A Sweet Surrender

Part II

Katia N. Ruiz

Copyright 1999


        Ashleigh Simmons was a very active member in the war against AIDS. A medical doctor and blood specialist for twenty plus years, she had become especially interested in the cause when her younger brother died of the horrid disease. An austere, though highly attractive woman in her forties, she held ground in her field of work. Her short graying hair and flashing green eyes gave her an air of sophistication that preceded her wherever she showed her presence. Articulate in speech, she was highly educated and her social status remained unperturbed despite the openness of her sexuality. Very tall and built, she was healthy in every extent. She was in great shape for her forty-seven years of age. She exercised regularly, sometimes with Cassidy, most of the time alone.

        This afternoon, for instance, she received Cassidy's call and immediately made plans to meet at the gym.

        Bailey's Gym, located uptown on McGuire Boulevard owned the whole building from which it operated. Large beige stucco, one hundred years old, it held six floors reserved strictly to all exercise and therapeutic equipment. Its other seven floors were used for offices for employees and physiotherapists that decided to operate from there.

        Presently, Ashleigh was walking on the treadmill, on the Hill Level. She'd been at it for a little over thirty minutes and the sweat was running in rivulets down her sculpted body. Cassidy was running on her own treadmill, her leg muscles shifting visibly and attractively. It was all Ashleigh could do to not loose her footing and fall off the mill. She and Cassidy had slept together a good amount of times, but were also well acquainted as friends. Not that sex between them was bad; indeed, it was mind-blowing. "For a much younger woman,"- twenty years younger, in fact,- She once breathlessly told Cassidy, "You sure know how to use your hands." They cared about each other, very much, and never gave up the opportunity to do things together.

        Ashleigh had met Cassidy when she was in her tenth year as a doctor. Cassidy had been seventeen, and had been brought in dying from self-inflicted severely deep slices to both her wrists. Ashley definitely saved her, a crash operation that brought the veins back together and the precariously open skin closed, all performed in the Emergency Room. Cassidy remained unconscious for three and a half days, no visits from her parents, and Ashleigh could remember leaning against the bed and staring at the beautiful young woman she was. And that hadn't changed, Cassidy was as gorgeous as ever. Ashleigh had to wonder what brought Cassidy to that extreme. She remembered Andrea and how she saw the reason Cassidy fell so helplessly in love with her.

        Andrea nurtured Cassidy back to life, back to health. She never missed a day without seeing her. She would run over right after school and remain there until her father would pick her up at the end of the visiting hours. Andrea had a beautiful smile and gorgeous loving eyes that would make anyone's head lighten. "Ash," Cassidy said, a little out of breath. She flicked her wetly bouncing hair from her forehead in an impatient gesture. Ashleigh found the gesture adorable. "What are you thinking of?"

        Ashleigh smiled at her, wiping the sweat off her forehead with her towel. "Of Andrea, when she went to see you at the hospital, when you and I first met." She replied in her throaty voice. "You were so obviously in love then."

        Cassidy's eyes widened. "Have I always been that obvious?" She asked, awed.

        Ashleigh punched the buttons that would stop the machine. It slowed to a stop. Cassidy did the same, and stood with taut legs wide, taking deep breaths and wringing her wide shoulders. Ashleigh touched her shoulder with her large doctor's hand and Cassidy stopped her movements. "You always were, Cas." She said softly, squeezing her shoulder. "I'm still trying to figure out how Andrea doesn't know." The touch of her hand was so comforting. Cassidy felt like crying.

        Ashleigh crooned, seeing her gathering tears and pulling her into an embrace.

        "I love her so much!" Cassidy gasped, feeling the tears stinging her eyes. Her body shook with her suppressed tears, but she suddenly pulled back, meeting Ashleigh's eyes with her own. "I'm hurting, Ash!" She said raggedly, and turned away, wiping at her tears. Her cheeks and nose were flushed; her sensuous mouth was now a thin line of despair.

        Ashleigh watched her, compassion and deep caring squeezing her heart. "You don't talk about this," She said softly, touching her chest with her finger. "Why don't you come to my place after dinner?" She suggested, deciding right there and then that she'd make love to her then, to give Cassidy her care. They hadn't for almost a year, and it was about time.

        Cassidy nodded, knowing what would happen. She wanted it, and who better with than Ashleigh. "I'll see you tonight, then." She said, sniffing. She looked at the large face of her designer watch. SIX THIRTY FIVE. "I have to go, Ash. But I'll call you on my way over."

        She let the phone ring three times before picking it up. She reached over to her bedside table. "Hello?" She said breathlessly, sitting back down on the bed and bending over to continue to pull her tight white socks.

        "It is Carey. How are you?" The friendly voice with the thick Irish accent on the other line said.

        Andrea smiled at the sound of her friend's voice. "Hi!" She greeted. "I'm glad to hear from you." She continued sincerely.

        Carey laughed. "So am I." She noticed Andrea's uneasy breathing. "What in the world are you doing?"

        Andrea laughed. "Sicko," She teased. "Pulling on my socks, I'm having dinner with Cassidy tonight."

        Carey smiled. "So what's the miracle?" She asked, surprised.

        Andrea shrugged, chuckling gently. "I don't know, but I'm taking advantage." She said softly, not really knowing what to say about Cassidy's disappearing acts, except that she constantly missed her and thought of her. In times of distress over Cassidy's disappearances, Andrea had always called Carey for consolation and advice. She hurt so much when Cassidy avoided her, in a way that left her feeling so empty inside.

        "How was Valentine's dinner with her?" Carey asked.

        Andrea sighed, remembering the evening as if it were yesterday, specially dancing with Cassidy. "It was great… and I cried. I didn't know I missed her so much." She said slowly. "It felt so good to hold her close like that, you know? We danced a lot."

        Well, what do you know? Could Andy be in love with Cassidy and not even know it? She mused, her eyebrows arching; she nodded slowly to herself in answer. "You and Cassidy?"

        Andrea smiled softly. "Yes," She said dreamily. "She's a great dancer, better than any of my boyfriends. And Jeffrey doesn't dance, really. Nevertheless, I never really liked to dance with any of them, not since Cassidy first danced with me." She knew she must have been rambling, but when it came to Cassidy, she always rambled.

        "What time are you leaving?" Carey asked.

        Andrea glanced at her watch. SEVEN FORTY FIVE, the face said. "In about fifteen minutes." She replied, leaning back on the bed when she finished.

        "Okay, then." Carey said. "Call me tomorrow. Maybe we can have some dinner."

        "Okay, say hello to Roseanne for me, will you?" Andrea said, smiling.

        "Will do." Carey said, smiling. "Bye."

        Both women hung up. Not five minutes passed before the loud sound of a horn pierced the air. Andrea shook her head at the sound, laughing, and picking up her jean jacket from the coat rack. She walked out of the apartment, turning off all the lights.

        Cassidy's breath caught in her throat at the sight of casually clad Andrea as she came down the steps of her brownstone house. She wore black cargo shorts and a white short-sleeve T-shirt. Her yellow construction boots were new and not scuffed yet; her white socks were rolled down to her ankles. Her hair was loose and windswept. She looked adorably young and preppy. She watched her jump into the passenger seat of her red Mustang Convertible. "Hi," Andrea said, throwing her arms over Cassidy's shoulders and pulling her close to kiss her cheek.

        The sweet scent of her perfume, Cassidy recognized it as Versace, sent a shiver through her. "Hi," She said shyly, taken aback by the hot-cold shiver running through her body. She shifted gears and pulled into traffic. "Where are we going?" She asked after a few minutes of silence, in which she remembered the memorized feeling of Andrea's breast pressing against her arm.

        Andrea grinned, turning over in her seat to stare at Cassidy. "Benny's." She said softly, allowing her eyes to take in Cassidy's soft beauty. Every time she stared at her, she seemed to newly realize a little more of how beautiful Cassidy's whole body was. Tonight she realized how beautiful her profile was. Her forehead high, but softly feminine, it softly blended with the perfectly straight nose; her lips were smooth and full, her thick lower lip pouted sensuously. Her eyebrows were thin and black, and her lashes long and naturally curly. Her jaw was strong and chiseled. Her skin was so smooth looking that Andrea couldn't help but reach out and touch her skin. "You're beautiful, Cassidy." She whispered, feeling her heart swell.

        Cassidy's heartbeat quickened as she felt the strong intensity of Andrea's gaze upon her. She didn't trust herself to answer. She pressed the play button on her car radio, and the soft music of Tara MacLean, a new pop singer, blared out of her speakers. The song, titled 'That's me,' rang a bell inside Cassidy, and she listened quietly, like always. Andrea sat back, and listened too.

        Benny's was a brand new restaurant built two years ago. Its interiors were decorated tastefully to make its patrons feel comfortable, and to allow them to dress as they wished. The chairs and tables were made of a comfortable and stylish silvery metal; they gave it the quality of modernity. Inside, Andrea took out the time to see what Cassidy was wearing, and approved. She wore snug Kakhi shorts, a black T-shirt and white sneakers. Andrea noticed the tautness of the muscles on her legs and thighs, and asked: "You've been going to the gym?" She sat down on the chair Cassidy pulled out for her.

        Cassidy smiled. "Yes, I have. Today was the last time, actually." She answered, settling down across from her. "I went with Ashleigh."

        Andrea smiled at Cassidy. "You've seen Ashleigh?" She asked. "How is she?" She knew of Cassidy's various encounters with Ashleigh, and found it slightly amusing that a woman her age could still do such passionate and energetic romps with someone as young as Cassidy was, compared to her. But then again, Andrea thought. Ashleigh Simmons is in great shape. She knew that at one point, when Cassidy had been twenty-one, she'd ended up sleeping with Ashleigh, and that their already strong friendship was made even stronger by that fact.

        "She's doing great. I'm seeing her again later on tonight." Cassidy said, smiling back at Andrea. "She sends her greetings."

        "Tell her I said hello too." Andrea said, a knowing smile on her lips. They paused as their waiter asked for their orders. After he left them, Andrea whispered, reaching over and touching Cassidy's hand with the tips of her fingers: "I've really missed you, Cassidy." Her eyes searched for Cassidy's, which were locked to their touching hands. She couldn't seem to stop telling her that she missed her.

        Cassidy's throat constricted, she couldn't speak. She looked up at Andrea, trying not to let her emotions show through them. She lost herself in the blue of Andrea's gaze, her heart beating quickly out of control. "Andy," She said hoarsely, knowing she wasn't making a good show at hiding how deep her feelings for Andrea really were. Now it depended on Andrea to see or not. She pulled her hand away; the spot Andrea touched felt as if it were burning.

        Andrea didn't see the emotions playing across Cassidy's eyes; she just didn't know how to read it in her gaze. A thought occurred to her. "Let's have a picnic, this weekend or the next." She said impulsively, wanting to spend more time with her. "Jeffrey is going to be away on business matters. Just you and me, at Fountain Woods?" She pleaded with her eyes. Fountain Woods had been the place where they would go together in their youth so that Cassidy would get away from the misery at home, and where they could be together alone. The thought brought back wonderful memories to both women. "Where we used to go all the time, remember? To be together," She whispered, never taking her eyes off Cassidy's.

        Cassidy couldn't stand to look into her eyes; she looked down at the table. Andrea took her hands into hers. "What's wrong, Cassidy?" She demanded softly. "I'm your best friend, you need to talk to me." Her eyes watered.

        Cassidy closed her eyes tightly against the lightheaded feeling of the love she held for Andrea in her heart. Impulsively, she pulled Andrea's hands up to her lips, kissing them sweetly. Andrea held her breath, her eyes wide, feeling a flash of heat start in her heart and spread through her abdomen and then through her body. The lips pressed so passionately against her skin were silky and warm. She watched as Cassidy lowered her hands and remained still, her eyes closed with so much feeling.

        "So," She whispered hoarsely, her eyes taking in Cassidy's beauty without tiring. "Will you have the picnic with me at Fountain Woods?"

        Cassidy opened her eyes to Andrea's and nodded, staring at the full pink lips. She has such lovely lips. She thought fleetingly. "Yes," She said, smiling tenderly at her. She couldn't say no to her.

        Andrea was delighted, her eyes brightened visibly and she seemed to glow. Their food arrived and they ate, also talking. Andrea did most of the talking. "Roseanne," She was saying with great enthusiasm around her huge chicken sandwich. "You remember her, don't you? Her mother is Carey Mitchell."

        Cassidy nodded, relieved to be out of the intensity of the previous moment. "Yes, I remember her." She said, munching on her own sandwich, a broiled fish delight.

        "Well," Andrea continued, her blue eyes glistening. "The other day, she said to me that…"

        Cassidy allowed her eyes the freedom of taking in Andrea's angelic beauty as she spoke. She could see Andrea blushing slightly, she couldn't wonder why, so intense was her gaze. She laughed at something Andrea said about Roseanne; she was so clearly fond of the girl. Suddenly, she stopped, gazing back at Cassidy. "Talk to me about you." She said, a serious tone in her voice.

        Cassidy's gaze fell to the table; she didn't know what to say. She didn't really like to talk about herself. Andrea asked her about work, knowing Cassidy like the palm of her hand. Or so she thought. "Well, I gave in the article." Cassidy said. "Joel got back to me today. He said he loved it. It'll be published on Wednesday's edition."

        Andrea beamed proudly. "I'm so proud and happy for you, Cassidy! You should never doubt that he would accept it. You're the best." She gushed. She was happy every time Cassidy got a huge story and would pass the test with beaming approval. Even though it happened very often, every single time made Andrea proudly happy.

        Cassidy smiled shyly. "Thank you." She said in a low voice.

        Andrea smiled, taking another bite of her huge sandwich. "I'm so glad that you didn't say no to my invitation." She said.

        Cassidy's eyes snapped back up to hers and she smiled. "I'm glad too, Andy." She said. "I did not mean to hurt you."

        Andrea reached over to cover her hand again. "I know," She said. "Though I wish you'd tell me why you've been avoiding me."

        "It's nothing, really." Cassidy said, covering Andrea's hand with her other hand. She looked into the eyes of the woman she loved so much and said softly: "I really love you, Andy."

        Andy sighed, feeling very keenly the warmth and softness of the hands enveloping hers. "I love you too, Cassidy." She whispered.

        Cassidy smiled, wanting so much to be able to kiss her lips. "I'm really glad you do, Andy." She said, taking her hands away and sitting back, her protective shield in place. "I wouldn't know what to do without you."


        Ashleigh was sitting on her couch comfortably; her feet propped up on her glass coffee table. She was immersed in a book, thinking about Cassidy from time to time; she was dressed comfortably, in a white tank top and black shorts, feet bare. She was wondering how it was going with Andrea, if this would be the night when she would tell her how deep her feelings really were. But then again, Ashleigh thought, reprimanding herself. I should know better.

        She'd gotten home from the gym and gone right to sleep, knowing full well that she'd be staying up that night. It was almost twelve now, and Cassidy had just called to let her know that she was about a half-hour away from her. Ashleigh, as soon as she'd heard the husky voice with the Portuguese accent, had felt a prickle of excitement rush through her body. She lost her concentration on the book, thinking of Cassidy's voice playing against her ear as they had sex, the very sexy things she'd say to her as she touched her, as Ashleigh touched her.

A damp quiver between her legs answered the sound of her musical doorbell. She stood up and went to the door, opening it to Cassidy, who held a bottle of expensive red wine in one hand, two shiny wineglasses cradled against the other. Taking a sharp breath, she allowed her eyes to take in Cassidy's sensuously lithe body, the strength of her legs, of her arms.

        Gesturing for her to come in, she removed the bottle of wine from Cassidy's hand. She hastily pulled her into an embrace and took possession of her lips, pushing her tongue into the waiting mouth and feeling a jolt of pleasure rush through her body. Cassidy responded, feeling her own body react to Ashleigh's, surging against hers. It was all she could do to not drop the two fragile glasses in her hand. She felt the bottle of cool wine in Ashleigh's hand press against the small of her back, and that turned her on even more. A warm wet feeling between her legs spread onto her underwear and shorts. She was wet beyond redemption, and she pulled away to place the glasses on the small table by the door.

        She turned back to Ashleigh and wrapped her arms around the small waist, kicking the door closed and pushing her towards the couch. Ashleigh's strong arms wrapped around her shoulders, holding her from falling. Their tongues were exploring, their hands squeezing taut muscles and touching soft skin. Cassidy's face was on Ashleigh's neck, her tongue and lips playing with the sensitive area below her ear. Ashleigh was moaning, her shaking hands struggling with the wine bottle, attempting to uncork it as Cassidy's strong body worked over hers. She felt the soft lips leave her as Cassidy pulled away from her and took the bottle away. She uncorked it with her bare hands and took a mouth full from the bottle. Leaning forward, lingering over Ashleigh, she brought her lips to hers and allowed the now warm liquid to go from her mouth to the other. Ashleigh groaned, deeply, and swallowed the delicious wine.

        Ashleigh was completely naked in seconds.

        She arched as Cassidy poured the cool, tasty wine over her painfully engorged nipples and the flat plain of her stomach. She shuddered as the silky lips suckled the wine from her skin and nipples. Cassidy poured again, and finished the wine on her. Feeling her own body trembling and quivering between her legs, she grabbed the long neck of the bottle, and brought it between Ashleigh's wide-open thighs. Ashleigh gasped as she was entered, as the neck was brought in as far as it would go. She moaned, her fingers gripping Cassidy's back frantically.

        She trembled violently as Cassidy began twisting the bottle slowly, at the same time maneuvering it in and out. Feeling an orgasm coiling tightly inside her as Cassidy licked her clitoris and pumped the bottle, her hips jerked erratically and a cry rose in her throat. Her arms around Cassidy's shoulders, her fingers pressing against the line of her lean back, pressed harder. Cassidy pulled the bottle out, opened her legs wider inserting her tongue into her to feel the tight tremors of the flooded walls inside her. Her lips pressing against the flesh to feel the intense wetness of her making.

        With a strong high thrust of her hips, Ashleigh came into Cassidy's mouth, wave after wave of intensity coming and coming. She lay sweating and exhausted on the couch afterwards, Cassidy on top of her, sweating too. They were kissing slowly and deeply, as they always did, after a mind-blowing session of sex. "Will you stay the night?" Ashleigh asked, wanting to please her just as she'd been pleased.

        Cassidy laid her head on her shoulder and nodded, feeling drowsy and ready to sleep. "Did you have fun?" She asked softly, a smile played across her lips.

        Ashleigh playfully smacked one of her tight butt-cheeks, and Cassidy jumped. "You know it's not necessary to ask!" She chuckled. She groaned as Cassidy's hips began pressing between her legs rhythmically. "Oh, no, you don't!" She gasped and managed to swing them around so that she was now on top. Her hand went into Cassidy's shorts and between Cassidy's legs and she inserted her fingers into the heated wetness that was coming from deep inside. Cassidy thrust her hips upwards and she cried out, loosing herself to Ashleigh's strong expert fingers.

        The next morning, as they had breakfast, showered and half-dressed; they spoke quietly between bites of egg and cheese sandwiches. Cassidy was mostly silent, and Ashleigh finally ended up just staring at her. Cassidy's eyes were attached to the plate on the table in front of her; she nibbled on her sandwich. God, Ashleigh thought amusedly. She could be so adorably shy sometimes. It's hard to tell we had mind-blowing sex just last night.

        "Cassidy," She said, reaching across the table and taking Cassidy's hand. "How was dinner with Andrea?" She asked when Cassidy met her eyes.

        Cassidy smiled, her, mind going back to thoughts of Andrea. "It was great." She said softly, her eyes veering away from Ashleigh's.

        Ashleigh smiled. "What did you guys do?" She asked gently, squeezing Cassidy's hand comfortingly.

        Cassidy smiled, staring down at their hands. "We mostly talked about things between us; you know, our friendship and stuff. She asked me if I wanted to have a picnic with her in a couple of weeks…" She paused. "I couldn't say no."

        Ashleigh sat back on her chair and smacked the table aggressively. "And why should you say no?" She inquired.

        Cassidy shrugged, looking everywhere except Ashleigh's eyes. She started to say: "Well, you know Jeffrey and every-"

        Ashleigh smacked the table even harder. The plates, the cups, everything rattled. "Jeffrey!" She exclaimed, surprising even Cassidy, who knew her very well. And knew that she didn't usually explode in this manner. Ashleigh was known for her calm demeanor and her never exploding temper. At Crystal City Hospital, Ashleigh was known by only a few to have a volatile temperament and those were the stupid ones who tried her patience. "Fuck Jeffrey!" She said with clenched teeth.

        "Ash-" Cassidy said uncertainly.

        "You're her best friend," Ashleigh continued, as if Cassidy hadn't said anything. "He cannot go there, and if Andy were to let him, she'd be the fool." She looked at Cassidy with angry green eyes. "And you know," She wagged a long finger at her. "You're the bigger fool for letting him win the battles, by not even trying to win her heart in the way that you want it." She stood up and walked away from the table to lean against the light wood cabinets with strong arms crossed, her eyes locked to Cassidy's in a reprimanding way.

        Cassidy stared back at her with surprised eyes. "Ashleigh," She said hesitantly, afraid she'd be interrupted again. When Ashleigh didn't say anything, just staring at her in her intimidating manner, she continued: "I just don't think I should involve myself in their relationship…"

        Ashleigh stopped her with a sharp gesture; her hand sliced through the air. "It's not about getting involved, Cassidy," She said intensely, almost growling at her. "It's about taking what belongs to you. It's about telling Andrea Cates that you are in love with her, that you love her like no one ever could. That you'd give your life to her with all the passion and love in the world."

        Cassidy stared at the plate on the table, feeling her eyes wet with tears, her hands playing at her lap. She held back the tears and looked up to stare at her. "I will never tell Andy my true feelings for her." She said firmly, standing up from the table and leaving the kitchen and Ashleigh behind.

        Ashleigh watched her go, smiling to herself; she was satisfied that she'd gotten through the hard exterior Cassidy had built for herself. Minutes later, she heard Cassidy's footsteps returning towards the kitchen. She was fully dressed now, holding her jacket at the crook of her arm. She shuffled at the threshold, unable to look into Ashleigh's eyes. "You're going," Ashleigh whispered, only slightly disappointed. Still, she was satisfied she got through the tough exterior, got some emotion to show through the mask. For as long as she'd known Cassidy, she'd never seen her show so much as an ounce of emotion, except the one time they were at the gym. But Cassidy had pushed the display away without so much as a backward glance, as if it had never happened. She knew Cassidy had a lot to think about. "When will I see you again?" She asked.

        "Some time this week, Ash." Cassidy said softly. "I'll call you." She turned and walked away, leaving the apartment quietly.

        She was in her car, waiting for the light to turn from red to green. She pulled her cellular out of her jacket pocket and dialed. Robie picked up on the third ring. She sounded glad to hear from Cassidy. "Well hello, stranger!" She said, a smile on her voice. Last time she'd heard from her had been Sunday. She'd tried to call her, but had been unable to communicate through the cellular; Cassidy had turned it off. "Where were you, woman?" She asked playfully.

        Cassidy smiled, chuckling softly. "I hung out with Andrea last night, we had dinner," She said, pretending to be thoughtful. The light turned green; with one hand on the steering wheel, she pressed her foot softly on the gas pedal. "Then I hung out with Ashleigh. And that's it."

        Robie chuckled also. She teased: "Hung out with Ashleigh, isn't that the doctor you're…"

        "Yes, Robie," Cassidy said, trying to hold back her laughter. "That's the doctor who treated me a few years ago."

        "Okay, okay. I get it." Robie said, laughing. "So how was dinner with Andrea?"

        Cassidy stopped at another light. "It was great, we talked a lot." She said, and nothing more, suddenly quiet and apprehensive.

        Robie shook her head, knowing full well that Cassidy had just clamped up on her. She tried another tactic, knowing full well how to get around her. "Why don't you come over later, Cassidy?" She asked soothingly. "I'll cook you dinner…"

        Cassidy was soothed by her voice, and she nodded. Catching herself, she said: "Yes, okay."

        Robie smiled, already thinking of what she would cook for her. "Okay, then," She said. "What time do you want to come over?"

        Cassidy smiled. "At nine or so? I have some people to see today." She said.

        "No other girlfriends, I hope." Robie said warningly, a smile hidden in her voice.

        Cassidy laughed, driving off when the light changed and making a left on Grand Place. She lived about five blocks away. "No, just friends. Gretchen and George." She said.

        "Good, tell them I said hi, and that I'll talk to them later," Robie said. "See you at nine."

        From his uptown office, Jeffrey dialed the number he knew Andrea would be at that time. She would be on her lunch hour, most definitely sitting behind the desk in the small office she shared with another teacher. Maybe she was with that young woman, Roxanne, he thought her name was, chatting away like usual. He wanted to talk to her, though, and he didn't care whom she was talking to or if she was talking to somebody. The phone rang three times and Andrea picked up with a warming hello. "Hey, hon." He said, not able to hold back a smile at just the sound of her voice.

        "Hi, Jeff." Andrea said, sounding glad to hear from him. "How are you?"

        Jeffrey felt warm all over. "I'm fine, baby. What about you?" He replied, really wanting to instantly ask about her dinner with Cassidy. When Andrea told him she was having dinner with an air of finality seldom in her voice, he knew better than to even argue with her. Or to say that he really wanted her to come to dinner with him and his business friends instead, because he knew she would say no to anything just to be with Cassidy Monsignor. Just the thought of her angered him intensely, he always tried to control that anger around Andrea, and it was very hard.

        "I'm fine too," Andrea said. "How did your dinner go?" She asked.

        "It went great…" He said softly. "I thought a lot about you, though."

        Andrea smiled from her side of the line. "That's sweet, Jeff." She said softly. "I thought about you too." She was lying, the only thing in her mind the night before was Cassidy, and Cassidy only.

        Jeffrey brightened. "Did you, really?" He asked, feeling like everything was fine again. He was having a hard time the night before, just thinking that Andrea was alone with Cassidy. That Cassidy could manipulate her into having… He shook his head vehemently; just the thought disgusted him.

        "I did." Andrea said softly, trying to soothe him. He was so much like a child sometimes. She was alone in the office, but she didn't really want to be on the phone with him for some reason. She'd just spent the last twenty-five minutes staring at the wall, thinking of what she'd bring with her the day of her picnic with Cassidy. The phone sliced through her happy thoughts like a knife through thread. "Jeffy, I have to go." She said softly, trying to sound apologetic. Not really feeling that way. "Call me at home tonight, will you?"

        Jeffrey smiled. "Okay," He said. "I will. Maybe I'll pass by."

        Andrea said okay, and hung up with him. She sat back on her chair and stared at the wall again, contemplating once again what she would bring with her to the picnic.


Gretchen Brea sat down across from Cassidy on her stylish terrace and studied her with self-possessed brown eyes. She always appreciated Cassidy's beauty, could never pass up any time that Cassidy went to see her. Gretchen was a year older than Cassidy, they'd known each other for a little over six years, when Cassidy was going to the same college Gretchen was attending for law. Gretchen had been immediately seduced by Cassidy's intense seriousness. Gretchen had been all no joke and laughs, and Cassidy was a perfect contrast.

Cassidy was beautiful then, as she was now. As was Gretchen, who had indeed seduced Cassidy with her British accent and snobbish attitude. Gretchen was also physically alluring, with deep brown eyes and a full black mane. A face out of a painting, narrowly straight nose, and full reddish lips, including imposingly beautiful full-figured body. Her voice was husky, though attractively feminine with its accent.

As they spoke, with a slight flush to her cheeks, Cassidy recalled all those hotly intense moments between them. The sex between them had been volatile, explosive. Not one encounter would go by without each woman having a most intense orgasm more than once. Actually, sometimes they'd reached record in their sex, not pausing for many hours, until exhaustion and need for sleep stopped them. Those were the days, Cassidy thought with nostalgia.

But Gretchen was now happily engaged to a beautiful and young Australian woman called Georgette; they'd been together for almost a year. Her friends called her George.

Georgette Peterson was a prominent architect and interior designer with talent that many wish they had. Her talents weren't the only things that were envied about George. Her looks were roguishly beautiful, with a full head of short jet-black hair that framed her gorgeous face, a healthy dark olive complexion, and shiny blue eyes. She was tall like Cassidy, five foot nine, and had a body much like Cassidy's also, lithe, toned and muscled.

Via Gretchen, Cassidy hired George to design her kitchen. George, who had liked Cassidy the moment she met her despite the fact that she knew about the tempestuous affair between Cassidy and Gretchen, wanted to do the job for free. But Cassidy refused to accept the gratuity and paid her with an article on the "promising architect and interior designer Georgette Peterson."

Cassidy had many followers of her articles and books, many fans, and within days of the publishing of the article, flocs were flowing to hire George. George was grateful, and still owed Cassidy one, she swore. George was a lot like Cassidy, faithful to her friends and warm. Gretchen thought that's what made her fall in love in the first place. But soon, Gretchen saw past the similarities between George and Cassidy, and saw the George that was within, and fell in love anew.

Presently, Gretchen was telling Cassidy of the hand-fasting date so that she could tell Andrea and Robie, and bring them. It would be in six months, and Gretchen wanted Cassidy to be her "best-lady." She was talking with a vigor Cassidy had never seen in her, a happiness that was unmistakably intense. She was happy for her, and wished she could have that kind of happiness for herself. But she knew that couldn't be, for her happiness lay only in the arms of Andrea Cates, the love of her life.

The struggle she was going through at that moment was tearing her apart, thinking of Andrea, dreaming that it would be the two of them who would be together. She wanted so badly to hold her, to make love to her, to love her the way she wished she could. She was unaware of her eyes drifting away from Gretchen to a spot above her head. She was also unaware of Gretchen stopping her chatter to stare at her with knowing sympathy. "Cassidy," Gretchen said softly, but Cassidy still was away in her thoughts. Gretchen leaned forward, grasping her leg and squeezing it softly, saying firmly: "Cassidy."

        Cassidy started, and stared at Gretchen as if she didn't see her. "Oh, God, I'm so sorry!" She gushed, shaking her head. "I'm sorry, Gretchen, I don't know what came over me."

        Gretchen knew what had come over her, and that was thoughts of Andrea. Ever since their days together, Gretchen knew Cassidy's heart belonged to Andrea, and always would.

Now it was a matter of Andrea's heart belonging to her. She always saw a behavior in Andrea towards Cassidy that no best friend ever had for another. Without realizing it, Andrea acted as if she too were in love with Cassidy. Never able to go a few hours without speaking to her; when they were together, never able to take her eyes off her, never able to stop hugging her. When they danced, fitting her body against Cassidy's as if it were a temple and it was an honor to press against it to sway to the music. Her eyes held tightly shut, the lids trembling slightly.

And if Andrea were in love with Cassidy, Gretchen wouldn't be surprised. Cassidy was the dream of any woman who got to know her, perfect in every fashion, in every sense. She was surprised Robie wasn't asking her to marry her already, but then she knew that Robie's heart was someone else's. She had been the one who had introduced Robie and Cassidy. She knew of Robie's lover Isabella Del Monte, a prominent archeologist out in Europe or Africa or some place like that. She'd seen the devastation in Robie's eyes when she and Isabella agreed that it was best if they stopped being together if Isabella had to go far and for a long time because of her job. Robie had been desolate for months, until Gretchen had pushed her back into the dating world, instantly calling Cassidy up and pushing them to meet.

Cassidy and Robie clicked instantly, and were more friends than anything else, though sex wasn't taken out of their friendship. They were still dating, but that was as far as it got.

Gretchen smiled forgivingly at her friend, squeezing her thigh softly and letting go. "Its okay, Cassidy baby," She said in her husky, accented voice. "I know how Andrea brings this out on you, honey. Maybe you shouldn't walk around with this weight on your shoulders, my dear. Maybe you should confess to her that-"

Cassidy cut her off with an impatient, angry gesture, standing from the lounging chair she had claimed. She glared down at Gretchen, feeling cornered by everything and everyone. "Can't I go to places without worrying that every single one of my friends is going to pressure me into doing something I don't want to do?" She growled at her, not able to hold back her anger.

Gretchen stared at her unflinchingly, allowing her to spew out her anger. She didn't say one thing to her for a long while, just stared at her, watching the conflicting emotions playing across the noble features. With a lilting arch of her eyebrow, Gretchen pursed her lips in musing. "I don't know why you put yourself through this agony," She finally said in an even voice, though she was frustrated. "When all you have to do is tell Andrea that you love her and she would fall into your arms like the woman in love with you that she is."

Cassidy closed her eyes tightly, clenching her jaw. "Andrea… is… a… virile… heterosexual… woman…" She pronounced every word with rising anger. "I… am… only… her… best friend-"

Gretchen felt like releasing a 'wake up and smell the coffee' hand and allowing it to land across Cassidy's face, but that had been one of the reasons for their agreeing to end their relationship. Physical abuse against one another, inability to restrain their anger. She shook the memories away. Unhappy memories of their past were not necessary at that moment. "Cassidy," She said, standing up from her chair and staring up in bewilderment at her friend. "I can't believe you are so hard-headed sometimes! Goodness gracious!" She exclaimed in exasperation.

Cassidy turned away from her and crossed her arms, a double wall against Gretchen. "Gretchen," Cassidy said in as even a voice as she could muster, and paused. "I love Andrea as I've never loved anything or anyone in my life." She said softly afterwards, closing her eyes against the pain. "I could not live if I lost her because of my feelings, I could not endure the thought of Andrea leaving me because of my feelings for her… She is my world, my sun… I would die, Gretchen." Her voice was thick with tears; she closed her eyes against them. "I would take my own life." She brought out her arms to stare at her scarred wrists. "It hasn't been hard for me before…" Her voice trailed off.

"Even now," She continued in a low voice, never taking her eyes away from the ever-tempting scars. "Even now that I have her as my best friend, I feel the need to just cease to exist, to just leave this godforsaken world and this misery. A misery I have no idea where it came from." She spoke numbly, unaware of Gretchen's tears. "She is the only thing that keeps me anchored, that keeps me from attempting against myself again. I can't bear the thought of loosing her."

Gretchen was instantly sorry she'd pressured Cassidy. She never really knew how vulnerable Cassidy really was. The tough exterior was so well in place that even she couldn't see past it. Except for now. She turned Cassidy to face her and hugged her tightly, placing her hand behind Cassidy's head and forcing her face to rest against her shoulder. Cassidy didn't resist for long, she wrapped her arms around Gretchen's plush waist and rested against her. "I'm sorry, Cassidy baby," Gretchen crooned, feeling for her from the very bottom of her heart. "I'm so very sorry."

She felt Cassidy nod against her shoulder, tightening her arms around her waist in a forgiving gesture. She pulled back after a long moment and just stared at her friend with eyes full of pain. And then she smiled her beautiful charming smile, the smile that only brought a lilt to the right side of her lips, that made her eyes crinkle at the corners, and a gentle dimple appear on her right cheek. She has always been so stunning, Gretchen thought with deep love for her friend.

"You're my friend, right?" Cassidy asked huskily, moving her head forward and pressing her forehead against Gretchen's.

Gretchen nodded slowly. "And I love you as such." She replied softly. "I want you to always know that I am here, and so is George. She loves you very much, Cassidy." She suddenly threw her head back and laughed, bringing her hands down from Cassidy's shoulders to squeeze her arms tenderly. "I never thought a lover of mine would end up loving you as much as George does, considering the fact we meant so much to each other only a few years ago."

"You still mean a lot to me, Gretchen," Cassidy said softly, still keeping her arms around Gretchen's waist and looking down at her. "You always will. And no matter how our relationship ended, you stuck by, as if I didn't do the things I did to you." She continued sadly.

Gretchen shook her head softly in disagreement. "And what about from me to you, honey." She said gently, touching Cassidy's face tenderly. "What about what I did to you? We really fucked each other up back then, baby. It was all so unnecessary."

Cassidy smiled gently, feeling the smoothness of Gretchen's palm on her cheek. "You and George don't do that to each other, do you?" She asked softly with concern.

A husky rumble came from Gretchen's throat. Laughter. "Ooh, no!" She said with laughter. "She would never take it." She paused, her laughter died away. She said in a low voice: "And I guess I've grown up. Haven't you, Cassidy-baby?"

Cassidy nodded slowly. "I think I have too." She said. "Twenty eight in a few months, Gretchen. I'm getting old."

"And more gorgeous by the minute." Gretchen said with a smile. She hugged Cassidy to her and pulled away slowly when they heard the door slam.

George's boisterous accented voice carried across the apartment. "Cassidy," She called, sounding very happy. "Where the hell are you, old gal? I saw your car downstairs!"

Cassidy laughed. "I'm right here, Georgie Porgy." She called out. George breezed through the terrace doors and ran to her, taking her in her arms. She rocked her tenderly, as she always did despite her strength. "Hey, George." Cassidy said with a laugh, wrapping her arms around her too.

George pulled back, smiling at her. "Hey, baby." Her Australian accent punctuating the word "bay-by." She looked from Cassidy to Gretchen with mock suspicion. "What were you doing to my lover out here?" She asked with narrowed smiling blue eyes.

Gretchen laughed and walked over to them, slapping her lightly on the butt. "You have one dirty mind, my lovely butch." She chided. "Now, come give me a kiss."

George went to her and took her tightly into her strong arms, placing a nice wet kiss on her lips. "Hey, babe." She said softly, touching her lover's face with a finger. Gretchen seemed speechless at George's eternal tenderness; she just smiled.

Cassidy smiled at her two friends. "Well, I've got to go." She said, looking at the time. EIGHT O'CLOCK. "Got a date with Robie tonight."

Continued in part III

Katia N. Ruiz

original fiction index | xena homepage | what's new | amazontrails.com