Part 5

Katia N. Ruiz

Copyright 2000

Disclaimers: See Part 1


     Terri stepped through the door; Noemí held it open for her and followed her in. Terri stripped off her jacket and kicked off her shoes, her feet aching, and went to the window to stare at the beautiful white snow capping the trees. She crossed her arms over her chest and looked out at the shiny white night. She sighed, and listened to Noemí move around the living room, removing her jacket, her sweater and her shoes too. Tears stung her eyes, she felt lonely, full of need, and worst all, confused.

     Noemí groaned, and rubbed her feet. "My feet are killing me," she whispered hoarsely, and stood up tentatively. She looked at Terri, who stood very still by the large window, and walked up to her. She touched her shoulder gently, and felt it shaking slightly. "Oh, Terri, what's the matter?" Noemí asked, worry tightening her heart. Terri pulled her shoulder away, and lowered her head.

     "I've never had such a good Christmas, Noemí, never." She whispered brokenly, and cried.

     Noemí whispered her name and wrapped her arms around her waist, curving her palms over Terri's stomach, stroking gently. She kissed the back of her head and felt her heart swell at the soft feel of Terri against her. Her silky hair brushed her face and the fresh scent of strawberries penetrated her nostrils. "This is just the beginning, Terri, don't worry. There'll be more, you'll see." She whispered, inhaling deeply. "My family loves you, they're your family now too."

     Terri bit her lip, and enjoyed the feel of Noemí's arms around her, and of her hands caressing her stomach; she turned her head, and pressed her forehead against Noemí's jaw. She felt Noemí's head moving, felt her breath against her forehead, her lips against her skin. "Noemí," She whispered, feeling the strong body pressing against her back, inhaling the sweet musk scent of her skin. "I'm so lonely!" She whispered brokenly.

     Before she could say anything more, Noemí's lips were on her own, pressing gently, questioningly. The fluid motion of Noemí's lips against hers, the way their mouths fit together sent electric shocks through her. She couldn't stop the long groan that escaped her throat; she couldn't stop her mouth from opening to Noemí's soft tongue with longing. She felt Noemí pull her body back; her hands urged her to turn around with gentle pressure on her shoulders.

     She spun around, and their lips met again, their stomachs pressed together, and she felt the baby kick against Noemí's stomach. She suddenly ached between her legs, could feel the muscles clench there. Her head felt light and she gasped softly.

     Noemí pulled back and kissed her forehead gently, murmuring her name softly. Her hands cupped her face, and she kissed her again deeply, passionately. "Terri." Breathless, the way she said her name, the way she touched her cheeks softly as their eyes met in the semi-darkness. She leaned her head down again, her eyes closing softly; meeting her lips and kissing her once more, her tongue urging her mouth open again and touching her own. She groaned, and their kiss became slower, softer, gentle and full of discovery. She felt Terri's hands move up her arms to her shoulders and squeeze the muscles there reverently. "Lets go in the bedroom, Terri." She whispered, suddenly wanting more than just kisses, and guided her through the dark down the hall and into her bedroom.

     Terri's legs trembled, and she feared they wouldn't hold her up as the ache between her legs intensified; she had never felt this ache, this rush. Right next to the bed, Noemí took her into her arms again and kissed her deeply, passionately. She reached behind her neck and unzipped her dress slowly, their lips never ceasing their meeting. She groaned when she felt Terri's soft hands beneath her shirt, touching the smooth skin of her lower back. Slipping the gown off, she bent lower to kiss Terri's now bare shoulders gently, letting her teeth sink into her flesh tenderly.

     She undid the bra from its harness between Terri's breasts, and slipped it off gently, letting her hands cup her heavy breasts softly. "Oh, God, Terri, do they hurt?" She asked with a groan, touching the erect nipples gently with her thumbs. She felt a rush of heat come between her legs from the tips of her sensitive fingers. The nipples were hard and she felt Terri tremble almost imperceptibly against her palms. She kissed her gently, and pulled her lips only slightly away. "Do they hurt?" She breathed against her lips; her heart was beating fast, and she felt like it would pump through her skin.

     Terri threw her head back; her nipples growing even more erect under Noemí's gentle thumbs. "No, it's-" Her voice broke into a long groan as Noemí bent lower to kiss each nipple. Soon she was lying on the bed, wearing nothing but her panties, the fully clad Noemí leaning over her, her taut flat stomach brushing Terri's; she licked each engorged nipple with a maddeningly soft tongue. Terri bit her lower lip, her fingers running through Noemí's hair, urging her not to stop her caress. She never thought this would be so wonderful, the electric-like shock rushing through her body with each tender lick of a nipple, each tender bite and suck. And the thought that it was happening with Noemí made her moan loudly. She felt weak; she couldn't resist Noemí's touch.

     Noemí groaned softly, moving down to kiss her hard stomach, to caress it reverently with her hands. "So, beautiful, Terri, you're so beautiful!" She whispered, and kissed all around it. She pressed her hands against the stretched skin of her lower stomach and felt the baby kick again. "Terri... Terri!" She gasped. "Does it hurt you when the baby kicks?" She seemed so innocent to Terri, so endearing with her soft questions, and Terri couldn't answer her in her realization of how deep her feelings were for her. Noemí moved up to lie besides her, touching her face softly with her fingers. "Does it hurt?" She asked again and felt Terri shake her head. "What does it feel like then?" She whispered, kissing her eyes closed, her cheeks, her lips again.

     "Like," Terri said in a very low breathy voice, her fingers moving through Noemí's hair and massaging the back of her head. She couldn't think. "Like... I don't know; it doesn't hurt though." She moaned softly when Noemí kissed her softly, her smooth lips caressing hers as she pushed an arm beneath her head to cradle her. Terri's hands moved from her face to wrap around Noemí's torso, her hands reaching beneath her shirt again to touch the skin of her back. Noemí's kiss became passionately hot as Terri's fingers worked around her ribs to touch beneath her breasts. She suddenly sat up and yanked off her T-shirt, leaning back down and cradling her head again as she kissed her once more. She shuddered long and hard when Terri's fingers brushed her nipples, hardening them and stroking them over and over again.

     Terri groaned when Noemí's nipples hardened against her fingers, when Noemí's hand moved shakily down her stomach to slip fingers beneath the waistband of her panties. She gently kneaded the swollen flesh right below her abdomen, and moaned softly. "You're so swollen, Terri, does it hurt there?" She whispered against her ear, licking and biting the lobe gently. Terri shook her head, biting her lower lip and stiffening as Noemí's fingers moved lower. "It's okay, it's okay, Terri. I promise it's okay." Noemí whispered brokenly, her voice shaky, and moved her fingers lower against her, until they were soaked in her wetness and cradled in her swollen need.

     Terri's back arched suddenly, her chest heaved with each breath as Noemí's fingers began stroking her softly; her legs fell wide open. Noemí whispered breathlessly, murmuring against her ear as her fingers stroked and caressed her for a long time. Suddenly, she moved her lips down to Terri's chest. "Oh, God, Terri," She groaned against her nipple softly, stroking her engorged clitoris gently, cradling it between her long fingers and moving them from side to side softly.

     Noemí moved down suddenly, pushing Terri's panties down and sucking her engorged flesh into her mouth. Terri felt like lighting shot into her from where Noemí's mouth was between her legs; her silky tongue parted her and tasted hungrily. She reached down and grasped Noemí's hair tightly in her small fist, her body buckled; she was so sensitive, she thought she would die if this continued. She pulled Noemí's head up, and Noemí went willingly, replacing her tongue with her fingers, continuing the caress against her clitoris. They kissed open-mouthed, deeply, Terri tasting herself on Noemí's lips as Noemí pushed her tongue deep into her mouth.

     Terri's palms pressed shakily against her back, the nails digging into her flesh causing arousal instead of pain. She groaned loudly and her back arched, her breathing short gasps, and she was on fire as orgasm stormed through her, hard, for a long time. She never felt anything like this before, this melting of her insides, this rush through her body like fire through her veins. Her palms slapped against the bed and grasped the covers as she shuddered and moaned. She lay panting, paralyzed with shock, her hair falling over the side of her face wet with sweat, pressed against Noemí's bare shoulder. She felt aftershocks rack her body all of a sudden, starting from the point between her legs.

     Noemí shifted, never letting her go, slipping her fingers softly from between her legs and trailing them wetly across the surface of her stomach. She was breathing hard also, and she lifted her lips from her sensitive nipples to touch Terri's lips softly. Their tongues and lips met passionately. Then Terri, not knowing what to say, buried her face into the crook of her neck, aware of Noemí's breasts pressed against her own and her arms around her body gentle. Noemí's lips left hers to touch her forehead, to kiss tenderly along eyebrows, her eyelids, her nose, her chin, and then her lips again.

     She lay down on her side, and pulled Terri to her, cradling her head against her shoulder, wrapping her arms around her. Terri was tired and feeling warm now; she wrapped her arm around her waist. They fell asleep holding each other.

Noemí woke at about ten o'clock in the morning, a hand on Terri's waist, her trousered leg pressed between her legs. She lifted her head to look down at her body; her eyes lingered on her full breasts, her swollen stomach, and her beautiful face. She tried to pull away, in shock, knowing fully well what she'd done. She pulled away slowly, trying not to wake her. When she succeeded, Terri only stirring a little, she got up from the bed and left the room. She brought her hand to brush her hair back and caught the scent of Terri's sex on her fingers. She brought it to her nose, and swayed on her feet from the delicious odor lingering there. She remembered when she had knelt between her legs, the sweet taste of her. "Oh, God!" She gasped, and moved unsteadily to the living room.

     She flopped down on the couch and reached for the telephone on the table beside the couch. She dialed, and waited with her breath caught in her throat. Victoria picked up, sounding very awake. "Vicki," Noemí said in a whisper. "Vicki, I need to talk to you."

     Vicki shushed Michaela, who was making a racket with what sounded like kitchenware. "What is it, Noemí?" She asked, sounding concerned.

     "Can you come over, please?" She whispered, twisting around to look down the hall, afraid that Terri had woken also and was at the end of the hall looking at her.

     Victoria said something to Michaela, who said something sounding like okay. "Well, she was about to start breakfast, but I guess she can do it in your house. Cook for all of us." Victoria said and Noemí agreed. "Be there in like twenty minutes." As she hung up the phone, Noemí could hear her say to Michaela: "Leave it like that, we'll pick it up later." And line went dead.

     Noemí made her way back to the room, and quietly retrieved her shirt; she then went to the bathroom, and washed her teeth.

     True to her word, Victoria and Michaela arrived twenty minutes later. Michaela, knowing that Victoria and Noemí needed to talk, made her way to the kitchen. Victoria wrapped an arm around Noemí's shoulders and pulled her towards the window. They both stared out the window at the snow for a long time, Noemí not knowing how to start. "What's up?" Victoria finally asked, sitting down on the wide sitting berth of the window.

     Noemí sat beside her and stared at the floor. "Something happened last night." She said after a long time.

     Oh, boy. Victoria looked at her, waiting for her to continue. "What happened?" She finally asked.

     "Terri," Noemí said, and swallowed hard. "And I, we uh-" She stopped and ran a hand through her hair. And then she let it all out in a rush. "I don't know what came over me last night, Vicki, I swear. I wanted her so much and I couldn't..."

     When she finished, she saw that Victoria had been staring at her, astonished, eyes wide, mouth hanging open. Then she recovered, blinking rapidly and shaking her head. "Wow," She breathed, and then she smiled churlishly. "So," She said mischievously. "How was it?"

     Noemí slapped her across the shoulder, almost sending her off the seat. "It's not fucking funny, Victoria," She snapped, and stood up, pacing around the living room. "I don't know what to do, she slept with my brother and she's pregnant with his child-"

     Victoria snorted, standing up and slapping her thigh. "So fucking what?" She said, sounding angry. "Is he here, taking care of her, giving her the comfort that she needs? She's not his property just because she made the monumental mistake of sleeping with him, Noemí."

     Noemí stared at her, confused by her feelings. She said nothing.

     Victoria softened her tone. "How do you feel for her?" She asked gently, moving over to her and squeezing her shoulder.

     "I-" Noemí said with a shake of her head, frowning and staring down at the floor. "I don't know." She whispered in wonder. "It was like a dream, Vicki, it felt so good to touch her."

     Victoria chuckled softly, but didn't say more when she saw Terri trudging slowly down the hall from her bedroom. She had changed into shorts and a large T-shirt, which hugged her stomach tightly. Victoria went to her and kissed her cheek gently. "Merry Christmas, Terri." She said, and smiled, rubbing her huge stomach.

     "Merry Christmas to you too." Terri said to her with a sleepy smile and her eyes left her to find Noemí. She remembered the night perfectly, and turned towards the kitchen, hoping they didn't see her blush.

     Noemí's knees trembled, and she felt weak with desire. She saw the smile on Victoria's face, and turned away towards the window again. She felt her coming up behind her, hugging her from behind and kissing the back of her neck. "Vicki," She whispered, hugging Victoria's arms to her. "What am I going to do? What about Camilla?"

     "Hey, I'm only just learning about this relationship shit, I don't know what to tell you." Victoria said with a small laugh, resting her chin against her shoulder. "Are you and Camilla officially in a relationship?” She asked after a while.

     Noemí shook her head and sighed. "But she wants to be, I know she does. But I can't, I still love Amelia so much." She said.

     "You don't have to stop loving her to be in a relationship with someone else." Victoria said, and pressed her lips against Noemí's shoulder. "Amelia is dead, Noemí, when are you going to realize that?" She said, trying not to sound harsh.

     Noemí didn't reply, and stayed quiet for a long moment. "It doesn't mean I'm going to stop loving her." She said, her voice raspy with emotion as tears filled her eyes.

     Victoria tightened her arms around Noemí. "How do you feel for Camilla?" She asked softly. "Do you love her?"

     Noemí didn't hesitate and she shook her head. "I like her, and I'm very attracted to her, but I suspect that's as far as it'll get." She whispered.

     Victoria nodded, and they stared out at the bright snow in silence. "How do you feel for Terri?" She asked then. "Do you love her?"

     Noemí remained quiet for a long time. "I don't know." She said finally, thinking that every single time she looked at Terri, her heart skipped a beat, and all she wanted to do was hold her. She thought about last night; when she kissed Terri under the mistletoe, she had felt that her heart would beat right out of her chest. And about when Camilla had argued with her afterwards, having caught her doing such a reckless thing, and left right after that. But Noemí wanted to kiss Terri so bad, since she realized when her cousin Martha kissed her freshly on the mouth that there were little mistletoe branches hanging all over the house. She wanted to get her in a position where she could do just that, wrap her arms around her body and possess her. She watched her the whole night, waiting until Terri stood on the right spot. And when she got her, and was able to kiss her, she did not want to stop. She couldn't name her feelings, but they were strong.

     They went to the kitchen, and found Terri already eating slowly from a plate full of scrambled eggs and toast. She avoided Noemí's eyes, and didn't talk much amidst their conversations. Noemí didn't miss the look Michaela gave Victoria, and she knew that Terri told her about it too.

     Noemí couldn't stop looking at her, couldn't stop her eyes from lingering on the sensuous lips that were pressed against her own last night. It was as if her eyes were calling to Terri, because Terri lifted her eyes from the food and stared at her with wide eyes. Noemí found herself breathing hard, and her hands holding the fork and knife shook.

     She stood suddenly, unable to eat, and left the kitchen. In the living room, she sat down on the couch and brought her hands to her head. She closed her eyes and she swore she could feel Terri's plush body against her hands, her nipples hard against her tongue. "Oh, God," She breathed and started when a soft hand touched her shoulder. She looked up at Michaela, her face showing her frustration.

     Michaela sat in front of her on the coffee table, and smiled at her without saying anything. Noemí met her eyes and then looked away. "Well," Michaela said softly, and Noemí looked at her again. "Are you alright?"

     Noemí nodded slowly, and looked down at the floor. "Yes," She said softly. "I just feel guilty, I bought this house with Amelia, and I still love her so much. She haunts my dreams, my reality."

     Michaela nodded in understanding, and she reached over and ran gentle fingers through Noemí's soft drying hair. "Where you thinking of Amelia last night?" She asked.

     Looking up, Noemí shook her head, and said in a hoarse whisper: "That is why I feel guilty, she didn't even cross my mind when I was touching Terri. All I can think about right now is last night with Terri. And Camilla is pissed at me, because I kissed Terri last night. She shouldn't be, I mean, I guess she should-" She stood and paced around the living room in frustration, Michaela's eyes following her. "I don't know anything any more... I need to go somewhere."

     Michaela chuckled softly, and leaned back, her hands holding her up against the table. "It would be kind of rude to leave your guests alone in the house, don't you think?" She pointed out.

     "Yes, yes, I'm sorry." Noemí said with an absent wave of her hand.

     Michaela stood and went to her, standing close to her and squeezing her arm comfortingly. "Do you want to be with her?" She asked.

     "With Camilla?" Noemí said, instantly knowing that Michaela meant Terri by the look she gave her. "You mean with Terri." Michaela nodded with a smile. "I- I don't know. She was with my brother, she slept with him."

     "Well, golly gee," Michaela said teasingly, placing a hand on the center of Noemí's chest and pushing gently. "Big fucking deal, you just slept with her too, in case you don't remember, and left her mighty confused too, to bat. Besides, what happened between your brother and she was not really a 'she slept with him' thing. Now you're acting like you're the one who doesn't know what you want."

     "I don't-"

     Michaela cut her off with a harsh question: "You know that last night was the first time she ever felt an orgasm?" Her eyes met Noemí's shocked eyes, and she smiled slowly.

     Noemí frowned, and looked away from her. "It was?" She asked softly, excitement flowing through her veins at the thought that she was the one who brought Terri to orgasm for the first time. She tried to hide it.

     Michaela snorted softly, seeing Noemí's excitement at the fact that she had brought Terri her first pleasure. "By now, we all know your brother didn't bother with her pleasure, Noemí," She said. "He cared only about his own, and Terri, for the first time in her life last night, felt something more than just a dick inside her, pardon my language. She never thought it would get better than what happened with Anthony, and she didn't like at all in the first place. You just happened to show her that it does get better." She looked at her for a long time, reading the mixed emotions playing on her face. "So now what are you going to do?"

     Noemí shook her head, looking like she was about to lose it. She pushed her fingers through her hair, sweat breaking out of her forehead. "It was her first?" She asked again, and looked at Michaela. "She's going to be so confused, because of me, Michaela. Have I hurt her?"

     Michaela shrugged. "Go and talk to her, I'll bring Victoria out of the kitchen." She said and turned away before stopping and looking at her. "Don't put your foot in it, that's all I ask you. Terri feels something deep for you, and Camilla knows it; that is why she argued with you last night after you kissed Terri." She turned away again, and emerged from the kitchen with a confused Victoria in tow.

     Terri remained behind, finishing the dishes. Noemí watched her from the door, her eyes moving down along her slender back and lingering at her shapely legs, swollen slightly by the pregnancy. "Terri," She whispered, and saw the small back stiffen, her hands stopping. She walked to her, and reached to touch her soft loose hair with tentative fingers. "Terri, I don't know what to do now," She whispered and moved closer, able to smell her natural strawberry scent and growing aroused again. "I don't want to hurt you."

     Terri spun around and looked up at her with glistening eyes. "Then don't touch me, please." She whispered, and gasped when Noemí pulled her into her arms despite her words. "Please, let me go, I can't take this-" Noemí's lips on her own cut her off, her tongue slipping through her lips and bringing forth a moan. Her arms wrapped slowly around Noemí's shoulders, her wet palms pressed flat against the wide plain of her upper back, leaving the imprint of her wet palms on her shirt. Noemí's lips caressed her cheeks, her neck, teeth sinking gently into flesh. "Noemí," Terri gasped, throwing her head back and moaning. "This is crazy, Noemí, please. We have to stop, it can't happen again. You and Camilla... Ah!" Noemí's fingers were seeking underneath her shirt, moving up to tease her nipples to life.

     Her lips were back on her mouth, her tongue pushing through to touch hers. Their bodies melted together, Terri's protruding stomach pressing against Noemí's. "God, you're so sweet, Terri!" Noemí whispered intensely, her mouth working along her jaw, her hands beneath her shirt cupping her heavy breasts. "So beautiful, oh God." She gasped when the baby kicked, as if warning them that they were crushing it. She eased the pressure of her body against hers, but her lips never ceased their exploring. "I want to taste you again, Terri, I wanted to for so long."

     Terri felt helpless to her touch; she couldn't stop herself from responding to her hands and lips. She could feel the wetness between her legs growing. The bell rang, startling them away from each other; they stared at one another, as Victoria called out to Noemí in hidden warning. "Noemí, Camilla's here to see you."

     Terri pushed past Noemí and made her way to the living room. Noemí took a deep settling breath and followed after her. Camilla's smile grew as her eyes fell on Noemí. She carried a box in her hands and moved up to kiss her lips gently. "Hi, baby," She whispered, and pushed the box into her hands with a slow grin. "Your Christmas present."

     Noemí smiled at her, feeling sublimely guilty, because she could see in her eyes that Camilla loved her. "Thank you." She whispered and kissed her forehead softly. "Here, hold it, I'll get your presents so that we can open them together." She said to the rest of them. Terri was nowhere in sight. She found her in the bedroom, sitting on her bed staring at nothing, notepad in hand. "Come out, I'm giving out the presents." She said shyly.

     Terri shook her head slowly, not meeting her eyes. "Its okay, I don't feel very well." She said in a low voice. Concerned, Noemí moved to come into the room, but Terri lifted her hand to stop her. "No, please," She whispered. "Leave me alone, go with Camilla." She lay down and pulled the covers over her body. "Leave me alone." She repeated softly, sounding distant and sleepy.

     Noemí stared at the bundle on the bed for a long time, unsure of what to do. But Terri asked her to leave her alone and she would respect the fact that she wanted to be alone. She knew Terri's confusion was because of her inability to hold back her desire for her. She closed the door softly, and went into her office, where she stashed all the gifts. She came out to the living room, and handed them each her respective gift. She took back her gift from Camilla and they started to open their gifts together.

     Victoria smiled as she lifts out the blue original Donna Karen sweater. She blew a grateful kiss to Noemí. She had always been a fan of Donna Karen's style, so almost every piece of clothing she owned was a DKNY piece. "Beautiful. Your present is in my place, I didn't think of bringing it over."

     Noemí winked at her and looked at Michaela, who was engrossed in opening her gift-wrap carefully. "I didn't know what exactly your taste is, so I just got what I felt goes with you." She explained, and Michaela's smile grew as she lifted out a pretty Versace silk shirt. "Just because you've turned my best friend around." She said with a laugh. "She was so rude."

     "Hey!" Victoria complained good-humoredly. "I still am, I just have to watch my mouth in front of Miss Sergeant Cavanaugh, that's all." Michaela swatted her across the arm playfully.

     Camilla held up a pretty gold chain, smiling at Noemí softly. "Thank you, this is wonderful." She whispered and moved over to touch her lips to Noemí's, feeling her respond hesitantly. She pulled back, eyeing her closely, but Noemí's expression didn't give anything away. "Your turn to open your gift, honey." She said softly.

     Noemí smiled and opened her box. A beautiful black designer shirt lay folded perfectly beneath the protective wrapping. She pulled it out and opened the shirt, then smiled at Camilla. "This is beautiful." She said and grinned as she showed Michaela and Victoria her present.

     Camilla chuckled, and said to Victoria and Michaela: "You wouldn't mind if I steal her for a few minutes, would you?"

     They both smiled and shook their heads, beginning to talk to each other when Camilla pulled Noemí down the hall and into her office. As soon as the door closed, Camilla pulled her into her arms, wrapping her arms around her neck, pulling her down for a deep sensuous kiss. She felt Noemí respond, but then she felt her grow hesitant and pulled back. She pulled away and looked up at her with question in her eyes. "What is wrong?" She asked, a tight fist of dread squeezing around her heart.

     Noemí avoided her eyes, and looked at something over her shoulder. "I'm sorry." She whispered softly, and shook her head as she met her eyes. "I did something that I shouldn't have done..."

     Victoria jumped, startled out of her embrace with Michaela by the scream coming from Noemí's office. She stood up and looked cautiously down the hall. Camilla emerged from the office, yelling hysterically at Noemí, who followed her and tried to restrain her. She moved towards Terri's bedroom, and Noemí grabbed her by the arm and yanked her back towards the living room. "It has nothing to do with her!" Noemí said loudly. "Don't bring her into this!"

     "It has nothing to do with her?" Camilla repeated loudly, bewildered. Her face was red with anger. "That slut, she's had it for you, I knew it from the first time I saw her! She couldn't get your brother, so she wants to get you!" She waved her arms angrily.

     Noemí was slowly growing angry at her insults against Terri, but she held her anger down, knowing that she was at fault for Camilla's anger. "I thought I should tell you, I didn't want to lie to you, and I don't want you to be angry at Terri, it is not her fault. Only my fault-"

     "Not her fault!" Camilla yelled at her, fighting against tears. "Did she say no when you touched her, did she? She welcomed it, because she is a whore, I knew it the first time I looked at her that-" She cut off when Noemí charged at her, grasping her arms and shaking her angrily.

     Noemí's eyes flashed. "Don't talk about her like that!" She said through clenched teeth, scaring Camilla into staying quiet. "You don't know her to be saying those things!"

     "Hey, Noemí," Victoria said softly, placing a staying hand on Noemí's shoulder. "Let her go, let her go."

     Trembling, Noemí kept glaring at Camilla for a long time. Then with a deep shuddering breath, she let her go and turned away. She caught sight of Terri standing at the end of the hall, staring at them quietly. "Terri," She made a move to go down the hall, but Camilla pushed her aside and moved stiffly towards Terri, who only stood there staring at her with expressionless eyes.

     "You little bitch-" She said in a low voice, one hand clenching at her sides, the other lifting as if to slap her.

     Michaela suddenly appeared before her, between her and Terri. "Not one more step, Camilla." She said in a low, even voice, a hand on her shoulder. "In case you haven't noticed, she's pregnant."

     Camilla looked at Michaela through tearful eyes. "That hasn't stopped her from ruining my relationship with Noemí, has it?" She said bitterly, glaring at Terri over Michaela's shoulder. "You're a slut, Terri, you are; you know you are. You probably slept with her brother on purpose, so that you can claim something that is not yours. Their money-"

     "Shut up, shut up, shut up!" Noemí roared at her from the living room, charging towards her. Victoria held her back, speaking softly into her ear. "Tell her to shut up, Victoria, tell her to leave!" Noemí said, her voice lower. "I know it's my fault, Victoria, but what she's saying about Terri is not true. She should blame me, not her."

     Camilla turned away from Michaela, and walked towards the living room. She stood close to her and looked up into her eyes. "You're right, I should blame you." She whispered. "But you're both pieces of shit." She said, and slapped her hard across the face. She walked out.

     Noemí's eyes closed, and she crossed her arms over her chest. "Pretty." She muttered softly, her cheek stinging her hard. She opened her eyes, and looked down the hall at Terri, walking slowly towards her. Terri stared at her for a long time, seemingly paralyzed, and before Noemí could reach her, she slammed her bedroom door behind herself. "Terri, open the door!" Noemí called, knocking on the door. Terri didn't answer her. "Terri, are you okay? Please, let me know if you're okay." She tried and tried, and Terri ignored her. Finally, she gave up and rested her forehead and elbows against the door, hands on the back of her head.

     She felt a tentative hand on her shoulder. "Do you want us to stay?" Victoria asked softly, knowing how volatile Noemí's mood can be.

     Noemí nodded slowly, and turned to look at Victoria. Their eyes made contact for a long moment. "I need a shower." Noemí whispered softly, and walked into the bathroom.

Victoria could tell she had been crying when she emerged from the bathroom, hair wet and dripping onto her face and shirt. Her eyes were red-rimmed, and she flopped down on the couch. Michaela had managed to get Terri to open the door for her, and now she sat in the room with her, trying to talk to her, leaving Victoria to talk to Noemí.

     Victoria sat beside her friend and wrapped an arm around her back. "What's up?" She said softly.

     "I don't know." Noemí answered, leaning forward, elbows against her knees. She stared off at space, her eyes turned downward in that hollow look Victoria had seen for so many years. "I don't know." She whispered again, biting her lower lip thoughtfully.

Michaela sat beside Terri, a hand on her lower back soothing her, quietly waiting for her to speak. Terri's cheeks were wet with tears; her eyes were closed softly. "She's right." She said suddenly.

     Michaela frowned softly. "What?"

     "I am a slut." She whispered, and felt Michaela begin to protest. "I mean, who do I think I am, sleeping with a man, and then while pregnant with his child sleeping with his sister? Who do I think I am?" Her voice broke and she began to cry again for the umpteenth time, her head hanging, and her hands between her legs hanging limply.

     "Terri, relax, this won't do any good to your baby, please." Michaela said softly, and pressed a hand along her back, trying to calm the tension there. "Talk to Noemí, tell her how you feel for her."

     Terri shook her head and looked at her. "I can't... I mean it, I can't." She whispered and Michaela shook her head to protest. "She still loves the ghost of Amelia, she's still crazy about her. I can't be like this!" She gasped, and more tears streamed down her face.

     Michaela crooned and held her gently, shaking her head and sighing.




     Camilla stood in front of Noemí the following Monday, looking down at her, an envelope clutched in her trembling hand. She jerked it towards Noemí, not meeting her eyes. "What is this, Camilla?" Noemí asked softly, picking up the envelope and glancing at it before looking up at her.

     "My resignation letter." Camilla said through clenched teeth, fighting back tears as she finally met Noemí's eyes. "I can't continue to work with you, not under these circumstances."

     "But Camilla," Noemí said, walking around the desk towards her, feeling a deep sadness when Camilla jerked away from her. "Please, reconsider, you've been with this company for too long to-"

     Camilla spun around and glared at her. "This is about you, don't you see?" She hissed, and clenched her fists at her sides. Noemí moved back, fearing she might hit her again like she did on Christmas day. "You've hurt me, Noemí, you knew how I felt for you, and you still hurt me."

     Noemí shook her head, and ran a hand through her hair. "You know my situation, you know that I have unresolved business when it comes to my feelings for Amelia!" She said in a rush of words.

     "She's dead!" Camilla cried out, and crossed her arms over her chest. "Goddamn you, she's dead!" She sobbed, letting her head fall.

     Noemí felt the words bite into her, and she turned away from her. "You shouldn't say that to me." She whispered brokenly.

     "But it's the truth," Camilla said, wiping at the tears beneath her eyes. "And this is not about her, this about that woman you have living in your house."

     Noemí sighed, knowing where this discussion would end. "Her name is Terri." She said softly.

     "Whatever her name is, she is a predator, she has been after you the whole time." She whispered, again sounding jealous. "She's a slut, she slept with your brother to trap him, and when he wouldn't budge-"

     Noemí spun around and charged at her once again, furious. "You don't know shit about what happened between her and my brother, okay? That is not your business, Camilla, when will I get it through your thick skull?" She hissed at her, her white-blue eyes flashing anger.

     Camilla, though startled by her anger, didn't show it. She turned away from Noemí. "What bothered me more," She said in a calmer voice. "Is what you did, the hurt, the pain you have caused me. I love you, damn it!" She slapped Noemí's desk hard and leaned against it.

     "I never asked you to love me, Camilla, honestly." Noemí said in a soft whisper, feeling pain for hurting her this way. "Please," She whispered, moving to her, touching her shoulders with her hands. "Please, I never asked you to love me, you knew how it was going to be with us, you knew my heart belongs to Amelia, Camilla."

     "You're sick, Noemí, you know that?" Camilla said with a disgusted whisper. "You can't even face real life, you can't face that she's not around any more. Your mistakes are your own, Noemí, no matter how much you say you still love her, that doesn't excuse what you've done to me." She pulled away from her hands and walked to the door. "My two week notice is in that letter. I had a job offer in California, and hopefully, it's still available." She walked out of the office, leaving Noemí looking after her.

     Noemí went to the door and pushed it closed, leaning against it and letting the tears fall down her cheeks.

     "...Four, Three, Two," The loud downward count of the group of people standing in front of the large screen television, arms around each other, reached its crescendo as the huge ball on forty second street wound down to its zero mark. "One! Happy New Year!" They yelled and screamed, the sound of horns blaring as some pressed their mouths to one end and blew. There were many tears of joy for having survived another New Year, exuberant loving hugs between friends and families.

     Noemí found herself caught between two loving cousins who grew up with her and accompanied in her mischievous acts along with Victoria, Martha and Louis. Noemí searched for Terri with her eyes, and caught sight of her in the arms of both Thomas and Natalie, then in the arms of Victoria's parents, Charles and Andrea Terrence, and then in the arms of Victoria and Michaela. As she made her way to Terri, Victoria moved forward and took her into her arms, hugging her tightly and giving her an extravagant kiss on the lips. "Happy New Year, best bud!" She said, already skunk drunk.

     Noemí laughed softly, and winked at her.

     Michaela took her place, and kissed her lips also, hugging her briefly and then pulling away. "Happy New Year, and be there many more." She intoned, her eyes twinkling with tipsiness. "Nineteen ninety nine, finally."

     Next were the parents, who with their nurturing love took a long time to wish her a happy New Year, welcoming her back from her depression with loving advice. When they finally finished their endearing goodwill, she moved past them, making smiling eye contact with Terri. She pointed behind herself with a thumb. "All it takes to get to you." She said in a low voice, chuckling softly. She moved closer. "Can I wish you a happy New Year, Terri?" She asked, and moved slightly closer.

     Terri stared up at her with those soft gray-brown eyes, her lips parted slightly. She hesitated, and then nodded. She had been avoiding any contact with Noemí all week, but she couldn't be rude on this night. She stepped up to her, and couldn't stop her breath from catching when Noemí's strong arms slipped gently around her enlarged waist. "Happy New Year, Noemí." She whispered softly, bracing her arms on her shoulders to pull her into a hug.

     Instead, Noemí's lips touched her own softly, tenderly. She gasped softly, unable to help her response. She moaned softly when she felt Noemí's lips move against her own, opening to allow her tongue to slip past her lips and touch her tongue gently. Desire claimed her again; like that night that seemed so long ago. She pulled her mouth away and pressed against Noemí's shoulders when she felt her start to move forward to kiss her once more. "No... Stop... your parents." She gasped softly.

     Noemí's turned her face to look at her parents and Victoria's, they were undaunted as they talked quietly, drinks in hands. Everyone had calmed down from celebratory hugs and kisses, and they were now partying away. Victoria and Michaela were dancing among a group of young people dancing too, the music soft and modern. "They're not even paying attention, Terri." She said, and leaned to kiss her lips again.

     Terri stubbornly pushed against the muscles of her shoulders again, at the same time marveling at their definitive strength. "Please, Terri, don't push me away. I so want to kiss you again." Noemí said, her voice husky as she leaned forward again, pushing against Terri's hands and kissing her once more, her soft moan electrifying Terri. Her lips were passionate, her hands now in her hair and holding their mouths together, her lips gentle and conveying her desire also. She pulled away only slightly, a soft whisper against Terri's lips: "Oh, Terri! Terri, I've missed you so much." She kissed her fully again, and Terri could do nothing but respond to her deeply passionate kiss, her breath catching in her throat.

     After a long time of loosing herself in the kiss, she pulled away, jerking backwards when Noemí reached for her again. The pleading look in Noemí's sexy eyes beckoned her back, but she resisted. "No!" She said, wiping at her lips, attempting to remove the sweet taste and scent of Noemí from her senses. She turned away from her and made her way carefully through the crowd, her small frame disappearing through a throng of tall bodies. Noemí stared after her with a confused feeling rushing through her.

Noemí allowed Terri into the house in front of her, following her in and closing the door, slipping her keys in her pockets. Silent, Terri made her way down the hall to her room, feeling extremely tired, but restless. It was almost daylight outside, six in the morning of January first in the New Year of nineteen ninety-nine. Noemí stood by the window, staring out at the snow, hands in her slack pockets. She felt tired too, but couldn't lie down to sleep, unless she was near Terri. Terri made it obvious that she didn't want her in her bed today; that she wanted to be alone.

     Resigned to remain awake despite her tired body, she sat down and stared out at the whitening sky, thinking for a long time. Unprepared for Terri's voice, she jumped when Terri called her over to the room. Worried, she made her way there, and sighed with relief at the sight of Terri, standing with a hand pressed against her lower back, eyes staring down at the boxed canvases and oils. She'd already changed her party dress to the familiar shorts and large T-shirt she'd grown accustomed to. She looked at Noemí, her eyes alert despite the obvious tiredness. "Can you please take out a canvas? I suddenly feel like painting." She said, and smiled at Noemí forgivingly.

     Noemí smiled back at her and moved forward to pick up a box. In minutes she had the canvas set up on the tripod, and her paints were set up on top of one of the night tables so that she wouldn't have to bend down to retrieve them. Terri began to set up her colors on the palette in her hand, bought by Natalie in the shape of a circle; her brushes set up standing inside a cup, another cup beside it filled with water to rinse them. Noemí watched, fascinated, sitting on the bed. "Mind if I watch?" She asked softly.

     Terri turned to her and smiled, seemingly at peace for the first time ever. Noemí couldn't take her eyes away from her face. "No, just be quiet." She says gently. Seeing Noemí's tired expression, knowing she had been dancing the whole night with her family and friends because she'd been watching her the whole time from a distance, she said comfortingly: "You can lay down if you want."

     Noemí, feeling comforted by her sweet voice, nodded and lay down on her side, resting her head against a plush pillow. She sighed contentedly, inhaling the sweet scent of Terri on the pillow, burying her face against it. Before Terri had even begun to lay the stained brush to the white canvas, her eyes closed and she fell asleep.

Terri felt a jolting pain in her lower back and abdomen, and pulled her brush away from the canvas, listening with her body to the unfamiliar pain. She turned around and placed the palette on the table, her brush, hair down, into the cup of water. She looked at Noemí, who looked so peaceful in her sleep, and decided not to wake her yet. A cold sheen of sweat broke out on her forehead, and she moved towards the other side of the bed, wanting to sit down and relax. She thought that maybe she strained herself standing there painting for all those hours.

     In her deep slumber, Noemí didn't move as Terri flopped herself down onto the bed, adjusting herself so that her aching back rested against her pillow and the wall. Another jolting pain coursed through her, making her muscles clench tight, her teeth clench in pain. She closed her eyes tightly, feeling like an explosion had broken through her, and the next thing she knew, water, pink with blood, spilled all over the bed from between her legs, soaking through the quilt and mattress, dripping to the carpeted floor. Fear, like she never felt before, gripped her as another shock of pain paralyzed her and cut off her breath. Noemí didn't even shift in her deep sleep. "Noemí!" Terri whispered, clutching her protruding lower stomach tightly, as if trying to hold her baby in place. She instinctively knew her baby would be born soon, and with no help, if she couldn't get her voice to operate.

     In her fright, she tried to remember what her Lamaze teacher had taught her and Victoria, but her mind was a blank. "Noemí!" She said, louder this time, as another burst of pain tore through her lower body. "Oh, God, Noemí!" She screamed, gasping for breath.

     Noemí jumped from sleep, jerking upright into a sitting position, and spun to stare at Terri. Terri's face looked flushed, her breathing short gasps, her body trembling and there was pinkish wetness all over the bed. She took it all in, and reached for the pillows, moving around the bed to try to get her more comfortable. She could feel the wetness of the carpet sipping through her socks. As she reached for her, Terri slapped her hands away. "I'm in pain, Noemí, please!" She said in a gasping whisper.

     Noemí didn't know what to do; she started to feel shaky and helpless, and she couldn't speak. On a whim she moved to Terri and grabbed her arm, placing it over her shoulders around her neck, holding her back, slipping the other arm beneath her legs and lifting her, not caring about the thick wetness sticking to her arm. She made her way out of the room, holding Terri to her carefully. Terri gasped. "Stop, stop!" She whispered, and Noemí stared at her, confused. "Listen to me, Noemí, I know you're scared right now, but I need you to stop and call Travis."

     Noemí nodded, and placed her down on the couch, reaching for the phone beside the couch. She dialed the first three numbers, and remembered no more. Tears spilled from her eyes and she looked at Terri helplessly. "I can't remember the numbers!" She sobbed.

     Terri groaned loudly as another sliver of pain, stronger this time, like her hipbones being pried apart, shoots through her lower body. "Five three four two!" She groaned and gasped; she grasped her stomach in her hands. "Tell him you think the baby is here! Oh, God!" She groaned, and threw her head back and cried out.

     "Travis, Travis, thank God!" Noemí gasped into the phone, crying. "Please, it's Terri! I think the baby is coming, I think it's time! But it's so soon!" She sounded lost and frightened. "What is going on?" She listened, and nodded, then said: "Okay, okay, Saint John's." She threw the phone down and reached for the groaning and writhing Terri; lifting her up easily, she held her close as she carried her outside, feet bare despite the cold.

To be continued in part VI

     Katia N. Ruiz

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