I Found My Heart in San Francisco

Book 3: Coalescence

By S X Meagher

 

Disclaimers: See Part 1


 

***Part 6***

Years of habit urged Ryanís senses to come to life just after six a.m., and it took a moment for her to orient herself to the strange environment. The light in the room was wrong, there was no window over her head, the bed felt much more firm than normal, and the air smelled funny. The strangest sensation was that the entire front of her body was chilled while her back felt overly warm. Nevertheless, a peaceful lassitude seemed to permeate her entire being. She was lying on her right side, and her left hand slid down her body to confirm that it was cool to the touch, unclothed and uncovered. Reaching behind her, she immediately identified the source of both her external discomfort and her internal peace.

Her beloved was snuggled up against her back, their bodies touching from shoulders to toes. A turn of her head confirmed that Jamieís head shared her pillow, golden hair mussed attractively against the sweet-smelling cotton pillowcase.

As her eyes acclimated to the dim light, she realized why her chest was so cold; her greedy partner had stolen every thread of sheet and blanket during the night, and the majority of both were now lying uselessly on the left side of the bed. How did she manage that? Ryan smirked as she realized that only the far right edge of the covers was wrapped around her small partner. Iím gonna have to lay down the law pretty quick on that little quirk. Itís bad enough to steal themóbut to steal them and toss them aside is unacceptable!

She spent a moment reveling in the sensation of having her naked partner touching her so intimately, and then realized that she was too cold to enjoy it. She reached across Jamieís body and tugged both sheet and blanket back to their rightful places. Mmmm, thatís better, she sighed peacefully.

A sense of warm satisfaction flowed through her body, but a tiny little voice asked if she should not be up preparing for her morning run. Yeah, right, she scoffed. Iím nuts, but Iím not that nuts! Besides, she thought righteously, Iím sure my heart rate will be up in my training zone before the end of the day.

That thought caused her body to slowly begin to tingle, and she allowed her hips to twitch, creating a nice little tickle where Jamieís neat blonde curls met her always-sensitive butt. Oh yeah, she sighed. As soon as that little vixen opens those green eyes, weíre gonna get busy! Once her body began to anticipate the contact, her mind couldnít relax. Taking advantage of Jamieís sound sleep pattern, she slipped out of bed, thoughtfully tucking the covers around the small body to make up for the loss of heat. She stood by the bed for a moment to make sure that her partner didnít stir, and when she was satisfied that she was still out cold, she grabbed the robe from the previous day and left the room.

I could shower in our room, but I donít want to wake Sleeping Beauty, she thought as she walked along the long hall. One of these doors must lead to a guest room, she mused as she opened several: first, a large closet; then, a workroom of some sort; and finally, a spacious guest room, complete with bath.

The room was fully prepared for a surprise guest--fresh towels on the gold-toned towel bars, two more folded upon the counter, bath soaps, shampoo and conditioner--all awaiting use. Ryan slid the trackless glass door open and hopped into the fully tiled enclosure, adjusting the temperature to her liking. She spent several minutes letting the warm spray invigorate her, then cleaned her body and washed her hair thoroughly, adding some conditioner as well. When she was finished, she noticed a small plastic-handled squeegee that she used to clean the water droplets from the shower doors. I bet the maid bought those with her own money, she smirked. It could take a woman all week just to clean the bathrooms this place must have.

When she emerged from the enclosure, she looked in the mirror and noticed a professional quality hair dryer on a shelf behind her head. It took a moment to figure out how to use the monster, but once she got it hooked up, she decided that she needed one for herself as soon as possible. The powerful blower removed every trace of water from her long black hair in just a few minutes, at least five times faster than her home unit. The force of the air had been so strong that her hair was full and straight, even with the foggy, damp air that shrouded the house. Got to get me one of them, she mused, but then realized, that probably costs more than I make in a day!

Well, she said to herself as she left the guest room, Iím clean and lookiní for love, but Iíd better get a little something to eat before I indulge in that pleasure.

Making her way downstairs, she spent a few minutes reviewing the foodstuffs that Jamie had ordered. Awww, isnít that cute? She got Mc Cannís Irish Oatmeal for me! She wasnít in the mood to spend 20 minutes stirring the slow-cooked oats, so she opted for a couple of bowls of corn flakes, made more interesting with the addition of fresh strawberries, a whole banana and a handful of blueberries. A glass of fresh orange juice and another of milk had her fully prepared for whatever the morning would bring, and she was just about to rise from her stool when a pair of arms encircled her waist.

"Good morning." A sleepy-sounding voice floated past her ear.

"Good morning to you," Ryan responded, as she turned and kissed the adorable face that smiled up at her. "Sleep well?"

"Yeeeeah, I suppose I slept as well as most people whoíve been hit on the head with an anvil," Jamie giggled. "Ooh, I shouldnít say that around you," she amended as she playfully covered her mouth with her hand. "Youíve probably had that happen."

"Naaah, Iíve escaped that one, but Iím still youngÖgive me time."

Jamie was wearing her robe from the previous day, but she had not yet showered. "Want some breakfast?" Ryan asked her hand dropping to undo the tie that held the garment closed. Her questing hand slipped into the robe and tickled smooth skin as her other hand tangled in Jamieís hair and pulled her head close for a kiss that carried a clear message. "Or do you need a little love before you eat?" Ryan asked in a desire-filled voice.

"UmmÖ" Jamie said, stumbling a little as she stepped away from the embrace. "I uhÖI actually thought that we might get an early start and play some golf." She refastened her robe and walked to the refrigerator, removing the orange juice from the door before turning back to Ryan for a reply.

GOLF? Ryanís brain screamed. She wants to play GOLF? One day of lesbian love, and sheís joining the L.P.G.A!? The dark-haired woman was doing her best to keep her incredulity from showing, and she must have done a decent job because Jamie calmly asked, "Is that okay?"

"Ahh, sureÖwhatever you want, Jamie," she heard herself say. "This should be a vacation for both of us, so we should each get to do what relaxes us." I know what relaxes me! she grumbled to herself, but prudently decided that she needed to tread carefully with her less experienced partner.

"Well, we can do something else, if you want," Jamie said with a little hesitation in her voice. "Is there something you wanted to do today?"

"Nothing that we canít do later," Ryan replied honestly. Okay, she reminded herself. She told you that she didnít like it when Jack wanted to jump on her first thing in the morning. Maybe sheís just not a person that wakes up horny. You did drain her tank yesterday, you know.

"You sure?" Jamie asked again, now sounding less sure of herself.

"Positive. Let me make you some breakfast while you get showered, okay?"

"Okay," the fair-haired woman replied. "Iíll call and get us a tee time, and then go get ready. Youíre really going to love this course, Honey," she said, her enthusiasm beginning to grow. "Itís absolutely lovely."

"Youíre the loveliest thing Iím going to see all week." Ryanís usual lovesick gaze settled on her lover.

"Iím never short of compliments with you around, Sweetheart." Jamie smiled as she kissed her on the cheek. "Make me a third of what you had for breakfast. Iíll be back in a few."

Ryan chuckled at the departing form and proceeded to fulfill her partnerís request. Jamie, however, was a little slow, so a major portion of her breakfast had to be re-made since the cook had consumed it.

"You are a bottomless pit!" Jamie laughed as her partner scrambled to replace the meal.

"Hey, you drained a lot of calories from me yesterday," Ryan said with mock defensiveness.

"Yeah," Jamie said without elaboration. "Why donít you get dressed, Honey. I made us a 7:30 tee time."

"Okay," Ryan said warily as she left the room. Somethingís up with my sweetie, she thought as she climbed the stairs. Iíll give her a little time today to talk about it, but if she doesnít, Iíll pry it out of her when we get home. I need to clear the air, so we can get to my favorite relaxing activity!

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

Since the day was warm and dry, they had both dressed in shorts. Ryan wore the white shorts from the day before, but with a navy blue polo shirt. Jamie had found some golf clothes in her closet and she chose a pair of black and white houndís-tooth shorts with a white polo shirt. The shirt had a small band of the checked material around the edge of the collar and sleeves. After she fetched her I.D. and the key to her locker, they grabbed the spare set of clubs that Jim kept for guests and took off for the very short drive to the course.

They pulled up in front of the links with a few minutes to spare, then ran into the pro shop where Jamie was greeted warmly by one of the assistant pros. After she chatted with him for a moment, she introduced her partner. "Ryan, this is Chip Mahoney. Heís my favorite pro here at the club." Chip was just a few years older than Jamie, Ryan guessed. He was very cute, in a boyish sort of way, and he seemed quite fond of Jamie. They teased each other about their games, and when Jamie told him they were set to tee off, he ran over to check the log. "Hey, Jamie," he said quietly, when he came back over. "Theyíve got you with some hotel guests. Why donít I slide them to the next twosome, and Iíll play with you?"

"Iíd really like that, Chip. Is that okay with you, Ryan?"

"Sure," Ryan replied, just a tiny bit disappointed to have to share her lover with another person. "As long as Chip doesnít mind playing with a rank beginner."

"Most of the people I play with are rank beginners. Not many of them think so, of course," he laughed. "Iíd be happy to give you some tips, Ryan. Actually, why donít I just tag along and give you a playing lesson. I want to see how Jamieís game is progressing and I canít do that if Iím playing, too."

"Sounds great to me," Ryan said. "I can use all the help I can get."

Jamie noticed that Ryan had not brought her glove, so before they left the building, she went up to the register and asked for a Cadet medium in navy blue. She came back over and tossed it to Ryan, giving her a subtle little wink. Ryan grinned as she caught it and winked right back. Jamie had to run to the locker room to grab her shoes, so Ryan and Chip went out to wait by the first tee. He spent a few minutes giving her some advice on good warm up exercises. She nodded and humored him by following his advice, stretching slowly with a golf club to limber up.

"So, youíre a friend of Jamieís from school?" Chip inquired, somewhat absently.

"Yeah, we met at school last September," she replied easily.

"Um...I heard that she broke up with her fiancé," he asked tentatively, stealing a glance at the clubhouse door to check for Jamie. "Is that true?"

"I donít think she would mind my confirming that," Ryan said, waiting for him to get to the point.

"UmmÖ do you know if sheís ahh...seeing anyone?"

Fighting her urge to insert her driver into his gullet, Ryan replied, "Well, I donít generally like to talk about my friends when they arenít present, but I think you could safely say that sheís seeing someone seriously. Very seriously," she added with a warning glance.

"Ahh, darn," he said as he kicked a clod of dirt. "I knew if I waited for her to come down here, sheíd be taken. I should have called her in Berkeley." He looked up at Ryan with his crestfallen face. "Sheís really great, isnít she?"

"Sheís extraordinary," Ryan informed him with a confident smile, feeling a tiny bit sorry for the poor fellow, knowing that he would never have confirmation of just how extraordinary her partner was.

He stood back for a second and really looked at her, seemingly for the first time. "You look like youíre in pretty good shape, Ryan. Do you work out?"

"Yeah, I stay pretty active," she replied without elaboration.

"So, how often have you played?"

"Jamie took me once, and Iíve been to the driving range about six or seven times with my brother. I played a full course three times with him, so Iíd say my answer is, not very often," she laughed.

Jamie came jogging over to them just as they were called to the tee. Chip watched her run over and said to Ryan, "Jamie looks like sheís in really good shape, too. What are they putting in the water up in Berkeley?"

"Iím not sure, but Iím betting thereís a citizenís committee being formed to stop it."

He didnít really get her joke, as his attention was focused more on Jamie than Ryan by this time. He watched her warm up with a few practice swings, finally commenting, "Did you always have those muscles?"

"Which muscles are those?" Jamie inquired innocently, batting her eyes at the compliment.

"Well, all of them," he said as he looked her up and down.

"You can give Ryan most of the credit for these babies," she said, as she flexed a bicep. "Sheís my trainer."

"Youíre a trainer?" he asked, as he turned to look at Ryan.

"Uh-huh." She nodded, narrowing her eyes at the appreciative looks he was giving her lover.

"Well, youíve done a wonderful job with Jamie. She looks great," he said with altogether too much enthusiasm for Ryanís tastes.

"Iíd have to say that Jamie played a small role," she commented slowly, wondering how long this assessment would continue.

They flipped a coin for honors, and when Jamie won, she placed a ball on the tee and took a practice swing. She then addressed her ball, settled her weight evenly between her feet, and pulled the club back smoothly and powerfully. She whipped the club through the hitting zone with surprising speed, driving the ball a good 275 yards, drawing it slightly to the left.

"Wow!" said Chip, clearly impressed. As a smiling Jamie walked back toward him, he reached up and squeezed her bicep, shaking his head as he said enviously, "I want a trainer."

Ryan was up next, and she, too, took a few practice swings before she felt loose. She teed the ball up and set herself. She tried to clear all of her swing thoughts from her mind, focusing only on two: Jamieís admonition to imagine sweeping the ball off the tee, and the image of Chipís head resting in place of the ball. She did just that, hitting it straight and true. She landed well back of Jamieís big drive, but she was very pleased, nonetheless. "Iím glad Iím not playing," Chip admitted. "You two would beat the pants off of me!"

As Ryan got in her cart she smirked to herself. Dream on Chip. Nobody around here is ever gonna see you with your pants off.

Chip had his own cart, and he drove up to Ryanís ball. Hopping out, he gave her a few pointers, and both were pleased with her second shot. "Excellent, Ryan," Chip enthused. "Are you sure youíre just starting?"

"Yep. Wait Ďtil you see me putt," she warned.

She hopped back in the cart, returning Jamieís beaming grin. "You are such a stud," the small woman giggled as they drove to her ball.

"Look who beat me by 90 yards," Ryan replied, as she playfully felt Jamieís bicep. "This reminds me," she said, giving the muscle another squeeze. "If he touches you again, will you use this to pop him one?"

Jamie turned and stared at her partner, truly amazed that her gentle kidding with Chip would upset Ryan. "Does that make you jealous, Honey?"

Ryanís face colored a shade darker as she said, "Iím not sure. I donít think Iíve ever been jealous before, but if the desire to impale him on a pitching wedge is any indication, I guess I must be."

"Oh, Sweetie, donít let that bother you. I just kid around with guys. I donít mean anything by it."

"I know," Ryan conceded. "It just brings up some bad feelings." Images of Jack flooded her mind, and she realized that she was far from over that hurt.

"Honey, if this bothers you, Iíll plead a headache, and weíll go home right now!"

"No, no, Iíve got to get used to it. Iím sure every guy you know would like to have a chance at youÖI might as well learn how to deal with it."

Jamie laughed warmly, amused at her loverís exaggeration. "Will it help if I tell you that Iím more attracted to you than I am to every man Iíve ever metóall rolled into one?"

"Ahhh, I guess soÖbut thatís a pretty scary image," Ryan mused. "I guess it helps that I get to go home with you and see you nakedÖand sweaty," she said with a seductive grin. "And Iíve got plans to do just that."

Jamieís eye widened perceptibly at that comment, but they were nearing Chipís cart, so she just patted Ryan rather primly on the leg and got out.

Hmmm, so her discomfort is about sex, Ryan mused. I think itís time for a sensitive chat as soon as we hit the house.

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

Since she needed to cover only about 65 yards, Jamie grabbed her wedge and lofted a delicate little shot over the guarding bunkers, landing less than a foot from the hole. She turned to Ryan and gave her a little eyebrow wiggle as she got back in the cart. Chip drove by, turning to look at Jamie suspiciously as he passed.

When they reached the green, Chip helped Ryan line up and gave her some basic advice on putting. Her first effort was way too strong. The ball shot across the slick green, nearly rolling off into a bunker. "Whoops," she remarked, as she walked across the green to try again.

"Use that same stroke," Chip told her. "Youíre going uphill now, and youíll need all of that pace."

She bent over and concentrated, trying to remember just how the previous stroke had felt. She did a reasonable job of executing, and wound up about four feet away from the hole. After Jamie told her to finish, she lipped out with her next try. Safely home with a six, Ryan was pretty pleased with her effort. Chip complimented her on her play as they watched Jamie coolly drain her short putt. She had a massive grin on her face as she admitted, "Iíve never birdied this hole."

"When did you play last?" Chip inquired.

"I played Olympic with my father in May," she said. "Why?"

"When did you put this muscle on?"

"Over the last six or seven months," she said.

"Youíve got a whole different swing, Jamie. Youíre hitting the ball very crisply, and your club head speed is much greater than it used to be. Why donít you play the blue tees and really air it out?"

"Blue tees?" she gulped.

"Yeah," Chip said. "The course is designed for the blues. Youíre gonna have to harness your driver if you stick with the whites."

"Okay," she agreed hesitantly, "but Iíve only got a dozen balls on me."

"If you run out, Iíll buy you more," he promised.

Ryan stuck with the white tees, but Jamie took Chipís advice and moved back. The long second hole played 502 from the blues and only 439 from the whites. Chip advised Jamie to keep her driver in the bag and hit a three wood. "Thereís trouble if you go more than 230 off the tee," he reminded her. She followed his suggestion and hit her drive about 220 yards, actually holding back a little to keep the ball short of the bunker. "Boy, you have the most beautiful, natural draw," he said admiringly when she walked back to sit in his cart while Ryan hit her shot.

"Thanks, Chip. I need some work on my fade, though. Itís pretty tough for me to push the ball."

"How long are you down for?" he asked.

"I go back on Saturday," she said. "Why?"

"If you come over tomorrow, Iíll work with you for a while. This might be presumptuous of me, but I think you should work on your game and try to play at Cal this spring."

"Are you nuts?" she said a little louder than she should have. Ryan soled her club and shot her a look before she got set again. "Sorry," Jamie called out, more quietly this time. "Are you nuts?" she stated again, in a quieter tone.

"No, Iím not," he said calmly. "Youíve always had a great short game, Jamie. Your only real problem was length and strength. Itís hard to compete when your best drive is only 220 yards. But you nailed that sucker on one, and I could see you hold back a little with your three wood. Your iron play is so much crisper than it used to be. I really think you should give it some thought. I mean," he added, "can you imagine how proud your dad would be of you?"

That brought a little smile to her face as she considered the thought, silently musing that she could use all of the brownie points that she could rack up. "What time are you free tomorrow?" she asked with a twinkle.

While sitting in the cart waiting for Jamie to walk over to her, Ryan was rather amazed by the large numbers of people who were walking around near the course. There were access ways across the fairways and behind some of the greens, and it was obvious that the hotel was full today. People crossed their path at every available opportunity, and she found that she liked the thought of people using the course to get to their destinations. Itís way too beautiful for just a few golfers to enjoy, she thought.

"Can I confess a sin to you?" Jamie asked shyly as they finished the next hole.

"Yes," Ryan grinned. "Especially if I can help you commit it," she said with waggling brows.

Jamie playfully slapped her leg. "Not that kind of sin, silly." She looked at Ryan rather seriously and said, "I really like being able to kick your butt at something."

"Well, then you must be in heaven," Ryan laughed. "'Cause my ass is black and blue already."

"I feel kinda bad, though," she continued. "Like I shouldnít feel that way about you."

"Jamie, youíre an athlete," Ryan explained. "What we do is compete, usually against ourselves, but also against others. Itís entirely natural to want to win. Didnít you see how much pleasure I got out of dusting you going up the hills on the ride?"

"Yeah, I guess I did." she admitted. "But you know, one thing I really love about you is that you donít get down on yourself when you donít do something well. You donít get all bothered when you miss a shot."

"You havenít seen me play one of my games poorly," she warned. "I think your opinion of me might change a bit."

"So you do get mad when you donít play your sports well?"

"Ehh, yeah," she nodded. "You could say that."

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

The fifth hole was one of the most spectacular settings that Ryan had ever seen. The hole rested atop the rocky cliffs of the cove. The green lay only 166 yards for Jamie, and with the wind at her back she could easily have reached it with a six or a seven iron. Today, as usual, the wind was blowing directly into their faces as they stood on the tee. Ryanís sunglasses fluttered on her face as she turned her head, and her hair was blowing so wildly that she had to search for something to hold it back. Luckily Jamie had some covered rubber bands in her bag, and Ryan dug one out as Jamie consulted Chip about club selection.

"Well, Iíd say itís playing a good 205 today," he shouted over the wind and the surf. They agreed that Jamie should use a three iron and try to keep it low. She hit a ball that bored right through the wind and landed on the left center of the green, where it slowly rolled down toward the cup, which had providentially been placed, on the lower right edge of the green. She turned and gave Chip a firm hug for his advice. He looked a little flustered, but recovered enough to give her a big smile as she pulled away. Sheís gotta watch that, Ryan thought as she watched Chipís reaction. She doesnít know the power of those hugs.

Ryan also played an iron, winding up in the right front bunker. This time Chip went in with her and showed her exactly what to do by hitting a few balls out himself. Ryan watched intently, while Jamie looked on, smiling at the way Ryan unconsciously imitated Chip as he was performing the motions. When it was her turn, she did a much better job than the previous time, beaming with pride as she softly landed the ball on the green after only one try. But the hazards of bunker play on Pebble Beach were made abundantly clear to her as she received a face full of sand on her follow through. She spat and rubbed her eyes and removed the band from her hair to shake out as much sand as possible. Jamie was still laughing when her partner finally jogged over to the cart. "I donít get this sandy when I play beach volleyball!" Ryan complained.

"AwwÖyou looked so cute standing over there spitting. I think thatís the first time Iíve ever seen you do that."

"You can mark that down in your diary later, you hopeless romantic," Ryan said with a laugh.

The eighth hole always gave Jamie fits. It was a magnificent hole, but she had always had trouble getting the distance she needed. She usually played for bogey and hoped for the best. Feeling bold and confident today, she decided to go for it. She hit a nice 250-yard drive, positioning it in line with the aiming rock in the distance. Her lie afforded her a fabulous view of a deep chasm, an enticing, watery graveyard for thousands of errant balls. She knew that staying away from the chasm wasnít her only difficulty, however. The next big problem was that the green was absolutely tiny, nearly postage stamp size. She had 185 yards left, and she chose to go with a four iron, hoping to hit it low and drive it hard into the green. Chip drove by and suggested that she play it safe. "Play left and hope for a great putt, Jamie. I donít think you can knock down a four iron in this wind." He left her to drive closer to the green to watch the balls land in case of trouble. As Jamie walked back to her clubs, Ryan could see the conflicting emotions playing across her face.

"Whatís wrong, Babe?" she asked.

"I want to go for it, but I donít want to be stupid," she admitted.

"What will it cost you if you go in the drink?"

"Two strokes and a ball," she replied.

"Whatíll it cost you if you donít try something that you think you can do because youíre afraid?"

Jamie looked at her with appreciation in her eyes. "Thanks, Honey." She nodded as she took her four iron and struck it stiff. The ball stayed low and came to rest serenely on the lower tier of the green. She was still a good 25 feet away, but the shot had greatly increased her confidence. "So, youíre a good golf coach, too?" she asked with a beaming grin.

"Nope. I just understand momentum and confidence levels. I say, play bold until you lose it."

It took Jamie two putts to bring the ball home, but she was intensely pleased with herself for taking a risk. Chip didnít say much, but she could tell he was impressed also.

After they finished nine, they passed a snack bar and stopped to buy some treats. Ryan bought three candy bars and a big bottle of Gatorade, while Jamie decided on a bag of pretzels and some water. They packed their goodies in the cart and took off again moments later.

As they stood on the tenth tee, Jamie marveled at the fact that she was still two under par. She felt absolutely fabulous: strong, fit, well rested and well loved. She did not recall ever feeling better. She smiled over at Ryan, "I feel so totally good," she said happily. "Is this what being in love does to you?"

"So it would seem," Ryan replied with a chuckle.

They made their way around the course quickly, and Chip complimented Ryan repeatedly on how rapidly she played. Driving up to the 17th after another compliment, Ryan muttered, "That sounds like when I compliment someone at the gym on how well theyíre breathing. Thatís what you say when youíve got nothing else positive to comment on."

Jamie patted her leg reassuringly. "This doesnít happen to you very often, does it?"

Ryan knew just what she meant, and she had to admit that she was being a baby about the experience. "I donít like doing things Iím not good at," she agreed a little sheepishly.

"And it doesnít happen very often, does it? Hmmm? Come on, Tiger, tell the truth."

Ryan blushed deeply, suddenly finding the snap on her golf glove to be very interesting. "No. It doesnít."

"I donít know if this will reassure you, but golf is one sport where your success only comes from long hours of practice. I know you could be quite a decent golfer if we play once in a while, but to be really good youíd have to dedicate yourself to it."

"No, thanks," Ryan said quickly. "I like it, and I like doing something active with you, but I wouldnít give up anything else to do this."

"Agreed," Jamie said. She gave Ryan a shy smile and admitted, "I kinda hoped you didnít like it that much, to be honest. I really want to be better than you at something."

"Oh, Sweetie! Youíre better than I am at lots of things! Youíre clearly a better golfer, youíre a better cook, I havenít read your stuff, but Iím sure youíre a better writer, yoÖ"

Jamie patted her leg as they neared Chipís cart. "Thanks, Hon. Just a momentary insecurity attack. All better."

Ryan leaned over and whispered, "Youíre better at making love to me than I am." Jamieís eyes became so wide at that comment that even Chip noticed.

"Hey, Jamie, are you okay?" he called out.

"Fine. Just fine," she said as airily as possible. As she exited the cart, she gave her partner a pinch and jumped out before even Ryanís quick reflexes could allow her to retaliate.

The 17th and 18th holes at Pebble Beach are two of the most stunning finishing holes in all of golf. When they stood on the 18th tee, they looked down the Cove edge that ran all the way along the fairway. Two beautiful cypress trees waited near the landing area, and The Lodge beckoned in the distance. Waves crashed violently over the walls of the cove, and gulls cried out loudly, trying to be heard over the thundering surf. The hole was made for Jamieís natural action. Putting every ounce of her power into ripping a drive down the left side of the fairway, she was astounded when she drove to the ball and saw that it had landed almost 290 yards from the tee. She pulled her three wood from her bag with such an intense look of determination spreading over her face that Ryan had to stifle the urge to laugh. Jamie gave the three wood all she had, and it traveled a good 240 yards, leaving her just a wedge to the green. She strode back to the cart with a deeply satisfied grin on her face.

Ryan matched her infectious grin, completely forgetting about her own struggles on this beautiful hole. She loved seeing her partner so full of confidence. After she finally reached the green herself, she watched as Jamie shut out all distractions to concentrate on her putt. She was lying about eight feet from the hole, and she looked at the putt from every angle, getting down on her haunches three times to eye it from every perspective. Ryan was surprised with how she finally chose to approach the ball. It looked like she was aimed all wrong, but she kept her mouth firmly shut. Jamie drew the club back and smoothly rolled the ball directly into the hole. She let out a "whoop" as she thrust her right arm into the air in exultation. Ryan went over and high-fived her as she gave her a winning smile. After Ryan holed out, they drove the short distance to The Lodge, where Jamie offered to buy lunch for all of them. Chip couldnít stay, since he had a 12:30 lesson, so he bid goodbye to Ryan, again mentioning her quick play. "Now donít forget our date tomorrow," he said to Jamie with a very friendly smile.

"Oh, I wonít."

"I could make room for you on Thursday and Friday, too," Chip added, as he turned to leave.

Jamie started to walk toward the grill, but she turned when she noticed Ryan was not with her. A dark look had come over the normally smiling face, and Jamie scampered back to see what the problem was.

Ryanís hands were shoved in her pockets, and she rocked back and forth as much as her cleated shoes allowed. Jamie knew these were obvious signs of upset, so she placed her hand on her arm and guided her back outside where they could speak privately.

"Whatís wrong, Honey?" she asked quietly.

"Date," was the only word that came from Ryanís pursed lips.

"Date?" Jamie was at a loss, wracking her brain trying to decipher this code.

"Chip said you have a date tomorrow." The words came out crisp and clipped.

"Oh!" Jamie relaxed and laughed, finding it rather funny that Ryan would take the statement in that way. "Weíre just having a lesson tomorrow, Babe. I canít believe youíd think I would date him, or anyone else!"

To her surprise, this information did not brighten Ryanís mood. Her face was still set and unyielding, her posture rigid. "I was under the impression that this was our honeymoon," the dark woman said, enunciating each word. "I donít think I would have signed up for the trip if I knew it included the golf package." With that, she strode back into The Lodge and made her way to the ladiesí lounge.

Jamie resisted the powerful urge to follow her partner. She knew that Ryan tended to get angry, blow off some steam and was then able to have a rational discussion, so she decided to stay outside and wait her out, hoping that the storm would pass quickly.

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

Four days. We have four full days for our honeymoon. We could have had seven, but nooooo. We had to stay at Miaís; we had to do laundry before we came down here; and she has to go to Jackís--goddamned Jackís, she quickly amended--graduation. FineÖjust fine.

Taking the band from her hair, Ryan used one of the provided brushes to remove as much sand from her hair as possible. She was yanking the brush through her locks so forcefully that a dark halo of statically charged hair floated around her head. Wetting her hands, she smoothed the flyaway hair into place and splashed some cold water on her face.

Still steaming, she grabbed one of the thin washcloths and used it to thoroughly clean her face and neck. As the suds slid down the drain, so did much of her pique.

You wanted to stop and see Mia, too, ya big dope. And it was you that wanted to do laundry. She folded her arms across her chest, staring at herself in the mirror. Jamie offered to skip Miaís and come directly down here, so donít act like this is all her fault.

Narrowing her eyes at herself, she added, She asked you if you minded if she went to goddamned Jackís graduation. If you were going to pitch a bitch, you should have done it then. Itís childish to agree to everything, and then cry about it.

Her lids fluttered closed as she took in a deep breath, then let it out in a controlled stream. Face it, Ryan. Youíre pissed because she didnít want to make love this morning. You thought youíd be horizontal the whole time, but she obviously has other plans.

Her eyes opened just enough for her to catch the bemused grin that was tugging at her lips. Married life is all about communication and compromiseónow get out there and start compromising.

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

It took about ten minutes for Ryan to reappear, and Jamie fought with herself as each minute ticked away. She was just about to go find her when Ryan came back out. To Jamieís experienced eye, her partner looked much more like her normal self. Her gait was easy and fluid, and her eyes once again were able to meet Jamieís.

"Iím sorry," she said quietly, coming up alongside Jamie. The smaller woman was leaning against the wooden railing that surrounded the clubhouse, and Ryan imitated her posture.

They looked out on the course together for a few moments, until Jamie finally spoke. "Iím sorry I didnít ask you if you minded if I took a lesson tomorrow. That was thoughtless of me, and Iím going to cancel when we go by the pro shop."

"No." Ryan placed her hand on Jamieís arm and squeezed it lightly. "I was acting immaturely. If you want to do that, I want you to do it."

"Can we go inside and have a bite to eat?" she asked, knowing that Ryan had to be starving.

"Sure."

They were escorted to a nice table with a view of the 18th fairway and green. After they ordered, Ryan sat back and considered how to approach the issue. A few moments of thought, and she jumped in. "I guess I donít understand why you want to take golf lessons at all, much less on our honeymoon. I mean, itís not like youíre not good enough already."

"Thanks," Jamie smiled, deciding to take her compliments as she found them. "Iím sure it seems that way, but there are some big flaws in my game. Chip thinks Iíve really improved, and he wants to work with me a little bit to develop a better fade. I like to work with him, and heís available, and I guess I just wasnít thinking." She started to reach for Ryanís hand, but remembered where they were and drew back. "I shouldnít have been making any plans without consulting you, Honey. Iím gonna cancel."

"No, no, no," Ryan insisted. "Iím clueless about this, but I want to understand. Why do you want to improve your game?"

"Well he thinks, and I stress the Ďheí, that I could maybe play for Cal this year," she said with an embarrassed smirk.

"Is that something youíd like to do?" Ryan asked, having never considered that her partner had an aspiration to play golf competitively.

"I think I would," she admitted. "I really didnít want to stop playing after high school, but I wasnít able to keep up with the guys by my senior year, so I didnít even try when I first got to Berkeley."

"Why was it important that you couldnít keep up with the guys? Didnít you compete against other girlsí teams?"

"I wasnít on the girlsí team," she said with a twinkle.

"You were on the boysí team?" Ryan asked, rather shocked.

"Yeah, my school didnít offer golf for girls, so I played my butt off to finally make the team. I worked at it so hard--I was just a maniac. I had calluses on my hands so thick, I looked like a lumberjack," she laughed. "My mother thought I was insane, but Daddy was so proud of me," she said fondly.

"But you liked it for you, too, right?"

"Yeah. I did it for me too. I really like to play, and Iím pretty good at it. I like the fact that you compete mostly against the course; there arenít any judges to make subjective decisions. I also like having to be mentally tough to accomplish something."

"Wow," Ryan muttered, "this never crossed my mind."

"I wonít do it if you donít want me to, Babe." Jamie tilted her head to make eye contact with her partner.

Ryan fixed her gaze and sat still for a minute, formulating her response. "Is Chip the right guy to give you this advice?"

Jamie nodded confidently. "Heís known me for a few years, and I like his teaching style a lot. I donít think heíd lie to me, Ryan."

"Then I think you should do it," she urged. "Youíve only got a year of school left, so itís now or never. I think youíd regret not having tried, Jamie."

"Thank you for understanding," Jamie said, now giving in to her need and tracing her finger down Ryanís hand. "It means a lot to me to have your support."

"I do support you, Jamie. Iím sure you can do this, if itís something you really want."

"Maybe." The smaller woman was not as convinced at her partner seemed to be, but she was willing to give it a shot. "Iíll work with him for a while tomorrow, but I promise not to commit to any more time without talking to you first."

"Agreed," Ryan smiled, feeling fairly normal again. "I have confidence that you can do this if you work hard, Babe."

"I so enjoyed having the AIDS Ride as a goal," the smaller woman mused. "I feel like I need a new goal now that itís over."

"Thatís a good point," Ryan smiled. "I might need to reassess my goals too."

"What do you mean?" Jamie asked.

"Youíll just have to wait and see, Cupcake," she said with a grin as their food was delivered.

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

Continued in Part 7

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