Disclaimer One: All these folks belong to me. They are a product of my wild imagination.

Disclaimer Two: Letís see thereís sex between women in love, humor, and a whole lot of other stuff that Iím sure youíre used to by now.

Dedications: Thanks to God for everything.

Summary: None just read. Youíll like it. Takes place a few days after STS.

(13th installment of Perspectives)

Copyright © December 2000

Chapter XLIV: Morning Surprises

The keys hung limply from Barbís hand as she hoisted up the bag on her shoulder. The chirping birds saluted her as she forced the appropriate key into the lock. It opened with a click and she pushed the door open. The brunette inhaled deeply taking in the smell of the artificial air. She had actually missed it. She walked slowly passed the cubicles seeing each person that frequented them in her mindís eye. I really have missed this place. Canít wait to get my fingers back in the bowl.

Barb came to the last row of cubicles and stood between them, staring at the contents covering her blonde friendís desk. She smiled at the Scooby Doo paraphernalia. At least she hasnít changed everything about you, Kid. Youíre gonna be in for a surprise this morning, and so is your friend.

Barb steered toward her own desk, swept the back of her skirt with a hand, and sat down in the swiveling chair. She deposited her bag on the desk and let out a sigh as she went for a spin on the faux leather just for the heck of it. Weíre partners again, Cory. Time to go out and tackle the world. She looked up at the sound of the glass entrance door opening. Shelley headed down the path with a little bounce in her step. The older woman stopped when she got half way, and her eyes widened. "Well, didnít know you would be back so soon." She paused. "Welcome."

Barb nodded. "I thought it was about time. Donít you think?"

Shelley shrugged. "Donít know. Depends on what youíre planning."

Barbís eyes lit with amusement. "Just what is it you think Iím up to?"

The older woman smiled wanly. "I hear a lot, you know. Through walls, through mouths. Either way, I hear a lot."

The brunette crossed her arms over her chest. "Then you know about them being together?"

"Not for sure, but I suspected as much. I think theyíre good for each other."

"If you heard so much, then you know that she hurt Cory. Bad."

"Yeah, but I know Taylor was hurting too. They made up and have been inseparable since."

"Sheíll hurt her again."

"Sheís a big girl. I think she can handle it."

"Well, as a friend I think I should make sure that doesnít happen before they get too close."

"I think you maybe too late for that, Barb. Sheís happy. Be happy for her."

Barb mentally disregarded the last part and whispered, "Then, Iíll do what I have to do."

Shelley shook her head in disbelief, turned, and walked slowly to her own office.

Cory spread her legs wide, almost falling within the gaping space in between Taylorís longer ones, but she tightened her thighs and abs and held on. The blonde groaned into the open mouth that clung to hers as she lifted her hips, teetering over elegant fingertips. She lowered herself on to them with slow, torturous precision. Her grasp tightened on broad shoulders in reaction. "Oh yesss . . ." Inner muscles grappled the digits milking them before her lower body repeated the same languid thrust over and over again.

Cory was beyond flying, beyond floating. She was soaring like a bird with the largest of wing spans. Fire licked at her belly and scorched her insides, making her cry out with each undulation. The kisses they shared were open mouthed, sensual, complete with flicking tongues. They sat on the edge of the queen sized bed, bodies grinding and sweating reaching for the ultimate pinnacle.

With a large open faced palm on her sweaty back, Taylor guided her loverís movements. The forearm of her other appendage flexed as she twisted and curled fingers that were deeply buried in unbelievable wet heat. With her thumb, she teased hardened flesh that was just as wet. It served to make her own sex throb in passionate empathy. Her hips surged along with her loverís. The admin gave Cory what she wanted and took what she needed at the same time.

Their naked breasts and the pebble hardened middles scraped in tantalizing fashion, providing a jolt of electricity with each movement of their bodies. It was enough for Taylor---the wet heat, the naked skin, and the convulsing muscles, gave her the same wings that her lover possessed. They soared right next to each other.

The admin loved being inside, craved it. There was no feeling like being nestled in liquid fire. It simply felt like coming home, and she wanted to stay as long as humanly possible. Taylor figured Cory felt the same as she continued the slow thrusts despite the increase of wetness and quivering thighs. Close so close, but yet so far. The brunette caught every breathy moan from the blondeís mouth and vice versa, of those there were many. "I love. . .you," the admin whispered brokenly, then groaned at the flood of wetness that bathed her hand.

Waking before the alarm, their morning had started innocent enough filled with small kisses, light touches and enough murmured words of love to make them the poster children for mushiness. But the admin had been right, once they made love everything intensifiedóthe need, the want, the rawness. Insatiable. So they made it to the edge of the bed before the intensity wrapped around them and refused to let go.

Cory whimpered enjoying the rush of dangling over the cliff she was on, but she ached to be pushed over. "More. . ." she breathed into the brunetteís lips. Taylor complied, adding a third finger as she pulled out slowly. Cory sank on the digits and moaned loud, long at the feeling of being full, stretched. She gritted her teeth but couldnít fight the urge to impale herself on them, causing her to whimper at the pleasurable explosion that resulted. The flesh of her buttocks hit the skin of the thighs under her with a resounding smack.

Suddenly, unable to control her movements any longer, Cory scattered all over the place, riding the admin like a bucking bronco. Every ragged breath was a whimper. "God, yess!" The words spilled into the brunetteís mouth.

Observing her loverís inability to maintain control, made the admin lose hers. She groaned harshly at the abrupt change, catching the flames that lit the blonde from within. The thumb that had just been pressing against the caseworkerís erect nodule, began to circle it with fervor.

For Cory, oblivion didnít seem that far away anymore. With each rough thrust, pleasure exploded between her legs in short bursts until it all ran together pooling in her belly and shooting all the way to her fingertips. Her body jerked, and she cried out as spasms worked their way through her body.

Hot juices splashed onto the adminís hand and thighs, and her own hips jerked upward, harder than before. Emotion exploded inside her. Knowing she had caused this and feeling it was all that was needed. "Ungghh!" She let out a throaty cry and joined the blonde in oblivion.

They fell back on the bed, seemingly exhausted and sweaty. The alarm went off as their bodies continued to shiver and hips to jerk. The loud static filled music played for some minutes until a long groan filled the room.

Pushing sweaty blonde bangs away from her forehead, Cory climbed up her lover's body until they were face to face. She was still somewhat breathless but able to speak. "Mmm, way, way. . . up there on the whoa meter."

Under the blonde, Taylor stretched and chuckled. "I can agree with you there, sweetie." Cory leaned down and brushed the admin's lips with her own instead of commenting. The fair head ducked, and she buried her face in a damp neck.

After a minute, the caseworker popped up again with a crooked smirk plastered on her dreamy features. "You'd think. . ." She hummed as large hands caressed from the middle of her back to her behind. "You'd think this would take the edge off during the day, but it doesn't. I can't seem to stop wanting. . .this--" Cory spread her legs and captured a thigh between her own. Rubbing against it, they both moaned. One at the feel of residual wetness coating her thigh, and the other at the feel of soft flesh meshing with her swollen sex. The blonde gasped, "Every time I look at you, even in the office." God, I can't get enough of her. Am I sick? It's never been this way before.

"Mmm, I know the feeling." Taylor arched her leg a little and used large, elegant hands to guide hips slowly moving against her. Is she okay with this? Or did it just start because of what happened with that boy? "Is. . .this okay with you? I mean. . .the way we finally made love?"

Cory stiffened. She doesn't think I used her does she? She knows I love her. "It would have happened anyway, Taylor that night actually. I wanted it to. What happened with Robert was just mitigating circumstances. It doesn't change the fact that I love you and wanted to show you."

Blue gazed into green reading the truth in the depths. Taylor pushed a lock of fair hair behind the blonde's ear. "I love you too." They smiled tenderly at each other.I don't think I could even explain how much. Suddenly worried, the admin asked, "Are you doing okay? I mean, after you told me what you saw--I want you to know you can tell me if you feel a little funny in here. . ." She turned them over to the side and tapped the blonde on the chest. "It would be totally understandable."

Ah, always worried about me. "I would tell you if I wasn't. I wouldn't be human if it didn't get to me, but Dr. Zawid made me realize that not everything is my fault. It's just nice to be able to try to do something this time instead of always falling apart. I just wish the local government would say something already."

Taylor kissed the caseworker's forehead and chuckled derisively. "Oh, someone will. I'd give it till tomorrow. They just wanted to see if all this would die down. It hasn't. They've been talking about the case almost everyday on TV. They're gonna have to do something."

"Mmm. . ." The sound of the alarm began to filter back in. "You're probably right. You know more about that aspect than me." Cory untangled herself and sat up. She raised her hands high above her head and stretched complete with mewing noises.

Taylor watched with a smirk as breasts arched and thrust forward. Nice. She reached out a hand to touch, but it was smacked away as the petite caseworker leaned to the right to turn off the alarm. "Nuh-uh, that's our cue. Time to get ready for work." Looking over her shoulder, Cory gave her lover a teasing smirk and put an extra sway in naked hips as she sashayed to the bathroom.

The tall brunette didn't waste any time. Almost immediately, she jumped up and went after her. She leaned against the door of the bathroom and watched as the caseworker turned on the shower. Taylor grinned inwardly, suddenly feeling more than a little warm and moist. "Think we should shower together for the sake of time."

The blonde head turned toward her, and Cory appraised the admin with a raised brow. "Oh, you do. Do you?"

Taylor smiled. "Unh huh, I'll wash your back. You need to be relaxed for the big presentation today."

Stepping in the shower stall and sporting a knowledgeable smirk, the caseworker asked over the roar of the water, "You don't think I'm relaxed enough after what happened in there?"

Taylor sauntered over toward the shower and stood looking through the open door as water slicked her lover's skin. She licked her lips. A quickie. Just a quickie.

Yeah, right. LS was now awake.

"A little more never hurt anybody." Lifting one impossibly long leg, she stepped into the shower and closed the stall door with a snap.

A few minutes later, a breathy moaned filled the steam laden bathroom. "God. . .Taylor!"

Getting one more teasingly sexy smirk and gaze in, Taylor opened the door to agency, allowing the blonde to step through first. There had been a time when she came in early because she cherished the quiet, but the cubicles bustled with activity. Now, she cherished something or someone else. The admin was aware of eyes on them but dismissed them as insignificant. Screw Ďem. They donít have the foggiest idea of whatís going on.

As they made their way to the back, Cory slowed as she got to Rayís desk. She gave him wink and a smirk before going forward again. Damn, forgot my tea. Wonder if Shelley has some I could borrow? That stuff is like kryptonite to him. The blonde chuckled inwardly.

As they neared the back, Cory felt the breath whoosh from her body and heard the beginning of blood roaring in her ears. Green eyes widened and were riveted at the desk across from hersóthe desk that had been empty. It was now taken by its original owner. Her heart thudded then stopped altogether. Trouble. It was her first thought. Despite part of her being happy to see the older woman, the majority of her screamed trouble. No, not now. Things are going so good. This canít be the other shoe, and it canít be ready to drop.

Panic became a wide but tight band around her gut, making her struggle for breath and making her palms sweat. She wanted to turn, gaze into pale blue and latch onto her loverís hand for extra strength, but the caseworker knew that it couldnít be done. The blonde peered into her friendís eyes, knowing hers must be frantic. She hoped to read acceptance but saw only a soft smile upturning lips. It was a smile that didnít reach the older caseworkerís eyes. Anxiety took over completely, and Cory snatched her eyes away and was suddenly glad that the bags she was holding hid her shaking hands. Trouble. Big trouble. Shit.

Double shit. Taylor instantly saw the potential for a huge mess forming right before her eyes. Barb was back, and for some reason the admin couldnít tell if the cryptic smile on the caseworkerís face was for her or Cory. Right now, it didnít matter. Everything she had tried at first to deny and then later grasps with both hands dangled in front of her on a floss thin string, waiting to be cut loose. A chill went down her spine, and she could only imagine what Cory was feeling. Hold on there Bunch. Donít loose it. Just hold on. I love you, and weíll get through this intact even if I have to kill somebody. I wonít lose you, not now. Her heart cringed in pain at the thought.

Instead of allowing the blonde to steer toward her desk, Taylor put a hand at the small of her loverís back, feeling the bunched, hard muscle. She led them both to her own office and closed the door silently behind them.

With her back to the admin, Cory whimpered and turned to her lover. Green eyes were full of fear, anger, and resignation. "What are we going to do? I canít go back out there." She whispered harshly. Taylor deposited her briefcase on the floor then walked up to the blonde. She took the two bags out of small hands and let them fall to the carpet. Hands went back up to caress the blondeís bare arms.

"First, we breathe." She took a deep breath and waited for the caseworker to do the same. "Second, we play it by ear. She may be okay with this, with us. Weíll have to see." The admin held up a hand to the blondeís mouth. "Ah, ah, I canít order her not to tell anybody, and I canít order her to be okay with us." I can fire her for insubordination.

Thatís the cowardís way out.

I know.

"We both just need to put out feelers first and compare notes." Taylor read the uncertainty on the blondeís face. Believe in us, Cory. She cupped her cheeks and leaned down for a lingering kiss. "Know that I love you no matter what happens, and Iím not going anywhere. I know my place is with you." She kissed her again. "I need you to be really strong right now like I know that you can be. I need you to go out there, Cory. You can do this. Talk to her, and I will do the same later." The admin took shaking hands in her larger ones. Blue eyes held scanned green, hoping the blonde would feed from her own conviction. "Believe me?" I will not lose you.

Cory took a deep breath. She seems so sure, and I know this is just a job. Sheís what is important. She let the breath out. I knew she was coming back sooner or later. Shoulda been prepared for this. Barb, my friend, I canít let you destroy the best thing that ever happened to me because of misplaced feelings or loyalty. Their gaze held for a few seconds longer before Cory nodded. "I believe you." She pulled her hands from the adminís grip and wrapped her arms around the taller woman. "And I love you." Taylor returned the hug, lifting her off the ground.

Taylor felt her heart slow. "Good." She sat the blonde back on the floor and reached up to tweak her nose. "Letís do this."


Barb tapped the sharp end of a pencil against her desk as she waited. I donít understand. She almost looked scared. That womanís got you twisted, Kid. Iím your friend, and Iím here to help so things can go back like they used to be. Just please donít make me do something drastic just to get you to see. Iíd hate for anybody to lose their jobs, but we can always get another somewhere else. I just hope you hear me out. Her eyes squinted. Sheís the one that should be scared. Scared Iím gonna show what a conniving bitch she really is. You hurt someone once youíll do it again.

Cory came out of the adminís office without looking back. She silently pulled out her chair and pushed her bag under the desk, while keeping her purse over a shoulder. Without hesitation, she walked to Barbís desk and touched it lightly with fingertips as she gathered her thoughts. Looking around and then down, she met the other womanís eyes and refused to look away. "Look, um, we obviously need to talk, and we canít do it here. Can we go to Subway and get a cup of coffee or something?"

Barb smiled slightly and patted the hand on her desk. "Sure thing. Just let me get my purse."

They walked down the street in silence. It was the same way they entered the restaurant. Cory picked a booth in the back. "Why donít you go ahead? Iíll get us some drinks."

The blonde sipped on her coke as she sat the cup of coffee in front of the brunette. She had a seat and continued to sip until the ice got in the way. Reluctantly, she sat the fountain cup down. The petite caseworker opened her mouth to speak. Barb beat her to the punch. "I heard you on the radio. They even talked about you on the news. You did good, Kid. Surprised me though. I pictured you doing a lot of yelling and calling it a day."

Cory shook the cup causing the ice to crunch. She sighed, leaned in, and looked up at the older woman. "I would have not too long ago. Iíve changed, Barb. It was time to start doing something about the things I get so upset about. Dr. Zawid helped me out, and so did Taylor. She was really there for me."

Barb moved back and laughed cynically. "How long do you think thatís going to last?"

"As long as we make it last." She answered confidently.

The brunetteís eyes squinted. "You know, Iíve known you for a long time, but I would have never figured you to be this blind. Of course, she seemed okay at first, but she hurt you. How can you get past that so easily?" Her voice dripped with sadness.

"Because I love her," she said with conviction. "And I know she loves me."

Barb snorted ungracefully, causing unreadable green to snap toward her. "How can you love someone that hurts you?"

Cory sighed. "You donít even know what happened. . ."

Barb threw up her hands. "I donít need to know what happened. I just needed to know that she hurt you. You play tough, Cor, but youíre really not. Iím your friend here."

Impatience piled on top of the blonde, and her voice rose slightly. "If youíre my friend you would listen to me! You do need to know what happened." Her voice lowered when they got stares from the few other patrons. "She was scared of what she was feeling for me so she lied about her sexuality. Yeah, it hurt, but I went home to my momís to think and saw it for what it was, simple fear. I was scared too when she looked at me, touched me I came apart, Barb, and it scared the shit out of me. It was something I couldnít control. . ." She pointed toward her chest. "I need her, and I donít think Iíve said that to another human being. Donít you understand? I look at her and I see. . .everything." Her voice lowered to a whisper. "Havenít you ever felt that way?"

Barb shook her head. "I-I donít know, but thatís not the point. Canít you see that? How do you know sheís not playing games? How do you know she wonít hurt you just for the hell of it?"

Cory reached across the table and grabbed the other womanís hand. "Because of the way she looks at me; the way she reacts to my touch; the way she says my name. I feel it, and I know it. I donít think that I can make it any clearer than that."

Barb scanned the blondeís face. She seems so sure, but Iíve never seen her like this. I canít believe. . . How do you know she just didnít send you to talk to me to save her career?"

Cory took her hand away. "Look, I love my job and so does Taylor, but we love each other more. Donít let your misguided loyalty to me push us further apart than we already are. You canít make me choose between the job, you and her. Thereís no competition. Sheíll win every time. Iím happy, Barb. Happy, and you trying to break us apart wonít make us friends again. Itíll make us enemies." Thereís got to be something more to this why are you doing this, Barb? Help me understand. Cory pleaded with her eyes.

Barb turned away. How could she do this to me, damn it! I need her! I canít survive this job without her. We were friends first. I canít lose that I canít. Thereíll be nothing." Her head jerked back to the blondeís face. The older womanís eyes glittered, and she asked softly, shakily, "What about me? After you two became chummy, you barely talked to me anymore. If I didnít disapprove, would you still be my partner in the field since Iím back or would you dump me for her there too?"

She rubbed her hand over her chest and continued to speak. "What about me? I need you too. I donít have anyone else. He doesnít understand what I do or how I feel when I do it. Only you have. Iíve been at this job for almost twenty years, and Iíve suffered in silence most of the time. Thank God for vacations, but when you came along. I had somebody who understood, who stood by me. Without you, I canít do this anymore, and I donít know how to do anything else! So, What about ME!?" She shouted and her voice broke. "Youíre supposed to be my friend too!" Barb stood up abruptly, almost toppling the table over. Jerking her purse over her shoulder, she exited the booth and walked briskly toward the door.

Cory pushed her hands through blonde hair and hung her head sadly. You were right. I should have seen this coming, but you canít put that kind of responsibility on my shoulders, Barb. I think you know that you should of gotten out of this a long time ago, and yes, I was a bad friend because I never saw it. It was hidden behind the sense of humor and teasing smile. Maybe I am blind, at least when it comes to you. How did you get past a head doctor with the mess going on in your head? Maybe you told Ďem what he needed or wanted to hear, eh Barb? The big question now is what am I going to do about this. The blonde rubbed her forehead and scrunched up her nose in deep thought. I have to see if I can convince you to get some real help. Cory got up and deposited her cup in the waste basket before making her way out.

Taylor swivelled her chair around to face away from the door. She heard a brief knock before Shelley let herself in. "Iíve got your tea, but there are no messages."

"Thanks for the tea, and as for the messages, I donít think I could deal with anyone right now, anyway." Her voice was low, guarded.

Shelley sat the steaming cup at the end of the adminís desk. She had never been one to pull punches, and she wasnít going to start now. "I know about you and Cory, or rather, I suspected."

Taylor stiffened. Ah, geez, I really donít need this right now. "And?"

Knowing the admin thought she disapproved, the assistant answered quickly, "And I think you two are good for each other despite what the policy dictates."

Taylor grunted outwardly, but on the inside, she sighed with relief. "How did you know?" She ask curiously.

Shelley shrugged even though no one could see it. "Thereís an intensity wrapped around you two. A lot of people probably wouldnít catch it unless theyíre really looking."

"Mmm," I wonder how many people are looking?

Donít know. Just be careful. LS whispered in the presence of her counterpart.

She turned the chair around, now facing the older woman. "Thanks for your approval, but we didnít need it. Although as a friend, it means a lot."

Their eyes met and held. Shelley nodded and turned to go. She stopped when her hand wrapped around he knob. "Barb knows."

With troubled eyes, Taylor glanced at the assistant. "I know. Iím trying to be positive about this. I told Cory that she would come around eventually, but I really donít know. The look on her face. . ." The dark head shook in trepidation.

Shelley nodded again. "I know. Sheís not seeing what she needs to see, and I think somethingís. . .torn inside. Sheís been here for a long, long time, and she latched on to Cory very quickly. Maybe the job is getting to her."

The admin blew out a shaky breath and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Well, Cory and her are out talking right now. When they come back, Iím gonna see if I can open her eyes a little wider."

Without another word, Shelley ventured into her own office. Taylor turned the chair back toward the window and leaned back, waiting and hoping that this wasnít the shoe.

Barb charged through the glass door. The look on her face was one of determination as she headed for the adminís office. Once there she stopped abruptly at the closed door. What am I doing? Did Cory really mean what she said? She shook her head to clear it of questioning thoughts then knocked on the door.

Still not bothering to turn around, Taylor called out, "Come in."

Barb let herself in and stood silently in front of the desk. What do I say to you? How do I end this hold you have over her?

The silence at her back made the little hairs on the back of the adminís neck prickle. Without hesitation she swung around to face her visitor. Taylor held her breath and released it slowly. Okay, letís not make things worse. I need to handle this with kid gloves. "Barb."

The other brunette walked closer. "What did you do to her?" She asked accusingly.

I knew this was coming. Maybe the truth would help. "I hurt her and myself, and she loves me anyway."

"What is she to you?" Barb moved closer, hoping to see in the adminís eyes with her own clouded vision.

"I love her. Sheís done so much for me. . ." Taylor shook her head. "Sheís changed me."

The older woman blinked in confusion. The other woman smacked of sincerity, but it just couldnít be. Her eyes held. . . "You expect me to just take your word for that?" Barb spat out.

Studying the other woman, the admin canted her head to the side. Sheís only seeing what she wants. "No, I expect you to take Coryís word for that. Sheís your friend, isnít she?" Taylor took her hands from the desk and let them hang over the sides of the chair as they opened and closed nervously.

Barb shrugged and sank down into one of the chairs. "Sheís supposed to be, but she forgot about me."

The admin shook her head. "No, youíre wrong there. She talked about you all the time. She said she even called you, but you wouldnít return the call."

The shorthaired brunette let her head hang. She didnít have an answer for that one.

Taylor continued. Am I getting to her? "You know she was going through her own problems and was just cleared to go back in the field. Wasnít it okay to concentrate on herself for a little bit? I wanted to stay away, but I couldnít. Sheís under my skin." The other woman still hadnít looked up. "What is she to you, Barb?"

The older caseworker heard the question reverberate through her head. A friend. A savoir. A crutch that keeps me going in this mess. Slowly, she moved her head back to a natural position. Her voice was soft, craggy. "Sheís the only one that understands what we see day in and day out. I canít go to my husband. He has no idea. She cares so much about these people. I wish I could still do that. I need her."

Taylor rewound what Shelley had said a few minutes earlier. íMaybe itís the job.í "Maybe Cory didnít understand the field as much as you think. I think she does now. She did care too much, and she couldnít separate herself from it. Itís vice versa for you isnít it? You care little but are so wound up in it that thereís no way out." She added with insight.

What is she saying? "I donít understand what you mean."

Sitting up straight, Taylor leaned forward. "Iím saying that Cory isnít your way out. She maybe your way in deeper, and you have to find your own way." Maybe you hit the nail on the head with this one, and she needed to hear it.

Barbís eyes widened. Is this true and I couldnít see it the whole time? She brought her hands together in her lap and wrung them. "I donít know. I just donít know."

Hoping she was getting through, Taylor added, "Look this is all up to you. You have to decide to get the help you need or to destroy a friendship. Either way Iím not leaving her, and you shouldnít either. Think about this."

Barb said nothing as she leaned forward and pillowed her face in her hands. The admin waited patiently, hoping the outcome would be a good future for them all.

Cory entered the building and made her way down the rows of cubicles. She stopped to speak with caseworkers that called her and turned down cases for the day. She had Barb to handle, to help.

The blonde made her way to the back and saw that her friendís desk was empty. Her eyes zeroed in on the adminís closed office door. Are you in there, Barb? Are you turning this into a bigger mess than it already is? You need help, my friend. Maybe I can help you see that.

Without preamble, Cory knocked on the door then opened it without waiting for an answer. Almost immediately, pale blue captured her gaze. With that one look they spoke volumes, telling each other, "Iím glad you here. I need your help."

Barb had not turned around, but she figured from the adminís silence that it was Cory. The brunette waited to see what was going to happen. A second later, her body jerked in surprise, when small hands encased her shoulders then squeezed.

Cory held on a minute more before letting go. She kneeled beside the chair and looked up at her friend. "Barb?" Eyes turned to her. "I see where you were coming from, but itís not the right way. Do you see that?"

Brown eyes glanced upward to catch pale blue before they steered back down. "Yeah, I think I do." The caseworker answered quietly.

A little shocked, Cory looked up at her lover in surprise. "Then you understand that you canít help anybody this way, especially yourself. Taylor didnít take me away from you. I was always here, only dealing with my own mess. Now, we have to deal with yours, and I promise to be there too. You have to get some help, Barb from the right doctor this time."

The brunette nodded. "I know, but I just donít want to do it alone." Her voice was soft but full of emotion.."

Cory grasped the arm closest to her. "No, and you wonít be. Iíll be here, and so will Taylor if you let her. Sheís pretty good with this kind of thing." Two sets of eyes held azure ones. The admin nodded and smiled slightly. Iíll do whatever I need to do.

The blonde stood up, but not before taking her friendís hand. "My doctor is good, but it would be a conflict for you to see her. Maybe she can recommend someone. I cancelled my appointment for this afternoon, but she should still be in. Iíll call and see if she can help."

A couple of phone calls later. Cory had gotten Barb and preliminary evaluation by Dr. Kane for the next morning. "We were lucky." She put down the phone. "He had a cancellation for tomorrow. Iíll go with you if you want?"

Barb nodded, feeling shame set in. Her head hung. "I canít believe you two are doing this for me after what I tried to do. Iím so sorry about that. I guess I was lying to myself the whole time I was seeing Dr. French. I told myself the monsters were getting smaller." She let out a bark of derisive laughter. "When the whole time I guess I was just becoming. . . more blind to the whole situation."

She glanced at them both. "Iím not going to lie, but Iím jealous of what you two seem to have. I think because I never allowed myself to really open up to you, Cory. I guess itís something else I just need to get over."

Cory walked behind the adminís desk and leaned against her loverís chair. "Whatever it is and whatever you need. Weíre here."

An awkward silence fell on them, and Taylor was the first to break it. "Barb, you are free to stay out the day at your desk or you can go home."

The other brunette smiled wanly. "Thanks, but I donít think I need to be here right now."

Cory added, "I can trail you home if you want?"

"Yeah, thanks." The caseworker got up to leave with Cory close behind. As they exited the door, the blonde turned, "Iíll be back in a little bit. I think we have some talking to do. Whatever you did, thank you so much." The petite caseworker gave her lover a bright smile and was out the door.

Taylor watched it close. "I did what I needed to do, sweetie." She whispered.

They sat at the kitchen table, talking of old times, old cases, and old laughs. Before long, the talk became serious. "Would you really have ended our friendship?" Barb asked.

Cory nodded sadly. "Things were all wrong with what you were saying, so Iíd have to say yes. Taylorís very important to me."

Barb swallowed. "She means that much to you so soon?"

The blonde chuckled, "Yeah, I think it started from the first day we met and just took off from there."

The brunetteís mouth opened, closed, then opened again. "I want to be happy for you. I am somewhere inside. Itís just hard right now."

Cory took the other womanís hand and squeezed it. "I know, but Iím gonna be here regardless."

The older woman gave her friend a soft smile in response before adding. "You see this face, Kid? This is my Thank you face. Iím going to be wearing it for a while so get used to it." Barb squeezed the blondeís hand back. Soft chuckles followed.

A little over an hour later, Cory let herself into the adminís office. Eyes met, without saying a word, the blonde sauntered around the desk and sat in the brunetteís lap. She looked down at the chiseled face and traced from eyebrow to chin. "Youíre unbelievable do you know that?"

Taylor blushed but didnít do a thing to hide it. I love how you see me, Cory. Makes me feel so tall and humble at the same time. She smiled slightly. "If you say so."

The blonde leaned forward until she was a whisper away from full lips. "I know so." She brushed the adminís lips with her own. Smiling into the kiss, she murmured a Ďthank youí and brushed lips a few more times.

Taylor chuckled when the kiss broke. "You know, if someone comes in here, weíll be caught with our pants down so to speak." She raised a brow at her lover.

Cory tapped the brunetteís chin. "After all that just happened, I donít think I really care anymore."

Taylor wrapped her arms around the caseworker. "I know what you mean. After that scare and what came out of it, everything else is cake."

"Yeah" Cory paused for a minute. "What did you say to Barb anyway?"

Taylor shrugged, "Probably nothing you wouldnít have said during an intervention. Shelly helped out a lot."

A fair brow rose in perfect parody to her loverís. "Intervention? And which Shelley are we talking about?"

"Yeah, intervention sort of without the loved ones. A singular intervention I guess if there is such a thing. Many skills. . .uh from college that I donít use, and Big Shelley. . the one, um, in there." She stuttered under the green gaze and pointed toward the side door. As an afterthought, she added, "She knows about us."

Cory smirked. "Ah, she knows a bit of everything just like Iím beginning to think you do, sweetótie. Somebody is a real smarty. Many skills, yeah I believe it."

Trying to change the subject from herself and nerd status, the admin interjected, "Um, so you ready for this afternoon?"

"Donít you dare. . ." She poked her lover in the shoulder. "Try to change the subject, but yeah, I think I am."

Devising another way to switch topics, Taylor grasped the back of her loverís head and leaned up to capture still moist lips. Cory whimpered at the tongue begging for entry then opened her mouth with a gasp. By the time the kiss ended they were both winded. "Wooo, um what were we talking about . . . again?" The blonde asked breathlessly.

Taylor smiled cryptically. "Donít know." Mission accomplished.

Chapter XLV: A Tangle with Red Tape

They entered the doors of the Merrilville Library and found their way to the meeting rooms. Still outside the room, Taylor gave her lover a pat near the small of her back for support, as she pushed to door open. The room was bustling with activity that seemed to die down as the pair entered. Cory immediately felt a sinking feeling assaulting her stomach. Somethingís wrong here.

The Board members that were up, silently found their seats as Cory pulled out her own. Burton, the Chairman, cleared his throat and banged his gavel. "Okay, let this meeting come to order with a reading of the minutes and conclusion of any old business." He loosened his expensive looking tie and leaned back in his seat.

Everyone was silent as the minutes were read, and they were just as so when there was a call for old business. Taylor resisted the urge to fidget in her chair. Something is just not right. Hang in there, Cory. She wanted to wrap her arm around the blonde but smiled down at her instead. Green eyes looked up at her, hesitantly, and Taylor read what was in them. She feels it too. Whatever is going on here.

Burton cleared his throat once more. "For new business, some of you have brought to my attention, Ms. Donovanís actions on June 16th, and its impact you think it could have on the agency.

Cory stiffened. What the hell is going on here? Impact? Curious and wary, Cory leaned forward to hear better. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the admin do the same.

"Yes, I do." Myra said through pursed lips and pinched face. "While we didnít see what Ms. Donovan saw that day, I think we can all agree that she or Ms. Wilson probably shouldnít have been there that day at all. It was a CPS matter, and because of her out burst, the whole situation could shine badly on us."

There was a loud murmur as someone else spoke up. Gavin, a younger but just as polished member added, "I for one donít agree. We donít know the circumstances to begin with, and what Ms. Donovan did could not possibly reflect badly on us. She stood up for children and called for reform within CPS, not us. I donít see how it has any bearing on us at all." There was another murmur, and then shouts of agreement and disagreement.

Cory watched the back and forth action like a patron in a tennis match with mouth hanging open and eyes wide. This is the biggest crop of bullshit I have ever heard. The blonde caseworker turned to her lover, seeing the muscle ticking in her jaw. She was just as incredulous. Taylor took it all in with flaring nostrils and growing anger. What the hell is wrong with these people? They want to help but not too much if their asses are hanging too close to the fire. She moved her legs allowing their thighs to brush, hoping to provide some stability in the situation.

There was a banging of the gavel by the Chairman. His voice boomed. "I think we should hear from Ms. Donovan before we proceed any further on this matter."

Cory stood up. She didnít mask her anger, but she did put a leash on it. "Thank you for allowing me to speak before Iím completely buried in this." She pushed her chair in and began to pace. " We work closely with a myriad of agencies in this region, and CPS is a major one, and I was called upon by a colleague to do a consult. Frankly, it sounded suspicious so I conferred with Ms. Wilson." She touched the back of the adminís chair.

"And she agreed with me that we should proceed cautiously. When we got there, we could both see that the situation was already out of our hands. We called the police and handled it. I talked with the casemanager from CPS told her of the events Iím sure she suspected were going on, but not to that degree. She was overrun with case after case, and this particular one had fallen low on the priority list." Cory walked away from the adminís chair and latched her hands behind her back aware of eyes following her.

"She told me what should have been obvious to this Board and all that work with CPS. They are grossly underpaid, overworked, and understaffed. I chose to comment on this matter to the press. Whatís that saying? The people have the right to know." The blonde stopped and took a breath, amazed at her control even though her insides were boiling. She wanted to yell and shake each one until their eyes swam back in their heads. She swallowed it all in the face of diplomacy. Taylor had taught her well. "What I said and what CPS has become does reflect on this agency because we work with them, but isnít it our responsibility to point out those flaws to whoever will listen so things can be changed?"

Cory shrugged and spread her hands wide. "I mean, what happened didnít just make CPS look bad, it reflected on all social agencies. We should have been working together a long time ago to talk with the mayor, local government as well as the state to make these changes happen. That little boy is hot in the news right now, and a lot of people are talking about him. But, what about the little boys and girls the press never talk about? I donít even understand your concerns. The publicity isnít going to stop referrals or people from the community from coming in, or are you just worried about how you look period?"

Myra jumped up. "That was out of line Ms. Donovan. Itís not our responsibility. . ."

Cory interrupted, "How can you say that when it reflects how we help people. If other agencies arenít up to par, who the hell are we helping when we refer clients to them and vice versa? I donít understand what thereís even to discuss."

Gavin stood up and adjusted his tie. "Are you saying that weíre really not out to help anyone but are just going along with the prestige it brings us?" He asked incredulously.

The blonde caseworker crossed her arms over her chest. "I didnít, but you just did."

The gavel banged as Burton stood up. That is enough, Ms. Donovan."

A little alarmed, Cory scanned the room to see hostile eyes. She found a pair of pale blue that radiated pride. It pushed her on. "No, itís not. You can call me out of line, but I mean to finish what Iím saying. You people say you want to help, but before Taylor came along you were running archaic groups with out dated material, and doing a number of other things that seemed a little detrimental to the cause. Itís the same thing here. Something needs to be changed because kids shouldnít be dying. With all the clout thatís sitting here, surely one of you can and want to do something about it." She glanced at them all accusingly. There was dead silence.

After a moment, Cory sat back down and sighed as a familiar hand gripped her thigh under the table. She put her hand over the adminís and squeezed. Cory watched and waited as silence permeated the entire room. Heads hung in what she hoped was shame and not anger. The Chairman finally spoke. "Well, Ms. Donovan had a lot to say some of it very valid and some of it out of line. I think her point is well taken. I for one am not here for the status it brings me in the community. You all know the situation with my son. Thatís why Iím here. I donít know about the rest of you." He nodded his head toward the blonde caseworker. "Ms. Donovan, Iíll be glad to see what I can do."

There were mumbles and shifting as two Board members, Myra and Gavin, got up to leave. They all watched them go without a word. Burton banged the gavel. "Shall I assume that the remaining members are interested in this situation?" Nods and smiles came from the five remaining members. "Good, good. We may need to start by putting a fire under the mayor. As for the presentation planned for today, it can not happen without all members present. Maybe next time Ms. Donovan."

Once back in the car, Taylor looked over at the petite blonde with a satisfied smirk. "Youíre the one thatís unbelievable. I wanted to jump up and pummel them all for even calling you out like that." She reached over to grasp a hand, bringing it to her lips for a kiss. "But, I knew you could handle it." Glad youíre on my side now. "You did real good, Cory."

The blonde blushed. "I donít even know how I did it. At first, I wanted to kick a few heads, but I donít know. I just knew that screaming and yelling wouldnít get my point across. Some of those people back there respect professionalism. Itís what I had to give them." I learned it from you. Cory squeezed the hand holding hers. "Youíre rubbing off on me, you know?"

Taylor raised a brow. How does she do that? "Why do you do that? One minute Iím telling you how great you are, and the next youíre making me feel ten feet tall."

Cory shrugged and smiled. "Donít know. I guess Iím trying to show how you affect me. You make me feel like I could tackle anything, change anything."

The admin kissed the blondeís palm again. "I know what you mean."

The caseworker scrunched her brow as the admin started the car. She rewound what the Chairman had said. "What happened to his son?"

The brunette pulled out of the parking lot. "I donít know all the details, but apparently he ran away. Got all the way to another county before they picked him up as a runaway, but no one knew who he was. There was no APB or anything put out on him till later. Burtonís wife wouldnít face up to it, and he was out of town himself. She never contacted the police. He did when he got home, but it didnít help."

" The kid had disguised himself and ended up in foster care. Whatever family he was with, he was there about a month. By that time the foster father had beat him so much he barely talked anymore. He sort of got lost in the shuffle with the county CPS. By the time they put two and two together, the kid was pretty mess up. Burton got him back, divorced his wife, but the kid been in intensive therapy since then."

Cory cringed. "Damn, no wonder he was eager to help."

"Yeah, no wonder."

Chapter XLVI: The Wonder That is Morning

Taylorís groan was deep, soulful and breathless, "Cor-y. . .love you." Her body continued to jerk in reaction as it came down from heights she was fast becoming accustom to. She detached trembling hands from the headboard and searched for any kind of contact with her lover.

Cory placed one last kiss on damp, dark curls. She licked the residual sweetness from her lips and crawled up the adminís body until her head found a home pillowed on the dewy skin of the brunetteís abdomen. A small hand snaked down, cupping Taylorís sex and grinding down slightly, enjoying the whimpers that ensued as the adminís large hands found purchase in blonde tresses. The caseworker placed a small kiss in the middle of her loverís ribcage and whispered. "Love you too."

Cory ignored her own renewed arousal because giving pleasure was its own type of satisfaction. She hummed and her head turned to the side to peer at the clock. Thirty minutes until the alarm went off. They had time for a little more sleep. The blonde heard her partnerís breathing slow and felt her heart beat returning to normal, knowing sleep would soon follow. Cory closed her eyes basking in the afterglow and the closeness they shared. It gave her strength to face the world in the morning to know that she was loved like this, cherished like this. You make me feel almost invincible. Her own breathing slowed as the sandman did his job.

They both jumped with a start when the blondeís phone rung minutes later. Cory let out a little squeak and tried to burrow into the adminís chest. Taylor tried to slow down her now racing heart as she got accustomed to the waking world. She felt the caseworker clawing into her but successfully calmed her with a shhh and a touch. The phone rung again and as if it were customary, Taylor reached for it.

Cory looked up at her lover bleary eyed. "Itís got to be my mother. No one else would call this early unless something happened with Barb."

The admin brought it to her ear and mouthed, "Weíll see."

The brunette cleared her throat. "Hello?"

"Well good morning. I trust my daughter is there with you, and youíre treating her well?" Brenda Donovan asked cheerily.

Taylorís eyes widened, and she opened her mouth to speak while looking down at the very naked caseworker. "Well, um, sheís. . ."

Hearing her motherís voice, Cory snatched the phone and gave the admin a look that would curdle milk. She put her hand over the mouth piece and whispered, "No comments about my nakedness this morning thank you or about what we just did!"

The admin bit her lip and blushed sheepishly, knowing that she had no idea what was about to come out of her mouth. She pursed her lips and listened, hearing things likeó"Oh, sheís fine. Sheís a little tongue tied but says hi, and weíre doing great." There was also some laughter, and by the time the phone call ended, the alarm went off blaring the static filled music. Taylor sighed in exasperation and reached over to change the radio to a clearer station.

The admin wrapped her arms around the blondeís torso as the lounged leisurely. With her chin propped up on her hands, Cory peered past perky breasts to blue eyes. "So my mom says hi, and hopes that youíre not too tongue tied next time to talk to her." She stated with laughter in her voice.

Taylor chuckled. "Uh, sorry about that. I think itís something about our situation when she calls that throws me off. Maybe next time you hear from her, weíll have some clothes on."

The blonde kissed her way up the brunetteís torso. "Mmm, maybe, but I like as many no clothes activities as I can get with you. So, she may be out of luck."

With gentle, fingertips, the admin moved soft, blonde bangs from her loverís forehead. "Mmm , okay. That I donít mind at all, but right now we need to get up."

"Yeah, I know. I have to go with Barb to the head docís, and I have a couple of cases I need to check on. You with me?"

The admin shook her head regretfully, "Canít this morning, but Iím free this afternoon. Can go with you then."

Cory reared up and straddled the adminís body. "Sure thing." She pushed her hands toward the ceiling and stretched sensuously complete with cat-like noises. The blonde pushed the hair out of her eyes and smiled down at the admin. "Hey, letís do something this weekend. Go out or something. You game?"

Taylor traced from outside of the blonde caseworkerís breasts to her waist and smiled at the resulting shiver. "Mmm-hmm, whatcha got in mind?"

"Ohh, that felt good. Um, I donít know. Let me think about it. We can. . ."

The admin shushed her and reached over to turn up the radio at the sound of Robert Akinsí name. They listened quietly as the radio announcer went over the information about his death. Both blonde and ebony brows shot up when they heard that Mayor King had prepared a statement on the matter. They stared at each other in surprise at the sound of his voice.

"This issue is not an old one but a delicate one. Iíve consulted with my staff as well as leading concerned members of this community, but they did not tell me anything that I wasnít already aware of. Children are our future, and none of them should die at the hand of sick people masquerading as caring foster parents. I would like to see stricter guidelines for them as well as extensive background checks to better ensure the safety of the children.

As for the matter of overworked casemanagers, I would like to reiterate to all department heads that there are mandatory vacations that city workers have to take. It is against the law to deny them of this.

We are just one city in a county, and we must work together to make sure this doesnít happen again. Ideas like this should be taken to the state level as well as be passed on to other states who are experiencing the same problems. This can not keep happening, and I will do what I can to make sure it doesnít."

The speech was interrupted by the announcer, reminding listeners of Coryís interview days before. After a few seconds more, it went to the weather. Cory crawled off her loverís body and sat on the edge of her bed. "Well, that was interesting, and I guess itís a start. He canít really promise anything, but I guess it is something. Burton works fast, huh?"

Taylor scooted until she was beside the blonde. She draped an arm over her shoulder. "Yeah, he did, and it is a start, Cory. Maybe not much of one, but itís gotten a little more attention." She paused for a minute to think. "Maybe we could check to see if there are any bills on the floor of state legislature about this. We could talk to lobbyists for the cause if there are. Maybe get some insight on where things stand?"

The blonde patted a naked thigh. "Sounds like a plan. We could get on the net this weekend and check things out."

"Good idea, but Iíll go one up on you. Let me throw my position around and call some people this morning. See what I come up with."

Cory smiled and leaned in for a kiss. "Youíre good to have around. I think Iíll keep ya."

Cory stood outside her own car as Barb got into hers parked in her own driveway. "You sure about this. Iíll be more than happy to drive you and wait for you."

Barb shook her head as she opened her car door. "No, I appreciate you going with me because Iím a little nervous about this new doctor, but I think I need to leave under my own steam."

Cory nodded and continued to study her friend. "If youíre sure? Then letís get going. Remember Iím just a page or phone call away."

The brunette smiled slightly. "I know, Kid, but I have to start somewhere."

The blonde caseworker watched the older woman get into her car as she opened her own door. I hope we end somewhere good.

Hope you enjoyed this installment. Let me know at Minerva

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