Please see part 1 for all disclaimers and copyright information.
Kyle opened her eyes to the gray light of early morning. There was no hint of sunshine through the shutters on the window and no noise in the building. She lay quietly without moving, adjusting to the strangeness of her surroundings. Dane lay naked beside her, close against her back. She slept deeply, the slow, steady rise and fall of her breasts comforting against Kyle’s skin. Even in sleep, Dane related to Kyle's body possessively. She held Kyle as if she always had, without question. Oddly, Kyle felt comfortable with her nearness, even though she almost always slept alone.
Her thoughts returned to the evening before as the events and sensations replayed in her mind's eye. Dane had collapsed as her climax ebbed, silent except for her uneven breaths, her body trembling like a thoroughbred after a hard run. Her cheek lay softly against the moist skin of Kyle's neck, her fingers now gentle on Kyle's upper arms. Kyle was exquisitely satisfied knowing that Dane had found satisfaction in her. Just thinking about it now made her clitoris swell and throb. She wanted it again. She wanted Dane's touch; she wanted Dane to take her outside herself again. And she wanted the ultimate satisfaction of stirring Dane to the point where she lost control. Dane’s orgasm was her power. Kyle's body responded to her mental images with a flood of excitement, and she unconsciously pushed her hips back against Dane's body.
Dane stirred slightly and moved closer. Kyle lay very still as Dane's hand moved over her abdomen to rest against her breast. She wasn't sure Dane was awake until she felt the slight pressure against her breast become a gentle massaging motion and fingers tugged lightly at her nipples. They remained pressed close together, back to front, as Dane slowly caressed her. Kyle shifted slightly as Dane slid her hand into the soft hair between her thighs, parting her, finding her clitoris, beginning the circular motion that caused it to stiffen further. Kyle whimpered softly with each teasingly slow touch, wanting to ask her to press harder, but knowing instinctively that she would be denied. She would wait, as long as it took. Finally, Dane leaned up on one elbow, her hand still between Kyle’s legs, and looked at her.
God, she’s beautiful, Dane thought.
Kyle stared wordlessly into Dane's blue eyes, her breath catching. Her own desire was reflected there. She held the hypnotic gaze as Dane slowly stretched out on top of her, her thigh gliding easily between Kyle's.
"Oh," Kyle cried softly as Dane’s smooth skin rubbed over her clitoris. The friction triggered spasms down the shaft into her pelvis. Her thighs tightened around Dane’s leg.
"Don’t," Dane warned.
Kyle wanted to surrender to the sensations stirring in her body, but she willed herself to hold on until Dane gave her permission. She closed her eyes as her hips rocked in cadence with Dane's, their passion fusing and becoming a force of its own. For many moments they remained suspended on the brink of desire, holding back the moment of release as the intensity heightened. Kyle began to slip beyond the point of control, the distant pulsations beginning to grow, eclipsing reason.
"I’m coming," she whispered, her hands clutching Dane’s back.
"Wait," Dane gasped, even as she thrust harder against Kyle’s thigh. She was nearly blind with the pounding pressure threatening to explode her entire body. "Oh, Jesus," she gasped as the fire burned along her legs, into her spine.
Her words robbed Kyle of the last vestige of restraint. As her back arched and her thighs clenched around Dane's in the first seconds of orgasm, Dane groaned deeply, going off with her. For one instant, as the titanic contraction fused their bodies, their souls were one.
When Kyle awakened again, Dane was propped up beside her, smoking a cigarette, the covers resting across her naked thighs. As Kyle stirred, Dane looked down at her.
"Good morning," Dane said softly.
"Hi," Kyle said, stretching languorously, " What time is it?"
"Umm—about ten, I think."
Kyle laughed. "Indulgent, aren't we?"
"Do you mind?"
Kyle turned shyly toward her and rested her head against Dane's bare shoulder.
"Not at all. You?"
Dane twined her fingers in Kyle's thick hair. "Absolutely not." She was silent for a moment, and then said, "Are you hungry?"
"I think I might be, as soon as my body wakes up."
"Do you have to be anywhere this morning?"
Dane sighed. "I usually make it a point never to work on Saturday, but today I have an appointment."
Kyle knew absolutely nothing about the woman beside her, except how she felt about her physically. She wasn't sure how personal to get with her. Some women were more comfortable after a night of lovemaking just saying good-bye in the morning, careful never to dispel the mystery of a brief encounter by dealing with the ordinary chore of living. Kyle herself had often felt uncomfortable with a stranger in her house in the morning. The woman she had desired in the early morning hours might not be someone she wanted to face across the breakfast table.
Cautiously she asked, "Would you rather I left?"
Dane looked down at her curiously, her surprise at Kyle's straightforwardness concealed by an old habit of keeping her thoughts to herself.
"No. I'd rather you made some coffee."
Kyle stared back at her in amazement, unable to read anything in Dane's smooth features.
As Kyle slid out from under the covers and reached for her pants from the pile of clothing on the floor, Dane began, "The kitchen—"
Kyle interrupted her as she pulled on the soft worn leather. "I'll find it."
Dane smiled, admiring Kyle's naked back as she left the room. She smoked another cigarette and listened to the sounds emanating from the kitchen. Soon she could smell coffee brewing. She was amazed at how much she was enjoying these first moments with Kyle on a nonsexual basis. Usually she found her bed partners disappointingly boring, and often discovered she hadn't a single thing to say to them. She had gotten into the habit of finding some excuse to get them out of her apartment as quickly as possible. Her reluctance to become involved with anyone had enhanced her reputation in the bar as a loner. Dane found this an agreeable situation as it released her from the pressure of being sociable. No one expected it of her. She remained something of an enigma to the women in the bar and because of that, she felt unaccountable to anyone.
This morning was surprisingly different. When she had awakened next to Kyle, it seemed natural. Kyle's calm acceptance of the events of the past twelve hours and her unhurried approach to the morning put Dane at ease. For the first time in a long time, Dane wasn't sure of what was going to happen. That was both exciting and disquieting.
Her thoughts were interrupted by Kyle returning with two steaming mugs of coffee. Dane pulled the blankets back for Kyle to crawl under. She accepted her coffee gratefully and stretched one leg out over Kyle's.
"So, how are you this morning?" Dane ventured.
"Fine," Kyle said. She sipped her drink and continued. "I guess you know last night was new for me."
"You mean sleeping with a woman?" Dane said, purposely being obtuse.
"Of course not!" Kyle flared. Looking quickly at Dane, she caught the twinkle in her eyes and laughed.
"Very cute! No, I meant sleeping with a woman in quite that way."
Dane nodded, serious again. "I knew. Did you enjoy it?" Again, she surprised herself. Why does it matter? She came; she got what she was looking for. What else is there?
"Yes, I did. It wasn't what I expected."
Dane studied her face curiously. "Oh? What do you mean?" She usually wasn't interested in how other women felt about their encounters with her. They all seemed to have their reasons for seeking her kind of company, and she rarely took the time to understand why. They had come home with her; sometimes it was good and sometimes it wasn't. With Kyle, it seemed to matter. She no longer could remember how she had felt at the beginning. She had changed so much since then.
Kyle thought carefully for a moment before answering.
"In some ways it was more than I anticipated," she began. "It was more natural than I had thought it would be, for one thing."
"Oh?" Dane replied, raising an eyebrow, instantly defensive. "Did you expect it to be unnatural?"
Kyle caught the hint of sarcasm in Dane's voice but continued unperturbed. "No—I guess I thought it would be more contrived. Somehow, I couldn't imagine feelings just flowing when there were so many other things going on. The roles we both played—the separateness of our positions. I thought I would be too conscious of the external things to relax."
Dane relaxed, somewhat assured by Kyle’s frankness. Thank god she’s not feeling guilty. "It can seem artificial, I guess. I've never thought of it quite that way because I like all the externals. I like creating the mood, setting the scene. I like being in control." She realized she had never talked about these things with anyone she'd had sex with. In fact, only a few friends knew how she felt. Kyle certainly had a strange effect on her—but it wasn't unpleasant.
"I found out I like it, too," Kyle responded. I especially like it when you’re in control! She sighed and stretched, enjoying the contented way her body felt.
Dane reached over to the bedside table and picked up her watch.
"Damn, I'm going to have to get up soon."
Kyle turned toward her, "Oh?"
Dane smiled and kissed her lightly on the nose. "Work, remember? I'm self-employed, so I'm afraid I have to work when the work is there," she said as she swung her legs over the side of the bed.
Kyle watched her move about the room, enjoying the long, strong lines of her body. She liked Dane's unselfconsciousness about her nudity and the graceful way she moved. She was in splendid shape and Kyle took advantage of the opportunity to imprint each small detail of her form in her mind.
"What do you do?" Kyle asked.
"Dogs," Dane replied, her head in the closet searching a shirt.
"What?" Kyle asked, not sure she had heard clearly.
"Dogs," Dane repeated, turning toward her with a smile. "I breed dogs."
Kyle looked about her in surprise.
Dane laughed. "No—I own a kennel. I only keep one here, and he's been away at a show." She pulled clean jeans from a drawer, glancing over at Kyle. "I'm going to shower."
Dane surveyed Kyle's face for a moment. "Yes."
The water flowed over their bodies in soft rivulets, outlining the curve of breasts and thighs. Four hands entwined in soapy circles as they gently caressed each other, first front to front, then turning about each other in an unchoreographed dance. They took turns washing each other's hair, laughing as the suds made white sculptures on their faces. Moving close together, their forms blended into one as the warm shower cascaded about them. Kisses exchanged at first lightly, then more deeply as tongues found lips, thighs fitted to thighs, breasts nestled against breasts. Finally, it was Dane who broke the contact.
"One minute more in here and I'll never leave," she whispered.
Kyle sighed regretfully, feeling their tenuous connection break.
"Besides," Dane continued, "I'm starving."
Kyle stepped back a little and shook the water from her eyes. "It's breakfast that you want, then?"
"Well, actually, it's you I want right now, but I have to go."
Kyle sighed. "Yes, ma'am."
As she stepped out of the shower, Dane laughed. If only she
They shared their first breakfast together on the run. While Kyle dressed, Dane poured juice and put bread in the toaster. They munched toast while scrambling eggs and rinsed the dishes as they finished off the coffee. Silence descended as they both gathered their things to leave.
Kyle zipped her jacket and watched Dane slip a wallet into her jeans and pick up her keys from the table. When Dane turned toward her at last, Kyle couldn't read the expression in her eyes. She wasn't sure where to begin.
"Dane," she ventured softly.
"Will I see you again?"
Dane hadn’t expected this. She sighed slightly. "I don't know. Do you want to?"
Kyle nodded, not saying anything.
"Maybe you should think about it a while," Dane responded. "What happened last night - the way we were together- it might not be what you really want." She hesitated for a second. "And it is what I want."
Kyle answered carefully, sensing that Dane would withdraw at the slightest misunderstanding. "You'd know I was lying if I said I understood why last night felt right to me. But it did, and I'm not turning my back on that. For no reason I can clearly explain, I want you to touch me again."
"You'd better be sure what it is you want, before you find yourself somewhere you don't want to be," Dane said darkly. For a moment, her mind was clouded in memory.
"And do you know exactly what it is you want?" Kyle queried.
Dane reached for the door and said quietly, "I thought I did—until now."
Dane drove the familiar route to her kennel lost in thought. The image of Kyle, resplendent in black leather, driving away on her motorcycle was still fresh in her mind. It had been a strange encounter. She realized she had enjoyed the night with Kyle more than any she could remember recently. Kyle was surprisingly receptive to her brand of lovemaking, and it had been easy to fall into a scene naturally with her. Still, she was wary. Kyle was on the threshold of a whole new sexual arena, and Dane knew from experience that the process of adjusting was a long one. She wasn't sure she wanted to be placed in the role of teacher. Teachers were usually replaced as time went on. When the lessons were over, the students moved on, leaving the teachers drained if they were lucky, broken if they had been foolish enough to care. Her life of casual encounters suited her. She was comfortable with the limitations, and also the freedom such anonymous liaisons afforded her. She hadn't wanted more than one night with anyone in a long time. She sensed that Kyle might be capable of awakening long-dormant needs within her, needs which she had learned to ignore.
As she pulled her van into the small lot beside the low building bearing the name "Daneland Kennels," she resolved to let the issue rest. She would probably never see her again anyhow.
She got out of the van and stretched. It was a full-blown spring morning and the clear air and blue skies lifted her spirits. She whistled a little as she let herself in a side door with her key.
"Hey, Boss," a voice called, as she closed the door behind her. "There's someone out back to see you."
"Hi, Anne. Sorry I'm a little late."
The tanned young woman, dressed casually in a plaid flannel shirt, work pants and heavy work boots, smiled back.
"Well, it is Saturday morning," she replied. When she stood up, the keys which dangled from a belt loop on her right hip jangled. "I understand that, but I'm not sure our friend out back does."
Dane's heart lifted. "Is he here already?"
"They got back about half an hour ago. He's very sassy, too. If he gets any more pleased with himself, there'll be no living with him," Anne replied, laughing.
"She went out for coffee. She'll be back in a minute."
Dane headed toward the back door.
"Tell her I'm out back. I want to talk to her."
Behind the low sprawling building, secluded from the highway, were fenced-in runs where the dogs could be safely let out. As Dane stepped into the largest area directly behind the office, a large dog turned at her approach. Dane laughed as she saw the familiar form. "Baron!" she called as the powerful animal raced toward her, barking excitedly. She braced herself as he approached, used to his exuberant greetings after each of their separations. When he pushed his head into her chest, she rubbed his ears and heavily muscled neck fondly. He tried to return her affections by licking her neck, threatening to topple her over with his weight.
"Enough!" she commanded after a moment, staggering back. He sat down immediately, his eyes fixed on her face, his body still trembling with excitement. She moved to the top step and said quietly, "Baron, come."
He responded instantly, pressing close up against her left leg. She stroked the soft short fur on his back while she lit a cigarette with her other hand.
"So you did it again, huh, boy?" she said. "I sure missed you while you were gone, but you have to do this once in a while. You're too good to just stay home and keep me company. Besides, I know you love getting out there and strutting your stuff. Not letting it go to your head, are you?"
He put his large, heavy head on her knee and half closed his eyes as she stroked him. She smiled, remembering how small and cuddly he had been as a puppy. It was hard to believe that he had grown into such a magnificent animal, his body nearly the perfect example of his breed. Despite her pride in him as a champion show dog, she loved him best for his gentle loyal spirit. He was special to her far beyond his worth as her kennel's premier stud dog. He was her dog, before all else. They sat contentedly together, enjoying one another's company in the warm, still morning.
The door opened behind them, and Dane looked up.
"Hi! Glad to be back?" she asked.
"Oh God, yes! I'm getting too old for the circuit. Sleeping in vans and eating at McDonald’s is killing me, to say nothing of my home life. Anne threatened to take a lover if I left again before June."
Dane laughed affectionately at the tall, slightly gray-haired woman who sat down beside her. Caroline had been her friend for many years and was the only one she would trust to handle her dogs at shows.
"After all this time you don't really think Anne would stray, do you?" Dane queried.
Caroline sighed and studied her boots for a moment.
"You know, three years isn't very long, as these things go. And I am twelve years older than she is. I still worry about it. I don't think I could start all over one more time."
Dane placed her hand lightly on her friend's knee. "You could, and you would, if you had to. But Anne is a lot more mature than her age, and she's had enough experience to know what she wants."
"You should know!" Caroline retorted good-naturedly.
"Are you ever going to forgive me for getting there first? After all, it's you she chose to be with." Dane didn't mind a bit that she had lost a lover to her closest friend. It happened all the time, and as much as she had enjoyed Anne, she hadn't cared when she had left. It avoided complications.
"Oh, I forgive you," Caroline said, meaning it. "I still can't figure out what she saw in me though—especially compared to you."
"Oh, I can," Dane replied seriously. "You loved her—I didn't."
Caroline looked sharply at Dane, surprised by the coldness in her voice.
"You sound like you have something against love."
"Not so," Dane said, twisting her finger in Baron's rich coat. "I don't have any problem loving this guy."
Caroline snorted. "Small wonder! He's an absolute sweetheart. He'd die for you, and he never asks for anymore than a few strokes." She scratched his black muzzle and smiled. "He just gets better and better. The judges pretend to look at the others, but there was no competition. He just presented himself and stole their hearts."
"It scares me when I realize how really great he is," Dane agreed. "Sometimes I forget he's a lot more than just my dog."
"So how have things been around here?" Caroline asked.
Dane replied nonchalantly, "Nothing, the same old routine. I've put in a bid for a puppy bitch out of Kitty Graham's new litter. I thought we were ready for a little expansion."
Caroline nodded her assent. She had a large financial investment in Daneland Kennels, but she was totally comfortable allowing Dane to make all the decisions regarding their breeding program. Her own talent was in training and handling the dogs.
"Sounds good. But I didn't mean on the dog scene. I've been gone six weeks. What's been happening with you?"
"Come on, Dane. This is me—the big C. You know I love details. Something, or someone, must have happened while I've been away. Give me a break. All that time with straights, I'm dying for a little gossip. Come clean."
Dane wouldn't ordinarily tolerate any intrusion on her private life from anyone, but with Caroline, she couldn't put up a fight. They had been friends too long, and as much as she hated to admit it, sometimes she needed to talk to someone.
"Well," she began cautiously, "the bar scene hasn't changed much. More new faces all the time. And it's getting so you can't tell who's for real and who's just there for the show. There's so much leather everywhere these days I'm not sure what's going on." She paused. "Remember when a handful of us carried signs that said, 'Radical dykes, in five years we'll be everywhere'? Well, now it is everywhere. Except I'm not certain it means the same thing anymore."
Caroline laughed. "I know what you mean. Every time I walk down the street, I see handkerchiefs and keys all over the place. I'll be damned if I can tell whether they're for real or not. But at least women are talking about it—and more and more are thinking about it. That's some kind of progress."
"Yeah, I guess," Dane muttered. "I met this woman—a real novice, totally uninitiated. But she was so cool about the whole thing. She'd thought about it, and then went out and tried it. Just like that."
"Well, what's wrong with that?" Caroline said. "That's what we've been saying all along, right? It's just another way that people relate. Not for everyone—but so what?"
Dane lit a cigarette and slowly inhaled. "Yeah, but this was different. She wasn't some kid out for an adventure—she thinks, you know. And she talks."
"You mean she wasn't just a nice body in your bed for a night?"
Dane looked at Caroline, surprised once more by her old friend's ability to understand her.
"I guess so."
"So, what did you do with her?" Caroline asked, aware that Dane hadn't talked about anyone in particular for a long time. She had always hoped that Dane would get serious about someone again, but it had never seemed to happen. Dane kept her feelings deeply hidden, even from Caroline.
"Nothing," Dane said.
Dane smiled ruefully. "Well, I brought her home, of course."
"Cut it out!" Dane said. "I'm not that much of a stud, you know. It's not like I have a different woman in my bed every night!"
Caroline nodded. "I know. But, you don't do too badly. So, then what happened?"
"She left. And I came here to see you and Baron."
Caroline looked into Dane's blue eyes with surprise. "This was last night?"
Dane nodded. "Uh-huh."
"Well, come on, woman—tell me! What's she like?"
"I don't know, just a woman."
"Just a woman! There is no such thing. Is she young, old, tall, short, fat, thin, butch, femme, right, left—"
Dane grinned. "She's gorgeous, actually. Black hair, gray eyes and a great body. Rides a motorcycle, likes leather, and she has a brain."
"So what?" Dane asked, pretending not to understand.
"So what are you doing about it? Do you have her number? Are you going to call her?"
Dane was silent for a moment.
"No, I don't have her number. And no, I'm not going to call her."
"Why the hell not?" Caroline asked impatiently.
"Because I don't feel like it!" Dane replied shortly as she stood up and stretched. Baron got up immediately and looked up at her expectantly.
"I think I'll take Baron through his paces," Dane said as she walked away. "He's been taking it easy too long."
"And you've been hiding too long," Caroline muttered at Dane's retreating figure.
Kyle closed the door gently behind her and surveyed the room before her. Benches lined the walls, piled high with half-finished pieces and dismantled forms. Paint cans and brushes were neatly stacked in one corner and a central worktable lay buried under current projects. A fine layer of wood dust covered everything, and particles big enough to touch floated lightly on the still air.
She slipped on her coveralls and tuned the radio to the station she was looking for, the one that played all the 'oldies'. As was often her habit when she had something on her mind, she sought refuge in work. She began hand sanding the top of a table, her thoughts drifting. Scenes from the bar kaleidoscoped in her mind, and she was back in the smoke-filled room, music and bodies swirling around her. Dane's face appeared before her, imperious in her aloofness, just a hint of a smile lifting the corner of her mouth. Kyle stepped into her arms again, and they danced. The moment flickered by too quickly as they took the cold ride on her cycle through the dark early morning streets. The strangeness of their silent entrance into Dane's house and the delicate balance of their love exchange stirred unfamiliar emotions. She was excited and yet uncertain. How was she to reclaim that moment of intense union with a woman she barely knew? Somehow, she sensed she would not see Dane again, and that thought saddened her.
Rarely had she been so moved by someone physically, only to have it end so quickly. Usually her sexual involvements were superficial, engaging little of her emotionally. She never missed the deeper aspects of a relationship--she had friends for that. But with Dane, it had not been the kind of sexual encounter she was used to. By the very nature of their exchange, she had been changed. By allowing Dane to restrain her, and then to control her, Kyle had granted Dane a degree of trust she never shared with casual lovers. Why she had done it didn't matter -- the fact was that she had done it, and she had been touched in some way so fundamental to her being that she felt empty now in the ordinary light of day. She wondered if she would ever be content again without that kind of intensity. She feared Dane had released a hunger that could easily consume her.
She sighed and lightly dusted the top of the table. The swirling grain appeared and rewarded her labors. When she applied a light oil, the wood took on a dark warmth before her eyes. She set the piece aside to dry and began on another. She worked steadily for a long time, lulled by the old romantic tunes that filled the air. When she finally straightened up, she grimaced at the cramp in her lower back.
"Too much activity," she thought to herself, remembering the night before. "Still, it was worth it."
The phone rang and startled her back into the present.
"Hello?" she said, resting one hip up on the counter.
"Hi! Where are you?" a familiar voice said.
"In the shop."
"Oh no, my friend. Not on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The wine is chilled, the sun is coming around to the deck, and I have been deserted. When can you be here?"
Kyle laughed. "The handsome man you live with."
"Oh, him. He has some terribly important something or other to do at the hospital. I've written him off for the day. So are you coming over, or what?"
"Well, I'm right in the middle of finishing that table."
"It doesn't have to be done until next weekend."
Kyle sighed. "I know, but…"
"Oh, all right. I'll be there in an hour."
Kyle laughed. "I'm leaving now." She hung up the receiver, off pulled her coveralls, and headed for the door.
Twenty miles south of Kyle’s coastal community, Anne pulled the jeep out onto the highway and reached for Caroline's hand. "I'm glad you're home."
Caroline squeezed Anne's fingers lightly and smiled over at her.
"So am I, babe. I missed you."
Anne deftly negotiated the heavy expressway traffic, smiling softly.
"Yes—your sparkling conversation, your great dinners, your wonderful backrubs, and—"
Anne looked over at her lover. "And?"
"And your tender services."
"Let's talk about that some more!" Anne said lightly, as she drove off the exit toward their apartment.
"I've got a better idea, Caroline replied.
Caroline smiled. "Let's not talk at all."
Anne nodded as she pulled into a parking space and switched off the ignition. Once in the apartment, Anne went directly to the kitchen and opened the bottle of champagne she had placed there that morning. The shower was running in the other room as she filled a plate with cheese, crackers and fruit. She arranged iced glasses on a tray and folded linen napkins into small brass rings, completing the arrangement with small candles.
She carried the tray to the bedside table in their room and sat down on the edge of the bed to remove her boots. Caroline walked in with a towel draped around her and smiled at the top of her lover's curl-covered head.
"Leave your jeans on."
Anne looked up, her face flushed. She stood and unbuttoned her shirt, stripping it off to expose her small firm breasts. Caroline came to stand before her, turned her back, and handed Anne her towel. Anne slowly dried Caroline's back, gently rubbing the nubbly cotton down the soft curves of her thighs. When she was done, she folded the towel neatly and placed it on a chair.
Caroline stretched out on the satin comforter covering their bed and reached for one of the glasses of champagne. She sipped slowly, her gaze traveling appreciatively over Anne's body.
"Why don't you pull the drapes," Caroline said softly. "And light the candles."
Finished, Anne looked at her questioningly.
"Would you like some of this very nice champagne?"
Anne nodded, not moving.
"You'll have to earn it first."
Anne gently climbed onto the bed and stretched out between Caroline's parted legs, resting her face softly against the inner curve of Caroline's thigh.
Caroline laced her fingers through the wispy curls on top of Anne's head and guided Anne's face toward her. As Anne began to kiss her lightly, Caroline closed her eyes and took another sip of the cool, bubbly liquid. Yes, it was very good to be home.
Kyle turned her motorcycle up the tree-lined drive leading to a wood structure nestled at the top of the knoll. The house commanded a view of the ocean far below, while blending imperceptibly into the hillside where it stood. Kyle walked around the side of the house to the deck in the rear. Mounting the steps to the raised platform, she smiled at the fashionably dressed woman stretched out in a recliner in the sun.
"Hi, Nance," she said as she climbed to the top step.
"Hi yourself," her friend said, shading her eyes with one well-manicured hand. "Could you pour me some more wine?"
Kyle grinned. "Sure." The wine bottle stood chilling in a gold-plated bucket, and an empty glass of expensive crystal stood beside it on the tray. She refilled the half-empty glass by Nancy's chair and then poured a second for herself.
They reclined in silence for a while until the small trim woman beside her sat up with a sigh.
"So, where were you last night?"
Kyle looked up in surprise. "What do you mean?"
"I called at eight this morning—I know you never sleep late. And no one answered. Therefore, you must have been out somewhere last night."
"How do you know I didn't get up early and go out this morning?"
"Kyle!" her pretty companion said, pretending to pout.
Kyle laughed. "All right. I spent the night in the city."
"Oh?" Nancy inquired, arching her neatly contoured brows. "A little wanderlust?"
"Is it all right if I go out once in a while, Nance?" Kyle asked, suddenly not sure she wanted to talk.
"Of course. I'm always trying to get you to go out!"
"You mean you're always trying to fix me up with someone!"
"Well, what's wrong with that?" Nancy feigned a hurt look and reached for a cigarette. She looked expectantly at Kyle, who reached into her pocket on cue and pulled out her lighter.
Kyle leaned forward and touched the flame to her friend's cigarette, catching the twinkle in her eyes. "Don't be dense, Nancy. " Kyle answered. "First of all, I can choose my own companions. Secondly, half the time the people you're trying to fix me up with are men."
Nancy drew deeply on her cigarette and looked out over the two acres of her prime coastal property.
"Men aren't all that bad, you know."
Kyle sighed. "Nance, we've been having this conversation since our freshman year in college. I never said men were bad—I just don't feel the same way you do about them."
"I can remember when you didn't mind sleeping with them."
Kyle could tell her old friend was in a mood to bait her. Whenever the subject of Kyle's sexual preferences came up, they went through the same arguments. Underneath Nancy's superficial-appearing exterior, Kyle knew there was a very complex woman. They often didn't agree, but they did care for one another. Not only were they business associates, they were close friends.
"It's not that I mind sleeping with men, Nance. You know that. It's that I prefer women. There is a very real difference. Women are not substitutes, alternatives or second choices for me. They're…"
"…a positive first choice," Nancy finished for her. "Did you read that somewhere, or are you writing propaganda for all the lesbian groups in the area?"
"Nancy!" Kyle exploded.
"Oh, all right," her friend replied contritely. "I know, I know. It's important to you—that distinction. I just don't see why you have to be so hard-line about this gay thing. You could settle down with some nice, unassuming guy, get a few of the advantages it would bring, and have a lover on the side."
Kyle knew Nancy was serious and tried for the hundredth time to explain.
"I don't want to do it that way. I don't want to live with someone I don't love. I want the person I live with to be the only one. And I don’t want to hide!"
"Isn't that a little unrealistic? After all, people aren't perfect, you know. No one person would ever be enough."
Kyle knew very well that her business partner had affairs outside her marriage, and she also knew that Nancy's husband, Roger, was aware of them. Roger and Nancy had agreed years ago that both of them were free to explore as long as they weren't serious about anyone. It seemed to work well for them, and Kyle respected that. But not for her.
She shook her head stubbornly.
"It's not right for me."
"Oh, Kyle," Nance said in exasperation. "You're impossibly romantic!"
Kyle smiled and refilled their glasses.
"No, I'm not."
"Do you think you're going to find the woman of your dreams in those bars you go to—when you can't stand the silence of your own home any longer?"
Anger flashed in Kyle's eyes. Nancy was getting a little too close to the quick today, of all days.
"It's not as easy for me to meet people as it is for you, you know. I can't just go to some respectable university function and pick someone up."
"Touché," Nancy replied softly. She leaned back in her lounge chair and sipped her wine. "All right. So you have to go to gay bars to meet gay women. Did you?"
"Is it any different this time than all the other times? Did you find someone you can stand to be with the next day?" Nancy knew she was pushing Kyle's limits, but she didn't care. She had watched Kyle struggle with her loneliness for years, and she truly wanted to see her friend find some kind of happiness.
"Can you always stand them the next day?" Kyle retaliated.
Nancy laughed. "Usually I don't have to worry about it. They have to go home to their wives. Besides, I asked you first."
Kyle drained her glass and reached for the bottle.
"The wine is gone."
"In the kitchen. I put two more on ice." Nancy followed her friend's muscular form into the house, noting with a practiced eye the sensuous way she moved. She thought about how Kyle's body would feel on top of hers, and she knew she would like it. She also knew Kyle would never consider such a thing with her. Roger and Kyle were friends, and Kyle, unfortunately, was a woman of integrity.
Kyle returned carrying a fresh bottle of chilled white wine. She removed the cork, filled their glasses again and leaned her back up against the railing of the deck.
"Nancy," she said seriously, "Why are you always going on at me about this? I don't bother you about your life, do I?"
"Why should you? I have a great home, plenty of security, all the money I need and a husband who doesn't mind my—ah--flirtations."
"I don't believe for a second that's all you want," Kyle replied. "You're intelligent, talented, warm and loving. All those nice things you have can't be enough, or you wouldn't be sleeping with every good-looking, horny guy you meet."
"I haven't slept with all of them, Kyle," Nancy said demurely. "Not yet."
Kyle laughed. "Oh hell, I give up."
"Good! Now tell me about your latest. Was it any different?"
"Yes, for me at least."
Nancy waited expectantly. "Well?"
Kyle turned to look down across the bluff to the ocean, stretching for miles before them. "I went to a leather bar last night."
Nancy sat up straight in her chair. "Do you mean an S /M bar?"
"I guess you could say that."
Nancy was surprised, and intrigued. "So, tell me."
"I met this woman. I went home with her. A lot happened. I felt differently with her than I've ever felt before. I felt things about myself I never felt before."
"Did she beat you or something?" Nancy asked in amazement.
"No, it wasn't like that. It was like being in another world. We were making love, except so much more was happening. I almost didn't know myself. It was physical, and emotional, and something else, too."
Kyle sighed in frustration. "I don't know. And I don’t know how I’m going to find out."
Continue on to Part 3
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