Part 2

by Lena

See part 1 for disclaimers

Josie spent her Sunday resting, reading and admiring her companion who was studying at the dining room table. 'I don't believe she has a clue how beautiful she is.' She studied her face as if to memorize every curve and nuance of form, from her slightly Roman nose to her high cheek bones and strong jaw to full soft lips and elegant neck. As her eyes traveled down she noticed the gentle swell of her breasts under the t-shirt she was wearing. 'Mmmmmm. No bra today. How nice.' The sassy little blond couldn't disguise the lascivious grin that curled the ends of her lips.

Sandra could feel the warmth of her friend's admiring perusal. She was surprised that it didn't bother her to have another woman looking at her that way. She knew if she looked up, it would stop. So she pretended not to notice and just enjoyed the moment.

Josie had drifted off into a peaceful slumber that was abruptly disturbed by a sudden growled profanity and the sound of air being forced through pursed lips.

"What's the matter, kiddo? Run into a snag?" The petite blond adjusted herself on the sofa to face the student.

"I just get so damned frustrated with this. I have clinicals tomorrow and have to present three nursing diagnoses on this patient with five interventions for each one and I just can't think."

"Sandy, you've been at this too long. You need a break to organize all that information you've been absorbing so you can make sense of it. Why don't we go for a walk, then I'll sit down with you and read your patient's history. I'm sure I can help you with this. Ok? Anyway, the dogs and I could use the fresh air." Josie struggled to her feet and took a deep breath. It was amazing how much better she felt sitting still. Standing up she felt like weights were hanging from her limbs. But, she wouldn't give into the lethargy. Once she got moving around a bit she was sure she'd feel better.

"Sounds like a plan." Sandra jumped up from the table, grabbed her boss' hand and practically ran out of the front door with Scooby and Doo pulling up the rear.

The little blonde laughed. "I guess you were ready for a break."

The two women enjoyed a leisurely stroll, deeply breathing in the scent of sweet olive and confederate jasmine that Josie had liberally planted throughout her acreage. "It smells like the Garden District at home."

"Does it make you home sick?"

"Oh, I guess it does, just a little. Especially with all the beautiful camellias and wisteria everywhere. You've managed to include so much of what I love about home here." Sandra looked down upon her friend with affection. "It's very special."

"Thank you. That was my goal. I'm glad I succeeded. And I'm very glad you feel at home here." Josie smiled warmly at her friend.

"I do." The companion noticed her boss developing some shortness of breath and weakness.

"You alright?" Sandra stopped walking and placed her hand under the smaller woman's elbow to offer support.

"Yeah. I'm just a little out of breath. Let's sit here for a while." Josie indicated one of several concrete benches strategically located along the trail for to sit and enjoy her garden.

"I want you to call your Doctor in the morning. Ok? He needs to know how you've been feeling these last couple of days."

"Ok." Josie agreed as she released a deep cough. She looked up at her friend with a sheepish grin. "Allergies."

"Right. Let's go inside. I want to check your temp. and blood glucose level before we eat. Then, you promised to help me with my clinical."

"And, I always keep my promises." Josie allowed herself to be helped to her feet, then wrapped her arm around her companion's to steady herself on her way back up the trail to their home.

"Ok, lady, you have a temp of 101 and a blood sugar of 250 mg/dl. I'm writing that down with the others we've taken since you got sick. I want you to tell all this to Dr. Akras tomorrow."

"Yes mam, now give me my medicine, so we can get started on your school work. You have a big clinical day tomorrow and I don't want you up late studying."

"Yes, mother."

"Kids." Josie rolled her sea green eyes in mock irritation. Enjoying the easy banter the friends had fallen into. 'She makes this place really feel like a home.'


"Hey there. How are you feeling today?" Sandy asked as she unpacked her study materials onto the dining room table. "What's all this?" The companion asked indicating the rather large box taking up too much of what she now considered her space.

"It's a printer. I saw it advertized in this morning's paper. My friend, Annie had to go to Super Walmart today, so she took me with her. I saved a bundle on it. Can you help me get it unpacked and hooked up to my laptop? I can't wait to try it." Josie was like a child with a new toy and it delighted her friend.

"You didn't over do it today, did you? And, did you call Dr. Akras?"

"No. I didn't over do it. And, yes, I called the doctor and he said to rest, monitor my temp. and blood sugar, and call him if there is any significant change. He said to continue all my vities and my B12 shots and my 70/30 insulin until I go back into remission. So we're doing everything right. Now, help me open my box.....uh.....No pun intended." Josie raised her eyebrow and giggled.

"We're really feeling our oats today, aren't we." Sandra smirked as she retrieved a knife from the kitchen and proceeded to help her friend unwrap her new toy.

"Seriously, I feel much better today. I think you can stop worrying for a while. Ok?" Josie reached out and touched her companion's arm.

"Ok..... Well, there you go. You play with your printer and I'm gonna shower and hit the books."

"Don't hit them too hard. You might hurt yourself." Josie laughed at her own joke as she dove into her project.

"Oh, brother. That one was really bad."

Sandra was in the shower when the strong coughing fit shook her friends chest. "Ow. God that smarts." Josie went to the medicine cabinet to find some old cough medicine she was sure she'd have left over from last year and took a tablespoon of the sickeningly sweet liquid. 'It must be aversion therapy. You stop coughing in self defense.'

"How we doin? Got yourself all hooked up?" Sandra asked as she walked back into the living area, drying her long dark hair with a bath towel.

"It works great. Just what I need for my new career." Josie looked up with a gleeful smile on her lovely face.

"New career? What career is that?"

Josie handed over a flash card. "This career. I want you to post this to your bulletin board at school for me."

"Let me type and organize your research papers for you. I will correct spelling and grammatical errors. The end product will look professional and polished. I charge per page, not per error corrected.

Call me, Josie, at 555-1377 Have a great day."

"That's a great idea. The other students are always complaining about their term papers. Well, actually, the teachers do a fair amount of complaining about their illiteracy as evidenced by their term papers." Sandra chuckled. "So, that's why you needed a new printer."

"Yep. And look at this quality." Josie handed her companion a sheet she'd just printed of a letter she was sending her Mom. "Isn't that polished looking to you?"

"That's really nice. You're going to have the students come to you, aren't you. I don't want you having to run hither, thither, and yon to collect your work. That would kinda defeat the purpose of working out of your home." Sandra stated with concern.

"Well, I hadn't thought about it. But, I guess you're right, especially the shape I'm in right now. I don't need to be spending energy unnecessarily. I'll make it clear that they have to come to me or maybe they can leave their stuff with you at school..... No. Scratch that. You have way too much on your plate right now to be step and fetchin for me at school. The students will just have to get here the best way they can."

"Ok." Sandra was relieved and it showed on her face. She really wanted to help her friend in any way she could. But didn't think she could take any more stress. She'd been so worried about her boss that she found her mind preoccupied with her instead of her patients. It had caused her clinical instructors to jump her case more than once for her lack of focus.

Josie read Sandra's expression and stood up to place an arm around her tall friend's broad back, rubbing gently. "Listen, my friend, I remember a very smart young woman giving some sage advice. You need to communicate with me your needs and wants. If you are over stressed and need a break, I want to know. You are no help to me if you get sick or if you become unhappy and quit me. Deal?"

Sandra looked down into gentle green eyes, filled with love and concern and tried to fill her smile with all the affection that was in her heart. "Deal..... Thanks."


"Morning Glory, what's that fabulous aroma?" Josie bounced into the kitchen, feeling better than she had in a week.

"My special New Orleans style french toast and sausage. It's my Mom's recipe. I just felt like spoiling us this morning." Sandra couldn't hide the strain on her beautiful features. She was homesick, stressed out and exhausted from her constant studying and worrying about her friend.

Josie noticed the subtle changes, but chose not to confront her over stressed companion.

"That was a "mouth fornication", dear girl. My compliments to the chef." Josie wiped her mouth with her linen napkin and began clearing the table. "For your reward, I'm going to do the dishes and you can go soak a few minutes longer in the tub. Be decadent." The little blonde gave her a wink and a knowing grin. "I'll see you tonight. Hope it's a good day for you."

"Thanks. Later."


Josie was relaxing at the dining table, playing with her new printer when she heard her companion let herself in. "Hey slim. How was your day?"

"Ok, I guess." Sandra put her books down and sighed.

"That doesn't sound too good. What's not going well for you? I want to know. Maybe I can help." Josie didn't approach the forlorn woman but gave her the space she needed to gather her thoughts.

"I feel like I'm on a tiny ship out at sea, tossing across the waves with no anchor to hold me where I need to be nor sail to catch the wind to move me in the right direction. My Mom's always been my anchor. I've never really had anything to give me direction before....., well before you came into my life. The other students have so much more education than I do that I always feel like I'm playing catch up. I don't even understand some of the words they use. I sit in class with my dictionary on my lap so I can quickly look up normal words that the instructors spout out. I'm just so tired of always being two steps behind. You know?" Tears began to form in the companions sad blue eyes.

"Sandy, when's the last time that you visited your family?" Josie maneuvered her friend over to the sofa and sat her down.

"Not for the last three months, I guess. I write my mom and my little brother when I have the time. Mom's not too good at writing, so she sends cards." Sandra smiled at the thought of the lovely cards she'd been receiving twice a week since she'd moved away. "I miss talking to her, you know. It's just not the same without hearing her voice or seeing that smile. Mom's got the gentlest smile. You'd like her." Her eyes filled with unshed tears and a painful lump formed in her throat.

"I know I would. I hope to meet her some day soon. Do us a favor, would you. Take the portable phone out on the porch and call your mom."

"Josie, I can't do that. It's long distance. It'll cost a mint." Sandra swiped at a tear that had escaped.

"Consider it a bonus for taking such good care of me and my insurance that you won't jump ship and swim for home. But, hold it down to twenty minutes, please mam. And, tonight..... dinner's on me." The compassionate little blond wiped away another tear that had escaped the blue eyes she was growing very fond of. "Tell your mom I said "Hey". Now go. I have things to do." All Sandra could do was nod her thanks.


Sandra's tears had been replaced by a joyful smile. She returned to the living area to find Josie was gone. Just then she heard a car drive up and went to investigate.

"Hey slim. I got us pizza and a movie. No stress tonight. I got us Sister Act 1. Is that Ok? I also got us a veggie pizza and garlic bread sticks." Josie was beaming with pride at her idea to relax her friend.

"I love that movie. That was so sweet of you."

"I'm a sweet kinda gal. Come on. You get the plates and lots of napkins and I'll pour the Barq's."

The friends laughed and sang along with all the old Motown hits until they were both pleasantly and serenely exhausted.

"Hey, I didn't know you could sing. You sounded great in there, hanging with Ms. Woopie. What else can you do?" Josie asked amusedly.

"I have many skills." Sandra responded with a raised eye brow, doing her best Xena impression.

"Oh, please. On that note, let's clean this mess up and turn in. Don't forget to brush your teeth. You ate enough garlic tonight to waste a vampire."

"Me!?! Why you little wop. I oughta pound ya." Sandra made a fist and waved it threateningly at Josie.

"Yeow!" Josie squealed and ran through the house, over furniture and around tables giggling as she dodged her attacker. Sandra had just tackled her on the sofa when the phone rang, interrupting their fun.

Josie grabbed the phone panting, trying to catch her breath and compose herself. "Uh..... whew.....Hello?"

"Bon soir, ma cher. Comment sa va? You sound all out of breath." Kathy's familiar voice said.

"Hey Kathy. Yeah, I am. Sandy and I were just playing."

"Playing? You and "Sandy" were playing what?" The red head sounded bemused.

"Nothing. We were just kidding around. What can I do you for, my friend?" Josie plopped down on the sofa and rested her feet upon the coffee table and watched Sandy do the same with a smirk. She stuck out her tongue and squinched up her face at her companion and got smacked in the belly by a throw pillow for her trouble.


"What was that?" Kathy asked.

"That was me getting throttled by a throw pillow, an obviously dangerous weapon in the hands of Ma Barker over here." Josie couldn't help dissolving into giggles as her friend and some time lover began to wonder if she was horning in on something.

"So to what do I owe the honor of this call, oh sexy one?" Josie signaled her friend to stop her antics so she could pay attention to Kathy.

"Well, there is a conference in Hattiesburg on Friday and I thought, if you were feeling up to it, we could get together and maybe finish what we started last week. But, if you and "Sandy" are together now.....well, I wouldn't want to do anything to upset the apple cart."

"No, Sandy and me? We've become good friends and were just goofing off to release some of the stress she's been under with school. Actually tomorrow night would be great if you'll stay through Saturday and maybe Sunday morning. What do you say, Casanova. That will give Sandra the chance to go visit her Mom and not have to worry about me. I'll be in your, Uh...hum, very capable hands."

"Well, that's the best offer I've had in a coon's age. Only one thing could sweeten the deal."

"Yeah....., you can bring your fishing pole. But I'm not touching any more slimy worms. Yuck! And, you're not touching me until you scrub that muck off of you. Of course we could always soak you clean out in the hot tub. It's warm enough to use it now. Would you mind preparing it for us while you're here?"

"Ah...ha! An ulterior motive. You just want me for my strength and stamina. I think I'm hurt." Kathy couldn't suppress her chuckle.

"Oh I definitely am counting on your strength and stamina." Josie purred into the phone.

"I'll call you from the conference tomorrow, then. Rest up. I intend to wear you out."

"I will. Looking forward to it. Good night."

"A' bientot, ma cher."


Sandra had left the room and was packing up her things to move back

to her apartment. Josie seemed to be doing much better and she wasn't needed. She'd call her Mom in the morning to tell her she was coming for a visit. She knew she should be excited about going home, but she just felt strangely disappointed. 'Geesum petes! What is wrong with you Sandra? You have two whole days to spend with your Mom, all the creole cooking you can eat, and no clinicals to prepare for and no one to worry about. Sounds like heaven. Then, why do I feel like I'm being punished? Why does moving back to my apartment feel like I'm being sent to my room for misbehaving?' Sandra sat in the guest room and tried to figure out what she was feeling and why. But, all she managed to do was irritate herself. 'Girl, just go to bed and give it a rest. You're giving me a headache.' Sandra scolded herself and proceeded to pack.


Josie hadn't noticed what her companion was doing while she was enjoying a flirtation with her favorite Cajun and wondered where she'd gotten off to.

"Sandy." Josie called out. "Where y'at dawlin?" Sometimes making fun of the New Orlean's "Y'at" accent was just too tempting. How that Bronx sound ever made it to the deep south was beyond her.

"In here, boss lady." Sandra responded. "And I don't talk like a yat."

Josie came bouncing into the guest room. "What are you doing?" Josie looked around taking in the fact that her companion was packing her things.

"I'm just moving back to my apartment. You're doing great. You don't need me to be down here anymore." Sandra avoided looking into her friend's eyes as much as possible as she quickly carted her belongings out of the house and up the stairs.

"Oh.....Well.....Ok......Let me give you a hand." Josie started collecting Sandra's books from the dining room table and followed her companion up to her apartment.

"What are you doing?" The tall beauty was perturbed that her charge was lugging her books up the staircase that she knew was so hard for her to climb. She quickly placed her bags on the floor and grabbed her books from Josie's hands.

"I was helping you. I'm not an invalid, you know. I have something to offer, too, damnit!!! Josie didn't know where her outburst came from, but she found she couldn't contain her anger, frustration and hurt.

"Your getting sick is not fucking helping. Don't help me so damned much, Josie. I need to have something else in my life. Not just you and that fucking nursing school." Sandra pitched her Nurse's drug handbook across the room as hard as she could as she burst into soul wrenching sobs.

Josie found herself totally shocked at their altercation. "What, the hell, just happened here?"

She watched, dumfounded, as Sandra's face continued to crumble as her tall frame slid limply down the wall. "I don't know. I just don't know anything anymore. All I know is that a moment doesn't go by that I don't think about where you are and what you're doing and with whom. Shit! This is so damned humiliating..... I've never felt this way before about anyone and I just don't know how to handle it or if I even can."

Josie came to sit next to her distraught friend careful not to touch her at first, just letting their thighs meet. The despair on the beautiful face of her companion was breaking her heart. When she felt it was safe to do so, Josie took a trembling hand into her own and brought it to her lips, kissing it gently and stroking it against her cheek. "Sandra, are you saying you are in love with me?" The compassionate little woman asked, never letting go of her friend's hand.

Sandra couldn't trust herself to speak. Sighing in resignation, she nodded her admission.

"And that frightens you?" Josie asked softly as she continued holding her friend's larger hand in her own.

Again, just a nod. Sandra had yet to look into those beloved green eyes.

"May I ask you a question?..... Why now? I know you have been under tremendous stress with school and taking care of me. You've been terribly home sick and we have spent all your spare time together, and you know I am attracted to women. All that has to add up. But what made you have this epiphany now when you were going home and escaping all this for a few days and you knew I would be spending my weekend with Kathy. Was that what caused this? Are you jealous of Kathy because she would be having sex with me?"

Again, she nodded. "I am so sorry, Josie. I've never felt so embarrassed in my life." Sandra sniffled as her tears slowly rolled down her face. "I thought I was being magnanimous about you and Kathy by moving back up here and giving you your privacy. But, when you carried my books up those stairs with total disregard for your health, and in the name of helping me, it was like what I feel doesn't matter to you. You'd rather be with Kathy having "recreational sex" than "making love" with me." Sandra took a deep breath and looked into her friends gentle face, seeing no malice, only compassion, she continued. "Where do we go from here?" She looked away again. "I mean, I do work for you and live in your home. I'd like to stay so I can finish school. If that's alright with you. We could go back to the way it was, just driving you on Tuesdays and being here at night if you need assistance. Strictly business, you know." Sandra hated that she had placed herself in the position of needing Josie, in more ways than one.

Josie brought her beloved's hand to her lips, kissing it tenderly. "First, let me make some admissions of my own. Are you listening to me?" Josie sought out her companion's pain filled eyes as she placed her over heated hand against her face and kissed the palm. "I do love you..... I do want you..... But, I need you to understand something." Josie stopped to take a deep breath to compose herself. "I need to feel useful. To be useful, especially to the people I love." She couldn't hold her tears back any longer. "I want to help you in any way I can......Please, let me."

Sandra couldn't fathom what she was hearing. She just continued to look into the eyes she loved as she felt the softness of the skin against her palm. Her own tears began anew.

The little blonde straddled the much larger brunette's lap and pulled the dark head to her chest to offer comfort. Murmuring words of love and devotion, while stroking silky black hair, Josie was finally able to halt her beloved's tears.

"Better?" Josie tilted Sandy's head to kiss her forehead.

"Yeah....., better." Sandra nodded and swiped at her tears. "I must look a sight."

"You look beautiful." Josie moved her stroking hand to Sandra's flushed cheek. Sea green looked into soft blue with a depth of feeling that both fascinated and frightened the younger, less experienced, woman.

Seeing the turmoil in Sandy's eyes, Josie decided that taking it slow was a definite necessity or this chick would fly the coop. "Hey, don't be afraid. We can take this as slow as you want or as fast as you need. You set the pace. Ok? I'm not going any where. I'll be here when you are ready. I know this is all new to you and a bit frightening. But, believe that I love you and it's going to be Ok."

The tall beauty studied her love's face seeing only gentle concern and sincerity. "What about this weekend." Sandra stopped and, taking a deep breath to bolster her courage, said what she meant. "What about you and Kathy?" Again she looked away. "I can't bear the thought of you that." Tears filled her eyes again. "Good grief, I think I've sprung a leak." Sandra smiled at her own levity.

"I'll talk to her. She'll understand. My happiness is important to her. And, you are my happiness.....Anyway, I think she gets nearly as big a kick from fishing as she does from sex.....I want you to go visit your Mom and get some rest. Don't worry about tonight. We'll work it all out. I promise. Kathy and I will have a long talk tomorrow. No sex. I promise. You have nothing to worry about. I'll explain us to her. You know, she asked me if we were together now."

"She did? That's amazing."

"Sandy? I need to do something, but I don't want to frighten you. I'll stop whenever you want, but please....., let me kiss you." For the first time, Sandra saw desire in the depths of the green eyes she loved. She raised a long elegant hand to stroke pale soft cheeks, trying to memorize every sensation about this moment. She watched as Josie leaned toward her and licked her lips to moisten them. There was a small grin on the full, soft, lips just before they met with their goal. Sandra could feel herself trembling. She'd never been so aroused before. She increased the pressure against Josie's lips, but the smaller woman pulled back slightly and Sandra pursued, her lips separating begging her boss' warm tongue to enter at will. And, she did. First there were tentative little licks, just tasting, then entering, deeply perusing all available surfaces, then retreating and inviting Sandra into her warmth. Both women moaned their passion as Josie gently sucked her companion's tongue, fanning the flames of their mutual desire.

Sandra's heart felt like it was beating out of her chest and she realized that she needed air. The feelings she was experiencing were all too new to her and way more intense than she could have imagined. She pulled back from her desires. Too emotionally overloaded to handle any more.

"You Ok?" Josie's voice was full of concern and love.

"Oh, Josie..... That was incredible. I've never felt anything remotely like that before. I'm..... overwhelmed. If we continue on, I won't be able to stop and I know I'm not ready to handle anymore. At least not for a little while."

"I understand." The little woman kissed her love's forehead, her eyelids, then the tip of her nose. "You get some sleep. You still have school tomorrow. I'm going to dream of us and all the wonders there are to discover together." Josie gave Sandra a soul lifting smile. "And I want you to promise me you won't spend all your time at home worrying about us. We are going to be great together. I feel it in here." Josie lifted her companion's hand over her heart then to her lips.

Blue eyes followed the tiny hand that held her heart in its embrace. "I'll try. This is all new to me. It might take me a while to get used to.....Josie, I need you to do something for me."

"What's that, sweetheart?" Josie searched her love's eyes.

"Get off a me. I gotta pee somethin fierce." Sandra lifted the smaller woman off of her lap and sprinted to the bathroom.

The tall beauty stared into the bathroom mirror as she washed away all traces of her previous heartache. 'She loves me. I heard her with my own two ears. She said she loves me. Wow!' A smile of genuine joy plastered itself to her face as she brushed the tangles out of her raven hair.

"Honey, you Ok in there?" Josie feared their new relationship had overwhelmed the inexperienced woman.

The door opened and a very happy woman leaned against the frame. "I am so way more than Ok that I can't even tell you." Sandra pulled her beloved into her arms and kissed the top of her golden head. "I love you..... God, it feels so good to say that." Laying her cheek against silky soft curls, the tall beauty heaved a contented sigh.

Josie rested her ear against her love's heart feeling like she had come home at last.

To Be Continued in part 3 of The Apartment

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