I Found My Heart in San Francisco

Book 1: Awakenings

By: S X Meagher

Disclaimers: See Chapter 1

Feedback: I enjoy hearing from people who have enjoyed the story. If you have a comment or a question please let me know. Specific feedback is greatly appreciated. If a particular character or scene worked or did not work for you, let me know. I might even kill someone off if you ask really nicely.


Chapter 3

During the next few days Jamie checked out 4 potential gyms. All were reasonably close to her home, but they were vastly different. Her first stop was at Miaís club in North Berkeley. It was a rather toney, expensive place but Mia really liked it. She arranged for a visit and agreed to accompany Jamie.

Jamie agreed that the facilities were top notch but she hated the atmosphere. It was filled with young professionals and a few members of the Junior League set. Most of the people were quite good looking and very fit. There was a juice bar that was filled with people checking each other out while trying not to be obvious about it. The locker rooms were very nicely appointed, but it reminded Jamie of the girlsí rest room in high school during a dance. Women were comparing notes on which guys were there and who was dating whom. The dressing area was populated by women fixing their hair and adjusting their perfectly matched outfits prior to their workouts. Jamie realized that she might have chosen this place a few months ago but now she really wanted to work out--not socialize.

Next she looked at a club that was very close to campus and open 24 hours. It was fairly nice also, but she learned that she could not bring in her own trainer. That rules that out.

Next was a club that was inexpensive and populated by serious weightlifters. Maybe later, but right now this place would intimidate me.

Much to her surprise her favorite club was small, a bit out of the way and women only. ĎWomen Powerí was obviously for women who were serious about working out. There was a small locker room that held only thatólockers. No showers, no saunas, no Jacuzzis. But there was a dazzling assortment of free weights and well maintained weight machines. There were 5 elliptical cross trainers, 7 treadmills, 5 stair climbers, 5 recumbent bikes and 5 upright bikes. The women seemed friendly, but most of them were very serious about their workouts. The staff was all women also and what Jamie liked most was that she was free to bring Ryan for only $10 per visit. She also really appreciated that there was a clear price schedule for membership. No hard sell, no Ďspecial only if you sign up todayí garbage. They merely explained the price and asked her if she wanted a 1-week guest pass to try out the facilities. She happily accepted and called Ryan as soon as she got home to relay her findings.

Ryan had been unimpressed with the branch of her club in Oakland. So she agreed to meet Jamie at ĎWomen Powerí to try it out. They decided to meet on Friday afternoon. Ryan was free from 2-6 p.m. so they agreed to meet at 2:30 since Jamie was free anytime after noon.

Jamie picked her up at their normal meeting place and they slogged through Friday afternoon Berkeley traffic to reach the gym. They had previously arranged for Ryan to take BART to campus that morning; that way Jamie could drop her off at work on the way to Palo Alto. As they muddled along a thought occurred to Jamie. "Have you eaten today?" she inquired suspiciously.

"Um, not really", Ryan sheepishly admitted. "I did have breakfast, but I havenít had any other breaks today. Why? Is my stomach grumbling?"

"Why didnít you say something?" Jamie asked with an exasperated tone.

"I know you wanted to check this place out and I didnít want to slow you down. I can get something before work. Itís really no big deal."

"Oh please!" Jamie smirked. "The way you eat, missing a meal must be catastrophic to your system! Your poor stomach must be leading a revolt right at this minute."

"Itís not that bad," Ryan said as she looked at the site of the possible rebellion. "Although," she patted her stomach as she leaned her head down to listen, "I do hear the faint signs of discord."

Jamie glanced at her watch as she shot Ryan an amiable grin. "Itís only 2:35 now. If youíre due at work by 6 we donít have to leave the East Bay until 5:30. If youíre not going to work out an hour and a half should be enough to decide if we like this place. We could easily spare an hour for you to eat."

"Gosh, it all sounds so easy when you say it like that," Ryan admitted as she closed her eyes. "I do so love lunch," she purred with pleasure.

As Ryan completed her statement Jamie looked at the sensual smile on her face and realized with a bit of surprise that Ryan no longer flirted with her. Thatís kind of weird. She was so flirty when we met and now she is just like any of my other friends. I wonder what changed? Maybe she really got the message that I was straight. I guess I should be thankfulóitís a lot more comfortable to be with her now. But still...

"Hey, anybody home in there?" Ryan asked in inquiry.

"Oh, sorry. What were you saying?"

"I just wondered where you wanted to stop. Now that you brought it up I have to feed the beast or there will be trouble," she again patted her stomach as she grinned.

"What are you in the mood for? We can get you almost anything around here." Jamie waved her hand at the plethora of restaurants on the surrounding streets.

"Hmmm," Ryanís eyes closed in concentration. One blue eye popped open momentarily as she asked warily, "I can have anything I want?"

"Yep. Anything," Jamie answered authoritatively.

Jamie glanced at the intense look of pleasurable concentration on Ryanís face and had to smother a laugh. She could almost see the panoply of international dishes floating through her imagination.

Finally, Ryanís eyes opened fully and she said with barely contained glee, "Chinese."

"Chinese it is," Jamie replied. "And I know just the place."

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

Ryan sat with a steaming bowl of hot and sour soup in front of her and a blissful look on her face. "This is divine, Jamie. How do you know so many good restaurants?"

"I like to eat too, Ryan. Not as much as you do, but I can hold my own. You should get me down to the Peninsula or the South Bay. I think I have been to every restaurant within 20 miles of Hillsborough. My dad was never home for dinner, and my mother loves to try new places so we cut a swath though the whole area. A place canít be open for more than a week before my mother hits it."

"That could not be more different from my experience. My family doesnít go to a restaurant more than once or twice a year and that is only under duress," she added.

"You know, Ryan, I really donít know much about your family. Whoís at home with you?"

"Well, thereís my father, Martin, my oldest brother Brendan who doesnít officially live with us, but heís always there for meals, my brothers Conor and Rory and me, Iím the baby. Oops, I almost forgot my dog, Duffy, I guess heís really the baby."

"What about your mother?" Jamie asked tentatively.

"My mother is dead," Ryan stated without explanation as she bent her head to concentrate on her soup.

"Iím sorry to hear that," Jamie stated sincerely. She wasnít sure if Ryan wanted to discuss it but she asked, "Has she been dead long?"

"Yeah."

Jamie continued to look at the top of Ryanís head. When the deep blue eyes lifted Ryan realized that the question was still open so she elaborated, "16 years in December."

"My God, Ryan, you were just a baby!" Jamie cried with alarm.

Her previously somber face eased into a small smile as she demurred, "Well, not quite a baby, but I had just turned 7."

"Oh Ryan, that must have been devastating for you," she said with sympathy.

Ryan paused for a moment, as if considering the idea. "I donít think devastating covers it, to tell you the truth. Losing your mother changes everything. I donít know if I would be a better or worse person, but I know I would be different if she was still alive," she said thoughtfully.

"How did it happen?" Jamie asked softly.

"She had breast cancer," she replied. After a moment she looked contemplative and continued, "You know, itís funny. She was only 30 years old when she was diagnosed. She had no family history; she was thin; she ate a healthy diet; she had children when she was young; and she had good medical care. And she was dead in 4 years," she said as she looked up at Jamie with a lost look in those deep blue eyes.

Jamie wasnít able to say a word. She just reached over and tightly gripped Ryanís hand as she looked into her eyes with empathy. They sat like that for a few minutes, sharing their feelings with their eyes alone. Ryan had never looked smaller, younger or more vulnerable. Jamie thought her heart would break at the feelings she could plainly see in her friendís eyes. A solitary tear leaked out of Jamieís eyes and Ryan reached over somewhat tentatively to wipe it away with a finger.

"Wow, I donít know where that came from," Ryan sighed as she leaned back in her chair. "I guess Iím feeling sadder than normal because her birthday is coming up."

"Do you remember her well?" Jamie asked, not wanting to let go of this intimate moment.

"Yeah, I do," Ryan said with a small smile gracing her lips. "She was basically sick from the time I can remember, but she tried so hard to be there for me. I still donít know how she did it." She smiled sadly as she shook her head briefly. Iím really lucky in that my family talks about her a lot. Although sometimes I donít know if I really have all these memories or if I remember her through their eyes. I guess it doesnít matter in the end though," she said simply.

"Your father never remarried?" Jamie inquired.

"Remarried!" Ryan laughed. Heís never had a date that I know of. I guess he wasnít much of a catch when we were young. Who wants a man with 4 wild kids whoís away from home for 3 days at a time?"

"You were left alone that much?" Jamie asked with alarm.

"No, we werenít alone much at all until the boys got old enough to take care of me. We have a gaggle of aunts and cousins who all live in the City, many of them within walking distance. While my mother was sick and for the first few years after her death someone stayed with us when my father was at work. After a while, Brendan was old enough to be in charge. Iím sure it was hard on him, but he never complained," she said reflectively.

"How old are your brothers?"

"Roryís 25, Conorís two years older than him and Brendanís two years older than Conor."

"Are you okay talking about all of this?" Jamie asked gently.

"Yeah, I am with you," she replied with a little shy smile as she looked up at Jamie through her hooded eyes. "I donít talk about her much with people outside of the family, but it feels good to talk about it with someone who isnít as invested as we all are."

Jamie smiled at this admission and realized that she still gripped Ryanís hand. She blushed a little as her hand released, only to have Ryan reclaim it with both of hers. "Thanks for caring, Jamie," she said as they locked eyes.

Their server interrupted the moment as he appeared carrying plates of pan fried noodles, Szechwan green beans, and stir fried broccoli with mushrooms.

Ryan rubbed her hands together with a big smile as she waited for the plates to land. By the time the server had departed her chopsticks were ready for action. She dug in enthusiastically as Jamie watched with amazement. Ryan didnít eat particularly quickly. But once she started, she did not slow down for a moment. She kept up a steady cadence that was not interrupted by unnecessary speech. She paid attention to Jamie, but mostly nodded and shook her head as required. Jamie understood that Ryan needed her mouth to eat rather than talk so she kept up a running monologue, mostly about school and her classes.

After Ryan had finished every bite she leaned back in her chair in a pleasant post-prandial haze. Jamie regarded her with a smirk. "Do your brothers eat as much as you do?" she asked.

"More, much more. Dinner time at our house is not for the faint hearted," she admitted gravely.

"I would love to witness that," Jamie laughed.

"That can certainly be arranged," Ryan replied with one waggling eyebrow.

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

Jamie was pleased with Ryanís appraisal of the gym. "This place is the bomb, Jamie," she said with a big grin on her tanned face.

"I really like it too," Jamie agreed. "Shall we get to work?" Jamie was wearing an emerald and navy blue sports bra over matching thigh length nylon shorts, exposing her completely to Ryanís considered gaze. Those blue eyes wandered up and down her lithe form for another minute or two. She began to shift nervously as she finally said, "I feel like a deer in the headlights, Ryan."

"Oh, sorry," Ryan said with a grin. "I was just trying to get an impression of your current musculature."

"Itís that bad?" Jamie asked tentatively.

"No, of course not," Ryan assured her. "In fact you really have a great body. But you can definitely use some more muscle here," she ran her long cool fingers down both of Jamieís shoulders, stopping at her elbows, "and here," another pair of gentle tracings down the front of her thighs. "Now we havenít talked about this much, but have you thought about whether you really want to change your body?"

"What do you mean?" Jamie inquired warily.

"Nothing bad," Ryan giggled a little at her expression. "Itís just that some women donít think itís womanly to show muscle. And some men donít like it either. I just wondered how your fiancé felt about you looking buff."

Jamie realized that this was the first time they had ever discussed Jack and his proprietary interest in her body. But she was quite sure she did not like the implication. "He doesnít get a vote," she replied firmly. "My bodyómy choice. Besides, I think women look great with muscles. I think they enhance femininity so long as theyíre natural looking." Jamie had a sudden interest in seeing Ryan exposed much as she was. It occurred to her that she had never really seen her muscles. Ryan was usually pretty well covered up--much as she was today. Jamie looked at her navy blue warm ups and wondered what was underneath them. Youíd better not go there, Jamie. What was that about being glad she doesnít flirt with you any more?

"Thatís great. Iím glad youíre comfortable with this. But is there anything you would like to change? I mean if we can," Ryan added.

"Iím not sure what you mean. Are you saying I get to choose how I change?"

"To some extent, yes," Ryan agreed. There are certain areas on any body that respond more quickly to weight training. But there is some genetic predisposition that affects the final outcome," she added knowledgeably.

"So are you saying that you can project those areas on me?" Jamie quizzed.

"Kind of," Ryan said. "Do you mind me staring at you again?"

"Be my guest," she replied as a warm flush crawled up her cheeks and she tried to adopt a casual pose.

Ryan stood back a step or two and crossed her arms across her chest. Once again she stared at Jamieís body; starting at the shoulders and working her way down. "Because of your height I would guess that large leg muscles would not really look great," she observed. "And I would also guess that your legs and butt tend to get big easily." She gently squeezed the muscles at the middle of Jamieís thighs and nodded her head. "I think your quads could really get big if you liked that look. But if you didnít want that we would want to work on elongating your muscles there, rather than just making them big."

Next she placed her hands on Jamieís shoulders. "You have a nice deltoid just waiting to come out here." She placed her fingertips loosely on the tops of Jamieís shoulders again and slowly traced her thumbs over the muscles just above her breasts, "And you could develop really nice pecs. And if Iím not mistaken," she said as she ran the flat of her hand slowly down Jamieís bare abdomen, starting just under her bra and stopping just above her pubic bone, "you could have killer abs." This she said with a real twinkle in her eyes.

"How can you tell that?" Jamie asked thinly as she struggled to replace the saliva in her mouth.

"You donít have hardly any adipose tissue there. Those muscles are just dying to pop out. Me, on the other hand," she lifted her jacket and her white nylon shirt to expose her tanned abdomen, "Iíve got a pretty thick layer of fat here. No matter how much I work on my abs they canít pop out like yours will." As she spoke she grasped Jamieís hand and placed it on the warm body part in question. "Here, feel the difference." Now she placed the hand on Jamieís stomach. "See what I mean?"

Jamie was now fully involved in the exercise. "I do, I really do. Mine feels like just skin covering muscle but yours is softer." She gave Ryanís stomach a little pat, "but thereís some pretty hard muscle right under thatÖwhat do you call that tissue again?"

"Adipose tissue. Thatís trainer talk for fat." she whispered this last word right into Jamieís ear.

This received a chortle from Jamie. "I think your fat is in all the right places, Ryan."

She received a smile and a small laugh in return. "Part of the occupational requirements. Canít have an out of shape trainer."

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

After the preliminaries they worked their way from machine to machine. Ryan had a little notebook which she used to mark every machine. She carefully adjusted each machine to perfectly fit Jamie; then indicated each of these positions in her book. She then made an estimate of the weight she thought Jamie could handle, while she explained how to perform the exercise. Ryan explained that each correct movement through the exercise was called a repetition, or a rep. Ideally, Jamie would perform somewhere between 12 and 15 reps. Ryan said that Jamie should begin to feel fatigue by the 12th or 13th rep, but no sooner. If she was tired before that, the weight was too heavy. If she felt like she could do another 5 or 6 reps without a break, then it was too light.

Ryan explained that there was no easy way to figure out the perfect weight to start with. It was all trial and error. She also said that eventually Jamie would perform 3 sets of each 15 rep exercise, with a minute rest in between sets. As for now, her goal was to get Jamie comfortable with the exercise and get a feel for her capacity.

"An important thing to remember is that you need to acclimate your body slowly to this new level of stress. Donít force yourself to do things that donít feel comfortable. I want this to be pleasurable for you," she reminded Jamie.

"So whatís this I hear about Ďno pain, no gain?í " Jamie asked.

"That is true to a certain extent," Ryan admitted. "Your muscles enlarge from stress. The stress of tearing small fibers and allowing them to heal is what causes them to grow. But a slight discomfort is all you really need to feel. If you are really sore, I havenít done my job well. But you need to remember that this work is stressful. You should drink more fluid than you normally do to flush the lactic acid from your system. And eating well is pretty critical also."

As Jamie performed each of the exercises Ryan paid close attention to her form. She carefully watched her face for signs of stress or too much exertion. Ryan placed one hand at the highest point that she wanted Jamie to extend, and her other hand at the lowest. On the machines where she was forced to move a lot of weight, like the reclining leg press, Ryan gripped the foot plate in her strong hands and pulled it back to reduce the stress on Jamieís legs.

After an hour, they had covered all of the exercises for her legs. Ryan suggested they stop so that Jamie was not overwhelmed with information. Jamie agreed and shook her tired legs out. "Let me help with that," Ryan offered.

"Okay," Jamie agreed, a bit tentatively.

Ryan grabbed a floor mat and instructed her to lie down on her tummy. She grasped Jamieís foot and slowly pushed her leg toward her butt. She held that position for a few moments, and then repeated the stretch with the other foot. After instructing Jamie to turn over she gripped her foot with both hands and pushed until Jamieís knee was near her chest. Again, she held the position before she switched to the other foot. Now she gripped behind her ankle with one hand and placed a restraining hand on her knee. She pushed her leg toward her body until Jamieís butt started to lift off the floor. "Keep your butt down," she instructed. "This will give you a nice stretch in your hamstrings," she said as she indicated the back of Jamieís thigh. After she had completed the stretch, she picked Jamieís foot up and braced it against her chest. She then began to massage her thigh with strong, knowing hands. Jamie closed her eyes in pleasure as Ryanís hands kneaded her tired muscles deeply.

"Do you do this to everybody?" she asked as she slowly lifted her torso up and rested her weight on her forearms.

"Yeah, pretty much," Ryan replied.

"Then you donít charge nearly enough," she said weakly as she felt herself collapse into a boneless heap on the mat.

Ryan laughed as she offered a hand down to her, "Címon jellyfish. They frown on sleeping on the floor." As she was pulled to her feet Ryan said, "The only bad thing about this place is that there are no showers." She looked at Jamieís sweat drenched head and clothing. "You really should not drive all the way to Palo Alto in those clothes. Iím afraid youíll stiffen up."

"Itís only 4:30, we could go by my house so I could take a quick shower," she suggested.

"I think you should do that," Ryan agreed. "I could just take BART home if you donít want me to come with you," she offered hesitantly.

"Why would I..." then Jamie realized what Ryan was getting to. "Are you worried about my roommates?"

"No, Iím not worried about them. I just donít want them to hassle you about hanging out with me," Ryan stated quietly.

"Ryan, I am honored to be your friend. Anyone who doesnít like you is not worth my time," she said firmly.

Her face broke into an adorable grin as she blushed just a tiny bit. "Thanks, Jamie. That means a lot to me," she said sincerely.

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

Despite her protestations, Ryan was relieved when they entered the house and found it empty. "Iíll just sit down here and read, if thatís okay," Ryan said.

"Sure. Make yourself at home, Iíll only be a minute." Jamie started to walk up the stairs when she winced a little bit. "I think you were right about these babies tightening up," she agreed.

"Címere for a second," Ryan said. "I can loosen them up again. Itís just because you let them get cold too quickly." She directed Jamie to the area rug in the middle of the parlor. Jamie removed her sweats and lay down on the rug. Ryan once again began her strong massage. "After I get these loose, you should stay in a hot shower for a few minutes. Then they should be fine." As Ryan continued to work on her legs, the front door opened and Cassie stared at them in surprise. Ryan dropped the leg as if it burned her and immediately adopted a guilty look. Jamie looked from Ryanís face to Cassieís shocked expression and rolled her eyes.

"Hi Cassie," she said as casually as the atmosphere allowed.

"Uh, hi Jamie. Um, whatís going on," she asked tentatively.

"Ryan and I were at the gym and my legs stiffened up. She was just loosening them up for me."

"Um, you were at the gym?" she asked quizzically.

"Yes, I was at the gym. Ryan is a personal trainer and she is helping me get in shape for a bike ride," Jamie replied.

"You need a trainer to ride a bike?" Cassie said uncertainly.

Jamie shot a quick glance at Ryan who seemed to have recovered her cool. "This is not just any bike ride, Cassie. Ryan and I are going to do the AIDS ride together. Itís from here to L.A."

Cassie laughed hard at the mere thought. "Jamie you have got to be kidding. You donít even have a bike."

"I will as of Monday," Jamie replied firmly. "And Iím not kidding. I think it will be a great learning experience for me. Plus it will give me a chance to really get in shape."

"Why on earth do you need to get in shape? Youíre very thin as it is," Cassie said.

"Iím not trying to lose weight, Cassie. Iím trying to get fit. There is a difference, you know."

"Okay, why do you need to get fit?" she patiently inquired.

"Well, so I can do this ride," she fumbled.

"Doesnít that logic seem just a teeny bit circular to you, Jamie?"

"No, it doesnít. I really want to do the ride and I want to be in better shape," she said a bit defensively.

"Whatever," Cassie finally said with a shake of her long blonde hair. As she began to ascend the stairs she turned and asked, "Arenít you going to see Jack this weekend?"

"Yes, I am," Jamie relied evenly. "As soon as I take a shower, weíre leaving."

"Oh, is your friend going?" she inquired sweetly. "Iím sure the three of you will have fun. Or is Jack bringing a friend too?"

Jamie laughed a little as Ryan casually picked up her leg and placed it once again on her chest. She continued the massage as if Cassie did not exist, "No, sadly not," she replied just as sweetly.

Without further comment, Cassie turned and quietly took the stairs two at a time. When she was out of earshot Jamie mumbled, "I wish I lived alone."

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

When they were back in the car Jamie summoned the courage to finally ask, "Why did you act so funny around Cassie?"

"What do you mean, funny?" Ryan inquired with just a touch of nervousness.

"I donít know, kind of like you were caught doing something wrong," Jamie finally admitted.

After a few minutes of silence Jamie thought that Ryan was just going to ignore the question. She was almost startled when her deep voice responded, "Do you remember our class discussion on homophobia?"

Jamie wondered how this was the answer to her question, but she knew that Ryanís scientific mind sometimes worked in strange ways. "Yes, I do," she answered.

"We did not talk about this, but homophobia is not always about straight people being afraid of gay people. There is something called internalized homophobia that you just saw a demonstration of."

"What do you mean, Ryan?"

"I know that Cassie doesnít like me. I assume it is primarily or exclusively because Iím gay, right?"

"Um, yeah, I guess so," Jamie admitted, "since thatís the only thing she knows about you."

"So I internalized her dislike of me and when she came in I felt guilty about being gay. I was holding your leg and rubbing it in a way that probably looked awfully friendly," she blushed a little, "and I felt like I was caught doing something I shouldnít have done."

Jamie somehow found the courage to ask the next question, "Do you have sexual feelings for me Ryan? Please be honest," she begged.

"No, I donít Jamie," she said forcefully. "I donít think of you in that way. Although, if you want me to be perfectly honest I admit that I did when we first met," here she blushed furiously. "I think of you as a friend. And I donít tend to feel sexual desire toward my friends."

"Iím really glad you admitted to that, Ryan. Iím glad to know my instincts work with women as well as men," she teased.

"Oh no, could you really tell?" Ryan was taken aback.

"Um, yeah, at first I could," Jamie admitted.

"And that didnít bother you?" she asked, genuinely intrigued.

"No. It didnít seem aggressive, or anything. Just like you were kind of interested."

"Oh, I was definitely interested, but when I started to get to know you, I just liked you too much to put you in the potential dating category," Ryan admitted.

"You donít date people you like?" Jamie asked, quite confused.

"Itís ahhÖcomplicated," Ryan sighed. "Iíll tell you all about my scarred psyche someday, but not today."

"Itís a deal," Jamie grinned in agreement.

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

As they crossed the Bay Bridge Jamie asked thoughtfully, "Do you like working at your current gym?"

"Not really, no."

"Why do it then?" she inquired.

"Iíd prefer to just work with my individual clients. During my evenings at the gym I only get $15.00 an hour. Of course, if I train someone I get my normal $40. But much of the time Iím just standing around answering questions. But I really need the money and I donít have time to try to build my client base right now. So Iím kind of stuck," she said with regret. "When I was working as a trainer full time I had a really good client list, but when I started at school full time I just couldnít make the time to be available and I had to give up some of my best clients."

"Would it work better for you to train people in the East Bay?" Jamie asked slyly, hatching a plan in her fertile mind.

"Yeah, I guess it would. Iíve got some pretty good breaks between classes and I donít mind starting to work at 5 or 6 a.m. Maybe I should check out some of the gyms over there and see what I can scare up," she agreed. "I really hate losing all of my evenings."

"Maybe something will turn up," Jamie said confidently.

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

The ĎLesbian Experienceí was now in its 5th week. Jamie was truly enjoying the class and she felt she was learning a lot about lesbian life. However, she felt that she was learning as much about lesbianism from hanging out with Ryan as she learned from the class.

Since she was chronically early Ryan was usually sitting in her seat when Jamie arrived at class. However, one day Jamie was standing in the back of the room chatting with a young woman named Yvonne when Ryan entered. She made eye contact with Jamie as soon as she came in the door, flashing those incredibly white teeth in a warm grin. Jamie observed her slowly make her way to the front of the room as Yvonne kept up the conversation. She observed that Ryan looked particularly good today. Her hair was shining and bounced against the middle of her back as she walked. She wore an electric blue crew necked sweater of a very soft looking wool that clung to all of her generous curves. The sweater covered a white turtleneck that contrasted sharply with her black hair. Well-worn button fly jeans and shiny black leather loafers completed the outfit. Her cheeks were rosy from the chill in the air, and she radiated good health and confidence.

Jamie watched as heads turned to regard Ryan. It was obvious from the longing glances that some of the women openly desired her. It was equally obvious that some of them had fulfilled that desire. Ryan stopped for a moment to chat with 3 women who looked to be in the latter category. She spoke to each of them in a casual, familiar way. She would grace them with a gentle touch or a small pat on the shoulder. She gave the impression that she was very much interested in talking with each of them, but that pressing business was calling her away. Jamie watched in fascination as each of the women looked pleased that they had received even this small token of her affection. God, is she going to plow through the whole class? There are only 9 lesbians besides her. If she has gone through 3 already that only leaves 6. Since this is the 5th week of class she has to make the other 6 last for 11 weeks. She might have to have a repeat...or I suppose she could also date the women who donít like to label themselves lesbians...

Jamie was startled from her reverie by Yvonne gently poking her in the ribs. "Oh no, not you too!" she laughed.

"What?" Jamie inquired, truly puzzled.

"You donít have OíFlaherty Fever too, do you?"

"What??? Oh, no, no, NO!" Jamie finally got out. "Ryan and I are friends, just friends. Iíve just never seen her walk into class. Does that happen every day?"

"Yep," Yvonne replied. "Thatís why I sit in the back. Itís the most entertainment I get all day," she laughed. "She really is a player," she said with admiration in her voice.

"Yeah, I guess she is," Jamie replied with a good bit of disapproval. As she spoke she turned toward Ryan and saw one of the Ďno labelsí women approach cautiously. She saw Ryanís eyes light up and watched her whole body language change. Ryan drew the woman in by leaning back against the desk. She was obviously speaking softly because the woman had to move in closer and closer to hear her. Once she had her where she wanted her she sat on the edge of her desk and leaned dangerously close to the woman. Her smile turned a bit feral as she then leaned back and regarded her prey. She smiled broadly and removed a business card from her back pocket. Wasnít that handy! She must have them printed by the 1000ís. She scribbled something on the back, probably her pager number, and handed it to the beaming woman as she gave her hand a gentle squeeze.

Is no woman safe? Jamie screamed in frustration to herself.

After class they made their way to Bancroft Hall, as was their habit. Ryan noticed that Jamie was not her usual talkative self, but she passed it off to a bad mood. After Ryan purchased a few bottles of juice she returned to the table to find Jamie looking at her with an expression that could only be described as a glare. "Whatíd I do?" she asked with a plaintive tone.

"Oh, Iím sorry, Ryan," she said quickly, while shaking her head. "You didnít do anything. Iím sorry if I look as though you did," she apologized.

"Are you sure thereís nothing wrong?" she asked, genuinely concerned. She searched Jamieís eyes and found that her friend was having a hard time making eye contact. "Címon, Jamie, you can tell me," she urged.

"No. Itís really stupid and I feel like an idiot," she sulked.

"Iíve never seen you do anything stupid or idiotic," Ryan said seriously. "If something is bothering you I really would like to help if I can."

"Okay, okay, you win," Jamie finally gave her a small smile. "Last week you told me that you didnít date people you liked. Why?" she asked plainly.

"Thatís certainly not where I thought we were going," Ryan admitted. She paused for a moment as she looked at Jamie carefully. Finally she tilted her head and locked her gaze onto Jamieís eyes. "If thatís your question, why do you look angry with me?"

Jamie hated the way Ryanís mind worked. She could always see through ancillary issues and hone right in on the crux of the matter. "All right, Iíll confess," she finally admitted with a large measure of frustration in her voice. "It bothered me to watch you come into class today." Ryan looked at her blankly, clearly at a loss. "You were talking to some of the women and flirting with others, well, you were flirting with all of them. It made me think about what you said the other day and it just pissed me off. I think youíre really depriving yourself of something by dating so many people." Even to her own ears this sounded incredibly lame.

"So youíre angry with me because I donít have a steady girlfriend?" Ryan asked slowly, clearly trying to understand but not having an easy time of it.

"I told you it was stupid," Jamie said, clearly flustered. "I donít know why it bothered me, but it really did. Iím sorry, Ryan. I know itís none of my business. You seem perfectly happy and itís stupid for me to want something for you that you donít seem to want."

"Would you like me to explain why I donít have a girlfriend?" Ryan asked quietly, her eyes never leaving Jamieís.

"If you want to," Jamie said with just a hint of a pout showing.

"Iím happy to, Jamie. Itís like this. I have been focused on earning money and going to school for over 4 years now. My time is very valuable to me and I donít like giving too much of it to anyone. I have to work really hard to get all of my schoolwork in during my limited free time. I canít afford the distraction that a relationship would cause. Plus, since I live at home, I canít comfortably bring women home. And I get a ton of shit from my brothers when I stay out all night," she smiled a bit at this. "Sometimes itís like living with three maiden aunts."

"But is it fair to the women that you date?" Jamie asked as she got to the question that was really bothering her.

Ryan leaned back in her chair and considered the question for a moment. Jamie detected a momentary flash of hurt pass across her face. She pursed her lips together and blew out a breath as she softly replied, "I get it now. You think I lead them on, donít you?"

She truly did not want to hurt her friends feelings, but she was in too deep to stop now. "Ryan, you should have seen their faces. They all looked so hopeful," she finally blurted out.

"Jamie, I swear I have never led anyone on. I always, and I do mean always, tell women that I am not in the market for a relationship. Iím obnoxiously up front with them."

"Maybe so," Jamie said thoughtfully. "But they all looked like they hoped they would be the one to change your mind. Like the woman who was talking to you at your desk," she added as she looked down at the floor.

Ryan waited until Jamie raised her eyes and met hers again. While she waited she wondered, Why does this bother her? I could see that sheíd want me to be happy and I can understand that she doesnít want me to use people. But why be angry about it? "Today was a perfect example. Blair came over and asked me if I wanted to have lunch. I know she hangs out with Lisa and Amy so I knew she would know quite a bit about me."

"Who are Lisa and Amy? And why would that tell her anything about you?"

"Theyíre in our class," she explained patiently.

"Do you know everyoneís name?"

"Well, yeah," she admitted with a slight flush. "I make it a habit to observe people and learn their names. Then I figure out who knows who. It makes things easier for me."

"Okay," Jamie replied as she took a breath. "I assume youíve Ďdatedí Lisa or Amy?" She pronounced Ďdatedí about the same way she would have said Ďmolestedí.

Ryan shot her a look that was far from happy. Her voice took on an edge as she replied, "I tried to Ďdateí Amy. We went out for coffee during the first week of class. I told her that I would love to take her out but that I did not have room in my life for a girlfriend. She asked me a few questions to make sure I was serious and when she was satisfied that I was she didnít want to go out with me. I did not have sex with her, Jamie. I didnít touch her," she added with a bit of a scowl.

"Oh, I get it," Jamie said. "You assume that Blair would know that you donít want a girlfriend since she knows Amy."

"Yeah, that seemed like a good bet. But just to make sure Iíll tell her at lunch." She stared at Jamie for a long moment before she said, "You know, sometimes I come across as a real jerk. I mean, someone might just want to have lunch and talk about school, but I make it a point to tell them that I donít want to be in a relationship. It really makes me sound like Iím full of myself," she admitted with an embarrassed shrug.

"Ryan," Jamie said softly. "Iím sorry that I hurt your feelings. I donít know why today set me off, but I never should have spoken to you about it. Itís really none of my business. But since we did talk about it, Iím really impressed with how honest youíve been with women. Thatís really honorable."

A small smile finally graced Ryanís features. "You know, even if I wasnít honest, word does travel fast in the community. And there is not one woman in the Bay Area who can honestly say that she was my girlfriend."

"Not one?!" Jamie was shocked at this revelation.

"Nope. Not one."

"I find that nearly impossible to believe!" Jamie struggled with this information. "Have you never met anyone that you would like to build something with? Are you that picky?" she asked incredulously.

"I guess I am incredibly picky," Ryan admitted, a little sheepishly. "But I do occasionally find someone that I do really like. When that happens, I try to make them into a friend."

"Like me?" Jamie asked tentatively.

"Exactly," Ryan agreed.

"So do you just have umÖone night stands?" she asked hesitantly.

"No, Jamie," she smiled. "I sometimes even have a meal or go to a movie with a woman. I like the companionship of women even when theyíre vertical. Iím a homophile as well as a homosexual," she said pointedly.

"Homophile?"

"Yes. Thatís a person whose primary attraction is to persons of their same sex. The attraction is distinct from the sexual aspect. You, on the other hand, are a heterophile."

"That doesnít sound very elegant," she admitted. "So you do see the same person more than once?"

"Sure," she said with a little shake of her head. "Iíll continue to see someone until I think theyíre getting too serious. Then I back off."

"Have you ever met anyone that you liked who didnít want to get serious?"

"Yeah, I have a few umÖbuddies," she said with a deep blush.

Jamie noticed the blush and decided she had to find out what was behind it. "What do you mean by Ďbuddiesí?" she asked with a sly grin.

"Umm, thereís kind of a term for people who just sleep together."

"Whatís the term?" Jamie persisted.

"AhhÖfuck buddies?" Ryan finally revealed.

"Fuck buddies, huh? I must admit Iíve never heard that one. Do you have a fuck buddy, Ryan?" she asked with a twinkle in her eyes completely enjoying the discomfort in her friendís posture.

"Yeeeah, I have a couple of people that I see occasionally for umÖ"

"Sex?" Jamie helpfully supplied.

"More or less," she admitted.

"So these are women who feel like you do about relationships?"

"Exactly. They want the same thing that I do, occasional sex and nothing more."

"Do you see these people very often?"

"It depends. I guess I usually see each of them 3 or 4 times a year. But I see my friend Ally more than that. We might see each other 3 or 4 times in a two week period, then we might not see each other for 3 or 4 months. I really like her and we get along great in bed, but weíre both really clear that we couldnít ever have a real emotional connection. I think weíre too much alike," she admitted.

"But youíre missing so much, by never letting anyone get close Ryan," she continued to argue.

"Like what?" she replied, sounding truly curious.

"Like intimacy, and caring, and a depth of feeling that you canít get from casual dating." Jamie was beginning to get frustrated again.

"Thereís nothing casual about the way I date," Ryan said with a little leer.

"Do you really not understand what Iím getting at?" Jamie moaned as she dropped her head into her hands.

"No, I think I do Jamie," she reassured her. "I want all those things, too. Just not now. And given that I donít feel that I can commit to one woman, what would you have me do?"

"I donít know, Ryan. It just seems unfair to the women who want more of you and to yourself."

"On one level you may be right, " she replied thoughtfully. "But I donít feel that Iím going to be ready for another couple of years. Are you really suggesting that I should be celibate for that long?"

"How long have you gone?" Jamie teased.

"Does it count when I had broken ribs?" she asked hopefully.

"No. I want the able bodied record."

"Hmmm, I guess about 2 weeks or so during finals," she finally replied.

"Two weeks! Do you mean to tell me you have not gone without female companionship for more than two weeks in your adult life?" Jamie was truly floored.

"I love women, Jamie. I really love women. I love meeting them. I love talking to them. I love the chase. I love it when they want to play the game as much as I do. I love pleasing them. I love having someone new all the time. I am never, ever bored," she confessed. "How many women can say that?" she asked in a plaintive challenge.

"I agree that your sex life is exciting Ryan. But who do you confide in? Who do you feel completely comfortable with? Who do you know will always be there for you?"

"Um, well, ahh, you, Jamie," she said with a completely open and trusting expression on her face. "I feel comfortable with you. I confide in you. I know youíll be there for me. I donít have to have sex with you to feel that, do I?" she asked innocently.

"Oh Ryan, that is so sweet," she said as she threw her arms around her neck and gave her a firm hug. "You never cease to surprise me."

"Thatís just one of my many skills," she replied with a grin as she reached out and affectionately tousled Jamieís hair.

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

After her last class Jamie walked home and grabbed a salad. She spent an hour preparing for Tuesdayís classes then she hopped in her car and drove to the bike shop.

Bill was glad to see her and greeted her warmly. "You are going to love your new wheels," he enthused. As he spoke he weaved his way through the maze of bikes, finally stopping to grasp one and lift it over his head. "Here she is," he said proudly.

Jamie was very pleased. Her new bike was a sleek, shocking day-glo orange. "It even looks fast," she said with delight. The components were top quality, but not the most expensive available. She felt very satisfied about her choices. Bill spent a good Ĺ hour going over all of the components and handing her the little instruction booklets for each. He finally had her sit on the bike while it was on a trainer. He adjusted the seat carefully as well as the pedals. He showed her how to clip her new racing shoes into the pedals and had her practice unlocking them a few times.

Next she had to decide on what type of bike rack to buy. They discussed all of the available options before choosing a light, collapsible model that rested on the trunk and rear bumper of her car.

"How can I protect my new beauty from theft?" she inquired.

"Only one way I know of," he replied sagely. "Keep your butt on the seat!" he barked out a laugh as he said this.

"Donít any of those locks work?" she pointed at the array of cumbersome locks on the wall.

"They work very well if you are protecting your bike from someone who doesnít really want it," he flatly stated.

"I really want to be able to take it to campus. I think the only way Iíll get all my training in is to ride everywhere," she lamented.

"I might have a solution for you," he said. "I got a nice light mountain bike in as a trade the other day. Itís a good bike and I think it would fit you perfectly. It cost about $1800 when new but I can let you have it for $200. Itís about 5 years old and the paint is a little scratched up, but I put new tires and brake pads on it. And," he added knowledgeably, "one good thing about doing some of your training on a heavier bike is that your road bike will feel like air. You could also tag along on some of Ryanís night time rides up on Mt. Tam."

"I didnít know she rode up there," she admitted.

"Oh, itís quite a scene," he laughed, "youíve got to get her to take you, but bring some band aids. Itís a tough group," he said with a wink.

Jamie and Bill loaded both bikes onto the new carrier. She drove home and immediately hopped on her road bike and took it for a spin. She loved the freedom she felt from being able to speed along the streets of Berkeley. I really think Iím going to like this, she thought to herself with a contented smile.

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

After a pleasant hour riding her road bike Jamie went home to change into her workout clothes. She tossed sweats over her Lycra and headed to the gym.

As she was checking in, she spotted the manager that she had spoken with when she first visited the gym. "Hi," she said in her usual friendly manner. "Remember me?"

"Yes, I sure do," the woman responded. "Did you decide to join?"

"Yeah I did. I really like it here. My trainer was also very impressed."

"I didnít know you had your own trainer," she replied.

"Yeah, sheís working at a gym in the City now, but sheís looking for a change. Sheís getting more women clients in the East Bay and I think sheíd prefer to work over here now," she embellished.

"Have her look me up the next time sheís in," the woman responded. "Maybe we could make her an offer to join us."

"Actually, Iím her business manager," she said confidently as the embellishment switched to outright lies. "What kind of a deal would you cut her?" she demanded, getting right down to business.

They moved into the managerís office, where Jamie casually took a chair. "Our standard deal is that independent trainers pay us $200 a month to be able to use the facilities. There is no additional charge when they work with a member but when they have an outside client they or the client pay us $10 per hour."

"Hmm, how many hours a week do most of your trainers book?" she asked.

"Not a lot, probably 5 or so. Some book up to 10."

"So if my trainer booked 15-20 hours a week, what could you do for her?"

"I could reduce the monthly fee," she offered.

"By how much?" Jamie inquired.

"Half?" she replied a bit tentatively.

"Thatís fair," Jamie agreed. "But Iíd like her to get some benefit from the new members she will bring in to the club. The monthly fee for a member is $85 a month right?"

"Right."

"And Ryan would pay you $100 to use the facilities if she worked 15 hours a week, right?"

"Right again."

"Would you agree to waive her fee altogether if she brought in 5 new members?"

The manager thought about that for a moment before she said, "Yes, I would. We make most of our money off the monthly fee anyway, so that would help both of us," she admitted.

"Do you need any more trainers on staff right now?" Jamie decided she might as well go for broke.

"Only the really unattractive hours, like 6 a.m.," she offered tentatively.

"How much per hour?" Jamie sensed a weakness.

"$15?" she replied hopefully.

"Nope," Jamie was unmoved. "I couldnít let her work those hours for less than $25 per hour."

"How many hours is she available?" the woman asked.

Jamie looked at her appointment book thoughtfully. Absolutely nothing about Ryanís schedule was written there, but she thought she remembered that she was free until 8 a.m. "Sheís available from 5:30-7:30 Monday through Friday," she stated confidently.

"You have a deal," the woman replied as she extended her hand, breathing a sigh of relief that Jamie was not selling life insurance, or swamp land for that matter.

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

After she left the office Jamie rubbed her hands together as she scouted the gym. "Ahh, potential patsies," she enthused. She watched each of the women carefully from her position on a treadmill. Finally she spotted one woman who looked both well off and clueless. Jamie hopped off the treadmill and positioned herself next to the confused woman. "Do you need help?" she asked gently.

"Oh, yeah, I guess I do," the woman agreed. "I had someone explain this machine to me last week, but now Iíve forgotten how to adjust it."

"I get confused too," Jamie admitted. "Thatís why Iíve started to work with a trainer," she said conspiratorially.

"A trainer, huh? They tried to get me to sign up with one when I first came here, but I didnít really like the woman who works here at this time of day," she said regretfully.

"Why donít you try mine?" Jamie inquired casually. "Iím certain you would like her. Everyone does. Sheís normally down on the Peninsula, but sheís devoting a few days a week to her clients in the East Bay now. She is simply fabulous." She uttered this last statement as she produced Ryanís business card, which she had stolen when Ryan wasnít looking.

"Is she really expensive? I donít want to spend a lot," she replied.

"Oh sheís terribly expensive!" Jamie moaned. "Itís absolutely highway robbery! But sheís so wonderful that she can get away with it." If there was one thing Jamie was sure of it was that rich people loved to moan about how much things cost. But they also loved to overpay for everything that was trendy. "She charges me $125 but I heard that her rates are going up again! Iím going to have to hock my Porsche if she charges me much more. I see her 3 times a week, now, and it really adds up."

"Wow, that really is a lot. Do you really think itís worth it?"

Jamie leaned in and whispered conspiratorially, "I went to a benefit last week in a sleek little Dolce and Gabana sheath. I got more attention in that dress than I knew how to handle. My entire body has changed since I started to work with Ryan. I think sheís worth 3 times what I pay her," she confided. "But donít tell her that!" she said with a hearty laugh.

"I have my 15 year college reunion coming up this spring. If she could get me in shape for that Iíd be eternally grateful."

"Thatís the attitude!" Jamie enthused. "Your classmates will think youíve found the fountain of youth! Why donít you give me your number and Iíll have Ryan call you," she said with a wink.

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

After two more visits to the club Jamie had filled all of Ryanís afternoon time slots. Now all that was left was to tell Ryan that she had a new job.

After class on Friday they sat at their usual spot and sipped their juice. "Um Ryan," she started nervously, "Iíve been interfering in your personal life." She glanced down at the ground, seemingly in shame.

"You didnít find me a steady girlfriend, did you?" she asked with a mock scowl.

"No, nothing like that. Remember when you said you would rather work on this side of the Bay?" she asked with a hopeful little smile.

"Yeaaah," Ryan slowly drawled.

"Did you mean that?" another little smile.

"Yeaaah."

"Well, I kind of got you a job," she finally admitted.

"You got me a what?!" Ryan asked in shock.

"I got you a job?" she restated hesitantly.

Ryanís face broke into an indulgent smile. "Do I get to learn the details, or do I just show up and get my uniform? I donít mind flipping burgers but I hate to cook French fries. Itís too hard to get the oil out of my hair."

"No silly," she laughed as she slapped her lightly on the shoulder. "I got you a job at ĎWomen Powerí and I think youíre really going to like it."

Ryan continued to look at her with a quizzical little smile on her face so Jamie launched into her sales pitch. "They want you to work every morning before school. I know you like to get up early and I thought that you could work the early shift to avoid traffic. So thatís from 5:30-7:30. They wanted to pay you $15 per hour, but I held out for $25," she said proudly." She paused a millisecond for a breath. "Then they agreed to let you train people there without having to pay a monthly fee as long as you bring in 5 new members," another tiny pause. "They will charge you $10 per hour to train your private clients, but if itís a client that you bring in or thatís already a member you donít have to pay at all," longer pause for a bigger breath. "Oh, and I got you 7 new private clients who each agree to pay you $125 per hour. And that fills up all your free afternoon time slots. Howíd I do?" she let out all of her most recent breath and looked at Ryanís stunned face.

The silence went on for quite a while as Ryan continued to stare at her with a slightly opened mouth. "Well, gosh. I was working at a place I didnít like, making no money, working bad hours when I was tired, having no social life, and it forced me to drive my bike through rush hour traffic every afternoon. You found me a job where I work half the hours for about the same money, during the hours I like, and I get my evenings back. You also save me $250 a month in fees, and have found me new clients worth $875 a week," here she paused for effect. "I guess you did okay," she stated casually. After a moment her eyes grew playful. She rose from her chair and stood towering over Jamie. "You know what I have to do, donít you?" she inquired sternly.

"N..n..no," replied Jamie, a little afraid of her reaction to her meddling.

"This," she said as she placed her large hands around Jamieís small waist and effortlessly lifted her to her feet. Those deep blue eyes gazed at her in wonder, as Ryan leaned close and gave her chaste kisses on each cheek, which was followed by a very large, very expressive full body hug. "That is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me, Jamie," she whispered in her ear as tears formed in her eyes. "I donít know how to thank you," she said hoarsely.

Jamieís eyes drifted shut as she relaxed completely into the tender hug. She would have been content to stay just that way for the rest of the day but Ryan finally released her. "I have to admit I had selfish reasons," Jamie said, a bit choked up herself. "I wanted you to be available to go on some evening bike rides with me. I actually heard about some hot ones on Mt. Tam," she winked.

"Weíd better get to work if you want to do those, kiddo. Thatís where the big girls go," she said wisely.

"Youíre a big girl, canít I go with you?" she inquired saucily.

"Iíll take you anywhere you want to go, Jamie, anywhere at all," she replied seriously as she locked her clear blue eyes onto Jamieís smiling face.

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

Now that Jamie felt comfortable with both of her bikes and Ryan had her new work schedule all sorted out they sat down to devise their training strategy. Ryan agreed that Jamie needed to be on one of her bikes as much as possible. So Jamie decided to ride everywhere in Berkeley and Oakland, rather than take her car. These short rides would give her some saddle time and get her used to being on the bike. They also agreed that she needed at least two days of long slow distance rides per week. Ryan suggested that she start off at 15 miles twice a week. She would then increase the distance week by week. She also recommended that Jamie do a very strenuous hill climb every week. Jamie decided that she would start climbing the Berkeley hills behind campus.

They agreed to meet at the gym 3 afternoons a week after Ryanís last class. Since there were 6 main muscle groups Ryan suggested that they work on two groups per visit. She also suggested that they work on Jamieís legs on a day that she did not ride her bike.

 

On the following Monday, Jamie met Ryan at the gym at precisely 4:00 p.m. Jamie was dressed in a navy blue tank top which covered a gray sports bra. Her thigh length shorts were also gray Lycra and her slouchy white socks peeked out from her high top cross trainers. Ryan wore her new ĎWomen Powerí polo shirt. The black shirt was cut generously, allowing her plenty of room to move but hiding her curves. ĎWomen Powerí was written in lavender scrip across her left breast. ĎPersonal Trainerí was printed across the back in 2 inch block letters, also in lavender. The sleeves ended just above her elbows, effectively hiding her biceps. I canít believe I go to the gym with her and I still donít get to see her muscles! Black nylon warm up pants also blocked Jamieís enjoyment of Ryanís leg muscles.

Jamie was pleased to see that Ryan looked right at home even though it was her first day as an employee. She greeted Jamie warmly when she entered the work out area. "Hi there, boss," she grinned. "Have you gotten me a raise yet? This is my third hour here, you know."

Jamie just gave her a winning smile as an answer. "So today weíre doing trunk and shoulders, huh, Coach?"

"Yep. Did you get your ride in this afternoon? I was kind of jealous when I was in my Chem lab, thinking about you out there pedaling away," Ryan said wistfully.

"I sure did. That trip computer you talked me into is really great. It let me keep a good cadence, just like you told me. I practiced trying to pedal in a smooth circle and trying to pull on the upstroke as well as push on the downstroke. And Iíve got to tell you, that bike is a dream. I would have kept riding years ago if I had a bike like that. It just feels so effortless."

"Iím really glad that youíre happy with it," Ryan said. "I knew that Bill wouldnít steer you wrong, but I was a little worried that you would be unhappy with having spent that much," she admitted.

"No, not at all. I tend to think about financial decisions rather carefully, as you can attest," she said with a grin. "But once I make up my mind, I donít second guess myself," she said confidently.

"Well, I know youíre going to love riding and I think you will really enjoy working out, too. Youíre very goal oriented and I think this challenge will hold your interest."

Jamie was delighted that Ryan knew these details about her personality without explicitly being told. "So where do we start today?"

Ryan led her to a weight bench and sat her down. "Okay, weíre going to start with your shoulders. Your shoulder muscles start here," she tapped the top of her shoulders, "and end here," she tapped the center of her upper arms. They are called deltoids or delts. There is another group of muscles here," she touched Jamieís back just above her scapula, "called the rotator cuff. There are 4 muscles there that keep your arm from slipping out of the socket. They are just under your delts. Weíre going to work on both sets of muscles. I usually use free weights for shoulders. I find theyíre a little easier to control. And control is very important with your shoulders. Itís very important to do these exercises correctly because your rotator cuffs are easily injured."

Jamie loved the verbal instruction that Ryan gave when showing her the exercises. The explanations really helped her because she processed things by understanding them fully before she tried them physically. Ryan seemed to understand this and was very careful to make sure that Jamie understood the underlying issues.

"Itís very important to do these exercises in the order that I show you. Weíre going to do a press, a lateral raise, a front raise and a back fly. You can lift the heaviest weight with the press and the lightest weight with the fly." She looked at Jamie with a serious expression, "Have you ever injured your lower back, your neck or your elbows?"

"No, I have never had any significant injuries," Jamie replied.

"Boy, would my father like to trade for you," she laughed. "He was in the ER with me every other week."

"I bet you were a wild one," Jamie agreed.

"You donít know the half of it," she admitted.

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

They worked their way through the exercises. Ryan was very attentive to Jamieís posture and positioning. She encouraged her, but did not push her on, like she had seen some of the trainers do. Ryan knew that Jamie would push herself, and she made it a point to reign Jamie in a bit, so she did not injure herself.

When they had finished with the shoulder exercises they moved on to the lower back. Ryan again launched into her explanation of the howís and whyís of the exercises. Ryan told her that these exercises did not need weights at all. After she showed Jamie how to perform a back extension and a pelvic tilt Jamie recalled that these were exercises she had learned when she played golf in high school.

"You were on the golf team?" Ryan asked with interest. "Thatís pretty cool. You know, I have never hit a golf ball."

"Well, weíre just gonna have to remedy that, Missy," Jamie replied. "Iíd love to do something that I can beat you at," she laughed.

Next they moved to the abdominal muscles. Jamie knew some of these from her golf conditioning also. Ryan showed her 6 different exercises and reminded her that she had a lot of potential in this area.

At the end of the hour Jamieís mind was swimming. As she sat down on a bench to dry off she watched Ryan making notes in a little booklet. "Here, Jamie, I made this for you," she said as she thrust the book in Jamieís direction.

Inside the little leather loose-leaf book Jamie saw each of the exercises they had covered neatly named and described. On the leg exercises the position of the seat and the adjustment of the bars were also annotated. Under each description was a series of columns which indicated the date, time, number of reps, sets and one column where Jamie was supposed to indicated how she felt when she began to exercise, on a scale of 1-10. Jamie was absolutely charmed and her face reflected this. "Ryan, this is so thoughtful," she enthused.

"Jamie, that is the very, very least I can do for you after all youíve done for me," she said sincerely.

"I like to take care of my friends, Ryan."

"Then I am very lucky to be counted among that number," Ryan replied. As she said this she slid behind Jamie on the bench and began to knead her shoulder muscles. She worked on her for about 5 minutes until Jamie was dropping her head forward in a relaxed bliss.

"God, youíre good at that. Those hands should be registered with the government," she sighed.

"Well, they are, kind of. I do have a license to do this," she stated.

"You are a masseuse too?" she asked incredulously.

"Yep, these babies are trained and licensed," she held up her hands with a proud smile. "When I was taking classes to be a personal trainer I just figured I might as well be as fully trained as possible. Iím glad I did it. I really learned a lot about relaxing people after a tough workout. And itís a skill that comes in handy in my private life, too," she grinned as she waggled her eyebrows.

"Well, youíve certainly relaxed me, I donít think I can move, much less ride my bike home," she moaned.

"Iíve got my bike here, let me give you a ride home," Ryan offered. "After you take a shower we could get a bite to eat and then you could drive back to get your bike."

"That sounds mighty appealing," Jamie agreed. "But are you sure youíre willing to risk the wrath of Cassie if sheís at home?"

"Yeah, I am. She just caught me off guard last time. Iím ready for her now." She rubbed her hands together in a menacing fashion as she narrowed her eyes.

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

They sped back to Jamieís house and were both relieved to find only Mia at home. She spoke pleasantly to Ryan for a few moments before she headed upstairs to her room. Jamie followed her upstairs to shower and change. Ryan offered to amuse herself and Jamie left her to do so.

Jamie stood in the shower for a good long soak. She dried her hair quickly and was just finishing getting dressed when Mia came in.

"What did you do to Ryan?" she inquired with a glint in her eye.

"What do you mean?" Jamie gave her a puzzled look.

"Do you want to see something kind of cute?" Mia mysteriously replied. At Jamieís nod, she beckoned her out to the hallway. They both looked over the railing to where Ryan had been left, sitting on the couch. Only now her shoes were off and she was sound asleep, her lean form stretched out on the short couch, long legs hanging over the arm. Her hands were folded peacefully across her chest and she wore a sweet, perfectly contented expression on her face. Jamie marveled at how very young and innocent her friend looked as she slept.

The roommates walked back into Jamieís room and both burst out laughing. "Iím glad to see she feels so comfortable around here," Jamie continued to laugh.

"She seems like a nice person," Mia admitted.

"I canít even express how nice she is," Jamie replied simply. "She is just an extraordinary woman."

"Does she still flirt with you?" Mia asked a little hesitantly, knowing this could be touchy.

"No. Not at all," Jamie said without hesitation. "We actually talked about it, even though it was hard for me to bring up. She admitted that she had been flirting but that she was really over it now that weíre friends."

"God, werenít you embarrassed?" Mia cried. "I canít imagine asking her that!"

"Thatís what is so cool about Ryan. I can say anything to her. She never judges me or acts hurt by what I say. I really felt amazingly comfortable talking about it with her. I wish you could get to know her a little better," Jamie said. "I know you would like her."

"I absolutely trust your judgment about people, James. Iím sure I would like her. Maybe we could all have dinner some night."

"Thanks for trying, Mia. I want you to be comfortable with her. Your friendship means a lot to me." Jamie hesitated for a moment before she broached the next subject. "You know, I was really angry that you told Cassie about Ryan flirting with me," she said simply.

Mia started to defend herself, but Jamie cut her off. "Iím not angry any more, really. Iím sure you didnít do it to be malicious. But Cassie really dislikes her. She got Jack all worked up about the whole situation and we had a major fight. So please donít talk to her about Ryan. It will just make matters worse."

"Okay, Jamie. I wonít ever bring it up with her again. Iím really sorry that I hurt you. It was stupid of me to tell Cassie anything about you. I know she tries to get in the middle of stuff. Sometimes I wish she would just move in with her boyfriend," she said disdainfully.

"Yeah, I know, but weíve been together this long, I think we can hang on," she said hopefully.

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

After Mia returned to her room Jamie took her time finishing her preparations. She combed her hair carefully and put on a little blush then chose an emerald green rough wool sweater and a soft yellow turtleneck. Then she picked out a pair of khakis and a pair of black loafers. She checked out her image in the full-length mirror, but she chided herself briefly as she did so. Itís just Ryan, you know. This isnít a date. When she walked back down the stairs she was a little surprised to find that Ryan was still asleep.

She sat down in the upholstered chair next to the couch and just watched her for a few moments. Ryan was remarkably still as she slept. Jamie was struck by the thought that she had never seen her when she wasnít in motion. Ryan was usually very active, sometimes a little hyperactive. Even when her body wasnít moving Jamie could almost see her quick mind processing something. She again marveled at how peaceful and open her face was in repose. Ryan rarely looked severe but she often had a cool, composed expression on her face. She watched her chest rise and fall and observed her lips slightly parted in sleep. Suddenly she felt an overwhelming urge to place a kiss on those soft looking lips. She resisted the urge with a violent shake of her head. Get a grip for godís sake, Jamie! Where in the hell did that urge come from?? She sat in the chair for several more minutes mulling over the conflicting thoughts in her head. Maybe I just feel protective over her. She has such a confident exterior, but now that Iíve seen her vulnerability it just makes me feel so tender towards her. When she sleeps she just looks like the little girl who lost her mom. And thatís the part that makes me want to kiss her. She looks so sweet, just like a child, she thought fondly. Yeah, and how many little girls have you ever wanted to kiss? Finally deciding that she would not resolve this jumble of thoughts tonight, she quietly moved over to the couch. She leaned over and gently placed her hand on Ryanís shoulder and gave her a tiny shake.

Ryan was awake immediately and amazingly seemed fully alert. Jamie was surprised at this response, and her face must have shown it. Ryan detected the startled look and asked, "Whatís wrong? Was I asleep too long?"

"No, no, I was just amazed at how quickly you woke up," she explained.

"Oh, thatís from years of practice," she said easily. "I need about 8 hours of sleep but I only get around 6. Iíve trained myself to sleep almost anywhere whenever I have a few minutes down time."

"Thatís truly amazing," Jamie marveled.

"Not really. You can train your body to do a lot of things if you really need to."

"Iím just glad you felt comfortable enough here to be able to sleep."

"Well, I do feel very comfortable around you, but truthfully, I can sleep almost anywhere. I can even sleep pretty well sitting up in a chair. And once I got a good 15 minute nap while leaning against a wall," she stated proudly.

"You certainly do have many skills, Ryan," she admitted as she leaned over and ruffled her bangs.

"And you havenít seen half of Ďem," she grinned in response.

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

After they finished their dinner of falafel and Greek salads they discussed the workout schedule for the week. Jamie decided that she would take her bike to Jackís and do her long ride on Saturday afternoon while he studied.

"Ooooh, Saturday," Ryan said with pleasure. "I havenít had a Saturday free in years. This new level of freedom is going to take some getting used to," she said with a happy expression on her face. She had decided that she really didnít need to work on the weekends any longer. Jamie had 10 hours of private training per week lined up for her. Since $1250 a week was more than enough to live on Ryan decided to take weekends off to study and relax. But she truly didnít know what to do with the spare time. Sheíd had one job or another since she was 16 years old and all of them had consumed her weekends. "This is the happiest quandary Iíve had in years," she allowed.

"Why donít you come down and ride with me on Saturday," Jamie offered. "You could see the peninsula and maybe help me pick out some good rides."

"Is that really a good idea, Jamie?" she asked slowly. "I mean, wouldnít Jack mind?"

"Why would he mind?" she asked, a little confused. "Heíll be studying and he doesnít ride a bike anyway."

"No, um, I mean," she stammered, "I thought he wasnít very happy about having me aroundÖat all."

"No, Ryan, thatís not true. He was mad at me for not telling him things that he thought were important. I donít think it had anything to do with you, personally," she lied.

"If youíre sure," she said slowly, "I would enjoy coming down. It might be nice to see a different part of the bay. And I have heard about some really great rides down there."

"Then itís settled," Jamie agreed. "Oh, but how will you get your bike down there? Should I pick it up from you on Friday?"

"No, I can get it down there. I can borrow my fatherís truck if I need to. When do you want to meet?" she asked as she grabbed her ever-present organizer.

 

Chapter 4

"Castro Fitness Center, this is Ally speaking," rang out the clear alto voice.

"Hi Ally, guess who?" Ryan asked.

"Hmmm," she mused, "Is this a really hot brunette, 6 feet plus, legs for days?"

"Yeaah," she purred.

"I donít know anybody like that, who the heck are you?" she asked as she tried to hide a laugh.

"Iím just a lonely woman looking for a little companionship," she said innocently. "Do you know anyone who might be free on Friday night?"

"Friday night? You actually want to see me on a Friday night?" she asked incredulously. "I thought you were only allowed out of the house in the afternoons."

"Iíve had a change of schedule," she said happily. "My weekends are now my own."

"Really? You havenít had a weekend off in all the time Iíve known you. Do you have any idea how to fill a weekend?"

"I hoped you could help me out with that," she asked hopefully. "What do you say to Friday night?"

"Best offer Iíve had all day," she replied. "Do you want to go out or stay in?"

"I can go out with anyone," she said in a dangerously low tone. "I want to stay in with you."

"Iíll be home by 6. Bring dinner with you, Hot Stuff, cause youíre not leaving until Saturday."

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

Ryan buzzed over to the Castro on Friday night, thinking about Ally. They had met shortly after Ryan had graduated from high school. She had started to take classes to become certified as a personal trainer and she lucked into a job at Castro Fitness. Ally was just 2 years older and had started at Castro just a few months before Ryan had.

Ryan was sure that Ally had barely noticed her and she was a little surprised when the near stranger approached her one day and brought up the topic of safer sex. Ryan was just starting to feel comfortable with her lesbian identity. She had spent the previous year engaged in some fairly risky behavior but Ally sat her down and read her the riot act. "Listen Ryan," she had told her. "You just canít run around and be wild with everyone you meet. Youíve got to use safer sex practices every time youíre with someone."

"But the chance of contracting AIDS isnít very high for women having sex with women," Ryan said defensively.

"No, itís not very high, but any chance is too high. Youíre 17 years old, Ryan. Donít risk cutting your life short just to get a little action. Besides, AIDS isnít the only thing to worry about. I guarantee youíll contract a venereal disease within 6 months if you havenít already. Herpes and chondyloma are permanent, Ryan. And no matter how attractive you are, your popularity will hit the skids if you have lesions or warts on your fun parts."

"But I donít know how to have safer sex," she admitted as she blushed.

"Come over tonight after 8 and Iíll show you everything you need to know," Ally had offered.

Ryan laughed when she thought about how easily she had succumbed to Allyís charms. They had spent that first night at ĎGood Vibrationsí, a woman oriented sex toy shop in the Mission district. Ally explained all of the sex toys and latex barriers that Ryan could use to protect herself. Then to make sure that her student understood everything perfectly they had gone back to Allyís apartment and tried out every item in her little bag of tricks. By the next day Ryan was terribly sore but very well trained in the science of safer sex.

After that initial foray they had hit it off almost immediately. They both enjoyed working out, riding bikes, and having sex, lots of sex, with lots of women. Ryan had actually found herself falling for her new friend. But Ally made it clear that she was not in the market for a girlfriend. She continued to date anyone who caught her eye and she never made an attempt to hide her lovers from Ryan. After a while she came to understand that Ally really was not going to return her affections and she began to think of her as an occasional sex partner. And as long as she kept it very casual Ally was always willing to spend a day or two with her.

Their normal pattern was to see each other quite a few times in a two or three week period. But as soon as things started to get too intense one or the other would stop calling. They would let 3 or 4 months pass and then start up for another round.

Ryan often felt that she would have liked the chance to try to make a relationship with Ally but she realized that they were too much alike to be able to stand each other for too long. But she had to admit that it was usually Ally who called a halt to their little flings.

They sometimes went to a club or a bar, and one year they went to Gay Pride Weekend together. But they generally just got together for incredibly good sex. Ryan had never met anyone who had her number quite like Ally did. Maybe it was because they had slept together so many times. But there was something about Ally that just drove her wild. She was not really even Ryanís type, physically. She was the only woman that Ryan had ever been with who could pick her up. And she did it a lot, sometimes just to show her who was boss. Ally was just a little bit taller but she was incredibly strong. She competed in body building competitions and usually did pretty well, as long as they were chemically free. Ally was very antagonistic about steroids and she refused to compete if the athletes werenít tested for their use.

Ally was attractive, but in a very androgynous fashion. She wore her dark brown hair very short, about 1 Ĺ inches long all over her head. Half the time it stuck straight up like a crew cut, but Ryan loved how the bristly little hairs felt on her naked body. Her eyes were somewhere between blue and gray depending on the light, but there was a fire in them that Ryan was truly drawn to.

Ryan was usually attracted to women who were smaller than she was. Her favorite type was tall, but not as tall as she; about 5í7" or so was perfect. She loved brunettes with relatively long hair and she was a sucker for dark brown eyes. She particularly liked lithe, lean women who were athletic but not very muscular. So it never ceased to amaze her that she found Ally so incredibly attractive.

She stopped at Hamburger Maryís to pick up burgers and malts, Allyís favorite junk food. They both tried to eat healthy most of the time, but when she wasnít getting in shape for a competition Ally was pretty flexible. Since Ryan didnít much care about a little weight fluctuation she could easily be tempted to treat herself to some junk food and she had to admit that hamburgers were one of her favorite indulgences.

As she parked her bike about a block from Allyís building she felt her pulse begin to pick up. She didnít often get nervous when she went on a date, having learned a long time ago that a lot of great looking women were absolute duds when you had to spend an evening with them. But she knew Ally well, and she knew what to expectóas much sex as she could handle. Ryan had always fancied herself as the dominant partner in almost every liaison that she had. She liked; no--she needed--to control the action. But she never got to do that with Ally. Even though she was only 2 years older Ally had always treated Ryan like she was young and inexperienced. She controlled the entire evening, and Ryan had learned that if she wanted to keep their connection going she had to allow her friend to be in charge.

Ryan trotted up the stairs to Allyís third floor unit. She buzzed the door and waited patiently as she could hear her walking around inside. She opened the door with her portable phone in her hand and smiled broadly as she indicated that Ryan should go into the kitchen and get dinner organized.

As she finished putting everything on plates Ally snuck up behind her and enveloped her in a big bear hug. She snuggled her head down against Ryanís neck as she held her tightly around the waist. "Iíve missed you, Sugar," she whispered in her ear.

Ryan felt a chill start at that lucky ear and travel all the way down to her toes. She giggled a little as Allyís warm breath tickled her ear. She loved the soft southern accent that her friend had not been able to shake even though she had moved to San Francisco from Chapel Hill, North Carolina over 8 years ago. She was ready to be released but Ally held on just a bit longer to let her know she was still on top. Ryan turned in her embrace and lifted her head just an inch to brush her lips against her friendís silky soft mouth.

One of the things that Ryan loved best was the contrast between Allyís external demeanor and appearance and the soft, warm, womanly curves that were usually hidden under her workout clothes. Ally had rather large breasts for her size and a delightful curve to her hips that Ryan loved to run her hands over. Her external toughness just accentuated the hidden treasures that Ryan loved to indulge in. "Iíve missed you too, Ally," she said sincerely.

"How long has it been?" Ally asked as she stepped out of Ryanís embrace and reached around to pick up a French fry and toss it in her mouth.

"I was thinking about that on the way over," she admitted. "I think it was right after the AIDS ride. I remember that my legs were stiff when I came over and that they stayed that way for another week thanks to you!"

"You know I never guarantee not to bruise the merchandise," she purred as she backed Ryan up against the table. Ryan slid her arms around Allyís neck and allowed herself to be thoroughly kissed. Those big strong hands held her tightly around the waist as Ally worked on her mouth with a methodical intensity. She pulled back slowly and chuckled at bit as Ryan kept her arms twined around her neck, eyes tightly closed. "Arenít you hungry, Sweet Pea?" she asked softly.

Ryan mutely nodded, eyes still closed.

"You look like youíre hungry for some love," Ally purred as she bent to lavish another round of heated kisses on Ryanís hungry mouth.

Ryan couldnít stop a low groan from escaping as her mouth was claimed so totally by her friend. She often felt powerless when she was with Ally and she had to admit that she absolutely loved it. There was something reassuring about feeling that someone else was in charge once in a while that really appealed to Ryan. She didnít think sheíd like to feel this way all of the time, but it was a welcome change that she had come to rely on and actually yearn for during the past 5 years.

"Come on Sugar Baby," Ally said softly as she pulled away from the embrace. "I need to keep my strength up to handle you all night long." She picked up the plates and carried them into the living room. Ryan handled the malts and a fistful of napkins. They sat in the cozy living room, Ryan on the low futon/couch, Ally on a butterscotch leather club chair. They chatted about Allyís most recent weight lifting competition that had just been held in San Jose. Ryan knew some of the competitors and one or two of the judges and Ally filled her in on who was in really good shape. Ryan reflected that their conversations centered almost entirely on working out, weight training and acquaintances that they had in common. Ally usually asked her a few questions about school, but it was clear that she did so to be polite. They didnít share an interest in hardly anything, Ryan mused. A Wynona Judd CD was playing quietly in the background to highlight one area of disagreement. Ryan liked to listen to World Music, with a particular fondness for Afro-pop or contemporary Irish artists, while Ally never varied from Wynona, Shania, Reba, and Faith. Her apartment was devoid of books, the only reading material being fitness magazines.

Ally came from a big family, but she had left home almost immediately upon graduating from high school. She had been having sex with women since she was 15 but an older brother caught her with another girl when she was a senior and her family made life nearly unbearable for her that last year. After she left North Carolina she maintained a relationship with one of her sisters who had also left home for good, but that was it. She had never been back home and she had no contact whatsoever with her parents. Ryan was not even sure if her parents knew where she lived. She knew that there must be a lot of pain hidden behind her friendís sunny demeanor but they never talked about it. Ally really preferred to only dwell on current issues and Ryan had decided long ago that she needed to honor her need for privacy if she wanted to maintain the relationship. Perhaps because of her family situation Ally also never inquired very deeply into Ryanís home life. She knew that Ryan lived at home, since they could never go there for a date, but she rarely asked after the rest of the OíFlaherty clan. Their relationship almost seemed to exist outside of their normal lives. It was untainted by any of the day to day issues that can cause tension. There was clearly only one focus and both of them seemed to like it that way.

"So tell me whatís caused the change to your schedule?" Ally asked as she picked up Ryanís now empty plate and carried it into the kitchen.

"I got a new job," Ryan began as Ally came back into the room and sat down right next to her on the couch. Her friend casually draped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close and Ryan smiled demurely as she automatically snuggled up against Allyís side. "Well, actually a friend got me a new job," she admitted just to be accurate. Even though they had worked at the same gym for nearly 5 years they didnít see each other often at work. Ryan worked evenings and weekends almost exclusively while Ally had tailored her schedule into a 9-5 job. She didnít work out at Castro, so she spent most of her evenings training at a heavy duty free weight place in the Mission district.

"Youíre leaving Castro?" she asked in surprise.

"Pretty much," Ryan admitted. "My new place is over in Berkeley. Itís really cool, Ally. Itís women only and itís filled with people who want to work, not pose." It was a long standing joke between them how few of the people at Castro really seemed to work, especially in the evenings; prime cruising time. "Iíve got two clients who donít want to move with me, but I think Iím gonna have to let them go. Itís just not worth it to pay $250 a month and have to come back over here to make $375. That just knocks my hourly down too low. Would you like to take them?"

"When do you see them?"

"I see Mark on Wednesday at 9 and Sunday at noon, and Vanessa at 4. I think they would actually prefer to come on a weekday though. Markís a writer so he can make his own schedule, and I think Vanessa is either a sex worker or a dancer. Weíve never talked about it but sheís got a lot more silicone than I think you need for normal purposes," she said with a laugh.

"Iíd love another couple of steady clients," Ally said. "Do you want to hand them off or should I call them?"

"My fees are paid up through October so I was planning on finishing out the month with them. Would you be willing to come over on Sunday and meet them?"

"Sure. Why donít you come over tomorrow night and we can have brunch on Sunday morning before we go over?"

Ryan gave her a lopsided grin as she made a small plea for moderation. "That works for me, but you have to promise not to wear me out too badly tonight. Iíve got a long bike ride scheduled for tomorrow and I canít do it standing up. Plus I need to reserve a little energy if you want me to come back tomorrow night."

"Okay," Ally said softly as she leaned over and started to kiss Ryanís neck. "Iíll go easy on you tonight, but tomorrow all bets are off," she said as she nipped her neck rather sharply in anticipation.

Ryan gulped audibly as she considered what she was in for. Ally never hurt her or really tried to dominate her physically. But she seemed to take great pleasure in wringing every bit of desire from Ryanís body. She didnít use any elaborate bondage paraphernalia but she did like to restrain Ryan, usually with her hands or sometimes just with her personality. Ryan knew exactly what it was like to be in Allyís shoes since she behaved just like her when she was with other women. But it was a very big turn on for her to be the object of desire when they were together. When Ally said all bets were off that meant that she would be up all night, giving herself over totally to her friend. Ally could rarely let her off with just one orgasm. And since Ryan was not multi-orgasmic she needed to rest for an hour or so between bouts. So some of their dates turned into very long marathon sessions, with short naps or even a run out to a 24 hour diner for a little sustenance to keep them going.

Ryan leaned her head back as she closed her eyes and gave her friend total access to her sensitive neck. Ally liked for Ryan to look a little butch on the outside, so she had worn a tight black v-necked T-shirt with the short sleeves rolled up a little and carpenterís style canvas jeans. But she also satisfied her friendís desire for sexy underwear. Under her tough girl outfit Ryan wore a nearly transparent black lace bra and some tiny black bikinis. Ally started to work her shirt out of her pants and Ryan reflected that she had never undressed herself when they were together. Ally had a need to control the entire scene; from start to finish, and undressing her partner was a very important part in setting the stage.

After she had pulled Ryanís shirt free she returned to her neck and started kissing down the v of her collar. She didnít like the angle she was working at so she slid her arms behind Ryanís back and knees and effortlessly pulled her onto her lap. Ryan smiled serenely as she felt herself being lifted so easily. She was always the one to cradle a woman in her lap and she loved the role reversal. There was something so freeing to just let herself go and allow Ally to make all the decisions. She briefly wondered if Ally had anyone to switch roles with, but all such thoughts flew from her mind as she felt her shirt being lifted from her body. "Oooh, I love this," Allyís voice burred against her ear as she ran her powerful hands all over Ryanís breasts.

She felt her nipples snap to attention as they were teased through the somewhat rough lace. She hadnít warned Ally to go easy on her breasts and she shivered slightly as she imagined how thoroughly they would be loved. Ally was decidedly a breast woman. It seemed that most of her arousal came from fondling Ryanís breasts and she returned to them again and again as they made love.

Ryan leaned languidly against Allyís neck as she continued to massage her breasts through her bra. A small moan escaped from her lips as she felt those big strong hands grasp and play with her increasingly aroused mounds but she knew that Ally would go at her own pace, no matter how aroused she was. Ally clearly wanted to please Ryan but her own pleasure was the focus of their interactions. She waited until she was ready to move on in their lovemaking, and Ryan knew that she might as well relax and enjoy the ride. Ally was driving and she had no control over the route or the destination.

She slid her hand down to grasp Allyís full breast but she felt her hand being gripped firmly as her friend whispered, "Focus, Sugar. Just feel what Iím doing to you." Ryan submissively complied with her instructions as she wondered whether she would be allowed to touch Ally this time. She was usually allowed to please her friend, but she normally had to wait until Ally had made love to her at least twice. There seemed to be a barrier that they had to cross in order for her to be receptive. Sometimes they would be together for two days with Ryan never being allowed to even kiss her breasts. But Ally clearly did not want to talk about her desires or her needs. Ryan assumed that she had been molested as a child since there were certain ways that she could not tolerate to be touched. There were also certain positions that Ryan had learned never put her in. Ally could not tolerate being on her back with Ryan on top of her. The one time she had tried that she found herself nearly thrown from the bed, so she was careful never to repeat that move. But they sometimes reached a level of intimacy that allowed Ally to shove down her barriers and welcome Ryanís touch without restriction. Ryan clearly loved those times best of all. As much as she loved being touched, touching Ally seemed like a gift. She would focus all of her energies on pleasing her friend and sometimes they would fly into a frenzy of lovemaking that was truly overpowering for both of them. But every time that happened Ally would withdraw the next day and be unavailable for at least 3 or 4 months. Ryan reflected that the last time they had seen each other they had gotten very intimate. Ally was more vulnerable than she could ever remember her being, and had in fact softly wept after Ryan had made love to her. But the experience had obviously been uncomfortable since she had not heard from her friend since June.

It was clear tonight that Ally did not want Ryanís hands to wander into restricted space. She slowly unbuckled Ryanís belt while she kept her gaze locked on her. She pulled it from the loops and quickly wrapped it around Ryanís hands and gripped it tight, completely restricting her ability to move her hands independently. She gently tossed her onto her back and tied the belt over the wooden arm of the sofa, causing Ryanís arms to be fully extended over her head.

Ryan sighed deeply as she felt her hands being removed from her control. She was completely confident in Allyís concern for her and she knew that she would stop anything she was doing if Ryan asked her to. She didnít restrict Ryan for her own pleasure as much as she did to remind her to relax and give up any desire for control. And Ryan had to admit that it worked perfectly. She opened herself up to Allyís desires and let her friend use her body to bring both of them the pleasure that they sought.

Ally moved down to remove Ryanís big black linemanís boots and her thick white socks. She spent a long time massaging her feet, sending waves of pleasure up and down Ryanís spine. Ryan was so relaxed that her limbs felt heavy and weak. Ally decided to crank her back up a bit so she raised Ryanís foot up and began to sensually suck on her clean pink toes. The feel of that terribly soft warm mouth on her foot brought her right back up to her previous level of arousal. She started to slowly twitch her hips as she waited for her friend to make her next move. She sincerely hoped that it would involve her vulva, but she had a feeling that she was a long way from getting any release. Much to her surprise Ally began to slowly unzip her jeans. She slid her hand in and tickled her mound with just the tips of her fingers. Ryanís hips shot off the sofa and tried to increase the pressure but Ally knew all of her tricks. She lightened up her touch every time Ryan thrust at her until she was touching only her panties.

She leaned over and whispered into Ryanís flushed ear, "Are you ready for me, Sweetness?"

Ryan closed her eyes and ground her hips around in a little circle as she slowly nodded her head.

"Talk to me Sugar. Tell me what you want," she cooed.

Ryan took several deep breaths before she had the ability to express her needs. "I want you to touch me Ally. I want to feel your hands on me and I want your fingers deep inside of me."

"Mmmm, I want that too, Sugar," she whispered as she captured Ryanís swollen bottom lip and gently sucked it into her mouth. She nibbled on the tender flesh for a moment before she moved on to explore Ryanís mouth with her tongue. After a few achingly long moments she pulled away and gazed into Ryanís desire filled eyes. "I promise youíll get all you can handle, Sweetness. But I donít think youíre ready yet," she informed her with a note of regret in her deep voice. "When youíre really ready youíll beg for my touch."

She climbed on top of Ryan and started to kiss her again. Ryanís mouth opened and welcomed Allyís warm tongue as it began to explore every surface. As the kissing intensified Ryan had an overpowering desire to wrap her arms around Allyís back and toss her over. She wanted to satisfy her primal urge to be on top but her bound hands constantly reminded her that she was a bottom today, and would remain so for the duration of the evening.

After she had kissed her so thoroughly that her lips felt bruised Ally moved down again. She went to the end of the sofa and grabbed the hems of Ryanís pant legs and gave a powerful yank. The jeans flew from her body and were quickly tossed aside. Her panties were pulled down inadvertently so Ally gently pulled them back up and softly patted Ryanís belly. Then she climbed on top again and began to kiss Ryanís nipples through her bra. The pressure of her firm tongue made the material feel quite rough on Ryanís delicate skin. Her nipples puckered so forcefully that her areolas almost disappeared. Allyís hands were never still as her mouth worked away. She ran her hands up and down Ryanís torso, touching her lightly, teasingly.

After a long while she sat up and gazed at Ryan for a moment. She reached up and untied her hands, swiftly pulling her up to a sitting position. "Dance with me," she said simply as she extended a hand. Ryan obediently grasped it as she was pulled to her feet. Ally was still fully clothed. She had on black jeans and a white cropped T-shirt that bore a logo that read Ďgirlí. Ryan guessed that she also wore a sports bra since she had no cleavage tonight. She just fervently hoped that sheíd be allowed to find out what was under those clothes before the night was over.

A slow, emotion laden song was playing and Ally wrapped her arm around Ryanís waist as she grasped her hand and held it to her breast. She began to move her slowly around the wooden floor, keeping perfect time to the music. Ryan felt more naked than she would have felt it she was in fact naked. Something about dancing in your lacy underwear when your partner was fully dressed could do that to a girl.

Allyís black Doc Martinís added to her height advantage to make her at least 3 inches taller than her partner but the height difference allowed Ryan to get close by tucking her breasts just under Allyís. Ryan let her head drop to rest on Allyís broad shoulder and she sighed as she felt her partnerís head turn to gently rest against hers. There was something so intimate about this tender dance that Ryan felt a burst of emotion well up in her throat. They continued to move with and against each other until the entire CD was finished. As the music stopped they stood and swayed together for a few long minutes. Ally finally lifted her head and kissed Ryan tenderly, just barely brushing their lips together. Her hand lifted from Ryanís back and gently held the back of her head as she slowly increased the intensity of the kiss until she could feel her partnerís knees begin to weaken.

With one powerful move she swept Ryan into her arms and started to carry her towards the bedroom. Ryan raised her hands to clasp behind Allyís neck as she leaned back and enjoyed the ride. She hadnít been carried to bed since she was a small child and she smiled sweetly as she thought of all of the women she had done this to. When they arrived she laid her gently onto the neatly made bed and started to undress. Ryan stared at her with her heavy lidded eyes filled with open desire. It was clear that she appreciated Allyís sculpted body and she did her best to show that appreciation with her eyes. Her gaze was met with a knowing smirk as Ally showed off a bit. She removed her T-shirt and pulled her bra over her head. Standing there in her jeans she stretched and arched her back languidly. Ryan took in all of the rippling muscles in her back and shoulders as she felt her mouth go dry with the insistent craving that pounded in her body. She loved few things more than to feel those muscles flex as she touched them with her hands and mouth.

Ally turned around to remove her jeans. Her only motivation was to show off her back a little bit more but Ryan loved this exhibitionistic part of her friend. She appreciated great bodies and she thought it only fair that the owner would appreciate her own body as well. She shucked her jeans slowly as she displayed herself completely. Next she slid her gray panties down her rock hard legs and stepped out of them. Another few stretches for Ryanís benefit and she climbed onto the bed.

"God, you look good," Ryan breathed as she ran her fingers up Allyís legs. "Iíve never seen your legs look so big." Ally didnít stop her so she continued to trail her hands over the starkly defined muscles. "Ummm, your quads are like iron," she said in wonder as she pushed her thumbs into the big muscles. She was just about to move her hands to feel the backs of Allyís legs when she abruptly found herself on her back again.

"Breakís over, Sweetie, back to work," Ally said with a wild look in her eyes as she climbed on top of her again. She returned her attentions to Ryanís now aching breasts. Once again her nipples popped up quickly as Ally let out a little chuckle. "Somebody seems to like me," she said as she blew a cool breath across the tender nubs.

"Ummm, they like you a lot," Ryan purred as she felt the sensation begin to radiate out from her breasts. Ally continued to tease the taut nipples through the lacy bra until Ryan once again started to roll her hips in a very beguiling fashion.

Ally rolled her onto her side and unclasped her bra and lifted it from her body. She put her on her back again as she leaned over her ruby red nipples and spoke to them as if they were sentient. "You look so red and swollen," she said sympathetically. "I bet youíd love someone to sooth you with a nice warm mouth, wouldnít you?"

Ryan answered for her nipples as she tried to grab Allyís head and pull it onto one of the inflamed tips. But Ally was far too quick for her. She got a firm grip on both of Ryanís hands and placed them upon two of the spindles in her wooden headboard. She leaned over until her nose was nearly touching Ryanís. "Keep them there," she growled.

Ryan despised to have to control herself and even though she had never revealed this fact to Ally she had a feeling that the larger woman knew it and forced her to do so just to make her point. It was much easier for her if Ally just tied her hands. But Ally got a lot of pleasure from Ryanís internal struggle to obey this one simple command, so she did her best to comply. She gripped the spindles firmly and closed her eyes as Ally dipped her head and covered one of her aching nipples with her mouth. The warm, wet tongue was very soothing and Ryan luxuriated in the sensation. Ally blew on them again and Ryan felt some of the heat leave the tender nubs as the cool air passed over.

She felt her hips begin to thrust as her friend began to suck more and more of her breast into her mouth. She wanted to reach down and hold Allyís head and push her mouth more firmly against her breast but she was unable to do so because of her restrained hands. The fact that she was the one restraining herself just made the sensation all the more deliciously frustrating. She just wished that Ally would slide one of those rock hard thighs between her legs so she could have some pressure on her vulva. It was so

maddening to have her hips thrusting against nothing but air, but she could not keep them still, no matter how hard she tried.

Ally tossed her leg over Ryanís hips and sat up, straddling her thighs. Ryan smiled to herself as she felt those dark brown curls leave a moist trail as they passed over her leg. Ally opened her arms and beckoned, "Come here, Sugar."

Ryan relinquished her hold of the spindles and sat up quickly, feeling herself enveloped in her friendís strong embrace. "I swear youíre more beautiful every time I see you," she whispered into her ear and she squeezed her tightly. Ryan lifted her head and Ally began to kiss her again, this time with a tender, soft, emotion filled touch. She brought her hands around to cup Ryanís breasts and gently squeezed them as her kisses deepened. Ryan brought her hands up to rest on top of Allyís and she pressed them harder against herself as they began to move around in a circle. "You have the most perfect breasts Iíve ever touched," she murmured reverently as she continued to move the tortured flesh around slowly in her hands.

She finally pulled one hand away and moved it to the back of Ryanís head. She lifted her own breast in her hand and raised it to Ryanís willing mouth. "Please," she begged with a tremulous voice. Ryan thankfully opened her mouth and sucked Ally in. They let out concurrent moans as they both felt a jolt of pleasure from the contact. Ryanís arousal shot off the scale as she sucked on Allyís breasts with a ravenous hunger. Her clitoris throbbed as she squeezed her thighs together as tightly as she could manage. She was rewarded by Allyís soft moans as she worked on her generous mounds with her hands and her mouth. But after all too brief a time Ally pulled her breast away and bent to kiss Ryan for several more minutes.

Ryanís head was spinning from her unquenched desire as she felt Ally roll off of her. She gave her a wicked grin as she slowly pulled her bikinis off. Ally rolled her onto her stomach and Ryan felt her shift to get something from the nightstand. Suddenly she felt something cold and wet being poured onto her butt, Allyís second favorite body part. Her strong hands began to massage the cool gel into her skin and Ryan purred as her cheeks were firmly manipulated. As the gel disappeared Ryan was surprised to feel the heat begin to build as Ally blew across her cheeks. The heat continued to grow until Ryan felt like she had been spanked. But as quickly as it developed it began to dissipate until it felt cool once more.

Now Ally squeezed the gel all over Ryan, from the tops of her shoulders, down her back, across her hips and down each leg. She used her hands to spread it around until it coated every inch of skin but she did not rub it in. Instead, Ryan felt her climb on top of her and begin to glide across her body with an incredibly sensual tempo. Every time Ally lifted a particular body part away from Ryan the cool breeze that was blowing across the room heated up her skin until she squirmed. Ryan was quickly becoming so aroused that she was on the verge of slipping her hand between her legs and bringing herself off. But Ally seemed to sense this and she grabbed Ryanís hands and spread them out under her own powerful arms. She continued to grind against Ryanís hypersensitive skin, as Ryan pounded her hips against the mattress.

Finally Ryan could not take another minute of frustration. She moaned into the mattress and begged for release. "Please, Ally," she pleaded. "Please touch me. I need you now."

"Are you sure youíre ready, Ryan?" she whispered into her ear.

"YES!!" she cried. "PLEASE!! Iím begging you, Ally, please let me come!"

"Okay, Sugar," she agreed. "Youíve been very good tonight." She picked up a small towel and quickly wiped the excess of the gel from Ryanís back and her own chest and legs. They both shivered a bit as the air blew cool and then hot across their sensitized skin. She turned Ryan onto her back and her legs immediately shot open as she placed her feet on the bed, waiting for Allyís touch.

Ally climbed onto her waist, facing the foot of the bed. She was so wet that Ryan could feel her moisture spreading all across her belly. Ryan clearly had enough of her own lubrication but Ally couldnít resist putting just a dab of the cinnamon flavored gel right onto her clitoris. Ryan nearly leapt from the bed when she felt the cool liquid hit her overheated clit. But when Ally leaned over her and began to blow on it she nearly hit the ceiling. Her hips flew from the bed so violently that she nearly hit Ally in the face with her pelvis. She called out indecipherable words as she impotently humped the air. Ally scooted down lower to hold her still and slid her fingers across Ryanís throbbing vulva as she let out a low moan of satisfaction. She had barely begun to move her fingers up and down against her inner lips when Ryan screamed out her climax. She bucked and jerked so violently that Ally had to steady herself with her hands to stay on top of her. But since she was bent over a bit she decided that one more good blow couldnít hurt. She watched Ryanís vulva spasm for a moment and just when she began to still Ally blew out a long breath that traveled up and down Ryanís oversensitized center. "Aaaahhhh! AAAAHHHH!" she yelled as the heat began to build again. She snapped her legs shut and rolled over until she could dislodge her tormentor.

She threw her arms around Ally and they began to wrestle on the bed. "Are you trying to kill me!!?" she panted as she pinned her temporarily.

Ally easily shrugged out of her hold and tossed her onto her back once again. She covered her body with her own and leaned down to kiss Ryan several times. "Iím just trying to please you, Sugar," she purred. "How did I do?" she asked with a little grin.

Ryan beamed back at her as she wrapped her arms around her neck. "You did great," she said sincerely as she began to kiss her back. She was surprised to feel Ally begin to submit to her so she rapidly increased her attack. Her kisses intensified quickly as she squeezed the delectable mounds that hovered above her.

"Touch me now," Ally pleaded and Ryan immediately complied. Ally had never asked for what she needed and Ryan was certainly not going to refuse this first request. She rolled her onto her back while she carefully cuddled up next to her. Just for paybacks she squeezed some of the gel onto her fingers before she slid them into Allyís drenched vulva. Her legs flew open as she grasped Ryanís hand and pushed it against herself roughly. Just a few seconds of firm pressure and she began to shake as her climax hit her hard. She continued to shiver as she held onto Ryanís hand, pushing it against herself for a few more seconds. Then she lay very still for a few moments, finally looking up at Ryan with a crooked grin. "Race you to the shower," she said as she vaulted from the bed and dashed in front of her laughing partner. They pushed and elbowed each other for a few moments but Ally won as usual.

Next they fought over the hand held shower for a few minutes to remove the residue of the gel. "What is this stuff?" Ryan asked as a look of bliss crossed her features as the last traces were washed from her vulva.

"Itís cinnamon flavored motion lotion," Ally replied. "It tastes just like ĎRed Hotsí."

"You are truly diabolical," Ryan teased as she leaned over to give her another kiss.

"You really know how to turn a girlís head," Ally replied with a sweet smile as she returned the kiss.

By the time they dried off and stopped in the kitchen to feed each other ice cream it was nearly 10 oíclock. They crawled back into bed and cuddled up together to sleep. Ryan was always amazed at how snuggly and affectionate Ally was when they slept together. She had every part of herself touching some part of her partner as they settled down into a comfortable position. "Gínight, Ryan," she whispered as Ryan felt herself begin to relax in her warm embrace.

"Good night, Ally," she replied as she turned her head to give her one final kiss. Moments later she could feel her relax and lean against her heavily. Ryan sighed deeply and joined her in sleep minutes later.

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

Jack walked in to his apartment on Friday evening and smiled as his senses took in the smell of roasted chicken coming from the kitchen. There is nothing better than coming home from school and having Jamie here making dinner for us, he thought happily. He stopped in his tracks, however, when he came upon an obviously new bright orange bike leaning against the wall in the hallway.

"Jamie, are you here?" he asked.

"Yeah, honey. Iím in here," she replied from the kitchen. "Címon in."

He did as he was told, but his confused look remained. "Whose bike is that?" he asked as he pointed in the direction of the hallway.

"Itís mine, silly," she replied as she made her way over to give him a proper greeting. "Whose else would it be?"

"I donít know," he replied. "I didnít know you liked to ride, and I didnít know you had a bike, soooÖ"

"Well, I do and I do," she said simply, as she wrapped her arms around his neck and silenced any potential response by keeping his lips busy for several long moments.

He was not to be deterred, however. When she pulled away he walked back into the hall and looked more closely at the bike. "Sure seems like a nice one," he said. "Is it new?"

"Yeah, I just got it this week."

"How come?" he inquired as he returned to the kitchen, carrying his mail.

"How come what?" she replied, although she knew what the question really was.

"How come you bought a new expensive bike?" he said patiently.

"I want to get into riding," she said, as if this explained everything.

But Jack was his usual tenacious self, and he sensed there was more beneath the surface. "Why?" he asked firmly as he locked his gaze onto hers, giving her a clear signal that he wanted a complete answer.

"Iíve decided that Iím going to ride in this years AIDS Ride in June." That should satisfy him, she thought.

"Why would you want to do that?" he asked with his voice rising just a bit. "And why are you avoiding my questions?"

"Whatís so odd about wanting to do something to support a worthy cause, Jack?" she replied. "Weíve both been lucky enough to have been unscathed by this disease. The least I can do is show my support by doing this ride."

"Jamie, we both know if you wanted to support this cause you could write them a check that would make them faint. That canít be the reason for doing something this stupid." As soon as it was out he truly wanted to pull that last word back into his mouth. That urge got stronger when he saw the hurt look in her eyes. "Iím sorry, Jamie. I didnít mean that," he said as he approached her and tried to put his arms around her.

But Jamie was having none of it. She turned her back on him and struggled to keep the tears from flowing. She shrugged off his repeated attempts to touch her as she tried to control her emotions. Finally she turned around and regarded him with a sad look. "Why would you say something like that, Jack? Are you just trying to hurt me?"

"No, of course not, Sweetheart," he said as he was again rebuffed in his attempt to touch her. "Itís just that it seems thereís more and more stuff that you donít tell me. I guess I just feel left out," he grumbled with a dejected look on his handsome face.

Jamie could not resist the hurt puppy look and she had to admit that he was right. She was leaving him out of some decisions, so she relented and took him into her arms. "Iím sorry, Jack. I donít want you to feel left out. This is just something I decided to do recently. Itís important to me and I want your support. I guess I sometimes forget to tell you things, but Iíll try to do better in the future."

He wrapped her in a fierce hug and held on for several minutes. As he nuzzled his head into her neck he broke the ice by asking, "Do you want to make up like we did last time?"

She laughed a little as she leaned her head back and gave him a tender kiss. "I would love to, but dinnerís about ready. Letís eat and then go to bed early, okay?"

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

Over dinner she explained the ride more thoroughly. She was reticent to explain how Ryan was so intrinsically involved, but she was resolved to try to keep her promise to Jack. Her friendís name had not been mentioned since their fight and she felt a little guilty about developing such a close relationship without Jackís knowledge. The first time she mentioned Ryanís name Jack paused mid-bite, but he did not comment. Jamie dutifully told him everything. She told him about deciding to do the ride, about buying the bike, about training at the gym. She was chagrined to hear herself mention Ryan every 5 seconds, but she was determined to be completely honest.

Jack asked a few questions, but just generally let her talk. When she was finished he sat back in his chair and regarded her for a long moment. "I would like to get to know this woman," he said simply. "Sheís obviously become a very good friend and you seem to be spending quite a lot of time with her so I would like to spend some time with her too."

"How about tomorrow?" she asked with a little grin. "Sheís bringing her bike down here and weíre going on a ride."

"Tomorrow it is," he said with a small smile.

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

They lay in bed together late that night. Jack was sound asleep and Jamie watched him as he lay in peaceful exhaustion. They had made love, and while Jamie was not physically satiated she felt very peaceful lying next to her fiancé. She loved the closeness and the warmth their lovemaking provided. She often thought that her favorite time was after Jack had finished and he lay collapsed in her arms. She felt so close to him, kissing his forehead and holding him tight as she whispered words of love into his ear. She snuggled up behind him and rested her head against his back as she rolled him onto his side, and drifted off.

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

Jamie had donned her new bike shorts and a lightweight long sleeved T-shirt that was designed to wick away sweat. She clomped around the living room in her bike shoes and did a few light stretches to loosen her hamstrings and quads. Ryan was due in a few minutes and she knew she would be on time, as usual. Jamie was a bit nervous and Jack seemed very quiet. I hope this goes well. I know he will like her if he can just give her a chance.

Just then the doorbell rang and she went to let her guest in. Well, I finally got my wish, she sighed to herself as she took in Ryanís long form. Iíve been dying to see her muscles and she had to show them to me when Jackís here. But even though she was a bit chagrined she was glad to finally be able to check her out thoroughly. And she had to admit that the wait was well worth it. This woman was a truly amazing sight. She wore black ankle length bike pants that highlighted every firm muscle of her legs, and a tight red short sleeved bicycling jersey covered with advertising logos. Her large red bicycle was casually slung over her broad shoulder, and her black helmet dangled from the handlebar. Her black hair was slicked back off her face, and her face was flushed from obvious exertion which must have included carrying the bike up 3 flights of stairs. She wore a bright smile on her beautiful face as she grinned down at Jamie. "Hi," she said simply.

"Di..Di..Did you ride here?" Jamie asked incredulously as she struggled to resist the urge to catch the drop of sweat that was trailing down the side of Ryanís cheek.

"Yep. I figured that since I need to put in 100 or so miles on the weekend, that this would be an easy way to do it."

"Címon in and Iíll get you something to drink. You look like you could use it," she laughed. "Honey, Ryanís here," she said toward Jackís small office.

He emerged with a quizzical look on his face. He took in the figure before him and shook his head a bit, "Did you ride here?" he asked with a smile as he extended his hand.

Ryan struggled a little to remove her padded glove, but finally got it off and took his still extended hand. "Sorry, Iím a little sweaty," she said as she shook Jackís hand. "That last hill was a killer," she admitted.

Jamie emerged from the kitchen with a cold bottle of water, which was gratefully accepted. Ryan tore open the cap and tilted the bottle up to her mouth. As she leaned her head back to chug the cold water Jack stole a long glance. Wow, he marveled, she could be a model, or something. Well, maybe a model for a fitness magazine, she couldnít pull off the waif thing at all, he amended.Ryan dropped the now empty bottle to her thigh and breathed out a satisfied sigh. "Boy, that really hit the spot, Jamie. Thanks.""Youíre welcome," Jamie grinned. "Iím surprised you didnít bring some along for the trip.""Oh, I did," Ryan admitted. But I drank it all half way down here. Sometimes I donít pay attention to the weather change from the City to the Peninsula. It was cold and foggy when I left home this morning and I didnít check the weather before I left. It must be 20 degrees warmer here than at home.""Give me your water bottles and Iíll fill them for you," Jamie offered.Ryan handed over her 2 spent bottles from their cages on her bike. "Can I make a pit stop before we take off again?" she inquired."Sure. Itís right down the hall, next to the office," Jack replied.Jamie retreated to the kitchen to complete her chore and Jack followed on her heels. "God Jamie, I didnít notice before how gorgeous she is," he whispered into her ear as she leaned over the sink."Maybe you just like the sweaty look," she said with a chuckle. I know I do, she thought wryly. "Do you feel the standard male urge to convert her to your team?" she asked with a giggle, right back into his ear."No, not me, but a lot of guys sure would.""Why not you?" she inquired as her brow furrowed."One--because sheí s not my type. Two--because Iíve got my hands full with you. I canít take on any side work," he said as he bent slightly to kiss her smiling mouth. Jamie was a bit taken by surprise as he really began to get into the kiss. One hand moved up her torso as the other slipped down and palmed her Lycra encased butt. She was about to push him away when she caught a glimpse of Ryan in the doorway.

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

Jamie thought about the kiss for a moment as she finished filling up the bottles and Jack returned to the living room to chat with Ryan. That was odd. He is normally so reserved around other people. It almost seemed like he wanted her to see that, like he was laying claim to me. She briefly chastised herself, You donít have to analyze everything, Jamie. Maybe he just felt like kissing you at that moment. And trying to cop a feel in front of your lesbian friend, her suspicious side warned.Ryan hoisted her bike onto her broad shoulder while Jack did the same with Jamieís. "Jack, I brought it up here myself," she argued, "Iím sure I can get it down the same way.""Iím sure you can, Sweetheart," he agreed. "But Iím here and I want to help," he stated gallantly.As Jamie situated herself on the bike he leaned over and kissed her goodbye. "I really might need your help when I get home," she admitted. "If I ring the buzzer will you come down?""Absolutely," he agreed. "Now you two be safe. Thereís lot of traffic on Saturday."

"Okay, Dad," Jamie teased."Iíll take care of her, Jack," Ryan said in the same teasing tone.Jamie thought she saw the smallest flicker of irritation cross his handsome face, but she decided to ignore it.

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

They took off and began their short trek to the Stanford campus. "Have you been down here much?" she asked Ryan.

"No, not really," Ryan revealed. "Iíve been to a few athletic events but thatís it. Iím actually not sure that Iíve ever been here during daylight hours."

"Well youíre in luck because I know this place like the back of my hand," she admitted. As she set her trip computer to zero she asked, "So, weíre doing 15 miles today, Coach?""If you feel up to it," Ryan replied. "I know I tortured your legs yesterday and I want you to pay careful attention to how they feel," she warned."Well, my butt feels fine and if we stay on this level terrain I think Iíll be fine.""Good. This is exactly the type of ride I want you to do on Saturdays. Itís a good thing you come down to the Peninsula on the weekends. Itís the ideal place to do your long slow distance ride. Berkeley is really too hilly unless you stay around campus and that is like sucking on an exhaust pipe.""Thatís a sweet image. Iím sure Iíll have that in mind when I ride to class on Monday," she laughed.They rode through the palm lined streets of the campus which was relatively quiet. There was never a lot of activity on a Saturday when the Cardinal was playing an away game and since todayís game was against UCLA it appeared that a substantial portion of the undergraduates had either taken a road trip to L.A. or were watching the game in their dorm rooms. Ryan had always thought it overly precious that the Stanford mascot was a color. But she supposed that was part of the Stanford mystique. The motto for the school could have been ĎBe completely uniqueí, she thought. "Hey, do you know why the mascot is a color?" Ryan asked, hoping her friend knew some history.

"Oh, it wasnít always the color. About 20 years ago there were tons of protests about the treatment of Native Americans in the Bay Area. A group of protesters even took over Alcatraz Island and held it for quite a while. So the issue of Native Americans was very hot. Stanfordís mascot was the Indian at the time and after a lot of discussion and very big arguments they decided on keeping it simple and went with the color."

"How do you know that if it was 20 years ago?"

"I still hear about it from some of my relatives. One great uncle in particular thinks that was the beginning of the decline of western civilization," she said with a wry laugh.

"Why are you so familiar with Stanford?" Ryan quizzed as they rode along.

"Well, both of my parents went here and my motherís family has a strong connection."

"Hmm," said Ryan with a knowing grin. "Given what youíve told me about your family I assume that means that some big buildings are named after you."

Jamie shot her a glance but then laughed a bit as she admitted, "Surprisingly not. My family was more into sponsoring chairs in various disciplines. I think they felt that having a building named after you would be nice but only people on campus would know your name. But when a professor is the recipient of the ĎPutnam Barrett Smith Chair of Humanitiesí he or she uses that title on all of their professional publications. Lots more notoriety," she informed Ryan with a roll of her eyes.

"Smith, huh?" Ryan said as she rode close. "Could you be any Waspier?"

"Donít think so," Jamie admitted.

"Donít you have any Stepnoskiís or Liebowitzes or Hudekís or Antonioniís or even an odd Murphy in your family?"

"Nope. Motherís family came from England in about 1650 and theyíve stuck to their own kind almost exclusively, near as I can tell. My fatherís family also came from England not long after the Revolutionary War."

"Thatís remarkable," Ryan said with interest. "How do you know so much about your family?"

"Wasps love to research their genealogy," she said with a laugh. "My motherís mother hired someone to research their family tree. Itís all in a nicely bound leather book."

"Thatís pretty neat," Ryan said. "So show me something with your family name on it."

"Okay," she replied. They pedaled over to the main quad and hopped off their bikes. Walking over to an impressive stone archway Jamie led her inquisitive friend to a large plaque that had been placed on the interior of the arcade. "There you go," she said as she pointed to the plaque with a flourish.

The legend read that the archway was substantially retrofitted and repaired after the Loma Prieta earthquake by the generous contributions of the listed benefactors. Ryan scanned the names for a Smith and pointed to a ĎRoger B. Smithí. "Is that your family?"

"Yeah. Thatís a cousin. But thatís not what I wanted to show you." Ryan gave her a puzzled glance so she pointed to the beginning of the alphabet. After a few seconds of scanning Ryan turned to her with a cute little grin. "Are those your parents?"

"Yep."

"Why are they listed separately?" Ryan inquired as she considered the entries for both James S. Evans and Catherine D.S. Evans.

"Hmm, Iím not sure," she admitted. "I assume they each made a contribution from their separate funds and they didnít want to share the glory."

Ryan shot her a glance to see if she was kidding, but it was obvious that not only was her friend serious, she didnít seem to think this behavior odd. It was a struggle not to impart her own familyís sense of propriety onto the Evans family but Ryan could not understand why you would not want to have your name listed along with your spouse. It just seemed terribly odd to her but she didnít want to make a big deal out of it so she kept her opinion to herself. "This is quite a pretty arch," she said as she looked around.

"Yeah, it is," Jamie agreed. "As you may know the University was founded by Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane Lathrop Stanford. They had just one child, Leland Junior. He died just a few months before his 16th birthday and they decided to create and dedicate the university to him. The actual name is the Leland Stanford Junior University."

"I didnít know that," Ryan said. "Thatís some memorial."

"Yeah. Mrs. Stanford was quite the impressive woman. This arch was one of her personal touches." Jamie led her friend around to the front of the structure. She pointed up at the stone carvings that lined the arch and pointed out that each one bore a tiny heart right in the center. "She really dedicated the rest of her life to making this university one of the finest in the country. She must have missed her son terribly, but I really admire her for doing something positive in his name rather than just quietly mourning him."

Ryan was studying the arch and Jamie watched as her elegant fingers softly stroked one of the carved hearts. Her companion was very quiet as she contemplated the structure. Finally she said, "As hard as it was to lose my mother itís the natural order of things, you know?" she asked as she turned to face Jamie. "A child is supposed to outlive their parents. I just canít imagine how devastating it would be to lose your only child at such a young age," she said quietly.

The sad longing in those clear blue eyes made Jamie unconsciously place her hand in the small of Ryanís back in a small attempt at comforting her friend. Ryan draped an arm around her shoulders and gave her a gentle hug. "Thanks for showing me this," she said quietly.

"Would you like to see the Memorial Church?" she asked. "Itís where my parents were married."

"Sure," Ryan said happily as she removed her arm from its perch.

"Itís right in the back of this interior quadrangle," Jamie informed her as they walked along. Moments later they were standing in the beautiful non-denominational church. Ryanís head was thrown back as she gazed at the magnificent stained glass windows that surrounded her.

"These are outstanding!" she whispered as Jamie approached.

"Yeah, this place is pretty special," she agreed quietly, even though they were the only people in the structure. "The inscriptions on the walls are from Mrs. Stanfordís writings," she informed Ryan. "Some of them are quite beautiful."

Ryan was obviously fascinated by the church and Jamie left her to her wanderings. She sat down in a pew to rest her legs but found herself slyly watching Ryan as she stopped before each inscription. When she spotted her friend staring at one particular inscription for a long while Jamie finally walked over to her and read it.

Ryan turned to her slowly and said, "Those are the words of someone who has known sorrowóbut refused to let it own her."

Jamie gave her a small smile and pondered the words again:

There are but few on earth free from cares, none but carry burdens of sorrow. And if all were asked to make a package of their troubles, and throw this package on a common pile, and then were asked to go and choose a package that they were willing to bear, all would select their own package again.

Your heartaches may be great, burdens heavy, but look around you and with whom would you change?

She was deep in thought when she felt Ryanís warm hand on her shoulder. "You okay?" she asked gently.

"Yeah, yeah," she said as she shook her head a little. "I was just thinking of how lucky Iíve been. I mean, I just feel like I havenít experienced any terrible sorrows or know any serious troubles."

Ryan gave her a gentle hug, as she leaned over and whispered, "Donít rush it, Jamie. Live long enough and youíll know your share." She looked up at her friend and rested her head against her broad shoulder for a second. In a flash it hit heróshe wasnít commenting so much about her charmed lifeóshe was fervently wishing that she could remove the sad, haunted look that came over her friendís blue eyes when she thought about her own losses. But she didnít feel comfortable sharing this thought with Ryan so she just gave her a little squeeze and sat down until her friend had finished investigating the church.

When they returned to the bright sunshine Jamie pointed out some markers of her family history, including the spot under a beautiful redwood where her father had proposed to her mother. "Thatís really neat, Jamie," she marveled. "How old were your parents when they married?""Mother was only 20 when she had me, so I guess she was still 19 when they married. He was 24 at the time."

"How old is Jack?" Ryan asked thoughtfully."Heís 24," Jamie replied."And when is your wedding set for?""The summer after I graduate," Jamie replied. "I want to have the whole college experience as a single woman. And I want Jack to have a years work out of the way.""Does he know where he is going to work?" Ryan inquired."Yeah, pretty much. He really wants to clerk for a federal judge after he graduates this summer. That could take him anywhere, though. He canít be too picky about the location. He wants the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals. That would have him in the western region, but it could be Montana or even Hawaii. Thatís why I didnít want to get married right after he graduates."

"Wow, wonít that be hard if heís that far away?"

Seemingly for the first time Jamie considered that. "Um, I guess it will but itís what he wants and it will help his long term career prospects."

For the second time that day Ryan bit her tongue rather than comment on the strange ways of these people of the Peninsula. "What are his plans after the clerkship is over," Ryan asked."Itís pretty obvious that heíll get an offer from Morris, Foster," Jamie replied."What firm does your father work for?" Ryan asked casually."That would be Morris, Foster," Jamie admitted with a little blush."Iím not prying, am I?" Ryan asked with a hint of concern in her voice."No, not at all. I know that Jack is really talented. It just seems like an ideal opportunity for nepotism even though I know itís not. I guess Iím just sensitive to people perceiving me in a certain fashion.""I certainly donít perceive of you as anything other than a hard working woman who I am certain would never marry anyone other than a hard working, talented man," Ryan said confidently. "Besides, the mere fact that your father works for the firm isnít that big a deal. I mean, it is a huge place, isnít it?"

Jamie rolled her eyes a bit as she revealed, "Yeah itís huge all rightÖbut my dad doesnít just work there. Heís the managing partner. Thatís about like being the CEO of a business."

"OhÖumÖwell, I bet in a way that will make it a little harder for Jack. The last thing your dad wants is to hire some dolt and have everyone think itís mere nepotism.""Thanks, Ryan," Jamie replied, a bit relieved. "Itís just that I know people think that everything comes so easily for me, and that my parents just get me everything I want," she admitted. "I worry that people will think that Jack got his job because I demanded it.""I know thatís not true," Ryan said gravely. "Money canít buy everything, Jamie. It canít buy you big quadriceps!" this last sentence came from over her shoulder as she put on a terrific burst of speed and left Jamie in her dust, a mellow laugh trailing after her."I thought the key for this ride was long SLOW distance!" Jamie huffed as she finally caught up to Ryanís slowing form."It is, Jamie," she said seriously. "Why, do you want to go fast?" she asked with the most cherubic of faces."Itís obvious that you were raised with brothers, Ryan OíFlaherty," she sulked."Yeah, sometimes itís painfully obvious!" Ryan teased, as she burst into another flash of blinding speed.

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

They completed the scheduled 15 miles with just a few more sprints. By the time they returned to the apartment Jamie was definitely beginning to tighten up. "I donít think I could go another mile," she moaned.Ryan looked fresh as a daisy, of course, and this slightly irritated Jamie. "You know, you could at least try not to look like youíve been lying on the beach for the afternoon."

Ryan laughed and did her best to put on a tired and bedraggled expression. She dragged herself over to the buzzer and rang it several times. "I guess Jack went out," she finally said after 3 tries."And I was going to bribe him to carry me upstairs, "Jamie whined.

"Well, youíre way too heavy for a poor tired woman like me," Ryan teased. "But I could help you out with this." At that she leaned over and grabbed Jamieís bike frame with one powerful arm and hefted it onto her shoulder. She grabbed the wheel with her hand to steady it and then repeated the series of motions to pick up her own bike. She turned and grinned at a startled Jamie, "Lead on Princess."Jamie climbed the stairs quickly, extracting her key from a small, hidden pocket in her bike shorts. She held the door open fully for Ryan to enter with her cargo. As she carefully squatted and placed all four wheels on the ground Jamie stood in front of her and steadied both sets of handlebars."Thank you, Oh Powerful One," she intoned as she bent in praise."Oh, thatís nothing," Ryan replied casually. "I probably could have left you on the darn thing, but it would have upset my center of gravity.""Yeah, right!" Jamie teased along with a little poke in the gut. "Hey," she said seriously as she poked again and was met with a very firm resistance, "Maybe youíre right," she marveled. "I thought you said your tummy was flabby," she chided.

"Iím quite sure I never said that," Ryan assured her with a chuckle. "I said that I have a thicker layer of abdominal fat than you have but my abs are in great shape if I do say so myself. Keeping them built up really helps with bike riding."

Jamie reached over to pat her again. "They are firm," she admitted, wishing that Ryan would lift her shirt for a peek. "How do you get them so firm? Do you do the same crunches you showed me?"

"Yeah, sometimes," she advised. "But I like to challenge myself a little so Iíve devised some little tortures that I donít think youíd like," she said with a grin.

Jamie crossed her arms across her chest and glared at her friend. "Like what, Tough Stuff?"

"Well, my new favorite is to lie on a declining bench and do some crunches."

"That doesnít sound so hard," Jamie scoffed.

"No, that part isnít hard. But I have someone toss a medicine ball at my gut while Iím doing them," she said with a casual look on her face.

"WHAT!? One of those heavy, sand filled, leather balls?"

"Uh huh," she said as she blithely refastened her pony tail, trying to suppress a grin at Jamieís shocked expression.

"I donít think I believe you," she finally mumbled.

Ryan could never resist a challenge. She stood tall and gazed at her friend with a daring look and said, "Hit me."

"What?!"

"Hit me," she repeated. "Hit me in the gutóhard as you can."

"Ryan! I wouldnít do that! I would hurt you!"

Ryan gave her a slight smirk as she scoffed, "Donít think so."

"You donít think I could hurt you?" she asked incredulously. "Iím not as weak as I look!"

"Prove it," she demanded, her blue eyes sparking fire.

"Fine!" Jamie fumed, quite insulted that her friend treated her like a weakling. Ryan tensed her abs and jutted out her chin defiantly. Jamie pulled her arm back and popped her right in the gut at about 50% of her capacity. She had closed her eyes as she swung since she did not want to see the pain in her friendís face. But when she opened her eyes Ryan was not only not in pain she was laughing at her.

"Is that all youíve got?" she scoffed.

"You want more? Iíll give you more!" This time she kept her eyes wide open as she reared back and slammed her fist into Ryanís midsection with as much force as she could generate. But at impact it felt like she had slammed her hand into a brick wall. Only this wall was smirking at her.

"That was better," she advised. "Wanna switch?"

"You are truly mad!" she fumed, rather outraged that she had been unable to hurt Ryanís body or her attitude. But just as that thought hit her she slapped herself in the head. "You made me want to hurt you!" she gasped. "Iíve never hit someone with that intent before!"

Ryan slung an arm around her shoulders and gave her a sound hug. "Boy you missed a lot not growing up with brothers! If one of us wasnít bleeding or crying at the end of the day we just felt incomplete!"

"Well Iíve had enough," she grumbled. "I donít ever want you to taunt me into hitting you again! Are you sure I didnít hurt you?"

"Nope," she declared. She reached out and grasped Jamieís right hand and closely examined the wrist. "You didnít hurt yourself did you?" she asked solicitously.

The smaller woman shook her hand roughly a few times. "No, but it does sting a little. How on earth do you make your abs that hard?"

"Nothing but hard work, Pal." Ryan cast a glance at the slight quiver in Jamieís thighs, "Time for a little rub down, Buffy," she ordered."Ohhh, my favorite part of any exercise," Jamie enthused.

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

Jack walked in to the apartment as Ryan was finishing her massage of Jamieís hamstrings. His face was friendly, but a little impassive, to Jamieís eyes. Please donít let this bother him. "Hi, Honey. Where did you go?" she asked brightly."I had to run down to the bookstore for a few minutes. Iím sorry I wasnít here to help you bring the bike up.""You should be, I really needed a hand," she lied. She glanced at Ryan to see if her lie would get a reaction, but Ryanís head was bent in concentration at her task. "Ryanís a massage therapist," Jamie added, even though Jack had not commented on their activities.He forced himself to banish the thought of Ryan giving a woman an intimate all nude massage, and said weakly, "Oh, thatís nice."Jamie was pleased that the rather intimate contact with Ryan didnít seem to bother Jack. Maybe heís really getting used to her, she hoped.

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

Late that night as Jack hovered over her, claiming her with a need that was foreign to their lovemaking, Jamie wondered if Ryan was the cause. Whatever the cause, she thought, this is a very good thing.

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

Early the next morning as Ryan lay quivering in Allyís arms she thanked the gods that she had the foresight to request gentle treatment on Friday night. My God, if she had done me like this on Friday I would have had to cancel our bike ride. Iím not even sure Iíll be able to ride my Harley home. Oh well, she thought as she drifted off to sleep, I sure couldnít choose which of those orgasms to give back, so I guess Iíll keep them all!

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

Not only did they not have brunch before their appointment with Mark, they barely made it to the gym by noon. Ryan just did her job on autopilot and by the end of the hour she wasnít sure if he liked Ally or not. But he happily agreed to switch and he gave Ryan a big kiss goodbye and wished her luck.

Ryan looked at Ally through her bloodshot eyes and moaned, "If I donít get some food into this poor abused body Iím gonna faint!"

"Weíve got 3 hours until our next appointment. Iíll buy you some lunch, Sweetness. What would you like to eat?"

"Anything, as long as itís fast," she replied.

Ally didnít take her seriously. She knew that Ryan needed some nutrients to get her through the day so she took her to a nice little café right on Market that specialized in low fat vegetarian food. Ryan scanned the menu and tried to find something that did not appeal to her. She was unsuccessful so she ordered a cheese and mushroom frittata and a fruit salad. She also asked for a large orange juice and some coffee. Ally got an egg white omelet and oatmeal, her normal breakfast fare.

Ally dashed off to use the restroom and Ryan whiled away the time thinking about their relationship. It dawned on her that they hadnít shared a meal in a restaurant in years. Ally suggested we have brunch together, she mused. And both nights she let me touch her much earlier than normal. I wonder whatís up with that? And she just seemed to assume that I would stay with her all weekend. Normally she doesnít extend that kind of invitation. Could she be changing the rules? Do I want her to?

She was pulled from her reverie by Allyís light kiss on her cheek as she passed by to take her seat. "Miss me?" she asked with a twinkle in her eye.

Ryan gave her a sweet smile and reached out to lightly grasp her hand as she honestly replied, "Often."

Ally cocked her head and looked like she was going to ask what that meant but she obviously decided not to pursue the issue. "So tell me more about this new job."

Ryan gave her a little more info on ĎWomen Powerí and filled her in on how the opportunity came up.

"Is that the same woman you went on your bike ride with?" she asked.

Ryan was surprised that she had caught that detail. "Yeah, it is. Sheís a woman from my ĎLesbian Sexualityí class at school."

Ally just shook her head at that. "Do you think they offer that class at normal schools or just Berserkely?" she asked, using the playful moniker for the ultra-liberal campus.

"I think itís probably common at the big, liberal universities, but I donít think itís the norm by any means," she admitted.

"Sounds like a great way to pick up women," she said with a wink. "Had any luck besides this Jamie?"

"Yeah, Iíve had a couple of nice evenings with my classmates," she admitted. "But not Jamie. Sheís actually straight. Sheís engaged to a guy who goes to Stanford. Thatís why we were riding in Palo Alto. She goes down there on the weekends to stay with him."

"Uhh huh," Ally said with a knowing smirk. "All the straight girls take a class in Lesbian Sexuality. And even more of them want to hang out with you."

"No really, Ally, sheís straight," Ryan patiently explained.

"How many straight women are you friends with, Ryan?" she asked her directly.

"UmmÖ" Ryan furrowed her brow as she ran through her list of friends. With a chagrined look she finally admitted, "None."

"Exactly. And Iím guessing that itís not because you donít like straight women. But most straight women feel uncomfortable being really close with a lesbian unless they want to flipóat least temporarily. I guarantee she wants more from you than just friendship," she predicted.

"Hmm, I donít know how Iíd feel about that," Ryan reflected. "I think I like her too much to have a fling with her. I think it would screw up our friendship."

"Is she cute?"

"Oh yeah," Ryan said with a playful chuckle. "Sheís totally cute. About 5í4", slim, but with some nice muscles beginning to develop, blonde hair, sea green eyes, pouty little mouth..."

"Okay, okay," Ally said with a laugh as she held up her hands, "I get it!" She looked at Ryan for another minute as she added, "If she ever gets kidnapped I hope the cops ask you for her description."

Ryan flushed a little at the implication. "Iím just observant," she said rather defensively.

"Hey, you donít have to convince me," Ally reminded her. "But if I was her boyfriend Iíd keep her away from you," she said firmly as she patted Ryanís hand. "Mother Teresa would want to flip for you, Sugar," she said fondly.

"Sheís dead, Ally," Ryan reminded her.

"Wouldnít matter, Baby. You could bring the dead to life!"

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

Monday morning found Ryan lying beneath Allyís sprawled out body. After their 4 oíclock appointment Ryan had gone home for dinner but as soon as the dishes were clean she packed up her things in her backpack and headed on back to Allyís. They had spent the night making love with nearly as much passion as they had possessed on Saturday night, and Ryan was almost ready to shut off her watch alarm and just stay cuddled up.

The insistent alarm woke them both and Ally crawled off of her to go to the bathroom while Ryan waged a small war with her well hidden lazy side. When she returned she reached for Ryan and started to stroke her belly in a very friendly manner. Ryan knew if they got started again sheíd lose the whole day so she gave her a kiss and softly patted her cheek. "Gotta go, Babe," she murmured softly, forcing herself to slip out of bed avoiding Allyís reaching hands. She stumbled into the shower and when she came out her friend was sound asleep again. Ryan checked the alarm clock to make sure it was set for 8 since she assumed Ally had to be at work by 9 and then she walked over to the kitchen table and left her a note.

Thanks for the marvelous lesson in how to fill up a weekend. Iíll think of you all dayóespecially every time I have to sit down!

Love,

Ryan

She hopped on her Harley with a grimace and rode directly to the MUNI station to catch a ride to school. Iíll be much better off standing the whole way, she thought with a grimace. Why did we have to try out every new toy sheís bought since I saw her last? Will I never learn?

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

She barreled into class about 5 minutes late and took a seat near the door. Jamie caught sight of the grimace as she sat down and wondered if Ryan had hurt herself on their bike ride. But when she looked at her again she noticed how terrible she looked. She was very pale and her eyes looked dull and bloodshot. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail and shoved haphazardly under a baseball cap. As Jamie cast another glance at her Ryanís head hit her chest and she jerked in her seat as she startled herself awake. She looks injured alright, she smirked. But not from biking.

After class Ryan waited for her outside the door. She was leaning against the wall and looked like she might fall asleep right where she stood. "I donít want to belabor an obvious point, but you look like you could use some coffee," Jamie teased when Ryan forced her eyes open.

"I donít think coffee will help," she moaned. "I think Iím going to find a nice shady spot and take a nap until I have to go to work."

"Donít you have your bio lab?"

"Yeah, but thereís no way I could safely perform any experiments today. I donít want to endanger my fellow students."

"Come on," she said as she slipped her arm around Ryanís waist. "I can help you out."

After a relatively slow and silent walk they were climbing the stairs to Jamieís house. "I take it that you figured out how to fill your weekend," Jamie asked casually as she led her friend up to her bed to allow her to crash.

"Oh, it got filled all right," Ryan said, thinking to herself, Along with every other orifice.

Continue to Part 3

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