Disclaimer: This uber-story and its characters belong solely to the author and may not be used without permission. It depicts a sexual relationship between two consenting adult females, but is not graphic. If you are underage or this material is illegal where you live or if depictions of this nature disturb you, please do not read further.  There is some violence and some foul language, but I tried to keep it to a minimum.

A/N: I wrote this on Dec. 8-9th, before the Newtown, CT tragedy. It was extremely unfortunate timing and I'd like to apologize to anyone this might hurt.

“Healing Hearts”

By The Bard of New Mexico

Feed the bard: silverdolphin12@hotmail.com yes, please :o)

Jordis Erickson strode down the corridor with purpose.  The tall, blond, blue-eyed executive secretary had a lot of work to do that afternoon after she returned from her lunch break. First order of business...almost complete pleasure.  She had to find the company's vice president, Maggie Kelly, the woman she had a crush on, and deliver their boss's instructions.  Jordis turned the corner into the corridor leading to her office, but it echoed as if it were coming from somewhere in the building not too far away.  Then she heard another, another, and another....

Maggie raced around the corner only pausing to kick off her shoes.  Her blue-gray eyes widened.  Jordis!  She sprinted down the hall and threw open the door to the conference room.  She grabbed a confused Jordis by the arm and flung her into the room.  Another pop, louder and closer.  Time slowed for Maggie as she entered the room herself, locked the door, barricaded it with the nearest chair at hand, and hit the light switch, suddenly enveloping the two ladies in darkness.

“Maggie, what the--”

Shhhhh!!!” Maggie groped around in the darkness, stumbled, and nearly tripped over Jordis, who was already on the floor.  She herded her approximately in the direction of the heavy conference table.  She could smell Jordis's lavender scent as she neared her ear and spoke softly, “Get under the table and try to be quiet.”  Maggie followed Jordis under the table and used her shorter body to shield Jordis as much as possible, a gesture Jordis didn't miss and only added to her rising panic.

“What's going on?” she whispered very close to Maggie's ear.  Maggie shuddered softly when she felt the warm puff of air close to her ear.  She'd never really thought of Jordis except as a co-worker, albeit an attractive one.  Despite the current predicament, being near Jordis set off a tingling in her body.  “Someone's shooting up the place.  They hit Jimmy and Mr. Ferguson.”

Jordis gasped.

“I ran when they started firing,” Maggie added unnecessarily and a bit lamely.

And you're here saving me,  Jordis concluded in her mind.  Her heart melted at the thought that Maggie was her very own redheaded hero.

Jordis lifted her head over Maggie's body to find out if she could see or hear anything.  She froze when she saw the silhouette of someone with a gun pause in front of the back-lit Venetian blinds.  The figure listened then took off in the direction where it came from.  No more footsteps echoed in the hallway.  The immediate area is as quiet as a tomb, Maggie thought with a shudder.  She wondered whether or not it would end up being her own.

The tingling sensation Maggie had been feeling localized in her left arm and turned into numbness that got progressively worse.  Maggie let out a gasping breath.“What's wrong?” Jordis whispered.  When Jordis felt a slick wetness on Maggie's shoulder, she fumbled around in her purse for her keychain flashlight.  She used it to see what the wetness was.“You've been hit!” she whispered urgently.  The numbness changed into pain and a hellfire burning when Maggie realized that she had indeed been hit.  Jordis examined the extent of Maggie's wound and found that the bullet left a gash across her right deltoid.  Jordis frantically dug through her purse again, found her cell phone, and called 9-1-1.

“9-1-1.  What's your emergency?” the operator asked in almost a bored tone.

“There's a shooter!” Jordis whispered harshly.


“Ferguson Building. Please hurry!”

“How many shooters?”

Jordis handed the phone to Maggie who had seen more of what happened.

“One,” she replied to the dispatcher.

“Where is the shooter?”

“Probably gone.  He ran toward the exit.”

“Description of the shooter?”

“Don't know.  Probably a man judging by his height and build.  Dressed all in black and a black ski mask.  Black gloves.  I don't know who he is.”

“How many weapons?”



“No idea.  Bigger than a pistol, though.”

“Where are you, Ma'am?”

“Hiding in the conference room with someone, second floor.  For God's sake send an ambulance!”

“How many people injured?”

“At least three.”  Tired of the questions, Maggie almost yelled, “ For the love of Christ, please hurry!

“They'll be there as fast as they can, ma'am,” the operator said in her calm voice that was getting on Maggie's nerves. 

Jordis ducked down and tucked her head under Maggie's chin.  Her body shook from the intense stress.  She started crying softly despite her attempts to be strong.  Maggie, barely able to keep herself from groaning out loud, weakly put two fingers across Jordis's full lips to quiet her.  Jordis tenderly kissed those two fingers.  Embarrassed by what she'd just done, she stilled.  She hoped Maggie hadn't noticed.

Maggie did notice, but she sensed the younger woman's embarrassment.  Instead of questioning Jordis, Maggie whispered, “I need your help.  Take off your jacket and clean my shoulder with it.” She cringed as she said those words, fully understanding what pain she was in for.  Jordis carefully wiped away some blood from Maggie's arm and then flipped the jacket to a cleaner spot.“Now, put a little pressure on it to halt the blood flow,” Maggie instructed.  Maggie sucked air in through her teeth as Jordis did as she said.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” Maggie swore as quietly as she could.  Jordis felt around for Maggie's hand on her left, uninjured arm.  She held it tightly as she continued the pressure on Maggie's injury.  Maggie noted that her body shook, too, from the stress of the physical injury.  She heard another sound, a ripping sound, and realized Jordis tore off part of her clothing to make a bandage for her arm.

Jordis lifted her lips to Maggie's ear.“Brace yourself.”

Maggie steeled herself and fought to stay silent while Jordis tended to her arm.  Still laying on their sides facing each other, Jordis told Maggie to rest her arm across Jordis's body while Jordis slipped her arm across Maggie's side so the position Jordis suggested to prop up Maggie's arm essentially ended up being a hug, a comfort both of them needed.  Jordis and Maggie focused their hearing on what was going on outside the conference room, but the rest of their senses centered on staying connected and surviving. 

After what seemed like a lifetime, the ladies heard multiple footsteps in the hallway.  Several more minutes passed until someone yelled, “Clear!” Finally, someone knocked on the door and the same man who cleared the place yelled, “Police!  Open the door!”

“Keep your hands where they can see 'em,” whispered Maggie harshly.

“Hang on,” Jordis called to the officers outside.  Maggie moved herself to one side just enough to let Jordis slip out.  Jordis got to her hands and knees, but Maggie heard a sharp intake of breath when Jordis tried standing.  Jordis used the conference room table to raise herself the rest of the way.  She carefully slipped her feet out of her blue pumps.

“What happened?” Maggie asked.

“It's my ankle.  I thought I just overextended it, but I think it's sprained.”

Maggie winced. 

Jordis sat on the table and took her shoes off.  She hopped on one foot over to the door, turned on the lights, and unlocked the door for the police.  She fell into the chair nearest the door.  Both she and Maggie put up their hands where the officers could see them. 

The male officer, a young Hispanic man, immediately saw Maggie's injury and called the paramedics upstairs.  His female partner saw Jordis and asked, “Are you hurt too?”

Jordis's voice was unsteady as she replied, “Just my ankle.”

“Hold tight,” the female officer replied.  “What are your names?”

“Maggie Kelly.”

“Jordis Erickson.”

The paramedics arrived.  One of them immediately went to evaluate Maggie's injury and found it was not as bad as they thought.  He cleaned her arm and bandaged it properly.  His fellow EMT evaluated Jordis's left ankle.  He iced it for a few minutes.  As he was wrapping it, he said, “It's not too bad.  When you get home, put ice on it and elevate it.” He helped her up.“Can you put weight on it?”

Jordis slowly shifted her weight onto her left foot.“Yeah.” She limped back to the table where her purse and pumps were.  She gathered them up.

“Whoa,” the female officer said.  Her light brown ponytail moved as she shook her head.  “We can't let you go yet.  We need you to tell us what happened.” 

“What?  Now?” Jordis asked with surprise and panic in her voice.  She just wanted to go home and hide.

“It would be best, yes.  We'll go to another room.” 

As her partner commenced questioning Maggie, the female officer escorted Jordis past the front office that she shared with Jimmy.  Jordis first noticed the yellow Post-It note  spattered with blood.  White sheets covered two bulky forms.  Then, Jordis saw it, a blood stained $100 poker chip  taped to the wall behind Jimmy's desk.  She envisioned his fresh young face, his neatly combed sandy hair, his bright blue eyes, and his white teasing smile when he first put up the poker chip and joked, That's the start of my retirement fund. 

Jordis's nerves finally snapped.  She let out a full-throated animalistic cry of pure rage mixed with pain and burst into tears.  The female officer hurried Jordis into the nearest quiet room and left her there to compose herself while the officer went for some water.

Maggie heard the commotion.  When the female officer passed the conference room's open door on her way to the break room, Maggie called out, “What the hell happened?”

The female officer backtracked to the conference room.“She's having a meltdown.”

“No fucking wonder, huh?” Maggie growled, her Irish temper rising.    “We've been through enough today without needing to answer your questions.”  Maggie held her hand up, forestalling whatever else the female officer was going to say.  “Just ask your questions and bring her back here.”  She refrained from saying more because she didn't trust her temper and these were the authorities she was talking to. If you don't play nicely with the police,Maggie reminded herself, bad things happen.  But bad things already happened.  frowned.  Jordis, hang on for just a little while longer.  sighed.“Just tell her I'll wait for her here, okay?”

The female officer nodded her assent.

“Oh, and I could really use a cup of coffee.  There's a fresh pot.  Could you please bring me a cup?  Black?  Help yourselves.”

The female officer fetched a bottle of water from the refrigerator, poured a cup of coffee and delivered it to Maggie, and went back to question Jordis.

The other officer got out his notebook.  He flipped back the black cover, turned a few pages, and took out a pencil that looked like it belonged more with a golfer and a scorecard than with a police officer.  Maggie's focus wandered as she marveled how strange the small pencil looked in the officer's huge hand.  He said something to her, but she completely missed it.

“I'm sorry, what was that?”

Some of the officer's gruff manner sloughed off and his black eyes shone with a surprising soulful compassion.  He studied Maggie for a moment.  He asked in a softer but still professional tone, “So what happened?”

Irritation changed Maggie's face a little.“It's pretty obvious, isn't it?  Some piece of shit came here and shot people.  Don't you call it an 'active shooter situation' or some such BS sterile term?”

“How do you know?”

“I watched a YouTube video on active shooter preparedness.  After Aurora.  Thank God I did!  Just never thought it'd happen here....”

“Okay.  Tell me what happened, though.”

“I didn't have time to go out to lunch today so I had a quick yogurt in the break room.  When I came back, I see this guy in the front office shooting Jimmy and Mr. Ferguson.  I took off to hide in the conference room.”

“What did the shooter look like?”

“I don't know.  He was dressed all in black.”

“You say 'he'?”

“That's right.  I think so because the person was about six-five, broad shoulders, muscular arms and pecs.  Really built.”

“Do you know his race?”

“No idea.  He was covered head to toe – and hands – in black.  Black turtleneck cable-knit sweater, black ski mask, black pants.”

“Did he look like any of the employees you've seen around here or anyone you know?”

“No.  Most of the employees aren't here.  They work at our manufacturing and shipping complex downtown.  I usually just hang with the big dogs here and haven't gotten to meet many of the other people.”  Maggie said the last part with a hint of regret coloring her usually deep, resonant voice.

“What about weapons?”

“Just one.  I don't know what it was since I'm not into guns.  Bigger than a pistol.  Check it out with the dispatcher.”

“How many shots fired?”

“I have no idea.”

“Is there anything else you remember?”

“Not really.  He just fired a few shots, hit Jimmy and Mr. Ferguson, and I ran for the conference room.  Seriously, I just want to check on Jordis and go home.”  She pointed to her arm.  “This hurts like a bitch!”

“I'm through with you for now, but Detectives Barrie and Mendoza should be contacting you soon. Let me get your number.” 

Maggie gave him her cell and home number.  She paused and said slowly although she thought she knew the answer, “What happened to Jimmy and Mr. Ferguson?”

The officer looked at her with compassion again.“I'm sorry. They died.” Maggie thought he said it with true sincerity in his voice.  Despite the traumatic situation, she found herself appreciating the young officer's unexpectedly good people skills.

Even though she was prepared for the answer, Maggie still felt a shock like suddenly being plunged into ice cold water and her breathing became shallower and quicker.  Her heart felt like it fell through the bottom of her feet.  A lump formed in her throat.  She fought with stubborn will to keep her composure. 

          *                         *                         *

The female officer brought over a box of Kleenex.  She handed Jordis the bottle of water.  She took out her small pencil and notebook and flipped to a clean page.

“Now then, Ms. Erickson, what happened?  Did you get a look at the shooter?”

Jordis blew her nose.  She took a sip of water.“No, I didn't.” She choked up again and cleared her throat.“I really can't tell you much.  I was coming back from lunch.  I heard what sounded to me like a car backfiring, but then I heard a few more shots.”

The policewoman interrupted her.“How many shots were there?”

“I don't know.  Anyway, I see Maggie charging down the hallway, opening the conference room door, and flinging me inside.  She told me to get under the conference room table.  I really didn't see anything until I saw a figure backlit through the closed blinds.  He was tall and well built.”

“Did you recognize him?”

“No.  Nobody I can think of.”

“Do you have any idea why someone would do this?”

“I don't know.  Everything seemed fine.”

“Did Mr. Ferguson or Jimmy have any enemies?  Any domestic disputes?”

“I don't know much about their private lives, but from what I've seen at parties, they looked happy.  I just wish I knew why!”  Jordis started crying again.  The policewoman waited patiently for a few minutes.  Jordis continued.  “They were decent men.  Mr. Ferguson was a good boss and had a real head for business.  Good people skills.  It's hard to imagine anyone would want to –.”  She couldn't continue.

“Okay.  I think that's all for now.  Expect some detectives soon, though.”  She took down Jordis's contact information, then she led Jordis back to the conference room.

The female officer waved a paramedic back into the room.  He had been standing outside waiting for further instructions. 

“Are they cleared?” the female officer asked.

The paramedic looked at the women.“Yes, but keep an eye on your injuries and get plenty of rest.” He took his medical kit and left.

The male officer assessed the women.“Are you okay to drive home or would you like me to get someone to take you?”

“I'm okay,” said Maggie, even though her shoulder throbbed.  “I'll drive her home.”

          *                         *                         *

Maggie groaned as she slid into her Lincoln.  She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.

“Are you sure you're okay to drive?”

“Yeah.  A little pain isn't going to totally incapacitate me.”

Jordis knew she was right.  Everything about Maggie screamed Irish, including her stubborn determination and her potential for warrior-like fierceness.  She could tell great stories and laugh, but her larger than life personality subdued even the more thick skinned and ruthless business people.  That's what had gotten her the company's vice presidency.  Even though she was just past 40, Maggie was stunning with her not quite shoulder length red hair and slate blue eyes that could change to gray in certain lighting.  Maggie's intelligence, as far as Jordis was concerned, was just the icing on the cake.

Maggie reached for the radio, but she paused in her movements.“I'm sorry.  Do you mind?  It's the rock n roll oldies station.”

Jordis just shrugged, not caring one way or the other, so Maggie turned it on.  Neither of them felt like talking anymore.  Good bands and singers played in the intervening few miles between the office and Jordis's apartment, but Maggie couldn't concentrate on the music.  Bad thoughts invaded her mind and made her want to completely let go right there, right in the middle of driving the freeway, but she wouldn't let herself.  Don't think!!!!! she screamed at herself mentally.  Instead, she tried focusing her mind on her shoulder, greatly preferring the physical pain to dealing with the emotional trauma.  Linda Ronstadt's cover of “That'll Be The Day” played and Maggie's shoulder throbbed in time with the beat. 

At a stoplight, Maggie sneaked a peek at Jordis.  The young blonde just stared ahead looking sad and lost.  Near the end of the ride, Jordis turned her head away from Maggie.  Maggie heard soft sounds and noticed that the young woman's shoulders shook.  Maggie turned into the parking lot in front of Jordis's door, turned off the car, and just sat there a moment.

“What's wrong besides the obvious?”  She grabbed a few Kleenex from the pocket pack in her purse, touched Jordis's arm, and offered the Kleenex.  Jordis took them and wiped her eyes.

“I-- I don't want to be alone tonight,” she admitted quietly.  It tugged at Maggie's heart.  She couldn't blame Jordis.

“Do you have any friends who could come over?” Maggie asked softly.

“Maybe, but they just wouldn't understand.”  Jordis cried a little harder. 

Maggie patted and rubbed her back absentmindedly as she thought.  She quickly came to a decision.“Go grab some things.  You're coming home with me.  I hope you don't mind couches, though.”

“But that'd be an imposition,” Jordis weakly argued.

“No it wouldn't,” Maggie assured her.  “I just have to run to the store.  Be back for you in 15 minutes?”

Jordis looked back at Maggie with tear-stained eyes.“Thank you.”

“You're welcome,” Maggie whispered sincerely.  “Now go.”

                        *                                              *                                                          *

Just inside the sliding doors of the grocery store, Maggie frowned.  She would've preferred a small shopping basket instead of a cart, but she deferred to her hurting shoulder and got a cart.  As she made her way to the deli area, she paused at the flowers.  A solitary flower petal on the display stand bothered Maggie.  The numbness in her heart made her feel cold and dead inside.  She desperately needed something living reminding her that the clock of her time here on Earth still ran.  She chose a plant with bright purple blossoms and placed it in the cart.  Next, she saw stacks of a bestselling author's newest book on sale at a pretty good discount.  Crime thriller.  She quickly hurried past it and forced herself to dwell on things she should get even if they might not be used that night.  She picked up some milk, bread, and bananas, then she got New England clam chowder, sandwiches, a large salad, cheese, and roasted garlic flavored crackers at the deli.  She got a container of the hottest green chile she could find (her favorite comfort food), peanuts, and popcorn and headed for the most important aisle that night, the chocolate aisle.  She scanned through the chocolate chips until she found the chocolate bars, then chose between the types of chocolates.  She settled on silky smooth dark chocolate that was a mood-enhancing food like the bananas.  Not wanting to keep Jordis waiting too long, she used the self-check out line and was through in little time. 

On the way out, however, she spotted two very shabby-looking men in the parking lot with a scantily-clad drunk woman unsteady on her feet  between them.  Maggie sensed trouble and practically ran her cart to her car.  She had the trunk open before she got there.  She flung her groceries into the car and left the cart where she wouldn't back over it.  As she fumbled to get her keys into the ignition, she saw a flash of reflected orange parking lot light when one of the men pulled a switchblade.  He yanked the woman over to him, held her against him, and yelled, “MINE!  MINE!  MINE!”  The other man backed away. 

No!” Maggie yelled inside her car.  Her body started shaking again, but she finally jammed her key into the ignition and turned it on.  The tires screeched when she backed out quickly, slammed on the brakes, and shifted hard into forward.  She high-tailed it back to Jordis's house and silently gave thanks that no cops pulled her over.    She stopped in front of Jordis's apartment, but instead of getting out of her car, she leaned over until her forehead rested on the steering wheel and cried silently, wanting to cry but maintain some control over it at the same time.  Holding her emotions in check was beginning to take its toll on her.

After a few minutes, Jordis tapped on the driver's side window.  Maggie turned on the car so she could roll it down.  “What's going on?  What happened?”  Maggie couldn't see Jordis's face through the shadows.

I I can't tell you just yet,” Maggie said, her voice half apologetic and close to cracking.  She grabbed some Kleenex and dried her eyes.“Let's just go home, okay?” she practically whispered, her deep voice resonating within Jordis again.  Jordis nodded and put her bag in the backseat before climbing in.

Maggie headed them toward her townhouse, but drove more slowly than she had from the store back to Jordis's place.  She didn't turn on the radio.  She and Jordis didn't speak.  After a bit, Jordis slumped.  Maggie was glad the younger woman could at least rest, even if her face contorted into a troubled appearance.  Maggie doubted she would be able to relax enough to sleep without nighttime pain reliever.  She'd been pretty sure that Jordis would need some, too, with that sprained ankle of hers. 

Come on, sleepyhead,” Maggie gently called.“We're here.”

Unfortunately, Jordis woke up with one huge startled full-body twitch and her heart jumped into her throat.  She yelled when her bad ankle hit something.  She groaned and covered her face with her hands.

Maggie regretted waking her up.  “I'm sorry.  Didn't mean to startle you.”

Jordis's voice was barely audible.  “It wasn't you.  It was a nightmare.”

Sit tight for a moment and I'll be right back.”

Maggie disappeared into her townhouse and came back soon rolling a small dolly with her.  She opened the trunk, loaded the groceries, and by that time, Jordis was out of the car.  She put her bag on top of the groceries and rolled everything into the house for Maggie, wanting to spare Maggie's arm for a few minutes. 

Maggie nodded toward the kitchen counter.  “Just put them there,” she said, referring to the groceries.  When Jordis did as she was asked, Maggie looked her directly in the eyes.  She saw the same look of shock and pain in those gorgeous blue smoky eyes that she was sure was in her own.  “Now, young lady,” Maggie started in a commanding tone that brooked no argument, “go sit.”  She escorted Jordis to a wine-colored couch that was very wide, long, and looked like it'd be a better bed than most couches Jordis had ever seen.  Jordis grabbed her bag, limped over, and sat her bag next to the couch while she plopped down.  Maggie gathered all the fluffy pillows she had in the house except for the one on her bed and piled them up on the couch.  She arranged some on the coffee table.  She knelt and took off one of Jordis's tennis shoes that she'd changed into at home, then removed the one on Jordis's left foot that Jordis hadn't tied. She carefully peeled off Jordis's pink socks, trying not to hurt her too much.  Maggie's nails inadvertently scraped lightly against Jordis's feet, but Maggie was so intent on checking the injured ankle that she hadn't noticed Jordis dropping her head back or the look of pleasure.   A moan dropped from Jordis's lips. 

“I'm sorry,” Maggie replied, automatically assuming she'd hurt Jordis.  Trying to apologize with humor, she added, “It doesn't look that bad, but if you don't ice it down, the slipper's not going to fit tomorrow, Cinderella.”

Maggie noticed that Jordis hadn't laughed.  In fact, her head was back, her eyes closed, and her breathing was shallow.  Maggie frowned.  “I'll be right back.”  Maggie fled to the kitchen.  She brought back a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel. Jordis watched with shadowed blue eyes as Maggie delicately tended to her.

Thank you,” Jordis said as Maggie finished up, putting all the love and gratitude into her voice that she could.  The sincerity touched Maggie so deeply that she leaned over Jordis and gave her a long one-armed hug. 

Do you want a hot bath?  I could prepare the tub for you,” Maggie offered when they finally broke apart.

No thanks.”

Are you hungry?”

Not really.”

Maggie silently admitted to herself that she was not very hungry either.  “We'd better eat a little, though, if we're doing to take some pain medication later.  I have just the thing.” 

She gave Jordis the remote control and excused herself once again.  She heard a sitcom.  She found herself almost smiling at the characters' strange antics.  She re-entered the room with two small plates and a small platter of sliced bananas and dark chocolate squares.  She set those down and returned with two cold glasses of water, which she placed on what Jordis noticed were coasters made of Bieber CDs. Maggie offered a plate and the platter to Jordis who took a few slices of banana with a toothpick and a small square of dark chocolate, then helped herself.  “Not exactly a well-balanced meal, but bananas and dark chocolate are good mood enhancers.”

They ate and watched more of the sitcom.  Jordis had just finished her square of chocolate when the commercials came on.  Their office building flashed onscreen as the anchorman stated, “Workplace shooter not identified.  More details at 10.”  Maggie snatched the remote and quickly shut off the television.  She laid their plates on the coffee table.  Jordis's body stiffened. 

Hey --”

How the fuck could they NOT FIND HIM?!” yelled Jordis, raising her voice with each word until she screamed in rage.

I don't know.  I don't have a damned clue,” Maggie replied softly.  Her insides went cold again.  Her gut knotted and dread of the unknown lurking God-knows-where clutched at her.  Her sudden intense fear made her weep quietly for the second time that day. 

Jordis removed the ice pack and carefully put her foot back down.  She took some Kleenex and dabbed at Maggie's eyes.  “No crying,” she flat out stated.  “If you do, you're not going to be crying alone.”  Maggie believed it from the pain in Jordis's eyes and the raw emotion in her voice.  She composed herself as much as she could for Jordis's sake.

Jordis set the Kleenex on a used plate and turned.  She gazed into Maggie's eyes and leaned into her.  She clung to Maggie while Maggie wrapped her good arm around her.  “I hope you don't mind,” Jordis murmured. 

Not at all.”

Maggie's voice reached that deep rich tone that Jordis found so incredibly sexy.  However, Jordis refrained from moving for the time being, just enjoying the closeness and comfort when her emotions were still so raw.  Finally, though, Jordis's nerves couldn't stand any more strain that day.  She lifted her head and found Maggie's eyes closed, but Maggie wasn't sleeping.  Minding Maggie's hurt shoulder, Jordis pushed back slowly on Maggie until she had Maggie pinned to the sofa's corner.  She sought Maggie's lips and closed in on them, leading to a tender kiss that, although it didn't involve tongues, affected Jordis more than her imagination ever dreamed.  The lips under hers stiffened in surprise for a heartbeat, but then relaxed and conformed to Jordis's wishes.

I'm sorry,” Jordis said, although she wasn't.

I'm not.”  Maggie initiated another kiss, this time exploring and searing.  She enjoyed the taste of chocolate still in Jordis's mouth and took all that Jordis would give and gave Jordis mind-blowing passion in return. 

Jordis finally needed air and broke off their kiss.  She slipped her hand under Maggie's shirt, but Maggie, with obvious regret, retrieved her hand.

I can't take advantage of you like this.  Not tonight.  Not when our emotions are swinging like a crazy pendulum.”

Jordis's face fell.  The rejection in her face hurt Maggie.  “You wouldn't be taking advantage of me,” Jordis insisted.  “I've loved you for a long time,” she confessed. 

Maggie's heart melted and she brought Jordis's hand to her lips for a long kiss on Jordis's pulse point.  “I've cared deeply about you ever since the day we met, but I can't honestly promise you that I love you.  I don't know yet because I never really thought of you in that way until I saw you in the hallway.”  Maggie's eyes misted and her voice took on the deep range again that set Jordis's heart on fire.  “I will admit that the thought of seeing you hurt or killed, well....”

Jordis understood, but would've loved to have heard what Maggie would've said next.  Instead, Maggie took another tack.  “I want to sleep with you tonight.  I don't mean sex.  I mean holding you and resting with you.  I don't think I could sleep alone tonight.”

Jordis nodded and got off Maggie who stood up.  She faced Jordis again and offered her hand in a courtly manner.  “Come,” she ordered in a voice just above a whisper.  She tugged lightly at Jordis's hand and they made it to Maggie's big, soft bed.  Maggie lay down on top of her blue comforter and waited for Jordis to settle against her.  Within a few minutes, they were both out like a light and slept as soundly as two traumatized souls could.

                        *                                                          *                                                          *

Maggie woke to the sound of the dripping faucet in her bathroom that she'd never noticed before.  She swore to herself that she'd get the toolbox out that day and she what she could do to fix it.  Meanwhile, she smiled because she had just woken up next to a beautiful woman who, she admitted to herself, kept any nightmares at bay. 

She got up as quietly as she could and took a quick shower and brushed her teeth.  Her mind raced as she performed both of those tasks.  First in line, her shoulder still hurt.  Secondly, she wondered whether or not she and Jordis should go to work that day and decided against it.  She'd call Mr. Ferguson's family later and plan what to do next.  Finally, she wondered if she had just lost her job.  She didn't have a clue how to start processing everything that'd happened within the last 24 hours.  Her world felt like it was upside down, like someone had superglued it to the ceiling as a prank.  She couldn't even imagine how Jordis felt.

By the time Maggie re-entered the bedroom, Jordis was awake.  She'd retrieved her bag from the other room and had her toothbrush out.  “Do you mind?” she asked, nodding toward the bathroom.

Help yourself to a shower, too, if you want.” She went to the linen closet and got a fresh towel for Jordis.  Then she went to the kitchen and made eggs, toast, and tea for breakfast.

“So what now?” Jordis asked around a mouthful of eggs.

“Wait and see.  The family might decide to close the company.  You have a nest egg set up already, don't you?” Maggie asked with a lot of concern in her voice.  She knew she would personally be okay.

Yeah, and I've made a few investments that have done well.”

                        *                                                          *                                                          *

Over the next two weeks, Jimmy and Mr. Ferguson were laid to rest, the shooter wasn't caught, and Mr. Ferguson's family sold the company.  They gave good bonuses to those who worked most closely with him, including Jordis and Maggie.  For their part, Maggie and Jordis became closer and slept in the same bed every night for the  moral support and to chase the nightmares away. 

One afternoon, though, Maggie made a startling announcement.  “I have to leave.”

Jordis's blue eyes widened in fear.  “For good?”

Probably not.  All I know is I have to go home for a while.  I need to be with my family and get my head together.”

Jordis's heart broke, but she understood.  “Maybe send me a postcard if you get the chance,” she said, leaving it open ended so Maggie  wouldn't feel obligated.

Maggie hated the sadness and pain she brought to Jordis and hoped to at least alleviate some of it.  She gathered up her courage and opened up her heart full throttle.  “I'm going to miss you like hell, darlin'.  Out of the worst of times came the best of times being with you.  I wouldn't trade one look, one touch, one second of it and I'm looking forward to bettering myself so I can give you everything you deserve.”

Thank you,” Jordis whispered.  She was still incredibly sad, but her insecurity about not having Maggie's love lessened quite a bit.  She pulled Maggie in for one last passionate kiss before they parted.

                        *                                                          *                                                          *

Five months later, as Jordis was mentally preparing herself for her night job as a singer in some dive, her doorbell rang.

When a painfully-thin black leather-clad lady  answered the door, Maggie almost thought she'd gotten the wrong place.  Instead of her planned greeting, she said, “Oh God, Jordis!  Are you ill?”

Jordis couldn't speak for a moment.  She'd just about given up on ever seeing Maggie again.  Tears moistened her sparkling blue eyes.  She took Maggie's hand and tugged her inside.  As she closed the door, she pressed Maggie up against it until she seized Maggie's mouth in a kiss that started off softly and built with extreme intensity.  The last things Jordis was conscious of as her kiss deepened were the sound of Maggie's purse hitting the floor and Maggie's arms wrapping around her.

When the kiss broke, Jordis took out her cellphone from her jacket   pocket and made a quick call.  Her eyes stayed on Maggie.  When the person on the other end answered, she said, “Lou, I can't make it tonight.  Something's come up.”  “Lou” must've worried about the emotion he heard in her voice.  “Yeah, I'm okay.  I'll talk to you tomorrow.”  She quickly hit the off button and tossed the phone onto the end table.  It slid off, but she didn't retrieve it.

Am I dreaming or are you really here in front of me?” she asked Maggie with reverent love.

Maggie flashed one of her sexy lopsided grins.  “It's really me, darlin'.  I'm back.  Just got in tonight and couldn't wait to see you.”  Her smile widened.  “I was going to ask you if you still wanted an old lady, but you pretty much removed any doubts I had.” Her smile dropped.  “But you still haven't answered my question.  Are you ill, darlin'?”

Jordis shook her head.“Not exactly.  I've been in a bad downward spiral without you.  I couldn't help it.” She held up her hand to stop Maggie from replying.“I couldn't sleep, eat, could barely leave my apartment.  I slid into a deep depression and drank heavily for a few months until I sought out a counselor.” Jordis's voice choked.“I still can't eat or sleep well.  I still wonder if some maniac is going to shoot at me or my loved ones.  I still get nightmares.  I still can't function.” Jordis started crying and looked at Maggie with some vague pleading in her tearful eyes.“Maggie, I'm a wreck.”

Maggie reached for her and held her because her pain brought up Maggie's feelings of desolation again.“Sounds like the hell I've gone through.”

“How come you don't look like you're falling apart at the seams?”

Jordis's voice tugged at her heart.“Oh, believe me, I was in really bad shape.  Luckily, though, my mom was a psychiatric nurse's assistant and always kept her ear to the ground.  There was this treatment that I guess causes some debate, but it's supposed to be good at treating post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD.  The treatment is called EMDR and seems strange.  However, within the first few sessions, I started feeling better.  Don't get me wrong.   I still have my moments.  I was just lucky to find the right kind of therapist and treatment.  Also, never forget that knowledge is power.  If something's bothering you, research, research, research in books, online, or whatever.  That's what kept me from totally losing hope.”

Jordis's voice cracked again as she admitted, “I can't go on like this much longer.”

“I know,” Maggie said in that quieter, deep tone of hers.  “I'll tell you what.  We'll talk about this more in the morning, okay.  Maybe even come up with a good plan.  If you're absolutely committed to getting past this and are willing to work for it, I'll be your partner in crime.”

“Okay.”  Jordis got up and came back a minute later drying her eyes.  “It's incredible.  I've never been much of a crier until these last few months.”

“Completely understandable,” Maggie assured her.  “Hey, I just about forgot.  I have something for you.  I heard an amazing song a few weeks ago and I had to get it because it kept reminding me of you.” 

She dug a CD  out of her purse.  Jordis nodded her permission to let Maggie use her CD player and Maggie cued up the song.  Jordis dimmed the lights.  Maggie offered her hand for a dance and when Jordis accepted, she pushed play.  A slow, soft, sliding guitar riff played.  Jordis smiled when she recognized a favorite song of hers, Eric Clapton's “Wonderful Tonight”.  She relaxed into Maggie's familiar touch that haunted part of her dreams at night.  Maggie's comfort, strength, and vitality sustained her.

All too soon, though, the song was over.  Jordis looked down into that face she loved so much.  She ran her fingers through the beautiful auburn hair that didn't quite reach shoulder length.“You've always been a good dancer.”

Maggie chuckled and her smoky eyes sparkled mischievously.“Don't forget, my bonnie lass, I have a drop o' the Irish blood in me.” She reached behind Jordis, released the long blonde hair from its ponytail, and framed it in an almost ethereal cloud around Jordis's face.“Ah.  Much better.” She stared for a moment, wondering if the sheer beauty in front of her would kill her on the spot.“I love you, Jordis.”

Those three words brightened the blonde's eyes and the joy and love in her heart responded.“I love you, too.”

“I missed you more than I could ever say.”

Jordis leaned down and crushed her mouth against Maggie's in a soul searing duel of passion.  Finally, Jordis whispered, “I need you.  Please, let me love you tonight.”

Maggie chuckled.“ There's no way I could refuse an offer like that.”

She kicked off her shoes and toed off her socks as she let Jordis lead her into the bedroom.  Jordis stopped in the doorway and kicked her heels off.  She unbuttoned the rest of her black leather jacket to reveal nothing but a black lacy bra underneath it.  In record time, she also had Maggie completely naked and on the bed.  Her gaze took in the whole sexy sight.  Again, Maggie gave her a heart- stopping half grin.  Jordis froze. 

“You're much too overdressed for the occasion,” Maggie joked.  “Foot here,” she ordered, patting her right thigh.  Jordis complied.  She felt immensely rewarded when Maggie ran her hands up and down Jordis's leg in a mini massage before rolling down the fishnet stocking.  When she was done, Maggie let it go and called for the other leg.  It got the same reverent treatment.  The miniskirt and the black lacy panties left in a hurry leaving Jordis only in her leather jacket with the bra beneath. 

Maggie stilled Jordis's hands when she reached for her jacket.“Patience, darlin'.” Then Maggie began her sneak attack.  With Jordis still standing, she wrapped her arms firmly around Jordis and kissed as high up on Jordis's stomach as she could reach.  She lingered teasingly for a while, licking and kissing a bit, then worked her way down.  Just when she had Jordis good and wound tightly, she took Jordis as forcefully but carefully as she could.  She used all her considerable wiry strength to hold Jordis up, but got Jordis safely on the bed when Jordis crashed. 

“That was amazing!” Jordis exclaimed when she could finally breathe. 

Maggie laughed.“Glad you liked it.  I always wanted to do that.”

“Those sneaky Irish,” Jordis joked.  Maggie let out a full belly laugh that stole Jordis's heart. 

Jordis gently laid Maggie back on the pillows and got her where she wanted her.  She shed her jacket and bra and laid carefully between Maggie's legs.  She leaned over her and kissed her redheaded hero over and over in small lip pecks that shot desire through Jordis with each contact and almost got her hotter than the deeper kisses. 

Jordis broke off and gazed deeply into Maggie's eyes. “I don't suppose I'm going to do anything that sneaky.”

Maggie smiled that sexy grin yet again.“Disappointing, but bring it on!” The challenge flared in her eyes and Jordis immediately accepted.

Jordis fit their bodies tightly together and ground into Maggie.  She circled her hips and pressed softly and pounded and took complete control.  She tuned into Maggie's body to figure out what she'd do next and virtually willed herself to melt into Maggie.  After a long, sweet time, she decided it was time to put Maggie out of her misery.  Soon, Maggie's body stiffened, she cried out, and swooned into Jordis's arms. 

When they recovered, Maggie held Jordis.  They slept a while, made  love again, and slept some more until the night had almost blended into morning.  Gray light with a touch of blue invaded a window and reminded Jordis of the amazing eyes of her lover.  Sensing Jordis's wakefulness, Maggie spoke softly into the dark.“What I didn't tell you is why I came back.  Two reasons, actually.  You know the first by now.  I found out how deeply I love you and living without you wasn't cutting it for me.” Jordis nuzzled the scar on Maggie's right shoulder and placed a delicate kiss there in response.  Maggie sighed.“The other reason, well....  I realized I couldn't heal completely without you.  I don't want to sound all clingy and dependent because that's not what I am.  I just know in my gut that we thrive when we're together and fall apart when we're not.”

Jordis finally spoke the truth that had been locked up in her heart.“You're right and I'll be okay now.”

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