Disclaimer One: Some of the characters in this story resemble those in Xena Warrior Princess. These characters are not my property, but belong to MCA/Universal Studios. However, the rest are my creation!

Disclaimer Two: This story contains sex! OMG! Yes, that's what I said, sex, and it's between two women! So, if it's not your cup of tea, or your under 18 and your parents will most likely catch you. Don't read! It also contains some strong language because, shit, people use strong language. There is also a kinda large amount of violence too.

This is the sixth installment in the R' Place series. You must read the rest to get a handle on what's happening here. The story takes place a little bit after New Years. It's an all girl foray with just a couple of men gracing the plot. I promise that you will learn more about Jake in the next one or so. I am warning you now that this one is sort of a hurt/comfort story, and some nasty things happen. However, good things happen too. So, if you're not ready, close your eyes and count to ten, then read.

I would also like to dedicate this one to a good friend, Celine, who begged me--BEGGED ME!!--to know some of the plot! LOL!

Now, on with the show!

Under Her Spell



Part I

For each ecstatic moment,
We must an anguish pay.

. . . . . .Emily Dickinson


The lone figure huddled under the thick comforter and cooling sheets, trying to gather warmth from the now half empty bed. She shot out a hand and commandeered the deserted pillow, bringing it to her face and sniffing it unconsciously. A tiny smile curled the corners of full lips as she whispered a name into the quiet solitude of the bedroom. "Tara." Finally, sleep came again only to be interrupted by the jarring ring of the phone. The petite woman moaned and partly opened one green eye. She yanked the covers off her head and squeaked when the sunlight slapped her unforgiving in the face. Grudgingly, she opened the other eye and blew as well as pushed red-gold strands out of her face.

The ring was insistent.

"Dammit! Hold on a frippin minute!"

She reached for the phone, poising her mind and vocal cords to verbally annihilate the person on the other end, if it wasnít Tara.

"Yeah, yeah hello?"

There was soft laughter.


"Morning to you too Gabrielle. Howís my favorite author?"

The strawberry blonde sighed as she sat up and moved her naked form to the edge of the bed.

"Morning Jonah. Youíd better have a good reason for calling at this ungodly hour."

There was that laughter again.

"Itís 9am Gabrielle."

"Uh huh, still ungodly. This had better be important or it comes out of your commission." The woman said with a smirk.

"Oooo, get an agent where it hurts. Iím just calling to remind you of the book signing you have today."

"Huh? What? Thatís today? Whatís the date anyway? Iíve been so busy with family and all I completely forgot. Good thing I have to the end of February to finish my latest novel."

"Well, itís a good thing I called you then. You do remember where it is?"

"Yeah, Borders, near the mall in Indianapolis at 1pm right? Say that book has been out almost a year, why the book signing anyway when I have another coming out soon?"

The older man twirled the pen in his fingers as he turned his chair to look out the window at downtown Indianapolis. The buildings and high rises shone in the sunlight like shiny new toys, and the streets were habitually jammed with wall to wall traffic. He ran his hand through thinning salt and pepper hair and smiled, making the lines crinkle on the side of his brown eyes.

"Itís to keep you acquainted with the fickle public. So, do I get to keep my commission?"

Gabrielle laughed. "For now you do my friend. Thanks for the reminder."

"Anytime. I was worried about you. Havenít heard from you in a while."

"Um, been very busy."

Jonah could hear the smile in her voice. "Ah, I see."

"Remind me that we need to talk next time I see you Jonah."

"Oh, itís that serious, huh?"

"Oh yeah. Okay, Iím gonna get up and get myself together. Iíll call you soon and set up lunch."

After hanging up the phone, Gabrielle sighed again and scratched the back of her neck. She scrunched up her nose and smiled hugely at the smell of sex that clung to her body. She giggled proudly remembering last night and this morning when Tara was begging for more then begging her to stop. Breaking the self-imposed reverie, Gabrielle looked over at the clock. Two and a half-hours until I need to get out of here. Might as well get up and shower.í Heading toward the bathroom, her thoughts strayed. Things were going great with Tara. She shook her head as she stepped under the spray of warm water. With the coming of the New Year, it meant more book signings as a promotional for her new book. Things had been good all around so far. Lil was in love, and it was working out. Tara had moved in, and things were perfect there. The only bad thing was that Lil had to leave in a few days to get back to school. Gabrielle pursed her lips, wondering what her sister was going to do about her relationship and their parents. That was turning into a wait and see game. Scrunching her brows together with worry, she tried to shake off the impending sense of doom that settled over her like a warm blanket.

Things were going good, maybe too good.

Turning the shower off, she squeezed the excess water from her hair before leaving the stall. Now looking into the mirror, she hoped that feeling was just an aberration. Closing the bathroom door, and padding back into the bedroom, she headed for the closet. She smiled as her hands landed on some of Taraís clothes before she picked out a green wool sweater and matching slacks. Thoughts of her lover now running rampant, she sat down and pick up the phone to call her.


Just down the hall, Lil lay in bed staring up at the popcorn ceiling. She had to leave soon. She had to tell her parents soon. She didnít want to say good bye to Catt anytime soon. She sighed and looked over at her sleeping daughter. The brunette wondered how Jamie was going to react to Catt for the first time. Surely, her daughter would pick up on the good vibes from her mother? Lil closed her eyes briefly. Upon opening them again, she bit her lip in contemplation. The older woman's vacation was almost up and her own time was nearing an end. They had a lot to discuss to make this relationship work, and they were avoiding, especially the leaving part. She groaned out loud in frustration. "Why do some things have to be so damned hard?"

She licked dry lips and smiled despite it all. Some things werenít hard at all such as, loving Catt, kissing Catt, and touching Catt. She groaned again knee deep in a different type of frustration. They had mutually agreed to set aside the physical side of their relationship to deal with the emotional and mental aspect, and it was just killing her. Her body ached to re-familiarize itself with her loverís. The hungry kisses they had allowed themselves to share left her shaking, unbelievably aroused, and needy. Lil shivered as she remembered the soft growling sounds Catt made when tongues touched and dueled much like their hands did over clothed bodies.

"Ugh," she whispered. "I canít take this. My fingers are going to end up doing the walking."

She smirked to herself. ĎI wonder if she would like to listen? Bad, bad Lilian!í The young brunette started to giggle. Then she cocked her head to the side at the sound of a closing door, knowing it was her sister. Her smile got bigger. The two of them had been great in supporting her, and when she told them that Catt and her were finally together, hell, they seemed almost happier than she was. If it was possible, the bond between the sisters had become stronger. It had solidified into an entity of its own that had to be nurtured. Lilís friendship with Tara was one of playful regard full of respect and admiration, surrounded by genuine caring. That and the fact that the woman was damned intriguing helped also. She grinned thinking of the first time she had met Tara at her parentís house.

The grin quivered then disappeared. Her parents. ĎGod, there was so much to tell them, but Iím scared shitless. They finally came around for Gab, but the both of us being gay? Itís gonna be ugly I can feel it. I canít tell them till Iím absolutely ready. I donít care how long it takes,í her inner voice commented. She pursed her lips as she heard another door close. Deciding at that moment not to get up, she threw the covers over her head and flopped over on her stomach, trying to ward off reality physically and mentally.


Tara yawned once more as she studied the computer monitor. ĎDamn she was getting good,í she smiled crookedly to herself. The strawberry blonde made sure her loverís body was throbbing and exhausted before she left for work. ĎSheís getting damned good. Well, she had a good teacher.í The tall womanís grin widened. Since she had moved in, they had re-christened every room of the house and then some. She bit her lip to keep from giggling as she recalled them getting caught with their pants down, literally, in the attempt to Ďtake a breakí from moving her in. Shannon had steadfastly avoided looking them in the eye the remainder of the day and constantly mumbled something about "scorched eye sockets" and Jake's constant dig was "Ew," evertime he saw one of them.

The woman picked up her coffee cup to take a healthy swig, savoring the taste of amaretto. The little woman had finally rubbed off on her with the Ďdamned flavored coffees,í but it was no matter because Tara had in return, gotten Gabrielle hooked on Xena and Buffy in a matter of a week. She just loved the way all five foot six inches of her lover would try to act out the scenes in animated fashion with wild kicks and punches into the non-resistant air. Even little Jamie jumped up and down upon hearing the Xena theme song, if the little girl was up to watch it. She sat her coffee down and keyed in a new command to look at inventory.

Her mind ventured to Lil and Catt. Who would have thought it? The ice queen cometh and was melted. ĎI still donít know how to feel and think about that. We may have too much history between us to be friends. I know Lil is gonna want us to try.í She sighed and scratched the bridge of her nose. "Weíll see how it goes," she whispered aloud. Coming out of her thoughts, she logged onto the Internet to check mail. Things were really slow, so she decided a little surfing was in order too and maybe even an early day. The blaring of the phone almost served to interrupt her down time. She stared at the offensive equipment and decided to let John get it from the garage.

"Ugh," she said as the internal buzzer went off.


"Hey boss lady, Gab on line one."

"Okay thanks John. Hey listen, why don't you knock off early? We're gonna be pretty slow today."

"Oh, great will do."

She ended that conversation to go on to a more pleasing one. She smiled, feeling the flush of happiness warm her cheeks.

"Hey you," she said into the receiver.

"Hey yourself sleepy head. What are you doing?"

"Actually, playing on the computer and thinking about you."

"Oh, really? You wouldn't happen to be thinking about this morning, last night or even yesterday afternoon by any chance?" Gabrielle couldn't disguise the smile in her voice.

"My, my aren't you the smug one."

"Well, I aim to please."

Tara laughed out right. She loved this little banter between them. It was exhilarating. "Mmm, yes you do. Hey, I was thinking about knocking off early. Maybe we could go out to lunch and then pick up where we left off?" Tara's voice lowered an octave, becoming smoky and sensual.

Gabrielle welcomed the jolt of the shiver that invaded her body. "Oh God, you're bad!"

"You like me that way."

Her breathing hitched, and she swallowed audibly. "I would be lying if I said I didn't." She cleared her throat to alleviate the hoarseness. "Um, but, I can't. My agent called this morning to remind me about a book signing I have at 1 o'clock in Indianapolis. I was calling you to tell you before I got, uh, sidetracked."

"Awww, okay. I guess I could catch up on some paper work and inventory now that I've sent John home. How long do you think you'll be?"

"I should be back by or before six. I'm may go do a little shopping while I'm here."

"Okay Red. I'll have dinner ready and waiting."

"Kay. Hey listen, if I get back early I'll stop by the shop on the way home okay?"

"Yeah, okay. Hurry back. I love you."

"Love you too T. See you later."

Tara hung up the phone and logged off the Internet. "Oh boy! Inventory!" The woman murmured with mock enthusiasm. She blew out an annoyed puff of air, disturbing her bangs. "Can you say boring day ahead?"


Caitlin wrung her hands one more time as she sat down heavily on the couch in her hotel room. She looked down at the carpet and envisioned the wear she had already caused from pacing all morning. She sighed in exasperation.

"Come on girl, you have landed multi-million dollar advertising accounts and it scares you shitless to meet a one and a half year old child!" She exclaimed to the empty, quiet room. "Yeah, it does."

Jumping up again, she began to follow her previous pacing pattern. The normally cool blonde licked the nervous sweat forming over her top lip and deposited now clammy hands into the pockets of her linen slacks. Nervous was not strong enough a word. She had never been around children before and had never had the urge to be a mother. Knowing somewhere down deep that she had too much baggage for that. However, most of that baggage had been lifted, but the question remained. Could she handle loving a woman with a child? She whimpered out loud as her heart contracted in fear. Was it too much too soon? Opening her heart to Lil was one thing, but letting an impressionable child into her life was decidedly another. They still had a lot to discuss regarding their own relationship. Catt wanted to scream in frustration. She plopped back down onto the beige sofa, closing her eyes. She smiled inwardly in remembering Jamieís appearance. She looked incredibly like her mother with the same blue eyes, same pert nose, and same pouty lips.

Her smile turned crooked as she thought about her loverís lips. The way they tasted, the warmth they generated, and the way they pulled on her. . . Caitlin groaned outloud as another frustration took over. Shaking her head to clear it, she knew the only thing she could do was hope for the best and that the little girl liked story time at the library. The tall blonde glanced at her watch. There was two more hours to go. She ran an elegant hand haphazardly through blonde locks and laughed derisively. "Wish I had a friend to talk to, but sheís the only one." Her life as a bitch had cost her a lot. Getting up once more, she grabbed her keys and coat. It was time to mend fences.


Gabrielle knocked softly on her sisterís bedroom door then tip toed in. Lil peered at her from over the covers. She blinked a couple of times then spoke.

"Hey, what time is it?"

"Itís about 10:30. I canít believe Jamie is still out."

"Mmm, well she had a late night. Wouldnít go to sleep. May have been all that noise." Lilís eyes flashed with mirth."

"Ah, you heard then?" Gabrielle ducked her head to hide the blush.

"Uh huh. I always hear it. You two were just especially loud this time." Her mouth twisted into a cocky grin.

"Uh, sorry canít help myself. She does this thing with her tongue. . .

Lil waved her hands. "Whoa! Thatís too much information."

Gabrielle laughed at the shocked look on her sisterís face. "Okay, okay listen. Iíve got to go to Indianapolis for a book signing. I should be back late this afternoon. By the way, are you going out with Caitlin today?"

Lil raised an eyebrow and grinned sexily. "Uh huh, sheís meeting Jamie for the first time too."

"Ah, well good luck with that."

Lil stared down at the sheets.

"Hey whatís wrong?"

The younger woman sighed. "Iíve got to leave in two days, and she has to go back to work in three. We havenít even talked about the distance."

"Oh," she walked in further, sitting on the bed. "From what you two went through to be together, this is something you really have to work out."

"I know. Iím gonna talk her about it today."

Gabrielle rubbed a covered foot, trying to relay support. "Good luck. You love each other, and Iím sure youíll work this out."

"Yeah, maybe youíre right. Iíll see you later."

Gabrielle smiled and softly padded out of the room.


Caitlin sat in her rental car just outside Taraís shop. "What do I say to her? Sorry I fucked you over. Now, I need your advice? No, no how about, sorry I fucked you over, can you help me not fuck up again?" Catt smiled inwardly. ĎIíll do anything to make this work with you Lil and that includes mend fences, humbling myself, and getting advice from someone who has known you longer than I have.í Having recited the speech to herself, Catilin got out of the car.

Tara sat at her desk her chin supported by her hand, while the other hand tapped the page down key on the keyboard. Her lids hung heavily over her eyes as her thoughts strayed from one thing to another. "God, Iím so bored! I wonder if I should sneak away and go play with lil bit?í Her forehead creased as she frowned. ĎSheís leaving soon. Itís gonna be strange not having her around pulling on my pant leg and calling me Boo boo. Crap, why am I kidding myself? I love that kid.í Tara sighed. Maybe it was time she raised one herself. Just maybe. The pensive woman looked up startled out of her reverie by the chiming of the door. Her eyes widened in surprise when she saw who it was.

"Caitlin, what. . ."

"Can we talk?" The older woman nervously pushed a stray blonde lock behind her ear. She looked at Tara pleadingly.

The younger woman was completely taken aback. The woman she knew as Caitlin had visibly softened. There was no hardness around her eyes, and while the arrogance was still there in her unconscious body language, Tara could see a need for help. The younger woman stared into sparkling gray eyes that were snapping with life. She was looking at a changed woman. Where Caitlin was beautiful before, she was breathtaking now. Tara instantly held a new found respect for Lil. Quirking an eyebrow in question, the younger woman waved Caitlin back past the gate closing off the open office area. Offering the older woman her chair, she sat on the edge of her desk. Resting her hands loosely on her thighs, she waited silently. Caitlin peered into curious blue, her generous mouth curving into a smile. Finally, she spoke.

"I love her. You know I do."

Tara nodded.

"Iím meeting Jamie for the first time today."

The brunette smirked. "Youíll love her. Sheís a good kid."

Catt fiddled with the buttons of her coat in a nervous gesture. "Do you think sheíll like me?"

Tara saw the nervousness and heard the unsure hesitation in her former loverís voice. Her own voice softened to compensate. "From what Iíve seen, she responds to her motherís cues. If Lil is touchy feely toward you, I think sheíll respond well."

"Mmm, I hope so. She looks so much like Lil that I canít help but be enamoured. Caitlin paused for a minute, letting the warmth of her lover flood through her. She glanced back at Tara smiling slightly at the amused look on the other womanís face. "Iím taking her to the library for story time. Do you think sheíll like it?"

"Hell yeah! If itís anything with pictures, and the reader acts it out with puppets and sounds, sheíll love it."

"God, I hope so. I checked. The reader does act it out with hand puppets." Caitlin said with her confidence increasing.

"Then I think youíll be okay," Tara replied.

An uncomfortable silence fell between them. Tara bit her lip and waited. Knowing that because of the past, a thin sheet of ice separated them in a wary stalemate. It was obvious the woman had changed, but did she have enough room in her heart to forgive? Tara sighed inwardly not knowing the answer but willing to try to find out what it was. She cleared her throat.

"You wanna tell me what else is wrong?"

Caitlin flinched. She had hurt this woman in the past. Intentionally, terribly. Was she offering an olive branch? Her conscious whispered, ĎDo you deserve it?í After a brief moment she answered the question. ĎYouíve changed. I think you do.í Looking into unwavering blue eyes, Caitlin answered.

"Iím leaving in a couple of days. They need me back at the office. I want to ask her to come with me, but is that fair? Sheís in school, and I know her parents live in the same city. Is it fair for me to ask her to leave all of you?" She stuttered slightly. "I-Iíve been afraid to broach the subject with her. I donít want it to end. I donít want to lose her." The older woman ran an elegant hand through spun gold.

Tara cocked her head to the side, looking thoughtful. "Whew! You said a mouthful. Um," pausing for a moment. "Itís obvious her heart belongs with you Catt. Something tells me she would follow you anywhere. Still, you gotta look at it this way. Her parentís donít know about you two, and Jamie does have a dad she sees on a regular basis. Not to hurt your feelings, but it is a tad selfish for you to want her to leave everything just as it would be vice versa. Iím sure you have family back east or friends. . ."

"No, not really . There is no one. My parents and I are estranged, and I canít see that relationship reforming anytime soon."

"Oh," Tara replied surprised. "I didnít know that ."

Caitlin laughed derisively. "Yeah, how could you. I never really told you anything about me, but no, there is no one except my job. I had to claw my way up in that company."

A perfect dark brow arched. "Well, some thing has got to give. If you really want to be with her weigh your options. She has a whole life sheíd be leaving. You have a high level job that youíve probably had long enough to work anywhere. Sounds like sacrifices need to be made either way, and you two have a lot to talk about."

Caitlin closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. "Youíre right."

She opened her eyes, looking up at Tara with a profound look of sadness crossing her features. Taraís brows drew together in confusion. Softly Catt spoke.

"For what itís worth, Iím sorry. When I look back to the girl you were, and the woman youíve become. I realize I was probably the biggest ass on earth. I really started to care for youóyou know? But, I didnít know how, so I did the only thing I knew how to do. I hurt you, and for that, I am terribly sorry."

Tara studied gray eyes intently. She had never expected this. It was time to see if her heart was indeed big enough. She cleared her throat.

"Over the years, Iíve come to realize that people have a reason for everything they do, even hating others. I know you had yours, but it took me until someone opened my heart again to see that. I got past what happened between us, but I never understood it until now." Tara scooted closer to the seated figure. "What I am trying to say is that I-I would like to get to know the new Caitlin."

Tara tentatively reached out a hand and covered the other womanís shoulder. Caitlin let out a breath she hadnít been aware of holding. ĎShe wanted to be friends. She hadnít had any of those since grade school.í Glancing up into forgiving eyes, Catt covered the hand over her shoulder with her own. She squeezed and smiled wanly.

"Um, youíll have to help me with this. I havenít had a friend in a long, long time."

Tara smirked. "Iím about to say something really corny, but it needs to be said. Thatís what friends are for."

The older woman smiled back genuinely then laughed lightly.

"I think Iím going to enjoy getting to know you. Your Gabrielle has done a good job," she said smirking herself.

"Well, well, well, I think Lil is really starting to rub off on you too." Tara replied, giving the other woman a mock glare.

"I hope so." Catt looked down at her watch. "Ugh, okay Iíd better go. Iím to pick up Lil in a little bit." Caitlin squeezed the hand on her shoulder once more and got up to leave.

"Good luck!" Tara shouted to the retreating figure.

"Okay, thanks for this!"

Then she was gone.

Tara plopped down into the warm seat. She smiled and said into the now quite office, "Well, to say that was interesting would be an understatement. Funny what slow, boring days bring." Supporting her chin once more with her hand, she pushed various keys on the keyboard with a small smile pasted on her face. ĎCanít wait to see what you got planned for me Red,í she said to herself as an after thought.


Gabrielle gave the book store owner a genuine smile.

"Hi. I know Iím early Mr. Clayborne, but its my policy to come check things out first. That is, if you donít mind?"

The older man smiled back charmed by the infectious glint of life in her eyes.

"No, no problem at all. Iíll show you where we have you set up."

With a dramatic flair, he waved his hand for her to proceed him.

"Itís right through here Ms. Howard."

Gabrielle walked through the shelves to observe her sitting area. There was a large table laden with her latest book. The table was covered by a soft green table cloth. The chair she was given appeared to be soft and comfortable. She looked behind the furniture, spying an array of flowers. That alone gave it a more approachable air. The petite writer smiled up at the older man.

"Okay it looks good. Is everything else in order?

"Yes Ms. Howard. We will have security to control the lines in order to prevent an incident. They will also be snacks and coffee for the customers."

"Ah, sounds good. Do you mind if I look around a bit before I begin?"

"Oh, sure go ahead. Would you like coffee?"

"Ooo yes, swiss mocha if you have it."

He nodded and left. Gabrielle smirked to herself thinking about Tara and her new found addiction to coffee. Her smirk widened. Emma was coming on cable tonight. She knew if she tried she could talk her lover into watching. After all, she suffered through Buffy and Xena, refusing to admit that she found the shows delightfully intriguing. She looked down at her watch. It was almost time to start.


Gabrielle smiled fondly at the two women.

"We just love your characters. They seem so real like they could just walk in off the street, and they are so smart."

The writer let out an affectionate laugh. "Thank you ladies. I appreciate it."

One woman turned to the other. "Look at her Lisa, she's much more prettier than on the book jacket." The other woman nodded.

Gabrielle blushed and smirked up at the women.

"Tch, you're so good for my ego. Can I pack you up and carry you both home?"

They giggled like school girls. She talked to the women for a few more minutes. It had been over an hour, and she found that she was really enjoying herself. 'This re-acquaintance ,as Jonah had called it, was fun. She smiled up at the next fan and signed his book with a flourish.


The man walked with an lazy glide down the busy sidewalk. He whistled a tune he couldn't remember the words to and wiggled his cold fingers in his pockets. Bringing one of his hands out, he scratched his forehead then ran the hand through short blonde hair. The woman walking past him smiled in appreciation. He smiled back totally used to women's reaction to his blonde good looks. Soulful brown eyes looked ahead. He tugged the coat closer to his lanky, muscular body. Pursing full lips together, he continued whistling. Having a woman in his life right now was just what he needed. The little voice in his head had told him so.

The little voice told him to find the right one, and lately that voice had become louder. He frowned inwardly, thinking about all the women he thought were the right ones that had left him. His face screwed up into a snarl. He wouldn't let the next one leave, and he would do anything to get and keep her once the voice pointed her out to him. His eyes glazed over, making them look abnormally bright. Yes, no one would leave him ever again. The man started to whistle again then stopped, noticing the flyer posted in front of the book store a few feet in front of him. He walked closer. "Gabrielle," he whispered, remembering red-blonde hair and beautiful green eyes. It was a sign. "YES!' the voice screamed, making it feel like a thousand needles were penetrating his temples. Shaking his head, he smiled. He should have known she was the right one. He should have known she would find her way back to him. He pushed open the door and followed the small line of people. The stranger crossed his arms over his chest and waited patiently.

Gabrielle looked up. After three hours, the line was thinning. Sometimes she really enjoyed this, but it took a lot out of her emotionally. They all had so many questions about her writings and about her personal life. 'Oh well, it's over for the time being.' A man's hand picked up a book and put it in front of her. She glanced up with a smile already on her face. The smile froze, making her face hurt.

"Gabrielle," the man said softly, "long time no see."

Brown eyes raked over her countenance. She was more beautiful than he remembered. 'She's yours now. Can't you see it in her eyes?' A slow smile spread over his face.

The strawberry blonde mentally flinched and tried to mask the panic she could feel rising from showing in her eyes. Her heart slammed against her ribcage, and she could hear her breath howling in her ears. Steve. He was back. She closed her eyes and swallowed as memories flooded her in quick succession. It had been six years since she had first dated Steve Foster. They had met at a coffee shop, and he seemed nice enough. That was the operative word. Seemed. By the third date, she found out that he had been following her when he called her over a male friend's house, where he cursed the guy for 'fucking his woman.' He called at her parents and even showed up, laying on the charm. He followed her every where showing up at supermarkets, lunch dates, and even at her publisher's. He had even called her one morning and told her the gray skirt would look better than the blue one. Her apprehension had moved to terror.

She remembered her hands shaking as she slammed the window shut and let down the blinds. Finally, she could take no more, telling an old college friend with somewhat shady dealings. He discreetly found someone to 'convince him to leave her alone.' That was the last time she saw him. Now, he was back. She took a calming breath. 'Calm down. It's okay. He doesn't know that you don't live in Gary anymore. He doesn't know anything about you now.' she tried to fake a smile but failed miserably. Swallowing she pushed ahead. It was time to start with the subterfuge.

"Hi, Steve. Yes, it has been a long time."

He continued to stare at her. 'She's smiling at you. I knew she would want you back.'

When she saw his eyes glaze over, Gabrielle felt a chill enter her body, making everything around her seem sluggish. 'Oh God. Help me!' she cried on the inside. To cover the terror she was feeling, she laughed nervously.

"Small world. What are you doing in the city?"

His smile widened. "I live here now. Do youóI meanólive here?"

"No, no moved to Ohio about four years ago," she said quickly.

He frowned slightly as anger flooded him. 'She ran away from you! But, you'll get her back where she belongs.' The anger flittered away as if on butterfly wings. His smile returned. "So, I see you still write. I bet you're as good as ever."

She reddened stiffly. "Thank you."

'Take her now! Make her stay with you!'

'No! It's too soon. Patience.'

"Gabrielle, why don't you stay in the city tonight and have dinner with me. We can catch up on old times."

'Warning, get the fuck out now!' Her mind screamed. "Uh, sorry Steve. I'm involved with some one. I can't do that." She quickly got up from her chair. "If you'll excuse me. I have to get home."

Moving as fast as propriety would allow, she walked toward Mr. Claiborne. Speaking shortly with him, the scared woman made a bee line for the exit. She turned slightly when she got to the door, seeing Steve still standing there.

The young man stood there, tracing the picture on the back of the book cover with gentle care. 'She doesn't need anybody else. She has you. There is no one else. She made it up to play hard to get. She lied to you. Women are like that.' Needles pressed against his temples. He held his breath until the pain passed. He glanced back down at the picture. Sharp fingernails began to dig into the paper, making it curl and distorting the features.


Gabrielle sat in the car with the engine running and the music blaring. She turned it up louder in an effort to block her thoughts, but they persisted. A frission of fear snaked it's way up her spine. 'Get a hold of yourself. He can't hurt you. He can't follow you. How could you forget? How could you? Oh Tara baby, what do I tell you?' She shook her head, thinking of a semi-truth to relate to her lover. 'No reason to have her worried over nothing. I can handle this. It's just a skeleton from my past. I need to get my mind off this.' Putting the car in drive, she left the lot.

After driving around for a good thirty minutes, her head had finally clear, but she had to get the sight of him, the smell of him out of her consciousness as well. Smiling softly, she knew the perfect place to lose her worries. Turning on to the highway, she headed home just a little earlier than expected.


Caitlin rang the door bell and huddled her coat closer to her body. She waited patiently. The door opened slowly, revealing the one thing she had wanted to see all day, mother and daughter. Lil smiled at her lover as Jamie tugged on her collar.


Catt swallowed hard her heart showing in her eyes. She touched a smooth, warm cheek with gloved hands. Lil leaned into the touch. Finally, the older woman replied with slight huskiness in her usual velvet tone.

"Hey you." She turned to Jamie. "Hey you too little one."

The child grinned toothily, making Caitlin grin back. It was a good start. She looked back at her young lover.

"Do you need help with the car seat or anything?"

"Na, I'm just carrying the one bag, and I'll have to attach the car seat to the belt in your backseat."

Lil smiled inwardly, deciding to escalate things a little.

"Can you hold her while I do all that though?"

Caitlin's eyes almost doubled in size, causing Lil to smile affectionately and sympathetically.

"It's okay she won't bite. Honest."

The older woman's mouth opened, moved the snapped shut again. "Uhm, I don't know. What if I drop her?

"You won't baby. Just take a deep breath and go for it."

Catt still stared at her lover with unsure eyes. Lil looked back with understanding and patience. She detached Jamie from her hip and handed her to the other woman. Jamie reached out with her arms, going to Caitlin eagerly. The child buried her face in the other woman's neck contently and played with the collar of her coat. She looked down at Jamie, smiling shyly, then back at her lover, doing nothing to hide the happy sob that was wrenched from her throat. Lil covered her mouth with her hands and studied them both with tears in her eyes. Two of the people she loved most in the world, together. Bringing one hand up, she caressed a cool cheek. Leaning in, she warmed cool lips with her own.

"I love you so much. I knew she would too."

Unable to form words, Caitlin only nodded.

"Okay, let me get our stuff, and we can go," Lil said softly.

Again, the blonde nodded.

Now warmly ensconced in the car, Lil spoke again.

"Where are we going anyway. You never said."

Caitlin smiled enigmatically. "Don't worry. I think she'll like it."

Lil studied her lover for a long minute then smiled, "Well, okay. I'll leave it up to you."

A few minutes later, they pulled into the parking lot of the library. A light went on in Lilian's head.

"Ah, story time. Good idea. Do you want to get her or should I. . ."

"I'll get her just get the bag."

Catt leaned in to unbuckle the baby seat. Jamie went willingly into her arms, gurgling happily.

"Hey! Agoo, ma!" The little girl said excitedly.

Caitlin glanced down at the child and laughed softly.

"Yeah, sweetie, I hope you have fun." She kissed the top of the small head. This felt so right, so familiar. All nervousness and awkwardness were gone. She handled Jamie with an easy mind and heart.

With the two lovers hand in hand, they entered the library. Finding a seat on the floor and up close, they sat down. Jamie bounced on the carpet elatedly. Catt looked over at her lover.

"Were you like this when you were a child?"

Lil laughed. "God no! I was hellfire to hear Gab tell it, always into everything that wasn't nailed down. She told me I had boundless energy. My nickname used to be Sparky."

Catt laughed a loud. "I like it. I can picture you being that way. You still have so much energy now, and it goes along with that quick wit. The nickname should have stuck." She paused. "Then where does she get her temperament?"

"From her father," the brunette answered. "I'll tell you about him, but this is not the right place."

The other woman nodded. "No rush. I want to learn everything there is about you slowly so I can remember it here," she pointed to her head, "and here," she pointed at her heart.

Lil blushed and hung her head. The older woman lifted her chin and with a thumb caressed a soft cheek.

"So beautiful," she said huskily."

Gray eyes worked rapidly, taking in every feature. The younger woman's breath hitched, and she bit her lip as it accelerated.

"You shouldn't say such things to me. I can't seem to control my reaction when you do."

"Go with it," Caitlin replied as her thumb moved to outline a sensual bottom lip. Their eyes locked, communicating mutual need and desire. The moment was broken by quiet murmurs and the shuffling of children. Lil took the hand from her face and squeezed it, trying to relay unspoken emotion and bring her breathing under control. Caitlin got the message. Her eyes seemed to glow from within. Jamie used the free minute to crawl into Catt's lap. The little girl stood on shaky legs, between her new friend's legs. She gurgled and cooed as if she was talking to the woman. With exploratory hands, Jamie pulled lightly on earlobes, played with her nose, and tried to stick her little finger in the woman's mouth. Lil laughed. The mirth was infectious. Jamie started to giggle then Catt joined in. There was a loud 'Shhhh!' Lil looked around guiltily. The show was about to start.

Story time went on without a hitch. Jamie squealed and laughed at the Curious George puppets. Dispensing a lot of energy, the child fell asleep in Catt's lap before the hour was up. The tall blonde glanced down at the sleeping child, taking in her innocence. With a now sure hand, she ran fingers through dark, curly hair. Lil looked on enjoying the interaction.

"She likes you a lot you know. She hasn't taking a liking to anybody like that since Tara," she whispered.

"You think so? I like her a lot too. She's a sweet girl just like her mommy." They grinned stupidly at each other. They were interrupted again by the woman reading the story. She announced that the hour was up. Taking Jamie carefully in her arms, Caitlin got up gracefully, leaving a cloud of Chanel in her wake. Lil took a deep whiff and continued to smile goofily as they exited the library. While buckling her daughter in, Lil glanced over at the driver's seat.

"So, what do you wanna do now?"

Just like that, the jovial mood became heavy and somber, when Caitlin turned allowing the younger woman to see the bleak look in her eyes.

"We need to talk Sparky."

The corners of Lil's mouth raised in spite of herself at the use of the nickname.

"Uh, I know." Blue eyes looked away. "We can go back to Gabs. Jamie needs to be put down, and she's not due back till late this afternoon."

"Your sister's house it is then."

The drive was filled with charged silence, knowing the decision made would effect their relationship for the good or bad.

Lilian walked quietly to the bedroom and laid the sleeping Jamie on the bed. Caitlin sat on the couch in the living room, silently wringing her hands. She stood up as her lover entered.

"Hey, um, I guess we have a lot to talk about," the brunette remarked.

"Yeah, we do. I have to go in a few days. Three to be exact, and I want you to come with me."

Lil hung her head. "I love you, and I hope you know how much, but how can you ask me to leave my life. I mean my family is here, and Jamie's too young for me to yank her away from her grandparents and her father."

Caitlin pivoted on the couch until she was completely facing her young lover.

'Tara was right. This is selfish of me. I already feel like a heel.' The older woman reached out, grabbing Lil's hand.

"I can understand that, Sparky. I just want you with me."

"I know. I want to be with you too. Why can't you move here? I'm sure you can get a job somewhere."

Catt sighed in exasperation, shaking her head. "It's not that simple. I've invested ten years in this company, and I'm next in line for vice president. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. I don't want to have to get another job and start over in a position beneath me. My life has been my career for the past few years," she said in a pleading tone.

Lilian's eyes flashed with hurt, and she jerked away.

"So, you're telling me that your job is more important than us?! I mean. I'm sure you can get a job in advertising anywhere. I can't get another family." She jumped up and began pacing. "I can't believe this! All that we went through to be together and now we can't! What kind of shit is that!?"

Caitlin rubbed the bridge of her nose. She felt the beginnings of a headache. "Maybe we can compromise. I can cut back on my work load somehow and come see you every weekend. It's not like I can't afford it."

Lil stopped in front of her lover and kneeled down, resting her hands on the strong, convenient thighs in front of her.

"Listen to me," she said on a sob as tears started to fall, "I want to be with you everyday, if this is what it takes for us to be together. I'll take it over nothing."

Caitlin parted her legs to allow the other woman closer. She took the tear filled face in her hands and leaned down to kiss her forehead. The blonde rubbed her cheek against the downy soft dark hair.

"We'll make it sweetie. I'll figure something out."

Lilian hiccuped, stood up, and sat back down in her lover's lap. The older woman gently ran her hands through dark curls as she rocked gently back and forth, murmuring nonsense.


Gabrielle sat in her car outside her lover's shop. A slow smile spread over her face, when she saw Tara's car.

"You're in for a very nice surprise T. I need to be with you right now."

She got out of the car and walked with purpose toward the door.

Tara swung around in her desk chair, shooting wads of paper at the trashcan. The chime jingled, alerting her to a potential customer. She looked up and blue eyes sparkled with joy.

"Red! I thought. . ."

"Shhh." Gabrielle put her finger to her own lips. She then turned around to lower the blinds and put the closed sign on the door.

"Red? wha. . ."

Again, all that was said was, "Shhh."

Green and blue met from across the room. The air thickened and crackled with energy. Tara swallowed hard and planted her feet to the ground, effectively stopping one kind of spinning to partake of another. The strawberry blonde walked with feline grace toward her lover. Tara was mesmerized, watching each step, counting them. Draping her coat over the desk, finally, she arrived in front of her. Tara's legs parted without question, allowing the younger woman to step closer. Gabrielle looked down at her lover. Russet eyebrows drew together in total concentration. She had too keep some kind of control, and the only way that could happen was if the her dark haired lover did not touch her. Her eyes burned, signifying the heat boiling inside. She had to try. It wasn't about her pleasure. It was secondary, and only an added bonus if she came.

With expert hands, she traced the strong features of her lover's face. Hands skittered over eyebrows, the bridge of her nose, high cheekbones, and finally over full lips. After the shorter woman leaned down, lips lingered a hairs width apart. Breaths exchanged hotly. A small pink tongue speared from the petite woman's luscious mouth, outlining the lips below it with a quick flick. Tara whimpered raggedly. With larger, stronger hands, she reached up winding them through red-gold in an attempt to crush the teasing lips to her own.

"No," Gabrielle said huskily, firmly. "Take your hands away or I'll stop right now."

Tara's blue eyes snapped with need and disobedience.

"Trust me."

The other woman nodded her head and removed her appendages, only to grip the sides of the chair as an anchor. The younger woman grinned saucily.

With a voice rough with need, Gabrielle asked, "You missed me?"

Tara watched as the red lips moved to form words and a pink tongue sneak out to wet soft flesh. It was so close. Her chest heaved, and her body was beginning to ache. She squeezed the woman's legs with her own hard thighs, hoping to relay a message, but the little woman wanted to hear the words fall from a velvet tongue.

"Answer me."

"Oh yessss!" Tara replied through ragged breaths with only a second's hesitation.

As a reward, Gabrielle flicked the moist lips again then sucked the fleshy bottom one in the warm cavern of her mouth. She sucked rhythmically, bit into the soft flesh, and soothed it with a busy tongue. Tara moaned. Her hands moved from the side of the chair to wrap around the small form between her legs. She almost sighed, realizing that her lover was going to allow this contact. There was no way she wanted the pleasurable torture to end. No way.

Gabrielle ended the exchange with a moist plop.

"Mmm, you want me?"

In answer, Tara cupped tight buttocks in her hands squeezing the clothed flesh firmly, making the petite woman whimper. The sound shot straight through to the taller woman's clit.

"Oh God yes! S-so much," the older woman replied hoarsely.

With her voice just a little higher, a little unsteadier, the younger woman wrenched out, "Tell me what you want."

The young woman so loved this game of submission. It made things hotter. It made her wetter.

"You know." Tara looked up into darkened green her own eyes hooded and heavy with arousal.

Her lips were so close that the brunette could taste the other woman's coffee laden breath and feel the imprint of lips on her own. Gabrielle's active fingers moved from tracing lips, to caressing exposed skin, to wrap around her lover's neck. The smaller woman could feel the pulse beat excitedly. The same hands shifted to tangle into midnight tresses. She yanked with authority, causing Tara's head to snap back and a hiss to escape her lips. Blue bore into green, and lips quivered from being so close and yet neglected. Leaning in until their lip actually touched, Gabrielle spoke, making sure her lover felt every whisper as it came from her mouth.

"You want me to. . ."

The young woman forced her tongue into her lover's waiting mouth, sweeping through the moist cavern. As quickly as it happened, it stopped. She retreated. Their lips just touching once more.

"To fuck you."

Tara's whole being contracted as heat flooded her body in an unforgiving wave, pooling at the center and making her clit swell and throb. She cried out sensuously.


With that one word, the young woman ended the torture in a searing kiss, leaving them moaning simultaneously. The red head stood to her full height, putting her whole body into the kiss. Lips moved brusingly, unevenly, and tongues fought for domination caressing and flicking moistly. Tara's busy hands snaked under her lover's sweater and spread wide over her naked back. Passion demanded the exchange to go on, but their bodies demanded breath. Gabrielle whimpered as she tore her mouth away, her breathing deep and audible. She stared at the swollen lips under hers hungrily. Nipping said lips with little biting kisses between breaths, she bent at the knee to allow her hands to reach her lover's waist. Small hands grabbed at the material of Tara's t-shirt, bunching it and then lifting it over her dark head. Unencumbered breasts swung free, and brown nipples hardened at the sudden rush of air.

Not happy to have to remove her hands from hot skin, Tara reached for her lover, but Gabrielle stepped out from between hard thighs. The tall woman lunged and whimpered in protest.

"Shhh," was again all she heard.

The little woman turned around, now facing the desk, and swept all the contents, except the computer, off of it. She had to have her like thisóat her mercy. Nothing less would do. Her heart thumped against the barrier of her chest, and shaky legs were barely enough to hold her. Her clit throbbed in erotic empathy of the arousal her partner must have been feeling. Her fingers itched to be deep inside her, and her tongue tingled just for a taste. She had to have it right here, right now.

"I want you on the desk." With her back still turned she added, "Naked, now!"

She heard the squeaking of the chair and turned around. Tara stood on unsteady legs, facing her lover. Her skin was flushed, eyes lidded, lips moist and parted, and her breathing audible. The older woman could feel the fire raging through her body like an inferno, scorching each synapse until functioning was near impossible. Arousal, thick and sweet, accompanied the fire, making it what it was. Wetness flowed from her crotch, making panties feel soggy and jeans heavy.

Tara whispered softly, "Anything."

Seeing and knowing the passion had weakened her lover, Gabrielle stepped forward careful not to touch supple skin. She reached out to grab hold of jeans and unbuttoned them until red panties were exposed. She slid hands around the slim waist and spread her fingers wide, advancing inside jeans and panties to hot skin. In a not so subtle move, she slithered the clothing down slowly. Her body slithered right along with it. Gabrielle kneeled down when the pants got to her lover's ankles and untied the work boots. She jerked them off Tara's feet quickly so that she could step out of her clothes just as fast. The shorter woman stayed in the kneeling position watching muscled legs quiver in anticipation and excitement.

She glanced upward able to see crisp, black hair shiny with moisture and licked her own lips in a stint of anticipation. She looked up further to see the hardened peaks of heaving breasts. It was a beautifully erotic sight. She continued kneeling, watching and waiting at her feet like a honored deity. Tara's breath hitched on a whimper as the shivering increased. One ragged, needy word fell from her lips.


Inside the other woman quaked at the sound of her name. Her stomach twisted in increased arousal. Still clothed, a light sheen of sweat pelted her skin. Wanting and needing to have her mouth on the abundant amount of skin, Gabrielle slid up slowly, branding one leg with her open mouth and the other with soft fingertips. As she moved further up, hungry hands maneuvered to cup hard buttocks, squeezing and parting pliant cheeks. Tara cried out and put a hand on the desk to keep herself steady. Sweat poured off her body as a testament to the state of arousal. Finally, lips grazed over upper thighs, making their way inward. Tara parted her thighs eagerly, wanting to feel hot lips and the wickedly talented tongue of her lover. They moaned together. One because a velvet tongue flicked over sensitive inner thighs. The other at the taste of the wetness pooled there. Gabrielle devoured the juices fervently. She moved higher and higher until her nose brushed pubic hair, at last getting a strong whiff of the musky arousal. She groaned louder as the smell tied another knot in her belly.

The red head paused. This was getting out of hand, and her plans were falling by the waist side. She shook her head slightly in an attempt to clear it. Slowly, she pulled away. Tara whimpered, wound large hands in her lover's hair, and held the smaller woman against her aroused body, as a means of protest. With surprising strength, Gabrielle was able to remove the searching hands. She kissed both palms and stood up.

"Sit on the desk for me baby. Please."

Tara stared at her with eyes dark and wild.


From somewhere deep in her mind, the plea registered, and she nodded in consent. Taking baby steps on shaking legs, she balanced herself precariously on the edge of the desk. Gabrielle parted her legs, forcing her to scoot back. When she was back far enough, the little woman swung the chair around and had a seat between parted thighs. Setting a hand on both thighs, she parted them further, enabling herself to see the swollen puffy lips of her lover's dripping sex. Groaning softly, her sense of urgency cranked up a notch. She wanted to feel skin against skin and feel the wetness against it. Stripping herself of sweater and bra, Gabrielle scooted the chair closer. She moaned louder when she felt velvet softness pillow against her breast and wetness settle against her belly. Moving in a little further and sitting more erect, she found her eyes level with delectable breasts. Small hands moved up to claim them. She lifted a full breast and trailed her tongue along the underside, tasting the saltiness of her lover's skin. Tara gasped, arching her back and wanting more.

The talented tongue flicked rapidly back and forth, moving upward toward the neglected nipple. Suddenly, the office was pierced with a resounding cry. Tongue and nipple met. Using just the tip, she flicked back and forth, back and forth, making it diamond hard. In a change of tactics, Gabrielle sucked the nub deep into her mouth while pumping the other vigorously with fingers. She released it only to do it again and again, making sure teeth and tongue grazed it as lips receded. She moved from breast to breast, nipple to nipple. Unable to help herself, Tara buried her hands in red-gold, holding her to her body. She moaned with each tug and each suck, reveling in the electric tendrils shooting to her clit. Tara moved her hips helplessly against her lover's stomach, rubbing swollen lips across it and smearing it like her lover wanted. Tara wanted to beg. She wanted to plead. She wanted her inside.

Gabrielle felt as if her insides were sweating. She wanted, needed, craved more. Shooting up from the chair, her lips found the pulse beating at the base of her lover's neck. She bit into it sucking, until she could almost taste blood. The anxious mouth roamed from neck to shoulders and back again. She ached. She hungered. She whimpered at the consuming need that seemed to be growing exponentially and began grinding her hips against the moving ones around her. Wetness gushed from her crotch, leaving her panties sopping wet. The softness of her slacks rubbed sensuously over her own pulsing lips as well as her lover's. The speed of her hips increased, causing their bodies to smack together in the seeking of an increase in friction. Lips found each other, swallowing low moans of pleasure. Tongues flicked and slid across and around each other. Nipples met and rubbed together creating their own pleasurable friction.

Not able to take it anymore, Tara whispered against her lover's mouth, "Inside, please! So good."

Gabrielle moaned at the request. Her hands immediately headed south; past flat abs; into crisp hair; and over sensitive lips. The older woman cried out and her hips lifted off the desk.

"Oh fuck yesss! Touch me. Touch me please," the brunette remarked huskily.

The heat was incredible as she parted thick lips as was the wetness. Hot silk surrounded her fingers. It increased her own wetness tenfold, but this was not about her. It was about getting lost in Tara.

"Oh god. Soo wet."

She had to taste it. She had to. Gabrielle slithered back into the chair, leaving the only contact to their bodies as fingers to soppy sex. Sitting back in the chair, she quickly scooted close once more, parting her lover's thighs as wide as possible. Her deft fingers explored tiny inner lips, tracing the smoothness to inside and up over and around humming clit. Tara's hips jerked again, and she laid herself back on the desk, making herself more vulnerable. Then the semi-silence was broken with a scream, as Gabrielle plunged two fingers deep inside her and submerged her tongue into her creamy cleft with the same fervor. Bright colors flashed before the older woman's eyes as pleasure blinded her to her surroundings. She moaned harshly with each thrust, each flick.

Sitting up on her elbows she arched and pushed her body into her lover's fingers, milking them, riding them. Her stomach clenched and the tips of her fingers tingled with delight. Electricity arced through her body, fraying every nerve to it's limit. The desk groaned as her hips rocked faster and faster. It was so hot. It was so good, and she was so fucking wet. More than she had ever been before. She could hear her lover's tongue flicking through the wetness and the moist slap of fingers moving deep. She could hear the most wonderful sound of all. The sound of her Gabrielle moaning at the taste of her, at the feel of her. Gabrielle savored the sweetness that flowed over her tongue and chin, drinking from it's source then using it to make her lover's throbbing clit bigger and wetter.

Her own wetness caused her to squirm against the chair, pressing her hips against it and tightly clinched thighs squeezed just the right amount of pleasure from her own clit. She moaned loudly as another gush of wetness landed on her tongue. Knowing the time had past for tenderness, her fingers plunged into her lover at a dictated speed, and her tongue flicked rapidly over aroused flesh. Tara's back arched completely off the desk. She could feel it starting from deep inside, working itself out with each thrust.

"Unnngh, gonna come!"

The younger woman thrust deep and hard, feeling the muscles grab her invading fingers. Expert lips pulled her exposed clit. 'Almost there.' She squeezed her thighs closer and moaned, pushing herself to catch up. Tara's body was taut like bow and waiting to snap. So close. One, two more thrust and her orgasm tore through her, producing convulsions, and waves of pleasure acute enough to be the other side of pain. Her scream echoed through the room. Sweat flew from her face and hair as her head turned wildly from side to side. The younger woman refused to stop lapping and thrusting, milking her lover dry. Each sob, each cry pushed her closer until she dropped of the edge into oblivion. Facing her own orgasm, Gabrielle wrenched her mouth free, muffling her cry against an accommodating thigh. "Fuck!" She muttered as pleasure crashed through her body, making her quiver and green eyes roll to the back of her head.

The office was quiet again except for the occasional whimper and harsh breathing. After several minutes, speech also returned. Tara tried to raise her torso, but failed miserably.

"God Red! Are you trying to kill me?" She waited for the giggle to come. It never did. Dark brows drew together in concern.

Gabrielle had heard her question. Inwardly she remarked, 'No, trying to forget.' Finally, she spoke, "No, just loving you."

Able to lift her head and upper body now, Tara looked between her legs at the seated woman with worry clearly etched in her features.


Steve picked up the phone, dialing numbers that were hauntingly familiar. He glanced around his apartment, eyeing his possessions. ĎShe would like this. You have so much. Thanks to your dead parents. Just think, arenít you glad you didnít have to wait until they got old and gray? Accidents can be your best friend.í He heard soft laughter ringing through his head. Punching the numbers on the phone pad, he whistled as the phone wrung twice before it was answered.


"Hi Mrs. Howard. You may not remember me, but Iím an old friend of Gabrielleís. The name is Steve. Steve Foster."

There was a pregnant pause.

"Ah, yes Steve, I remember you, such a nice young man. What can I do for you?"

"Well, I saw Gabrielle at one of her book signings, but before I could speak to her, she was gone. I would really like to touch base-- you know catch up on old times. I was wondering if you could give me her phone number or address so I could write or something?"

"Well sure Steve, Iím sure she wouldnít mind."

He hung up the phone with an angry click. "She lied to me!" He screamed vehemently into the well decorated living room. ĎTold you women are like that. They lie. Sheís just miles away from you. Find her. Make her yours.í Blinding light accompanied the pins piercing through his head. He screamed louder and swept the furniture off the intable. Glass shattered and the phone made a resounding Ďtwackí as it crashed against the floor. He doubled over, holding his head in his hands.

"Iím coming for you Gabrielle!"

Part II

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