I Found My Heart in San Francisco

Book 7: Getaway

by S X Meagher


"You know," Catherine said as she rocked Caitlin in her arms, "it makes me feel better to see that even Ryan has her moments when the baby is too much for her."

"It hasn't happened since I've known her," Jamie revealed, "but then, we've never had her for this long, either. Annie is even more patient than Ryan, and she's told me that sometimes she wants to put her in her crib and close the door for a few hours. I think this is really good for us," she said reflectively. "I'd been thinking that it might be nice to have a baby next year, but this is making me re-think that."

Catherine's eyes fluttered closed, and before she could censor herself she said, "Oh, Jamie, please don't do that."

"Don't do what, have a child, or wait?" Jamie asked confusedly.

Catherine shook her head briskly, angry with herself for butting into her daughter's business. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't try to force my opinions on you, Honey."

"No, Mom, I want your opinion. This is important," she urged.

Catherine took a deep breath, trying to decide how much of her feelings to reveal. "I ah...I don't think it's wise to have a child so soon, Honey."

"I know it was hard for you, Mom," Jamie acknowledged, "but things will be easier for us. We've got a really good support system with Ryan's family, and I know you'll be there for us."

Catherine nodded, smiling fondly at her daughter for knowing that she would support her in any way possible. "I'm sure you're right, Dear. I'm just being silly."

There was a long, uncomfortable silence as Jamie tried to discern the hidden cause of her mother's concern. She finally turned to her and asked, "You're not worried about the baby part, are you?" she asked.

The silence continued for a few more moments. "Not entirely," Catherine admitted.

"What is it, Mom? Come on, level with me."

Catherine shook her head, not wanting to be drawn into this discussion. "Jamie, I spoke out of turn. I have my own projections that I'm putting onto you, and it's not fair. I'm sure you and Ryan will do what's right for you."

Not buying the brush-off, Jamie persisted. "Why won't you be honest with me, Mom? I thought we trusted each other?"

She was clearly hurt, and Catherine once again regretted bringing up the subject. "All right, Dear. I uh...I don't know how to say this delicately, so I'll just say it." She took a deep breath, and looked down at the baby, seemingly afraid to meet her daughter's eyes. "You've told me that Ryan's been with a lot of other women."

"Yeah," Jamie said, puzzled at the direction of the conversation.

"I think it might be a good idea to see how she adjusts to monogamy before you decide to have children together."

All at once, it all became clear to Jamie. She knew why her parents treated each other so coolly; she knew why her mother could be gone for months at a time without any qualms; she knew why she never saw her parents kiss or display any physical affection. All of these thoughts flashed in her mind so quickly that her face twitched and contorted as she was bombarded with the images.

Catherine saw the tumult on her daughter's face and misinterpreted it. "I'm sorry for saying that, Jamie. I certainly don't think badly of Ryan. I just...I've seen so many of my friends..."

Jamie cut her off, looking at her with deep compassion. "When was the first time?" she asked softly.

"The first time?" Catherine asked, not understanding the question.

"When did Daddy start having affairs?" she asked again, making her question plainer.

Catherine blanched, clutching at the neckline of her dress with a shaking hand. "I didn't say that to imply...," she began, but her determined daughter cut her off again.

"It's obvious, Mom. I should have seen it years ago. When did it start?" Her voice was quiet but firm, and Catherine could feel the love and support pouring from her daughter, encouraging her to speak the truth.

Strangely, at the last minute she pulled back and said, "Jamie, every marriage has problems, and we've had our share. I just don't think it wise to burden you with them. Please let us have our secrets."

"It's okay, Mom," she urged. "It's obvious that Daddy's been unfaithful. Please tell me."

She was really pleading now, but Catherine held her ground. She knew that Jamie and her father had a difficult road ahead, and she had no intention of making that path any more arduous than it had to be. Jamie could have her suspicions, but Catherine was not going to be the one to confirm them to her daughter. "No, Honey," she said gently. "Both of us have made mistakes in our marriage. We've hurt each other deeply. But that doesn't give me the right to talk about him behind his back. I made a vow that I would honor our relationship, Honey, and talking about things like this is not very honorable."

Jamie nodded, perversely pleased that her mother would not reveal their troubles. She knew in her soul that her father had been unfaithful-she could see it written in the bold emotions that flashed across her mother's face-but she was filled with new respect for the woman for keeping his secrets. "I won't ask again," she said softly. Rising from her chair she crouched down in front of her mother and leveled her gaze. "Thank you for never letting me see the trouble you were having. It was awfully nice to grow up in an intact family."

"You've always been our first concern, Jamie," Catherine said honestly, wrapping her free arm around her daughter.

"Do you have someone you can confide in, Mom?" she asked softly, not able to bear her mother dealing with her hurts alone.

"$200 an hour buys a very good listener," Catherine joked, some of her normal wry humor returning to her voice.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

Ryan emerged from their room at seven, her sleep-creased face and nearly-shut eyes speaking volumes of her very recent awakening. She stood in the doorway scratching her head, looking like she didn't know what direction to travel in.

"Come here, Love," Jamie urged, patting the cushion next to her. Catherine was sitting on the floor with the baby, both of them intently watching The Little Mermaid on the Disney Channel. Ryan shuffled over to the couch, her feet never leaving the carpet. Folding her long frame onto the available space, she draped her legs over the arm of the sofa, resting her head in Jamie's lap.

As skillful fingers began to rub her scalp Ryan warned, "I'll be out in moments if you keep that up."

"That's fine," Jamie urged. "Go back to sleep, Sweetheart. We're having dinner delivered. Sleep 'til it gets here."

Without a word of protest, the broad chest began to rise and fall slowly, closed eyes darting rapidly under long-lashed lids.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

A quiet rap on the door caused Ryan's eyes to pop open a half-hour later. Alert blue orbs scanned the room, fixing everyone's position as Catherine got up to answer. Ryan sat up as the door opened to a man carrying two large grocery bags.

Turning to her partner, Ryan asked, " 'Webvan.com' down here? Without a computer?"

"No, Honey," Jamie said. "We had to do this the old-fashioned way. Via the telephone."

The man set the bags on the table, happily accepting the money that Catherine handed him. He counted it aloud as he moved to the door, turning to give her a pleasant smile as he determined how much his tip was. "Call any time!" he said brightly.

"What was that all about?" Ryan asked, going to the bags to watch Catherine unpack.

"We thought it would be nice to have dinner brought to us," Catherine informed her. "So I asked the concierge for the name of the best grocery store in Orange County. I spoke with the manager of the store, we made the arrangements, he called a cab, and here we are."

She said this all so matter-of-factly that Ryan had to laugh. "I bet it was a little harder than that, Catherine."

"Only a little," she insisted. "They were really quite accommodating."

"I just bet they were," Ryan commented wryly, knowing that money talked.

Over some fabulous duck raviolis they discussed their plans for the remainder of their trip. "I need to go on some roller coasters," Ryan decided.

"Go over tonight," Catherine urged. "You can put Caitlin to bed and stay until they close, since you had such a good nap."

"Done," the dark woman decreed. "Now, since the baby hasn't really seen the park, maybe we should take her over tomorrow for the early admission and let her explore Toon Town. Then we could go on a couple of kiddie rides and come back for her nap."

"That sounds good," Jamie agreed. "What do you think, Mom?"

"That's fine, girls. I think she should go on some type of ride on her first visit."

"What about you, Catherine?" Ryan drawled. "This is your first trip to Disneyland...shouldn't you go on something?"

She looked a bit taken aback as she considered the notion. "I...I...I wouldn't know what to go on," she admitted. "I've never been to an amusement park."

"Never?" Ryan shrieked.

"No, I'm fairly certain that I would remember if I had."

"Jeez, who says rich people have all the fun?!" Ryan asked as she let out an exasperated breath.

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

As soon as they reached the lobby, Ryan directed Jamie away from the monorail, leading her to one of the deserted pools. She sat on a chaise and pulled her partner down with her, saying, "You're as tense as a python, Love. I could tell you were putting on a good front, but you don't have to do that around me. Now tell me what's going on."

Sighing heavily, Jamie leaned back against her partner, immediately feeling a little better just to be able to vent. "Don't leave me alone with Mother anymore," she moaned.

"What?!" Ryan asked, the surprise in her voice clear. "I thought you were enjoying being alone with her."

With a bitter laugh Jamie said, "I enjoy everything but the revelations she keeps dropping on me. I don't think I can take much more, Ryan," she said softly.

Beginning to massage the tense muscles in her partner's shoulders, Ryan asked, "What now, Honey?"

"My father had an affair." Jamie's voice was flat, but Ryan could feel the torrent of emotion that was poorly hidden by her tone.

Unconsciously, Ryan's hands stilled as the weight of the secret she carried settled onto her shoulders. She had put more thought and spent more time worrying about this issue than she had invested on her decision on where to attend graduate school. In her heart, she knew that Jamie would want to know about her father's indiscretion, but she was just as confident that it would have done no good to tell her. She knew that telling would severely harm Jamie's relationship with her father, and she had a real fear that having the secret out in the open could destabilize the Evans marriage. Even though it was incredibly hard for her to keep this knowledge to herself, she still thought it was the correct decision. Over time, she had developed a well-thought-out code that she tried to never vary from. That code dictated that she never reveal secrets about a living person unless she could spare someone else pain by doing so.

When the incident with Jim had first occurred, Ryan had been tormented about what to do. Finally deciding that she needed to stick to her beliefs, even though she knew Jamie would be unhappy about it, she had been able to put the issue aside for the most part. Now, however, she tried to still her heart, knowing that she had to reveal what she knew, now that the secret was out.

Jamie continued, "I don't know if this is something that happened a long time ago or if it's still going on, but the whole thing sickens me," she said, leaning hard into Ryan's body.

Oh, shit! she cried in dismay. Well, that clinches it, Ryan thought to herself. She doesn't know much-Catherine might not even know that it's still going on. If it made sense to keep the damn secret before, it still does now!

The tense body in her arms moved slowly, as Jamie's head swiveled around so that she could look into Ryan's eyes. "You aren't surprised," she said slowly. It wasn't a question, it was a statement, and she cocked her head quizzically, seeking confirmation.

In an instant, Ryan had to make her decision. Pursing her lips, she decided to follow her conscience and not reveal what she knew. "I'm not surprised, Jamie," she said softly, her eyes blinking slowly. "I uh...I think it's pretty darned common for powerful people to cheat. I read a survey once that showed there was a very high correlation among wealth, power and cheating," she said.

Satisfied with her answer, Jamie turned and cuddled into Ryan's body once again. "I don't care if every other man in America did it," she said, her anger just below the surface of her still-calm voice. "It sickens me, Ryan. I'll never be able to respect him again."

Resuming her massage, Ryan urged, "Please don't say that, Honey. I know that you're angry, but it's really hard to look at someone's marriage and assign blame. That's really between your parents."

"You didn't see her eyes, Ryan," she said softly, a few tears starting to fall. "You didn't see the hurt."

"No, I didn't," Ryan agreed, leaning over to kiss Jamie's head. "I'm really sorry that your mom had to go through that. I can't imagine how much that would hurt." Still stroking her back, Ryan stated one more time, "Even though it's a horrible thing for your mom, I still think you have to let it be between them, Honey. This isn't your fight, and I can't imagine that your mom wants you to fight her battles for her."

Jamie sat up and gazed at her partner for a moment, the look so intent that Ryan began to pull back from it. "Don't you think this is disgusting? Aren't you furious with him?"

Ryan pursed her lips and shook her head. "If your dad cheated on your mom without her knowledge or permission-of course I'm angry with him. But I don't know what happened between them, Babe. It's really none of my business, and I don't want to take sides or assign blame when I don't know all of the facts."

With another heavy sigh, Jamie scooted around until she could face her partner. "Ryan," she said softly, her voice full of emotion. "I don't understand why you're not outraged, but I certainly hope it's not because you think cheating isn't a big deal."

Ryan's eyes were so wide they almost hurt, and she hastened to reassure Jamie that was not the case at all. Before she could get a word out, Jamie cut her off by pressing her fingertips to her lips. "I know this seems like something that could never happen to us, but some day, after we've been together for a while, you might be tempted."

Once again Ryan started to interrupt, to defend herself against the mere suggestion that she could ever be unfaithful, but Jamie silenced her once again. "Hear me out, please," she begged.

Ryan nodded, realizing that it was important to her partner to get this out.

"I just want you to know that to me, cheating is an unforgivable sin. As much as I love you-and I love you more than I can say-I will not tolerate it-in any form. That is the only thing that would ever make me leave you, Ryan. I would leave you...as hard as that is to conceive...if you were ever intimate with another woman."

Tears were welling up in Ryan's eyes and Jamie gently wiped them away with the tips of her fingers, leaning forward to kiss each soft eyelid.

"I know that sounds harsh, Sweetheart, but I feel so strongly about this that I feel like I need to tell you. I don't ever want there to be any misunderstanding about this."

"I understand," Ryan whispered, her voice gone rough with emotion. "I know that it's easy to promise my fidelity now, Jamie, when things are so new and exciting, but I swear with every fiber of my being that I will never betray our love."

"That's it, Baby," she said softly. "It's the betrayal. People think it's about sex, but it isn't. It's betrayal. I'm glad that you understand that."

"I do," Ryan vowed, holding her beloved close, and wishing that she could erase the hurt that was so evident on her face.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

After holding each other and talking softly in the warm night, they decided to go back to the park and try to put the upsetting topic to rest for a while. Jamie mused that it was really fortuitous that they were in a place where the entire culture revolved around carrying people into a fantasy. After just a few minutes they got into the spirit and managed to have a good time, even with all of the turmoil of the evening.

At 11:30 they finally reached the front of Space Mountain. They had managed to get on every other attraction that caught their interest, but every time they had come by this one, the line had been too long. By 11:15 the estimated time was down to 20 minutes, so they hopped in line.

Jamie was a little apprehensive as they waited. She had been to a big amusement park in Santa Clara when she was in high school, but she had been too afraid to go on any of the roller coasters. She was dating a rather wild boy at the time and she knew he would make the experience more frightening than normal, so she wisely stayed on the ground and held everyone's change and wallets.

She wasn't generally afraid of heights or falling, and speed wasn't an unpleasant sensation either, so she assumed she would like the ride as long as she had Ryan with her, but still she felt a little gripping in her stomach.

Ryan, of course, was bubbling with excitement. She loved all things fast, and she had to admit that roller coasters were one of her favorite guilty pleasures. Her arms were draped around Jamie's shoulders from behind, and as they got closer, she could tell that her lover was trembling slightly. Leaning over, she whispered into her ear, "It's okay to feel a little nervous. That can actually make it more fun."

Jamie turned and shot her a doubtful glance, but Ryan persisted. "I'm certain that this ride is completely safe, Babe. I will have my arms around you the entire time. I won't let anything bad happen to you."

Jamie just nodded quickly as she tried to take a few deep breaths. As they got closer, Ryan did the math and figured out that they would be in the last car of the ride. Releasing Jamie, she walked back through the line until she got to two young men. She spoke to them for a moment and signaled to Jamie to come back to join her as the young men switched places with her. "What was that all about?" she asked.

"We were going to be in the last car. I like it back there, but it's very whippy. I thought it might be too rough for you, so I switched places so we would be right in the middle. That's where you get the smoothest ride," she promised, bending to kiss Jamie's nose.

"You take such good care of me," Jamie mumbled as she snuggled her face into Ryan's shirt.

Moments later they were herded aboard the capsule that would be their home for the next three minutes. The pod held eight, and Ryan quickly directed Jamie to sit in the third seat. She got in next to her and scooted over until she was tight against her body as the bar lowered to hold them in. She snaked one long arm around her back and under her right arm, resting her hand firmly around her partner's waist.

They were immediately plunged into complete darkness and Jamie felt her stomach do a little flip, but Ryan's arm tightened a bit and she felt the tension ease. Nevertheless, she slid her hand between Ryan's legs and tightly wrapped her arm around a firm thigh just for added protection. It was obvious that they were climbing, but it was not clear how steep the angle was. She began to observe how vital a role sight played in spatial orientation, but just as the observation was formed in her mind, the car began to drop. It seemed that they were falling off a cliff at a 90-degree angle, but she knew that wasn't possible. Even so, it was hard to convince her inner gyroscope of that, especially since she was basically blind. There were tiny little lights representing stars up on the ceiling and walls, but they provided no illumination in the utter blackness. Just when she thought they would surely crash to the ground, the car made an abrupt right turn and they were catapulted forward with a whipping motion.

As the car began to make a series of tight, banked curves, she heard a piercing scream--only to discover that the voice was her own. Another quick climb had her braced for the worst as she grabbed Ryan so hard she was afraid she would pull her leg from the socket. But this drop was much less severe than the previous one and she began to relax, only to scream again as they dipped quickly at least four times, each time a little deeper. One last tightly banked loop around the structure, and the car slid to a stop at the dimly lit platform.

She looked over at Ryan with profound relief on her face. "My throat hurts," she said with a little puppy dog look.

"How do you think my ear feels?" Ryan gently teased as she exited and held out a hand to assist her. "Come to think of it, my right leg is numb, too. I should be more afraid of you than I am of the ride!"

Jamie leaned against her as they exited the building. "Even though I was scared spitless, that was kind of a rush," she said with a little grin. "Can we go again tomorrow?"

"Yet one more example of what I love about you," Ryan beamed with pride.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        

"Wanna sit by the pool for a while?" Jamie asked as they approached the hotel.

"Bet it's locked," Ryan accurately guessed. "Not ready to go inside, Babe?"

Jamie shrugged, looking like she was uncertain. "No, it's not that," she said. "I just want a few minutes alone with you. Even though the baby's asleep, I still notice that she's there." She looked up at Ryan with a clear hint of desire in her eyes. "I'm still a little wired up from the roller coaster," she admitted. "It got my blood pumping."

Ryan had an immediate desire to pinch a few places where she guessed the blood was pumping particularly strongly, but she behaved herself since they were in a public place. "Let me show you a little spot I discovered when I was walking Caitlin around the other day," she suggested, taking Jamie's hand.

They walked down the ramp to the belowground waterfalls that provided a very soothing background noise to the resort, giving the place an almost tropical flavor. "This is cool!" Jamie said, having to increase her volume so that Ryan could hear her.

"Cait liked it," Ryan agreed. "She wanted to jump in, of course."

"Mmm...I don't have that desire," Jamie decided.

"What desire do you have?" Ryan asked as she pressed her body against her partner's back. Her head dropped a bit and she started to nibble on the soft skin of Jamie's neck, nuzzling her shirt away from her skin to give her more access.

Jamie's hands slid behind Ryan and she grasped her butt with both hands, pulling her in tighter. Twitching her hips a few times she turned her head and said, "I think we've done this enough to have you recognize the signs, Tiger. Think hard."

"That's always so hard to do when your body's moving against mine," Ryan said, not kidding in the least. "As soon as you start to touch me, my brain takes a break. The hotter I get, the dumber I get," she chuckled. "We're gonna have to start making love less, or I might flunk out of school."

Jamie turned around and wrapped her arms around Ryan's neck, pulling her down for a soft kiss. "I'll admit that you do tend to act rather than think when we're intimate, but the phenomena seems to be short-lived. You seem perfectly lucid when you're vertical."

"No so," Ryan grinned, "I'm vertical now, and I bet you could render me as dumb as a box of rocks with very little effort."

"Hey!" Jamie teased. "Don't demean my skills! It takes a lot of work to drive that massive intellect down to the amoeba-like level it sometimes falls to. How about a little respect?"

Ryan linked her hands behind the small of her partner's back, letting a stray finger or two roam a little lower. "I have nothing but respect for your skills, Sweetheart. No one has ever rendered me stupider than you have."

"Aww...you say the sweetest things," Jamie grinned, as she stood on her tiptoes to kiss her partner. The kiss lasted a little longer than she had planned, and soon Ryan's hands were splayed out across her butt, squeezing her cheeks with abandon.

"I've already lost my ability to perform quadratic equations," the dark beauty whispered. "Polynomials are next. Heeeeeelp!"

"Come on Hot Stuff," Jamie chuckled. "Let's get upstairs while you can still remember how to walk."

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

"I don't think I can do this," the blonde whispered to her partner. The sheet, blanket and comforter were pulled over their heads to provide not only privacy, but a small sound barrier.

"It is a little close in here," Ryan agreed.

"No, not that!" she whispered. "I don't think I can stay quiet enough. You get dumb, but I get loud."

Running her fingers down her partner's face in a loving gesture, Ryan agreed completely. "I always knew you'd be hot in bed. I just had no idea you were so...vocal," she said, trying to be as diplomatic as possible.

"You can say it," Jamie smirked. "I'm a screamer. No two ways around it."

"That's not a bad thing, Love," Ryan reminded her. "It's nice to get such clear feedback on my work. It's like getting your grade report right when you're finishing your final answer."

Even though it was pitch black under the covers, Jamie found and patted her lover's cheek affectionately. "You're Summa Cum Laude in my book, Tiger. I just don't think I can keep my opinion to myself, though. I've never tried to be quiet."

"We certainly don't have to do this if you don't want to, Love. You know that I never want you to be uncomfortable."

"Oh, it doesn't make me uncomfortable," Jamie decided. "I honestly don't know if I can do it, though. I don't want to traumatize Caitlin."

"Honey," Ryan reminded her, "she's eleven months old. She has no idea what we're doing-except that it would look like we're having fun. You know you spend half of our lovemaking giggling, and that certainly wouldn't frighten her."

Jamie chuckled at Ryan's slight exaggeration and said, "Yeah, but I spend the rest of the time crying, 'Oh God! Oh God!'"

"She'll think we're just saying our prayers," Ryan grinned. "Again, I don't want to pressure you, but she won't know a thing, even if we do wake her up. We just have to be prepared to stop if she does wake."

"Stop?" Jamie raised an eyebrow, but it was too dark for her partner to see it. "Oh, no, no stopping, Tiger. Once the train leaves the station we've got to get to the next stop." She was chuckling as she said this, the low sound making Ryan smile in response.

Giving her a hug, Ryan said, "You might just have to go into the bath to bring the train home, Babe, but I still think it's worth the trip."

After a short pause to make up her mind, Jamie sighed and said, "All right, Buffy. I'm game, but we can't stay under these covers. I'm suffocating in here!"

"You increase the level of difficulty," Ryan smiled, "but I'm up to the challenge. Let's do it!"

"My little romantic," the smaller woman smiled, patting Ryan's cheek fondly.

Tossing the covers back, Ryan took a massive breath, the cool air filling her lungs. Jamie cuddled up against her side and started to draw little patterns on Ryan's overly-warm body. Caitlin turned over in her sleep, muttering an adorable little bit of gibberish. "She's talking in her sleep," Jamie giggled.

"Awake or asleep, that ain't talking," Ryan whispered as she started to laugh, having to put the pillow over her face to keep quiet. When she calmed down she pulled the pillow down just far enough so that Jamie could see her eyes. "I can't do this," she mumbled. "There's no way I can relax enough, Babe."

"I can't either," Jamie agreed. "It might be different if she was our child, but it just seems...I don't know...too odd."

"Yeah...that's a good way to put it. Besides, you never know what she takes in while she's asleep. I'd be embarrassed as all get-out to take her back to her parents and have them find out that her first words were ...Oh, God!"

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

The next morning, at a little after six, Jamie woke slowly, blinked at the clock, and snuggled closer to her partner, deciding to delay the onset of the new day as long as possible. Surprisingly, something kept her from falling asleep again, and it took her a few minutes to realize what it was. It feels better to remain awake and feel how wonderful it is to be held like this, she decided. She had no idea how Ryan managed it, but not infrequently Jamie woke to the delicious sensation of being completely enveloped by the strong, smooth arms of her beloved. It was puzzling, since they rarely fell asleep like that, but she so enjoyed the feeling that she just chalked it up to O'Flaherty magic.

She was lying on her side, with Ryan cuddled up tight against her back. Her cheek rested on Ryan's firm left bicep, her head nestled between soft swells of breast. Ryan's right arm encircled her waist, and her hands were clasped together, seemingly protecting Jamie from all harm. The scents that emanated from the dark woman surrounded Jamie like a warm, humid cloud. A little soap, a little baby powder, just a touch of musk, and a smidgen of the aromatic Ryan-ness that was impossible to describe, but altogether intoxicating.

Her moist breath was coming in long, smooth streams, blowing softly over the top of Jamie's head. She could feel a few strands of hair propelled on the breeze that wafted over her, and once again she thanked the gods that Ryan rarely snored. With as much air as goes through those lungs, she'd wake the dead if she ever did!

She lifted her right arm and covered Ryan's, wrapping her hand around her partner's clasped ones. For a few minutes she merely observed the marked difference in their skin tones, marveling at the rich, deep burnished color of her partner's skin. Even with her chronic use of sun block, Ryan had darkened up during the summer. Maybe Ryan's right, she mused. Maybe she should just have all of our children. She has such good genes, it seems a shame not to exploit them. Involuntarily, she thought of her own cousins, aunts, and uncles. Drug addicts or alcoholics, all, she thought regretfully. It doesn't get much better on the Evans side, either. I can look forward to giving birth to a controlling, manipulative philanderer!

She lifted her hand and started to stroke up and down Ryan's muscular arm, breathing deeply of her scent. You don't see the O'Flahertys running around with other women, she scoffed. Not one divorce in the entire clan-on either side! That's quite a statement when half of all marriages end in divorce.

As she snuggled closer, she felt the hard tips of Ryan's nipples rub against her back. Sighing heavily she prayed, Please, please don't ever cheat on me, Baby. I couldn't live without your love.

Her hand continued to stroke, finally dropping to draw a smooth path from Ryan's hip to her knee, reveling in the feel of her lover's soft skin.

Slowly, the dark woman opened her eyes, then grasped the hand and placed a gentle kiss on the warm palm. "Morning, Love," she yawned as she immediately went into her stretching routine.

Jamie continued to stroke her all over while she stretched and purred. When the questing hand wandered a little too far into dangerous territory, Ryan gently stopped her with another kiss. "Don't tempt me, Baby, you know my resistance is weak. My tank is still empty from last week."

"Honey, you know I have needs," she purred, dipping her head to nibble on Ryan's collarbone.

Turning over to face her partner, she gently trailed her fingers over her face, causing a shiver to run down Jamie's spine. "I know all about your needs, Hot Stuff. As I remember, you were the one to drive me to distraction last night with those torrid kisses."

"And you were the one who gave me that arousing back rub," she reminded her as she kissed her nose. "Getting me all turned on and then trying to compromise my virtue with an innocent child in the room."

"Wasn't my first choice," Ryan smiled. "You were the one who wouldn't do it on the sofa in the living room," she recalled.

"My mother was in the next room," Jamie moaned.

"Didn't stop you on Tuesday," Ryan reminded her. "Is the sofa more scandalous than the floor?"

Jamie giggled, thinking that her appropriateness meter did tend to jump around a bit. "No, it's not. I just felt a little uncomfortable doing it with my mom so close. You caught me by surprise on Tuesday, Tiger. It's when I have time to think that I get prudish."

"You're far from prudish, Love." Ryan's large, warm hands were slowly running all over her body, and Jamie's libido decided that it needed an outlet.

"Bathroom?" she asked hopefully.

A slow shake of the head was Ryan's answer. "We won't hear Caitlin when she wakes."


"Now that has possibilities," Ryan agreed with a growl as she tossed her onto her back and climbed aboard to nuzzle her neck. Jamie's wild giggling woke the baby and after she had a second to orient herself, she cried to be picked up. "Now aren't you glad you weren't seconds from orgasm?" Ryan asked smugly as she lifted the infant from her crib.

"I never thought that was a question I'd say yes to, but I suppose I am," she admitted as she flopped back to the bed with a thump.

"Don't worry, Love. We'll be in our snug little bed tonight, and I'll fulfill every fantasy you have."

"Oh I know you, Ms. O'Flaherty. You'll be so tired tonight you'll have no interest in my aching body."

"I'd have to be a lot more than tired to lose interest in that masterpiece," she corrected her. "Comatose, unconscious ..." she trailed off as she went into the bath to start the shower.

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

They were just packing up the last of their supplies when Catherine came popping out of her room, showered, dressed, and ready. "Let's go," she said brightly.

"You want to go with us?" Jamie gaped, having assumed her mother had satisfied all of her amusement park fantasies on her earlier visit.

"Of course I do. It's our last day here, and I want to enjoy myself. I might even go on a ride or two," she declared, grasping Caitlin and leading the way from the room, her startled companions trailing along behind.

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

They decided to have breakfast in Goofy's Kitchen, located right in their hotel. Catherine had not experienced the earlier visit with the big dog, so she was bubbling with delight as Caitlin greeted her old friend Goofy. The huge dog was standing by the entrance to the restaurant, and an automatic camera caught an adorable picture of the pair, both blondes smiling broadly. Catherine didn't know that her picture had been taken, but Jamie saw the image flash on the monitors over the reception area, and she remained behind to purchase one of the large color photos.

The restaurant, while crowded, was well designed, and it didn't seem as noisy or as packed as it truly was. The fare was served buffet style--never one of Jamie's favorite things, but right up Ryan's alley. Looking around the various serving areas, Jamie nodded her approval. There were quite a number of items designed for kids, such as peanut butter and jelly pizza, but they also stocked many things to appeal to the adult palate. Never liking to eat much in the morning, she grabbed a fresh croissant, some raspberry jelly, and an assortment of fresh fruit.

Ryan shot her partner a pleading look, silently complaining that holding Caitlin interfered with her ability to feed herself. The smaller woman prepared a plate for the larger, managing to pile many of Ryan's favorites onto one plate, adding two Mickey shaped waffles when Ryan made eyes at them. They were heading back to the table when the bright blue eyes lit up in glee as Ryan saw the large clear dispensers for various cereals. "Jamie! Can we get these for our house?"

Jamie's brow furrowed; there was no way in hell she was going to have four or five massive cereal dispensers on her counter, but she didn't have the heart to disappoint her partner. "Sure, Honey," she said, knowing that the idea would flee Ryan's mind by the time they left the restaurant. Taking the biggest bowl she could find, Jamie filled it with one helping from each of the containers, creating a very satisfactory helping of "Ryan's Jumble."

Catherine settled Caitlin onto her lap, insisting that Ryan and Jamie have a moment to enjoy their meal in peace. The baby happily ate from the huge bowl of cereal, repeatedly sticking her chubby little hand into the bowl. They had wisely decided to add milk later, much to Catherine's pleasure, and Ryan began to doubt that there would be any cereal left for her. Caitlin often ate very little, but sometimes her hunger seemed inexhaustible, and this morning was one of those occasions. By the time everyone else was finished with their first helping, the cereal bowl was almost empty, and Cait was looking around for more.

"Boy, some people don't know when to stop," Ryan chided her, receiving dramatically rolled eyes from her partner.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

Catherine was in a very perky mood, and with a jolt Jamie understood why. She hasn't had a drink since we've been here! Not waking up with a hangover for two days has got to be nice! Before the trip to Rhode Island, Jamie had considered talking to her mother about her drinking, but the upsetting events of that week had made her reconsider bringing up a topic that she knew would be difficult. Seeing her mother abstain for three days made her question her drinking habits. Could it be that she just drinks because she's bored? It seems like she'd need to drink here if she was an alcoholic, yet she hasn't even looked for any alcohol. Deciding that she couldn't resolve the question today, Jamie put it into the "for later discussion" pile and tried to focus on the present.

Entering the park they immediately got in line for the Matterhorn, since they hadn't ridden it the day before. Ryan explained that it was a much tamer ride than Space Mountain, but since it was a landmark they should probably do it. "How do you know so much about these rides if you haven't been here?" Jamie inquired suspiciously.

"There's tons of sites on the net dealing with all things Disney," Ryan said. "These rides aren't really considered coasters by the purists, but I still found out a lot about them the other night when I was surfing."

"I always think you're doing some heady science stuff when you're at your computer. I guess I'd better keep a closer eye on you," she threatened, giving Ryan a narrow-eyed glare.

"Eyes, hands, mouth...you can come closer with any body part you wish, Hot Stuff."

"Mother will hear you!" Jamie whispered, her eyes wide.

"Over Caitlin's babbling?" Ryan asked, casting a fond glance at the pair. Caitlin was indeed talking loudly, albeit nonsensically, right into Catherine's ear.

"Good point," Jamie observed wryly. "I'm afraid Mother will have to make an appointment with an audiologist when she gets home."

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

Catherine and Caitlin waited in the line with them after Ryan explained that they could exit through the 'chicken gate' right before she and Jamie boarded. Just before it was their turn, Jamie stood on her tiptoes and whispered something into Ryan's ear. The dark woman gave her a little smirk and shrugged her shoulders, showing mild agreement. Reaching out to take the baby, Jamie turned to her mother as she said, "Ryan's going to take you on this one, Mom. Have fun!" And with that she scampered out of the chicken gate, leaving a dumbstruck Catherine and a laughing Ryan.

Ryan placed a gentle hand on her shoulder as she assured her, "This one is not bad, Catherine, but if you don't want to do it I'm happy to ride alone."

The stunned woman took in a deep breath and steeled herself as she confidently replied, "I'm no chicken!" Ryan laughed and patted her soundly on the back as their car pulled up. The little car held only four passengers, two in the front seat and two in the back. Ryan got into the back seat first and Catherine gamely stepped in and settled back against her. She was a little uncomfortable to be sitting between Ryan's long legs, and more than a little scared, but before she could change her mind the bar came down, locking her firmly in place.

"Okay," Ryan said into her ear, her deep, warm voice very reassuring. "This one does a lot of up and down motion, but you're never upside down. Just try to relax and let your body move with the car." Catherine was sitting so rigidly that Ryan was afraid she would snap in half once the ride started. "Would you like me to hold you?" she asked softly, her warm breath strangely reassuring.

The frightened woman shook her head, not wanting to appear helpless in front of Ryan. "I'm okay," she muttered, her voice sounding high and tight even to her own ears.

The car pulled away and immediately began a rather steep ascent. Gravity thrust her back against Ryan's chest, which should have embarrassed her, but strangely, she found that it comforted her. Ryan felt so sturdy and soft and warm that she somehow felt mothered, even though her mother had been none of those things.

Their little car reached the crest of the hill and as they started to tumble over, Catherine grabbed Ryan's arms from the sides of the car and flung them across her chest, not even bothering to be embarrassed by the gentle laugh that bubbled up from the amused woman.

Her hands grabbed onto Ryan's forearms as they flew down the side of the mountain. The little car zigged and zagged as it turned and banked and dipped. She held on tighter as the ride continued to bounce and spin, holding her captive just a bit longer than she wished. Finally, they flew past a small waterfall that sprinkled them lightly as they drew to a smooth stop.

Catherine let out a breath as the bar lifted and they were allowed to depart. Ryan waited for a moment, then another, looking up at the attendant who was giving them a wry smile. Leaning over, she softly reminded Catherine, "You can let go now."

Pulled from her daze, Catherine barked out a laugh as she immediately released her death grip on Ryan's arms. "I'm so sorry, Ryan, but I just had to hold on! I thought I was going to fly out of that little car, and if I did I was taking you with me!"

Ryan slid an arm around her shoulders as she escorted her out to an expectantly waiting pair of blondes. "Was it fun?" Jamie asked excitedly.

Caitlin held out her arms to Catherine who gladly claimed her. As they walked along she kept repeating, "Fun. Was it fun?"

They were a good 50 yards down the path when she finally turned to Jamie and said decisively, "Yes. It was fun! It was enough fun to last a lifetime!"

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

The next stop was Fantasyland, and on the way Catherine caught a glimpse of the vivid red fingerprints on Ryan's forearms. "My God, Ryan, I've hurt you!" she cried.

"Nah, I won't even bruise," she said. "You just put a little pressure on my skin. It'll be gone soon."

"Goodness!" Catherine cried, "I swear I haven't grabbed anyone that hard since I gave birth to Jamie!"

Never having heard the story of her birth, Jamie ventured to ask, "Was Daddy with you?"

"Oh, yes, for part of the time," Catherine allowed.

Must have had to leave for a hot date, Jamie groused to herself, her image of her father now intrinsically melded with another woman.

Ryan was still able to converse about Jim in a normal fashion, so she asked the follow-up. "Just part of the time?"

"Yes, they finally asked him to leave," she said. "There's something about the sound of your husband retching that makes labor even less pleasant."

She gave Ryan an amused smile, showing that it didn't bother her to talk about it, so Ryan asked, "Was that when you were about to deliver?"

"No, Dear," Catherine said lightly. "It was when the doctor came in to examine me just after we got into a labor room."

"How long were you in labor?" Ryan gaped.

"Close to a full day...around 20 hours."

"And when did Jim leave?"

"Around 20 minutes," Catherine smirked. "He tried to come in several more times, but he was more distracting than helpful, so I banished him."

Jamie had been listening intently, unable to keep a smile off her face. She knew in her soul that if she ever gave birth, her partner would be right by her side, no matter what.

"Don't go getting any ideas, Jamie," Ryan warned, not as confident of her partner's constitution. "Only men can get away with that ploy!"

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

Ryan was dying to ride the teacups, and she had been reminding them of that fact ever since they had first ventured into the park. Jamie was willing to wait in line with her, but she refused to ride, knowing that Ryan's need for speed was tremendously greater than her own. Even though she trusted her partner with her life, she wasn't sure that she trusted her with her stomach, so she tried to beg off.

Ryan finally convinced the others to join her by pledging that she would let either Jamie or Catherine turn the wheel that imparted the spin. The baby was able to go on this ride, and Ryan knew she would have a blast. The line was still very short since most people didn't like the 'spin 'n barfs' this early in the day. Caitlin was in her baby sling, and Ryan moved it from her back to her chest so that the baby was nestled between her thighs. When the ride was full, they began the slow lazy spin. Caitlin looked around suspiciously but when she saw that everyone else was having fun, she decided she might as well have fun too. The ride picked up speed until it was going at quite a little clip, just fast enough for a nice sensation. Once Caitlin got used to the motion, she wanted more. She jumped up and down forcefully, screaming in delight as her short golden hair whipped around her head.

Ryan taunted Jamie, who was in charge of the wheel, "Spin it! Come on, spin it!" She reluctantly complied, giving the wheel a tiny turn, barely enough to turn the car a half revolution. Ryan scoffed at her but smiled widely as she did so, honoring her promise not to interfere. When the ride slowed to a stop, Ryan convinced the young attendant to allow her to take another spin. He complied since there were not enough people waiting to fill it, and she was lucky enough to be able to ride solo.

As the ride began, Jamie saw the demonic look in her partner's eye and warned her mother, "I think Buffy is going to make an appearance."

"Pardon?" Catherine asked.

"That's what I call her wild child," she explained. "Look at her eyes."

Catherine did as she was told, and was a bit amazed at the transformation. Ryan looked like a feral animal as she turned the wheel as fast as it would go. She pounded on the wheel until her arms grew tired, then she immediately turned it the other way as fast as she could pump. Her hair blew around wildly as she threw her head back and laughed. Other people were having fun, too, but no one looked as happy as Ryan. When the ride finally came to a stop the young attendant sidled up to her cup and asked, "Go again?"

"All day," Ryan scoffed, hoping that one more time was all she got. She repeated her actions, which resulted in the totally dizzy, disoriented feeling that she truly loved. When the third trip was over, she hopped out quickly but walked right into the little metal gate that surrounded the ride. Jamie made eye contact with the smirking operator, who allowed her to come in through the exit and lead her stumbling partner to safety.

"That was so much fun!" Ryan cried, clinging to Jamie as the park spun wildly around her. "It's the longest ride here, 'cause it's still going!" she said giddily.

Continued in Part 6

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