Bianca walked into the living room with two mugs of hot cider.
Laura quickly got out of the chair she was sitting on and took a mug from Bianca, their fingers touching. The blond met the other girls eyes and held her gaze as she took both mugs and set them down on the coffee table. Placing her hands on the brunette’s hips she leaned in and kissed her.
“I’ve wanted you to do that for a while.”
“I’ve wanted you to for a while.” Laura managed to get out before claiming the soft lips before her again and again and again. Their kisses deepening until Laura guided them to the couch and let her hands roam. She heard a distant knock from somewhere...
“Laura! Time to get up.” Brooke knocked on her daughters bedroom door again.
“I’m awake!” She called. Sometimes I hate dreams. She had to admit though that this one was different than the others, usually she woke up before they kissed. But that didn’t help her current state and pulled the covers over her head.
“Don’t forget we’re going to the Martin’s at three for presents and dinner!”
“I won’t mom!” She called still under the covers.
“Hurry up. Breakfast is on the table!” Brooke shook her head at the muffled reply.
Laura still felt all tingly from her dream. “I think a cold shower is in order...a very cold shower.” She mumbled as she got out of bed.
“Good morning honey.”
“Morning mom.” She kissed her mom on the cheek and sat down next to her. Laura’s teeth were still chattering from the shower.
“Are you cold sweetheart?” Brooke looked at her daughter whose teeth were chattering slightly even though she had a definite pink look to her face. She raised an eyebrow and was barely able to contain a smirk. “Drink your hot cider. That should warm you up.” Memories of cold showers in her youth flashing through her mind.
“We’re going to the Martin’s at three you said?” Laura dug into her food.
“Yes.” Brooke wiped her mouth with her napkin. “We’re going to have dinner by four and then present exchanging.”
“Can we take two cars?” Laura started to feel warm again. “I want to stop by Bianca’s and see what’s going on. I don’t know how long it’s going to take...” She let her voice trail off.
“Of course dear.” She patted her hand. “I understand. Just be there before four.” Brooke let out a deep sigh and looked at her daughter seriously. “You know Erica and I aren’t the best of friends. But I know how she can be, so if Bianca needs to get out of that house today invite her over to the Martin’s. She’s charmed all of them and would gladly welcome her for the day.”
The blond couldn’t have loved her mother more at that moment. She squeezed her tightly in a hug. “I love you mom.”
“I know. I love you too dear.”
Bianca woke up to a quiet house. She stared at the ceiling of her room. She went over the events of yesterday in her head and suspected that today wasn’t going to be any better. She got dressed and washed up with the unhurried speed of one in a dream like state. When she was downstairs she saw her Uncle Jack sleeping on the couch.
“Uncle Jack.” She shook him gently.
He groaned and opened his eyes. “I guess Erica didn’t come home last night.” He sat up and rubbed his necked trying to loosen it out.
“Yeah.” Bianca went to the kitchen to fix them some breakfast.
When she was done she bought out two plates of scrambled eggs and toast.
“Well, she's also decided not to answer her cell phone.” He went to the kitchen to get them juice and silverware. He sat down next to Bianca when he returned. “She did make one phone call, though, to tell Val she wouldn't be in to the office today.”
“This is exactly what I was afraid of.” Bianca continued to eat her eggs unenthusiasticaly.
“What is, honey? Thank you for breakfast by the way.” He continued eating his eggs.
“She can't even bear to be in the same house as me.” Bianca put down her fork, she couldn’t finish her eggs. She didn’t really feel like eating anything. “She can't bear to go to work and see the people that she works with. She -- it's like she doesn't want to know me. Having a gay daughter is beyond embarrassing. She must really hate me.” The weight of what happened rested heavily on her shoulders.
“No.” He put his fork down and placed an arm around her shoulders. “Your mother's a lot of things. She's unpredictable, she's volatile, but she does not” he caught her gaze. “And she will never hate you.”
Bianca didn’t answer, she just picked up their empty plates and left them in the sink. Walking back to the living room she wiped away the few tears that escaped from her eyes. She had just reentered when the doorbell rang.
“Mom wouldn't ring the doorbell.” She couldn’t hide her disappointment.
Jackson gave Bianca a quick hug then when to open the door. “Ho-ho-ho-ho.” He stepped aside to let Myrtle in.
“Jackson Montgomery, you handsome dog!” She gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Happy, happy, happy --”
“Myrtle Fargate, you look like Mrs. Santa Claus.” And she was. Decked out in red and white trim the elderly lady would have made the perfect Mrs. Santa Claus.
“Christmas Day.” The little redhead finished. “Where's Erica? Asleep? And Bianca. Bianca, darling.” She hugged the young woman. “How was Santa Claus? Was he good to you? Did you get all your wishes from your wish list, huh?”
“Not exactly, Myrtle.” She couldn’t meet the older woman’s eyes.
“No?” She looked closer at Bianca. “Hey -- have you been crying? What is this? Christmas presents not opened? Stockings?” The stokings hung limp over the fireplace in sad testiment to the holiday passing without notice or care. “What's going on? What happened to Christmas?”
“Christmas has been temporarily put on hold.” Jack answered quickly.
“Oh, that's ridiculous.” Myrtle dissmissed the idea. “I mean, what grinch stole Christmas this year?”
Bianca and Jack looked at each other. A look that didn’t go past Myrtle.
“Is someone going to tell me what's going on?” She demanded. “I mean, I take it Erica is not upstairs asleep.”
“No, she's not. Something unexpected came up.” He wasn’t sure how much Bianca wanted to tell.
“No, Uncle Jack, please. No more lies, no more excuses.” She walked further into the living room. “Myrtle, the truth is that my mother is extremely upset with me right now. She left the house last night and she hasn't been home since.”
Myrtle looked dismayed and Bianca went on.
“She may never want to see me again.” This said in a small voice.
“Oh, darling, I don't believe that.” She took the burnett’s hand. “Now, I know that Erica has been getting herself into a state about some of the problems the two of you have. But, oh, she wouldn't shut you out of her life, not for anything in this world.”
“You weren't here yesterday.” She slipped her hand out of older women and sat down. “Myrtle, I told my mother something about myself that she didn't want to hear, something that maybe made her sick, maybe” She took a deep breath and kept her gaze on the ground. “-- maybe made her hate me.”
“Oh, now, you bite your tongue.” Hands on hips. “Erica would never hate you, not in a million years.” She sat down next to the wonderful young women she felt honoured knowing.
“She would if I gave her a reason.” She look right at Myrtle, wanting to meet her reaction head on. She was tired being scared. “See, Myrtle, I told my mother that I'm gay.”
“So that -- that is the reason for all this? Oh, you darling girl.” Myrtle hugged Bianca tightly, and was very relieved. “Good heavens. You had me scared half to death.”
Bianca didn’t know whether to smile or cry.
Myrtle recognized the young woman’s reaction imediatly. “Oh. There, there, there. Now, listen, darling. I know you threw your mother a loop.” They shared a small knowing grin. “But give her time to get used to it, and then she'll come around.”
“You didn't need time to get used to it.” Bianca pointed out.
“Oh, honey, honey. In my life -- in my life I have seen everything twice.” She turned to Jackson who was standing behind the couch the two woman where sitting on. He hadn’t wanted to interrupted anything. “Right?”
“Absolutely.” He said a little to sincerely.
“I mean,” She lightly smacked Jack on his forearm “you being gay is just part of who you are.”
“Myrtle, you're the best. But you know my mom. She's not going to get used to it.” She folded her hands in her lap. “She's not going to come around. I mean, I'm like the anti-Erica.” She paused “I'd be surprised if she doesn't throw me out of the house.” She finished quietly.
“Myrtle, will you please tell her how crazy that is?” Jack was hoping the redhead could convise Bianca.
“Of course, absolutely crazy.” She agreed. “Listen, darling, you are part of Erica's flesh and blood, and she would rather cut her heart out than lose you. She loves you. She loves you very, very much.”
“That was before I dropped my bombshell. Myrtle, you weren't here last night. Neither were you, Uncle Jack. You didn't hear her. She actually accused me of turning gay to spite her.”
They both staired at Bianca.
“She did?” Myrtle blinked a couple of times. “Well, I'll have a word or three to say to her when she gets home.”
‘Yeah” Jack was already upset with Erica and this only highted it.
“I should probably go upstairs and pack my things anyway.” She stood up. “Even if she doesn't throw me out of the house, she'll send me off to some boarding school so that she doesn't have to look at me every day and say, ‘what went wrong?’”
“Look, darling, darling, we mustn't jump to a lot of depressing conclusions.” The older woman quietly interrupted. “Now, what I think we should do is right now get a fix on where this Erica has disappeared to.”
Just then the door opened and in walked the subject of conversation.
Bianca peeked at the clock and saw it was noon already. "Mom." She wanted to rush over and hug her mother but she wasn't sure how that was going to be received. "You look exhausted. Are you ok? Where have you been? Uncle Jack and I have been worried."
"And so have I Erica." Myrtle added.
"Please." Erica held up a hand stalling Jackson who was also about to speak. "I'm very tired. I just want to go to bed."
"Erica, where were you?" The short redhead demanded.
"I'm tired. I'll talk to all of you later." She didn't want to talk now.
"Where were you." The older woman wouldn't back down.
Bianca and Jack just stood there, willingly letting Myrtle handle things.
"I went to the office for a couple of hours and then spent the rest of the night just driving around. Now please. I need to sleep. We'll talk later."
The other woman had seen that look on Erica's face many times before and knew that she wasn't going to get anywhere with her. "Alright then. But we will talk later, you hear."
"Yes, Myrtle. We will." She nodded.
"Mom." Bianca spoke up. "Do you need anything?"
Erica looked right at Bianca, her expression was one mixed with love, bewilderment, and sadness.
"No thank you. I just want to sleep." Erica was halfway up the stairs when she stopped and turned around. "I'm not going to be down much, if at all, so if you want to go somewhere just leave a note." She then turned around and made her way tiredly to her room.
"Well. If you want Bianca you can come with me today." Jackson looked at his forlorn looking niece.
"Or me Bianca." Myrtle pipped up.
"Thanks, but no thanks. I want to be here in case Mom needs anything." Bianca was hopeful, things actually weren't as bad as she had expected, her mom was home after all. She wasn't deluding herself though, she knew that they still had a long way to go.
"Are you sure Bianca?" Jackson asked holding her gaze.
"Yeah. I'll be fine." She smiled. Maybe Laura can come over for a bit.
"Well, I have to go.” The older women picked up her purse. “If you change you mind Bianca call me."
"Same here sweetheart." Jack went to the couch and picked up his jacket.
Bianca gave them both a hug. "Thank you again. But I'll be fine. Maybe I'll call Laura later."
"And we'll talk with Erica." Jack placed a kiss on Bianca’s forhead.
"Defiantly." Myrtle said. Then both her and Jackson where out the door and waved to Bianca as they drove away.
It was two thirty when the doorbell rang. Bianca turned off "The Grinch," which she thought was appropriate and answered the door.
"Laura." The brunette was surprised to see the blonde, she halfway expected to see her Uncle Jack at the door. She was dressed in black jeans and a satin green top that brought out her eyes. "Come in."
"Hey Bianca." The other girl walked inside and looked around the room. It was obvious that things weren't well. Everything had the look that it was waiting for Christmas to come, for that special moment to set the joy off. She just hoped she could bring that to her friend.
"What are you doing here Laura? Shouldn't you be at the Martin's?" She gave Laura a questioning look.
"That's what I'm here about."
Bianca led them both to the couch where they sat down.
"I was wondering if you wanted to come with me."
The other girl looked at her friend in surprise.
"We're going to have dinner at four. It's potluck. Everyone brings something. Granted with these people they bring enough that Dr. Joe and Mrs. Martin are eating leftovers for a week...." She took a deep breath to slow herself down and to stop the babbling. She had practiced asking her...repeatedly. It wasn't like it was a date, it still made her nervous.
"I'm not sure. I'm not exactly in the Christmas mood, I'll just bring everyone down." She paused. "It wasn't been the best Christmas for me this year..." She started to choke up a bit remembering some of the things her mother had said.
"Hey." Laura scooted over and put her arm around Bianca. "Was it really that bad?"
The younger girl didn't answer. She just clung to Laura as she finally let her defenses down and sobbed. Letting all the feelings from the day before in and didn't try to stop them. The sobs racked her body and Laura held her close with both arms wrapped around her and stroked the dark hair.
After what seemed like a very long time, which was only about ten minutes, Bianca stopped crying and just clung to her friend. Keeping her eyes close she let the safe loving feeling wash over her, healing parts of her heart she never realized needed healing.
Pulling away Bianca looked into Laura's eyes. "Thanks." But she couldn't hold the gaze and looked down.
"No problem. That's what friends are for." Taking a tissue from a box on the coffee table, she lifted the other girls chine up and gently wiped away the tears.
Bianca closed her eyes at the gentle touch, savoring the feeling. When she opened them she was staring into Laura's eyes again, this time though it was accompanied with strong desire and a wanting to kiss those soft lips that had murmured words of comfort moments before.
"Will you come with me to the Martin's Bianca?"
She smile for the first time that day. "Alright. Let me change into something nicer and get your present." She got off the couch and went up the stairs to her bedroom. She didn't miss the huge grin plastered on her friends face.
Laura pulled up to the Martin's crowded driveway at three thirty. She had called her mom while she was waiting for Bianca to tell her that Bianca was coming. She glanced over to the passenger side for what seemed like the hundredth time. Each time her hormones took a hit. The brunette was dressed in black jeans and a close fitting bright red sweater, around her neck was a gold locket.
As soon as Bianca was out of the car Laura took her hand and hurried up the stone path that lead to the front door.
"Laura, I have to get your present." The brunette giggled.
"I'll send Junior to get it. Come on, I'm cold." She opened the door and pulled the other girl in. "It's freezing out there."
"Next time wear a coat." She said with a smile and gave her friend a hug.
Gosh it's warm in here. Any thought of being cold left Laura's thoughts.
Maybe I should have worn my red silk shirt instead. Bianca felt herself blush.
"Hello there Bianca. Welcome to our little party."
She turned around. "Hi Doctor Joe. Thanks for letting me come."
"We're happy to have you." Brooke had told the adults earlier that things at home were not going well for the young woman. They had all agreed that it was a good idea to have her over, they all cared for the intelligent wonderful woman and couldn’t think of one reason not to let her come. "Laura, your mother is in the kitchen with Mrs. Martin and Dixie. Tad had to go back home and get Junior's mittens. And Jake and the boys are out back playing football. Why don't you girls get some hot cider."
"Come on Bianca. Mrs. Martin makes the best cider." She pulled on their still entwined hands to the kitchen.
The two girls sat next to each other during dinner. Laura wasn't exaggerating when she said there would be a lot of food. All throughout the meal they kept sneaking glances when the other wasn't looking.
During the feast Bianca was able to forget her troubles at home and enjoy herself enormously. When dinner was done everyone wondered their separate ways around the house and exchanged gifts that hadn't been already.
"I want you to open your gift first Laura." Bianca motioned to the large gift wrapped box next to the blonde. They were sitting the back porch steps side by side, the light from the house enough for them to see. Brooke had brought Laura her jacket after seeing the girl had left home without one.
"Alright." She smiled at her friend. She picked up the box and placed it between her legs on the step below and unwrap the gift. Her eyes widened. "Wow." It was a carrying case for her camera. The really nice brand to boot. She unzipped the case. It had a spot to hold her camera, several different lenses, places to hold six rolls of film, and a small cleaning kit. The bottom unzipped to hold a portfolio. She just stared at it.
"Look at the front." Came the soft whisper in her ear.
Laura had to collect her wits when she felt the warm breath. Huh? Front?...Oh. Laura closed the case and for the first time saw the metal plate on the front. `For my friend' was in small letters. `Laura English' was in large letters in the center. Below her name came the rest `May your dreams come true. I believe in you. Love, Bianca.' Laura put the gift down and hug the girl next to her. She couldn't stop the tear that escaped, but then again, she really didn't care.
"Thank you. I...I don't know what to say. This is extremely touching." The blond whispered in her friend’s ear, then pulled back and wiped away the escaped tear.
Bianca smiled one of her rare ones that shone through her eyes and made Laura feel like the only person on earth.
"Now open yours." She handed the box over.
The brunette unwrapped her gift and opened the box. It was her turn for her eyes to go wide. "Laura it isn't..." She extracted the vase from the bubble wrap. "The vase from the store..."
Her eyes filled up with tears as she carefully lowered the vase back to it's box and hugged the blonde.
All this hugging was having wonderfully disastrous effects on their hormones but neither would have had it any other way.
Brooke and Laura were eating breakfast together when the redhead spoke up. "So, now can we call the police? I assume that you spoke to Bianca about it yesterday."
"Yeah, I did." She took another bit of her omelet. "She said what Greenlee had on her is worthless, so it's all a go."
"Good." Brooke didn't waste any time. "Get me Lt. Fry please." Brooke talked into the phone. "Derek the is Brooke English. I would like to press charges against Greenlee Smythe. Yes. Laura remembers everything and Bianca Montgomery witnessed the whole thing..."
Laura tuned out the rest. The entire yacht mess didn't interest her. Sure, she wanted Greenlee to pay but that was mostly for what she did to Bianca than her. Talk about shift in priorities. She smiled to herself and continued to eat her breakfast.
Bianca read the note again. `Went to work. Don't know when I'll be back. Mom.'
Ding dong. Ding dong.
She went to the door. "Leo." Her eyebrows when up in surprise.
"Is it true?"
"What?" Why is it that everyone starts in the middle of a thought and expects me to understand.
"Did Greenlee push Laura over the yacht?" He was getting impatient. He walked into the living room and began to pace.
Uh oh. "Leo, I know you love --" She started to sidestep
"I want the truth, Bianca." Leo looked right into her eyes.
"Yes, she did." She saw him flinch. "I'm sorry."
"Why didn't you tell me?" He didn't want to believe what he was hearing. "Honesty is such a big deal with you. Why did you wait so long to tell me?"
"Because Greenlee --"
"No," he cut her off. "Don't tell me that you were trying to protect Greenlee! I know how you two feel about each other. Come on, spit it out!"
"Greenlee blackmailed me." She said this so softly that Leo almost missed it.
"Blackmail?" Tears came to his own eyes. God, please don’t let it be about...
"She said that if I told anybody what happened to Laura on the yacht that she would tell my mom that I'm gay. I couldn't let that happen, Leo. I couldn't do that to my mom." She watched worriedly for a reaction.
He just stood there. "Lt. Fry came over to the loft. We were about to leave to go to lunch. She's in jail now." He turned around and rushed out the door.
"Leo!" Without looking back he hopped into the cab and sped away to confront his one time lover.
Bianca and Laura walked into BJ's. "Yeah. The D.A. cut a deal with Greenlee. That girl has some deep pockets, should have seen her lawyer...excuse me, lawyers. Two-thousand hours of community service, time served and three years probation."
"Laura, that's awful." She followed her friend to a table.
"It's alright. I really wasn't looking forward to a trial and I'm sure she would have dragged it out. I'm worried about Leo though. He’s taking this really hard.”
They sat down, a waitress handed them menus and took their drink orders. They continued to chit chat, enjoying the others company.
"Yeah. I'm going to the Crystal Ball too." Bianca smiled. She was excited. It would be her first time going and it was only two days away.
"Hello ladies. It's time for your parole hearing Bianca." Kris walked up the to table with a portfolio and a large gray photo envelope.
Laura laughed while Bianca rolled her eyes. "Hey Kris. Join us for lunch?"
"Yeah. Join us." The younger photographer added.
"Thanks. Can't for long though, I'm meeting Samantha here. And I have the pictures." Kris sat down across from the two girls.
"She can join us. But these I've got to see." Laura grinned and opened the portfolio, with Bianca looking over her shoulder, she admired them. The first dozen or so shots of the young model weren't very good, the tension she was feeling showed through. It was the last twenty shots that made the blonde's jaw drop, blood boil, heart race, and all those other good things. Of course Bianca does that to me with a pair of jeans and t-shirt... She grinned.
Kris noticed the look and shook her head. The waitress returned and took their orders.
"If you two liked those..." Kris slide the photo envelope across the table.
Bianca emptied the envelope. It was the snapshots of the two of them. "Wow."
The photographer watched the girls expression. She saw Laura study them for a second, look at Bianca, then back down, and slightly shake her head. The model repeated the same thing without either of them knowing. Kris let her head drop. I hope I wasn't this clueless at that age.
"Hi Kris." A woman walked up to the table.
"Hi honey." Kris kissed the woman hello. "Sam this is Bianca Montgomery and her friend Laura English. Bianca, Laura, this Samantha."
The two girls shook Samantha's hand and motioned for her to sit with them.
"So," Bianca smiled at the new comer. She was about 5’ 6” with flaming red hair, pale skin, hazel eyes and dressed in nurses scrubs . "I hear you know some stories about when Kris was in high school."
An evil grin appeared on Sam's face. "Oh yeah."
"Oh no." A thump was heard as the photographer's head hit the table.
"Oh yes." Their food then arrived and Samantha ordered for herself.
"Come on, spill." The blonde was interested to hear what she had to say.
"We had this English teacher, Ms. Dolman, who just clashed all the time with poor Kris here--"
"I told you, she was trying to fail me for no reason!"
"Yes dear." Samantha patted her partner's knee. "Well Kris was stage crew for the fall play that year. So she was there late evenings. Ms. Dolman was always forgetting to lock her class room so this one here snuck into her room and crazy glued all the drawers shut and hid all the papers on her desk around the room. So the next morning she couldn't open a single drawer, the janitor had to come and pry them open with a crowbar. She couldn’t find all the papers Kris hid so the her classes got a free pass on that paper."
The two girls across from them tried not to giggle as they ate their lunch.
"She didn't get caught that time." Samantha’s own lunch arrived at that moment interrupting her.
"That time?" Bianca asked.
"She cherry bombed the girls bathroom on the first floor and flooded it. She had detention for a month." She smiled and continued to eat her lunch.
"Yeah.” Kris swallowed her mouthful of food. “Had to copy the dictionary for two hours everyday after school."
This time everyone was laughing.
"I was kinda wild back then. Leather jackets. Ripped jeans. Spiked collars. Chains. And every month a different hair colour.” She shook her head.
"Not like now, huh, gramma.” She got a french fry tossed her way. “The amazing thing is that she only got caught for half the things she did."
"But I sill ended up copying that dictionary at least five times. Did you know that portcullis means ‘to shut; to bar’ and is rarely used?" She gave a weak grin.
"No, I can't say I did." Bianca managed to get out through her laughter.
"Bianca, I'm going to refill my glass.” Laura stood up with her glass in hand. “Want me to get you another drink."
"Sure." Bianca smiled as she handed her glass over.
"I'm going to refill mine too. Kris?"
Laura and Sam, with glasses in hand, walked over to the bar.
"Have you told her yet?" The older woman asked after handing the empty glasses to the man behind the bar.
"Told who what?" She tried to side step the question even as she looked over her shoulder to the table behind them.
She wasn't going to let her off that easy. "Have you told Bianca that you've got a thing for her?"
Laura turned at looked the other woman who just raised an eyebrow, waiting for an answer.
"No." She sighed. Leaning against the bar she kept her eyes trained on a water stain on the surface.
"Why?" She asked gently.
"I-I'm not sure is she likes me that way." She let the depressing though settle on her.
Samantha waited for the rest.
"And I'm not sure that's what she needs right now.” She paused before going on, wondering how much she could tell. “She's going through some sh-um...junk with her mother. She doesn't need that right now."
"Maybe that's exactly what she needs." Just then the bartender came back with their drinks. “Can I get a container for my lunch?”
“Sure.” He retreated to fetch the item in question.
Laura just looked at her and shrugged but the thought stayed with her. What if she does? "Am I that obvious?"
"I've seen the look on your face many times before..." Sam smiled gently, her eyes softening.
It was the blonde's turn to lift an eyebrow.
"On Kris." She clarified.
"Oh." The bartender handed Sam a cheap plastic container.
"Let's get back to the table." Picking up her two glasses she walked back to the table with a thoughtful Laura.
Bianca watched Laura walk to the bar and turned her gaze to Kris who was watching Samantha. "You really do love her don't you?"
Kris smiled and turned her gaze to the young women. "Yes, I do. Very much."
"How did the two of you meet?" Curiosity got the better of her. She never knew an open lesbian couple before. Admit it, you’re also a sap for a good love story.
"We met at high school as freshman.” She had a thoughtful look on her face, remembering the time as a teen. “It wasn't until halfway through our Junior year that I asked her out. That is, when I finally worked up the courage. I nearly passed out when she said yes.” A sheepish grin. “Been together ever since."
"And your parents where OK. with the fact you were dating a girl?" She continued to eat.
"I had come out to them a few weeks before. It was actually pretty funny.” She ate a fry. “I told them and they were like `duh.' To quote them `Finally. You've been driving us nuts waiting for you to tell us.'” Rolling her eyes she continued. “We talked about it for a little while. It wasn't a shock. They had figured it out a long time before and had dealt with it. They had trouble with the way I was dressing, the only thing that we argued about."
"What about Samantha's parents?"
"Her parents were different.” A deep sigh. “It took them a while to get over the fact that I was another girl. But it took them a LONG time to get over that it was me. They didn't want their little girl dating a rebel rouser. Imagine that.” The two women laughed. “They knew the only reason I didn't get kicked out of school is that I got straight A's, bucking for Valedictorian, and was their star softball pitcher. What about you? When are you and Laura going to start dating?"
Bianca nearly choked on a fry. "I...uh....She doesn't like me that way."
"Could have fooled me.” Elbow on the table and chin in her hand she gave Bianca an inquiring look. “Did you actually look at those pictures the two of you?"
The brunette’s gaze drifter over the photographer’s shoulder. "So how long have to the two of you been together?"
The change of subject nearly have Kris whiplash. She smiled when she saw Samantha place a glass in front of her.
"Here you go Miss Bianca." Laura walked up to the table, placed the girl's drink on the table and gave a mock bow.
She gently slapped her on shoulder and giggled. "Thanks."
"Kris and I started dating when we were seventeen and we are now twenty-six , so it's been nine years." The red head started transfer her half eaten lunch into the container she got.
"Wow." Laura when back to thinking about what Sam had said to her.
"Sweetheart." Sam closed the container and focused on her partner. "Didn't you want to ask them about Mel?"
"Thanks for reminding me.” Kris patted her hand and held it. “Ladies. My niece, Melanie, is coming to live with the two of us for this semester and the summer. I was wondering if you wouldn't mind showing her around a little bit and maybe introducing her to people. She can be shy and you two seem like outgoing people."
"No problem." The brunette readily agreed. I’ve been told I need more friends.
"We can do that." If she’s anything like these two things will be fantastic. She smiled.
"Great. Well, I have to go.” Kris kissed the hand she held. “Can't keep Ms. Kane waiting, showing her the photos today."
Bianca winced and tried to cover it by eating a fry. Laura placed a hand on the girls knee under the table, hoping to give some quiet reassurance.
"I have to go too. My shift at the hospital starts in fifteen minutes. Nice to meet you lovely ladies. Keep in touch." Samantha left the restaurant to start another day the hospital.
"Talk to you both when Mel comes. Bye." She stood up and gathered her things.
"Your pictures." Laura held up the large gray envelope.
"Keep them. Think of them as a Christmas slash Thank You gift. There are double prints in there, one for each of you.” She left some cash for her and Sam’s half of the lunch. “Bye."
Laura kept her hand on Bianca’s knee and scooted closer. "Don't worry about your mom Bianca. Things will work out."
"I hope they do Laura.” She squeezed the hand. “I hope they do."
Erica finished some more of the endless paperwork that came with running her own business. There was still a lot more to do which she was grateful for, it kept her from thinking about....things.
"Erica we need to talk."
The model looked up completely startled out of her thoughts. "I'm really busy right now." She looked back down at the sheets of paper before her, not actually seeing them.
"No Erica. This is important and you know it." The small figure walked further into the room.
"I have no idea what you're talking about Myrtle." She shuffled more papers.
The short redhead just glared.
"Alright , if you insist." The taller woman stood up from behind her desk and walked over the small couch and waited for her friend to sit next to her.
"Erica, why haven't you been home?" Myrtle knew better then to beat around the bush with Erica.
"But I have-"
"Going home after Bianca is asleep and going to work before she's awake is not being home.” She cut in. “She has been worried sick and is getting depressed about this whole thing with you."
"Bianca is just fine, she's a very strong girl.” Even she was unable to tell if she was trying to reassure herself more than Myrtle. “There's nothing she can't handle."
Myrtle took one of Erica's hands in her own hoping the physical connection would help her get through to Erica. "Laura has been with her everyday, trying her best to help her. So have Jackson and I but we're not YOU."
Not having a quick answer to this, Erica just looked at her hands with intense interest.
Myrtle sighed. Looks like I'll have to tell her everything. "Darling, did you know that Bianca has her bags packed ready for you to tell her to leave?"
"What?" She couldn't believe her ears. "Why on earth would she think that? I would NEVER ask her to leave."
"I know that. But you have to tell Bianca that darling." The redhead ducked her head to meet the lowered brown ones. "You've got gay friends, working in the fashion industry."
"I know." She continued knowing she could trust her friend to let herself be completely honest. "Yes, I know, and I've supported gay rights, but it's very different when it's your own child."
"I understand how it can be so upsetting.” She rubbed the hand in hers. “No parent wants their child to suffer in any way."
"That's right." She let her emotional barriers down slightly. "Oh, and it kills me to see her suffering, and she is suffering. But she's not the only one, Myrtle. I feel so betrayed. And I know I shouldn't, but I do, and it just makes things harder."
"For you." She stated.
"Yes, for me, but also for Bianca. I mean, if she keeps on insisting that she's" Erica paused. "-- that this is how she is, I mean, her whole life could be so difficult. It could be in danger. I mean, you know how people are." Tears started to form. "They -- she'll be subject to ridicule." A sob she tried to suppress escaped. "I mean, people have been killed for this, Myrtle." The flood gates opened and Erica laid her head on the other woman's shoulder.
When she finally quieted down Myrtle spoke. "It's ok. to need time to deal with this Erica. Just talk with Bianca."
There was a long pause.
Bianca rushed downstairs when she heard the front door open. "Mom!" She hugged her mom enjoying the feeling, not sure how long it would last.
"Hello honey." She hugged her daughter back. "I need to get ready. The Crystal Ball is tonight and I only have a few hours to prepare."
"I guess I better get ready too then." She smiled excitedly.
"Oh. Honey I thought that wouldn't want to go. I know how much you don't like parties." Erica was genuinely confused. She was trying to be understanding. It was hurting her head.
"I don't like parties that are for me. We talked about this, you said I could go." She got a bad feeling. Please don't do this to me mom.
The model regarded at her daughter. "Alright. The limousine is picking us up at seven." She hugged the young woman again. "I've waited a long time for this. The two of us going to a New Year's party together."
"So have I mom. I better get ready." Bianca had a enormous smile plastered on her face. She rushed up the stairs.
Erica grinned at her daughter's back. Maybe things can work out after all. She knew it was going to be tough but Erica, as always, was up to the challenge.
Chapter 10 (conclusion):
Laura handed the valet her keys, getting a little tag in return. She opened her purse to exchanged the ticket with a small plain hand held mirror. Maybe I should have put my hair up. Biting her lip she returned the mirror to its place and preceded to smooth a few of the wrinkles in her burgundy dress. The strapless dress flared out at the waist, little silver studs sparkled from her ears. Around her neck hung a simple silver chain, on that silver chain was a silver oval locket with a picture of Brooke on one side and the other was empty. But she hoped that wouldn't be the case for too long.
The blond turned around to see Rain in a sleek black dress with a slit up just past her knees. It looked sexy but still conservative enough for the fancy event known as the Crystal Ball.
"Hi Rain. I didn't know that you were part of the group from the Center coming."
"Yeah well...if it wasn't for the fact that Bianca's coming I wouldn't have. I can't remember the last time I wore a dress." She tugged at the object in question.
"You look really nice." Laura complimented. But not as nice as Bianca will.
"Thanks. I just keep thinking I'm going to say something and insult some old dude." She watched as an elderly couple walked by and through the door.
"Well, the old guys here have a good sense of humor." She responded laughingly. "The ones that don't deserve to be insulted."
Rain laughed along with Laura. "I guess we better get inside."
After going through the usual cloak room and ticket check ins the two girls went to the other side of the room to get a glass of punch.
The room was softly lighted by candles and a few electric ones snuck in. To the sides of the room there where rooms for sitting and relaxing. One wall of the room was ceiling to floor windows with two doors at either end. The doors led to a patio that wrapped around the corner of the building and had a stone bench every so often along the railing.
Rain noticed that Laura's eyes kept wondering around the room obviously searching for someone.
"So," Rain said then taking a sip of punch. "When are you going to ask Bianca out?"
Laura nearly choked on her punch. A startled Rain smacked the photographer on the back gently.
"What is with me?! Do I have a sign over my head saying `In love with Bianca Montgomery'?" Her voice started getting louder. "First Carole from the antique shop saying that Bianca and I remind her of her and her late husband, then Kris' partner Samantha asks if I had told Bianca how I feel, and now you asking when I'm going to ask her out!"
A couple of guys at the end of the table looked over at the two girls.
"Unless you want everyone here to know, you might want to quite down...." She trailed off when she saw that Laura wasn't paying any attention to her. Actually the blond was staring over Rain's shoulder. She turned around to see what it was. I should have guessed.
Bianca was standing in the doorway looking around at the party. It was her first time at the Crystal Ball and wanted to take in everything. She was wearing a pale green strapless dress that complemented her pale skin and contrasted with dark eyes and hair. The dress billowed out at the waist and ended just below the floor. Around her neck hung a gold chain with the locket
Rain nudged Laura in the ribs with her elbow. "Breath. It isn't a good to pass out you know."
"Right" The blond managed to get out, how she didn't know.
Bianca spotted the two girls and walked over, never taking her eyes off of Laura.
"Hey Bianca. Do you want some punch?" The blond smiled at her friend.
"Yes please." The brunette smiled back.
Oh no. They're not obvious at all. Only the whole room knows how they feel. Rain rolled her eyes and wondered if the tension between the two could get any thicker. "Hey there girl."
"Hi Rain.” She finally noticed her friend and gave her a hug. “It's great to see you here."
Laura handed a glass of punch to the brunette. "Did you hear Leo broke up with Greenlee?"
"Yeah. In a way I'm glad.” She took a sip and raised an eyebrow when she realized it was spiked. “I really think he could do so much better than Greenlee."
"I totally agree with you Binks." Leo came up from behind and gave his friend a hug.
The four friends continued chatting when Greenlee walked in with her Grandfather.
"I can't believe she is even showing her face here." Laura fumed when Bianca pointed her out.
"She can't be banned from all public events, no matter how much we want to." Leo said. Even though he still loved Greenlee, he couldn't ever see himself forgiving her for what she did to Bianca and Laura. Not to mention lying to him when he asked her to be totally honest with him no matter what. It all still hurt very much.
The woman in question walked over brazenly. "Hello all. How is everyone this evening."
Without conscious thought Laura stepped between Bianca and Greenlee. "Go away Greenlee. You're not welcomed over here."
"This is a free country Laura. I can go wherever I want." The unwelcome visitor smirked at the group.
"Just go Greenlee. For once just leave when you're not welcomed." Leo was getting impatient with is former girlfriend.
"Close knit group. We'll see how long that lasts." That said she turned and walked to the other end of the room.
"What was up with that?" Rain finally spoke up.
"I don't know and don't care as long as she stays over there." Leo said with Bianca and Laura nodding their agreement.
The night went well. Greenlee kept shooting dirty looks at them but the four friends just ignored her. Kris and Samantha showed up a little later and were introduced to the others. The next few hours were spent in laughing conversation as everyone got to know the other better. Around ten thirty Bianca decided to go outside to the patio. It was getting warm in the hall so she excused herself. Outside she walked over to the stone railing and looked up at the stars.
I miss you so much daddy. Hope you're having a good time in heaven.
Laura walked through the opened glass door. She stood there watching Bianca look at the stars. The crescent moon and the light coming from inside cast the burette in a warm glow. Again the blond marveled at how beautiful Bianca really was, inside and out. She walked up next to her friend.
"Hey." Laura greeted softly.
"Hey." Bianca turned around the leaned back against the railing and looked through the glass. "It's nice to see all of them getting along."
"Yeah." Laura didn't even turn around to look.
The burette turned to face her friend and smiled.
Laura smiled back as she stared at the beauty before her.
For the first time in Bianca’s life she gave into her impulses without thinking about the consequences and leaned in to bring her lips to Laura's. She kissed her friend softly, lips tenderly brushing each other.
When Laura felt the young model's lips brush against hers, her heart felt like it stopped and she couldn't seem to breath. This first, shy kiss was way better then she ever thought it would be and surpassed by leaps and bounds the kiss Leo had planted on her on the yacht. It caused her brain to fizzle out.
When Bianca pulled away she saw the blond's deer-in-the-headlights look. "Oh god. I'm sorry. I...I..." The burette didn't bother to finish her sentence, she turned around, a tear falling before she ran to the other side of the patio and around the corner out of sight.
"Bianca! Wait..." But she was already gone. "Damn." She roughly brushed away her own tear.
"Go after her." Came the voice from behind her.
Laura whirled around in surprise. "Mom! I-"
"Do you care for her?" Brooke asked simply, giving her only living daughter a loving look.
"Yes. Deeply." Laura knew there was no point of lying, besides she didn't want to.
"Then go after her."
She looked at the women she called her mother for a moment then smiled. "Thanks mom." She hugged her mom then went after the burette.
Brooke thought about the PFLAG parent. She was right, the smile on her face does make this a whole lot easier. Smiling herself, she took one last glance at the corner Laura disappeared around and went to join the party again.
When Laura rounded the corner she saw Bianca sitting on a bench with her back to her crying. She sat down and placed a hand on the other girl's shoulder. "Bianca?"
Bianca shrugged off the hand, turning even further away. "You don't have to worry Laura, it won't happen again I promise. Just leave me alone."
Gathering her courage the blond responded. "I hope you're lying."
"Look Laura, I just....What did you say?" She turned around but kept her eyes trained on the cold bench she was sitting on.
Hooking a finger under Bianca's chin, Laura lifted the tear streaked face so they were looking at each other's face. Without pausing she brought her lips to the velvety ones of the beauty across from her. After ending the kiss she gently wiped the tears off of the face of the girl she was in love with. "I said that I hope you're lying."
"Was completely startled. Believe me, that kiss was anything but unwelcome." She smiled at the smiling face in front of her.
"Well then, it looks like I have a promise to break." Bianca leaned in.
Like before, the following kisses were sweet. The kind of new love just beginning.
The sound of Moonlight Serenade just beginning could be heard from where they sat. "Please, can I have this dance?" Laura asked, never taking her hands off Bianca's waist she stood up when the other girl nodded.
They swayed with the music. Bianca's arms around her dance partner's neck, their foreheads touching. Neither one of them could stop smiling or quell the bubbling joy inside, it wasn't like they wanted to either. As Moonlight Serenade ended they kept dancing, never changing their movements, dancing through the silences and songs that didn't have the same tempo. They finally stopped when an announcement was made that midnight was thirty minutes away.
"We better go back inside."
"Yeah." Laura sighed. She kissed the women for a few minutes before stepping back from Bianca and sticking out her elbow. Hooking her arm in Laura's they walked back around the corner and back to the party.
Joining their friends Laura saw her mother signaling to her. Watching her closely she noticed that Brooke was making wiping motions across her mouth. Uh oh. Laura opened her purse and took out her mirror. Her lipstick was obviously smudged, blushing she took a tissue out of her purse to fix it. That's what the grins were about.
Bianca noticed the grin on Kris' face and gave the photographer a questioning look. Motioning to her mouth Kris mouthed `lipstick.' It took the brunette a new moments to realize what she was talking about and when she did she started blushing.
Laura tapped Bianca's shoulder when the other girl turned she used same tissue to clean up the brunette's lipstick.
"Umm..." Was all Bianca was able to get out before everyone started laughing.
The two girls blushed when they heard the mutters of `about time' from their friends.
All this ruckus didn't go unnoticed by a watching Greenlee. Seeing Donald Steele, a sleazy tabloid reporter, she walked over to him. "Hey Donald, I have a scoop that you'll just drool over." She led him into one of the private rooms on the side. A few minutes later both came out of room. Greenlee looking pleased with herself and Donald writing like crazy on his note pad.
Greenlee walked up behind Leo and tapped his shoulder. "Don't worry, Leo, I'm not here to throw myself at your feet or beg you to take me back."
"Good, because it's not going to happen." Leo turned his back on her to talk with Kris.
"I just wanted to say good-bye." She shot a dirty look at Kris who responded with a raised eyebrow, obviously not impressed. "After tonight, I won't be a burden to you anymore. I'm just sorry it had to end like this." Having said what she wanted to she turned around and left the party.
"Hmmm...this party just got a lot better." Laura smiled at the retreating back of Greenlee.
"Alright everyone five minutes till midnight!" Ryan called out.
Everyone grabbed one of the small crystal candle holders and made room for Ryan and Gillian. Bianca gave her mother a hug then moved behind Erica to stand next to Laura. Brooke smiled from the other side of the room at the two girls.
Gillian and Ryan made their little speech about how to keep the fire of friendship and love burning, at which point Bianca and Laura entwined their fingers, and letting the glow lead your way in the world. Finally everyone was counting down from ten.
"Erica Kane." Came a slimy voice from behind Bianca. "I just heard something really interesting."
Mother and daughter turned around. "Leave us alone Mr. Steele. I'm not interested in what ever you have to say."
Erica moved between Donald Steele and her baby.
"Really? Well then, let me ask you this. How is it like to have a daughter who's GAY!?"
"ONE!! HAPPY NEW YEAR" Balloons fell from the ceiling as everyone started to celebrate.
Shocked Bianca just stood there.
Erica panicked. "I have no idea what you're talking about." It wasn't supposed to happen this fast. I need time!
"I have information from a very reliable source that your daughter," he pointed a finger at the young woman. "Bianca is GAY!"
The room went silent.
Noticing this Erica responded again. "You're information is wrong. Tell him honey."
"Mom," Bianca whispered so only Erica could hear. "What are you doing?"
"Just tell him you're not gay" she whispered back.
"You want me to lie?"
Bianca looked behind her mom and saw her friends. Leo stood there next to Kris and Samantha who were holding hands, in front of them was her Uncle Jack, beside him Rain who gave her a questioning look. Everyone smiling. Then there was Laura. She was smiling the biggest of them, giving Bianca a small nod, her eyes filled with love.
She took a deep breath. "But mom, I am gay." Her voice was loud and clear.
Immediately everyone started whispering which Erica heard as loud as thunder, filling her ears. But for two young women in the room, not a word was heard as they looked into the other's eyes.
"Well then, now that that's cleared up." Donald Steele took out a pencil and began writing. "Is it true you're in a romantic relationship with Laura English?"
Before the tabloid reporter could fire off another question Edmund and Dimitri grabbed him to escort him outside.
"Time to leave now." Edmund said.
"Hey! What about freedom of the press?" He struggled helplessly.
"What about freedom to kick you out?" Dimitri replied as they went through the front door.
Erica, not knowing what to do just smiled as she went into one of the side rooms as Ryan and Gillian started dancing to get things going again.
Bianca still had a dazed look on her face when all her friends surrounded her.
"Way to go kiddo." Kris said patting her on the back.
"Wow" was all Rain was able to say.
"I need some air." The realization of what she had done finally hit her making her shake.
"Let's go outside then." Laura wrapped an arm around the girls waist. "Rain, could you get Bianca some water?"
"No problem." She went in search of water, not wanting to get Bianca drunk on the spiked punch.
"We'll stay in here." Samantha said, still holding Kris' hand.
"No. Please come with me." Bianca laid her head down on Laura's shoulder. "I'd like to have my friends with me right now."
Everyone nodded. Once outside Rain came up with a glass of water.
"Thanks." The burette sat down, Laura never removing her hold on the girl. "So, what now?" The question was directed at the young woman next to her.
"Now you relax and let us take care of you."
Silence descended on the group once more.
"So, how about them 49ers?" Leo said.
That got everyone laughing, the rest of the time was spent with laughter and the company of good friends and Bianca Montgomery in the arms of Laura English.
"Oh no. Look at the Sam. We better get going." She pointed to the grandfather clock that could be seen from outside. It was one forty-five. "Melanie's coming tomorrow and I want to be alive when she does."
"Then we better get going hon." She turned to Bianca who stood up. "That was a very brave thing you did." She hugged the younger woman. "You know you can call Kris or me if you ever need to talk or if you want to get together."
"Yeah kiddo. Here's my business card.” She pulled the card out of her own little purse. It was very colourful to say the least. “Has cell phone, home phone, pager, and e-mail on it." Kris also hugged her young friend.
"Thank you two. You've been really nice." How did I get such great friends?
They smiled, said their goodbye's to everyone else and then left the party.
"Looks like I'm going too. The rest of the gang from the Center is leaving. That was awesome Bianca. Chin up." With a hug and pat on the back Rain went to join the rest of the group leaving.
"Let's go inside ladies." Leo held open the door. "Looks like this party is over anyway."
"Yeah it is." Jackson walked up to his niece and kissed her forehead. "I was talking with you mother, when I turned around she disappeared. I can't seem to find her. By the way, I am very proud of you sweetheart. How about we go home."
"If you don't mind Mr. Montgomery, I'd like to take Bianca home." Laura crossed her fingers behind her back. "I drove myself here."
"Is that alright with you honey?"
"Yeah Uncle Jack. I'd like Laura to drive me home." She smiled.
"All right then. I'll see you at home." He gave the burette a kiss and nodded his goodbye's to the other two young people before he left.
"I better be head off too.” He looked around at the almost empty room. “Are you two going to be ok?" Leo smiled when Bianca took Laura's hand.
"Of course Leo. Don't worry. Talk to you later." The blond smiled as the three of them left the party.
"So." Laura shifted foot to foot on the porch of the Kane house.
"So." Bianca smiled.
"I really had a good time. In spite of Donald Steele. I was...uh..." This shouldn't be so hard! After all you've already kissed her.
Taking Laura's hands in hers Bianca caught her friend's gaze. "What?"
"Are you free this Friday night? I thought maybe we could go to dinner and a movie or something like that."
"I would really like that." The smile on her face proved to the young photographer that it was more than alright.
"Great! It's a date then." Just do it. She leaned in and brought their lips together again that night. Laura's heart rate quicken as she felt Bianca deepen the kiss. When they finally pulled apart both were breathing heavily. "I uh...better go. My mom is waiting for me."
Bianca nodded. She waved as Laura drove away.
Well, that's one way to start the New Year. Their thoughts mirrored each other.
"You can kiss me with the windows open while the rain comes pouring inside" Laura kept singing as she locked the door. "Kiss me in sweet slow motion, let's let every thing slide."
"Laura you're home." Brooke walked out of the kitchen.
“You got me floating," She grabbed her mom around the waist and spun the both of them around the room "You got me flyin!"
Brooke laughed at her daughter, delighted to see her so happy.
"She likes me mom!" Laura laughed. "Goodnight!" After giving her mom a kiss she rushed upstairs. For once she couldn't wait for the morning.
‘What were those songs?’ disclaimer:
All the songs are in the order in which they appear.
"A Chance" sung by Kenny Chesney
"Someone Else's Star" sung by Brian White.
"Sweet Dreams" sung by the Eurythmics
"Kiss The Girl" sung by Little Texas on "The Best of Country Sing The Best Of Disney"
"To Make You Feel My Love" sung by Garth Brooks on the "Hope Floats" soundtrack.
The song Laura is singing at the end is “This Kiss” sung by Faith Hill.
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