The Apartment

by Lena

 

Disclaimers: There are none. This is an original work by myself alone. These characters belong to me and, though they may hold a physical resemblance to certain characters we know, they are created from my own lifeís experiences and so has this story sprung from that well. Please do not plagiarize. This work comes straight from my heart and soul through a lot of sweat.

Warning: Contains references to a loving relationship between two adult women. If this type of relationship is illegal in your neck of the woods then.................SCAT!

Rating: I rate it PG14 for adult themes. This would likely be considered a Hurt/Comfort story.

DEDICATION: I dedicate this work to my friends, Liz and Val, whoíve always believed in me and truly loved me unconditionally, and to all my gal pals at Club Uber, especially Vi. My deepest gratitude to Jerry and Mom, without whose help and support I shutter to imagine where Iíd be now. I love you all.

This story takes place in a small country town about 85 miles north of New Orleans.


"Second floor apt. avail., rent free, to responsible RN student"

for personal companion services. Must have good driving record and be available one day a week to drive me to my many and varied appointments. You must be able to do a little cooking and to help lift the heavy stuff. No smoking, drinking or partying. I would also like to speak to your parents so they are comfortable with the arrangement. I am a retired nurse and can help with your studies. I live less than five minutes from campus in a quiet area on several acres with a fishing pond. Lots of breathing space here. If you are qualified and interested, please contact me, Josie, at 555-1377 asap. HAVE A GREAT DAY.

"Good gravy, Beth, maybe this ad thing wasnít such a good idea. All Iíve gotten is calls from 18-year-old children who have never been away from their folks before and havenít got a clue about real life. I donít want some young impressionable girl living here. I am too old to change my manner of living, and speaking, to protect their virgin ears. All I need is some irate parent causing trouble cause the town dyke lured their unsuspecting child into her lair."

The petite brunette rolled her hazel eyes at her best friend of 25 years. "Jo, no one here knows youíre gay and you are not exactly the SPIDER WOMAN. Maybe you need to be more specific in your ad as far as age and maturity. It couldnít hurt. Write a new ad and Iíll stop by the campus on my way home and replace the old one. Letís just see what happens. You need help around this place, Josie. And, you canít be driving 50 miles, alone, just to see your Chiropractor and go to the mall. I know you do fine around here, but you just canít concentrate long enough for these trips you have to take into the city, not to mention the 85 miles you have to drive to see your Mom. This was a great idea and I still think it will work." Beth walked up behind her friend and placed both her hands on her tight shoulders. "Now go get me a flash card and letís get writing.

"Upstairs apt. avail. free to mature, female, RN student"

for PERSONAL COMPANION services. Must have good driving record and be able to drive me one day a week to all my varied appointments and shopping, do some lite cooking and cleaning, and help lift the heavy stuff. No smoking, drinking or partying. I am a retired nurse and would be able to help you in your studies. Would prefer a more mature woman. You youngsters are a bit much for me. My home is on several acres with fishing pond. Lots of breathing space here and only five minutes from campus. If you fit these qualifications, call Josie at 555-1377. ASAP HAVE A GREAT DAY

***

"Hi, Iím Sandra Abbott. Iím here to be interviewed about the companion position for Josie." The RN student stared uncertainly at the adorable blonde in the doorway. ĎMaybe sheís the daughter.í Sandy thought to herself.

"Oh, yes. Youíre the woman who called this morning. Come right in. Can I get you a cup of decaf? Itís hazelnut. I grind the beans myself. Just made a pot." Josie gestured to the beauty to have a seat at the table while she slipped into the kitchen alcove to retrieve two cups of her aromatic blend.

"Thanks. Mmmmmm. That smells sinful." Sandra gratefully took the cup and devoted a few seconds to breathing in the intoxicating aroma.

"I see you are a true coffee enthusiast too. I was reared in New Orleans and drank cafť au lait with breakfast as a toddler. Been hooked ever since. People here usually donít appreciate a good cup of java. There are condiments on the table there. Just help yourself." Josie rattled on as she grabbed the notebook containing all the pertinent questions she wanted to ask the applicants and the information she needed to give them.

"Beautiful home." Sandra complimented, admiring the taste and warmth of the medium sized home. She noted how the 9-foot ceilings and polished cherry wood cabinets gave it a feel of the old city.

"Thanks, I designed it to fit my personal needs. Iím afraid Iíd have a time reselling it because it only has two bedrooms and two baths, but the second floor is a separate apartment." The petite blond offered eagerly. "Now lets get down to the interview. Shall we."

Sitting down in her directorís chair at the head of the dining table, Josie made a concerted effort to be professional about this, but her immediate harmony with the other woman made that difficult. "Now, you read the add and all that will be expected of you, right."

"Yes, I did. Do you want to go over that some more. And, Iíd like to meet her. I think it is important that we can get along together. Your mom might not like me." Sandra said in all sincerity.

"My Mom?" Josie was puzzled.

"Oh, Iím sorry. I just assumed it was your mother Iíd be caring for." Sandra was a little embarrassed.

"Oh boy.....uh..... No. Youíd be a companion, kinda "girl Friday", to me." Josie stated hesitantly, looking into blue eyes full of confusion.

"I donít understand. Why would you need a companion? Are you having surgery are something?" The raven haired beauty tried to figure out what the heck was going on.

"No..... Listen, Sandra, I am ill and have been for a very long time. Some days are much worse than others, then sometimes Iíll go into remission for weeks to a few months at a time. But, I literally donít know what Iím gonna be able to do, activity-wise, from one day to the next. I need some freedom to plan my week like everyone else does and to do that I need dependable help. And, I do mean dependable." Josieís sea green eyes held no room for doubt about the gravity of the situation.

"Iím sorry. It must be very hard on you. May I ask what kind of illness it is?"

"Donít worry. Itís not catching." The fiery blond sat back in her chair her defensive wall slammed into place.

"I didnít mean it like that. If you donít want to tell me, thatís your prerogative. It might help me to better care for you if I knew what to look for." Sandra tried to keep eye contact with her potential employer, but the intensity of her glare was too great.

"Well, I guess this didnít go so well..... Iím sorry. I didnít mean to upset you. Iíll just go now. I hope you find the right person. Thanks for the brew." Sandra let out a sigh of defeat as she raised from her chair and walked to the front door.

"Wait." The word was barely a whisper.

Sandra eagerly turned toward the still seated blond waiting as sheíd been bade.

"Would you like to see the apartment?" Josie asked looking at the grain in the wood of her table.

"Yes..... Yes, I would like that very much." Sandra felt her heart become lighter.

"Good. Itís this way." Josie released an impish grin as she led her new employee to the garage stairs and up toward her new apartment.

***

"Itís not very big but you have a full bath and kitchenette. The rest is all open with two dormer windows with seating area. I love to sit in the window to read or just daydream so I made certain the contractor put that in. If you donít have furniture, I could put a bed, desk and sofa in for you."

"No, I have furniture in storage in New Orleans that I might could have one of the students help me bring over. All these country-types have pickup trucks. It seems to be a requirement." Both women chuckled at that observation.

"So what do you think?" Josie asked hopefully, trying hard to hide the shortness of breath she was experiencing at the exertion of climbing the stairs.

"I think itís perfect. Just what I need. If youíll have me, Iíd like the apartment and the job."

"Then, itís a deal." Josie offered her hand and they sealed their agreement.

***

The next two weeks were spent moving Sandra Abbott into her new home, then getting her oriented to Josieís routine. Sandy found it very easy to familiarize herself with where things were due to Josieís nearly religious devotion to the motto "a place for everything and everything in its place". Even with two little dogs running about, the house always seemed orderly. That was likely due to the fact that the larger member of her canine family was not allowed inside, except on the rear screened porch.

Her boss was up every morning before 0600 to walk the dogs and get her head cleared of the fog that dulled her mind and senses. The walks never lasted more than thirty minutes, then she soaked in her over sized tub and washed her short blond hair. Feeling rejuvenated, she was ready for coffee and breakfast, which took longer than most folks because of the large number of medications and vitamin pills she took every morning with her meal. It was her habit to read a good mystery novel during breakfast while she relaxed. This, Sandra was soon to learn, was her quiet time and she new to leave her alone. Sheíd call upstairs if she needed her.

Tuesdays were Sandraís easy days at school. There were two early morning classes, but no clinicals, so it was decided that Tuesdays would be Josieís errand day. Sandraís time and boundless energy was herís from 10am to 8pm for whatever Josie needed. A bulletin board was placed next to the staircase in the garage so they could communicate. Josie had an inexpensive intercom system put into the house so that Sandra didnít have to have the added expense of a phone. She let her use the phone in the house whenever she needed.

Things were working out to both womenís satisfaction. The only sign of Josieís failing health was in her exhaustion when theyíd return home on Tuesday evenings. Sometimes sheíd fall asleep in the car on the way home and Sandra would assist her to the house, Josieís much smaller body leaning heavily against her arm. Sheíd deposit her boss on the bed, retrieve her evening meds and a large glass of milk, then tuck her in for a short nap.

Sandra enjoyed cooking for Josie on Tuesdays because she got to experiment with all kinds of delights in her state-of-the-art kitchen. Her boss had rather eclectic culinary tastes and, both being from New Orleans, were accustomed to the spicy flavors and lots of cayenne.

This particular night, sheíd whipped up refried beans with low fat sour cream and jalapeno peppers on a whole wheat soft tortilla. The scent wafting from the kitchen awoke her charge and brought her tousled head shuffling into the living area in her bugs bunny slippers, and long sleep t-shirt with Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs dosing on the front. As she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes her companion thought sheíd never seen anyone so adorable in all of her 33 years.

"Hey, did you bring your appetite with you? Iíve made some of your favorites." Sandra couldnít help the silly grin plastered on her face.

"What? What ARE you grinning at?" Josie inquired as her sleepy eyes focused on the sweetest little grin on that strikingly beautiful face.

"I canít help it. You just look so damned cute. Like a six year old." It was hard for the taller woman not to reach down and ruffle her bossí hair. But she didnít want to over step her bounds as an employee.

"Uh...huh. Will you stay and eat with me? Itís such a nice night, why donít we eat out on the screened porch. Iíll put the ceiling fan on." Josie asked hopefully as she pointed towards the back porch.

"Sounds good to me. Why donít you go get comfy and Iíll bring this out to you."

"No. I want to help. Let me pour the Barqís and bring our drinks outside and you can bring the plates and napkins. Ok?" Josie said as she busied herself in the kitchen.

"Sounds good to me. Letís eat." Sandra gathered their plates and proceeded to follow her employer onto the porch where there was a small wicker table with four chairs for just such a meal.

The women ate in comfortable silence for a time until Josie asked, "Tell me about yourself. We spend all our time together with me drilling you on your studies in micro, anatomy, nursing diagnosis and interventions, but never do we talk about you. Where are you from originally, do you have any family, why is a beautiful woman like yourself alone, etc., etc., etc."

Sandra took a deep breath. She had learned to care for this little spit fire and wanted for them to become closer friends but didnít want to say or do anything to compromise her position. "Not much to tell. Iím originally from New Orleans, my parents are divorced, Iím close to my Mom and my little brother, but he got married to a girl he met while studying law at Loyola and moved to Wyoming so she could be close to her family. I donít get to see him cause I just canít afford to travel right now. But, hopefully, once I graduate and start making a descent salary I can go visit them a couple of times a year. I hope Iíll be an Aunt by then." Sandra looked up into curious green eyes and smiled.

"Wouldnít that be great. You like kids?" Josie inquired around chewing.

"Yeah, I get a big kick out of the little rug rats. Itís teenagers that I find a trial." She chuckled.

"You and the rest of the sane adults in this world. Thatís such a difficult time in everyoneís life and the one time you are least likely to accept advice from an experienced adult. Go figure."

"Yeah. Go figure." Josie watched as a pall of grief passed over her companionís beautiful blue eyes for just a flicker of a candleís flame then was squelched by a noncommital small smile.

"So, go on." Josie urged. "Why is a beautiful woman like yourself alone?"

"Iím not alone. Iím here with you." Sandra smirked.

"You know what I mean." Josie rebuffed. ĎThis woman and I seem to share the same personality traits. That should be interesting.....not.í

"Yeah, I know. Howís about a cup of decaf. Iíll get your lap rug and weíll have a real talk. Ok." Sandra proffered as she collected their plates to put in the dishwasher. She didnít know how much about her past she wanted to share with her boss so she decided to just play it by ear. She wouldnít lie to her, but she wasnít gonna offer herself up for sacrifice either.

After cleaning the dishes and brewing some freshly ground coffee, Sandra rejoined Josie on the porch, then covered her up with a warm, soft chenille lap rug. "You warm enough? We could move this party inside, you know." Sandy asked concern written on her face.

"No, I love it out here. Iím fine, really." Josie pat her friends arm and noticed a feeling of warm pleasure. She liked it.

"So, you ask the questions and Iíll do my best to answer them, unless I donít want to then I wonít. But for every two questions you ask me I get to ask you one. I figured Iíd give you the upper hand you being the boss and all." Sandy smirked.

"Fair enough. How old are you?"

"33 back in October."

"Have you ever been married?"

"Yes" Ok, my turn. At the risk of being redundant."

"I know..... I am 44 years old and divorced from a very kind moron..... My turn. Whyíd you leave the big city to go to Nursing school in a small town?"

Sandy thought about this answer carefully before responding. "I wanted to get away from the dirt and the crime, not to mention the traffic and one way streets. Going to school here was much cheaper and it was much easier to get accepted. The RN programs in New Orleans are either very expensive or thereís a huge waiting list. So, itís all working out and I think I made the right choice. Of course, I miss the food and the culture. You donít seem to have any culture here and not a decent creole restaurant for 50 miles." The tall beauty pouted.

"Oh yeah, I miss the food, the French Quarter, the museum and the zoo. Oh, and the beautiful architecture of the homes with their graceful Great Oaks." The little blond sighed. "But, there are always sacrifices for the things we want." Josie said with quiet conviction.

"Yes. Thatís true. Now, what made you leave the Big Easy for small town USA?" Sandra sat back with her coffee cup in both hands enjoying the aroma.

"That is a very long story best reserved for a more decent hour. Iím afraid itís passed my bedtime."

"Oh, Iíve kept you up too late. Iím so sorry. You must communicate with me. Tell me when youíre tired. Tell me what you need." Sandra looked sincerely into the gentle green eyes. She felt her gaze captured then released.

Josie saw the concern in her companionís strikingly blue eyes and something else, something that drew her to the young woman. She shook her head to clear her thoughts. "Iím fine. Just tired. Tuesdays are a big day for me now and I do very much enjoy them, thanks to you. The women stood in close proximity of each other feeling slightly awkward like they should hug or something. Josie, being the more physically demonstrative of the two made the first move. Reaching her arms up to the much taller brunette she instructed, "Come give me a hug." Sandra was a little off balanced by her bossís affection but slid her long, graceful arms around the tiny womanís waist as she leaned down so Josie could hug her neck. "Iím glad youíre here. Now go home. Iíll talk to you tomorrow if I need anything." The smaller woman pulled away and began to turn toward her bedroom.

"Iíll...uh...just lock up before I leave, Ok."

"Ok. Goodnight Sandy."

"Goodnight Josie."

***

The following week was pretty routine. There were no notes from Josie requesting Sandraís assistance and the only time the nursing student saw her boss was through her window each morning as she made sure she left for her walk and returned safely.

Returning from her clinicals on Friday there was a note on the bulletin board letting Sandra know that her boss was going to be volunteering her time, along with some other nurses and doctors, offering free vaccinations for the lower elementary school children. Sheíd been offered a ride by one of her friends and didnít know what time sheíd return, but not to worry because she was in good hands.

ĎItís fucking 10p.m. No school inoculation program goes on this late. Where is she? She should have left me the number of her "friend" who was driving her.í Sandra mumbled to herself and she paced from window to window.

ĎNow donít panic, Abbott. What kind of trouble could she get into in this podunk town?..... A woman who looks like her....., plenty. Shit! Iím gonna find her.í Sandra grabbed her keys and headed out to the car determined to search the whole damned town if she had to, starting at the lower elementary school.

No one was at the school. In fact, no one was anywhere. The whole damned town was locked up and everyone had gone home. The eerily empty town just served to frighten Sandra more. ĎMaybe I should just go home and sit by her phone in case she calls.í The worried beauty turned her car around and headed back to the house.

ĎIíll pass once through the park just in case.í Sandra thought just to soothe her mind that her friend hadnít been dragged off by some rapist into the many shadows of the small park and playground.

ĎWhat was that?í Sandra asked herself as her eye caught the glint of moon light off metal. She backed her car up to get a better look and could make out the outline of a vehicle tucked into the shrubbery. Obviously, somebody didnít want to be seen.

ĎLet me check this out.í Sandra said to herself as she left the protection of the vehicle and crept over to the rear of the concealed car. Her eyes had not yet adjusted well enough to the darkness to tell definite shapes but the golden hair of her missing bossí head was unmistakable. A white hot rage gripped the companion inspiring her to take action and she ran to the door nearest her friend and ripped it open with great force reaching in and grabbing the dumfounded woman and quite nearly dragging her to safety.

"Hey!!! Hey!!! Hey.....what are you doing? Let me go!" The terrified woman screamed at her assailant.

"Stop fighting me. Iím trying to save you from being raped, here."

Sandra was totally nonplused by her bossí reaction to her heroism.

Josie managed to squirm her little body away from her companionís grasp. "I donít need saving. Damn it all! I wasnít being raped. Now, let me go, Sandra." Josie had composed her voice to a hard command and Sandra let her go as an imposing looking redhead slid out of the back seat of the car tucking her Wynonna t-shirt into her jeans.

"You Ok, cher?" The redhead looked at the little blond who had just recently been making intense love to her. "Who is this crazy woman? You didnít tell me you had a girlfriend now. You need to tell me these things so I donít get shot." She grinned.

Sandra just stood there trying to figure out what the hell was going on and who this woman was and what they were doing in the back seat of a car and ĎOH SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!í "Oh shit, shit, shit....., Iím....., oh god....., so sorry. I thought, when you didnít come home, that something had happened to you and..... Oh shit! It never occurred to me that you were....." Sandra pointed back and forth between the two women. "Oh Shit!" The very embarrassed companion paced in a circle, running her trembling hands through her long black hair. "Iím really sorry. Oh shit!"

"Youíve said that. Letís all calm down. Kathy meet Sandra. She works for me, at least she did up until a few minutes ago. We may have scared her away with our antics. Kathy is a very old friend, a nurse I worked with for years who called to tell me about the drive and we kinda took advantage of the moment." Josie smirked

"You do have a house you know with a nice soft bed. You didnít have to park out here in the dark where lord knows what could happen." Sandra felt her anger rising again.

"Like getting attacked by a crazed nursing student?" Josie giggled. "Come on letís go home. Kathy, sweetheart, sorry for the interruption. Call me. Maybe youíll give me a rain check?"

"Anytime, ma cher. I think you and Xena here have a lot to talk about." With that she leaned down to kiss Josieís cheek and waved goodbye to the still stunned companion.

Josie looked up into vacant eyes and said, "Come on, IíLL drive YOU home." Sandra just nodded and followed her boss to the car.

Josie pulled into the garage and stopped the engine. "You want some brew and we can talk about this?" She lifted worried green eyes to study the stiffened features of her friend.

"No....." Sandra sighed then looked down at her hands surprised to find them wringing the tail of her shirt into a wrinkled mess. "I have to think. Iíll talk to you tomorrow."

"Does that mean youíll be moving out?" Josie was very concerned sheíd loose her companion and friend.

"No, no Iím not going anywhere....., unless you want me to leave." Sandra held her breath fearing the worst.

"No..... Stay. I want very much for you to stay." Josie softly responded.

"Good. Tomorrow then." Sandra practically dove out of the car and ran up the stairs to her apartment, locking the door behind her.

***

Saturday morning Sandra kept watch as she always did to make certain her boss safely returned from walking the dogs. Sheíd not known Josie to skip her morning walk, shorten it now and then, but never not walk her little buddies. They were like her children and she took excellent care of them. There was the big mongrel, Rover, who had just shown up one day after apparently being dumped and decided to stay and then there were the babies, two little sickly long-haired chihuahuas that she adopted from the vets because she felt her nursing skills could improve their quality of life. One had a heart condition and the other was born with a deformed rear leg. She named them Scooby and Doo after her favorite cartoon character, who just so happened to be a Great Dane. Scooby was totally devoted to her mistress as her mistress was to her.

ĎIíd better go check on her.í The companion decided not to just sit and worry when her boss could be in trouble.

She knocked for the 4th time with no response before using her key to unlock the kitchen door. Calling out her bossí name softly, so as not to frighten her, she walked in. Getting no response to her calls, Sandra quickly ran to her friendís bedroom, then through to the bath. Not finding her there, she turned back around into the living area. There she found the little blond sitting askew on the sofa next to the fireplace. The logs had burned down hours before. Her skin looked pale and waxy with a sweaty sheen covering her but her chest rose and fell rhythmically. Sandra released an audible sigh of relief.

"Josie.....?" Sandra came to sit next to her boss on the sofa and reached out to touch her forehead. It was burning up. "Come on now, boss, itís time to wake up." There was no response. Sandra became alarmed and took a small hot hand into her own, patting it and calling to her more assertively. "Josie, can you hear me. Itís Sandy, honey. Please wake up. Youíre scaring me." The tiny woman stirred, eyelids fluttered to show blood shot green eyes that wouldnít quite focus.

"Sandy?" She slurred. Her tongue felt thick as the fog filling her mind.

"Yeah. Itís me."

"Sandy? Whatís the matter? What time is it?" Josie tried to orient herself, but it was difficult to concentrate. She recognized the symptoms and new she was no longer in remission. She was sick, yet again, and would need her companionís assistance to function until she was able to arrest the symptoms one more time. She groaned with the knowledge of what lay in front of her. Then groaned again when she remembered the night before and what Sandy had seen and the talk she knew they had to have. "Iím sick, Sandy."

"I know, honey. Tell me what you need and Iíll do it. Ok? Can you do that for me?" The sympathetic woman gently brushed the blondís bangs off of her wet forehead to comfort her.

"I need my morning meds and the prednisone thatís in the medicine cabinet and bring me the tin thatís in there too. I need a big glass of milk and some tin roof Sunday ice cream." She concluded her list with just a trace of a grin on her pale face.

"Ice cream?" Sandy looked at her friend in amusement.

"For medicinal purposes only. Itíll help bring my temperature down faster..... Well, it will." Josie giggled, swallowed and made a face. "Gods, my throat hurts. Shit."

Sandra retrieved all the items requested as well as some tylenol and chloraseptic losenges she found in the cabinet. "Here, let me help you sit up and get comfortable. Now, take these." The companion handed her boss a few pills at a time and her milk. It took a while since there were about twenty regular morning vitamins and meds. "Now how much prednisone do you need to take?"

"Give me 10 mg for now. And, would you draw up 1000 mcg of the B12 thatís in that tin, please?" The companion did as requested and injected the B12 into her bossí deltoid muscle. She didnít even flinch.

"Youíve had to do this often havenít you."

"Oh yeah. Too often."

"Why did this happen? What caused it?"

"Iíve been feeling really good so Iíve been doing more. Yesterday I went way over my limit in activity tolerance. I was on my feet for most of 12 hours, then I had sex, several times, which requires an amazing amount of energy and taps the bodily fluids. Then, getting upset does a real number on me. Add in the pretty good bet that I came in contact with a child who has a cold or pink eye and my immune system went bat shit and attacked." Josie stopped to catch her breath and closed her eyes to rest. Sandra went into the kitchen to fetch the ice cream as requested.

"Here ya go. Sugar free, huh? Any good?" Sandra noticed how badly the little blondís hands were shaking while trying to scoop some of the treat from the bowl. "Here, let me do that." The companion fed small bites of the frozen treat into her employerís mouth. Causing a small grin to crease her lips.

"Mmmmm." Josie purred.

"So, if you have an immune system to attack, then you donít have AIDS." Sandy said.

"AIDS? No I donít have AIDS. I have a form of CFS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, alias Chronic Epstein Barr. Itís like having Mononucleosis one too many times and it decides to live in. Though Iíve had it for at least ten years now, it didnít get debilitating till about a year ago when I had to have some surgery. It became acute and caused me to quit working so I wouldnít permanently damage my liver and kidneys. Not everyone gets such an acute case. Iím one of the unlucky few. Itís probably because I have diabetes too and it adds just so much more stress on my little body. Now that it is active again, my blood sugar is probably going bananaís. Iíll need you to check that for me now. My case is in that tin, also." Josie pointed to the small leather container inside the antique tin.

"Iíve done that for several patients already so I do know how." Sandy said as she opened the kit and set up her cotton, alcohol swipe, stick gun, test strips and accu-check machine. "Ok, Iím ready when you are." The nursing student took the finger offered her and proceeded to check the blood sugar.

"Josie, itís 350mg/dl. Thatís really high. Should I get you to a hospital?" Sandra looked at her patient with concern.

"No. It will be Ok. Give me 12 units of regular insulin. That along with my glucophage will keep me under control for now. Iíll start taking 70/30 tonight. That covers me really well during these episodes. Iíll have to check it three times a day to make certain I donít peak. Iíll need you today and tomorrow to be close by. After that I should be able to monitor myself. Right now my headís too damned fuzzy to make sure Iím not giving myself the wrong dosages."

"But you are SURE you need 12 units, right?" Sandra asked reticent to trust her friends judgement under the circumstances.

"Yeah, Iím sure. What I meant was I canít focus my eyes well enough to gauge the dosage in the syringe." Josie pat her friends hand and smiled reassuringly.

Sandra gave her boss her insulin injection, then assisted her to the bathroom to brush her teeth. After helping Josie peel off the sweat soaked clothes and wash up a bit, the companion tucked her into bed in a fresh pair of PJís. "You get some sleep. Iíll walk the dogs and feed them. Ok?" She asked as she walked around the room, shutting off lights and closing the blinds so her boss could get some much needed rest.

"Ok. Thank you Sandy. Weíll talk later, deal?"

"Deal."

Josie tried to keep her eyes open, but to know avail. Before Sandra could close her bedroom door she was soundly asleep.

***

"Come along, children, your "Auntie Sandy" is taking you out this morning. Youíd better put your Rebockís on, cause Iím not your mom. I run." Sandra jogged out of the door and onto the walking track that Josie had created with her riding mower and a grating attachment. It wended through over twenty acres of land that she chose to share with her little canine family and one tall, beautiful nursing student.

***

Sandra had taken over the dining room table with all her books and notes for class so she could keep an eye on her patient and still get her school work done.

It had been three hours since Sandra had put her boss to bed and she was beginning to worry about her. As quietly as she could she opened up the bedroom door and peered in to find her charge still asleep with no visible signs of distress. ĎShe looks so small and helpless lying there. Iíve never wanted to protect someone so much in my life. Whatís going on with me?í

Sandra sat in the bedroom chair and was instantly joined by two equally distraught little fur balls, both perched on her knees staring over at their sleeping mistress. ĎSheís gonna be Ok , fellas. I promise. Iím gonna take good care of her.í Thatís when the decision was made to move her things into the guest room/exercise room and purchase a noise device so that Josie could get her attention when she needed her.

***

Sandra was busy cooking in the kitchen and reciting the names of all the bones of the human body, all 206 of them, when she was joined by her freshly scrubbed, clear eyed boss. "Hiya, Iím starving. What ya cooking there?"

"Oh, Jesus...! I didnít hear you walk up. How are you feeling? You look so much better. Itís amazing." Sandra just kept letting her eyes rake over her patientís body in awe of her seeming recovery.

"Itís the prednisone mostly and the B12, along with the myriad of other vitamins I take. The prednisone stops the inflammatory process and gives me a false sense of well being and energy. It makes me feel human again. I only take it during bad flare ups. I was able to take a bath and dress myself which I find very valuable in life. Howís your studying going?" Josie asked as she plucked an artichoke heart from the salad Sandra was mixing.

"Great, I find I study really well at your table. I have no problem concentrating here at all." The tall beauty smiled.

"Good. Iím glad. Whenís dinner gonna be ready. Iím starved. Did I eat today? I canít remember." Josie looked slightly confused as she took a seat at the table.

"How much do you remember exactly?" Sandra went around the kitchen preparing a plate for her boss and herself to eat as she listened intently to her explanation.

"I remember you fed me ice cream." A contented smile creased her lips. "That was really sweet of you by the way. I remember you giving me my meds. My sugar was high and you gave me insulin. You washed me up and you helped me to bed. Thank you by the way for helping me get cleaned up. I am sure that was hard for you." Josie said as she stared at the grain in her table unable to make eye contact discussing something so personal.

"Not a problem. Iíve cleaned more than my share of bare behinds this past clinical. I donít get embarrassed anymore. Iíve never found flabby butts enticing." Sandra tried to lighten the mood with a little levity.

"So, then, mine was an improvement?" Josie gave her friend a lascivious grin.

The tall nursing student looked up and winked in retort.

"Do you remember how high your blood sugar was?" Sandra asked.

"No. I remember you took it, but none of the details. Short term memory loss is a problem with this disease and so is concentration." Josie stated matter-of-factly.

"You probably havenít eaten anything since supper yesterday, so letís eat." Sandra set their plates down and poured them both some Barqís.

***

"I want to talk to you about what happened last night and, please donít interrupt. I have limited stores of energy so I can only talk for so long before I peter out. Ok?" Josie stated as she arranged her food on the fork.

"Ok. But canít it wait till after youíve eaten?" Her friend implored.

"No. I want to do it now and get it over with. Now donít argue with me." The older woman accentuated her point with her fork.

"Ok."

"I am a lesbian. In case you hadnít figured that one out yet. I was married, but for all the wrong reasons. He was in love with me but I didnít reciprocate. We had been friends for many years. He knew my history with women, but we were both willing to believe that I could change because I was so fond of him and I wanted children so desperately. It didnít work out. Itís like being a heroin addict and just smoking pot. It will eventually bring you back to heroin because thatís your drug of choice. When I started having sexual relations with my husband it left me feeling unfulfilled and brought me back to my first love.....women. We had as amicable a divorce as possible. But, it was still damned painful." Josie studied her companionís face looking for any signs of shock or disgust. Finding none, she continued.

"The woman you saw me with, Kathy, is a very old friend and occasional sexual partner. She is a very desirable woman. We thought we might fall in love once, but found we made far better friends than lovers. She knows about my health problems and hasnít let it negatively effect our relationship. We have a little roll in the hay once every few months when one of us gets a bit too randy or needy. There is no one else. Most women lose interest in someone who is sick all the time. They donít want to be a care taker or they resent the fact that I donít have to work to get the bills paid. Thank God I have enough income from my investments to pay the bills, at least, most of the time. I couldnít afford, however, to pay a companion, hence the apartment idea and an RN student. That would be you."

"I hope this wonít effect our working relationship or our friendship. I also hope you will respect my privacy and keep my private life to yourself. I have to be very discreet living in a small town. Iíd like to feel that I can trust you." The older woman looked tentatively at her employee and friend.

"You can depend on my discretion, Josie. What goes on in this house and in our lives goes no further. Iíve had a lot of experience keeping secrets. Believe me I have no problem with that, nor do I have a problem with your sexuality."

Sandra took a deep breath and looked at her friend for encouragement before continuing. "I have often wondered, myself, what it would be like to be with another woman. I have noticed in recent years that all my true friends have been women and Iíd much rather spend my time with them than with any man I know. Maybe thatís why my marriage failed. I just lost interest in him, especially sexually, to the point of being repulsed. That made me feel just awful. Then he began looking elsewhere for his satisfaction. Everyone felt badly for me because my husband was screwing around on me. But, it was my fault. I didnít want him anymore. In fact, I hadnít wanted him for a very long time. Ever since I got sober. I realized that I had to be drunk to make love to my own husband. I havenít made love at all since I divorced Jack Daniels along with Frank Abbott." Sandra took a shaky breath to settle her nerves. She hadnít spoken this openly about herself to anyone, ever. It felt really good, but scary.

"Iím so sorry, Sandy. How long have you been sober?" Josie reached over to touch her friendís forearm.

The companion searched her employerís eyes but found only compassion and understanding in them. "Itís been over three years now."

"Thatís wonderful. You should feel very proud. Itís quite an accomplishment. Iím so glad you told me. Thank you for trusting me and thank you for accepting me the way I really am. Now, why donít you go on home and get some rest. Iím just going to read until I fall asleep. If I need you Iíll call you on the intercom." Josie began to get up from the table but was gently pushed back into her chair.

"Actually, boss, I moved myself into the guest room while you were sleeping. Iíd feel much better if I was in close physical proximity of you for the next few days or until I am sure you are safe. If you need me I bought you a bicycle horn for you to summon me with." Sandy took the horn from the kitchen counter and handed it to her patient. "Itís easy to use. Just squeeze the bulb and it makes quite a racket. See." Sandy squeezed the bulb and a loud "Ah...ooooo...gah" came out.

"Oh, my. Letís hope I donít need to use this too often. Thatís downright obnoxious." Both women giggled. "I am glad youíll be so close by for the time being, but please donít let it interfere with your school work. I havenít been putting you through all those drills for nothing you know. I feel like this is our degree and I intend to complete it. Deal?" She smiled.

"Deal. Now let me clean up and Iíll get you your meds. Iíll check your blood sugar just before supper." Sandra got busy in the kitchen as Josie curled up on the sofa with Scooby and Doo.

"You know, fellas. I am one lucky lady to have found that guardian angel in there. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2 OF THE APARTMENT

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