Perspectives Series (10)

Insight

Part 2

by Minerva


For Disclaimers see Part I

Copyright © Minerva 2000


Chapter XXXIV: Meanwhile. . .Back at the Batcave . . .uh. . . Office


Cory sat at her desk holding on to the edges with a white knuckled grip. Thatíll teach me to tease her. The blonde caseworker had giggled as they walked through the parking lot near her building, giggled at the parking lot near the agency, and giggled as they walked into the office one after another. I guess giggling at her in her own office was a bit much.

Her mirth was stopped when the admin swooped down on her silencing the chuckles with talented lips and tongue. The next sound out of Coryís mouth had been a harsh groan as she opened wider and returned the kiss with equal fervor. No words were spoken between them for several minutes as mouths clung and bodies brushed tantalizingly together. Taylor finally pulled back, moaning as she did so. Breathing harshly, she raised a perfectly arched brow, "You were saying?"

Cory blinked, opened her mouth to speak and an embarrassing squeak escaped in lieu of words. Seeing the laughter shining in baby blues, the caseworker cleared her throat and tried again, "Um, I was saying something?"

"Not in so many words, but the chuckling was speaking volumes."

"Oh, come on! It was funny! You should have seen your face, and I told you that I explained things to my mom. She doesnít think youíre a pervert or anything, and she still wants us over for dinner before we go to Atlantic City."

"Yeah," the admin rolled her eyes, "but it was still embarrassing. Although, I did enjoy seeing you naked."

Cory squinted her eyes and put a hand on her hip, "Maybe you are a little pervert."

Taylorís grin was saucy, "Yeah, but Iím your little pervert."

The grin was infections, "That---" The caseworker was cut off as soft lips descended again. "Oh. . ." Whoooo! Gotta love that tension reliever.

The blonde left the adminís office with shaky legs, palpitating heart, and heavy breathing. The excitement bubbled in her blood for a myriad of reasons now, and some of it had nothing to do with work. She pulled the cup of the Scooby-Doo gang pencils and peered at them with a smirk. Eyeing Velma with pity, the caseworker thought to herself, ĎPoor Velma will never get her glasses fogged up that way.í

After long minutes of pleasurable contemplation, Cory broke from her reverie as the ambiance of the job closed in on her. The smell of brewing coffee and over heated danish wafted up her nose as the sounds of murmurs, laughter and hen pecking on keyboards filled her ears. Before she had gone into Taylorís office to "relieve tension," the caseworker had passed the word that her exile from the field was over. She was greeted with pats on the back, smiles and even claps of relief. Some caseworkers looking to lighten their load even passed the blonde some choice cases to initiate her back into the fold. Smiling despite herself, Cory flipped open the first folder. Before she had time to separate and read over the information, a shadow covered her desk. The smell of fresh, strong coffee assaulted her nose. Without looking up, Cory knew it was Ray.

"Welcome back, Kid. To celebrate I put a little surprise in your coffee."

The blonde looked up at him curiously. "Burbon?"

His brow wrinkled. "Uh, no."

Feeling the imp firmly planted on her shoulder and growing larger, Cory decided to play. "Canadian Club then?" She asked with a straight face.

He backed up a little, and the look of confusion stayed.

The blonde caseworker bit the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing. "Donít tell me itís Scotch? That stuff is nasty!"

"Uh, no, no, just some amaretto creamer. Thought you would like something different."

Cory shook her head and gave him a little smile. "Síokay, Ray. Brought my own tea bags this morning."

His eyes turned the color of a rolling storm. "That stuff is bad for you. Now, coffee. . ."

"Come on, Ray say it with me. T-e-a. Come on, I know you can."

He shook his head vehemently. "No, itís blasphemy. I know you like coffee. . ."

"Noooo, told you last time that I was switching to tea. Tell me, Ray? When I talked to you the last time did it sound like blah, blah, blah, bla? Or did you hear actual words until I mentioned tea?"

His stormy gray eyes rounded in surprise, and Cory couldnít resist any longer. A wide, mischievous smile split her face almost in two. Ray blinked and out came a sound that she hadnít heard from him in a long time. A bark of laughter. She watched wide eyed in utter fascination then chuckled herself. The burly black man took a deep breath and gave the blonde a brief smile. "Itís good to have you back where you belong, Kid, but can I tell you something?"

Cory shrugged and replied, "Sure, anything. You know that."

He nodded his head imperceptibly. "Well, donít take this the wrong way, but youíre kinda strange."

Coryís eyes bucked and bulged like they were coming out of her head. She opened her mouth and closed it as Ray turned on his heels and left, leaving her designated cup of coffee with amaretto cream. She chuckled again, this time to herself, and the sound of familiar music rattled through her head. The caseworker let the tune work its way out her mouth. It was definitely appropriate. "Do, do, do, do---do, do, do, do." Cory shook her head and peered over at the empty desk beside her. You missed a good one today, Barb. Not wanting to get bogged down in those feelings, she picked up the papers from the file and started to peruse them. Her hand stopped mid-motion as she skimmed the first page. Already she could tell that the Williamsí case would be top priority. Excitement and relief made her heart pound.

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

Taylor leaned back in the leather chair with her face angled toward the ceiling and long fingered hands at an arch in front of her, fingertips touching. I canít believe that I get to spend the whole day with her, then the evening with our date, then the night. I could really end up spoiled.

Like you arenít already? Give me a break.

The adminís lips quirked, and she said aloud, "You say that like itís a bad thing." She chuckled at LSí exasperated sigh. I am a little worried though. I havenít actually talked or interviewed a client in years, and that was during internship. I can honestly say that Iím more than a little nervous.

She wouldnít ask you to do this if she didnít believe in you, and she does only because you have such confidence in yourself. Use some of it and follow your instincts.

Yeah, I know youíre right about this, but you might have to explain it to me again before we leave. Now, I need to talk to Big Shelley.

Straightening up in her chair, Taylor reached across the desk for the phone. "Shelly, can I see you a minute?" A minute later, the admin heard the jiggling of the adjoining door, and she couldnít help but smile. "Come on in. Itís not locked."

Shelley took a seat in the closest chair and looked at her boss expectantly. "So, you were able to change around any meetings I had for the day? Wasnít anything pressing I hope?"

"No, there wasnít anything that couldnít be changed. Although, you did have a phone conference scheduled with the counselor that was contracted to deal with the shooting. I changed that to late this afternoon. If thatís okay? Maybe you can convince her to juggle her schedule and come here in a few days instead of two weeks, even if she is the best in the region."

Taylor didnít hear anything after, Ďlate this afternoon.í She had wanted to get out the office at a decent time to get ready. It was the weekend after all. "Um, how late in the afternoon? I have a daósomething I have to tend to this evening."

The ever astute Shelley squinted and studied the admin from under hooded eyes. ĎSomething has changed with her. Itís in the way she looks and carries herself. Whatever it is. I think itís good for her.í A small smile appeared and the assistantís face. "I was young and single once too, Taylor. I know how it is."

Taylorís grin was as shy as she could muster. "Uh, okay. How late is the call?"

"Itís at 4 oíclock."

"Well, thatís not bad. What about Atlantic City? Anybody express interest?"

"Just you, Cory, and Annette. Thereís room in the budget for one more. Speaking of which, I hear Cory is going back out in the field starting today."

The admin couldnít help but smile, remembering the giddiness in the caseworker when she relayed the news. "Yeah, she is. When she told me last night, I . . ." Aww, damn open mouth and insert foot. "Uh, I mean when she called to inform me, I could hear the excitement in her voice." LS murmured, Mediocre save. You need to watch it. Taylor studied the other woman, hoping she hadnít read anything into what she said. Holding her breath, she waited to see what the next words out of Shellyís mouth would be.

As a reply the admin got a motherly smile, and, "Well, Iím glad that you two are friends. She needs someone since Barb is out. Itís good that youíre going out in the field with her, especially with it being her first day back."

Taylor released the breath. "Mmm, Iíve got every confidence that sheíll be okay out there. Iím going for my benefit as well as hers. Iíve learned a lot so far." Iíve learned things I wish I could share with the world, but the damned world wonít let me. "And maybe we wonít get shot or yelled at this time."

"Hmm, well, Iíll keep my fingers crossed for you two. If thereís not anything else, Iíll get back to work. I know you two are probably leaving soon anyway."

"Yeah, thanks. I believe we are because sheís out there going through cases as we speak."

"Good luck to you two."

Taylor was left in silence again. Part of me is glad that Barb is out right now. With things like they are between Cory and me, weíd be walking on egg shells with our hands in our pockets. The adminís mind wandered back to their first date. Nervous, giddy feelings tumbled through her stomach. It had been a long time since she had one of those. Almost two years. Two extremely long years. The brunette smirked. Thatís probably why weíre doing things backwards. Oh please, like you need an excuse. You couldnít keep your hands to yourself if you tried.

"Again, you say that like itís a bad thing."

**********

Cory picked out three cases for them to tackle today. They went from most difficult to light. The ordeal with the Williamsí would probably take a few hours if the information in the file was accurate. The blonde got up from her desk to empty and put away her coffee cup. As she neared the front, an array of feminine chuckles greeted her. She looked back curiously. At least six of the female caseworkers were gathered around Annetteís desk.

On her way back from the coffee island, Cory couldnít help but stop and see what all the laughing was about. She walked over to the bunch and futilely tried to peer over shoulders. The blonde caseworker cleared her throat. "Well, something has all of your giggle boxes going. Mine is a little dry. Wanna share?" Three of the women turned around grinning mischievously and made room for her. Cory glanced down at Annetteís desk to see the redhead holding an open issue of Playgirl in her grasp. Giggle boxes continued to work and fingers pointed at one picture in particular. Green eyes widened, "What the . . ."

A man in his mid forties, sitting naked and on a rock, proudly displayed an anomaly probably all men wished they had, two penises. "Geez!" The blonde rolled her eyes and moved away from the cackling bunch. She could have went all day with out seeing that, possibly all year. Walking back to her desk, she whispered to herself, "Show me a woman with four breasts. Now that would be something to see." Picking up her things, Cory headed for the adminís office. It was definitely time to get away from the office. The people in it were getting decidedly batty.


Chapter XXXV: The Field of Nightmares

Cory drove the adminís Accord as the brunette skimmed the file. The caseworker heard an intake of breath. "Yeah, I reacted the same way."

"She wants to make him a ward of the court because of that? Canít she see itís not his fault?"

Cory shook her head as she made a turn, "No, donít think she can. She just went through a divorce with his father, and it wasnít a pretty one at that. Her brother moved in to help out, and that's where the nightmare began, I guess."

"God, that poor kid."

"I agree. Do you think that you can handle him if it comes down to it? Heís a minor so we canít question him without her being present. If you have to, just take him to the side but keep him in the same room. You okay with that?" Cory turned to look at her companion as the stopped for a red light. Please say you are. This is gonna be a tough one, and I need you on this.

Sheís counting on me. I can see it in her eyes. "Yeah, Iím just a little nervous. I donít want to let you down."

Cory placed a hand on an khaki enclosed thigh and squeezed, transporting affection. "Just follow your instincts, and youíll be fine.

As if hearing what she needed to, Taylor smiled. "I think Iíll be fine." As long as youíre not that far away.

"Good, but just as a precaution, since every time we go out together trouble brews, we need to have a safe word. If one of us gets into trouble the other knows to wrap up and come help ASAP."

"Okay, I can do that." The admin answered. "Got anything in mind?" Taylor saw the smirk out the corner of her eye.

The blonde couldnít hide the amusement in her voice. "Sure I got one. How about kissing?"

Getting in on the game, Taylor added her two cents, "Mmm, thatís always good, but I got a better one. Howís sucking?"

Cory chuckled. "Nah, too predictable. I think tonguing would be better."

An ebony brow rose, "Well, that is definitely a necessity." They both laughed, feeling the tension and nervousness under the surface break in the face of their easy camaraderie.

***********

Sitting ramrod straight on the imitation leather couch, Kelly Williams studied her son, who sat quietly almost meekly across the room. ĎHe looks so much like his damned father.í The whiskey sloshed around in her glass then disappeared down her throat as she lifted the tumbler to her mouth. Anger, confusion, embarrassment, and resentment all vied for a place in her heart. She was a mass of jumbled emotion and ran a hand through strawberry blonde hair hoping some of the feelings would dissipate. No luck. How could this happen to me? Weíre not from the streets and have never been poor. Only dirty, hard up people participate in those kinds of perversions. It never happens in good homes. Even when Bob left us, I made sure that he knew it wasnít his fault. I gave him everything he could possibly need, and I was always there for him. My son. How could he do this? How could they do this to me?

And now they're telling me that we have to go through counseling. Itís bull, and I donít want anyone else to know the humiliation that Iíve suffered. They can take him for all I care. I give up! It would be better for both of us. Things can be normal again, and he can run the streets with those people and wallow in all the depravity that he wants.í

Her free hand clenched in anger and resolve. ĎI canít love someone like that.í Her dark thoughts shifted. ĎSam, you bastard. Why did you go along with this. Sick son of a bitch. I donít care what our Father did to you when we were young. Youíre dead to me. Do you hear me?! Iím the only normal one in this freaking family.í She wanted to shout it from the roof top. The petite woman, who was once beautiful sat on her semi-expensive couch, eyeing her possessions. Now broken and bitter, it was all she had. Nothing else mattered. She took another sip of her drink and glanced over at the stranger who she used to call her son.

**********

They pulled into the upper middle class neighborhood in Merrilville, looking out the windows at the brill cream homes and box cut lawns. Little kids, too young for school, played on the sidewalks and in yards, riding bikes, playing catch, and playing tag with a vengeance. It all looked like something out of Norman Rockwell. 'Wonder did Norman ever conceive of the nasty stuff going on past the painting. Probably not,' Cory thought to herself. The caseworker stopped the car in front of a house that was postcard perfect, and she watched the admin shake her head as she released the catch of her seat belt. "What?"

"Just thinking. I remember a while back a lot of people thought things like this didn't happen in neighborhoods like these. Little did we know that it did, but they were just hiding it, perpetuating it in a way."

Cory gathered the folders and opened the door. She looked over at her companion from the top of the car. "I know. It happens over and over again with kid after kid getting hurt, and the funny thing is that society still doesn't want to believe that this kind of abuse happens behind doors like these." They slowly ambled up the walkway, and Cory turned once more to the brunette grasping her elbow. "Taylor, you ready for this?"

Taylor swallowed then nodded, "Yeah, I am. In situations like this you forget your own nervousness, you know? They're what's important." She pointed toward the house with a free hand.

The blonde gave her friend a genuine smile. "Very good. I'll make a caseworker out of you yet."

Taylor grinned, but the exchange stopped once the reached the heavy wooden door and rung the door bell.

Kelly sighed in irritation and downed the rest of her drink. She sat the tumbler on the glass table with a thud and looked over at Brian. Her voice was harsh and accusing, "Don't just sit there! Make yourself presentable. Don't want them to think you're worse than you already are."

A boy of sixteen, Brian sat at the other end of the living room in a chair made out of the same imitation leather as the couch. His mud colored head was bent, hiding the pain and fear in light brown eyes. His mother's words startled him, making him jump, and the words were out of his mouth before he could stop them, "Yes, momma."

Kelly scowled wishing she had something of weight to throw but settled for, "Don't call me that! It doesn't mean anything anymore." Getting off the couch in a huff, she walked briskly to the door and snatched it open. Not feeling the need to pull punches, she almost shouted at the blonde and brunette, "You've come to get this fag? Good, cause I don't want him in my house anymore. I told that incompetent woman that from CPS, but she referred me to you and asked me to. . .give it a try." Her tone was biting by the end.

Completely stunned, Cory tried not to let it show, but she felt the admin's body turn to stone. This isn't good. Stay with me Taylor. Not knowing what else to do, the caseworker angled her body so that their shoulders were touching, hoping it would provide some comfort. She felt some of the tension loosen, and gave her attention back to the client. As cordial as she could, Cory added, "No, Mrs. Williams, we can't do that for you, but if after talking to us you want to still continue with your plans, I can put you back in touch with the CPS casemanager. We're simply here to assess what services are needed and the extent of problems that you help us identify."

Mrs. Williams waved her hand in nonchalance, "Yeah, whatever. I guess you'd better come in. They said you'd probably be here this morning."

'She wants our help otherwise she wouldn't have let us in. Halfway to first base,' Cory surmised.

Both women walked in without another word.

Taylor willed herself out of the fog. When the petite woman opened the door, and those hateful, unsuspecting words spewed from her mouth the admin had been transported back to her own childhood Is that what her mother had been thinking all those years? I don't want her anymore. Her chest rattled with the inhumanly fast heartbeat, and her spine straightened to steel. The soft touch on her shoulder brought her back. This isn't about me. They can't hurt me anymore. Look what I have. Someone wants me. I have to keep telling myself that. She cut her eyes to Cory. She wants me.

The admin felt her soul lighten as they crossed into the well-kept house. This is about them. Baby blue eyes scanned the immaculate living room. At first she saw money, but on second glance she saw pretend. Able to pick out the real thing from growing up around it, Taylor saw nothing but fakes. Right away, she knew that this woman was about appearances, which didn't bode well for Brian Williams and the case at hand.

Kelly eyed them curiously. "Well, you might as well have a seat and have a drink. When you get through hearing what I have to tell you, you'll need it," she quipped sarcastically.

"No, that's fine Mrs. Williams. By the way, I'm Cory Donovan and this is my partner Taylor Wilson."

Again, the strawberry blonde gave them that little wave, letting them know that they didn't really matter at all.

After sitting down, Cory spotted Brian Williams out of the corner of her eye. He sat in a far corner of the room with his head down, and his body scrunched as though he was trying to disappear. Wouldn't blame him. "Well, Mrs. Williams, we're here to talk to both you and Brian. You have every right to be present when we do. He is your son." Again, Cory tried not to be affected by the woman's sudden bark of laughter.

"I don't have a son. I have a pervert living in my house."

Keeping the boy in her sights, Cory saw him quiver. An astute mind wrapped around the mother's use of "I" and "me." The blonde turned to the admin wondering if she caught it too.

Taylor glanced at her companion with a slightly raised eyebrow and nodded softly almost imperceptibly. She had caught it too. Kelly Williams, at this point in time, couldn't see past her own pain to see her son's. Taylor realized at that moment that they really had their work cut out for them.

"Mrs. Williams," Cory's voice was light, calm, "we're going to ask some questions and some are invasive, but I'm going to have to ask you to answer them to the best of your ability." The laughter came again, harsh and bitter. On the inside Cory cringed as old questions roamed. Can I help them? What'll happen if I don't? They need me! Somewhere far away, the blonde could hear Dr. Zawid's voice telling her to count to ten, breath, and separate part of herself from the situation. She did as she was told. Taking a deep breath, she felt the part of her that was all heart floating above watching and leaving just enough in the caseworker to be compassionate, impartial, and kind.

"Um, is it okay if we get started now?"

Kelly shrugged her shoulders.

Shuffling folders, Cory gave the one with Brian Williams' name to Taylor. She gave the woman a short glance as their fingers brushed, transferring strength and calmness. Hang in there. Green eyes seemed to say. Not going anywhere. Pale blue replied.

"Mrs. Williams, when did you first notice a change in Brian's behavior?"

The strawberry blonde woman, who had previously been sitting, got up to pace. Her voice was pained and small. "His grades started to fall, and he started to become secretive. We used to tell each other everything. I thought it was a product of the divorce, but it didn't start happening until. . .uh, Sam moved in." In a sudden burst of anger, the little woman clenched her fists and dug them against her hips. Her voice went from quiet to a howling shriek. "They're perverts! Both of them! Do you know I caught them?! I walked in on them," she pointed a finger at her son accusingly. "He had Brian bent over a table with his pants down, and he was moaning like he liked it!"

Off in a corner, something clicked in Brian's mind. It was too much, and he was tired, so tired. Looking up, his body shook and shuddered as did his voice, "SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP! YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING!"

Three sets of eyes turned to the boy, but Kelly Williams was the first to speak. She peered at her son as if he hadn't spoken in years, but her comeback was quick and hurtful. "I know what I saw. How could you do this to me?"

Brian pulled himself up from the chair, managing to look fragile and youthful all at once. As if he wasn't used to raising his voice so high, the next words out of his mouth were quieter but just as shaky. "What about me, momma? What about me? You don't love me. If you did, how could you let him do this to me?" Brian Williams walked slowly but purposely toward his mother.

Cory could feel the situation unraveling quickly. She glanced at Taylor and said briskly, "I need you to keep him away from her. Go talk to him and try to calm him down. Just talk to him, Taylor no assessment. I'll take the mother."

Taylor nodded and galvanized herself into action. How does she do this and keep her sanity? She walked slowly over to Brian, keeping her hands up and out in front of her as a sign of peace. The admin spoke in a kind, soft voice lacking condescension, "Brian? My name is Taylor. I know you're hurting right now, and that's why we're here. How about we go sit over there," She pointed to the two imitation leather chairs sitting side by side, "and we can talk. You don't have to say anything you don't want." Her heart broke as she watched his body sag and heard the sobs, "I don't know what to do anymore. I've tried to talk to her, but she treats me like I'm not even here. Don't know what to do."

Knowing touching was a big no-no unless the client was receptive, Taylor took a chance and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. "Let's go sit down, and we can talk about whatever you want." He nodded and allowed himself to be led.

Cory observed Kelly Williams as she watched Taylor steer her son away. "What's she doing to him?"

"It's okay. We're just trying to calm the situation down. She's going to keep him in the room, so you'll be able to see him and even hear him if you want."

"I don't want anything from him."

Cory looked into green eyes a shade darker than her own. "Why is that Mrs. Williams?"

The other woman's mouth screwed into a sardonic smile. "Because he isn't what I thought he was."

At that moment, Cory wondered if the woman was talking about her son or her husband. "Can we sit down, Mrs. Williams?"

Kelly eyed her son and the dark haired woman across the room. She heard the sobs and steeled her heart against them. "Yeah, sure. Whatever."

Cory racked her brain, trying to figure out a way to diffuse the situation. Go with your instinct. "Can I ask you something?"

The strawberry blonde nodded, but kept her eyes glued across the room.

Good, I can see that she does care. Do you think your son precipitated all of this?"

Shocked deep green eyes turned to the caseworker. "I-I. . .he could have come to me if something was going on. Don't understand why he didn't."

Cory nodded. "Mrs. Williams, is it alright if I provide another perspective in this? It may not be accurate since I haven't talked to Brian, but I would like you to see that a number of things could have happened."

Kelly eyes went from her son back to Cory. "I guess." She shrugged, feigning indifference.

"Okay. When CPS was contacted after your brother was arrested, a lot of personal things were found out about this household. For instance, I know that you went through a nasty, painful divorce just a short time ago, and Sam, your brother moved in to lend moral support. Am I correct?"

"Yeah, sounds right."

"Well, Brian is not a little boy anymore. He's a step away from being a man. What if he saw you hurting from this, knew you were hurting from the divorce? What if he didn't want to hurt you more by showing that another man in your life was a disappointment and turned out to be someone other than you thought he was? What if he took it all on himself as a form of protection that got confused?"

"Sam is an authority figure to him, plain and simple, and maybe Brian didn't want to disappoint anyone. He sees you now taking on the pain and guilt all by yourself, and he knows it didn't work that he failed you. Each time you ignore him it could be an affirmation that he is a failure. What if he's not gay or like you say a pervert but just a victim of circumstance?"

Cory watched the other woman wring her hands as she looked back and forth between her and Taylor. "They're a lot of what ifs Mrs. Williams, and all I'm asking is that you just think about the possibility that you're not the only one hurting, not the only one guilty."

Kelly's deep green eyes were alive with agony. "But. . .I don't know what to do. My family, we always. . .kept our problems private. So private that they weren't even there. What if other people find out? I don't know how. . ."

"No one has to find out Mrs. Williams. We try our best to keep things like this out of the papers for the child's interest." Cory had to wonder if she was even heard. The woman's gaze was now focused on her son.

"I love him so much. He's what his father used to be so kind, giving, and loving. Why couldn't I see it? Why couldn't I protect him?" Her face scrunched in pain.

So guilty. That's why you lashed out at him. "Your brother showed you what he wanted you to see. Nothing else. You can't blame yourself for somebody else's sickness, Mrs. Williams."

Kelly glanced back at the caseworker. "No, but I can blame my father. He. . .did things to Sam, and the elders in the family swept it under the rug. Now, look at us." She brought a hand to her mouth and covered it to keep the sobs in. "What do we do now?"

Cory felt relief coarse through her veins. "That's what we're here to determine Mrs. Williams. If you'll let us help."

"Can you. . .help us?" Her voice was hesitant and small.

"We can try." We've cleared first base and are a little past second. Hope she's willing to make it home.

*******

Meanwhile, Taylor looked down at Brian's bowed head. He whispered in between sobs, "Just didn't want to hurt her, and he. . . I don't know why. I just didn't know what to do anymore." He suddenly looked up at the admin with fearful eyes. "I'm not gay or anything. Don't know why I did. . .God!" He covered his face in his hands. Taylor reached out to squeeze his shoulder. How can her heart not break every time? Her esteem for Cory went up several notches even though it was already high. "So, you did it to protect your mom? To keep her from hurting more you didn't tell her?"

"Yeah," he looked up and brushed his hand through curly brown hair. "I know that must sound stupid to you, but my father did some things to her. I didn't want her to see her brother like that. Didn't want her to see me like that."

"I think I can understand that Brian. You're a brave man. Must have been really hard to take on the responsibilities of a household, and forget about outside life."

He shook his head, "Wasn't hard. She needed me, and I needed her. My friends understood, so did Cindy."

"She's your girlfriend?"

A small smile formed on his face, and in an instant it was gone. "Yeah, don't know how she'd want me now."

"Let us help you, and we'll see about that and your relationship with your mom. Don't get me wrong here, Brian. I'm gonna be honest with you. This won't be easy, and it won't be quick. But, I look at you and listen to what you did, and I know you can handle it."

"Yeah, I'll do anything to make her happy again, to make us happy again. I don't want to leave her."

"I know you don't, kiddo, and I think my friend over there is trying to see if she can stop that from happening." She leaned to the side. "See, look over there."

Taylor watched his eyes widen. "Momma, she's crying?! That woman's not saying things to hurt her is she?" His hands knotted to fists.

"No, she's just trying to calm her down and make her more receptive to the help you both need. If you be quiet for a minute, we can listen."

He nodded, and a look of joy spread over his face. "She loves me? She still loves me?!"

Taylor felt a flash of warmth invade her body. "Don't think she ever stopped. She's just dealing with her own pain, Brian." The admin looked back. "They look like their finished talking. Let's see what happens." She smiled inwardly when Kelly Williams glanced over at her son. The look of hope in his face was life affirming.

Cory studied the silent woman. "We're ready when you are Mrs. Williams." God, I've missed this, knowing that I can help people see what they knew was there already: the love and trust they have of their children and their family. The blonde peered over at the admin. Their eyes met and warmth, relief, and belief was communicated.

"I-I think I'm ready for those questions now. Maybe I need to go see if he is?"

"It's okay. Go ahead."

The blonde watched as the other woman got up hesitantly and made her way over to the other side of the room. Taylor turned to Brian. "You okay, kiddo?"

"Yeah, um, is she coming over here?"

"Looks like it. You okay with that?"

"Um, will you stay here too."

"Sure will."

Kelly glanced at the dark haired administrator and gave her a tremulous smile. She walked past the sitting woman to get to her son. He looked up at her full of hesitant hope. The strawberry blonde's hand descended into Brian's hair, ruffling it into cute disarray. Brian's face split in the most genuine smile that she had seen in a long while. It was obviously a gesture of affection between them.

"You ready for this, honey?"

The smile stayed, and he nodded.

The family looked from Taylor to Cory, who had walked up and took a place standing behind her partner. "We're ready for your questions now." Kelly Williams said in as clear a voice as she could muster.

*******

An hour later, the drove along the expressway. Cory was the first to speak. "God, that was something."

Taylor turned to her companion, "Yeah, it was. I thought it was touch and go there for a while."

"Me too. You wanna stop and get a quick bite so we can talk about it? It's a little past lunch time anyway."

"Sounds great. Where are we going?"

"We can do McD's if you're game, and I know this abandoned parking lot not far where we can talk. I found it a long time ago when I first started."

"Okay, let's do it."

**

Cory sucked on the straw then nibbled on a fry. "Found this place after my first case. Shook me up so bad that I had to find somewhere to calm down. God, it felt like I cried for hours. It was right out here in Merrilville, and it was a physical abuse case. When I got to the house, the father was beating on his daughter. I could hear the screams from the front door." The blonde's voice was distant. "I called the cops and paramedics from my cell phone, and when they got there, they broke down the door. She was laying there in a pool of blood, barely breathing. They saved her and arrested him, but he had kicked her so many times in the back that it paralyzed her. I'll never forget how that feeling. At first, I was so eager to go and help then the helplessness came and the guilt. I guess I never really got through those feelings. It's why I ended up with Dr. Zawid."

Taylor had been munching on a cheeseburger, but she put it down and gave Cory her rapt attention. "Did you feel that today? I mean, did you feel it was going to be hopeless?" She turned to the blonde catching her gaze and refusing to lose it. Feeling that they needed to be connected, Taylor reached out a hand and grasped the smaller one. The eyes that looked back at her were hesitant and a little distant. "Talk to me, Cory. Come back to me."

The blonde shook her head. "Um, sorry got caught in memory lane there for a minute." She squeezed the hand holding hers. "But, I'm okay. Thought I was going to get lost back there at first, but I knew you were there. I also did some techniques Doc taught me to separate myself. It helped a lot, but she wanted help. She kept dropping little clues, and it was just a matter of recognizing them."

She's amazing, and I don't think she even knows it. "You're an unbelievable caseworker, Cory. I was lucky enough to recall training that helped me through all of this. How do you do it without losing your heart? All of that just about broke mine."

Cory gave the admin a small smile. "You felt it too, huh? I have to tell you that it's hard because it feels like a little piece goes each time, and faith in humanity just dwindles. But, knowing that there are people out there working with me that are willing to help makes it easier. I know that I'm not alone, trying to do it all by myself. What about you? How are you doing? I know it's been a long time."

Taylor looked away quickly and swallowed shocked tears that weren't far from the surface. Need to get a hold of myself. A squeeze and tug on her hand brought the admin back to face the caseworker. "Um, he just needed someone to listen. That's all I did. I heard you lay into his mom though, and I gathered that's what she needed. I have to say that I have never seen that much pain on someone's face before. I felt for him, you know? I could relate I guess." Her voice was scratchy and intense as were her eyes.

Cory's heart stopped. Oh, God! Her parents. Is that what it was like, knowing they didn't care? Urged into action, Cory threw her food back in the bag and into the back seat. She did the same with Taylor's, and put the cups on the dashboard. Without preamble, she climbed across the seat to settle herself awkwardly in the admin's lap. The caseworker pulled the brunette into a tight hug and felt her heart stop again at the admin's shaky intake of breath.

Taylor dug blunt fingernails into Cory's back and held on for dear life. The blonde was one of the only one's to understand. The only one she would let understand. Her mind rewound back to a question Brian asked in a round about fashion, Why doesn't she love me? The admin sobbed and let the tears come. They were hot, salty against her cheeks and plopped into blonde hair. Why didn't they love me? What did I do?

Cory looked into Taylor's face, seeing the tracks of tears as the spilled from closed eyes. I have to do something. She makes me hurt too. "Baby, look at me." When Taylor didn't comply, she asked again. "Look at me please." Pale blue sharpened to silver by pain peered back at her. Cory cupped wet cheeks in her hands. "There is nothing wrong with you. Never has been. It was them, sweetie. It was them. You are a beautiful, compassionate, and caring woman, and you became that way on your own. They couldn't see past each other just like Kelly Williams couldn't at first. I only wish I had been there for you. I wish someone had been to tell you this and to help them. I'm so sorry that no one was. I wish I could take all your pain away and fill you back up with what I feel for you. I love you, Taylor. So much. You deserve this and so much more."

Blue eyes stared at her in wonder. Taylor was speechless. Fat tears slid down her face and her heavy heart suddenly felt light again. Still, the tears came. Words stuck in her throat. She wanted to ask why? When? How? Instead, the tears came. She loves me. No one has ever said that to me before, and all I can do is sit here like an idiot because I'm scared. Yeah, I'm scared of feeling too much, of getting lost. Idiot. I'm an idiot. Mom and Dad look at this. Someone loves me, and I can't even tell her how I feel. Look who you gave birth to.

Cory covered the admin's trembling mouth with a finger and wiped away tears with her other hand. "You don't have to say anything. Just let it be." Cory ignored the sliver of pain through her spine that occurred when the words weren't returned. This is what love is isn't it? Giving when it's needed. Selfless giving. She needed to hear it. She needed to know that she was loved. Green peered into blue, and Cory read the emotion and the struggle within. So, she said it again. "I love you, Taylor." The blue changed from cloudy to almost clear with awe and warmth. What the admin couldn't say out loud, Cory could read in her eyes. She cares. I know she does. It has to be enough for now. The blonde leaned in giving her companion a reassuring smile. Cory brushed soft, moist lips with her thumbs, feeling them tremble under her touch. Leaning in closer, she replaced her fingers with lips. The meeting of mouths was soft, tender but more powerful than the strongest storm. Taylor felt warmth and emotion gush through her body. She welcomed it, reveled in it, opened to it. This is what it's like to be loved.

Cory whimpered quietly as the same feelings transferred to her. This feeling. It's what's been missing those other times.

Minutes later, silently, the kiss was broken, and they held on to each other, cherishing the quiet. Finally, Cory broke it. Pulling back, she studied the admin's face. "You okay?"

Embarassed, Taylor laughed at herself, "Yeah, thanks to you." She tweaked the caseworker's nose. "You're so good to me. You know that?"

Cory wrinkled her nose and tried to escape the invading fingers. "Um, you need someone to be, and I'm glad it's me."

Feeling like she should say something anything to the woman, who just spilled her heart, her mouth opened to speak, "Cory, I want to tell you---"

A small hand covered her mouth. "Shhh, it's okay. I know you care, and that's enough for me right now. Just let me know the second something changes, will ya?"

The big smile went past the expanse of the caseworker's hand. "Mmm, theal."

Cory took her hand away. It was time to put them on more even footing. Somebody had too. "Um, I hate to change the subject and bring this up, but we have two other cases. Just a couple of dirty houses, but if you think you can't handle.. .

"I'm there," Taylor said with conviction. "Besides, we can discuss things more on our date tonight." The admin spied the confusion on the blonde's face. "You forgot?"

Cory ducked her head to hide the blush. Her voice was a squeak, "I'm sorry. With all that happened today, it slipped my mind, but I still want to go with you."

"Good, I'm looking forward to it."

"So am I. So, lets finish eating do these other cases. Make the time pass faster."

Taylor gave her a white grin. "I like the way you think." The admin grasped Cory's arm as she moved back to her own seat. The blonde looked back half on and half off the brunette's lap. "Cory, just want to let you know that I care. More than I can even describe."

Cory swallowed as the palm of her hand was met with a moist kiss. "I know," she replied hoarsely.


Chapter XXXVI: First Time For Everything. . .

Cory looked at herself in the mirror and poked her bottom lip out, blowing out a breath and disturbing wispy blonde bangs. Of all the things that could have went wrong today and now this evening, it had to be her hair. "Aargh! I need a hair cut." She looked at the displaced cowlicks on her head, the ones mousse refused to touch. With a devilish gleam in her eye, the blonde picked up scissors that were conveniently sitting on the bathroom sink then threw them down in disgust. "I'm such a pud. I don't think my brain is working right today. Why didn't I zap it while it was still wet?" The blonde looked down at the ultra short skirt and rock hard abs peeking from under the tummy shirt. Then, she glanced at the watch on her wrist. "Ugh, I don't have time for this."

The rest of the day had gone on without a hitch. The blonde caseworker expected uncomfortable relations between them, but it never came to fruition. Things were as smooth as ever. They had talked, laughed, and discussed the other two cases without incident. Things were the same as they had been. Except I told her that I love her. Cory turned on the sink and allowed her hands to fill with water before dispersing it in her hair. I can't believe I did that. What happened? I was so scared before. She repeated the process. Simple. She needed to hear it. She needed to know that someone in her life loved her. That's all that matters. The blonde applied the goo to her hair then plugged in the blow dryer. Our first date. Our first appearance out in public together. Am I nervous? Uh, hell yeah I am. What if I say something stupid or do something stupid? Cory laughed out loud. I think I'm safe. We've already covered those bases. The woman's seen me naked for goodness sakes. She looked back down at her watch. Fifteen minutes to go then off to Chicago.

Taylor sat in the parking lot outside Cory's building for the past few hours. She had been ready for hours, and she had been giddy for hours. At home, she went through countless outfits and the indecision of wearing her hair up or down. Somehow knowing the blonde liked it down she kept it that way. As for wardrobe, she had settled on a short, blue wrap around skirt and white sleeveless top, hoping it was presentable enough for a first night out.

Ugh, this is nerve racking. I can't believe that I've been out here this long. What the hell is wrong with me?

You've only got fifteen minutes, and I don't even have the time to get into it.

"Good 'cause I don't want to hear it tonight. You stay out of my head."

No chance of that. Now is there?

"At least calm it down a bit," she said to the empty car. Taylor leaned her head forward and rubbed her temples. I can't believe she's going out with me after what happened today. The woman spilled her guts, and I went mute. I hope I can at least make tonight special for her since I botched up earlier. Three simple words, and I couldn't say them. Why? Because you never have before, but you will. Be patient. She is. It will hit you right between the eyes. I hope you're right because it's time to go in and get her.

*********

An hour later, deep in Chicago's club district, Taylor listened as Cory gave directions. "God, Cory. Didn't think I was ever going to stop laughing. I can't believe you're taking me somewhere called The Kitty Room."

"Heh, you should have seen my face the first time I went there. I thought it was a leather bar."

Feeling a little jealousy curl up her spine, the admin asked, "You went there on a date?"

"Mmm-hmm, I liked the place better than I liked her."

Taylor mentally clapped her hands. "Glad you didn't."

"Didn't what?"

"Like her."

Cory laid a hand on the smooth skin of the admin's thigh. The heat from it shot up her arm. "Me too." She squeezed the thigh then pointed. "Make a right here. It's right down the block."

"Okay, I see it."

"Oh, by the way, if I haven't said it enough tonight, you look great." The admin had come to her door a vision of legs that went on forever and red lips that begged to be kissed. Cory had resisted, but not by much.

Taylor chuckled. "I knew there was some reason why I had to keep telling you that my eyes weren't down there."

The blonde clipped her companion's shoulder playfully. "There it is smart ass. You'll have to park down the street though."

Holding hands, they finally reached the front of the building. It was mid-sized and painted pink with a huge triangle on the face with red letters that spelled out, The Kitty Room.

Taylor looked over at the blonde and smirked. "You sure it's not a leather bar? Do you have something you want to tell me?"

Cory giggled, "Yeah, I'm gonna ring your neck if you don't stop teasing me."

Wrapping her arm around solid shoulders, the admin replied, "But I thought you liked that?"

The blonde's grin was lecherous. "No, I like the other kind of teasing."

Taylor's mouth formed a perfect "O." "You're bad, but maybe we can see about that later."

"On the dance floor?" The caseworker asked hopefully.

"Mmm, anywhere you want."

Cory gave a mock shiver. "Oooh, don't give me ideas like that." They both laughed and returned the strange looks from the doorwoman in a pink bellhop suit, who silently let them in.

Once into the foyer, they could hear the slight thump of base from music. Taylor glanced at the caseworker confused. "The dancing is upstairs along with a little bar. We'll do that later."

"Ah, I see, and I guess down here would be dinner. Oh, and as far as the dancing goes. I can't wait."

"Very good. Now, could you tell the nice hostess staring at us that it's two in non-smoking?"

"Funny." But Taylor did as she was told.

Pale blue scanned the place. It wasn't at all upscale. Although, the hardwood floors were polished to a gleaming shine. The rest of the place was rather odd. Each wall was painted a different color and held only one picture dead in the center. On the blue wall was an 8 x 10 of Greta Garbo, and as far as she could see on the pink wall was a picture of Alice Walker. The rest became a blur as they were escorted into the dining area that was lined with small tables covered in different color table cloths, lined with stark black chairs, and potted plants were placed strategically around the room. Taylor spied other women dressed as casually as they were talking and eating as well as waitresses in different color pants and tops taking orders and bringing food. 'The place certainly has ambiance,' she thought to herself.

Once seated, Cory caught the brunette's gaze. "So what do you think? Great isn't it?"

"Yeah, it has a good feel to it. Sort of easy and simple with the pictures providing a hint of sophistication."

"Knew you'd like it for some reason." Cory reached across the table to take the admin's hand. "I want you to have a good time."

Taylor grinned. "I already am. You're here." The brunette scrunched up her nose and laughed. "Oh, man that was corny."

Cory chuckled, "S'okay. I like corn. I'm from Indiana remember." She squeezed the admin's hand. "You're going to love the food here. They do American, Italian, and even Mexican. If you don't like what's on the menu, just ask for a dish, and the chef will make it for you."

"Sounds great." Taylor smiled up at the waitress in the blue skirt and pink top as she gave them menus.

The blonde took a minute to look at the menu, having already in mind what she wanted. "I think I'll go with the stuffed chicken parmesan. It melts in your mouth." She looked up at the admin and smirked. "They have a lot of chicken dishes here, so I know you're in Heaven."

Taylor's smile was simply a baring of teeth. "Oh my was that a funny? It went by so quick that I'm not sure." Blue eyes scanned the area as if actually looking for the lost words then smiled genuinely at the caseworker.

Cory sipped some water then put it down. "You know, I need to come up with a better word than smart ass. Somehow it doesn't fit you." Her voice was alive with mirth.

Picking up her own water glass, the brunette clinked hers against the blonde's now sitting on the table. "Good luck."

Cory watched in silence. Look at her. I knew she would be different away from work and Gary. She's relaxed, way past charming, and the sense of humor is as wicked as they come. We need to do this more often. How did I get so lucky? Guess it's true about love being right under your nose. Glad I could see it.

Making a decision about her order, Taylor sat the menu down and glanced across the table to find green eyes alight with intensity looking back at her. She returned the gaze, hoping to transmit her own growing feelings. In a short time, she found a friend and potential lover, but it went further than that. She finally knew what it felt like to be loved. Warmth and giddiness blossomed through her making her face flush. I haven't prayed in a long time, but I'm so thankful that I've been given this. I won't let her go. I can't let her go, and I'll do whatever I need to in order to keep it this way. She told me that I deserved this. Do I? If so, I'm going to spend everyday trying to make sure I stay worthy.

The gaze was broken by the return of the waitress. Taking a minute to get their bearings, they ordered food and the house wine. In less than thirty minutes, the food arrived. Taylor immediately tucked into her Chicken Marsala, and she watched as Cory did the same. In between bites, the admin added, "It's been ages since I've been out anywhere. Back in Indianapolis, no one really made the effort to make nice, but I guess I didn't either. It was pretty much work all the time except for work out time and phone calls to Wendy. I think she's what kept me going there because it got ugly. Had to fire a lot of people. You guys were lucky."

Cory sipped her wine. "It was that bad there?"

"Yeah. Caseworkers didn't show up for work, and if they did some didn't come back. Cases were never looked into. . ." What am I doing? It isn't the time to talk about work!

I was just about to say that.

Taylor waved her hand in the air as if pushing the conversation away. "Hey, we didn't come here to talk about work. We're here to get to know each other. Right?"

"You're right." Cory sat the wine glass down. "Um, can I ask you something?"

"Sure go ahead."

"Was Wendy the only real friend you've had?"

"Before you, yeah. I mean, I knew people, but I didn't know them, if you get my meaning. It was hard knowing who to trust, so I didn't trust anybody. I figured that things would be a lot easier. They were for a long time. I got what I needed from people, and it stopped there. Wendy just wormed her way in. The woman's too strange not to." Taylor chuckled. "The things she said, it made you want to get closer and figure her out. I guess the same went for me. The more I wanted to know about her the more I revealed about myself. She knows a lot about me, but I've shown you more. When I first met you and we were having our spats, I wanted to prove myself to you. Should have known something was going on then, huh?"

"I don't know," Cory's smile was big and bright, "you shook me up big time. I have never acted toward anyone the way I did to you. I mean, there were people who got on my nerves, but I was never mean to them. Sometimes I wanted to pull your hair out." The blonde raised an eyebrow. "That is till I found out how great it felt."

Taylor threw her head back and laughed. "Cory, you're some piece of work."

The blonde caseworker blew on her fist and rubbed it against her shirt. "I know. That's what I keep hearing."

Taylor laughed harder. After a long minute, she took a sip of wine and sobered a little. "So, tell me. I bet you had a lot of friends."

Cory nodded. "Yeah, I did, but I was selective growing up. They were almost all boys. Until I got into high school, I felt more comfortable around them. Then, I discovered the joy of being a girl." The blonde chuckled. "I knew something was different by the eighth grade, and so did a lot of other people. That's when I really started being selective. Can't be too careful. I had a close knit group of about three or four. They all knew about me and didn't care. It was tough though. Nowhere to go and no one to really talk to. I dated boys to keep my parents from being too suspicious, but when I got to college."

Her eyes lit up. "It was a whole new experience. Men and women were gay out in the open, and I wanted to be a part of it. So yeah, I had a few friends, but we've kind of lost touch. Everybody just sort of scattered after graduation." She shrugged. "I guess it happens. When I started working at the agency, I knew I had to be real careful. I know it's more accepted in our field, but still, you know? Barb was the only genuine person I met. I like Ray, but the rest of themó" The blonde stuck out her hand and waved it back and forth.

Taylor leaned forward on the table, resting her chin on her elbow while she listened. "Now see, you have three. Me and Wendy really likes you, and I know Barb will come around when she gets back."

Cory picked up her fork and nodded, "Yeah, I'm starting to believe that. Can I ask you. . .when did you know?"

Taylor raised a sable brow, "Know what?" Green eyes bucked. "Oh, that! Well, I had a crush on my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Hall. You know how the little boys would do? Bring apples and presents? I did that, even stayed after school to help her out. I had it bad." She snickered. "Then there was Sally. She sat by me in seventh grade english. She had the longest most beautiful red hair I had ever seen, and she smelled so good. I used to call her house to talk to her and found myself hanging up every time. Had to settle for admiring her from a far." Taylor gave the blonde caseworker a cheesy grin. "Anything else you want to know?"

Cory grinned back, "Yeah, lots, but most of all, are you having a good time?"

"I don't think it could get any better, Cory." To think, this is what I've been missing all this time. I'm sort of glad I did, since she's the one that's showing it to me. They talked about everything and nothing until the food was gone and dessert came.

Cory patter her stomach, "Oh, I'm stuffed. I guess it's time to work some of this off."

"Yeah, that was good. I almost forgot about the dance floor. You can't really hear the music."

"They have the floor and ceiling reinforced. Should we head up?"

Taylor smirked saucily. "Can't wait to get all over me can you?"

The blonde let out a bark of laughter. "You're terrible, but yeah, you're right. You can't tell me you weren't thinking the same."

"Well, yeah, but I know you'll let me all over you without the dancing." Taylor threw some money on the table to cover the check as they got up. She looked over at the blonde expecting a snappy retort, but all she got was a look of lustful intensity. Cory slowly walked over until she was behind the admin, wrapping an arm around her torso as she went. When she stopped, her open palm covered the brunette's clothed stomach, and the caseworker reveled in the feel of twitching muscle. From somewhere behind the admin, close enough to feel the petite woman's heat, Cory answered in a thick, syrupy voice, "You're right about that one."

Taylor swallowed, but stood her ground. "You love what you do to me don't you?"

Rubbing her front against the brunette's back, Cory answered, "You know the answer to that." Moving dark tresses out the way, the blonde planted a wet kiss on the back of the admin's neck. She bit into the flesh when the other woman shivered and was rewarded with a quiet whimper. Suddenly remembering where she was, Cory grabbed the other woman's hand. "Come on. Let's go." On quivering legs, Taylor followed. This woman is going to be the death of me. I need a drink.

********

After paying the cover charge, the couple walked into a world of flashing lights, booming music, and gyrating bodies. Taylor pulled the blonde close enough to whisper in her ear, "I'm going to get a drink. Do you want anything?"

"Yeah, amaretto sour, please."

"Okay, is there somewhere where you can go sit down for a minute while I get them?"

Cory pointed to the back. "There's some booths over there."

"You head on over then, and I'll be right back.

Cory found a booth close to the dance floor and in view of the bar. She scooted in and shook her body to the music. She watched as the other women at the bar stared at Taylor as she leaned over, talking to the bartender. All of that is mine, ladies. You can try, but I don't think she's going anywhere. The blonde scowled as her view was blocked. She looked up to see a reasonably attractive redhead peering down at her. The other woman tilted forward, "You should be out on the dance floor."

Cory sighed. It had been a long time since she had to do this. "I will be in a minute." She looked back over at the bar.

The redhead persisted and moved down further, "That's an old trick. I don't see anyone here."

Gettin a little irate, Cory responded, "You don't have to see anyone. Just know there is, and I won't be dancing with you."

The redhead gave Cory a smile she was sure the woman thought was sexy. "You got a lot of fire. I like that." The caseworker rolled her eyes and glanced at the bar in hopes that Taylor was coming back soon. This could go a couple of ways. She could kick the woman or ignore her until the admin returned. She chose the latter.

Taylor smiled at the bartender after dropping a healthy tip in the jar at the end of the bar. She stiffened when she turned around. Pale blue eyes closed to slits, transforming them to liquid fire. Somebody was somewhere they had no business being. She eyed the woman leaning over Cory and walked briskly toward the booths. "Mine," she wanted to scream, but she decided on a more subtle approach.

Getting to the table, the admin sat the glasses down with a dull thud. She grinned slightly at the blonde, who winked back. With one simple exchange, tactics had been agree upon. The redhead glanced over at the admin with slight interest then gave her attention back to Cory.

Taylor moved in behind the woman and tapped her on the shoulder. The redhead turned and snarled, "What?!"

The admin's tone was tight and menacing. "I know she already told you to get lost, so let me just tell you again. Move your ass!" The redhead turned around and really looked at the brunette for the first time. For a woman of medium height, she suddenly felt like a munchkin. She stared into the admin's face, seeing the taught features and ticking jaw. Taylor stepped closer. "Do you speak English? I said move!"

The redhead jumped and moved to the side. "Um, I didn't know. . ."

"Well, now you do. Good-bye." Without another word or glance, Taylor slid into the booth beside Cory. Silently, the uninvited woman walked away.

Cory stared wide eyed at the admin. Her heart paused then started again double-time. No one has ever done that for me before. I always had to. . .God! That was something, and she looked so damned sexy. Licking her lips, the caseworker soaked in the energy teeming off the brunette. The heat was phenomenal. She wanted to crawl inside the other woman just to feel her from the inside out. Her breathing turned harsh and quick. Needing an outlet for the emotions, she did the only thing that came to mind. Cory snaked a hand around the admin's neck and wound it in dark tresses. In one forceful move, she pulled Taylor's face closer. Waiting a beat, she crushed her lips against ripe red ones. Taylor's mouth opened on a hoarse moan, and Cory slid inside, starting the war between tongues. She whimpered when wet members finally touched and wrapped her other hand in sable hair.

Taylor's senses reeled. Arousal flooded her system, thick and sweet. The kiss had taken her completely by surprise, leaving her suddenly raw and aching. What did I do? I have to remember, so I can do it more often. The admin tore her lips away when breathing became essential. They gazed at each other, breathing ragged and audible and lips swollen. Foreheads touched. "Taylor, I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me. No one ever did that for me before, and you. . .so sexy." Cory traced the admin's wet, swollen lips with a finger.

Taylor kissed the digit and smiled through her arousal. "It's okay. Anytime you feel the need to thank me like that, just go ahead, and anyway, I was just. . ."

Cory chuckled, "Protecting your territory."

The admin snapped at the finger before answering, "Yeah, something like that." She jerked her head toward the dance floor. "You ready to dance."

"Most certainly, if it involves getting my hands all over you."

Taylor groaned inwardly. It was going to be a long couple of hours.


Chapter XXXVII: Memories are made of this. . .

With hands splayed against the shower wall, Taylor allowed the hot water to filter through her hair and down her back. Every drop tingled against her skin. She groaned in frustration and changed it to a cold blast. She's trying to kill me. I just know it. Visions of their bodies writhing together on the dance floor grabbed her and wouldn't let go. The blonde had been relentless, grinding against her hips. She could still feel the hot, soft skin of toned thighs against her own. That had just been the icing on the cake. There were touches, long and languid over her back, neck and torso.

Taylor whimpered, remembering the shivering heat as blunt nails trailed up and down her back. She turned the shower head to a higher setting, letting the droplets beat against her skin. And now, she's in my bed half naked a few feet away. Do I have the will power not to touch her? "I guess we'll see, " she said aloud. The admin let the cold water run down her face and neck, thinking really hard about taking the situation into her own hands. No, it'll only leave me hungrier. Staying in just a few more minutes longer, she finally turned the knob, and stepped into the quiet bathroom.

After drying off, the admin pulled on shorts and a t-shirt. She stood in front of the closed bathroom door and took a deep breath. Okay, I can do this. She opened the door but stopped dead in the middle of the room. There lying on the bed fast asleep was Cory. The blonde had pushed the covers away, revealing flesh exposed from the t-shirt and shorts that had ridden up during her slumber. Taylor swallowed, grabbed her keys off the nightstand and ran from the bedroom. A drive. Just a little drive will do the trick. Uh-huh, and pigs fly. Just face it. You want the girl so much you can taste it. What do you think that means?

Refusing to answer, Taylor left a note in case the blonde awakened. Then, as quietly as possible, she was out the front door.

Once on the open road, Taylor turned the radio on low. It wasn't enough "Okay, okay you were right!"

About what? What you want or what you feel?

"What do you mean what I feel? I know I care about her very deeply. I told her that."

Think about it. Think about how she makes you feel when she smiles or touches you. Think about why you had to leave just now. Think about how much you want her. It goes so much deeper. It's been there for some time just face it.

Taylor scrunched her brow in confusion. Then it hit her right between the eyes, making her heart fall into her stomach causing it the twist and clench. Her breathing came out in a ragged rush, and usually sure hands began to shake. Not knowing what else to do, the admin pulled over. "I love her. Oh, God. I love her." She looked down at her hands then out the windshield. Everything was blurry, and they blurred more as more tears came. Taylor through up her hands in exhilaration and laughter mingled with the tears. "I love Cory Donovan!"

*******

Barb crawled in bed with her husband. She put a hand on his thigh to quiet his grumbling as the bed moved. She loved him dearly, but was tired of seeing him day in and day out. One more week of rest the doc told her then back to work. She missed it the highs and the lows, but most of all she missed sharing it all with Cory. The doctor told her to tread lightly with that situation. "But I have to know," the caseworker said quietly, "what's really between them."



This whole story was longer was much longer than the other ones, but a lot happened. I hoped you enjoyed it all. Give me a holler at Minerva




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