I Found My Heart in San Francisco

Book 3: Coalescence

By S X Meagher

 

Disclaimers: See Part 1


 

***Part 8***

Ryan walked up the stairs, bright and early on Wednesday morning, balancing a heavy tray loaded with food. It was filled with a big, steaming bowl of oatmeal covered with cream and brown sugar, several bananas, two bagels with a slab of cream cheese, a big bowl of sliced pineapple, two large glasses of orange juice and a pot of coffee. As she gingerly pushed open the door, she expected to find her sleeping lover spread out across the bed, just as she had left her an hour and a half before. To her surprise, she found Jamie sitting up with a happy smile on her face, freshly showered and very much alert. The grinning blonde was obviously naked, but the top sheet was pulled up to her armpits and neatly folded over. Ryanís heart skipped a beat when she considered the treasures hidden under that thin cotton barrier. "Well, well, well," she said, grinning at Jamie, "My little princess has arisen."

"I guess Iíd better either get used to waking up alone or learn to get up before dawn, huh?"

"If you want to start running with me in the morning, youíll have to. Otherwise, it doesnít make much sense to get up for no purpose."

"Would you like me to run with you?" she asked, perplexed by the statement. "I thought you needed your time alone."

Ryan thought about that for a while. "Iím not sure," she finally admitted. "Part of me would like you to run with me, because I like to be with you constantly." She cocked her head slightly and continued. "But I do especially like the solitude when I am alone just before dawn. I think about things, say my prayers and stuff like that. I donít know if I want to talk while I run."

"Are you implying that you donít think I could run and not talk?" Jamie was slightly miffed that her lover would imply she couldnít run silently.

"Sweetie, you even talk in your sleep," she said with a grin.

"I most certainly do not!"

"You most certainly do," she insisted firmly. "Last night, it was something like, "Oh yeah, thatís it, harder, harder!" Ryan wiggled her eyebrows and laughed at Jamieís stunned expression.

"Are you really being serious?" she asked quietly.

"Yes, honey, you were dreaming about having sex, and you were providing me with a little commentary."

Jamie raised her knees and crossed her arms over them, dropping her head to rest on her folded forearms. "Oh, God, Iím so embarrassed."

Ryan went over to the bed and sat down, running her hand over her partnerís thigh. "Why are you embarrassed?"

"Itís not like Iím not getting enough sex; why do I dream about it, too?"

Ryan ran a calming hand through her hair, stoking her softly. "I donít think thatís odd at all, Babe. I think youíre just discovering your sexuality, Jamie. And I donít just mean the lesbian thing. I think youíre just learning to be a lot freer with how you express yourself. Itís probably on your mind a lot, and youíre working through some of your issues in your dreams. Itís perfectly natural, Sweetie. And darned erotic, I must admit," she said with a waggling eyebrow.

"Really?" Jamie shyly lifted her head just a bit to ascertain that her partner was being sincere.

"Really," Ryan said slowly, wondering how the admission she was about to make was going to be received. "When you were sleeptalking last night, IÖ uhÖ actually ran my hand down between your legs. You were really ready, if you know what I mean." She moistened her lips, then made her confession. "I really wanted to touch you, but it seemed kinda wrong, so I put my arms around you, and you quieted down."

Jamie dropped her eyes to stare at the sheets as she mumbled, "Iíd like to wake up like that."

"With me touching you in your sleep?" Ryan inquired softly, lightly trailing her fingers up and down Jamieís leg.

"Yeah, IÖ think Iíd like itÖa lot."

She was blushing so furiously that Ryan immediately sought to reassure her. Scooting over, she wrapped Jamie in her arms, "Then the next time that happens, and I hope itís soon, you will be thoroughly touched!" Thatís a promise it will be a pleasure to keep, she thought, indulging in the fantasy for a few moments while her partner snuggled into her body. Getting back to the original topic, Ryan sat up and ran her fingers through Jamieís hair, fluffing the bangs away from her eyes. "Now, would you like to get up and run with me, or sleep a little longer?"

"I guess that running doesnít really sound like that much fun if I canít talk," she admitted. "I think Iíll just stay in bed and give you a darn good reason to come home."

"That should improve my time significantly," Ryan said with a grin. She rose and grabbed the breakfast tray, placing it across Jamieís outstretched legs. "Start on this while I take a shower." Lovingly, she kissed her cheek, then issued a warning, underscored by the narrowing of her eyes. "But youíd better leave some for me."

"How could I not?" Jamie protested, as she looked at the feast.

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

Ryan emerged from the shower just a few minutes later. Her hair was twisted up in a knot and secured to the back of her head with a large metal clip. She was still a little damp, and she dried her body briskly with a fluffy white towel as she came back into the bedroom, rubbing so thoroughly that her skin glowed pink under her bronze tan. Jamie watched her with deep interest, musing that she watched her lover perform the most mundane task with a focus that she could rarely muster otherwise--even for topics that fascinated her. "I like your hair up like that," the smaller woman said thoughtfully.

"Do you?" Ryan inquired. "You can play with my hair any time you like. I donít spend much time on it, but you are certainly welcome to." She walked back into the bath to hang up her towel, casually mentioning, "Actually, I was thinking about getting it cut."

"WHAT!?"

"Um...I was thinking about getting it cut?" she said once again, but more hesitantly this time, unsure of the reason behind Jamieís outburst.

"You mean just the ends, right?" The look on Jamieís face was near panic.

"Noooo."

Jamieís voice rose to a somewhat louder volume. "You mean just a couple of inches, right?"

"Nooooo."

"How much?" Jamie finally demanded, getting up on her knees and putting her hands on her hips.

Ryan knew it was her turn to speak, but her stark naked lover was proving to be too much of a distraction for her to consider her reply. She shook her head and gazed at the ceiling so that she could respond. "I was thinking a little shorter than yours," she admitted, flinching a bit at her partnerís immediate reaction.

Jamie was off the bed in a flash. She grasped her loverís dark head in her hands, shaking her own in negation. "I canít let you do that, Ryan. Iím sorry, but I just canít."

"Are you being serious?" Ryan asked, the demonstration taking her completely by surprise.

"Totally," Jamie said as she closed her eyes. "I always thought guys were nuts when they made such a big deal about long hair. But I really, really love it. I love to run my hands through it, I love it when it brushes against my breasts, I love how it settles around your shoulders and looks kind of wild, I love grabbing it with my hands to guide your head...." She shook her head slowly and looked at Ryan rather helplessly, "I really love it, Baby. I know itís your hair, but I really, really love it."

Ryan had no interest in altering an attribute that obviously meant so much to her partner, so she immediately agreed to the request. "Okay, Sweetie," she soothed. "I wonít get it cut unless you agree. I wouldnít want to deprive you of so muchÖlove." Fond smile in place, Ryan leaned in and gave her a kiss to seal the promise. "You just never cease to amaze me," she said with delight. Still smiling, she pulled the tray from Jamieís lap and dug in. Between bites of oatmeal, she looked carefully at her partner. "Come to think of it, Iíve not seen you with long hair. Maybe I need you to grow yours out," she added with a taunting smile.

"Okay, okay, fairís fair." Jamie went and pulled an album from a large, built-in bookcase. They sat on the big window seat overlooking the wide expanse of lawn and started to look through the photos while Ryan continued to munch on the remaining breakfast.

Pointing at a photo of the family in what appeared to be a game room, Ryan commented. "Can I look around the house later on? Youíve had me locked in either the bedroom or the kitchen for two days. I havenít seen any of the other rooms."

Jamie laughed at the image of Ryan trapped as her love slave, shaking her head roughly when the image became too appealing for her comfort. "Yes, Sweetie," she said, forcing her mind back to the topic. "We can do anything you want today."

Ryan thumbed through the album while she finished her breakfast, smiling at the pictures of her lover in her younger days. The photos were almost exclusively from her high school years, and Ryan was charmed by the youthful innocence in Jamieís face. "You looked so young in high school," she said.

"Donít I know it! I looked like I was 12 until I was 18! Luckily, by senior year I started to mature a little bit. See?" She pointed out a picture from late in her senior year. "Itís like I grew up all in one year."

"Mmm, you grew in more ways than one," Ryan said appreciatively, trailing a fingertip down the developing curves on the picture of her lover. With a sly smile working around the corners of her mouth, Ryan tilted her head and ran that same finger down the curves that had now fully developed and were so perfectly exposed to her tender touch.

"Yes, my popularity increased in direct proportion to my breast size," she admitted, patting Ryanís cheek fondly.

"You must have been the most popular girl in the entire Bay Area," Ryan declared solemnly, bending her head to place a gentle kiss on the focus of their discussion.

Jamie giggled and pushed her partner away when the kisses continue to rain down on her. "Down, girl," she ordered through her laughter. "We donít have time to finish what youíre about to start."

With a tiny pout now replacing her smile, Ryan mumbled, "I never get to have any fun."

"I know," Jamie said with her voice full of mock sympathy. "Iíll try to make it up to you later, Honey." Waggling eyebrows indicated just how reparations would be made. When Ryanís grin was once again restored, Jamie switched back to the previous topic. "When did you reach your rather impressive height?"

"Hmmm, Iíd say that, except for my last growth spurt, I looked about the same from 8th grade on. I could have gone into a bar when I was 16."

"And I bet you did," Jamie said teasingly, as she pinched her on the waist.

"Not until I was 17," she corrected, squirming away from Jamieís pinch. "I donít know, Jamie. You look pretty good with long hair. I might enjoy wrapping my fingers in your locks, too, and feeling their silky softness as they brush over myÖ"

"If you really want me to, Iíd grow it long for you," Jamie interrupted agreeably. "Iíd just had long hair my whole life, and I wanted a change."

"Do you like it short?"

"I like not having to bother with it. I donít have to blow it dry if I donít want to, and it is a lot cooler," she admitted.

"I think you should wear it the way you like it. But if you did let it grow, I sure wouldnít complain," she said with wiggling eyebrows. One of the last pictures was obviously from senior prom. A much more mature young woman was standing next to a tall, dark-haired young man who was quite handsome.

"Whoís this lucky devil?" Ryan scowled slightly at the boy, feeling territorialism rear its ugly head.

"Scott Hastings," Jamie said thoughtfully. "We dated most of my senior yearÖ When he wasnít two timing me, that is."

"You stood for that!" Ryan cried, shocked that her self-assured partner would tolerate such disrespect.

"Yeah, I guess I did," she admitted. "In retrospect, it was just because I didnít care all that much. He was fun and didnít put a lot of pressure on me to have sexÖprobably because he was getting it from someone else," she added with a wry laugh.

"I guess we were both searching for something at this age," Ryan mused. "We just went about it in very different ways."

"Yeah, I guess thatís right," she agreed, with a pensive look. "Iím just glad that our searching led us to each other." Several long, tender kisses communicated her gratitude.

"Me too." Ryan pulled away from the kisses when her desire began to flare once again, remembering Jamieís warning about their time constraints. "Do you have any pictures from when you were really little?" she asked as she flipped through the pages. "I want to see your mom when she was your age."

"Sure." She went back to the bookcase and studied the contents. "Jamie Evans, the early years," she intoned dramatically, pulling out a big binder and handing it to Ryan.

"I noticed at the AIDS Ride that your father is pretty tall," Ryan commented as she opened the binder.

Jamie, unaware that she was being set up, looked up at Ryan with the question in her eyes, then she voiced, "And?"

"Um...what happened?" Only Ryanís quick reflexes saved her from the firm swat that Jamie directed at her abdomen.

"Nothing happened," Jamie retorted with narrowed eyes. "Iím just small gened. Iíll have you know that my mother is more height challenged than I am."

"Itís not a challenge, Jamie," Ryan said, the sincerity of her words mirrored in her eyes. "I think we fit together beautifully. I wouldnít change one thing about you."

"Nor I you," her beaming partner agreed.

Ryan closely studied all of the pictures of a tiny little Jamie being brought home from the hospital, shots of her being baptized by her grandfather, and some adorable ones of her covered in food while she attempted to feed herself. There was one poignant picture of Jamieís mother sitting by her crib, her arms crossed and resting on the top rail as she gazed lovingly at her tiny baby. She clearly didnít know that she was being photographed and, judging from her weary face, she had been in that exact position for quite a while. There was something so familiar about her expression that Ryan felt like she was looking at her lover, even though their features were not terribly similar.

"You may have your motherís height, but you look a lot more like your father than your mom," she observed quietly, still staring intently at the photo. "Except in this one picture." Ryan tapped her finger on the image, a little furrow in her brow. "Here, she has the exact same expression Iíve seen many times on your face. Itís nice to see you in another person. Do you know what I mean?"

She could tell that Ryan was thinking about her own mother by the distant, bereft look that invariably clouded her face when she thought of her. "I do." Jamie scooted a little closer to her partner and snaked an arm around her waist. "Do you share any features with your mom?"

A short shake of her head signaled both her lack of common features and her desire not to talk about the matter any further. Jamie honored her wish, giving her a squeeze to let her know she understood.

Looking at the album again, Ryan turned to a photo of Jim at his law school graduation. "Youíve got your fatherís nose and his chin. And your grin is identical to his," she said fondly, turning her gaze from the picture to Jamieís grinning face. "He has green eyes too, doesnít he?"

"Yeah, motherís are a nice deep brown. They look good with her blonde hair."

"So you get your hair color and your height from your mom?"

It seemed important to Ryan to learn more about her mother, so Jamie gave the question some serious thought. "Yeah, thatís about it, physically, donít you think?"

Before giving her opinion, Ryan studied another photo, this one of both of Jamieís parents. Catherine was a little shorter than Jamie and much smaller boned. She actually looked a little frail, being quite thin and not very muscular. Her face was quite striking, with a delicate nose and prominent cheekbones. She was a beautiful young woman, and she and Jim made a very striking pair. He was tall--about 6í3", Ryan guessed--with broad shoulders and a trim waist. He looked like a jock with his casual stance, appearing very comfortable in his body. His hair was a sandy brown and he had an easy smile and twinkling eyes, very much like Jamieís. "Your parents are a very handsome couple," Ryan observed as she looked up at Jamie.

"Yeah, I guess they are," she agreed. "Daddy looks his age now, I guess from how hard he works. But Mother looks quite a lot like she did then," she observed. "She spends a lot of time on her appearance, and I guess it has paid off."

"Do you think theyíll like me?" Ryan asked quietly, a small frown playing at her forehead.

Jamie thought about that question for a long while. She looked at Ryan carefully as she answered, "If they were to get to know you as my friend, Iím certain they would. Youíre terribly charming, you know," she said with a smile. "But if their first opportunity to really know you is as my lover...I donít know. I really donít know, Ryan." She looked down at her hands, fervently wishing that she could reassure her partner, but being completely unable to do so.

"Are they open minded about things in general?" Ryanís tone was gentle and reflective, but Jamie could still hear the longing in her voice.

"In a way they are," she replied, trying to put a good spin on her answer. "Iím certain that Mother has a host of gay men in her retinue. She has a number of people who cater to her needs, you know, her hairdresser, her interior designer. Iím guessing she doesnít know many lesbians, though. Sheís pretty straight, and really proper about things in general."

"Hmm, I thought sheíd be kindaÖI donít knowÖkinda laid back," Ryan conjectured. "I mean, sheís almost 15 years younger than Da, and she was raised in the Bay Area during a pretty wild timeÖ"

"She seems to have escaped the 60ís unscathed," Jamie said dryly. "She was at Stanford, in a very conservative sorority, and I donít think she experienced a lot before she met my father."

"Surely sheís tolerant about homosexuality in general, right?" Ryan asked, hoping that the Evansesí views would reflect the usual Bay Area tolerance towards gays.

"Yeah, I think so. I donít think sheíll be bothered by the homosexual aspect of our relationship, per se. I think the issue will be that this makes me Ďdifferentí. She doesnít like me to stand out in a crowd, even for good things. I think it really bothered her that I was on the boysí golf team. I donít think she wanted me to call attention to myself like that."

"What about your father?"

"I donít know, Honey. Heís changed recently, and that has me confused about his reaction. Heís a big supporter of the Democratic Party, so it seems like he should be pretty liberal. Heís a big advocate of Mayor Brown, and as you know, the Mayor is positively gaga about gay issues." Ryan nodded her assent to this assessment. "A year ago, I would have said that Daddy would be completely cool with my being gay, but heís said some things this year that have really bothered me. He made a big deal about one of the partners bringing his lover to a firm party. It really surprised me, and I think he said it purposely because he knew I was friends with you," she said sadly.

"Did you tell him that I was gay?" Ryan silently hoped that her lover had been honest about her.

"Yeah, I think I told him right after we started working out together."

Ryan breathed a small sigh of relief and felt the muscles relax that she didn't know she'd been tightening. "Thatís not an encouraging sign," she agreed. "But, he was very friendly to me after the ride. He knew I was gay, and he knew we were together constantly for a week."

The look on her face was so filled with hope that Jamie felt her heart clench in her chest. She reached up and took both of Ryanís hands in hers. "Ryan, I want them to approve of us. I truly want them to like you. But if they donít, it wonít change one thing between us. I promise you that."

Ryan graced her with a fond smile and tilted her head to place a gentle kiss on her lips. "I appreciate that, Jamie. I know this might be tough, but one thing Iíve learned from working at the talk line is that youíre usually surprised by your parentsí reaction. Sometimes itís a good surprise, sometimes itís bad, but itís usually a surprise."

"Well, thatís something to look forward to," she said with a wry smile rolling her eyes. She got up and stretched, then put the album back. "So, what do you want to do today?"

"Itís up to you, Sweetness. You pick."

"Well, Iíve got a golf lesson at ten. Maybe lunch and some shopping after that?"

"Shopping?" Ryan repeated weakly, looking a little ill.

"Come on," Jamie urged. "Itíll be fun."

Ryan sighed deeply and shook her head a little bit. "You know," she said slowly, "If youíre going to be a real lesbian, youíre gonna have to stop the shopping thing."

Jamieís nonplussed expression caused Ryan to pull back from her teasing. "Hey, that was a joke, Babe. Thereís room in the lesbian community for a shop-a-holic."

The absent nod that greeted that comment showed that Jamie was still bothered by the joke, though, so Ryan tried to draw her out. "Tell me why that upset you," she insisted. " ĎCause I know it did."

Jamie patted her hand, nodding briefly as she tried to collect her thoughts. It took longer than Ryan was comfortable with, but Jamie finally got to the issue. "IímÖIím not sure that I like that term," she finally said.

"What term?" Ryan asked, trying to remember the exact terms she had used. "Shop-a-holic?"

"No, no," Jamie said quickly, "that oneís accurate." She drew in a deep breath and turned to face her partner fully. "Iím not sure I like being called a lesbian."

A very deep head nod greeted this information. "Okay, I promise I wonít use that term for you again," Ryan said clearly. Her stomach did a small flip, but she had a feeling that her partnerís reaction was mostly a question of semantics.

"ButÖ"Jamie asked plaintively, "what am I, if Iím not a lesbian?" The look on her face reminded Ryan of a four-year-old who has just discovered there is no Easter Bunny.

"Youíre you," Ryan assured her, as she took her in her arms and hugged her tightly. "You donít need a designation to be you. Youíre the same you that you were before we kissed for the first time. The term doesnít make you who you are, Jamie."

"But you have one," Jamie complained, her words muffled slightly by the skin of her partnerís shoulder.

Ryan smiled and patted her blonde hair in an affectionate fashion. "Thatís because thatís what I feel like, Honey," she explained. "I have always been exclusively attracted to women. If I were stranded on a remote island with 100 good-looking men and no women, Iíd never have sex with a partner again. It actually feels wrong to me to even think about being with a man. When I was a kid, and people would tell me that Iíd get married some day, I would actually shiver a little at the thought. It just seemed perverse!"

"Really?" Jamie asked, now fascinated by Ryanís vehemence. "You would honestly go without sex for the rest of your life rather than have a man touch you?"

"Yeah," Ryan said confidently. "I love men, as you well know. I feel completely comfortable being with themÖbut the thought of touching them sexually is actually repugnant to me."

"Thatís a pretty strong reaction, Honey," Jamie said, smiling at her with a bemused grin.

"No itís not." Ryan gave her a quizzical look and tried to make her point clearer. "Take my brothers as an example. Iím sure they would do without sex if the only option was other men." After a beat, she corrected her statement just a bit as she added with a chuckle, "Well, Conor would find some way to rationalize it, but Brendan and Rory wouldnít."

Jamie laughed at her partnerís comments, fully able to see Conor trying to find the most feminine looking man in the bunch. "Your point was what?" she asked, after removing the image of Conor and his new boyfriend from her mind.

"My sexual orientation towards women is just as firmly affixed as my brothersí. But because Iím a woman, and a manís parts fit into me, itís hard for people to believe that. Even you," she said with a flash of hurt passing across her face.

Jamie sat back and stared at her partner for a moment as she forced herself to admit that it did seem like an entirely different thing to her. "Iím sorry, Babe," she said, trying to apologize, but not really knowing what to say. "I guess I have some preconceived notions that make this hard for me to understand."

Ryanís expression softened, and she wrapped her arm around Jamieís shoulders, giving her a good squeeze. "Itís okay, Honey. It just bothers me sometimes when you donít completely understand me. Itís no big deal."

"I justÖI guess I assume that you could be with men if you so chose. But I couldnít imagine your brothers, or Jack, or my father having sex with a man. I guess it is a double standard."

"Thanks for acknowledging that," Ryan said with a smile. "I know this is complex, Honey. We just have to keep talking about it so we understand each other better."

"Well, I feel funny not to feel like you do," she added after a minute. "Itís like I donít belong in the club."

"No, no, no," Ryan said emphatically. "You donít have to feel any particular way or call yourself any particular thing, Jamie. You are who you are...with or without a label."

"Have you been with other women without labels?" she asked tentatively.

Ryan smiled indulgently and gave her a gentle squeeze. "You know I have, Babe. You know I dated that woman who was in a relationship with a guy. Iím sure she would never call herself a lesbian."

"Is she the only one?" Jamie asked, hoping that many others shared her feelings.

"Of course not. Iíve been with women who fall everywhere on the continuum of sexual orientation. Itís very, very difficult for many women to pick a spot they feel comfortable with on that scale, Jamie. Itís much easier for a woman like me, who canít imagine being with a man."

"So it doesnít bother you that Iíve been attracted to men?" she asked in a timid tone.

"Ummm, Honey," Ryan gently reminded her. "Something about that engagement thing gave me a clue that you liked men. This isnít a surprise to me."

"Oh, Ryan, you know what I mean," she insisted.

"No, Babe, I really donít," Ryan replied. "Tell me what bothers you about this."

"WhatÖI meanÖumÖwhat if I still like men," she asked in a very quiet voice.

"Well, why wouldnít you?" Ryan asked warily. "That doesnít mean that you want to sleep with them, does it?"

"No, of course not," Jamie said immediately. "I justÖ"

"Look, Honey. I like womenÖa lot. If we werenít together, Iíd probably still be dating as many women as I could get my hot little hands on. But Iím committed to you. So my attraction to other women stays strong, but my desire to be with them is almost nonexistent."

"Almost?" Jamieís brow arched severely.

"Hey, weíre being honest, right?" she grinned, but her grin faded when she saw the hurt in her partnerís eyes. "I would never want to be with another woman, Jamie," she insisted. "But I still notice them. Iíll always notice them," she predicted. "And I assume Iíll always have a slight physical reaction when Iím with an attractive woman. Just like you might have a reaction to being around a good-looking man."

"Thatís a laugh," Jamie chided her gently. "All of the good-looking men Iím around look just like you!"

"Thatís all part of my evil plan to keep you focused on me alone," Ryan laughed. "But seriously, Honey, how does this sit with you?"

"Okay, I guess," she said rather unconvincingly. "I suppose I just thought that Iíd feel differently when we got together."

"No, Babe, being with a woman doesnít erase your true self. Youíre exactly who you were before you fell in love with me. Youíre just discovering facets to your sexual orientation that you werenít aware of before."

"Well, one thing Iím sure of," she said with a smile. "My orientation is firmly and irrevocably pointed in your direction!"

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

The golf lesson with Chip was a success for both women. Chip worked with Jamie patiently and, after a solid hour of hitting balls, her fade was significantly improved. Ryan split her time between the putting green and sitting on the ground behind Chip and Jamie, watching her intently. She loved to watch her partner swing a golf club. She particularly liked the way she twitched her hips just a bit right before she began her swing. After they were finished, Chip offered to give Ryan a few more tips on sand play. She gratefully accepted, and they spent a good half hour in the practice bunker. Jamie joined them, also offering some tips. After hitting at least 100 balls, Ryan was making real progress, but once again she had sand in places that she most definitely didnít want it. They thanked Chip for his time and, after they made another appointment for Friday, Jamie went into the pro shop to sign the lesson chit.

"Are you going to play again this week?" Chip asked Ryan as they waited.

"Iím playing with my brother on Saturday," she replied, "but Iím not sure if Jamie and I will play again this week. I guess we could play on Friday if we have time, but we havenít discussed it." She mentally crossed her fingers, hoping not to set foot on the course until Saturday.

"Does your brother play well?"

"Heís a lot better than me, but not as good as Jamie," she replied.

"Would you mind if I joined you if I donít have a lesson then?"

"Iíd love it, and Iím sure Conor would love a few tips, too. Weíve got a 10:45 time, so if you can make it, weíll see you then," she said agreeably.

Chip sauntered off, and Ryan looked after him for a moment. Heís not such a bad guy, she thought. Heís a little too interested in Jamie for my taste, but he does seem like a patient and knowledgeable teacher. I guess I just need to get used to guys drooling over her. God knows I do!

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

Continued in Part 9

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