect." I reassured her with a kiss. "It feels like you are a part of me."
"I know." She agreed as she brushed my lips tenderly.
"And will I make love to you?" I asked hopefully uncertain as to what the rules were.
"Yes." She purred. "Some women like only to please. Others prefer only to be pleased. Personally I like to give and to receive I find both very pleasing. For the moment I only wish to become lost in you. There is so much more I want to do with you."
"More?" I swallowed hard with anticipation. I wanted to ask her just what she had meant by more but my question was about to be answered as her lips met my own.
I felt her body on top of me as she once again began to tease my nipple with her tongue. I pulled her closer as she teased me with her teeth and tongue. I could feel her hand glide down the naked curves of my body. Once again I was driven by desire and opened myself for her. Her fingers were so strong and sure as she teased my wetness. Then slowly and gently she ran her thumb against my clit. She raised her head and looked deeply into my eyes. I felt as if she could see inside of me and that somehow she could see my soul. I could feel her fingers pressed against my opening. I arched my hips begging her to enter me. Gently her digits entered me her eyes never breaking contact with mine.
My center pushed against her hand demanding more as I pushed harder against her. She responded by increasing her movements with her fingers and thumb teasing me into a frenzy. All the while looking at me it was if I belonged to her and she to me. I did scream her name over and over again as she entered me over and over again. Each time I was certain that my body could not reach the same level of ecstasy. Each time Allison had proven me wrong.
I was amazed how my body continued begging for more and Allison never failed to answer my urging. My level of frenzy became overwhelming as I clawed at her back tearing her shirt in the process. She responded by removing the torn garment with one hand and offering one of her breast up to my eager mouth. I suckled her like a hungry new born. I groaned in disappointment when she removed her breast from my mouth. "Give that back." I panted. She simply smirked slyly in response as fingers pumped in and out of me in a steady rhythm.
Allison kissed me and began to lower herself down my body leaving kisses and goosebumps in her wake. She nestled herself between my thighs her fingers continued their steady movements and her tongue replaced her thumb flicking teasingly across my throbbing clit. I lost control and at one point consciousness as she feasted upon my desire. I regained my awareness as she held my body tightly as it rose steadily against her mouth. "No more." I pleaded as she purred gently and kissed the inside of my thigh. She pulled herself up my sensitive body and laid down beside me wrapping me up into her loving arms. "I need to catch my breath." I panted in exhaustion.
I lost track of time as we lay comfortably in one another's arms. I felt her heart beating and the warmth of her body as she held me. She pressed against my back and I could feel her nipples becoming erect. This was all of the encouragement that I needed. My body was once again in a full state of arousal. I turned to her and pressed my lips to hers and kissed her deeply. I loved the taste of her and my body craved to taste more of what she had to offer.
Boldly I took her by her naked shoulders and pressed her down onto the floor. Allison offered no resistance as my naked body pressed against her. I grew more eager as her hips arched in response to my touch. My hands trembled as I began to feel my way down every curve her gorgeous body had to offer. I felt the waistband of her jeans and I ran my hand across the well-worn material. I stopped suddenly feeling uncertain. "I don't know what to do." I admitted fearfully.
She gazed deeply into my green eyes and smiled. "Do whatever you want to do I trust you." She whispered confidently. "I'll tell you if you do something I don't like." I licked my lips and gazed at her half naked body. I lowered my head and began to circle her nipple with my tongue. I began to flick her nipple with my eager tongue. Her moans encouraged me on. I captured her breast in my mouth and sucked it slowly. "Harder." She begged and I filled her request and feasted upon her. Then I turned my attention to her other breast and lavished it with the same attention.
I was spurred on by her sounds and movements and I allowed my instincts to take over. I unzipped her pants and pulled them from her body as she raised her hips to assist me. Her underwear quickly followed. My focus turned to the dark patch nestled between her luscious long legs. I knew what I wanted . . . what I needed. I lowered my hand to her as she gasped in anticipation. I hesitated slightly her hand reached for mine sensing my hesitation. "Yes." She moaned as she guided my hand to her wetness. Her body welcomed my touch in so many ways.
My hand cupped her wetness as she ground herself into my palm. "Please . . ." She begged me. " . . . need you now . . .” She moaned loudly as my fingers entered her. My fingers began a slow and steady rhythm as they pumped in and out of her. With my thumb I circled her button as she had done to me. Incredibly, I discovered that as I pleased her I found myself increasing in my own desires. I now understood what Allison had meant by giving and receiving. My own desire was all consuming as I lowered myself to her. When I tasted her passion for the first time I almost came again. I fumbled at first but soon I found my way with her gentle encouragement. I held her body as she responded to my touch. I could hear her moaning and begging for more. I felt like I was a part of her as she cried out in ecstasy. I could not stop myself I wanted her to explode again. Spurred on by my desire my fingers began their insistent pace once again. I lift my head so I could watch her face as she went over the edge.
Despite the winter chill our bodies were covered in sweat. Allison reached for me and I climbed up her body. She pulled me to her and we kissed frantically. Our hands exploring each other’s body freely and urgently. Our legs entwined as our hips moved together in perfect rhythm. With urgency our bodies pushed harder and harder against one another's wetness. With in moments ours screams of release blended together. Exhausted we collapsed into each other's arms.
"I can hear your heart beating." I murmured as I held her tightly. "That's because you are near." She said quietly and then kissed me gently on the top of my head. "I cannot believe that this is happening." She sighed with relief. "All of those months of being so close to you and being afraid to touch you. Not being able to look into your eyes fearing that you would see how much I wanted you. How much I loved you. Every time we did touch it frightened me. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to let you go. Fearing that it would be the last time I would be able to hold you."
"And you were the one who wanted to wait until April." I teased her gently. "Oh by the way you owe me a shower massage." She laughed at my teasing. Then a sudden terrifying thought came to me. "Oh my God your parents!" I said suddenly recalling our passionate screaming.
"No worries." Allison reassured me. "Their room is in another wing of the house. Trust me they never heard a thing."
"Thank God." I relaxed slightly. "Another wing of the house? This is going to take some getting use to." I stood slowly on unsteady legs my head spinning slightly. I reached my hand out to her which she accepted eagerly and stood up equally unsteady. "Take me to bed." I instructed her.
"I like the way you say that." She purred as she led me gently over to the bed and drew back the covers. She lowered herself down onto the bed and drew me to her. I curled up next to her as she covered us with the blankets. Our exposed bodies touching proved to be far too much of a temptation and we began all over again. With each touch we wanted more and there was no stopping our desires controlled our actions. It wasn't until Allison noticed that the sun had already risen that we stopped. "We need to take a shower." Allison commented playfully. I simply smiled in response. "No funny business." She warned me.
Fortunately there was a private bathroom off of Allison's bedroom. The privacy proved to be too much of a temptation for both of us as we made love in the shower. Finally after the water turned cold we somehow managed to get clean. As we were drying ourselves it only took one look from Allison to find us making love on the bathroom floor. After a second more subdued and cold shower we managed to dress ourselves. It was no easy task and I was forced not to look at Allison. Knowing the slightest look from her would start my heart racing once again. The way I was feeling amazed me. Never before had I experienced such passion. To want someone so desperately. I knew in my heart it was not simply Allison's body that I craved; I yearned for her mind, body and soul.
When we arrived in the kitchen we were greeted by an all too knowing smirk from Nicole. Allison blushed as she poured coffee for the both of us. Our eyes met as she handed me the steaming mug, which I almost dropped from the intensity of her gaze. Somehow I managed to hold onto the mug and thanked her. Nicole just chuckled. "It is amazing that after a full night's sleep the two of you seem to be exhausted." She remarked sarcastically.
"Shut up." Allison yawned.
A short while later their parents joined us. They too seemed to be glowing. Allison and Nicole just rolled their eyes at the sight of them. After everyone had been properly caffeinated and dressed we were prepared to leave. Jessup, a neighbor, came over to stay with Gaia while we were out. He didn't seem to mind the time away from his wife's dinner preparations and in fact he seemed to look forward to it. Gaia obviously liked him even though she didn't seem to care for the idea of needing a sitter. After all, the woman was well over a hundred years old and even though her mind was a sharp a tack her body was not. We piled into the family Land Rover and made our way into Cambridge for the game.
Jefferson, true to his word guided me through the entire game. I think the other members of the family were relieved that Jefferson had someone he could take under his wing. This kept him occupied so they could sneak off and find refuge from the cold. It appeared that the only true fan of football was Jefferson. Thankfully, Yale lost. Although it was a close game, Harvard pulled it out with a field goal. I now knew more about football than I ever needed to. A small price to pay for spending time with Jefferson and the truth be told I enjoyed it. But it now appeared that I had become Jefferson's new football buddy.
After returning to Chestnut Hill dinner preparations were in full swing. "Thanks for sitting with Pops all morning." Allison said as she gave me a tender kiss on the lips. "I enjoyed it." I replied honestly.
"Good because he asked if it was okay if he invited you to more games." Allison chuckled.
"I'd like that." I answered with a smile.
"Really?" Allison seemed surprised.
"Yes really." I swatted her playfully. "I like sports and I like your Dad."
Allison gave me another tender peck on the lips. "Uh hum!" Nicole cleared her throat loudly. "No smooching in the kitchen you two! It's bad enough when I walk in on Mom and Dad." Allison simply muttered something in French and brushed past her sister.
"You know we need to teach you French since you'll be spending more time around here." Nicole pointed out.
"Don't you teach her anything." Allison growled from behind us.
Dinner was a wonderful affair with the food and conversation. The warmth that surrounded the table made me a little teary eyed. How truly wonderful it must have been to grow up with such love and sense of family. No wonder Allison and her siblings expected to find the same in their own relationships.
After dinner Allison and Nicole assumed the clean up duties. Their parents volunteered to help out at a shelter in Boston. I was pleased to learn that this was an activity that they participated in year round and not just for the holidays. Gaia was tired so Allison took her to her room. I was shooed from the kitchen by the Kendell sisters. I suspected that they wanted to talk in private. I went to the family room and began to sift through the papers that Gaia had given me the day before. There was a letter that interested me greatly. It was from a woman named Annabel Freewoman.
17 Charles Street
July 17th, 1880
My Dearest Eleanor,
I understand that you now travel by the name Sarah Moorehouse for reasons that I think that I can understand. My heart was full to see you alive and well. I had heard that you had passed on when the union army burned Greenwood to the ground. Imagine my delight at learning that the rumors were false. Not to worry my dear friend I will not reveal your secret. I owe you so very much. Including my life. I remember those days working in the fields you were my only ray of sunshine. You kept your brother from taking my virtue and opened the door of knowledge. If you had not taught me to read and write the good Lord knows that even this simple correspondence would not be possible.
At the time I never fully understood the risk you were taking by teaching us the skill of reading. Now I know that your generosity could have cost you your life. Possessing this skill made life easier for me once I found my way North.
You also taught me to love. We were so very young when we discovered our passion. Do not worry my sweet I know that your heart was never truly mine. I knew that each time you left for Baltimore there were others who warmed your bed. It was true for me as well.
I wanted to thank you for my freedom. I can never forget how you saved my sister and me. Stealing us away under the cover of darkness. I will cherish your final words to me as we parted for the last time. "Live well." And I have. Each day I greet the morning a little more slowly as the years pass, but I greet the morning and thank the good Lord for sending you into my life. And having found you again I can finally express my emotions. I thank you for your courage and kind heart.
No to worry my sweet I know your heart belongs to another. As does mine. Her name is Claudine and we have shared our lives for over ten years now. I can see that you and your woman share the same love as I carry for my sweet Claudine.
I cannot help but think that it was God's hand who orchestrated our chance encounter last evening. I thank him or whatever forces brought you back into my life. I would enjoy keeping our friendship. I know that you are not well and traveling is difficult. Your words can always reach me. Claudine and I own a small bakery on Charles Street.
How is this possible you ask? I can hear your curious mind at work already. Claudine is fair skinned and can easily pass for white. She lied when she came north and claimed to be a war widow. We both worked hard at the bakery, this is how we met. When the owner passed on I used our savings and the money you gave me when you sent me North to buy the shop from the owner's widow. Of course everyone assumes that I work for Claudine. If they only knew how demanding I can be on the poor woman.
As I said your words can reach me here since we live above our little shop. Your letters would be most welcome by both of us.
My best to you and your lady.
"Hey Blondie." Nicole called to me breaking me out of my musings. "What are you doing?"
"Just going through some stuff Gaia gave me." I answered as I looked up at her. "This one is a letter from a woman named Annabel Freewoman."
"She was quite a lady herself from what I understand." Nicole responded. "Her name before she ran away from the Ballister plantation was Annie Ballister. After she escaped, she made her way up to Boston and ran her own business with her lover. From the letters I have read she gave all of the credit to Eleanor. Of course, all Eleanor really did was help her start on her journey. In the end it was Annabel who was the one to survive leaving the South during a very troubling time."
"These women faced what must have seemed like insurmountable forces and yet somehow survived." I said absently. "When you think about it we freak out if the cable goes down. We are afraid of this whole Y2K business messing with our computers thinking that it could bring civilization to a stop. These women couldn't even vote and still they stood up and fought for their freedoms. The problems that I face in my life seem so insignificant in comparison."
"Couldn't imagine what they had to endure." Nicole agreed. "There are references to Stephan and the other white on the plantation taking what they wanted from the female slaves."
"Annabel and Eleanor were lovers at one time?" I asked.
"From what I gather." Nicole answered.
"That must have been what she meant when she caught her brother with Haley." I said my mind reeling with information. "Haley wrote that Eleanor said something about him still sniffing after her women. I get the impression that her brother must have been fully aware of her orientation."
"Hard to say." Nicole replied. "I get the impression that Eleanor had many lovers before settling down with Haley. Most of her own writings and what not including the family bible were lost when the plantation burnt down."
"That would explain the lack of information on her headstone." I said. "Back then the only records of births would have been in the family bible."
I pondered over this thought as I sifted through more papers. "Sorry." I apologized. "I just get caught up in these things."
"Don't worry about it." Nicole waved off my apology. "I'm use to it what with the folks and Allison. Growing up in household full of lawyers things can get pretty intense."
"Wait both your parents are lawyers?" I asked as Nicole nodded in response. "So your parents, Allison and David are all lawyers?"
"That's why I became a doctor." Nicole laughed. "I just had to be different."
"You're different all right." I teased her. "I'm confused by something. You are a resident? But the time line doesn't fit. Chris said that you were thrown out of med school."
"That snake." Nicole growled. "No I finished med school surprisingly enough. But I screwed up and no decent hospital wanted me. When I sobered up I was forced to start over in many ways. I was already a doctor I had passed the boards and everything. This is my second chance and I'm no fool I know if my last name wasn't Kendell I'd be selling hemorrhoid cream at CVS."
"I watched you in the emergency room." I confessed. "You are good at what you do."
"I love it." Nicole admitted. "I always assumed that I would go into private practice. But there is something about the ER. I think that is where I belong."
"The pressure?" I was slightly hesitant. "Aren't you worried that you might . . ."
"Drink." Nicole finished for me. "It was never the pressure that got to me. It was more the lack of it. Everyone seems to think that there was some kind of catalyst for me being a drunk. Truth is there was no trauma, no event that sent me off the deep end. I started drinking the way everyone does. At some point I couldn't tell you when, I was hooked. There is a chance that it's genetic from the Kendell side or just luck of the draw. Who knows? The truth is that like most alcoholics I just like to drink." She simply shrugged her shoulders at the thought. Nicole stopped looking for the why and only dealt with the reality of the situation. I had to admire her for that. "The Amazon told me to tell you that she is upstairs in the bedroom grading papers."
Allison is in the bedroom so why am I down here? I wondered to myself as I stood quickly. "Feel like taking a walk?" Nicole offered. "Umm . . .” I stammered. Nicole laughed as I blushed. "I know she's upstairs and the folks are out. Humor me." Nicole explained gently. "Besides making her wait will be good for her and I thought I told you to let her rest while she was recovering."
"Not my fault." I argued.
"That's not what I heard." Nicole teased.
"Oh and did you and your sister have a nice chat in the kitchen?" I inquired mockingly.
"Yes as a matter of fact we did." Nicole flashed that famous Kendell 100 watt smile at me. "Now get your coat and we'll take a walk around the grounds."
"A walk around the grounds?" I shook my head at her statement. "I don't know if I will ever get use to the way you people talk."
"What?" Nicole responded in confusion.
"Couldn't you just say let's go for a walk in the yard?"
"The yard? Huh." Nicole just shook her head and led me to gather our coats.
We went outside through the back. As I looked around I realized that the property extended past the pine trees I had seen through the kitchen windows. It looked more like a state park rather than someone's home. "Still want to call it a yard?" Nicole teased me.
"Wow!" I gasped. "I cannot begin to imagine what it was like to grow up with all of this." I made a sweeping motion with my arms.
"Doesn't guarantee you happiness sweet pea." Nicole pointed out thoughtfully.
We walked in silence for a short while taking in the refreshing cool night air as the light layer of snow crackled beneath our feet. I looked up into the clear winter sky and marveled at the stars. "Beautiful isn't?" Nicole remarked. "David would love this he knew every constellation." I said nothing knowing the gap David's absence had created. "When he first fell in with those people we all thought nothing of it." Nicole continued absently lost in her memories. "After all a little religion wasn't a bad thing. I was certainly in no position to throw stones. Then he started to change and become more withdrawn. Then he was gone and it was too late to save him."
I let Nicole set the pace of our walk and conversation. "The hell this family was enduring. It was one thing to lose a member of your family another to have them refuse to see you. Not knowing how they were or where they were." I thought to myself as Nicole simply trodded steadily lost in her own thoughts. "You should have seen us when we were kids." Nicole said proudly breaking the silence. "Allison always had to be the best and the brightest. And she was. David had to do everything she did. Whenever you saw Ally there was David tagging along behind her. Of course I had the both of them wrapped around my finger." Nicole laughed slightly at the thought. "When we were little, David and I would sneak out of our bedrooms and climb into to bed with Ally and beg her to read to us. She would argue but we always wore her down. She read to us almost every night of our childhoods and it had to be Winnie The Pooh. We never wanted to hear anything else." Nicole chuckled again.
"Is that why David called her Tigger?" I asked thinking of how sweet it must have been for those three little children.
"Yeah." Nicole answered with a smile. "He said she did Tigger's voice the best."
"She did the voices?" I smiled at the idea of stoic Allison Kendell doing voices for the characters of Winnie The Pooh.
"Yep." Nicole confirmed. "She did them all; Pooh, Owl, Piglet, the entire hundred acre woods. Looking back on it now it's hard to believe that she really isn't that much older than us. She'll make a great Mom someday."
"She will." I agreed whole-heartedly. "I can see her rolling around with the kids . . . what am I saying?" I stopped myself from thinking so far into the future.
"Why did you stop?" Nicole asked seeming to already understand.
"I think that it's a bit premature to start . . . you know making plans." I muttered in my defense. "The truth is that Allison and I haven't even been on a date yet."
"Oh please." Nicole laughed again. "I've been on thousands of dates that doesn't mean anything."
"That's a lot of men Nicole." I chastised her.
"Mostly." Nicole said with a shrug. "Anywho . . . " Nicole changed the subject as I wondered if she had just implied what I thought she did. " . . . several years ago I came home for Thanksgiving and I was drunk of course. Allison started to rip into me. I gave it right back to her only I was cruel. For some reason I seemed to enjoy hurting people when I was drinking. I said something about my being a drunk, David was dysfunctional and Allison was a dyke. The three d's I like to call it and somehow I thought it was funny. I started up about David again and that was it. Allison and I got into it big time. I could say whatever I wanted about her but David was off limits."
"It must have been horrible." I said quietly.
"It was." Nicole confirmed. "Allison ended up tossing me out of the house during the turkey dinner. I started to rant about how she was a hotshot lawyer with a beautiful girlfriend yadayadayada. I was cruel. Imagine my surprise when Allison pointed out that not only wasn't she a lawyer but she and Chris had split up. She was going to school and living with Mom and Dad. Who knew right?" I just nodded in agreement. "Apparently I did and simply forgot that all this happened over a year ago. Somehow I lost an entire year of my life."
"Is that when you stopped drinking?" I asked carefully.
No." Nicole sighed heavily. "It was a almost a year later. I broke into the house thinking no one was home. I needed money I was pretty much living on the streets at that point. I was going through Allison's things looking for money when I found a tattered copy of Winnie The Pooh. That was it. Allison found me curled up clutching that book to my chest and crying like a baby. I will never forget how truly frighten she looked at that moment. The only thing I could say was Ally I need help. She took me to my first meeting that night. So why is she telling me all of this you ask?"
"No." I answered. "I think I know why."
"My sister means the world to me and I almost lost her once." Nicole stated firmly.
"And if I break her heart you will break my legs." I answered strongly.
"No." Nicole laughed slightly. "I'll send Tia Maria over with her cast iron frying pan." I could tell by the tone of her voice and the look on her face that Nicole was very serious. I also had little doubt that Mrs. Giavanni would not hesitate to chase me around with her well-worn cast iron skillet if I hurt her favorite niece.
"Lucky for me that I am madly in love with your sister and would never do anything to hurt her." I said firmly hoping to calm her fears and save my hide. "I'm not worried about you, just letting you know how I feel. " Nicole responded with a reassuring smile. "Stephanie I can see in your eyes every time you look at her just how deeply you love my sister. Don't let her screw this up. I know she seems like a strong woman but truth be told at times she can be an emotional coward."
I allowed her words to sink in as I thought back to events at the hospital and how truly frightened Allison was. We walked in silence enjoying the night until the need for warmth became overwhelming. We made our way back to the house and Nicole left to get ready for her shift at the hospital. It would appear that late nights and holidays were a part of Nicole's retribution.
Jefferson and Pauline arrived home exhausted from their duties at the shelter. Nicole's ride arrived and she said her good nights to all of us. As she explained to her parents not worry and that she would be home by Saturday morning. I was now eager to rejoin Allison upstairs in the bedroom. "Stephanie." Pauline called out to me. "Jefferson and I were just going to enoy some hot chocolate by the fire come join us." It was not a request.
I put my overactive libido on hold and agreed. Knowing that I was about to receive more grilling regarding my intensions from my future in laws. I couldn't blame them. I wish that I had someone in my life who cared that much for me. Perhaps I do and she was waiting upstairs for me right at this moment. "Maybe she is in bed naked. Stop that you are sitting with her parents you little pig." I watched as Jefferson stoked the fire and Pauline entered with a carafe filled with hot chocolate and three very large mugs. "Should I get Allison?" I asked hopefully not looking forward to being double-teamed by her parents.
"Let her relax I'm certain she could use it after being so sick." Pauline said in a soothing voice as she poured the hot chocolate and handed a steaming mug to me. I accepted the beverage with shaky hands. "Relax Stephanie." Pauline smiled as her blue eyes twinkled. "We are not going to interrogate you."
"We aren't?" Jefferson teased me with a false scowl.
"Jefferson." His wife cautioned him. "You'll have to excuse him Stephanie. You know that when the girls started dating he decided that it would funny to be cleaning his rifle when their young men arrived to pick them up."
"Rifle?" I gasped as the elder Kendell's chuckled.
"Pauline you are scaring the poor girl." Jefferson chastised his wife. "Relax Stephanie and drink your hot chocolate and I promise not to bring out any firearms." I relaxed slightly at his teasing.
"Now as I was saying." Pauline began as she lowered herself onto the large comfortable sofa and I found myself sitting between the two of them. I suddenly felt very helpless as I realized to I was trapped between the two attorneys. "We are not going to interrogate you. I am quite certain that our little Nicole has already done that. The girls are very overprotective of one another." Pauline pointed out. "Plus I had a chat with Gaia she told me that you are joining the family. I've learned to trust what my grandmother tells me."
"Okay." I responded as I sipped my hot chocolate carefully.
"We wanted to thank you for taking such good care of Allison while she was ill." Pauline patted my arm gently. "Nicole told us that if it wasn't for you the doctors would have admitted her."
"I wouldn't have let that happen." I answered in a determined tone.
"We know and we thank you for that." Pauline said tenderly. "Did either of the girls explain to you why Allison is afraid of staying in the hospital over night?"
"No and I didn't want to pry." I answered. "I just wanted what was best for Allison."
"I'm very pleased to hear that." Pauline said and sipped her hot chocolate slowly.
"We were on vacation." Jefferson began slowly his dark eyes tearing up slightly at the memory. "It was a little town in upstate New York the kids were little and it was winter time. We thought that a nice walk by the lake in the snow would be fun."
"We only turned away for a moment." Pauline said absently and then shook her head bringing herself back to the present. "Those are some of the words parents fear the most. Someday you'll understand what I mean. When we looked around the kids were gone."
"When we found them all hell had broken loose." Jefferson finished for Pauline. "Nikki and David had somehow wandered out onto the lake. Allison went after them somehow she understood it was dangerous to walk on the ice that time of year."
"She got them to safety." Pauline picked up for her husband. "But the ice cracked and she fell through and was trapped underneath."
"You must have been terrified." I gasped at the thought of poor Allison being trapped in the icy water.
"To say the least." Pauline confirmed. "We managed somehow to get her out and rush her to the hospital. It was a small hospital and they adhered very strictly to their policies. David and Nicole were not allowed to visit and Jefferson and I were not allowed to stay once visiting hours were over. We wanted to fight them but since it was only for few nights we gave in. We had no idea how truly frightened Allison was since true to her nature she put up a brave front. All she wanted to know was that David and Nikki were all right. She didn't believe us when we told that they were fine since she wasn't allowed to see them. Stephanie she was only seven years old and left alone at night she was sick, and terrified. We didn't understand how painful it had been for her until after she had been released."
"Those bastards." I blurted out before I could stop myself. "I'm sorry." I apologized quickly for my out burst.
"Why?" Jefferson comforted me. "They were bastards. All they had to do was let one of us stay with her or allow her to see her brother and sister. Instead they let a frighten little girl cry all night without any comfort."
"Stephanie I'm curious about something?" Pauline began carefully. "You never talk about your family. Why is that?"
"I'm an orphan." I explained calmly. "I lost both my parents at a young age and was raised by my grandmother. I lost her a few years ago. I never had any brothers or sisters so . . ."
"I'm so sorry Stephanie I shouldn’t have pried." Pauline apologized quickly.
"I'm not. Everyone here has been so nice to me." I replied honestly. "I don't want to step on any toes here but you have really made me feel like a part of the family. And since everyone seems to so upfront about everything, I feel as if I should be too."
"We can be brutally honest to say the least." Pauline laughed lightly.
"That's my fault." Jefferson confessed. "I grew up in a household that never talked about anything. Secrets were kept and no one was happy. Then I met Pauline and saw what a real family could be. I never lie about my children's lives. I'm proud of all three of them warts and all. We don't keep secrets and sometimes it can be overwhelming but my children can always tell us everything."
"Except that one of your dinner guests went to Yale." I teased.
Jefferson laughed heartily at my statement and we talked for a little while longer. I left the two of them snuggling by the fire and made my way upstairs. I found Allison deep in thought and covered with papers. "I was beginning to worry about you." She remarked softly without looking up.
"I was with your family." I answered her as I gazed at her body illuminated by the light of the fire.
"They really like you." She said with a smile.
"I like them too." I answered softly thinking about how much I wanted to kiss her and how nice it was not to have to second-guess that emotion.
"I am amazed that some of these kids got into College in the first place." She commented as she shuffled her paperwork.
"How is it going?" I asked stealing a glance at her cleavage that was slightly exposed.
"Almost finished." She answered.
"Good." I responded with a sly grin.
She looked up at me and smiled her eyes were clouded with passion. A wave of heat rushed over me as she pushed the paperwork aside and held out her hand to me. I felt a spark as our fingers touched and watched in amusement as she blushed slightly. Allison pulled me onto her lap and I straddled her hips my hands rested comfortable on her broad shoulders. I ran my finger across her soft inviting lips as she sighed deeply. I licked my lips unconsciously thinking only about how her lips would taste. Our kisses were magic. Everything about us seemed to fit like a puzzle finally finding it's missing pieces.
"We really should get some sleep." She suggested softly in between tasting my lips and neck.
"Of course." I answered in a sultry tone pulling away from her slightly. I lifted my sweater from my body as she watched me intently. Slowly I undid each of the buttons of my oxford shirt her eyes never leaving the motions of my fingers. Finally, I removed my bra and exposed myself to her. I gently cupped one of my breasts and offered it to her. She gently accepted my offer her fingers exploring the curve of my breast. I moaned with excitement when her tongue finally greeted my skin. When she finally took my breast into her mouth all thoughts of sleeping were pushed aside.
After exploring one another with our hands and mouths we found ourselves naked still on top of the bed covers with our clothing surrounding us. Allison's long body stretched across mine as my hands caressed her back slipping down the length of her body. She shifted slightly to accommodate the differences in our sizes. I found myself opening to her as she settled in between my firm thighs. We both moaned quietly as the wetness of our passions met.
My green eyes captured her blue ones and I smiled as our bodies began to move together. I clasped her firm cheeks and pressed her deeper into me. Our movements were gentle as our clits danced together and for the first time I knew that our dance would not be interrupted. There was only the two of us at this moment in time. I knew I had found my way home and my home was here in this woman's arms. "I love you." I whispered my eyes never breaking contact with hers. "Say it again." She whispered in return as our sweet gentle movements continued. "I love you Allison." I moaned as I felt our damp curls gently caress. "I love you Stephanie and I never want to let you go." Allison offered in return.
There was no hurriedness to our movements as our hips moved in rhythm. No all too consuming fire. There was simply our bodies moving together in a slow sensual dance. My heart was racing as passion grew I pressed her even further into me our clits tingling from the contact. Our movements increasing slightly our eyes locked as the fire grew. We crested and fell together holding each other tightly as our bodies merged into one. Making love with this woman on that night had been so sweet and gentle. No crashing and taking no need to possess the other. We simply touched and exploded from the emotions that we shared at that moment. I almost cried from the intensity we had just shared as we climbed under the covers and wrapped arms around each other drifting off to sleep comforted by the beating of the other's heart.
When I awoke the next morning I found myself wrapped in Allison's arms with my head lying gently on her chest. I laid there listening to her steady breathing. I felt her stir slightly then her fingertips running down my back. I looked up to find myself captured once again in a sea of blue. "Good morning." She whispered as she placed a tender kiss on my lips. I lifted my hand to her face and gently traced the outline of her jaw. "Good morning. Sleep well?" I asked as I snuggled in closer to her. "Hmm." She sighed contently closing her eyes as a blissful smile crossed her lips.
Those lips proved to be far too tempting to resist. I had only intended a simple good morning kiss. Nothing was ever simple between us as I found myself quickly deepening the kiss. I felt her body began to respond and soon I found myself on top of her. Our bodies melted together in a demanding urgency. I couldn't wait last night had been about a gentle sharing of our souls. This morning however was all about the driving passion and lust her touch inspired within me. I ran my hand down the length of her gorgeous body and brushed her dark triangle. The wetness pooled between her thighs sent me over the top. With two fingers I teased her silky folds as she opened herself to my touch. I eagerly accepted her offer as my hand cupped her mound we were both ready and I knew what we both wanted. I was inside of her before I realized it. Her hips greeted my touch as I quickly increased my motions.
I grew more excited as her body rose against my hand. I moaned as I felt her hand greeting my own wetness. Our bodies rocked in harmony. Despite the coolness of the morning air our bodies were covered in a blanket of sweat. "Stephanie!" She cried out as her body arched off of the bed. I followed her quickly over the edge and collapsed against her.
We laid together riding out the pleasant aftershocks of our passionate union. She held me tenderly as our breathing slowly returned to normal and our ability to speak returned. "We should go downstairs and have breakfast." Allison suggested as she held me tightly. "I prefer breakfast in bed." I growled as I began to kiss the length of her body. She eagerly allowed me to taste her. I feasted upon her until she screamed out my name. I pulled myself up and climbed the length of her body. I kissed her quickly on the lips. "Now we can go downstairs." I said playfully. She just smiled sweetly. I never saw it coming as she flipped me over and turned her body. Laying side by side her mouth buried in my wetness and mine in hers. Our tongues tasting each other as fingers probed. I could hear her moaning from between my thighs as I screamed her name into her wetness.
Sometime later after a very short yet amusing shower we found ourselves dressed and finally entering the family kitchen for breakfast. "You missed breakfast." Pauline commented dryly we simply blushed in response. "If you want something you will have to cook."
Allison simply nodded to her mother and began to fix us breakfast while I put on a fresh pot of coffee. Gaia watched us carefully and smiled at our playful exchange.
"Who's in the gym?" Allison asked curiously.
"The gym?" I muttered under my breath.
"Nicole." Pauline answered in a concerned tone.
"I thought she was working today?" Allison pressed.
"She has to go back in but she has some down time for awhile." Pauline explained thoughtfully.
"What's wrong?" Allison pushed.
"She won't say." Pauline answered.
"How long has she been at it?" Allison sighed deeply.
"Over an hour." Pauline responded sadly.
I watched as Allison went over to the built in refrigerator and removed a bottle of Gatorade. "I'm going to just check on her." Allison explained dryly. Her movements were cut off by the sound of Gaia's voice. "No send Stephanie."
"Pourquoi?" Allison questioned her curiously. Gaia refused to answer and Allison sighed heavily and handed me the bottle she was holding and pointed me towards the hallway. "You're up. Second door on the right and down the stairs." Allison explained.
"And just what should I do when I get there?" I asked in a panic. Allison simply shrugged her shoulders in confusion. "Is Gaia ever wrong?" I pleaded uncomfortable with whole idea of invading Nicole's space.
"Never." Allison assured me.
"Well if she's right about this one I think instead of going to a football game together your Dad and I should take Gaia to the track." I joked as I nervously clutched the bottle I was holding. Allison chuckled lightly and gave me a tender kiss.
I made my way down the staircase to find a full gym complete with free weights, nautilus equipments, punching bag and a sauna. I trodded carefully across the matted floor and watched in amazement as Nicole worked out her frustrations on the heavy bag suspended from the ceiling. My fear dissipated when something caught my eye as Nicole's leg swung around and connected with the bag. "You're not distributing your weight properly." I said matter of factly.
"What!" Nicole snapped angrily as she turned to me with a feral gleam in her eyes.
"Your balance is all over the place." I commented not feeling the slightest bit fearful of the anger in her eyes. The anger disappeared knowing I had called her bluff.
"Whatever." She shrugged and I handed her the bottle of Gatorade. "Thanks." She accepted my offer and drank down the blue liquid quickly. She set the bottle down and unstrapped her sparring gloves. "So how'd you end up drawing the short straw?"
"Maybe I just missed you." I answered causally.
"Should Allison be worried?" Nicole teased.
I just shrugged once again ignoring her. "Nice staffs." I commented as I noted the collection on the wall. "So who's the expert with them?" I made idle conversation hoping that she would take the bait. If she possessed half of the competitive streak her sister did it wouldn't take long.
"Both Ally and I." Nicole answered trying not to reveal anything.
"Tae Kwan Do?" I inquired.
"Yes." Nicole was beginning to become more interested.
"I am." Nicole asserted.
"Really?" I baited her.
"Yes." Nicole answered angrily. "I have better control over lowering my center of gravity."
"Huh." I snorted.
"I do." She protested.
"Not from what I just saw." I toyed with her.
"I was upset." Nicole flared. "Gotcha." She blew out an exhausted breath and hung her head. "Very good. " She said finally. "I lost a patient last night . . . suicide. Twenty Seven year old kid who couldn't understand that things can get better. It hit me hard and I needed to blow off some steam." She admitted sadly.
"I'm sorry." I comforted her.
"Thanks." She smiled slightly. "Oh and for the record I am better than Allison."
"Since you're a big ole straight girl I'm going to assume that we are still talking about staffs." I teased her as she flashed me a cocky grin. "You little fence hopper you." I gasped knowing I had hit the nail on the head.
"You lesbians always have to put a label on things." She chided me playfully. "So you ever spar . . . with staffs I mean?"
"Once or twice." I lied.
"Uh huh." Nicole wasn't buying it. "Grab a staff." I smiled as I made my way over to wall and selected a staff and carefully weighed it's balance. Nicole selected a staff as well and went through some basic warm up moves. I could tell by the ease and grace she maneuvered with that she would be a formidable opponent.
I just smiled sweetly as she got into position. "You're going to kick my ass aren't you?" She said plainly. "Who me?" I said innocently and batted my eyes for effect. "Oh yeah I'm in trouble." Nicole laughed and I was pleased to see she was trained well enough not to let my size fool her. The match started out evenly enough and I had to admit that Nicole was good. "So have you and Allison ever gone after the same girl?" I asked as I deflected one of her blows.
"Nope." She grunted as she went on the defensive and blocked my advance. "Most of the time I'm attracted to men."
"Good to know." I answered as I spun my body and blocked her swing on my right. "It is a little upsetting to come out at my age to find that my girlfriend's sister has slept with more women than I have."
"These things happen." Nicole teased as she faked a move to my left and spun quickly in the opposite direction.
"So do these." I grunted as I read her move and dropped on one knee and spun my staff catching her by the ankles and taking her down in one fluid move. I stood and spun my staff triumphantly and held it above in victory.
"Damn." She groaned.
"What are you doing?" Allison's angry voice bellowed from the other side of the room. "Stephanie is picking on me." Nicole said in jest as I helped her up.
"Nicole you know better than this?" Allison rushed towards her sister.
"Allison?" Nicole protested. "She started it." Allison just sneered at her younger sister as she placed a protective arm around me. "She did." Nicole argued. "She called me a name." Nicole whined. "She called me a fence hopper." Nicole pouted.
are." Allison retorted. "Hey where did you learn
that?" Allison asked me
"I think I have a boo boo." I changed the subject holding up my finger, which she kissed gently to cure my imaginary injury.
"Ugh." Nicole groaned.
"You're not out of the woods yet." Allison warned her.
"But . . ." Nicole stammered as I stuck my tongue out at her.
"Nicole you know better than to spar with a beginner." Allison fumed. "Not at your level."
"Beginner?" Nicole scoffed. "Allison she beat me."
"Right." Allison pulled me closer.
"Allison she beat me." Nicole repeated more carefully.
"What?" Allison stammered in disbelief.
"Here." Nicole handed Allison her staff. "You try. Thanks for everything Stephanie I need to get cleaned up and get back to the hospital."
Allison stared at me with her mouth hanging open and I simply wiggled my eyebrows at her. "It was the only sport where my age didn't matter." I explained proudly. "Want to spar?" I suggested. "I don't think so." Allison laughed. "See that wall over there?" She pointed to the other end of the room to a wall covered with trophies. "Those are Nikki's."
"Yeah a got a ton of those myself in storage." I waved it off causally. Then I pulled Allison closer to me. "She lost a patient last night." I explained. "It hit her hard and she needed to blow off some steam."
"Wow." Allison sighed deeply. "I don't know how she does it?"
"She loves what she does." I said bluntly letting her know in my own way to just let Nicole do what she needs to do.
"Come on breakfast is ready." Allison nudged me.
The rest of the weekend preceded in much the same fashion. We spent time with the family. I was beginning to feel more and more at ease with the Kendell clan although their brutal honesty could be shocking at times. Growing up the person closest to me was my grandmother and she and I never really talked about anything. I did make one observation as a group the Kendell's shared almost everything but individually without the security of the family they could be very guarded with their emotions. I began to understand that their openness with me stemmed from the fact that I was viewed as a member of the family. It pleased me and yet frightened me as well.
I did score some extra points with Jefferson during a friendly game of touch football. Jefferson insisted that I be on his team so he could teach me more about the sport. Then when I proved that I could actually throw the ball he was thrilled beyond belief. Our team which consisted of Jefferson, Pauline and myself crushed Nicole, Allison and Jon-Michael, Pauline's brother who had dropped by one afternoon. We also played board games at night. I learned quickly not to play trivial pursuit with Allison. The woman was a wealth of useless knowledge. At bedtime each night Allison and I would rip each other's clothing off and drove one another to the brink of insanity. I felt like I was living in a dream world.
We spent the early hours of Sunday morning rolling around in bed. Then it was time to pack. For the first time during our visit we managed to make it downstairs in time for breakfast. We said our goodbyes and after being hugged and kissed by everyone at least twice we drove off. Allison did promise to call so they would know that we arrived home safely. The drive home was very pleasant despite the overwhelming traffic. We talked and laughed. We sang along to the music on the radio. "What happens when we get back to Haven?" I asked nervously at one point.
"Well that depends." Allison responded dryly.
"On?" I asked with trepidation.
"Have you finished grading your midterms?" Allison asked with a smile.
"Then I say we unpack the car." Allison offered in a sultry tone. "I call my parents and let them know we got home in one piece and then we could take advantage of arriving home early."
"How so?" I teased her as I ran my hand across her thigh.
"Hmm." Allison moaned. "If you keep doing that we might not make it back to Haven in one piece." Allison warned me. "What are you worried about?" Allison questioned me thoughtfully.
"That when we get back to reality that things will change." I confessed.
"They will." Allison said flatly.
"Oh." I sighed fearfully.
"In a good way Stephanie." Allison explained gently. "I am not going to lose you now trust me this time."
I simply smiled at her response and wished that the roads would suddenly open up. I was more than a little anxious to get home so I could take Allison to bed and make love to her all night long. I never thought I could feel this way about someone. I seemed to need to be with her constantly. I never believed that I could want sex this much. Finally we approached our street. I could feel my excitement growing as we approached the house. All I could think about was making love to Allison. Perhaps that is why I did not take notice of the car parked in front of our house. We pulled into the driveway and I stepped out of the car. Then I saw him. I gasped as I watched him approaching. "What is he doing here?" I thought fearfully.
I looked over at Allison in horror. She seemed to be unfettered by the sight of him. I on the other hand was dumbfounded. Suddenly and irrationally I felt exposed. This was proving to be far too surreal for me. I closed my eyes hoping that his image would simply vanish. When I reopened my eyes he was still there coming closer and closer.
"Peter what are you doing here?" I asked in a frightened tone. His face dropped at my question and his eyes began to tear up slightly. "Well I . . .” He began and then stopped when he looked over at Allison. I was irked by his expression. He looked at her as if she was the one who was intruding.
"I'll take our bags in." Allison offered calmly. "I need to call my parents and let them know that we got home." She grabbed our bags and started to walk away. She approached me and for a brief moment I was terrified that she might kiss me or show some other sign of affection. Confused by my reaction I just stood there. "Was I suddenly ashamed of her? No! I just did not want Peter to find out this way. I had hurt him enough."
"It's all right." Allison whispered to me tenderly. "I'll be waiting for you upstairs." She waved to Peter and went into the house.
"Peter?" I called to him as I felt myself becoming more and more uneasy about the situation. "Why are you here?"
"This is going to sound silly." He began softly. "I drove up here on Thursday."
"Thursday?" I gasped. "What have you been doing all of this time?"
"I got a room in town." He explained sheepishly. "At first I came here because I thought that you might be lying about having plans for the holiday. Then when I arrived and found you weren't home I was embarrassed. I had already told my parents that we could not make it down for Thanksgiving. I simply had nowhere to go. I drove over here every day hoping to find you."
"Peter . . .” I started to say as my heart was breaking for him.
"Don't say anything Stephanie." He said sadly. "I feel like a fool."
We went inside to the warmth of my apartment. I felt sorry for him as I watched him slump down onto my futon. I went into the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee. I wondered if he had now figured things out when he saw Allison and I together. As I watch the coffee drip into the glass pot I could hear Allison's footsteps above me. By the sounds I could tell exactly which room she was in and what she was doing. I knew when she put our bags onto her sofa. Funny how I didn't question that she took my belongings to her apartment. It just seemed like the natural thing to do. I knew when Allison was talking on the telephone. As I watched the coffee maker sputter out its last hiss I listened as Allison began to pace around her living room. I filled two cups of coffee and rejoined Peter. I told him to take off his coat, which he did reluctantly. I sipped my coffee as he stared into his cup.
I silently prayed that he would just say something so we could get this over with and I could go upstairs to be with my lover. A part of me felt guilty for thinking this and another part of me was angry with him for intruding. I had no idea which part of me would win out. "I must look like a total idiot." Peter said finally.
"No." I responded hoping in small way I was comforting him. I was torn trying between helping my best friend and listening to the sounds of my lover pacing frantically above us.
"You know I told myself that I was coming here so you wouldn't be alone." Peter said absently. "Truth is it was because I wanted to see you. I also I did not want to face my family. I wasn't comfortable knowing that when I arrived without you I would have to tell everyone all at once that you left me. When I came here and you were gone I felt like everything had just slipped away. Of course I assumed that you were with him."
"Him?" I asked in puzzlement realizing how quickly that option was no longer one that I considered.
"The guy the one you met when you first came to Haven." Peter explained. "I was relieved when I saw you with Allison." He smiled slightly as he said this.
He was clueless. Now this was one of the moments that I seemed to be facing a great deal lately. Everyone faces them. It's a small life changing choice. I was offered the perfect opportunity to tell him everything. He had most certainly opened the door for me. No matter how much more this was going to hurt him this time I would not remain silent. "Peter there is no him." I began carefully.
"I knew it." He sobbed as he slumped back looking like he had just gone ten rounds with a prizefighter and lost.
I took a deep breath as I took in his dissheveled appearance and I braced myself for one of the hardest things I would ever do. Then Peter did something I was completely unprepared for. He started to cry. I held him as he sobbed for over an hour as I whispered I'm sorry to him. Finally he collected himself and left with a promise that we would not lose touch with each other. I felt a pang of guilt as I watched him drive off. I hoped that I had made the right decision by not being completely honest with him.
By the sounds I could hear from Allison's apartment she too had watched Peter drive off. I stopped and listened to her footsteps as I locked up my apartment. She went from the living room directly into her bedroom. I climbed the staircase fearful that Allison would run away from me once again. I went to knock as I approached her door but I stopped and tried the doorknob first. I breathed a sigh of relief as it opened. I walked in and closed and locked the front door behind me. With each step I took as I approached her bedroom I prayed that my presence would be welcomed.
Upon entering the bedroom I found it dimly lit by candlelight and Allison in bed. "I'm sorry." I apologized to her. "He's having a hard time letting go."
"Don't be sorry." She answered in a comforting tone. "I cannot blame him. You're quite a woman Stephanie and I understand that at one time Peter was your best friend. How are you doing?"
"I'll be fine." I answered with a heart felt sigh.
"What can I do?" Allison asked me sweetly.
"Tell me that you are completely naked under those blankets." I said hopefully that the scene that surrounded was an invitation. Without a word Allison pulled back the bed covers and revealed her naked form to me. I licked my lips at the sight of her. It was a vision laid out in front of me. My heart raced as I crossed over to the bed stopping only to remove my shoes. In the few short months I had known this woman I went from being thoroughly convinced that I was completely incapable of sexual desire to being dominated by it. I joined Allison on the bed too eager to stop and undress myself. I kissed her warm mouth and began to explore her naked body. Nothing mattered at that moment. The only thing I wanted, the only thing I could think of, was how much I wanted to please her.
My mouth trailed an eager path across her neck as I pressed her body into my own. I blazed a trail across her skin needing to taste all of her. I slowed my motions as I reached her breasts; I wanted to take my time. As I teased her nipples between my fingers I realized that I was becoming obsessed with her breasts. Just the mere thought of them filled me with desire. I circled her already erected nipple with my tongue teasing it until I could feel Allison's hand on the back of my head lowering me to her. I pressed my body against hers harder as I took her breast into my mouth and feasted upon it. Then I lavished its twin with the same attention as I lowered my hand down her body and was happily greeted by her wetness.
"How can you be ready so fast." I moaned against her skin.
"I've been like this all morning." She groaned as I entered her. "More." She pleaded and I granted her requested eagerly entering her with a third digit.
I watched her body as she arched against my hand as was awestruck by her beauty as she climaxed. She collapsed against the bed in a heap as she pulled me with her. I kissed her brow gently as her body continued to tremble with the aftershocks of my touch. When her body finally stilled I removed myself from her. Lifting my fingers to my face, I inhaled the musky scent that was Allison. I brought my fingers to my lips and tasted her essence. She growled beneath me at the sight. I gazed into her smoky blue orbs as she pulled me to her. As we kissed our lips parted slightly and I could feel her entering my mouth. Her hands raced down my body and began to unbutton my pants and without hesitation she lowered them down my hips.
"Take me . . .” I pleaded as she teased me. "Now! I want you now!" I moaned my need for her and she responded to my needs. My words surprised me. There had been a time when I wouldn't have thought such things and now I found myself screaming them as I begged her to take me. "Harder." I found myself commanding her as I rode her hand. "That's it . . .” I groaned heavily as I grasped her wrist and plunged her deeper inside of me. With one final scream I collapsed on top of her. She pulled me into her arms and held me close to her naked body. I snuggled up to her still half dressed and not caring.
Once we caught our breath she placed two gentle fingers under my chin and lift my face to hers. "Let's go slower this time." She whispered as she kissed my lips tenderly. Allison rolled me on to my back and began to undress me very slowly stopping to kiss my body as my skin was revealed to her. I would halt her exploration so I could touch her with tender inviting caresses. "I love you." I murmured as my fingers touched her with a light feathery touch. I shivered from the mix of the cool air and her touch once my body was completely exposed. Allison pulled the bed covers around us.
Tucked in for the night even though it was still the middle of the afternoon we freely touched one another. With each touch and every kiss our desire grew. Our pace remained slow and gentle and this somehow proved too far more intoxicating to me. I touched and kissed every inch of her body and she did the same to me. At one point we just held one another kissing tenderly as our bodies pressed against each other. It was as if we had become an extension of the other. Our passionate exploration continued through out the evening. It must have been sometime around dawn when we found ourselves locked in an embrace gasping for air our hips rising in urgency one inside the other. Our tired voices letting one last scream out. Exhausted we curled up into one another's arms and drifted off to sleep.
Far too soon I was awaken by the sounds of Allison's alarm clock. I rolled over her sleeping form and slapped the snooze button harshly. As I rolled back over I caught a glimpse of her breast peeking out from under the comforter. I licked my lips hungrily as the temptation was proving to be too much for me. Slowly I ran my fingertips across her exposed nipple. It excited me as it became hard from my simple touch. Allison moaned deeply from her slumber. Surprised I pulled my hand away. "Don't stop." She whispered.
I pulled the comforter down slightly to reveal the object of my desire. I cast a shimmering glance at her before lowering my head to feast upon her. As I circled her nipple with my tongue the alarm clock screamed out once again. We both reached for the offending object. Allison managed to slam the snooze button. Giggling like children we retreated under the covers and began what I hoped would become our own morning ritual.
When the alarm clock announced its presence again we were far too busy to cease our activities. Somehow I dragged myself up from underneath the covers. While I fumbled for the clock we did not stop making love. Meaning only to silence the clock I somehow managed to send it crashing to floor. We were far too wrapped up in one another to notice we only cared that the clock had finally stopped interrupting us. It wasn't until much later when were dressed and ready to leave for work that we noticed the shattered remains of the alarm clock.
The first day back at work seem to be dragging on forever. I reluctantly separated from Allison so we could both go teach our classes. My students were pleased with their grades from the midterms. Not as pleased as I was knowing that I had reached them. Allison was busy playing catch up from the days she had missed. I saw very little of her as a result. I found myself staring at the clock willing it to move faster so Allison and I could go home. Then something occurred to me. It was time for lunch anyway. I grabbed my wallet and made way across campus to the campus store.
It was silly but I knew it was the right choice. I giggled slightly as the clerk put my purchase in a bag. "Hey Stephanie." Maureen called to me. I waved to her as she approached the cashier with her purchase. "How was your holiday?" She asked as the cashier rang up her purchase. "The best." I answered with a blush.
"Uh huh." She responded noticing my red cheeks. "How about some lunch?"
"Sounds great." I agreed.
We entered the Student's Common area and grabbed our trays and proceed to join the line in the cafeteria. Both having settled on a simple salad. We sat at the first open table we found. "So what do you get at the store?" Maureen inquired trying to make small talk.
"I needed a new alarm clock." I responded causally. "And what did you buy?"
"A book for Ben." She explained showing me the book on ancient Egypt.
"So your oldest is taking after Mom?" I said with a smile as I handed the book back to her.
"I think so." Maureen answered proudly. "Mort and I have talked about when the kids are older I'm going to start going on digs again. Ben should be old enough to go with me. If he's still interested that is."
"He will be." I answered with the same goofy smile that had been plastered on my face all morning.
"You never know." Maureen added. "Kids can change their interest from day to day."
"It would be nice to share it with him though." I offered then took a sip of my peach Snapple.
"Are you going to tell me why you look like you had sex all weekend?" Maureen asked bluntly as I choked on my beverage.
"You know it's your shyness I admire the most." I coughed as I checked my clothing to make sure I hadn't gotten any of my Snapple on them. Maureen simply stared at me and awaited an answer to her question. "Okay I had sex this weekend." I said trying to sound nonchalant about it.
"I knew it." Maureen smirked. "You are glowing. It's funny I had a meeting with a certain tall, dark and gorgeous co-worker of yours and she had the same glow about her."
"Fancy that." I teased.
"Come on share." Maureen pleaded with a pout.
"Share what?" I feigned innocence.
"Ugh." Maureen growled. "So did you?"
"Did I what?" I continued to torment her.
"Stephanie." She whined. "Come on give an old married woman a break here. Did you and Allison?" I simply blushed and wiggled my eyebrows at her inquiry. "Well it's about time." Maureen blew out a frustrated breath. "How are you going to handle her being in California?"
"I don't know." I groaned. "Four months is a long time and this all still so new for us."
"Mort and I went through the same thing." Maureen patted my hand gently. "We had just started dating and I was committed to go on a dig in Greece for the summer. It was hard but looked how well it worked out for us." She ended brightly.
"Thanks." I said with some relief.
"So how was it?" She asked happily.
"Maureen!" I gasped as I swatted her arm.
"How was what?" An all too familiar voice asked from behind us. Maureen's jaw dropped at the sight of Allison approaching the table. "Maureen was just asking . . .” I began as Maureen blushed furiously. "Oh yeah paybacks are a bitch Maureen."
"Stephanie!" Maureen tried to stop me.
"about our sex life." I finished much to the surprise of both of my companions. Maureen groaned and buried her face in her hands.
"What did you tell her?" Allison finally managed to squeak out.
"Well I was about to tell her it was good." I answered flatly.
"Good?" Allison questioned. "Is that all?"
"Hey I don't want her to get jealous." I smirked looking up into those captivatingly blue eyes. "The poor girl might have a heart attack if she knew how truly amazing you are in bed."
Allison stood beside me and caressed my cheek gently with her thumb. I leaned into her touch and gazed deeply into her eyes. "Yuck." Maureen scoffed. "I think I'm getting a cavity."
"See I told you she would be jealous." I pointed out.
"I have to go." Allison explained.
"Have you eaten?" I asked her firmly. She held up a cup of yogurt in response. "You need more than that." I informed her as she opened her mouth in an attempt to argue. "Allison go get a sandwich." I instructed her. She looked like she was going to put up a fight. "Go on." I ordered her as I shooed her away. Allison muttered something under breath as she slumped back to the food line.
Maureen chuckled at the sight of the normally stoic Allison being ordered around by little old me. "Okay now that she is gone tell me everything." Maureen instructed me eagerly.
"Everything?" I gasped.
"Well not everything." Maureen laughed. "But you know how did it finally happen?"
"We decided to spend the holiday with her family." I began.
"Wait you did it in her parents house?"
"Yeah." I sighed happily at the memory. "Fortunately it's a very big house. The whole drive down there Allison kept explaining how we shouldn't get involved until after she back from California. I don't know what deity to thank but we ended up sharing a bedroom."
"Let me guess all of Allison's plans flew right out the window." Maureen sighed happily. "I'm glad. I mean I understand that the timing sucks but the two of you belong together. So now that you are home how is going?"
"So far so good."
"Speaking of good." Maureen prodded.
"Amazing, earth shattering I think we broke the sound barrier more than once." I confessed blushing furiously.
After my lunch with Maureen the rest of the day dragged along slowly. Around five thirty Allison finally returned to our office. She just gave me a knowing smile and without a word I gathered up my belongings and walked with her down to the car. We drove home in a blissful silence. As we entered the foyer of the house I grabbed her fiercely and kissed her deeply. I couldn't wait any longer. I struggled to find my keys and dragged her into my apartment. I closed the door quickly behind us and pushed her up against it. I kissed her hard not hiding my desire as I pulled her overcoat off of her body. I continued to kiss her as I struggled to rid myself of my coat as well. I slid my thigh between her legs and began to grind our hips together.
I was on fire as I pulled her shirt out of her pants. I slid my hands up her taught abdomen and across her ribs feeling my way up under her bra. She moaned my name as my eager fingers brushed against her nipples. It was all the encouragement that I needed. I sank to my knees and unzipped her pants. I found myself yanking her slacks and underwear down her body allowing them to rest around her ankles. Allison opened herself up to me. Eagerly I took her into my mouth. I held her steadily as her body rocked. I could feel her hand pressing gently against the back of my head guiding me to take her deeper. I felt her need as she urged me on. I tasted her harder, deeper, faster bringing her closer to the edge. Her body began tremble as her hips arched and I knew she was close to her release. I held her tightly as my tongue plunged deeper inside of her. Allison clutched the doorknob for support. I felt the wave crash over her as she exploded against me. I held her trembling body as I kiss her thighs. Once I felt her body steady itself I stood and wrapped my arms around her waist and held her.
Within moments we had undressed one another and climbed under the covers of the futon. Time passed slowly as we made love. Each moment seemed frozen in time. With every touch my body craved more of what I had denied it for so very long. It was if I had locked my heart away and only Allison possessed the key.
Our days passed each filled with a passion I had never known existed. I talked to Peter more and he even came up to visit once while Allison was busy. I try to broach the subject of my homosexuality but once again Peter's sadness over our break up derailed the conversation. Perhaps I was avoiding the truth but for now it was working. Peter and I seemed to rebuilding our friendship.
One Friday afternoon I found myself sitting on Allison's lap in our office on campus. We were making out like a couple of teenagers. "Someone could walk in." Allison warned me in between kisses. "The door is shut." I protested as my hands began to freely explore her body. "Stephanie . . .” She pleaded. I placed my fingers on her lips and silenced her. I lifted myself up off her lap and took her hands in mine and pulled her into a standing position.
Allison looked at me curiously as I placed her hands on the desk and stood behind her. My hands roamed across her back enjoying the feel of the wool sweater she was wearing. "Stephanie?" Allison squeaked as my hands cupped her jean clad behind. "Sssh." I hushed her as my hands roamed to her hips and snaked around to the button of her pants. I pressed my center into her backside as I undid the button of her jeans and then slowly lowered the zipper. "We can't." She moaned as I lowered her jeans and underwear down her body.
"We can." I whispered huskily as my hands now caressed her exposed bottom
"Someone could walk in." Allison moaned as I urged her legs to open with my thigh. "We shouldn't not here . . .” Her words of protest were cut off by the sound of the zipper on my jeans being lowered.
I watched in amusement as she clutched her desk hard. I lowered my pants and underwear down my legs and lifted the hem of my black turtleneck slightly. I pressed my wetness into her naked cheeks as she buck her hips in response with a deep growl. "Do you want me to stop?" I teased increasing the rhythm of our movements.
"No." She answered heavily as her hips matched my movements. I grabbed her hips and bucked against her furiously we were both so close as our bodies began to tremble. "Ah yes baby." She moaned as she held onto her desk for dear life.
"Well I see the two of you have work out your differences." A voice said with a slightly bitter tone from across the room.
"Merde!" Allison's startled voice shouted as she pushed herself away from the desk and pulled up her pants. "Chris what are you doing here?" She growled as I hid behind her putting my own clothing back on.
"Enjoying the show." Chris chuckled lustfully.
"Don't you know how to knock?" Allison demanded as I continued to cower behind her.
"Hey I did knock." Chris offered defensively. "I guess you were too occupied to notice."
"Kill me now." I grumbled from behind Allison.
"Hi Stephanie." Chris chirped brightly seeming to enjoy my discomfort.
"Chris." I growled finally emerging from behind my lover I took my place on the corner of Allison's desk and folded my arms across my chest and glared at Chris.
"Chris are you here simply to fulfill your voyeuristic fantasies are is there a reason for this intrusion?" Allison questioned her heatedly.
"Why so hostile Ally?" Chris was beyond smug. "Look I just wanted to update you on the case. Not that there was ever anything to it in the first place. Half of Simon's bogus attempts to get even with the women in his wife's life couldn't get an indictment from the grand jury. Normally good old Simon could get a tic tack indicted."
"Chris." Allison pushed.
"Anywho." Chris continued. "I went to see Jessica and she refused to help me out. In fact she denied everything."
"I could have told you that would happen." Allison pointed out.
"I had to try." Chris explained. "Now Simon was another story he completely freaked when I went to see him. He also denied everything and then asked me just how well I knew his wife."
"You're surprised?" Allison goaded her.
"No." Chris responded frankly. "But I need to do this by the book this has the potential of becoming a huge scandal. I had to offer Simon an out. My next stop is a meeting with his boss."
"With the evidence you have collected that should just about wrap everything up." Allison agreed. "So tell me why the trip up here. You could have told me this on the telephone or by email?"
"I was coming here anyway." Chris offered. "I thought it would be fun to tell you in person and I was right." Chris added a wink to her last comment.
"I get it you have a hot date in Boston and now you can charge the firm for your trip." Allison grumbled.
"I have a class." I said as I looked at my watch in disgust. I grabbed my briefcase and kissed Allison deeply and then left the two women alone.
Later that night Allison and I were finally able to finish what we had started in the privacy of her bedroom. We collapsed in exhaustion and fell asleep in each other's arms. On Saturday morning I was awaken by Allison urging me to get dress. Not her usual morning request so I was intrigued as to just what my tall lover had in mind. Once dressed in warm clothing we drove north to a tree farm and went shopping for a Christmas tree for her apartment. Despite my objections to the size of the tree Allison had picked out she bought it and had it tied to the roof of the car. We struggled to get the monster up the staircase and into her apartment.
Once it was inside and Allison dug out the tree stand and her decorations we set about trying to get it into the stand only to discover what I had already pointed out. The tree was far too tall and reluctantly Allison was forced to cut it down to size. She grumbled and I made some coffee while casting out a few choices "I told you so" comments while she struggled with her task. As we decorated the tree I was excited at the prospect of spending the holiday with Allison. I also dreaded the arrival of Christmas knowing that soon after the holiday Allison would be on her way to California.
Once the tree was lit and decorated we sat on the sofa sipping champagne and watching the tiny white lights twinkle. "Beautiful." I said softly as I held her hand and looked at the tastefully decorated tree. "Yes it is." Allison answered honestly as I turned to find that her comment was direct towards me and not the scotch pine that had over taken her living room. "I love you." I said truthfully as I stared deeply into her eyes. Our loving making that night was slow and gentle and beyond words. Once again sleep was not in our future. We were awakened by the sounds of Tigger making bouncing noises from the clock I had bought for her. She would laugh like a child each time it went off. "I love this thing." She would say, as she would playfully slap the top of Tigger's head to hit the snooze button.
Our days began to fill up between teaching, work on the book, shopping and my new favorite past time of making love. One morning I awoke before the alarm and looked down at Allison's sleeping form. The beauty of her overwhelmed me and I found myself crying. Allison awoke to find me weeping beside her. "What's wrong?" She asked tenderly as she pulled me into a warm embrace. "I don't want you to go." I sobbed feeling foolish at my childish behavior. "I love you." She explained. "And I don't want to go. But I gave my word and it is too late to back out."
It was what I needed to hear. I needed to be reassured that she loved me. Silly but true. I loved her and I knew that as hard as it was I would wait for her. At times Allison had suggested that perhaps in her absence I should explore more of the gay community. I knew what she meant. I was not interested in dating other women and let her know that in no uncertain terms.
"I will just have to survive on your letters and phone calls oh don't forget about email." I would respond. I understood that her suggestions stemmed from her own fears. That perhaps since I was a newbie in the lesbian world I should explore while she was gone. That perhaps I would meet someone else. I quieted her fears as best I could. I knew that there could never be anyone else who would hold my heart the way that she does. We made plans for the holidays. We had decided to drive down to her parents on Christmas Eve and stay for the annual New Years celebration. We could then drive back on New Years day and this would allow us three days of uninterrupted bliss together before Allison would leave.
During the time leading up to the holiday we spent time with Mrs. Giavanni and helped her prepare for the holiday. I finally met our neighbor the lady cop. Althea was a small African American woman. The sight of her in uniform always made me smile. Out of uniform she looked like a teenager. But once she put on her blue uniform she was an impressive figure. Her girlfriend Linda was a stark contrast she looked like a Swedish supermodel. From the amount of time they spent together it looked as if Linda might be joining our little family soon. Mrs. Giavanni in her own way dropped hints regarding my place of residence. So pointed out that since I spent so much time at Allison's apartment that perhaps I should just move upstairs.
Neither Allison nor I responded to her prodding. We both knew with her leaving it was much too soon to be thinking about such a big step. Besides my little apartment proved to be more than a little handy on those days when we just could not wait until we got upstairs.
I never knew that life could be this wonderful. Allison and I seemed to complete one another in and out of bed. It was truly amazing. I had finished my Christmas shopping with the notable exception of Allison. I had gotten a few things for her stocking but I was at a complete loss as to what else to get for her. If we had simply remained friends it would have been easy. Now that we were lovers I found it difficult to find a gift that express how I felt. Everything I viewed seemed somehow far too materialistic. Besides what do you get for the woman who has everything? I wanted to get her something personal. Something that would always remind her of me. We left campus early one afternoon to take care of a multitude of errands that needed to be completed before Allison left town.
The first stop was the registry of motor vehicles. I needed to change my driver's license over from Connecticut to Massachusetts. After waiting endlessly and filling out stacks of paperwork. I finally was having my picture taken. Then we rushed over to Allison's insurance agent. She needed to have me listed as a driver if I was going to be using her car in her absence. I felt somewhat uncomfortable with this. But Allison was right I would be using her car mostly to run errands for Mrs. Giavanni and to drive to school until the warm weather returned. Since the car was less than a year old she needed to list me as a driver for extra protection.
After we finished this and some more tedious errands we walked around Boston. Something in a window of a small shop on Charles Street caught my eye. I managed to send Allison off to the CVS down the street by lying about needing more wrapping paper. The moment I saw her entering the store I quickly ducked into the small shop.
It was simple and yet beautiful just like Allison. A small onyx pendant set in silver. Perfect since Allison never wore gold. I did some haggling with the owner of the shop. He tried to sell me the pendant at an outrageous sum of money claiming that the piece was from the colonial period. I shot him an angry glare and explained my credentials and just why the colonial period wasn't a possibility he quickly dropped the price. I was more than a little pleased with myself as I tucked the box into my pocket I glanced back at the store and smiled when I noted the address. Seventeen Charles Street. It seems that the past was once again guiding me. I was startled when Allison touched my arm. "I'm sorry." I quickly gasped. "I was just looking at Annabel's shop." I lied. Allison smiled at me and we departed for home.
Finally my shopping was complete. On the drive back to Haven it began to snow. I looked over at Allison and smiled knowing that we would not be wrapping presents tonight. I said a silent thank you to Chris. What she had revealed about Allison and the weather proved to be delightfully accurate.
After we made love I was disappointed when Allison left the bed to make dinner. I was not in the mood for food. I just wanted more of her. Allison lasagna proved far too tempting to resist and I found myself happily accepting seconds. After dinner we wrapped ourselves up in a blanket on the sofa. As we sipped our wine and looked at the tree I became lost in thought. She would be gone soon.
"Penny for your thoughts." She whispered as she gently kissed my forehead.
"I'm going to miss you." I answered honestly.
"I know." She sighed. "I'll miss you as well. Maybe we could schedule some trips to see each other?"
"I couldn't afford that." I said sadly.
"What if you didn't have to pay rent?" Allison asked bluntly.
"Allison?" I wasn't prepared for that. "Your aunt needs the money." I protested.
"Hear me out." Allison held up her hand. "What if you were living here?" My eyes widen to the size of saucers and I stared at her blankly. "Let me explain before you panic. You'll be looking after my apartment anyway and the college has hired someone to fill in for me during my absence. She will need a place to stay. We could move your stuff up here and she can sublet your place."
I was confused a part of me wanted to jump up and down and do a happy dance. Yet there was another part of me that was terrified and uncomfortable at her suggestion. "What happens when you come home?" I asked hesitantly.
"Stephanie if for some reason our relationship does not survive our separation do you plan on staying downstairs from me?" Allison questioned me directly.
"No." I answered firmly. "It was hard enough on both of us before we started seeing each other. I couldn't go through that again. What happens if were are still together in April?"
"I don't doubt that we will be." Allison reassured me. "Look if when I come home it is too soon for us to be living together than we simply go back to the way it was. I have to admit I kind of enjoy be able to use your apartment when we can't wait to get upstairs."
I blushed recalling the numerous occasions that having a bed on the first floor provided a quick solution for our amorous adventures. "I don't know." I began slowly. I wanted to say yes knowing that what we shared would last forever. Yet there was something else nagging at me. That something was my pride. "Allison I just wouldn't feel comfortable with you paying my way." I finally confessed.
"I wouldn't be paying your way." Allison argued with a smile. "I would simply be paying the utilities. Which I do anyways. If it makes you feel better you can take over the telephone and cable bill. I can have it set up with my accountant."
"You have an accountant?" I asked in amazement.
"Of course." Allison replied simply. "I have to with my investments."
"Oh of course." I chuckled then I caught myself and sighed heavily. "I just don't want to feel like you are supporting me." I had to be honest it was the only thing keeping me from accepting her offer. I had worked my entire life to become independent.
"I wouldn't be." Allison protested. "You would be paying everything that isn't covered by the rent."
"But I wouldn't be paying any rent." I tried to reason with her.
"Because there is no rent to pay on this apartment." Allison countered. "Tia Maria would be receiving the same amount of money if I was staying in town."
"But you'll be paying rent in California." I offered.
"No I'm staying in faculty housing." Allison deflated my point quickly. "I'm house sitting for another Professor who will be on sabbatical. So it won't cost me a dime to live there." I listened to her argument and it made sense. "I have a newsflash for you Stephanie you make more money than I do. The only reason I have more money is because I invested well. The interest I make off of my portfolio cover this house, my car and help out my family. If I lost my job I would be in trouble just like everyone else."
"Okay." I agreed. "It's not like I ever use my apartment anymore. Most of my clothing is up here." I laughed. "I was just thinking about this joke Rita told me. What does a lesbian bring on a second date?"
"A UHaul." Allison laughed. "It's an old joke honey. Look we won't really be living together if that is what is bothering you. I am going to be on the other side of the country. And when I get home we can talk about our living arrangement."
"Well it would nice to save some money." I found myself agreeing. "Not to mention how much I love your apartment."
"So you're saying yes." Allison asked carefully.
"Yes." I answered as I leaned into her body. "Now kiss me." The kiss was sweet and gentle and quickly deepened into more as we invited one another to explore further. I was breathless as our lips parted. I began to fumble under the blanket and remove her clothing. "Don't you ever get enough?" She teased me as her hands began to roam my body. "Never." I replied breathlessly. "I could never get enough of you."
"Good." Allison moaned from my touch. "I love you."
"I love you too." I answered as I stopped my exploration and looked deeply into those baby blue eyes.
The following morning we moved my few belongings upstairs most of which took up residence in my office on the second floor. With savings in rent perhaps I would be able to buy my own car. It was the twenty third and classes were finally over. My only plans for the rest of the day was to make love to Allison. I wanted to make it last all night and commit her body to my memory. At times our lovemaking was rushed driven solely by a lust that neither of us could control. Other times we took everything very slowly wanting each moment to last forever. That night was a night to take things slowly. With each touch and every lingering kiss we were lost in each other. I remember thinking that I could spend an eternity just caressing her breasts.
The next morning I awoke blissfully as Allison lay sleeping beside me. I played with her tussled hair while she slept peacefully. I nuzzled my nose into her neck and inhaled her scent. I knew that Allison would not be awaking any time soon so reluctantly I climbed out of bed and threw on a pair of sweats and a T-shirt that belong to Allison. I loved wearing her clothes it was like carrying a part of her around with me. I made my way into the kitchen and brewed a pot of coffee. I ground a few vanilla beans in it as Allison did to bring out the flavor. While the coffee was brewing I dug out some of the papers that Gaia had given me and settled down onto the sofa with and began to read. Once the coffee was ready I retrieved a cup and returned to the bedroom. Allison was still fast asleep. I decided to read from Eleanor's diary. From her words I sensed that life did not always run as smoothly as Haley had viewed it.
I find it hard to rally the men after the loss we have endured over the past few days. My thoughts turn to my beloved Haley. I thank the good Lord that my injury was not serious. I will return to her. I also thank the Lord that my secret has remained just that . . . a secret. The men are restless perhaps a trip to Mrs. Moorehouse's will lift their spirits. It will be a long trek from Pennsylvania but the men deserve some entertainment. We have faced the Yankees and have been driven back each morn. Russell my second in command and my dearest friend and I fought bitterly today. I told him of my plans for our trip.
I revealed to him the true reason I wished to visit with Mrs. Moorehouse. I planned to take Haley as my wife. 'But lad you can not.' He scolded me. 'She's a whore.' His words had angered me so that I drew my sword without hesitation. 'I will thank you not to call her that!' I informed him. 'I am fond of the lady.' I will never know if it was the sincerity of my words or the tip of my blade pressed against his neck that made him apologize.
It hurt me to argue with him. I admire Russell in many ways. He is very much my elder. If it were not for my station in life it would be him leading this unit. I rely heavily upon his advice. We both fight for the south because this is our home. Neither of us supports slavery. Although our reasons differ greatly. I like our great leader General Lee feel that slavery is abhorrent. Russell like many others does not share my opinion. Russell's reasons are more practical. For a man of his station finding honest work is difficult in the south. Why pay a man to work when you can simply buy a slave who is forced to work for you. Russell came to this glorious land in hopes of finding a better life. The life he found was cold and unwelcoming. America although built entirely by foreigners did not welcome outsiders. Will this country ever grow to be what our forefathers fought for it to be?
Russell's harsh words had cut through me. I cannot help but believe that this conflict has made whores of all of us. I fight for a cause that I do not embrace in my heart. As the road to the end nears I am all too aware that the South will fall. As proud Southerners will we ever survive the defeat?
My feelings for Haley trouble me. I love her dearly as I have loved no other before her. The fact that there have been so many before her. Haley was angered when I told her of the number of women from my youth. The Boston Marriages are a simple tradition for my station. Most of my companions went on to marry appropriate suitors. I knew in my heart that this was not a road I would travel willingly. I followed my heart and it led me to Haley.
I accept our lives together but she often becomes jealous and angry over the fact that I have kept company with so many. I find that odd, since she has made her wages by entertaining men. If I see her again I will offer her my hand. Perhaps that will quiet her fears. It will quiet my own. For I know in my heart that there shall never be another for me.
It is her smile that keeps me going during these bloody days. At night I try to rest but faded echoes of the canons haunt my dreams. I pray that I will find peace in my beloved Haley's arms. For now I try to sleep. At dawn we bury the dead.
Eleanor's words seemed so troubled. I personally could see why Haley was troubled by Eleanor's past. In so many ways her suspicions mirrored my own. Allison had known so many women. Would she find someone new when she travels to California? Could I measure up to the passion she must have known in her life? Face it Chris alone must have been quite an education. Allison stirred slightly as I wondered if this beauty that lay beside me would eventually break my heart.
"Good Morning." She whispered as she looked up at me. "What are you doing?"
"I was just . . . working." I smiled at her loving expression. "No you won't hurt me I can see it in your eyes." I placed my coffee cup on the nightstand and placed Eleanor's diary on the floor. I rolled on top of Allison and kissed her gently. "Now I'm going to say good morning." I kissed my way down her neck. Encouraged by her moan I continued my journey tasting her skin. I found myself teasing her nipple with my tongue. I teased her further and the more I teased the tighter she held me. My fingers traced their way down her body. I could feel her opening herself. It was an invitation I could not refuse as I slid my fingers inside of her. Her wetness greeted my touch. Nothing excited me more than her passion. Just knowing that she wanted me could send me over the edge. I could feel her excitement growing and my fingers began thrusting harder. She screamed my name as her fingers dug into my back as she tried to hold on.
"I like the way you say Good Morning." She croaked breathlessly. "I still find it hard to believe that you are new at this."
"You inspire me." I answered with a smile as I snuggled up against her listening to the beating of her heart. "Would you like some breakfast?" I asked once she caught her breath. She didn't say a word as she smiled knowingly in response and lifted my face to hers and kissed me deeply. Within moments I was screaming her name as she feasted upon my wetness.
Later we finally managed to drag ourselves out of bed and into the shower. Meaning only to bath ourselves we soon found it impossible and made love once again. We finally finished our shower when the water turned icy cold. We dressed and packed the car with our bags and presents for the family. Then we took a casual stroll into town and had a real breakfast at the Java House. Upon returning home we went upstairs to rest before facing the holiday traffic.
I watched her profile as she absently ran her fingers through my hair. "Do you have any idea just how truly beautiful you are?" She asked me as she looked intently into my eyes. It was all I needed. I reached up and kissed her. Gently I lowered her down on the sofa. I began to unzip her jeans when a sound from downstairs startled me. There was someone knocking on my apartment door. I lifted my head and listened. "Stephanie?" I heard Peter calling as he knocked on my apartment door.
"Damn it." I scowled as I pulled myself up.
"What is he doing here?" Allison growled angrily.
I gazed down at her knowing that I wanted to finish what I had started. But I had to go and deal with Peter first. "I'm sorry." I apologized quickly. "I'll get rid of him."
"Don't be silly." Allison sighed as she stood and zipped up her pants. "He probably just wants to wish you a Merry Christmas. I'm sorry I was so sharp at first. I know that he must be having a hard time with this. I certainly would be. Why don't you invite him up?" She offered gallantly.
"What?" I stared at her in amazement.
"It might help him adjust to things." She explained thoughtfully. "You know seeing us together."
"Oh no! I knew things were going too well." I could not respond to her suggestion as I felt a full-fledged panic attack starting to grip my chest. I knew that Allison was not going to take this well. "Stephanie?" Allison called out to me. "Is there a problem?" She asked cautiously.
"No." I answered quickly. Perhaps too quickly. "Just let me talk to him." As I was saying this I could her Peter's footsteps ascending the staircase.
"Stephanie?" Allison began slowly. "He doesn't know about us does he?" Her voice was very calm and controlled perhaps slightly too controlled.
"No." I confessed.
"It's all right." Allison responded in the same overly calm tone that was beginning to worry me. "I understand."
"You do?" I responded with suspicion.
"Of course." Allison said calmly and caressed my arm reassuringly. "Finding out that you are gay must have been hard enough on him." I said nothing. I could not move. I could not think. I know that I hadn't betrayed her I did try to tell him. Yet Allison was not going to respond very well when I told her. "Oh my God!" She said sharply and there it was before I even told her she knew. "You didn't tell him!" Allison hissed in disgust. There it was all of her fear and doubts confirmed in a single moment.
Peter was knocking on her door and she was just staring at me in disbelief one step away from completely freaking out. "Allison." I began cautiously. "When I ended things with him back in October I explained that I was not in love with him which is the truth."
"But . . .” Allison struggled in a strained voice. I could tell that she fighting with herself not to explode. “. . I seem to recall that he assumed that there was someone else. You talk to him all of the time and he comes to visit. Since I'm going to assume that he thinks that this someone else is a man which I am mostly definitely not, Peter is going to think that there no one else in your life. Stephanie he probably thinks that in time the two of you will get back together."
"No." I argued. "I've told him repetitively that it is over. I'm going to tell him everything Allison. Just not right now."
"Don't." Allison snapped as she pulled away from me. "Are you ashamed of me?"
"No." I answered firmly and without hesitation.
"Are you ashamed of being gay?" Allison asked carefully.
"No." I responded again with the same firmness. "I've tried to tell him but he is just so hurt right now. I don't want to hurt him any more than I already have."
"Tell him." Allison ordered me sternly.
"On Christmas Eve?" I gasped in horror. I wasn't sure what had stunned me more that she had told me to do it now or that she had out and out ordered me to do it.
"Tell him." Allison repeated. "Trust me in the long run you will be doing him a favor."
"Allison let me handle this." I fought back. "I am going to tell him in my own way. But it won't be today." I will never forget the look on her face. It was if I had slapped her. I couldn't bear to see her hurt this way. I had to turn away from her. I opened the door to find Peter standing on the other side. "Hey." He said with a goofy grin. "I was just about to knock. I had a feeling that you would be up here. I think it's really nice that you have a neighbor you can be buddies with." I grabbed him by the arm harshly and led him back down the staircase. This was all going very badly. I knew what Allison was thinking and why she had snapped at me. It must have seemed like a bad flashback. Right now the woman I love was upstairs in a panic and her next course of action would be to run. I had to deal with Peter quickly and then go back upstairs and reassure my lover that I was not like the others.
When Peter and I reached the bottom of the staircase I spun him around. "Peter, what are you doing here?" I demanded harshly.
"Stephanie." He said gently. "Oh please just wish me a merry Christmas and go!" My mind pleaded helplessly. "I want us to stop playing games." He continued. "Oh no." I felt the bile rising in my throat. "When we first split up you led me to believe that there was someone else. But it is pretty obvious that isn't the truth. Look I understand we met in college and I can understand that you needed time apart."
"Oh my God Allison was right!" As the words screamed through my mind I watched in horror as he got down on one knee. "I was planning on doing this in private." He laughed nervously and looked up at the staircase. "But here goes." I followed his eyes and was horrified to see her standing there. Her face was ashen as she leaned up against the wall for support. Her eyes seemed to be begging me to stop him and tell him the truth.
"Stephanie." Peter called for my attention. I turned and met his gaze. There he was kneeling on the floor with a jewelry box opened to reveal a diamond ring. "Marry me." Was all he said.
I burst into tears. This was horrible. "Darling say yes." He pleaded as I wept. "Allison help me out here." He implored her. I turned to her fearfully. She just turned away and walked back upstairs slamming her apartment door behind her. "Stephanie?" Peter called to me once again.
"Peter get up." I pleaded as I wiped the tears from my eyes and then took his hand gently as he stood beside me. I seated him on the staircase. "Peter." I began slowly. "I'm sorry but the answer is no." His smile quickly vanished as he put the ring back inside his coat pocket. "I'm sorry." I repeated. "I love you. I do you know that." I said as I looked into his wounded eyes. "But I'm not in love with you." He slowly rose to his feet.
"I feel like a fool." He whispered.
I stood behind him and placed my hands on his shoulders. "Peter there is something I need to tell you." I said trying to calm myself. "I didn't fully understand my feelings for you until I came to understand myself. Peter I'm a lesbian." His body tensed as I spoke these words.
"What!" He shouted as he turned to me in anger. "How can you say that?"
"Because it's true." I answered calmly. I had hoped that my calmness would quiet him down. I was mistaken.
"You can't be gay!" He shouted again as his face reddened.
With his last out burst Hal appeared wearing a formal evening gown. "Is everything all right out here?" Hal asked me with concern.
"What is it with this place?" Peter shouted. "I everyone who lives here a homo or what?"
I recoiled at the hateful words. I had never expected him to react this way. Hal on the other hand was not offend he was accustomed to this misconception. "I am not a homosexual." Hal responded confidently.
"Listen Pal!" Peter spun around in a hostile manner. "First of all this is none of your business and second of all you might be a little more convincing if you weren't wearing a dress."
Hal just sighed. "Young man." He explained dryly. "I am a transvestite not a drag queen."
"Who gives a . . .” Peter snarled.
"Peter!" I cut in quickly. "Just calm down. Hal I can handle this."
"I am calm." Peter snapped.
"I'm not convinced." A calm and familiar voice said from behind us. We turned quickly to find Althea standing there in her uniform. "I would be more convinced if you stepped back about two feet." Althea spoke with a calm yet authoritative voice. Peter just stared at her blankly. "Hal why don't you go back inside." Althea instructed the physics professor who obeyed and returned to his apartment. "Now." She returned her attention towards Peter. "Why don't you step back sir." Peter failed to comply with her request. He just stood there glaring at me. "Stephanie what is your friend's name?" She asked me in a mild tone without taking her eyes off of him.
"Peter." I responded nervously.
"Peter?" Althea said calmly. "Do me a favor and look at your hands."
As he cast a glance down we were both shocked to see his hands clenched into fists. He dropped his hands suddenly and backed up against the wall. "Good." Althea said in a soothing tone. Peter just stood there shaking.
"I wouldn't hurt her." His voice trembled.
"I know." Althea continued to sooth him. "But you know someone who would?" It wasn't a question somehow she just seemed to know. "You're not him Peter." She offered calmly.
"No I'm not." Peter choked.
Althea stood with him as he calmed himself and caught his breath. I knew that the sight of his hands clenched in anger had frightened him and I knew why. It was his father. The man beat him and his mother on a daily basis. They finally ran off one night while he was at work. Peter and his mother lived in a shelter for over a month. He swore that he would never be like him. He would be like his stepfather who was a kind and decent man. The guilt I felt over this situation made me sick.
Althea talked with him for a while and when she was finally convinced that he would be all right she agreed to leave us. "Oh and just for the record Hal may enjoy wearing women's clothing but the guy would have kicked your ass son." She then touched me gently on the shoulder. "Will you be all right?" She questioned me with concern. I simply nodded my head in response. "God I hate the holidays." She muttered as she made her departure.
We stood there in silence for a few moments. "Is it true?" Peter finally asked in a defeated tone.
"Yes." I answered quietly.
"Why didn't you tell me?" He asked. "All of these months I had convinced myself that maybe there was still a chance for us. You should have told me. I would have been hurt but at least I would have known the truth. All of this time I just thought you had lied about there being another guy. I guess in a way you did lie."
"No letting you believe it was the lie." I choked. "I just didn't want to hurt you anymore than I already had."
"Now that is a lie." Peter said calmly. "You did it because you didn't want me mad at you."
"What do you mean?" I asked in confusion.
"I mean that you are afraid of losing the people in your life." Peter sighed dejectedly. "You will do anything to keep people from getting mad at you. You weren't protecting me you were protecting yourself." I felt a stab of truth in his words. "When did you?"
"I've had these feeling since I was a teenager." I confessed. "I just fought them and pretended that they weren't real. Until I met Allison."
"Allison?" He said absently.
"Peter." I began slowly. It was time to tell him everything. "Allison and I are lovers."
"When?" He asked suspiciously.
"Thanksgiving." I answered honestly.
His voice dropped. "Jesus Stephanie." His voice was strained. "How can you be so cruel? Letting her watch as I was proposing? Well that explains why she drove off."
"What!" I said quickly as I raced out onto the porch. It was true her car was gone. "What have I done?" Peter joined me out on the porch. I turned to him. He put his hand up and stopped me. "I don't want to talk to you." He said firmly and the walked off without looking back.
After I raced upstairs I discovered that Allison was indeed gone. She left without a word or a note. I paced back and forth trying wringing my hands wondering what I should do? I had nowhere to go my apartment was empty since Allison's replacement agreed to sublet it. I assumed that Allison went to her parents. I hoped that is what she did I was fearful of the thought of her just driving around with the idiots who were out there celebrating the holiday and possibly drinking and driving. I could call her parents but if she wasn't there I did not want to worry them. I needed to talk to her to see her. I needed to make things right between us. The most important person in my life just walked away and I had been the cause.
Exhausted I went into the bedroom and collapsed on the bed in tears. I lost track of time as I wept somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that the sun had set and I should think about finding Allison. I could try her cell phone but chances since it was Christmas Eve she had never turned it on. I jumped when I heard the living room door close. I sprung off of the bed and raced into the living room. "Allison?" I called out. I was startled as the lights went on and I found Nicole standing in the living room. "Hate to disappoint you." Nicole smiled. "But it's the younger cuter version." She added with a wink and looked for a place to extinguish the cigarette she had been smoking.
Without a word she went into the kitchen to retrieve an ashtray. Unceremoniously she plopped down onto the sofa and lit another cigarette. "Did you know I got my driver's license back?" She said nonchalantly as she blew smoke rings. "In my sister's infinite wisdom she let me take her precious car out for a spin. Actually she sent me out to score her some cigarettes. Which I gladly agreed to do since I'm out as well."
I looked at her suspiciously as she extinguished her smoke. "You drove all the way here from Chestnut Hill in holiday traffic?" I asked in bewilderment. "Where does she think you went for cigarettes Bangladesh?"
"I haven't a clue." She shrugged. "But I shut her cell phone of so she couldn't track me down."
"I thought you were out of cigarettes?" I pointed to the pack that she had placed on the coffee table.
"I must have forgotten about them." Nicole replied with a smirk. Then her face grew serious. "She's pretty upset."
"So you came here to break my legs." I sniffed thinking that I had hurt Allison.
"No." Nicole answered softly. "I told you before that I would send Tia Maria for that. But since she is out of town at the moment, I guess I will have to grant you a reprieve."
She gave me a moment to collect my thoughts as I fought back the tears. "Stephanie." She offered finally. "Did you know that I have been married five times?" I just stared at her in disbelief. "It's true." She confirmed. "Not once did I make it to my first anniversary. One of the things I learned from those experiences is that it only takes one time of not thinking before you speak to end a relationship. You and Allison have not done that. Yet."
"It's my fault." I began to sob the tears finally breaking through.
"She blames herself." Nicole informed me as she jumped up and wrapped her arms around me. I just stared at her as she released me. "For running for not staying and talking things out." Nicole explained. "By the look on your face I can see that you feel the same." I just nodded in response as she wiped the tears from my face. "Get your coat." She commanded as she gave me a gentle push. "Go on get your coat. I think that Ally needs to talk to you more than she needs to smoke."
I followed Nicole's instructions and we were on our way to Chestnut Hill. We talked on the long drive down to Newton. I was terrified. What would I say to Allison? Nicole just told me to calm down and speak from my heart. By the time we pulled into the Kendell's driveway my heart was racing. As we stepped onto the front porch Allison stormed out. "Nikki where the hell have you been?" She began to shout and her face dropped when she saw me. Before I knew what was happening we were in each other's arms. We were both sobbing and saying that we were sorry.
"I should have stayed." Allison choked out. "I just felt like I was having a bad flashback."
"No you were right." I sobbed. "I should have told him."
"No." Allison comforted me as she pulled me closer. "You know him better than I do. I was just scared when I found out."
"No Allison." I leaned into her warm embrace. "You were right. I told him everything about me and about us."
"That must have been awful." Allison said softly as her hand moved to my cheek and wiped away my tears.
"Well he hates me." I sniffed as I leaned into her hand. "But it's over. No more hiding the truth. I was so afraid that I had lost you. I never want to feel like that again."
"Never." She answered me firmly as she lifted my face to hers and placed a gentle kiss on my lips. "Now let's go inside it is freezing out here." She draped her arm around my shoulder and began to lead me into the house. "Wait." Allison stopped suddenly. "I brought in the presents but I left our bags in the car. I wasn't sure that I was going to stay. " She explained.
"I will get them." I volunteered. "Nicole didn't lock the car. Speaking of Nicole where is she?" We both looked around to find ourselves quite alone. We heard laughter coming from inside of the house and realized that Nicole had thoughtfully gone inside. "Go inside Darling, I will get the bags. Go on in it will give me a moment to fix my face." I prodded her. Allison bent down and kissed me once again and then retreated happily back into the house.
I made my way carefully through the snow back to the car. As I opened the back hatch my breathing hitched as I spotted a dark figure hiding in the bushes. I was frozen with fear as the young man shifted to conceal his presence. I swallowed hard and took a protective stance placing my feet in the proper position for balance as I slowly raised my arms into combat position with my right fist facing down and my left facing up. He must have noticed my reaction and began to approach me. There was something hauntingly familiar about him. "Stephanie?" Allison called to me from the porch.
The young man's blue eyes widen in fear at the sound of Allison's voice. He turned and bolted across the icy front lawn. "Oh my God!" Allison gasped as she jumped the railing of the front porch and ran after him. She caught up with him by a large oak tree. They struggled briefly as she held onto him tightly. "Wait." I could barely hear her pleading with him.
As they were struggling Nicole appeared on the porch. "What is going on?" She asked in confusion. I turned to her and finally let my body relax out of its defensive mode. "There was a man hiding in the bushes." I explained as I pointed over to Allison and the man. Nicole's face dropped as she too hopped over the railing of the porch and raced over to the scene unfolding under the oak tree. I followed after Nicole as quickly as I could. Nicole reached her sister and pulled her gently away from the young man. Nicole reached out her hand to him. He pushed her away and stepped back but made no attempt to run. He just stood there and they backed away giving him his space. I stopped suddenly as I approached them. Seeing the three of them together I knew instantly who he was. "Don't run they want to see you." Allison pleaded softly. He began to sob and his sisters approached him carefully. Slowly they wrapped their arms around him and just held him.
I walked back to car to allow the three of them some privacy. I retrieved our bags from the car and headed into the house. Walking into the Kendell home unannounced somehow seemed perfectly natural to me. "Well there you are." Jefferson greeted me with a big hug as I set the bags down. Pauline followed hugging me tightly and wishing me a Merry Christmas. "Gaia said that I needed to set a place for you at the table. But she also told me to add one more." Pauline explained. "I guess she finally got one wrong."
"Perhaps not." I answered quietly as I cast a glance over at Gaia who just sat by the fireplace smoking her pipe. "You should come with me." I offered to the Kendell's.
"Are those girls having a snow ball fight?" Jefferson chuckled. "Well not without me they don't."
"I think you both should come outside." I said carefully. They looked at me with confusion as I led them outside into the cold winter air. They stared out into the night looking for some explanation. I watched their faces change as the image of their three children approached the house.
"David?" Pauline sobbed quietly bringing her hands to her face as her husband pulled her closely to him.
The three siblings stopped at the bottom steps with Allison on one side of her brother and Nicole on the other. The three of them were a sight to behold. Each with jet black hair and finely chiseled features and broad shoulders. I found it slightly amusing that Nicole who stood a good five inches taller than me was the shortest of the trio. Another strange thought popped into my head at that moment. "Allison and I are going to have great looking kids.". I found it odd that I should be thinking about that now since only an hour ago I was terrified that I had lost her. Maybe it was the holiday or perhaps it was the sight of the Kendell children in glow in the moonlight set against the snow covered background. That or the fact that no one in this family was the least bit unattractive.
Allison and Nicole stepped back slightly as their brother hesitantly stepped onto the porch and approached his parents. Jefferson and Pauline wept as they wrapped their arms around their son's body. I smiled at the sight of Nicole and Allison holding onto one another. David was led into the house by his parents. Nicole and Allison followed putting their arms around me as well as we entered the house.
David's parents had yet to release him from their arms. Nicole simply watched the scene with tears in her eyes. I removed my coat and hung it in the hallway. I took my place by Allison's side and wrapped my arm around her waist as we stepped into the family room followed by the rest of the family. I walked over to fire with Allison to warm myself. I looked down at Gaia who was still puffing away on her pipe and rocking her rocking chair gently. "You are beginning to scare me." I said to her with a smile. She just smiled back and continued with her rocking. "How did you know?" I asked her.
"Listen to the earth and it will speak to you." She answered flatly. "Follow the wind and it will guide you."
Then she went on rocking without further explanation. "What the hell does that mean?" I whispered to Allison.
"I have no idea." Allison shrugged. "She has been saying that for as long as I can remember."
"Finally the entire family is together." Pauline beamed wiping the tears from her face as she held her son closely to her.
"Not yet." Gaia smiled knowingly. "Not everyone has arrived. There will be many more to join the family. After I have gone on my way the first two will come. Window shopping can prove to be very inspiring." She winked at Allison and myself and then went on with her rocking.
"Something you want to tell us?" Nicole teased her sister with a playful nudge.
"No." Allison shot back firmly. "I don't think I really need to explain the improbability of that to you Doctor."
"Oh that's not what you claimed in the ER last month." Nicole laughed.
"What's this?" Jefferson asked.
"When Ally was being treated for food poisoning she boldly announced to myself and everyone else in the room that she could too get Stephanie pregnant and then she threw up on my bosses' shoes." Nicole explained as the room erupted into laughter as Allison buried her face in my shoulder. I patted her gently as I laughed along with the rest of the family.
Gaia's predictions aside the family settled in. David seemed timid at first and everyone approached him carefully. I stayed away since he seemed so overwhelmed by being here. I could wait to get to know him. The family gathered around the Christmas tree and began to sing carols. They were a gifted group vocally but recalling the exact words seemed to a problem. No one cared we just sang out and enjoyed the fire and the tree. Allison and I were seated on the floor next to the fireplace. I sat in front of her as she wrapped her arms around me and pulled me close to her. The tree was gorgeous trimmed with antique ornaments and simple white lights. In the middle of Deck the Halls, David began to sob. The singing ceased immediately. "Don't stop." He smiled as he wiped his eyes. "I'm just happy to be home at last. You have no idea what it is like seeing all of you again. I was watching from the window afraid to come in. The people at the church had me believing that I was no longer welcomed here. Being here with all of you I can finally see clearly how they deceived me."
"It's good to have you home little brother." Allison said gently.
"It's good to be home." He sighed heavily. "Everything is the same. Well almost Nikki you are sober. No drink in your hand and you seem so happy and full of life."
"Clean and sober for over five years." Nicole offered proudly.
"I'm proud of you Nikki." David said with a smile and then turned his attention towards Allison and myself. "And you Tigger no cigarettes." I could feel my lover hold me tighter when her brother called her by that name. "I can see that you may have found something better." He smiled at me as I blushed.
"Time for the formal introduction." Allison pulled me closer. "Stephanie Grant I would like you to meet my brother David Kendell." Allison offered warmly.
"It's nice to finally meet you." I smiled up at David.
"The same here Stephanie." David blushed. "How long have the two of you been together?" He asked with a genuine interest.
"Not long." Allison answered for us. "Thanksgiving weekend was when we first . . ." Allison stopped hesitantly as the family erupted in laughter at her revelation. Allison buried her head in my neck as she whispered,"Kill me now."
"Moi cheri." Pauline laughed. "It's not like this is news to us."
"Yeah the two of you aren't exactly quiet." Nicole added. There was a collective groan from the rest of the family as I buried my face in my hands. "What?" Nicole teased.
"Too much information dear." Pauline chastised her youngest child.
"So how did the two of you meet?" David offered changing the subject quickly.
"We work together." Allison answered thankful for the diversion.
"Oh so you are a lawyer as well?" David asked.
I could feel my lover stiffen slightly behind me as I realized that David had been gone for a very long time. "David." Allison began slowly. "I'm not a lawyer any longer. I quit years ago." Allison explained. "I'm a history professor at Haven University. It is what makes me happy."
David's shoulders slumped sadly. "I feel as if my life has been going on without me." His sorrow evident in his voice.
"You are home now son." Jefferson said tenderly. "You are home aren't you?" I could see the nervousness plainly written across Jefferson's normally stoic features.
"Yes." David reassured his father. "Yes Dad I'm home." He straightened his body and looked around the room with a misty blue gaze. "I'm home." He repeated confidently. "I'm not going to lie and tell you that this is going to easy. But I want my life back. I want my family back! My real family not those liars at the church."
David's comments were followed by a tearful round of hugs. "Speaking of being home where am I going to sleep?" He laughed.
"I'll get a fire going in your room right now son." Jefferson offered.
"Wait." David held his hand up and everyone held a nervous breath. "There is something else I need to feel like I've truly come home." He looked towards Allison and smiled and then cast a glance towards his father. Jefferson nodded his understanding and left the room without a word as the rest of the family settled in comfortably around the fire. Jefferson returned with a withered book and handed to Allison and then took a seat next to his wife. With the family gathered around Allison she opened the book and without looking at the words began to read. "T’was the night before Christmas . . ."
I was impressed by my lover's narration of the familiar holiday classic. She never missed a word through out the entire telling of the story. I also quickly figured out by the tear stained faces that surrounded me that this holiday tradition had not been observed since David's departure. I finally felt like a part of a real family and I knew then just how much I belonged with them. It was if they needed me as much as I needed them. After Allison finished reading Jefferson and David went upstairs to prepare a fire in his room. The rest of the family made their way into the kitchen to finish dinner preparations. I stood to join them when I felt Allison's firm grasp pulling me back down. "We'll join them in a second I need to hold you for a moment." Allison offered softly as she pulled me back down towards her.
I snuggled against Allison's body enjoying the warmth she offered me. "He's home." She sighed deeply as I pulled her closer to me. "A few hours ago things seemed so bleak. I was afraid that I had lost you and . . ."
"Ssh." I whispered as I held her tightly.
"Thank you." She said as she kissed the top of my head. "You have no idea how much your being here for this means to me. The family is all together finally and I can't begin to tell you how happy I am that you are now a part of the family." My breathing quicken at the implication that she had offered. "You are Stephanie." She reassured me. "I know that you never had a real family but you do now. I want to thank you for not giving up on us. I have never loved anyone as deeply as I love you. It is like I spent my entire life looking for you. Does that make any sense?"
"Yes." I answered firmly. "I feel like I've come home. All of this is a bit overwhelming at times but I know I belong with you."
"You do and don't you ever think about leaving me." Allison held me tightly. "Besides if we ever broke up I think my family would go ballistic. I'm glad that I can give you this after what you went through with your own parents. I can't even imagine the pain and confusion you had to endure."
I reached up and pulled her closer to me and kissed her gently. I certainly hadn't intended to start anything in the middle of her family's house but I lost all sense of reason as I felt her tongue teasing my bottom lip. I parted my lips as Allison quickly accepted my invitation. My breathing grew ragged as she explored my mouth my hand began to caress her breast. "Ah hem!" I heard from the entry way. I looked up startled to find Jefferson waving a cautioning finger in our direction.
"Hey Pops." Allison chuckled as we quickly jumped to our feet. Jefferson simply flashed us a knowing smirk and left the room.
Allison and I quickly retreated to join the rest of the family in the kitchen. After dinner everyone shared in the clean up and then everyone with the exception of Gaia who had been put to bed found themselves enjoying a snowball fight out on the front lawn. In between activities Allison and I stole kisses under the mistletoe. In many ways I felt as if I had entered a dream world. When the clock struck midnight Jefferson and Pauline sent everyone off to bed. Although David and Nicole protested Allison and I did not. As Allison and I climbed the staircase I caught a glimpse of Jefferson and Pauline necking under the mistletoe. It warmed my heart to be surrounded by so much love.
As we entered our bedroom my eyes never left Allison as she stoked the fire and pulled down the bedding. The sight of her warmed me to depths of my soul. I knew what I wanted for Christmas and she was standing right in front of me. I approached her slowly as a playful smile crept across my lips. She took me into her arms and we exchanged a tender kiss. I watched the firelight dance in passion filled eyes. Slowly Allison began to undress me. She caressed my body as she removed each article of clothing. "Opening our presents a little early." I teased her in a sultry tone.
"All I want for Christmas is to wake up next to you." Allison whispered hotly in my ear.
"You do know how to say just the right thing." I moaned as she began to nibble on my neck.
Allison took me by the hand and led me over to the bed and began to remove my remaining clothing. When she had completed her task she lowered me onto the bed. She smiled down at me her brilliant blue eyes taking in all I had to offer. "I love you." She said softly as she slowly began to remove her own clothing. I waited with eager anticipation as she slowly revealed herself to me. Finally she lowered her naked body to mine. She shifted slightly so not put her full weight on me. I would have none of that I needed to feel her skin against my own. She kissed me and my lips parted inviting her in. The way our bodies seemed to fit together excited me. My body trembled slightly as our wetness touched. She kissed me harder her mouth urging me for more. I could feel her hands sliding gently beneath my breasts. The sensation of her touch was sending a tingle down my spine. Slowly her hands cupped both of my breasts. My nipples became erect from her touch.
I was unable to control myself any longer. I had to touch her, to feel her. My hand driven purely on instinct found it's way to her. I opened my finger into a v shape as I massaged her wet lips. I felt her body shift slightly above me as her fingers began to tease my wetness. Our moans filled the night as our bodies began begging for more. The teasing was over as our fingers dipped into one another's passion. We groaned and gasped as our bodies arched against the other's hand. I knew by the way she tilted her head up and arched her neck that she was close. Our rhythm grew faster as our bodies demanded more. Allison looked deeply into my eyes with a wild expression. I knew what she was waiting for. She was waiting for me. She would not need to wait much longer. Our voices cried out in unidentifiable tones. I embraced her body as we exploded. We laid there clutching onto one another, panting heavily still inside the other as the last waves of passion passed through us. Later I curled up into her arms as she pulled the bed covers over us. We held each other tightly as we both drifted off to sleep.
I was awakened by the sound of a gentle tapping on the bedroom door. I looked over with bleary eyes at the clock on the nightstand. It was just after seven in the morning. Allison rubbed her eyes sleepily. She looked over at the clock and groaned. Then suddenly she smiled brightly and climbed out of bed. I felt a chill as my lover's body left the comfort of our bed. Allison quickly gathered some clothing. Tossing on a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt she then tossed similar items to me. I just looked at her like she had lost her mind. Not the first time she has seen this expression on my face. She just continued to grin like an idiot as I grudgingly put on the clothing she had offered me.
The tapping on the bedroom door continued as Allison climbed back into bed and snuggled up to me. "Come in." Her voice creaked. The door flew open as Nicole and David scampered in like children and jumped up onto the bed. "Santa came." They chanted repeatedly as Allison simply laughed at their antics. "Come on sleepy heads time to get up." Nicole demanded as she tickled her sister.
"Stop it." Allison laughed as she tried to swat away her sister's hands.
"Hey I'm the baby." Nicole pouted.
"Suck it up." I teased Nicole as she rolled off her sister.
"I'm sorry Ally it was my idea." David admitted sheepishly. "I just had to. I wanted this small part of the past."
"It's okay." Allison answered with a smile. "At least you knocked not like when we were kids."
"When we were kids you didn't have a girl in your room." Nicole pointed out.
"Unlike some people." Allison laughed as Nicole wiggled her eyes suggestively.
"There are no secrets in this family." I noted.
"Nah." Nicole scowled. "Where's the fun in that? Now come on we have muffins to bake."
Allison sent her siblings off she we could wash up. I took a quick shower and threw on a pair of flannel lounge pants and one of Allison's t-shirts. "So you caught Nicole with a girl?" I asked as I brushed my hair I stopped suddenly noticing a tell tale bruise on my neck. I swatted Allison and pointed to it. She just smiled proudly. "When she was a teenager there was much I didn't catch Nicole with in her room." Allison explained. "Boys, booze, girls she was a handful. She drove my parents crazy. She never really seemed happy then. Now all she does is work and she is the happiest I've seen her in years."
"Hmm." I sighed thoughtfully. "I never did anything wrong I didn't want to upset my Grandmother. Except for one time." I blushed at the memory.
"What?" Allison inquired with a playful nudge.
"She walked in while I was you know."
"Tell me." Allison purred hotly into my ear.
"I was touching myself." I admitted with a blush. "She just walked out of the room and we never talked about it."
"Why not?" Allison questioned in puzzlement. "I mean it's only natural. Of course when Mom sat me down to talk about it I thought I would die of embarrassment."
"My Grandmother didn't discuss such things." I pointed out. "After that I was just too embarrassed to do it alone. I was always afraid that she would walk in again."
"What do you mean alone?" Allison licked her lips suggestively.
"I had a friend." I blushed. "I told you about this." I sighed wanting to change the subject.
"Oh right Gigi." Allison nodded. "So when do I get a show?" Allison whispered hotly in my ear as my knees began to buckle.
I pushed her away gently as her hands began to roam up under my shirt. "Cool off Pal." I warned her. "Your family is waiting on us." I held up my hairbrush in a threatening manner.
"All right." She grumbled as we exited the bathroom. Feeling playful I pulled her aside before we could depart from the bedroom. "But if you are a good girl today I could arrange a private performance tonight." I suggested seductively in her ear and then I licked her neck. I felt her shiver from my touch as she squeaked in response.
Allison and I arrived in the kitchen and began preparing the muffins. Nicole made a pot of coffee while Allison and David each prepared a bowl of batter. "What can I do?" I offered watching the three of them working in unison. "Grease the muffin tins." Nicole suggested. "Everything is on the table I'll get Gaia." Nicole bounced off while I began greasing the muffin pans Gaia and Nicole entered the kitchen. We began to spoon the batter into the tins I had prepared as Gaia lit the oven. David had prepared chocolate chip muffins. While Allisonhad prepared a batch of blueberry. The blueberries I had been informed had been hand picked from the bushes on the property. Once the tins had all been filled we handed them off to Gaia who placed them into the oven. There were six trays in all.
I was amazed at the quantity but I was quickly informed that many people would be stopping by to extend holiday greetings. It occurred to me that this tradition of baking the muffins together probably started when the Kendell children were very little. Gaia would have been there to handle the actual baking. When the clean up of the kitchen had been completed the sweet aroma of coffee and fresh baked muffins filled the air. All of us settled around the kitchen table and peacefully drank our coffee. I learned that this part of the tradition led all three of the Kendell offspring to an early addiction to caffeine. I was surprised that the Christmas morning baking tradition had for some reason ceased as the siblings grew older and their own lives led them in different directions. This was the first time in many years that they had shared this part of their past and I felt honored that I had been included.
As the morning passed their parents awoke and joined us. Then we all gathered around the tree and exchanged gifts. There were even gifts for David that had been set aside over the years in hopes that he would return. No one in the family failed to remember me in the celebration. It was clear that I was accepted as a part of the family. Through out the day many people dropped in to wish the Kendell clan happy holidays. I was amazed by the diversity of the Kendell's friends. They differed not only in ethnic diversity but in their social standings as well. I grew up in New Haven where almost everyone was white. I stood out because I came from the working class. I can still remember how it broke my Grandmother's heart when she was forced to accept food stamps. Another thing that impressed me with the Kendells was that many of the gifts lacked materialistic value many were hand made or simply a donation to someone's favorite charity. As people came and went David very often shied away. When old lady Kendell made her appearance he disappeared completely. I watched in amusement as the family made their wagers at what insensitive comment the old woman would utter next.
The next few days continued to be magical. The days were filled with family activities and the nights were filled with Allison. One night we went for a walk around the grounds. As we walked I played with the necklace Allison had given me on Christmas morning. It was a single black pearl on a silver chain. Just above the pearl was a single one carat diamond. I loved it more than any other gift I had ever received. We walked in silence hand in hand and breathed in the cold night air. I was silently dreading the holidays coming to an end. The New Year would mean Allison would soon be off to California.
On New Years Eve the Kendell's hosted a party. There were so many people and I stayed close to Nicole and David while Allison was getting ready. It was slightly formal and I was pleased with my simple black velvet dress. The only jewelry I wore was the necklace Allison had given me. I felt a shiver and turned suddenly to see Allison descending the staircase. My breathing stopped as I cast a firey gaze over the body of my lover dressed in a red silk gown that was cut perfectly to fit her gorgeous body. Her raven hair was braided in the back which served to highlight her chiseled features and I thought I would begin to drool when I noticed that her broad shoulders and magnificent back were exposed.
"Breath stupid." Nicole whispered to me as she gave me a playful nudge.
I choked as I finally allowed the air to enter my lungs. Allison approached me and bent down and gave me a kiss on the cheek. "You look incredibly beautiful." She purred into my ear. "Happy New Year." She added and began to pull away. I clasped her head and drew her back down to face me and then with all of the strength I could muster I growled. "I want you now." Nicole choked on her beverage at my bravdo. I scanned the room quickly and was relieved that only my lover and her sister seemed to have heard my comment.
Allison was blushing at my comment and squeezed my hand tightly as she whispered, "Later.". I spent the rest of the evening trying to capture her under the mistletoe. Some of the guest were disappointed that no alcohol would be served during the evening but the majority did not seem to care. I was thankful for two years in college I tended bar for extra money. New Years Eve is known in the business as amateur night. For the first time in my life I watched midnight approach without witnessing a single drunken occurrence. Allison and I shared a kiss at midnight which soon proved to be over powering. Quickly we disappeared without saying our goodnights to anyone. Once safely locked in our room we began our own celebration.
The following day we stayed in bed longer than we should have. After finally dragging ourselves out of each other's embrace and out of bed we quickly showered and packed the car. We returned to the house and said goodbye to the family. Gaia stopped us on our way out. I adored Gaia but she was beginning to creep me out. She handed Allison a present. "It is for both of you." Gaia explained. "And it is for neither of you."
"Gaia someday you are just going to say what you mean." Allison laughed as she opened the package. I looked on to see what the gift was. Inside the box lay two beautiful circles adorned with beads and feathers.
"What are they?" I asked.
"Dream catchers." Allison said mystified. The family seemed stunned as they asked to see them. Then they just stared at Allison and myself with a wide-eyed expression. Their reaction was odd to say the least.
"Gaia you made these?" Allison questioned the elderly woman. Gaia just nodded her head. "How do you think that this is going to happen?" Allison asked her in confusion.
"Window shopping." Was all Gaia offered as an explanation.
"Uh huh." Allison just stared at her then shook her head in amusement. "Thank you they are beautiful."
When we returned home I unpacked as Allison put on a pot of coffee and then went across the street to check on Mrs. Giavanni. I started the laundry once everything with exception of Gaia's gift had been put away. I simply left that on the coffee table wondering what they were. Allison returned and I asked after Mrs. Giavanni. Allison informed me that she was well and sent her regards.
"What should we do with this?" I asked as I motioned towards Gaia's gift. "They are very beautiful. What exactly is a dream catcher? I know I have seen them at the mall but I never quite understood what they were."
"The mall." Allison sneered. "Yes those were probably made in Taiwan." Allison scoffed. "A dream catcher is Native American Tradition. It is hung above your bed and it catches your dreams, allowing only the good ones to pass through and keeping the bad ones."
"How sweet." I said with a smile and I began to wonder why the family had reacted so oddly to them. "If there is two of them does Gaia think we sleep apart?" I question hoping that would explain her odd reaction.
"I doubt it." Allison chuckled lightly. "That woman knew that David was coming home on Christmas Eve. I'm positive she knows that we are sleeping together. These are not for us."
I stared at her blankly as she ran her fingers over the delicate weavings. "Gaia made my Mother's and mine as well ones for David and Nicole. It is a tradition . . . Gaia's way of announcing a new arrival to the family. Sometimes before the parents even know that a little one is on the way. My Mother still has my dream catcher hanging in her office. "From what I understand when she gave my parents my dream catcher it was a little upsetting. They had only recently become engaged, I was a little early."
"Okay now I am even more confused." I mumbled at the implication of Gaia's gift as I left the room to retrieve some coffee for the both of us.
I returned to the living room to find Allison studying the gift carefully. I handed her a cup of coffee and settled in next to her. She took a long sip of the brew and set her cup down and then set down my mug as well. "Okay let me see if I can explain this." She offered tenderly. "Now let me see if I can remember this." She said as she held up the dream catchers. "It is a little difficult because Gaia herself is missing a lot of her traditions. At the time she was born the Catholics were converting her people. So a great deal of the folk lore was passed on in secret. Similar to slaves on plantations. If I am reading these correctly then they are for children."
"Excuse me?" My eyes widen as she finally said what I had suspected since this conversation began.
"One for a boy and the other is for a girl." Allison explained as she pointed to the bead work. "But they are mirrors."
"Twins?" I said with a smile.
"Apparently." Allison responded as she shook her head in dismay.
"So this is Gaia's way of telling us that we are going to be parents." I smiled at the thought. "I think it is a little early in our relationship to be talking about this." I offered. "And it is not like it is going to happen by accident despite your boasting in the emergency room."
"You're right." Allison agreed and put Gaia's gift in the bedroom closet.
We let the conversation go for now and then we focused on what little time we had left together. For the next few days we rarely left the bedroom. We made love continuously until it was time for me to drive Allison to Logan Airport. She waited until the final boarding call for her flight to California before leaving my side. She kissed with such passion I thought my already unsteady legs would give out entirely. As she made her way to the gate I noticed the shocked expressions on some people's faces and I didn't care. I wanted the world to know that I loved this woman. "Get over it." I snapped at one woman who seemed overly horrified.
Allison's absence proved to be both painful and interesting. She called me the moment she landed and we each expressed how we were already missing the other. I knew deep in my heart that we would not only survive this but we would also become closer because of it. We spoke to each other two or three times a day and thanks to modern technology we also exchanged some rather intimate emails. The day prior to the start of the new semester I was greeted with another surprise. One that I was quite unprepared for. I had been working on the finishing touches to the first draft of our manuscript when suddenly a loud crash from downstairs alarmed me. I raced out the door and down the staircase to my old apartment. Just inside the doorway I found a petite red head picking up the shattered remains of something as she cursed loudly. The new tenant had arrived with a bang.
"Need a hand?" I offered as I approached her. She looked up as her piercing green eyes stared back and I gasped in recognition.
"Stephanie?" She responded with equal surprise.
"Caroline?" I gasped.
Caroline Jennings was the woman who would be subletting my apartment. This was more than a little bit of a surprise. This had the potential of becoming a full fledged disaster. Caroline and I had met at Yale and became very close. In fact one night we became a little too close. It was one of my nights of drunken experimentation. The memory came flooding back to me. That night in her dorm room with our bodies wrapped together in passion as we kissed. If there was a God Caroline would develop total amnesia right on the spot and forget about that night. Forget how I ran away and never spoke to her again.
"What a surprise." Caroline offered with a smile. "You don't by any chance have a broom do you?" Caroline asked quickly easing the tension between us.
"There is one in the closet over there." I explained as I released a sigh of relief. I rushed over to the tiny closet off of the kitchen and quickly retrieved the broom and dust pan. "I'll get this while you unload your stuff when I'm finished I can give you a hand." I offered cheerfully.
"Thanks." Caroline agreed and left me alone I quickly swept up the broken glass and deposited the remains into the trash. I replaced the broom and dust pan and then joined Caroline outside as she began to unload the UHaul. We didn't really speak much as we carefully unloaded her belongings. There was more than I had expected and I began to wonder how long Caroline planned on staying. The only real exchange of dialog occurred as we brought in her futon. Even then the chatter was limited to which would be the best way to maneuver the piece of furniture into the apartment.
Once everything was unloaded I began to help her unpack. "You seem to know this place pretty well. Do you live in the building?" She asked.
"You could say that." I laughed slightly. "This is or this was my apartment." I explained not really certain that I would ever be moving back down here.
"Oh?" She responded in a curious tone.
"I'm taking care of Allison's I mean Professor Kendell's place while she is away." I explained as a faint blush crept across my cheeks.
"I see." She responded slyly. "Tell me is there any chance Professor Kendell will choose to stay in California?"
"No." I answered with a slight harshness.
"Too bad." She sighed. "I was hoping to be picked up by Haven full time. Positions are becoming harder to find these days."
"I know." I answered slightly more relaxed. "I just joined the staff last fall."
"Ah so you were the one who beat me out of the position."
"Sorry." I apologized.
We engaged in more chit chat while we unpacked her boxes. I offered to follow her so I could drive her back after she returned the van. After this was done I drove her back to the house. "You must allow me to thank you for all you have done for me today." She offered politely. "Let me take you to dinner and we can catch up on everything."
Her offer seemed innocent enough and she seemed to lack any animosity towards me so I agreed. It felt nice to be able to mend some fences from my past. We agreed on getting take out from the Chinese restaurant. As we were sitting on the futon in what was now her apartment eating Kung Pao Chicken, Caroline filled me in on what she had been up to since Yale. It seemed to me that Caroline moved around a great deal. "How is Peter?" She asked suddenly bringing the conversation to a halt. I knew why she was asking, it hadn't taken me very long to figure out that Caroline was gay. This gaydar stuff really works.
"At the moment he hates me." I answered slowly. "We broke up a few months ago and it didn't end very well."
"Really?" She cooed. "After all of this time? I know that the two of you had been friends for a long time I wasn't surprised when I heard the two of you became an item. What happened?" She began caress my thigh as she spoke. I pulled away slightly not wanting to hurt her again as I had done years ago.
"I came out." I answered her directly.
"Well it's about time." She applauded as she inched slightly closer to me. "You know I was very hurt by you."
"I'm sorry about that." I said softly. "I didn't understand myself back then."
"It happens." She answered with a shrug. "Does this mean that you are out and about?" She asked seductively as she leaned in closer to my body. As she dipped her head slightly I knew that she planned on kissing me and I pulled away quickly.
I was surprised by her action. Nothing that had transpired during the afternoon was least bit romantic in nature. "No." I said firmly holding up my hands in protest. "I'm very involved." I stated firmly.
"I won't tell if you won't." Caroline teased as my eyes widen in disbelief. "Hey I'm just kidding." She laughed slightly. "So tell me about her?" I relaxed only slightly.
"Actually my lover is Allison Kendell." I stated proudly.
"But she is in California?" Caroline pried.
"Don't remind me." I groaned. There was something about Caroline's demeanor that was making me more and more uncomfortable. "What about you? Anyone special in your life?"
"No." She laughed heartily.
After claiming exhaustion I made my excuses and left Caroline's apartment. Time seemed to pass slowly without Allison. Even though we spoke to one another every day I missed her more than I thought possible. Watching Caroline settle into Allison's side of the office at the University made me uncomfortable. But these days there was very little about Caroline that didn't make my uneasy. She had changed a great deal since our days at Yale. There was a definite coldness to her once vibrant personality. I knew that she was working very hard to secure a more permant position at Haven. She wanted Allison's job and she seemed to want something else that definately belong to Allison as well. The woman would not stop flirting with me no matter how many times I pointed out that I was not interested.
Granted Caroline was an attractive woman and perhaps if I hadn't been such a coward all of those years ago something would have happened. But now things were decidedly different looking past Caroline's physical attributes there was absolutely nothing about her now that interested me in the least. There was something about her personality that was a definite turn off. Even if Allison was not in my life I still wouldn't accept Caroline's offers. Then there was something else that troubled me about Caroline on more than one occasion I noticed her flirting with some of her female students. It may be archaic but Haven had strict rules against the faculty having personal relationships with the students. The rules had been in existence prior to the enactment of sexual harassment laws. The penalty for violating the rule ran both ways. This in theory would protect a member of the faculty from false accusations. The only exceptions to the rule is if there had been a prior relationship. This clause existed so that spouses of faculty members could take classes if they wanted to. But they were still unable to enroll in courses taught by their significant other. I know that it was an outdated concept in many ways. But I also agreed with the policy to a certain extent. After spending most of my adult life studying and working in a college environment I witnessed many a young woman seduced by a male (usually married) professor. These relationships almost always ended badly.
I decided that I would talk to Caroline regarding this matter. I had to give her the benefit of the doubt since as far as I knew she had yet to cross the line. In the mean time I buried myself in work. With the marvels of modern technology Allison and I were able to complete the first draft. My publisher was more than pleased with the results. There were some changes and data that needed to be checked. Other than that we could look forward to a release date in the fall or perhaps early winter.
Late on one Saturday afternoon I was on the telephone with Allison working on some of the revisions our editor had requested. "That should do it." I said in exhaustion. "I will email these out on Monday."
"I miss you." Allison softly.
"I miss you too." I responded with a pout.
"What are you wearing?" She inquired in a mischievous tone.
"Wouldn't you like to know." I teased my lover. Just as I was about to spin a yarn about a fictional sexy outfit when there was a knock on the door. "Damn there's someone at the door." I sighed.
"I'll let you go." Allison offered in a dejected tone.
"No." I whined in protest. "I want to finish this conversation. I'll get rid of whoever it is and then I'm going to go into great detail and describe to you what I am wearing." I heard a very pleased murmur coming from the other end of the telephone. I went downstairs and through the living room. Cordless telephones yet another great invention. I opened the door and found Chris standing in the doorway with an annoyed look on her face. "Well nuts." I groaned deciding that my lover's ex-girlfriend was a definite mood killer.
"Hello to you too." Chris snorted and entered the apartment without invitation.
"Who is it?" Allison inquired from the other side of the country.
"Avon lady." I smirked as Chris laughed.
"Allison?" Chris inquired softly. I simply wiggled my eyebrows to confirm her suspicions.
"So what are you doing with the Avon Lady?" Allison asked slyly.
"She just about to show me her samples." I teased as Chris ignored me and made her way into the kitchen.
"Uh huh?" Allison responded.
"Bring me a cup too." I called out into the kitchen. "Allison?" I returned my attention back to my lover.
"I'm here baby." Her sultry voice came through sending shivers down my spine. "Are you going to tell who was at the door?"
"It's just Chris." I explained as Chris offered me a cup of coffee.
"Thanks a lot." Chris scoffed as she plopped down onto the sofa.
"What does she want?" Allison asked in a miffed tone of voice. "Never mind tell me about you. What are you wearing?" I could her breathing becoming ragged.
"I can't." I laughed uneasily.
"Sure you can . . ." Allison encouraged me. "Go into the bedroom . . . and . . ."
"Allison." I cautioned her there was no way I was going to do what I knew she was suggesting.
"Baby." Allison pleaded.
"Allison." I repeated with a blush. Chris motioned for the phone. "Chris wants to talk to you."
"Rats." Allison grumbled.
I handed the telephone to Chris and sat down on the sofa and sipped my coffee. It wasn't unusual for Chris to stop in. Lately she had been flying up a great deal on the weekends to visit Rita. Sometimes she would stop in to check up on me. It was nice that the two of us were getting along. I knew that there would always be a slight awkwardness in our relationship but that was to be expected since I was with her ex-lover. "Hey Ally . . ." Chris chimed cheerfully into the receiver. "Did you get my email? . . . I know . . . no I'll tell her . . . I don't know . . . me? I'm just checking out your girlfriend . . . she looks very hot today . . . such language! Did you learn that at Harvard? Seriously Ally how could you leave her behind? You know if I was any other kind of woman . . . Oh wait I am that kind of woman. . . . . Whoa! You eat with that mouth? . . . Calm down I'm in town to see Rita."
I listened as they chatted for awhile longer and then Chris offer her goodbyes and handed the telephone back to me. "Hey." I said softly. "Hey yourself." Allison purred. "I'm afraid that I'm going have to go." She apologized. "I love you."
"I love you too." I answered as my heart skipped a beat as we exchanged our good byes.
"I had forgotten what a great phone voice she has." Chris sighed thoughtfully.
"You had to tease her." I said as I poked the taller woman.
"I couldn't resist." Chris laughed. "Don't worry she trusts you. And she knows that I wouldn't try anything. Strange after all these years she finally trusts me. If I was her I would be more concerned about that hot little number who moved in downstairs. This is going to sound strange especially coming from me but I don't trust her."
"Get in line." I agreed. "I think she is after Allison's job."
"Uh huh." Chris offered knowingly. "I sent Allison an email this morning. A certain Assistant District Attorney in New York resigned his position unexpectedly yesterday."
"Simon Brenner?" I asked already knowing the answer.
"He had no choice." Chris confirmed. "It was either resign or be brought up on charges for prosecutorial misconduct. The really big news is that he also left his wife. Jessica called at my office late last night screaming that I had ruined her marriage."
"You ruined her marriage?"
"I must have." Chris laughed slightly. "Lord knows it couldn't have possibly be because of all of the those women she slept with."
"Amazing." Was I all I could say.
"Rita and I were wondering if you had any plans for next weekend?" Chris asked suddenly.
"Not that I can think of." I responded without thinking. My only immediate thought was how much I enjoyed Chris referring to Rita as her partner. "Probably just the same old thing, why?"
"Would you like to join us for dinner on Friday?" Chris offered.
"Sure." I shrugged and then it hit me. "Wait! That is Valentines Day. I would be a third wheel." I protested.
"No." Chris argued. "It's just that we thought that you know with Allison away and all . . ."
"No Chris." I protested.
Chris tried in vain to get me to agree but I stood firm. The following morning Rita called me. Rita proved to be far more stubborn than Chris. After an hour long debate I finally caved in and agreed to join the pair for dinner on Friday. Deciding that I need some fresh air I went to check on Mrs. Giavanni. As I started down the staircase I spotted Cheryl Cooper leaving Caroline's apartment. When Cheryl caught my eye she blushed furiously and ran off. I looked at my watch thinking, "This is not good.". Cheryl was a history major and she was leaving Caroline's apartment at nine o'clock on a Sunday morning. I needed to have a little chat with Caroline very soon. As I reached the bottom of the staircase I found Hal standing just around the corner. It was more than a little obvious that he too had seen Cheryl.
"This is not good Stephanie." Was all he said.
"It doesn't look that way." I answered shyly. "I'll have a talk with Caroline."
"You need to report her to your department head." Hal said adamantly.
"Well I don't know anything for certain." I lied knowing there could be no other explanation for this mornings events.
"It's not the first time I have seen one of her students sneaking out of here first thing in the morning." Hal explained. "It's against University policy. I haven't said anything yet but this does put the both of us in a very awkward position."
"Let me talk to Caroline." I offered. "Maybe there is a reasonable explanation."
"Okay." He conceded. "But if there isn't and you don't turn her in I will have to. These are kids were talking about Stephanie. The powers that be at Haven want them to focus on their education. For no other reason than that I agree with the policy. I just never thought I would have to turn someone in. I've never thought of myself as some kind of stoolie."
"I know." I agreed with a heavy sigh.
I checked on Mrs. Giavanni and found her trying to shovel her driveway. I immediately took the shovel away from her. I couldn't understand why she need to clear the driveway since she didn't drive. I shoveled her driveway and walkways and then I ran a few errands for her. After that I joined her for a cup of tea and filled her in on how Allison was doing. After two cups of tea I returned home. I stopped and knocked on Caroline's door. As the door slowly opened I braced myself. "I was just thinking about you." She cooed. "Come in."
"I need to talk to you." I explained as I entered my former apartment.
"Really?" She smiled slightly. "I'm intrigued."
"I saw Cheryl Cooper leaving your apartment this morning." I stated bluntly.
"And?" She responded coyly.
"You do know about the University's policy don't you?"
"Cheryl is an adult." Caroline answered me in a dismissive manner.
"Caroline the University doesn't allow any leeway in these matters." I explained.
"Relax." Caroline responded with a wave of her hand. "Nothing happened. The poor kid just needed someone to talk to. You remember what it was like, being that young and confused."
"All right." I answered not completely believing her. "But if this happens again I will have to go to Maureen. I'm sorry in the University's eyes if there is something going on and I do not report it I could get booted out as well."
"No worries Stephanie." Caroline shrugged. "Nothing happened and Maureen let me know in painstaking detail of all of the do's and don'ts at Haven. Now sit down and relax I was just going to watch some television and have a glass of wine. Why don't you join me. A hell of a dull way to spend the weekend I know but other than you I don't really know anyone here."
I agreed with a slight reluctance. She opened the bottle of chardonnay and turned on the television. Xena was on and we settled in. I was having fun as we drooled over the warrior princess' exploits and picked apart the historical inaccuracies. When the show ended we flipped through the channels finally deciding that there was nothing worth watching. So we decided to just talk instead. There was something hauntingly familiar about the scene as we chatted away.
How old was I then? Twenty one possibly twenty two? I had known Caroline for almost a year at that point. It was a winter night just like tonight and she invited me over to her dorm room. We watched television and drank far too much wine. "Stephanie?" Caroline's voice jolted me back to the present. "Do you ever think about what happened?"
"Yes." I answered honestly. "I feel terrible about the way I treated you. The worse part is that it wasn't the first time I did something like that."
"I think about that night." She sighed regrettably. "I was crazy about you. I think that when I invited you over that night that somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that I was going to try to seduce you."
My mind once again drifted back to that night. The talk and the wine. Her kiss that had driven me insane. Before I knew what was happening I was kissing her back and she was pushing me down onto her bed. As we laid on her bed our bodies became entangled. Her hand had slid gently up my sweater and she began to caress my breast. It was the sudden jolt of pleasure that had snapped me into reality. I jumped off of her bed and made some feeble excuse and ran out of her dorm room. I had wanted her so much then and I was simply too frightened to act on my impulses. "You must have hated me." I said finally.
"I was hurt more than anything." She answered softly shifting her body slightly closer to me. "I blamed myself."
"No it was me." I groaned. "I wanted you but I was a coward."
"And now?" She asked in a sultry voice as her fingers ran gently across my thigh.
"Now I am in love with someone else." I said firmly as I removed her hand from my thigh.
"She's not here." Caroline pointed out in a husky tone as she grabbed me and pressed her lips forcibly to my own. Without hesitation I pushed her away from me knowing that whatever passions I had once felt for her were long since dead.
"Jesus Christ Caroline!" I yelled as I jumped off of her futon. "Here's a new flash for you Sparky! I am in love with my girlfriend!" I spun on my heels to leave.
"So you are just going to walk out on me for a second time." She sneered bitterly.
Her words stopped me cold as I spun around in anger. "Do you honestly think that you are going to guilt me into bed?" I spat out. "Caroline even if for some reason Allison and I were to split up I'm just want to make it clear to you that I am no longer attracted to you." Having said this I stormed out of her apartment.
The following week passed slowly as Caroline and I kept a chilly distance from one another. Which was fine by me. I did speak to Hal and relayed my conversation I had with Caroline concerning Cheryl Cooper. We both agreed to give her the benefit of the doubt. I could tell by his demeanor that he didn't believe her story anymore than I did. For now we simply hoped that Caroline's common sense would kick in.
On Friday I returned home very tired and completely agitated. I was not looking forward to joining Chris and Rita for dinner. If it was any other night I would have been thrilled. The thing that really frosted my cookies at the moment was that I had sent Allison a dozen roses. I was yet to receive a phone call from her. I didn't even get an email. Nadda, nothing, zippo! It was very strange indeed especially since I tried getting in touch with her and she was nowhere to be found. As I entered the apartment and set down my briefcase an uneasy feeling crept over me. "Something was wrong! I was not alone in the apartment." I reached for the softball bat I had left by the door after Maureen and I had gone to the batting cages to practice last week. I gripped the bat tightly as I approached the bedroom slowly. I entered the bedroom and scanned it quickly when I detected the sounds of the shower running. My heart was racing. "Should I call the police? But then again what kind of thief stops what they are doing to take a shower?"
I stepped carefully into the bathroom and yanked open the shower door. She screamed as I did this. I dropped the bat the moment I saw her. "Stephanie!" Allison gasped. "You scared the life out of me."
"I scared you?" I laughed as my eyes wondered freely over her naked form. I removed my coat quickly and dropped in onto the floor and slipped out of my shoes. Then still fully dressed I stepped into the shower and took my lover into my arms. I began kissing her all over. "I missed you." She murmured into my ear.
"Kiss me." I demanded breathlessly.
Allison obeyed without hesitation as her lips soon found my own. Her hands struggled to unbutton my blouse. My smaller hands clasped her larger ones and halted her movements. I reached down and tore open my blouse. The buttons clanging against the tiles of the shower floor. We both engaged in a struggle to remove my clothing as the warm water drenched our bodies. The water soaked my clothing making it difficult to remove as it clung tightly against my form. Yet somehow we managed to release me from my clothing. Though out the struggle our lips continually sought out each other. Finally free of my clothing I stood naked before my lover. My eyes glazed over as I watched her tall lean body sink to its knees as her hands caressed me.
I allowed the water to embrace me as Allison kissed my thighs. I opened my legs to her eager for her touch. "If this is a dream please don't let me awaken!". With the first flick of her tongue I knew that this was no dream. I braced my hands against the wall of the shower and further opened myself to her. With passion filled eyes she looked up at me as she parted my lips. I trembled as she began to tease me. "Damn!" She sputtered as she suddenly ceased her movements.
"What is it?" I gasped.
"Water up my nose." She stuttered in dismay.
"Get up here before you drown." I laughed as I pulled her up to me.
As she stood she shut off the water. "Making love in the shower always seems like a good idea." She coughed as we stepped out of the shower. "I don't know sometimes it works." I smiled as we grabbed some towels and began to dry off. "If you recall we have endured very nicely in some water sports."
"Oh yeah." She moaned as she called the memories.
"I can't believe that you are here." I said with a smile as I drank in the vision before me.
"I was going to surprise you at the office." She explained. "But after seven hours on an airplane I felt all grungy."
"I think finding you naked in the shower was more fun." I purred.
"I hope that I'm not interrupting any plans that you might have made." Allison added with a sudden shyness. "I just couldn't bear not seeing you for another nine weeks."
"I just need to make a phone call." I reassured her.
"Oh." Allison responded with a slight frown.
"I did have a date with two women tonight." I teased her as I wrapped myself up in a towel and made my way into the bedroom as Allison followed closely behind me.
"You have been a busy girl." Allison smirked. "And here I thought you might be lonely without me."
"Oh you have no idea." I sighed as she raised an eyebrow at me. I quickly explained how Chris and Rita took pity on me and then bullied me into joining them for dinner. I grabbed the telephone and quickly dialed Rita's shop. "Rita its Stephanie."
"Hey what's up you are not going to back out are you?" Rita grunted.
"Afraid so." I answered brightly.
"Now Stephanie. . ." She began to protest.
"Sorry Rita." I responded firmly. "No offense but I just got a better offer." Allison began to nibble on my shoulder.
"I see." Rita said suspiciously as I moaned in response to Allison's attention.
"Oh yeah." I groaned. "You would not believe what I found in the shower when I got home."
"Do tell." Rita encouraged me.
"I'll give you a hint she is about six feet tall, amazing blue eyes and . . ." I lost my train of thought as Allison's lips moved to my neck. ". . . and umm I have to go." I moaned. I could her Rita laughing at me as I hung up the receiver.
My only thoughts at that moment were to drag Allison to bed. "Let's drive down to Provincetown." Allison purred into my ear. "Now?" I gasped as the heat of her touch sent a jolt through my body. "I'll make you dinner." Allison encouraged. "We can sit by the fire or sip champagne in the hot tub."
"Hmmm." I moaned as the image of Allison in a hot tub floated through my thoughts.
"Is that a 'yes'?" She chuckled as my body went cold from her departing touch.
"What do I need to pack?" I asked as I finally cleared my head.
"Personally I like what you are wearing at the moment." She purred as she tugged on the towel I had wrapped myself in. "But then again it is very cold outside."
We dressed quickly and tossed some clothing in an overnight bag. As we hurried down the staircase I ran into Caroline almost knocking her to the ground. "Sorry." I said quickly.
"My pleasure." Caroline purred as she steadied herself touching my backside in the process. I pulled away deliberately. "Where are you running off to in such a hurry." She inquired in a husky tone. "I was hoping that perhaps we could . . ." She stopped suddenly finally noticing Allison behind me. Of course she would have noticed sooner if her eyes hadn't been firmly staring at my cleavage. "Oh . . . I see that you have other plans." She sneered as Allison took her place by my side.
"Allison Kendell." Allison introduced herself as she placed her arm around my waist in a possessive manner.
"Caroline Jennings." Caroline responded coldly. "I'm your replacement." She added snidely. "Only in your dreams." I thought coldly.
Much to my relief Allison simply chuckled at Caroline's statement. "Sweetheart we should get going if we want to beat the traffic." I said quickly knowing that Caroline was about to dig her heels in. Caroline was no match for my lover and I didn't want to waste anytime watching her try to start some kind of pissing contest. I had more important matters to attend to. Allison placed her Raybans firmly on her face and led me out to the car. Caroline was fuming as we made our departure.
"Well Caroline seems interesting." Allison teased as she pulled the car out of the driveway.
"She's a pill." I responded in distaste. "I think she's after your job."
"That's not all she is after is it Baby?" Allison asked knowingly. "Don't worry Stephanie I trust you. I'm not going to get all freaked out about her."
"Thank you." I responded happily to Allison's self control. "So you're not bothered by her."
"Of course I am." Allison answered sincerely. "I'm jealous as all hell. But if you and I don't trust one another than we are right back where we started and I don't know about you but I wouldn't want to live through that again."
"Amen." I added as I squeezed her hand gently.
We drove in silence for a few moments. "I love you, Allison." I said gently as I squeezed her hand once again. "There is something I need to tell you." I looked over at her and watched her body tense slightly. I needed to tell her about my past with Caroline. Based on the fiasco that happened with Peter I had more than learned my lesson. I told her everything about what had happened in College to Caroline's present day advances. When I had finished she thanked me for being honest and kissed my hand. "Are you all right?" I asked slightly fearful of her response.
"Yes." She answered sweetly. "The world is filled with people like Caroline. You are a beautiful woman Stephanie. There is going to be a lot of women and men alike who are going to try to seduce you. I love you and I know that you love me. That is all that matters. That is not to say that I won't get upset at times."
"Allison I spent my entire life looking for you." I said honestly. "Until there was you, I don't think that I was really alive."
"You are going to make me cry." Allison said softly.
We drove on enjoying one another's company. It was getting late so decided on a quick dinner from McDonalds instead of Allison cooking. She apologized repeatedly as we drove towards Provincetown. I didn't care about the food we were together and that was the only thing that really mattered to me. It was very late when we finally arrived in PTown. I was thankful for the Subaru's all wheel drive as we maneuvered our way through the narrow snow covered streets. Allison's summer place was small but quaint. She unlocked the gate to the driveway and I pulled the car in.
The windows were covered with dark shutters. Allison explained that they were heavy storm shutters that would protect the glass from any unforeseen weather conditions and we could open them with a switch from the inside. I couldn't help thinking just how much I wanted to see the house in the summer. Deep in my heart I knew that I would. We rushed into the house from the cold and began turning on the lights. Allison opened a few of the storm shutters so we could enjoy the view. I realized then that the shutters were a heavy metal material. The view of the ocean was breath taking. Allison quickly built a fire and as I warmed myself by the fire she went outside to the deck and started up the hot tub. She needed to uncover it, heat the water and then test it to insure that it was safe to use. I looked around the house with curiosity. It was one floor with a bedroom at the back and a smaller on in the front of the structure. The living room and kitchen meshed together with a deck leading off of the kitchen. It was perfect. The only thing that troubled me was that I knew that I was not the first woman that Allison had brought here.
Allison shivered as she reentered the house. She absently rubbed her hands together and began to scan the contents of her wine rack. "Nuts Chris has been here." Allison grumbled as she pulled a bottle of champagne out and set up an ice bucket and placed the bottle in so it could chill. "I wish if she was going to sneak down here she would at least replace the wine she uses." Allison complained.
That was what had been bothering me. Chris had been there and probably others before her. Come to think of it had Chris slept in our bed back in Haven? I tried to remember what Allison had said about that but for the moment I was caught up in the uncomfortableness of the situation. "Stephanie?" Allison called to me gently. "What's wrong Honey?"
"It's silly." I mumbled. "Chris has been here." I offered with an embarrassed shrug. "I guess I never stopped to think about it before. That you made love to her in the bed that we share."
"No I didn't." Allison reassured me. "I thought I told you that. The brass bed in Haven was something I bought when I moved there. It was all part of my new life. You are the only woman that I have shared it with. As for this place that is a different story. If it bothers you we can get a hotel room." She offered sympathetically.
"No." I sighed with relief as I relaxed slightly. "It bothers me a little but knowing that you would rather try to find a hotel room in the middle of the night rather than make me uncomfortable gives me all of the reassurance that I need."
"I'll tell you what how about in the spring we redecorate this place from top to bottom." She offered.
"Deal." I agreed eagerly. "Could you get the key back from Chris?"
"How about we just change the locks and the code on the alarm." She suggested as she crossed over to me.
"Even better." I laughed slightly. "Now where is that hot tub you promised me."
"I'm afraid that it won't be warm for awhile yet." She explained.
"Now what are we going to do in the mean time?" I teased her as I began to remove my clothing dropping each article on the floor. Allison smiled back at me as she started to remove her clothing as well. We stood there naked bathed in firelight and for a brief moment we simply stared into one another's eyes. I approached her slowly as she wet her lips in anticipation. I ran my fingers delicately over her skin leaving a trail of goosebumps behind. I reached down and took her by the hand and led her into the bedroom. We made love slowly as our cries of passion matched the howling of the night wind. Later we found ourselves lounging in the hot tub as we sipped champagne.
"I cannot believe that you flew all the way across the country just to see me." I sighed with contentment as I pressed my body closer to her naked form. "I had to see you." She answered honestly as she brought me closer to her. I leaned in and kissed her neck with desire. My hands roamed freely as she wrapped her arms around me so I could float in the water. The thrill of the bubbling water and the freedom of floating added to my excitement. I pressed my center against her firm abdomen and continued my explorations. I could feel her hands cup my backside pressing me harder into her with a steady rhythm.
Making love this way was a new experience for me. The night air was cold against my skin mixing with the warmth of the water and the heat from Allison's body. I could feel Allison's hand pressing between our bodies as she cupped my mound and began to stroke me gently. My body arched in response as she entered me. My head tossed back looking up into the night sky filled with stars as Allison's touch grew more insistent. I became lost in a dream world as she entered me the night sky seemed to explode as I released myself for my lover.
Several explosions later we decided it was time to go inside. I raced into the house quickly as Allison shut down the hot tub and covered it for the night. The frigid night air was far too cold for me to endure as I ran directly into the bedroom and climbed under the covers. Even though I was still shivering from the cold I had never felt so relaxed in my life. The combination of champagne, the soothing water from the hot tub blended with the passion of our lovemaking had relaxed every muscle in my body. "Yep, just call me Gumby." I thought mirthfully. I shivered violently as Allison drew back the covers and joined me in bed. Wrapping me up in arms she warmed me quickly. My breathing slowed as I drifted off to sleep in my lover's warm embrace.
I awoke the next morning still wrapped up in Allison's arms as she slept peacefully. I unwrapped myself from her arms and let her continue to sleep as I went into the kitchen. The cupboards were most definitely bare. I stepped back into in the bedroom to find Allison still fast asleep. I relit the fire and then proceeded to shower and dress warmly. Then I walked outside and made my way in the direction that I hoped would lead me into town. As I explored the little seaside village I was captivated. Most everything had been boarded up for the winter but there was still many shops open for the townies. I found a bakery and bought coffee and several Danish.
Upon my return I found Allison still fast asleep. I wanted to wait for her to awaken but my hunger won out since I was completely famished from last evenings activities. After I ate several Danish and drank my coffee I began to gather up the clothing that we had left laying around the living room. Then I curled up onto the sofa by the fire with some work from school. A few hours later Allison finally emerged from the bedroom. She could not look more adorable if she tried. Her hair was a complete mess and she had thrown on a tattered pair of sweats and a baby doll t-shirt that said, 'Fight Like A Girl'.
"Sorry I slept so late." She yawned as she stretched. "My body is still on west coast time."
"S'okay." I smiled brightly as she ran her fingers through her long raven tresses. "I'm sorry I fell asleep on you." I apologized. "I couldn't help it after . . ." My voice trailed off as I blushed unable to complete my words.
"I know." She winked back at me.
We spent the rest of the weekend blissfully walking around town. The cold New England temperatures often proved to be overwhelming for us. We decided to only go out when we needed to eat. When we weren't hoping into bed or the hot tub we spent the rest of our time together cuddling by the fire, where we shared our thoughts, dreams and our bodies. I realized that the time we had been apart had actually brought us closer together. I loved seeing her but the endless hours on the telephone not only made AT&T richer it had also enabled us to get to know one another. I was still dreading her leaving again. On Sunday morning we packed up, locked up the house and drove back to Haven. Allison had a flight back that evening.
As we entered the driveway we rushed out of car and raced towards the house eager to spend what little time we had left in bed. As we approached the front porch I was startled to see Cheryl Cooper exiting the house. I just shook my head in disbelief and waved off Allison's inquiring look. As we entered the foyer we were greeted by Hal.
"Hello Allison." Hal greeted her with surprise. "When did you get back?"
"I'm just in for the weekend." Allison explained.
"That is nice." Hal mutter as he shifted uncomfortably. "Look I know the two of you probably would like to be alone right about now, but I really need to talk to you Stephanie." I nodded my head in agreement and understanding. The three of us went upstairs with a slight reluctance. Allison excused herself and went into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. Hal sat silently for a moment then he let out a heavy sigh and began to recount the details of the weekend. It would appear that had been a steady stream of female students coming and going from Caroline's apartment all weekend. Most of which were clueless to the other's existance. When some of them discovered that they were not as special as Caroline had led them to believe that they were it resulted in more than one altercation. It was apparent that Caroline had gone way beyond simply breaking the rules. This woman was some kind of predator. Hal explained that he could no longer remain silent. I told him not to worry I would go to Maureen first thing in the morning. Hal seemed relieved that he would not have to be the one to blow the whistle.
After Hal's departure Allison turned to me. "She is sleeping with her students?" She asked in astonishment. "That will get you a ticket out of town very quickly."
"I warned her." I said with regret.
"Hey nobody wants to be a squealer." Allison teased me. "Look I honestly don't know if I agree with the policy or not but it is there and everyone knows about it. It doesn't matter if you've been here a month or a decade you touch a student and you are out."
"You don't agree with the policy?" I was curious.
"Well it's consenting adults and all." Allison tried to explain. "Hell I had affairs with a couple of my professors."
"Why am I not surprised." I said absently. "Allison have you ever been interested in one of your students?"
"No." Allison responded bluntly.
"Why not?" I pushed.
"Because they are . . . kids." Allison admitted seeming to understand the policy a little better. I just smiled at her and then sighed deeply.
I would deal with Caroline in the morning at the moment I had more pressing matters on my mind. I wanted Allison naked. Call me selfish but that is what I wanted. "Professor Kendell." I said firmly as I stood and took her by the hand. "Do you really want to debate this issue now?"
"No Dr. Grant." She responded in a deep tone as she led me into the bedroom.
CHAPTER TWENTY ONE
The following morning I found myself pacing outside of Maureen's office. Finally I summoned up the courage and knocked on the door. "Come in!" Maureen bellowed from inside. "Great she is already in a bad mood and I'm about to make it worse." As I entered her office was on the telephone. She waved to me and I entered completely and closed the door behind me. "So there is no way you can return?" She pleaded in a frazzled tone. "I understand. . . . talk to you soon." She hung up the telephone and slumped in her chair as she groaned in disgust. "I was in such a good mood this morning." Maureen grimaced. "My kids actually made it out the door on time. That should have been my first clue that this day would wind up being a complete disaster."
"I'm afraid that I am about to make it worse." I said carefully.
"You're not running off to California as well?" She joked.
"No." I swallowed hard not certain how to tell her about Caroline. "It is about Caroline Jennings."
"I already know." Maureen said in a serious tone. "This morning three of her students came forward and admitted to having an affair with her."
"What an idiot." Maureen groaned as she looked up at me. "I was just on the telephone with your girlfriend. I was begging with her to come back. Seeing you here I now know why she wasn't surprised to hear from me."
"What happens now?" I asked.
"The students are on probation." Maureen explained grimly. "It could have been worse for them. They could have been dismissed."
"And Caroline?" I question her with trepidation.
"I have to fire her." Maureen stated adamantly. "I cannot believe she did this Stephanie. We almost hired her for the position we gave to you. One of the things that prevented that was that I had heard rumors that she had a history of seducing her students. When she came in to fill in for Allison I explained to her that there was no gray area in this matter." Maureen's telephone rang and she answered it promptly. "Thank you Grace . . . send her to my office." Maureen concluded the brief conversation with a hint of remorse. "I hate doing this." She said after she hung up the telephone and began to massage her temple.
I left without saying a word. I wanted to make my exit before Caroline arrived. I was not fast enough. "Good Morning Stephanie." Caroline beamed.
"Hello." I muttered unable to look her in the eye as I brushed past her making a hasty retreat to my office. I began to gather up my belongings having no desire to be present when Caroline returned. Grace entered and handed me a new assignment sheet. Maureen had already divided up Caroline's classes amongst the faculty. This was not going to sit well with the rest of the faculty. I thanked Grace as she left.
"You couldn't resist could you?" Caroline snarled bitterly from the doorway. I looked up at her and felt nothing but pity for her. "You just could not keep your mouth shut!" This time Caroline was actually shouting at me.
"I didn't turn you in." I responded calmly. "Granted I was going to but someone else beat me to it. Three students Caroline. I'm willing to wager that they only came forward because they failed to make the short list this weekend. A woman scorned times three. What in the Hell were you thinking?"
"Kids." She snarled.
"That's right they are kids Caroline." I shot back. "And you used them."
"Bitch!" She screamed in response. "It's so easy for you isn't it? I guess when your girlfriend's last name is Kendell . . ."
"Don't." I warned her furiously.
"Whatever." She grunted and brushed past me. I took my opportunity and vacated the office quickly.
When I returned home late that evening after a very heated staff meeting I was exhausted. Many of Caroline's classes were dumped on me. It made sense I was most definitely low man on the totem pole when it came to seniority. I spent the remainder of the day teaching my classes and trying to sort out Caroline's. After reviewing her lesson plans, grades and syllabus I came to the conclusion that I would need to start from scratch. Her lesson plans made no sense and the grades contained far too many discrepancies. The students would freak but it was the only fair way to do this.
My body was aching and all I wanted was to soak in a very warm bath. I noticed the light flashing on the answering machine and a smile captured my lips. "Please be Allison and not some jerk trying to sell aluminum siding, I just need to hear her voice." I thought as I dropped my briefcase on the floor and raced over to the machine. I didn't even bother to close the door on the apartment I just needed to hear her voice. I pressed the button anxiously. "Hi Honey." Allison's sultry voice called out to me. "You're probably still working. I talked to Maureen this morning. It must have been Hell for you. Do yourself a favor . . . drop everything and take a long hot bath and remember that I love you. I'll talk to you tomorrow." The machine beeped noting it was the end of the message. I sighed happily.
"How sweet." A voice slurred from behind me and my body tensed. I turned to discover Caroline standing or at least trying to stand in the doorway. The woman was a more than a little drunk. "Great this day just keeps getting better and better!"
"Tell me something Steffie pooh." Caroline slurred. "What is it about Allison that is so damn fascinating?"
"Get out!" I demanded firmly.
"No." She scoffed. "Not until you tell me about your girlie." She weaved as she stepped into the apartment.
"Get out." I repeated.
"What is it hmm?" She made her way over to me and attempted to stare me down. "She's not that good looking. Is it the money?"
"I said get out." I repeated loudly as I stood up to her.
"Tell me Steffie pooh." Caroline continued ignoring my request. "What's the great Allison have that I don't?" Then she reached up and tore open her blouse and began to cup her own breast.
"It is probably because she is so amazing in bed." A firm voice said from the still open doorway. I looked past Caroline to find Chris standing very confidently in the doorway.
"What the . . ." Caroline sputtered as she turned towards Chris. "Who da hell are you . . . say you're kinda cute." She stumbled towards Chris and reached over to touch her. Chris just pushed her hands away as she rolled her eyes in disgust. The entire display was simply pathetic. "I think you should leave." Chris added firmly.
"Why?" Caroline slurred in a cockily manner.
"Because the Lady asked you to." Chris asserted as she straighten out her body to it's full intimidating height and stared down at Caroline. Chris' imposing stature eclipsed Caroline. She looked up at Chris and muttered something incoherent and stumbled out of the apartment.
"Charming." Chris sneered as she carefully watched Caroline make her departure.
"Thank you." I sighed with relief as I rushed over and slammed the door close and locked it. "She was beginning to make me nervous."
"What's her problem anyway?" Chris asked. "I mean other than the gin."
"She got fired today." I explained.
"I know." Chris responded. "That's why I'm here. Allison rang me up and asked me to let her know that there would no problem in releasing her from her sublet agreement. I didn't know Ally owned this house."
"Family secret." I answered. "Wait you flew in from New York just for that?"
"No." Chris responded with a slight uneasiness. "As of this weekend I'm living in Boston."
"Well it's not official yet." Chris hedged. "I gave my notice at the firm. I was going to tell you on Friday but since you had a better offer. . ."
"That I did."
"Anyways." Chris smiled knowingly. "After all of these years at Wainwright and Griggs and all of the hard work I put in not to mention saving their butts from Simon Brenner I was certain that I was well on my way to becoming a partner. It was made painfully clear to me that I was not. So I walked."
"Chris I'm sorry." I offered.
"I'm not." She stated with conviction. "Unlike my ex-girlfriend I like the law and I love being a lawyer. It's time for me to become the type of lawyer I always wanted to be. I still need to pass the bar here but I like Boston and I think that I might try my hand at private practice. For now I'm staying with Rita. Is any of this going to be a problem for you. I like you Stephanie and I wouldn't want you to feel uncomfortable."
"I'm fine with it." I said warmly. "I like you too. Granted at times things can be a little awkward."
"I know." Chris smiled in return. "For me as well . . . sometimes seeing the two of you together hurts. Say tell me about little Miss Muffet from downstairs. Why is she mad at you?"
"She blames me for her losing her job." I tried to explain knowing that no of it made any sense. "She also hates me because I won't sleep with her."
"I don't understand." Chris said as she shook her head in confusion. "I have a long list of women who have shot me down not once did I ever show up at their apartment drunk off my ass."
"I find it hard to believe that someone has turned you down." I said honestly.
"It happens I'm not Madonna." Chris chuckled. "Why was she fired?"
"Sleeping with her students."
"They cannot fire her for that." Chris responded simply as I watch her legal mind going to work.
"It was in her contract." I argued. "And she had been warned when they hired her that it was against University policy."
"The contract means nothing." Chris shrugged. "But if they went out of their way to give her a special warning I am going to assume that she has a history with this sort of thing." Chris went on lost in thought.
"I think so." I answered. "You don't think that she could fight this? Do you?"
"She could." Chris answered directly. "If she has done this before then she probably knows just how to handle it. If she is smart she knows that the University would do anything to avoid a public scandal. They will settle and she will walk away with a big check with no stains on her record. Probably just a few rumors or innuendo."
It was too incredible to believe but it made sense. Caroline had been bouncing from one college to the next. No doubt adding notches to her bedpost along the way and cashing in on it as well. Chris was probably right. Caroline had pulled this before. I managed to convince Chris into crashing on the sofa for night instead of driving all the way back to town only to drive back in the morning.
The following morning I made coffee while Chris took a shower. Allison called to see how I was doing and I retold her the events of last evening including Chris' suspicions. Allison agreed with Chris that Caroline was probably using her lesbian affairs with students as a way to cash in. Chris walked out into the living room just as the conversation was beginning to get interesting. She rolled her eyes and trotted off into the kitchen to fetch some coffee while I ducked into the bedroom and finished my conversation with Allison.
After Chris left I took a much needed cold shower. When I was leaving the apartment I could hear screaming coming from down below. "Who the Hell do you think you are?" Caroline screamed as she stood in the foyer dressed only in a bathrobe.
"As I have already explained I represent your landlord." Chris said dryly.
"Allison Kendell is not my landlord." Caroline screeched indignantly.
"Technically she is." Chris pointed out in a rather bored tone.
"Well you can tell her that I'm not going anywhere." Caroline snapped back in a cocky manner.
"That is fine." Chris responded in the same monotone voice she had maintained through out the conversation. "No one is telling you to leave. You can stay as long as you pay your rent. I am only here to inform you that you are free to go. You will not be held to your lease."
I thought it was strange that Caroline had a lease since I had never signed one. I also thought it was strange that she would want to stay in Haven since she just been fired by the University. This was a small town and everyone who lived here was in one form or another connected to University.
"I'm staying." Caroline spat back. "I'll need to stay here since my lawyer is filing a law suit against the University."
"Really?" Chris smirked in a cocky manner.
"That's right lawyer girl." Caroline snarled as she planted her hands firmly on her hips. "I don't what kind of law they practice in whatever podunk town you're from but here in the big city things are different."
I cringed as I awaited for Chris to rip Caroline a new orafice. Surprisingly enough it never happened. "Do tell?" Chris baited her.
"I'm suing for wrongful termination and sexual harassment." Caroline stated proudly.
"Are you insane?" I finally said having grown weary from watching this display.
"I have a strong case." Caroline quipped in my direction. "I'm also planning to sue Allison Kendell as well since she is the catalyst behind all of this."
"I see." Chris nodded thoughtfully. "Except you don't have a leg to stand on."
"Yeah right." Caroline sneered in distaste.
"Well for starters Allison Kendell is on the other side of the country." Chris pointed out. "You were dismissed from your position because you violated your contract."
"Prove it." Caroline snarled all full of herself.
"The students came forward." I pointed out.
"Students?" Chris cooed pleasantly. "As in more than one?"
"Three." I answered.
"They will never testify." Caroline gloated. "Those girls would be far too embarrassed if their families found out."
"I don't know three of them one of them might be just angry enough with you to do that." Chris noted. "As for sexual harassment what is your basis for that claim?"
"Dr. Grant was constantly making sexual overtures to me and when I refused her advances she used her influence to have me fired." Caroline stated in a hurt tone.
My jaw dropped as I realized that this woman was using me to get to Allison's mythical fortune. Chris simply laughed in her face. "Miss Jennings you are not filing any lawsuit." Chris stated very calmly.
"And why not?" Caroline snarled refusing to back down.
"First off that podunk town I'm from is New York City. Perhaps you've heard of it?" Chris stressed. "I'm with one of the top firms in the country and I am very good at what I do. For starters all I need is the statements those three statements have already made. Then I'll look into your past I'm sure out there somewhere is an old colleague who would love to expose you for the lying bitch that you are. After that it shouldn't be too difficult to prove the only mistake the University made was to hire you in the first place. Now as for Dr. Grant I will personally love to testify about how I found you in her apartment tearing your clothes off in a drunken stupor while she was yelling at you to leave."
"You won't do that." Caroline cooed in a confident manner. "If you do then I'll be forced to call Professor Kendell and tell her that you spent the night."
"And?" Chris asked in confusion. "She knows that and she also knows that I slept on the couch."
"What?" Caroline sputtered in a shaky voice knowing that her bluff had been finally called.
"You know it is women like you that give the rest of us a bad name." Chris said bitterly. "Now as I was saying you are not being asked to leave this residence but you are free to go."
Caroline stomped off in a huff and slammed her apartment door. Chris turned to me shaking her head, "That woman makes me look like a virgin." Chris had made her point and Caroline Jennings was gone for good. By the time I returned home from work that evening she had packed and disappeared. None of us ever heard from her again. I had to ask myself how it was that at one time I had found that woman attractive? Granted it was a long time ago but that kind of warped personality just doesn't pop up over night. I also had to ask myself if her recent advances had were so she could somehow gain somekind of leverage for herself. Was I a ticket into Haven or to Allison? Perhaps I was just another conquest?
As the weeks passed I forgot about Caroline. It was spring and that meant that Allison would be home soon. It also marked the start of the softball season. I was pitching and doing fairly well so Maureen was thrilled. I didn't understand why she was so happy since we were ranked number nine out of fifteen teams. Stan (who played left field), explained to me that we had never finished above last place.
On an usually hot day in April I was standing on the mound. We had won our last three games and now it was the top of ninth and we were tied at five all. If we could pull this win off the team would move up in the rankings. Maureen had been ready to explode throughout the entire game. I had struck out the first batter and I had one ball and two strikes against the second batter. I took my stance and was just about to release the ball when I spotted a familar face peeking out from behind the backstop. I released the ball which sailed off nowhere near the plate.
I tried to calm myself as I watched her make her way over to the bleachers. I took a deep breath and tried to focus. My next pitch faired better but not good enough. "Ball three the umpire called out." "Okay this is not the end of the world. So it's a full count with the score tied in the last inning no problem! Just don't look at her and you will be fine." I heard Maureen call for time as she ran over to me from first base. "Stephanie?" Her voice squeaked. "Are you all right?" I simply shook my head in a negative response. "Damn. I knew I shouldn't have let you pitch all nine innings." She chastised herself.
"It's not that." I laughed slightly as I stared at my feet. "Look over at the bleachers."
"Look who just showed up." I smiled as I pointed over to Allison. "My God she looks good."
"Oh she came home early." Maureen sighed and then snapped back into her coach mode. "No time for that. Just don't look over there."
"I can't help it." I pouted. "It has been a long time."
"Let me put it to you this way." Maureen spoke carefully. "Two more outs and you are that much closer to taking her home."
"Get your ass back on first base." I ordered her firmly. Maureen ran back to first and I threw out my next pitch. A swing and a miss. The next batter went down in flames. Three pitches and three strikes. What can I say? I was suddenly motivated. Maureen ran over and hugged me. I started to head towards the bleachers when Maureen grabbed me.
"Not so fast hot stuff." She tugged my shirt. "You are up. Remember?" Reluctantly I tossed my glove in our dugout and grabbed my bat. Once the warm up was completed I turned to Maureen. "We are not going into overtime." I spat out as she laughed. I stomped over to home plate like a woman on a mission. The first pitch was perfect. I knew the moment the bat made contact with the ball that my prediction had been accurate. I flung my bat to the ground and rounded the bases with ease. Once I crossed over home plate my teammates surrounded me. I knew they were happy but I had other things on my mind as I tried to pull myself away from the celebration.
I looked for her in the crowd until I found her carefully putting my gear together in the dugout she stepped out onto the field with my equipment bags tossed over her shoulder. I pushed my way over to her and without saying a word and not caring who was watching, I reached up and pulled her to me. We greeted one another without words as our lips met and we kissed deeply.
Once the need to breath overwhelmed us we parted. I reached down and tugged on her belt and pulled her to me. "Let's go home." Was all I said. She nodded in agreement with a misty eyed look.
Well that is it. That is how my journey began and ended well not quite how it ended. It is now a year later. September in fact and classes are starting in a few days. I find myself standing on the pitchers mound once again. This time at the end of the season in the championship game. I feel good we are one strike away from walking away with the title for the first time. But it is not the game that is making me smile. It is one face looking out from the crowd. I smile in her direction and then turn my attention back to the task at hand. I know the instant the ball leaves my hand how good it is. The batter swings and misses. We win. My teammates already know I won't be joining them for the celebration. I need to get my girl home.
You see yesterday we found out that she was carrying twins. Of course we already suspected that. Gaia told us last year. Even though she left us months ago before Allison got pregnant we can still feel her with us. Oh and if you are wondering it was window-shopping. Allison and I had been walking around Boston. For some reason we found ourselves standing in front of Maternity shop holding hands and watching the people inside. Without speaking we knew what we wanted. What we wanted was to complete our family.
Soon we will. I just wished that Gaia had warned me what life going to be like with a very pregnant Allison. It doesn't matter I would have found my way to her and our children anyway. It is where I belong. It is my home.
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