A Sweet Surrender

Part I

Katia N. Ruiz

Copyright 1999


        It was Valentine's Day.
        A day made for lovers, for best friends, for family; a day for everything that had to do with love. In the street, the knowledge of this day seemed to be so tangible. It seemed as if all the lovers of the world came out, walked about with their hands clasped together, their eyes locked to one another, everything locked together. Best friends allowed themselves the freedom to hold each other longer than usual. Hallmarks and other stores for lovers, friends and family, overflowed with customers. Stuffed animals, big and small, were practically sold out, cards too, distraction was evident on people's faces.
        If only best friends could also be lovers, Cassidy Monsignor wished silently, sighing audibly. Her light golden brown eyes scanned the crowd with amusement, watching it as it turned almost rampant. Last minute shoppers, she reflected with a smile. The line to the cashier was long and slow, people were loosing their patience, audibly complaining. Cassidy looked down at the two stuffed animals she held. The soft white bear with the little red heart attached to its chest was for Andrea, her best friend, with whom she happened to be desperately in love. The other, a pink puppy, was for her “lover-of-the-month,”- as many people reflected of her dating habits- she smiled at the thought, Robie. She still had to get flowers and jewels for both of them.
        She reflected on this “lover of the month” business, frowning. It seemed to her that she didn't last with a woman long enough to start a relationship, much less to fall in love with. Either she'd grow tired of the woman, or the woman would assume that nothing would come out of her association with Cassidy. Robie hadn't been smart enough as of yet, but that was okay. She didn't push Cassidy for anything; she seemed to be on her own little agenda of single life, like Cassidy. Cassidy liked her, very much, but the attraction was purely sexual. Sex with Robie, whose name really was Robin, was immensely great, but there was no mind or heart bonding of any kind, like there was when someone was in love. When they weren't having sex, she and Robie would talk; they would tell each other things, getting to know one another.
         Cassidy was so deep into her thoughts that she didn't realize she'd reached the cashier. The young woman behind the counter smiled at her as she snapped her back to attention. She was attractive, long black hair picked back into a ponytail, brown eyes flirty and sensuous. Cassidy's eyes focused again, she apologized as she placed the little stuffed animals on the counter. The cashier woman, whose nametag said “Amistad”, was methodically running the little price tags through the scanner with graceful hands. It was so obvious to Cassidy, and everyone who watched, that she was stalling, and shamelessly flirting. She sent little dimpled smiles in Cassidy's direction, attempted to make small talk. Cassidy was amused, and at the same time thoughtful. Why can't Andy look at me like that? She wondered almost childishly. Hell, every other woman seems to!
        And that was true; it seemed that everywhere she went there were at least two women who hit on her, straight or lesbian. It was annoying at times, but some times she liked it, especially when she felt an attraction in return, when she couldn't help but want at least a little romp with them. Those moments went by quickly and satisfactorily; she knew how to avoid them afterwards, or how to manage it so that they didn't ask for anything more from her. Robie had been the one to approach her, with a little help from a mutual friend, pointing out that there would be no strings attached, that she was not looking for a serious relationship with anyone either.
        Andy wasn't like Cassidy, she was more a home person, and she liked being in a one on one relationship, believed in faithfulness and foreverness. She told Cassidy so, but never made a big deal of Cassidy's lifestyle, she was the sweetest woman in Cassidy's world, and no one could change that. It had been a little over a month since she'd last seen her and that made her conscience and heart cry out. She'd been the one avoiding seeing her, had been the one holding back.
It was all because of Jeffrey.
        She felt a flash of fury at the thought of Jeffrey Rosenthal, Andrea's boyfriend. She didn't like him, and she knew he felt the same way about her. There was no love lost between them. She knew he was aware of her deep feelings for Andrea, knew that every time he kissed Andrea in front of her and smiled, he felt he was winning a battle.
In the past year, ever since Andrea began her relationship with Jeffrey, Cassidy held back and had stopped calling so often, though she was always there every time Andy needed her.
        She paid the cashier without so much as a second glance, and left the store. She still had things to do before her double date that night. Doubles date that included Andrea and Jeffrey.

        Andrea Cates smiled to herself as she wrapped the gift slowly and neatly. It was important to her that Cassidy like it. She paused as she thought of her best friend. Her Cassidy, who'd always been there when she needed her, who was so sweet and loving. She knew Cassidy had been avoiding her, even though she'd always been there when she needed to. She would see her that night, as a matter of fact, after not having seen her in over a month. Occasional phone calls were all they would have; Cassidy was distant and Andrea wanted to know why.
        Every time she asked Cassidy if it was because she didn't love her anymore, like a child seeking approval, Cassidy would protest and convince her otherwise, but as soon as they were on safer ground, she would pull back again. Andrea would be hurt; Cassidy had always been there before.
        Andrea smiled as she remembered happier moments with Cassidy. They'd grown up together, their families being so-so close friends. Andrea came from a loving Caucasian family, a family that welcomed Cassidy, even though she seemed to be different. They were a family that was close, two older brothers and a little sister, that being Andrea. They all had hearts too big for their bodies, and everyone loved them. Cassidy's family was completely the opposite. Cold parents and no siblings had caused Cassidy to grow up cold and almost unyielding.
Andrea always managed to break her ice, she never wondered how. But she knew that having made sure that Cassidy visited her everyday, that her unyielding parents allowed her to come over, had made a small place in Cassidy's hard heart to be warm. And that was what made them best friends. Andrea was the one who kept their friendship alive, practically since they'd been born. They went to school together, took all kinds of courses just so they could be together. They rode bike together after school, learned how to roller-skate together, and told their deepest secrets to one another. So when Cassidy told her of her sexuality, Andrea took it without question and accepted her the way she was. She accepted her girlfriends, and made sure her boyfriends weren't bigots and made sure they went on double dates together.
Cassidy's family turned their backs on her and disowned her without a thought. Cassidy had attempted suicide, and her parents didn't care. Andrea was all Cassidy had. Andrea helped her out; her parents were helpful also, providing a roof for Cassidy. Cassidy won a scholarship for her writing ability, and was lucky to have been accepted into one of the best schools for journalism there was. Andrea had been there all the time, had comforted her when she cried disconsolately, had helped her with money whenever she needed it. Cassidy always told her she wouldn't be where she was now if it weren't for her.
Andrea knew that was definitely the truth.
Cassidy was successful as a writer; her books were all over the bookstores, bought non-stop by fans. She also wrote lesbian fiction, and had a vigorous following of old and young lesbians. Andrea, though she didn't consider herself a lesbian, had read all of her books and articles, and loved them. Cassidy also wrote for a newspaper and was very recognized for her journalism skills.
Andrea snapped back from her thoughts of Cassidy and realized she hadn't moved a finger. She glanced at the clock hanging from the wall. FIVE THIRTY!
She had to start getting ready.
Her hands began to work on the gift again.

        Robie Stanfield opened the door to find Cassidy there. She felt a shiver run through her body as Cassidy smiled her sensuous half smile. Robie's brown eyes ran the length of her lithe body, liking what she saw. Cassidy's dark hair was long and wavy, flowing thickly down her back and over her wide shoulders. She wore dark blue slacks that were snug around her thin waist and a peach colored sleeveless V-neck sweater, nothing underneath it. Her skin was bronze and flawless, her neck long and graceful. Robie finally looked up at her face, a face that left her sighing, so beautiful it was.
        Robie finally invited her in, unaware of the things Cassidy held in her hands. “Robie,” Cassidy said with a husky voice, as she pushed the door closed. Robie turned around to face her and Cassidy stepped up close to her. Robie closed her eyes; she could smell the delicious scent of Cassidy's Dolce & Gobbana cologne. “Happy Valentine's day.” Cassidy said softly, her Portuguese accent thick, and pressed her soft thick lips to hers. She knew the effect she had on women, and she relished it. She pulled back and handed her the pink roses and stuffed pink puppy, along with a gift-wrapped box. “You're ready, I see.” She whispered huskily, looking Robie over.
        Her golden eyes ran the length of Robie's body, slowly and sensuously. Her eyes danced. Robie could feel her intense eyes on her; she shivered. She wore a red silk dress that reached down to her knees; her shapely legs were bare. She wore red high heels, but she was still shorter than Cassidy's five-foot-nine frame. She attempted to concentrate on her gifts from Cassidy, which included a gift-wrapped box of DKNY perfume, but she was painfully aware of Cassidy's eyes on her body. She felt so lucky, that a woman as gorgeous as Cassidy should waste her time with her was a mystery. Though Robie was very attractive, she felt that she was nothing compared to someone like Andrea or Cassidy.
        “Do we go?” She asked, her voice breathy, her body trembling with desire. Cassidy was looking at her with such heat in her eyes, she felt as if she were being touched by it.
        Cassidy smiled softly, a jolt of sexual energy radiating through her. “Where's my gift?” She asked hoarsely.
        “How could I have forgotten?” Robie exclaimed as she hurriedly left the living room and came back with a small velvet box in her hand.
        Cassidy took it and kissed her again, lingeringly on the lips. She opened the little box and smiled at what was inside. A gold plate, with “Cassidy” spelled out with diamonds. It came with a medium-thick gold chain. Cassidy lifted it out of the little box and looked at Robie with smiling eyes. “Put in on me, I love it.” She said gently.
        Robie stood very close as she clasped the chain behind her neck, then she let it drop, rested her arms on her shoulders. “Tonight,” She promised softly. “I'll give you an even better present.”
        Cassidy threw back her head and laughed, revealing a set of beautifully straight and even white teeth. “I'm sure you will.” She said softly.

        Jeffrey kept the smile on his handsome face as Andrea stared at her gift with a surprised smile. The little gold plate with her whole name inscribed into it was beautiful. She smiled at him, a genuine sincere smile. She's so beautiful! He thought as he kissed her softly. She had the kind of hair that was always made people want to touch it and run their fingers through it. It was soft and curly; dark, people said black. Her sweet smile made people smile also, made people unwittingly fall in love with her.
        She was small, seemingly delicate, she made people want to take care of her, and she could pass for someone of the age of sixteen. Her eyes were blue, like the sky. She had a beautiful oval-shaped face, her nose was thin and straight, her lips were soft and glistening invitingly. But the truth was that she was as independent as a person could be, took care of herself, lived on her own and liked it. She taught tenth grade English at a high school, was loved by all of her students.
But there was one exception to her rule of independence, one exception Jeffrey hated, and that was Cassidy Monsignor.
        Every time Andrea was having a hard time about something, the first person she'd call would be Cassidy. God, how he hated her! And he couldn't say anything at all to Andrea, because he knew he'd loose her. He was so glad Cassidy disliked him enough to strain and pull back on her friendship with Andrea. And that surprised him, because she was so in love with her that she couldn't hide it. But soon, he'd make the move to take her completely away from Cassidy, the move he knew would destroy Cassidy completely and make her pull away forever, and that would be to ask Andrea to marry him.
        He would win the war, a war Cassidy wasn't even trying to win. Jeffrey smiled smugly to himself as he helped Andrea into her jacket.

        “We made reservations for four.” Jeffrey said, with an air of self-importance, his arm around Andrea's shoulders protective.
        The old matron's eyes were trapped on Andrea, his smile foolish, revealing a set of teeth too white and clean to be real. Only Jeffrey would notice that. “Your name, sir?” He asked with a thick French accent, his old wrinkled hands nervously twisting his pen around.
        “Jeffrey Rosenthal.” Jeffrey replied, proud of Andrea's effect on people.
        The matron was reluctant to move his eyes away from Andrea, as if she would disappear as soon as he looked away, like a mirage. He found the name and walked them into the restaurant's non-smoking area. Andrea looked around at the decorations and was awed. The place was beautiful and tasty; everything seemed to be made of wood, beautiful shiny wood. The tables were spaciously set apart to give the waiters the perfect space to walk through without bothering the clients. There was a small dance floor; the band would play tastefully soft music.
        The matron pulled the chair at the table for Andrea, smiling at her gracious thank you. “I am at your service.” He retorted. My, this guy's completely smitten! Jeffrey thought with amusement. “Would you like anything to drink while you wait for the rest of your party?” He asked eagerly.
        “Don Perignon.” Jeffrey said, dismissing him with a look.
        The Don Perignon arrived shoved delicately into a silvery bucket full of ice a few minutes later. The waiter brought four glasses, filled two and left them. Not long after, the old matron brought in Cassidy and Robie. Jeffrey didn't fail to notice the way Andrea's face lit up at the sight of Cassidy, and neither did Robie. Jeffrey poured Don Perignon for Robie and Cassidy, remaining civilized as he returned Cassidy's unsmiling greeting. He flinched when Andrea threw her arms around Cassidy and held her tightly.
        Robie smiled at Jeffrey, aware of the jealousy seething from him. She knew of Cassidy's feelings for Andrea, but she didn't drive herself crazy like Jeffrey seemed to do. One reason being that she never fell out of love with her previous lover, who was gone on some type of project for the museum for which she was an archeologist. From time to time, her ex-lover would write her, sweet promising letters, proving she hadn't fallen out of love either. She hadn't told Cassidy of this yet, but planned to tell her soon.
        “Robie,” Cassidy said over Andrea's shoulder. “You remember Jeffrey.” She flipped a hand between them.
        Jeffrey smiled at her sincerely and took her small hand into his larger one. “I do remember,” He said, his smile turned flirty. “It is a pleasure seeing you again.”
        This guy is so full of himself! Robie thought with amusement. Her opinion of him hadn't changed since she met him a little over a month before at a party both Andrea and Cassidy had been invited to. Andrea finally let Cassidy go, and they sat down. Their assigned waiter brought their menus. Cassidy didn't look at the menu, and ordered a tasteful dinner based on seafood; she was a vegetarian. After a while, they ordered.
        Andrea was ecstatic, immensely happy to see Cassidy again. “Cassidy,” She said breathlessly, taking her hand. “I'm so happy to finally see you!” Her voice broke with emotion, her eyes filled with tears.
        Cassidy smiled tenderly, and gently wiped the tears from her cheeks with her thumbs, pressing her palms to her cheeks. “I am too.” She whispered the love in her eyes and voice unmistakable; only Andy couldn't see it. She brightened suddenly, and turned to Robie. “Let me get it, Robie.” She said eagerly, giving her a grateful smile. She lifted the little stuffed bear and gift box from Robie's hand and handed it to Andrea, whose beautiful face was glowing with feeling. Cassidy said: "Happy Valentine's day.”
        Andrea's smile full and wide, her eyes twinkling. God, no wonder Cassidy fell in love with her! Robie thought. I would too, if it weren't for Isabelle. Andrea's arms were around Cassidy's neck again; she was laughing with delight. “Thank you,” She said shakily, unable to hold back her emotions. She smelled the stuffed bear and smiled at Jeffrey. Her grinning eyes returned to Cassidy's. “It smells like you, Cassidy.” She whispered.
        I could swear Andrea's in love with Cassidy too. Robie thought to herself, smiling. Her eyes went to Jeffrey, and her smile faded. But then what is she doing with this pompous asshole? She watched Andrea open the gift box and beam proudly as she stared the beautiful bracelet inside. The food arrived, and they spoke while they ate. Jeffrey made sure he kissed Andrea from time to time, smiling smugly at Cassidy behind her back. Andrea asked Cassidy and Robie how things were with them, about their jobs, about everything she could find to ask about. She was unaware of the way Jeffrey leered at Cassidy, and when Cassidy became pensively quiet, she didn't know why either.
        The band began to play at nine o'clock, soft beautiful music Cassidy recognized from her childhood. She asked Robie for a dance, excusing herself from the table. She guided Robie through the slow rhythm, her hand on her hip holding her close to herself. Robie wrapped her arms around Cassidy's neck and rested her head on her shoulder, pressing her face against the smooth neck. “Andrea must be very naïve.” She commented, trying to sound casual.
        Cassidy frowned, pulling back to look at her face. “Why do you say that?” She asked.
        Robie laughed, and looked directly into her eyes. “Because she doesn't realize how much in love with her you really are.” She said, and felt Cassidy stiffen against her. Cassidy never told her of her feelings for Andrea. “And because she's with that asshole.”
        Cassidy didn't respond and skillfully guided her throughout the song, never missing a beat. Andrea watched them with a dreamy smile on her face; she planned on asking Cassidy to dance with her afterwards. Jeffrey held her hand, but didn't ask her to dance; he wasn't one to dance. There were a lot of things he wasn't into that Andrea liked, some called him uptight, and he called himself “too good for trivialities.”
        Robie and Cassidy returned to the table after a couple of songs, and as one of Andrea's favorite songs was starting, she asked Cassidy to dance with her. Cassidy looked at Robie, who smiled and shrugged in consent, and at Jeffrey, who glared at her with deep hate and jealousy. Before Cassidy could set her to what she felt would be a safe position between them, Andrea drew close and wrapped her arms around her neck. Cassidy reluctantly wrapped her own arms around Andrea's small waist, taking a deep breath as Andrea pushed herself closer to her.
        The band played the slow ballad, Chicago's “If you leave me now,” a well known love song. Andrea felt a sense of peace in Cassidy's strong arms, her body felt warm close to hers; she felt complete after that whole month of not seeing Cassidy. Her eyes filled with tears again and she looked up at her. Their faces were close together and she could feel Cassidy's sweet breath against her lips. “Why did you leave like that?” She asked suddenly, her voice thick with tears, not realizing the magnitude of her hurt. “What did I do to you, Cassidy?” Cassidy's eyes widened as the tears spilled from Andrea's eyes. “You've been different the past year, why?”
        Cassidy was speechless, she didn't know she'd hurt Andrea to that extent. “Oh, Andy,” She sighed, feeling her own tears wet her cheeks. “It's not you, babe. Trust me, it's not you.” Her voice shook. “I'm sorry I've been so distant.” She tightened her grip on Andy and rocked her gently. She pressed her lips against her forehead and closed her eyes with the emotion in her heart being almost unbearable; she held her for a long time, until their tears subsided.
        They were unaware of Jeffrey's cold blue eyed glare, of his anger practically burning Robie with its radiation.

        Robie walked into her apartment with Cassidy in tow. She continued into her living room, turned on the lamp and stopped. Cassidy stood behind her, wrapping her arms slowly around her waist. Robie shivered as she felt Cassidy's lips softly caress the back of her neck. “It's true, what you said.” She whispered huskily, and moaned as she felt the wet warmth of Cassidy's tongue on her skin.
        “What did I say?” Cassidy whispered, pulling Robie tighter against her hips, kissing her shoulders lightly, running her tongue softly over the skin.
        Robie gasped, pushing her hips backward to meet hers, her back arching. “Jeffrey does hate you.” She reached back to grab Cassidy's hips and pulled them forward. “He's insecure because he knows Andrea's not in love with him, but with you… She just doesn't know it yet.”
        She felt Cassidy pause in her exploration. Her arms loosened around her. “You're talking nonsense.” She said, and pulled away from her. “Andrea is straight.”
        Robie turned to gaze at her, laughing softly. “You are as naïve as Andrea then, Cassidy. You're so blind with love for her that you can't even see the magnitude of her love for you. Shit, she can't even see it herself!” She said, laughing again.
        Cassidy wouldn't allow herself to be hopeful; she didn't want to be hurt. “Andrea is straight.” She argued stubbornly.
        "Okay." Robie shrugged, she wasn't about to argue. Her body quivered with desire as she studied Cassidy from head to toe. “Come here, baby. I want you to make love to me…” She whispered huskily, opening her arms in invitation.
        Cassidy smiled, grateful for Robie's sudden change of subject. She walked into her arms and pressed her lips against her, her silky tongue dancing into Robie's mouth and making gentle contact. She shuddered as Robie's hands traveled down the length of her lean back and cupped her hard buttocks. She pulled her mouth away from Robie's to gasp for air; her body was trembling with the heat of Robie's hands and lips. She looked into Robie's eyes as she whispered: "I want you! Right here, on the floor, completely naked!”
        Robie felt her legs weaken; she wasn't sure how, but she ended up on her back, Cassidy's hard body on top of her, pressing against her and expertly bringing her close to orgasm before they even got their clothes off.

        Andrea shivered violently as Jeffrey entered her. He was slow with her, gentle. He groaned as he pushed deeper into her, as he felt her warmth completely envelop him. “Oh, Andy, I love you!” He gasped as he began a slow rhythm with his hips. He felt her wrap her legs around his waist, her small arms around his neck.
        Andrea felt the rhythm inside her, but for some reason, she wouldn't, could not, respond to him the way she thought she should. Only a small flicker of pleasure pulsed through her. Not enough to make her orgasm, no man had ever brought her to that. It wasn't that Jeffrey was a bad lover, she'd had her share of them, and Jeffrey didn't fit into that category. He was the gentlest and most thoughtful. Orgasm was a stranger to her; the closest she thought she'd gone was when she dared to touch herself.
Her distracted mind strayed to Cassidy, her beloved Cassidy. My beautiful best friend, whom I love and who loves me. She closed her eyes when she felt Jeffrey increasing the speed of his rhythm.
        With her eyes closed, her mind produced an image of Cassidy, with her tender smiles, so beautiful and sweet. And then she remembered the way Cassidy held her when they danced, the feel of her silky lips against the skin of her forehead. A flash of heat went through her body, and she arched under Jeffrey. The image she'd conjured had been innocent and sweet; she didn't understand why her body reacted in that manner. But then unwittingly, her mind conjured an image of herself and Cassidy, dancing, holding each other the way they did at the restaurant. Only in this image, Cassidy didn't kiss her forehead; she kissed her lips, sweetly and passionately.
        Another jolt shook her, and before she knew it, she was clenching tightly around Jeffrey, experiencing an orgasm. Her cry startled Jeffrey, who'd never heard her cry out in that manner. He had finished along with her, and remained on top of her, asking if she was okay. “Yes, please get off me, please, Jeffrey!” She begged, out of breath, feeling the confusion burn through her. She'd never done that before, thought of Cassidy while she was in bed with any other man. And look at what just happened, she reproached herself, I came my heart out. Came like I never did before. With just a thought of Cassidy…

        “I'm going out of state in a couple of weeks, Andy.” Jeffrey said into Andrea's hair. He lay on his back and she lay half of her body in his arms. She played with the hairs on his wide chest, her small fingers twirling the curls around.
        She lifted her head to look at him. “Where?” She asked.
        “Massachusetts.” He replied, kissing the top of her head. “Just for a couple of weeks, some business work.” Jeffrey was a business partner at a prosperous travel agency. From time to time, he would go away a week or more to travel agents conventions at resorts and lodges. So Andrea didn't find it strange. “There's a new resort that sounds good for business. Agents from all over the country were invited to see it and try it out for a couple of weeks.”
        Andrea smiled. “That's great!” She said, kissing him lightly on his chin.
        “I wish you could come with me.” He said, tightening his muscled arms around her.
        “I have a job, Jeffy. Plus, it's a business trip.” Andrea said, but she really didn't want to go with him. “Now, go to sleep.” She ordered softly, patting his chest softly, closing her eyes and burrowing deeper into his embrace.

        “Ms. Cates, I don't see why we have to write this essay on Adolph Hitler.” Roseanne Mitchell was saying in her lovely voice two Mondays later; she was one of Andrea's all time favorite students. Her bright red hair bobbed up and down as she spoke. “Mrs. Morello could have given us someone better, like… Franklin D. Roosevelt!” Her blue eyes lit up. “There's one guy who deserves a little praise.” She continued before Andrea got a word of response in; she opened her mouth again to reply. But Roseanne rambled on: "I mean, to be sick enough to be crippled and still have the strength to run a country, much less a war…”
Roseanne was a lively Irish-American fifteen-year-old descendant whose thin mouth ran more than her feet. She was short and thick, more like bubbly, and plain and simply adorable. Andrea, in her five years of teaching, had never met a student who had as many friends as Roseanne did. She was a great student, and got excellent grades, which also made her a favorite among teachers.
        “Why don't you speak to her about it?” Andrea asked her when she finally quieted down. They were sitting in the small office Andrea shared with another English teacher. Every day, on Roseanne's free period, which would also be one of Andrea's, they would sit in the smallish office and have interesting conversations.
        A sound like a squeal came out of Roseanne's mouth. Her eyes widened so much that her blue irises were completely visible. “Are you crazy?” She exclaimed, her voice raised an octave. “I'm complaining, yeah. But that's just between you and me, Ms. Cates.” Her facial expression changed to that of secrecy. “You know I'll do the stupid essay anyway.”
        Andrea laughed; Roseanne made her laugh too much. “Oh, Roseanne. No wonder every body loves you.” She said breathlessly between her laughter. “You're adorable.”
        Roseanne brightened even more. “I must remind you of yourself, then.” She replied, her cheeks flushing. “Everybody loves you too. When you're not around, the students just go on and on about you. All the boys are in love with you,” He hesitant. “Even the gay boys and girls.”
        Andrea laughed again; her stomach was beginning to hurt. “How's your mother, Roseanne?” She asked, changing the subject.
        “She's fine.” Roseanne answered, smiling. Andrea had met Carey Mitchell at a parent-teacher conference and the two women had taken to each other. Carey was a short butch who was definitely not in the closet. She'd gotten pregnant with Roseanne when she spent the night with a gay man, who was her best friend. For as long as they'd known each other, Carey and Roseanne's father wanted to have a child together. And they did, raising the child with love and an open-mindedness that paid them well. But really, the biggest reason for Andrea's fondness for Carey was that she reminded her of Cassidy, with her aggressive demeanor and courteous attitude. “She says hello.”
        “Same from me.” Andrea said, glancing at her watch. “Tell her I'll call her about dinner soon. Now, the bell's about to ring. You better get ready.” She advised. She watched Roseanne pick up her things from the small student desk by the corner and shove them into her backpack. “See you in class.”
        Roseanne walked to the door, turned around and said: "See you in class.” Then walked out and closed the door behind herself.
        Andrea sat back on her chair and sighed dreamily, her thoughts straying to Cassidy, as they seemed to be going more and more. She wondered what she was doing at that exact moment.

        Cassidy leaned forward in her seat, switched on her computer, and waited for its program to load. She watched solemnly as the usual information scrolled through the dark screen. She stood up and went to her kitchen, -rolling her wide muscular shoulders- a large and stylish piece of work. The cabinets were made of oak, shiny and spacious. The refrigerator was a large Westinghouse double door, which produced ice and water out of a built in hole on the freezer door. The oven, along with the microwave, was also Westinghouse, and was custom-built into the wall and ran off electricity.
        Cassidy opened the refrigerator and peered inside, looking for something to snack on. She worked out of her office at home from time to time, not finding it really necessary to be at the main building every day. Still, she had an office waiting for her. Her computer at home was linked to the ones at work, and whenever she needed information to work for an article all she had to do was call and link with the computer through the telephone lines with a code.
        Her editor, Joel Michaels, the chief editor of New Carter News, was a short plump man in his thirties with penetrating brown eyes and blonde hair. He was generally nice, but could be a pain in the ass when it suited him. Cassidy was awaiting email from him, feedback on the latest article she'd written. She'd left her assignment on human rights on his desk the previous Friday, along with a note letting him know she'd remain home that Monday, to email her with his comments. When he presented her with that assignment, she'd been glad. She'd gotten in touch with old flames or friends who were known activists in the gay, lesbian, black, and other organizations. Some were leaders, while others just helped or supported.
        What she basically did was go around visiting some of them at these organizations, asking for numbers on statistics and opinions on today's youth on the rising of the AIDS epidemic, and the American government's almost non-existent help. After she received what she needed, she began to write her first draft, reviewed it, and finished her second draft easily. That was the one she'd sent Joel.
        Finally, she found something to her liking. A frozen yogurt. She sat down on her black plush-leather couch. She sighed, feeling it mold to her body, holding the teaspoon and cup on each hand. She ate the yogurt slowly, her mind fading, conjuring thoughts of Andy. Cassidy missed her already. She'd last seen her three days before, on Friday night, with Jeffrey at her shoulder, keeping eye on her every movement. She wondered when there would be a time when he wouldn't be present, building a wall between them.
        Cassidy couldn't help but dislike him; she never disliked any of Andrea's previous boyfriends; as much as they knew the deep nature of her love for Andrea, they never tried to separate them. Andrea would never have allowed it. But Jeffrey, Cassidy grimaced at the thought of him, Jeffrey hated her with an unnatural passion. He was trying to do everything possible to separate them, and Cassidy knew it. She knew she wasn't fighting, but then again, she was never one to fight. If she would have been a fighter, if she had fought against Jeffrey for herself, she knew Andy would have at least been aware of her feelings. If she had been a fighter, she knew she wouldn't have tried to commit suicide that long ago day when her family turned their backs on her.
        She still had the marks on her wrists to prove it, and still, at times, she felt like reopening those wounds. Cassidy remembered it as if it were yesterday. She was fifteen then, and had gone to her mother, sat down in front of her between her and the TV. Mrs. Martica Monsignor had been, and still probably still was, Cassidy didn't know, a television addict. Nothing, except her husband and the kitchen, could get her off the couch and her knitting. So when a young Cassidy sat in front of her, trying to get her attention, Mrs. Monsignor ignored her, looking over her shoulder at the old General Electric television. “Mom,” Cassidy had said softly, shyly, struggling against her resolve. “I need to talk to you.”
        Mrs. Monsignor stared at her daughter as if she were a pest. “What?” She demanded in cold exasperation. “What is it?”
        Cassidy cringed at the cold tone of her mother's voice. “Mom,” She was always an intelligent speaker. “You have to be objective. You have to listen to me, don't shut me out, please.”
        Mrs. Monsignor stared at her daughter, whom she didn't feel deep in her heart, with annoyance. “Will you say it already,” She exclaimed, her accent thick. “I'm missing the Ed Sullivan show!”
        Cassidy had taken a deep breath and blurted it all out. About her feelings for other females, of her desires. Of everything that was in her heart, with just a little hope that her mother would understand and love her anyway.
        Her mother stared at her blankly, and then, with a horrifying look of disgust, unleashed a hard slap to young Cassidy's face. Cassidy fell off the coffee table, feeling the stinging spot where her mother's ragged hand had landed. “Don't talk that crap in my house!” Mrs. Monsignor had shrieked, stomping over to where her daughter lay shocked. Her kick to the stomach sent the air from the vulnerable Cassidy. “You're not my daughter,” She hissed vehemently. “And wait until Carlos comes home.”
        Cassidy ran to her room, where she lay in a state of hysteria, trembling violently. She knew her father wouldn't be so nice. About two hours later, the sound of her father's steps through the house, her mother's low and angry voice, and then the heavy sound of his angry steps coming up the stairs, sent her into a sobbing fit. The severe beating she received still didn't absolve her from going to school the next day.
        Bruised and aching, her heart completely numb, a sharp blade inside her pocket, she left the house the next morning to school. Andy had been waiting for her outside the school at their usual spot. And when Cassidy didn't stop to greet her and talk to her, but sped by instead, she knew something was terribly wrong. She called out her name, then merely followed when Cassidy didn't answer her. Cassidy went into an empty bathroom and when Andrea walked in a few seconds later, she found her standing and staring expressionless at a quickly growing pool of blood at her feet.
        Her wrists were cut open, she was paling very quickly, and her legs wavered. There seemed to be so much blood. Andrea had screamed for help and ran to her best friend's side. When Cassidy crumpled in her arms, getting blood all over her, her face unnaturally pale, her eyes crossing before they fluttered closed, she knew Cassidy was the most important thing in her life. She never ceased letting Cassidy know that.
        Cassidy's heart skipped a beat at the thought of being in Andrea's arms. She closed her eyes, feeling in her body a rush of intense heat. She would make passionate love to her, make her know with her body what she couldn't describe with words. The jarring sound of the phone startled her out of her thoughts. She picked up on the second ring. “Hello?” She said hoarsely.
        “Cassidy,” It was Andy, her soft voice sending a chill through Cassidy's spine. And then needlessly, she said: "It's Andy.”
        Cassidy would recognize that beautiful voice anywhere; she closed her eyes to the sound of the velvet voice on the other side of the line. “Hi, Andy.” She whispered hoarsely. “I recognized your voice.”
        “Are you okay, Cassidy?” Andy asked, worry in her voice. “Are you getting a cold?”
        God, she's so innocent! Cassidy thought with a deep swelling of her heart. How could I ever corrupt her like that? “I'm fine, Andy.” She said after clearing her throat. “I was resting a little, that's all. How are you?”
        Andy smiled. “I'm okay, Cassidy.” She paused, hesitating. “I missed you.”
        Cassidy's heart quickened, and she berated herself: You're her best friend, of course she misses you!' She shook her head. Stop this, Dammit! She's innocent! “I've missed you too, Andy.” She said in a low voice.
        Andy closed her eyes, feeling her throat constrict. “Have dinner with me, Cassidy.” She said impulsively. “It's been a long time. Just you and me.” She continued, placating.
        “What about Jeffrey?” Cassidy asked, despite herself.
        “He'll be at a dinner meeting, Cassidy.” Andrea replied firmly, letting her know with her tone of voice that it didn't matter whether he was in a meeting or not. She wanted to have dinner with her, and that was it. She said: "And even if he weren't, I'd still go to dinner with you.” She paused. “So, will you have dinner with me?” She asked again.
        Cassidy couldn't say no, she wanted so much to look into her Andy's sky blue eyes and feel as if she were staring at the sky itself. She wanted to feel her love, even if it wasn't the same woman-to-woman love she felt for her. “Okay,” She said softly. “Where do you want to meet?”
        Andy let out a long held breath, she was so sure Cassidy would decline. “Great!” She exclaimed. “Come and pick me up. We'll go to a nice, comfortable place. No need to dress up.”
        “Okay, at eight?” Cassidy asked, feeling nice. Very nice.
        “Eight it is.” Andy said lightly, then: "I love you.” And hung up.
        Cassidy smiled to herself, feeling her heart was about to beat out of her chest. She took a deep breath, and realized the yogurt lay forgotten on the white coffee table in front of her. She shook her head; she wasn't hungry any more. She stood up, deciding to make a visit to a dear old friend.
Continued in part II

Katia N. Ruiz

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