Madam President

Madam President

Chapter IX

September 2021

Wednesday, September 1st

Lauren glanced at her watch again and plopped down on her bed, scattering a handful of envelopes. She sighed and started to tear open another letter. Dev was supposed to have called more than an hour and a half ago, and she needed something to do while she waited. So she was going over the last few daysí mail, which was starting to form a messy pile on her desk.

"Címon, Devlyn," she grumbled to herself. "Hurry it up. Iíve got an appointment in an hour." Lauren discarded several pieces of junk mail and began looking over some documents from her publisher. She laughed. Wayne always mixed some personal correspondence in with the business documents he sent. He was Ďold schoolí and insisted that his authors get paper copies of their books as well as contracts. Technology be damned. This meant that Lauren occasionally got an actual letter. In handwriting! Nobody would believe it.

Wayne had never believed that she and Dev were only friends. Even in the very beginning, when it was actually true. But once sheíd admitted to him that they were in fact dating, the man had become relentless, hammering Lauren for juicy details of her relationship and prodding her forward, telling her sheíd been alone far too long. "You were damned right about that, Wayne." The writer looked at her watch again and frowned.

She was about to toss his letter in the waste bin next to her bed, when she felt something hard in the envelope. She peeked inside and found a small disk. "Ooooo, a present! You might have said something, Wayne," she mumbled. "I almost threw it away."

Lauren hopped off the bed and checked her watch one last time. She shrugged. "Might as well kill a few minutes while Iím waiting on Wonder Woman. If she calls at all, that is." She moved to the entertainment center that was hidden inside an antique, cherry cabinet. Opening the door, she slid the shiny circle into her videodisc player, wondering what it could be. Not that she was complaining. Sheíd only seen one movie all year, and that was when Dev had arranged for the special screening in the White House on their first date, over two months ago.

She scrambled back to her bed and nearly tripped over the crate that was filled with a sleeping Gremlin, Princess and their puppies.

A three-dimensional image of a beautiful, middle-aged woman, wearing a white terry cloth bathrobe and sitting on a recliner flared to life, and her dulcet tones filled Laurenís room. "Starlight Publishing presents, the videodisc version of the best selling novel: Lesbian Loving: A Step By Step Guide to Satisfaction."

Laurenís mouth dropped open. "Why is everyone sending me instructions? Do I look totally inept or something?!"

"Iím Angela Pickard. And this is my lovely partner, Francine." She made a Ďcome hitherí motion with her index finger, and a tall, stacked brunette suddenly came into view as she joined her mate.

"Oh, my God, Wayne! You are such a shithead," Lauren laughed, covering her eyes.

"Come with me and Francine on a journey of self-exploration, enlightenment, and sexual satisfaction."

Lauren uncovered her eyes and smirked. "But will you get naked?"

"Chapter One: Getting to know each otherís bodies."

"Oh, my." Gray eyes widened. "We have naked."

* * *

Dev looked at Liza, who tapped her watch. The President had been in such a mood lately that her assistant hated to say anything. Then again, that was her job. "Madam President, youíre incredibly late."

"Arenít I always?" Dev answered moodily as she circled her hotel suite, looking for the phone. She waved Liza off with an impatient hand. "I know. I know. But I just need five minutes. Please? Iím already late. What difference could five minutes make now?"

Liza sighed. "Maíam-"

"Iíll give you the state of Arizona."

Liza smiled. "I donít think you can do that, maíam."

"Okay, I wonít make you take one of the puglies." Dev crossed long arms and waited.

"You just bought yourself five minutes, Madam President."

"Wonderful!" Dev practically dove for the phone, which turned out to be on the night stand by the bed. The President always traveled with her own communications equipment, and her staff knew just where she liked things placed. Unfortunately, some hotel room electrical layouts werenít as accommodating to Devís preferences as others.

Liza snorted softly and left the President to her call.

But before the brunette could give her access codes, David entered her suite without knocking. "Dev-"

"Go away!" She grabbed a throw pillow from the bed and threw it at him with deadly accuracy. "Iím calling my girlfriend." The words sounded strange and thrilling to Devís ears, and she smiled for the first time all day.

David grinned indulgently. Being in love suited Dev. "Liza said you arenít gonna make her take one of those hideous dogs." He threw the pillow back, hitting Dev right in the head, earning a glare as the President used a hand to straighten the shock of hair that was now covering her eyes.

"Go away!" she hissed. "I only have a few minutes, and Iím already nearly two hours late. Although Lauren probably gave up on this call ages ago."

"Awwwww..." David stuck out his lower lip. "Do you want to be alone so you can lie on the bed and coo and Ďahhhí like a love-struck teenager?"

"No," Dev defended. "Iím going to sit up straight and do my best to look irresistible. Michael made sure this place had video link capability before we booked it. I hate being stuck without it."

David rolled his eyes, then took on a more serious expression. "Listen, Dev, I know how much you want to talk to Lauren, but weíre due at the Governorís mansion in fifteen minutes, and itís a thirty-five minute drive."

Dev glared at her friend and began manually entering her security access codes and dialing Laurenís number. She was calling Lauren. She needed to hear her voice. To see her smile. For once, the rest of the world could just wait. "Tell me, David, what is the Governor of Georgia gonna do to me if Iím late? Throw a rotten peach at me?"

David opened his mouth to speak, and Dev held up her hand, forestalling any further comment. "If you donít give me five minutes alone, to speak with Lauren in peace, Iím going to march across this room and snap your scrawny neck."


"David," Dev groaned. "Out! Or youíre getting two of Gremís puppies!"

Davidís eyes went round, and he threw his hands up in defeat. "No need to be cruel. Iíll just call the Governor and let him know weíre running a little behind schedule." He didnít wait for an answer; instead, he hightailed it out of the room just as the sound of the ringing phone in Laurenís room filled the suite.

* * *

Laurenís head jerked up at the sound of the phone. "Jesus," she gasped, surprised by the interruption in her viewing pleasure.

Angela Pickard smiled broadly. "Youíre doing wonderfully. I just know you are," she encouraged in a singsong voice. "And now itís time to move forward. Chapter Four: Multiple Orgasms Ė Making The Dream a Reality."

The writer jumped off the bed and began hunting for the remote control. Not finding it immediately, she headed for her videodisc player. She opened the entertainment center door and pressed the Ďoffí button just as her phone rang for the second time. Nothing happened. She pressed it again. Still nothing. "Shit!" Lauren jammed her finger down hard on the button. She heard a light clicking sound as the button broke off and fell into the machine itself. Lauren blinked at the hole in the front of the machine then began cursing like a sailor called home early from leave. Her eyes frantically searched the machine for a volume control button, but she realized belatedly that the only volume control was on the remote.

Lauren screamed in frustration. The phone rang a third time.

"Iím coming!" Lauren called out uselessly as she tore at the covers of the bed looking for the remote.

Another ring.


"Oh, yes, baby!" Francine threw her head back in ecstasy as the videoís host, Angela, slid her hands up the brunetteís naked body and began messaging ample breasts.

"I meant me. I can hear that youíre coming," Lauren growled. She jammed the Ďoffí button again, grunting with abject frustration when nothing happened, and the phone rang a fifth time. She tried to lift out the disc player to yank the plug, but it was bolted to the cabinet, and she couldnít fit her hand behind it to reach the cord. Not wanting to miss Devís call, Lauren finally began calling out her access codes as she darted to the side of the cabinet and tried to reach behind it for the power cord. With any other phone she could just answer. But not in the White House.

The phone dutifully processed Laurenís numbers and instantly said, in a clear, warm voice, "Video conference requested."

Lauren stretched out to reach the plug, but her fingertips could only graze its edge.

"Yes! Oh, Angela! Yes, give it to me! I want it!" Francine screamed.

Laurenís eyes widened when she heard the words. She pushed away from the cherry wood cabinet and desperately instructed the phone, "No. No video conference. Audio only. No! No! NO!" But it was too late, and Dev began to materialize in front of her.

Lauren whirled around, and her jaw dropped at the vivid, three-dimensional image of the two women, now both naked, kissing deeply, and touching each other intimately. For a moment she just stared, mouth agape, until the phone snapped her out of her haze.

Angela pulled away from her partner and looked directly at Lauren. "I recommend direct stimulation."

"Oh, yes," Francine purred happily.

"Uh, Lauren?"

The blonde spun around at the very familiar voice and found herself looking right into confused, blue eyes. "Hi, Devlyn," she squeaked, giving the President a weak wave.

A well-shaped eyebrow crawled up Devís forehead and stayed there. "I know weíve been taking things slowly-"

"Again! Again! Again!" Francine screamed at the top of her lungs, while Angela calmly described exactly what she was doing to earn such an enthusiastic response from her lover.

Lauren covered her face with her hands. "Sweet Jesus, just take me know," she mumbled into her palms. "Please. Right now. This very second."

Dev continued undaunted. "But, sweetheart, was it really necessary to start without me? Iím hurt," she teased, recognizing the slightly distorted scene before her as a video playing in the background. A very interesting video. Who knew Lauren was so naughty?

"Oh, Angela! Another one?" Francine squealed delightedly at the prospect. "But I canít." A pause. "OhhhhhhÖ I can! I can!"

Devís second eyebrow joined its twin. "Hurt, but impressed. Very impressed."

Lauren opened her fingers and peeked out at Devlyn, who was wearing a bemused grin. She dragged her fingers up into her hair, forming an interesting, Mohawk-like hairstyle. "I canít make it stop, Devlyn!"

"You lost the clicker again, didnít you?" Dev asked knowingly.

"Again, Angela? No, I canít." She was nearly sobbing.

"Francine, love, you can, baby. I know you can."

"Yes!" Francine screamed again. "I can!"

Lauren could only whimper and pray a lightning bolt would miraculously strike her directly in the forehead and put a stop to this wretched, endless torture.

Dev shook her head and chuckled. The color of her friendís face was a sight to behold, the vivid, red tint making Laurenís pale eyebrows appear nearly white. "Did you try the night stand?"

Gray eyes scanned it. "Not there."

"The bed?"

A shake of the head. "Already tried that."

Both women suddenly glanced down when they heard the pitter-patter of tiny, scampering feet. "The puglies!" they shouted in unison. And, sure enough, a remote/chew toy was lying on the floor, under the bed.

Lauren retrieved it with a mumbled prayer of thanks. And, with a quick press of the button, Angela and Francine disappeared.

Dev smirked at her blushing friend. God, sheís pretty. "So, Lauren-"

"Donít ask."


"If you love me, youíll drop it."

Devlyn began to pout. "Pleeeeeeeeease." She batted long eyelashes.

Throwing her hands in the air, Lauren looked up beseechingly and spoke to a cream-colored, plaster ceiling. "What exactly did I do to deserve this?"

Friday, September 3rd

"Grandma! Grandpa!" Ashley screeched. The little girl flung herself at Frank Marlowe, winding her arms and legs around him like a vine that had attached itself to a tall tree. He leaned down and scrubbed his soft beard against Ashleyís cheeks, laughing as she squirmed and giggled with delight

His gaze dropped to Chris and Aaron. "Hi, boys." The white-haired man continued to torment his granddaughter as he spoke to his grandsons. "Weíve missed you. Youíre growing like da-"

A sharp glance from Janet silenced him.

"Like weeds," he finished sheepishly.

"We missed you too!" Aaron chimed in from his position in his grandmotherís embrace.

Christopher nodded his head wildly, agreeing with his brother Aaron as he waited impatiently for an open spot with a grandparent.

Janet Marlowe extended her free arm, and Chris joined his brother.

Letting go of Ashley, Frank looked up and smiled at Lauren, who was standing quietly in the wings, enjoying the family reunion. "Nice to see you again, Lauren," he drawled slowly, his eyes twinkling at the young woman.

"Same here." She turned to Janet. I will not think about the book she sent. I will not! "Did you have a nice flight?" She began nervously tugging at her glasses.

Janet just rolled her eyes. "Well, come here! I talked to Dev on the phone before this horrible bombing mess. You canít pretend youíre not a couple anymore," she announced firmly. She shot Lauren a look when the writer started to protest. "And that means I get a hug."

Lauren laughed and happily joined Christopher and Aaron in giving Janet a good squeeze.

Amy and Emma hovered in the background, and the nanny directed the porters carrying the Marlowesí luggage to take it to the Lincoln bedroom. "Well, now," Frank boomed, once everyone had said hello, "Devilís going to be sorry she missed this, but howís about we get McDonaldís for lunch?"

The children cheered, and Emma laughed and picked up the phone, already knowing what everyoneís orders would be. They were the only household in America that had a hotline to the local McDonaldís.

Janet looked around the room, slowly shaking her head. She still couldnít believe her little girl was President. Sometimes it was truly incomprehensible. She watched fondly as the boys tugged their grandpa by the hand back to their room to show him their latest drawings. Ashley was hot on Frankís heels, exacting his promise to go to her room next and see the Barbie that grandma had sent her, and the new hairdo, much improved, sheíd graced her with.

The room quickly emptied, leaving just Lauren and Janet. The younger woman stood by somewhat awkwardly. Dev wasnít due back to the White House for several more days, and Lauren was dying to use this time to get to know her parents better. Dev loved them, and she knew it would be important to the President that she establish at least some sort of relationship with them. She rocked back and forth on her heels, suddenly a little nervous. She hadnít exactly had raving success with her own parents. "Well, I guess Iíll leave you-"

"Good Lord, get over here and say hello. I donít bite, dear. Despite what Frank might say after a few beers."

Lauren giggled, then made a face when the comment fully registered. Ewww.... "No offense," she mumbled, taking a seat next to Janet on the sofa. "But letís not go there."

"Youíre thinking Ďewwwí, arenít you?" Janet accused. "I can tell." She looked mortified. "Iím not that old!"

"Oh, no," Lauren quickly corrected. Uh oh. "Itís not that." Her head swayed back and forth as she searched for the right words. "Itís just... just... Good grief! Youíre somebodyís mother!"

Janet was dumbfounded. "And mothers arenít sexual beings?" She snorted and eyed Lauren in disbelief. "Maybe I needed to start you off with a more basic book, dear. I didnít think the cabbage patch theory of conception was popular with young people these days."

"Thatís not what I meant, and you know it!" Lauren groaned in embarrassment, but it soon shifted into laughter with Janet joining in. The blonde womanís earlier tension was all but forgotten. It was hard to remain formal or even the slightest bit uncomfortable around Devlynís brash, uninhibited mother.

"Just remember, Dev is three somebodiesí mother." Janet wriggled her eyebrows, and Lauren saw a flash of Devlyn in the gesture. "And Iíll bet you think things about her that make the stuff in chapter eight look tame."

"BuÖ buÖ" Lauren sputtered helplessly. Her eyes widened. "You read The Joy of Lesbian Sex before mailing it to me?!"

Janet waved a dismissive hand in the air. "For research purposes, of course." Then she winked. "Why, if I showed that book to Frank, Iíd never get out of bed. Well, youíve been married, you know. As a matter of fact, one timeÖ"

"Oh, my god," Lauren whimpered and covered her ears with her hands. "This is just wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong."

Janet laughed harder.

Lauren fixed a hard stare on Devís mother. "Now I know where your daughter got her evil streak."

Janet only shrugged. "Frank could have told you that, dear."

Wednesday, September 8th

Devís long strides carried her down the hallway of the White House and towards her family and Lauren. Sheíd been gone for nearly a month, touring the bombing sites and participating in endless community rallies and meetings with community leaders. The tall woman was so glad to be home, she nearly cried when Air Force One landed at Andrews Air Force Base.

Her parents and Ashley met Dev in the hallway, where they all shared a round of hearty hugs, and Devlyn endured her motherís scolding over the fact that sheíd lost some weight. Weight she didnít need to lose. "Iím okay, Mom. I swear. Iíve just been busy." Dev smiled indulgently. "You need to get Dottie to send up Devil cookies more often. I havenít had any since Laurenís birthday."

Devís eyes scanned the hall, and her brow furrowed. "Speaking of Lauren... where is she? And the boys?" She didnít say it, but Dev was disappointed Lauren hadnít greeted her along with her parents and Ashley. Sheíd thought about the writer for days on end and was so anxious to see her it was giving her a slight stomachache.

The small group was silent for a beat, and Devís demeanor instantly turned wary. She stood up straight, and her alert eyes snapped in the direction of Laurenís and the boysí rooms. "Where are they?"

"Now, honey, this is nothing to worry about." Frank put his arm around his daughterís shoulders. "Theyíll be completely fine in a few days."

The blood instantly drained from Devís face.

"Good Lord, Frank! Youíre scaring her to death. And to think youíre a doctor," Janet scolded, fixing her eyes on Devís face. "Theyíve got the chickenpox, honey. Thatís all. The first spots showed up yesterday. Itís nothing serious; thatís why nobody called you."

Dev closed her eyes and willed her heart to stop pounding. "Chickenpox?" she questioned on a ragged exhale. Wait. Chickenpox? That canít be right. "But I thought nobody got-"

"You thought weíd beaten those nasty buggers?" Frank answered. He ran a hand over his beard and scratched his chin. "Not so, Devil. Not this strain anyway. Itís resistant to the standard vaccination. Now, itís not nearly as common as the old classic was, because it doesnít appear to be quite as contagious. It popped up in isolated spots all over the country a few years ago, and now it seems to be visiting the capital." He snorted. "Apparently, some children at the boysí school have it as well."

Dev frowned, still not placated. They began walking towards the residence. "But theyíre okay, right, Dad?" The President held her motherís and daughterís hands as she went, nodding her greeting to several agents whoíd remained behind with her family.

"Absolutely," Frank agreed confidently. "Miserable, but okay."

"Theyíre spotted like freaks!" Ashley added enthusiastically.

Dev raised an eyebrow. "And just how did you avoid this, when your brothers and Lauren-"

"And Emma," Janet added, wincing.

"OooÖ and Emma," Dev amended, "werenít so lucky?"

Ashley shrugged one shoulder. "Grandpa said itís a crap shoot. And they stepped right into a big pile of-"

"Ahem," Frank interrupted. "Iím sure your mama gets the idea." He pretended to be oblivious to the evil glare Dev leveled at him.

They reached the boysí room first, and Dev had laid her hand on the knob when her private physician stepped out of Laurenís room just down the hall. Blue eyes flicked sideways, and Dev jogged across the carpet, catching the man before he could turn the corner.

"Hold up, doctor!"

The doctor straightened and tucked his stethoscope into his coat pocket. "Madam President, welcome back. Howís the shoulder?" He reached out to touch the body part in question, but Dev pulled back annoyed. She didnít want to talk about her damned shoulder.

"How is everyone?"

"They have the chickenpox, Madam President. I just checked on the boys. Theyíre sleeping and seem to be doing well."

"And Lauren?" Dev leaned in a little, awaiting his response.

He shifted uncomfortably, tempted to say Lauren was nearly as big a pain-in-the-ass patient as Dev. But the man wasnít an idiot. "Chickenpox is always a little more difficult on adults than children, Madam President. That seems to be especially true with this new strain. But Iím sure sheíll appreciate that you were concerned. Iíll tell her you came by to check on her."

"No, that wonít be necessary. Iíll be in to see her as soon as I get changed. I only need five minutes."

The doctor looked aghast. "Oh, no, Madam President, you canít go in there." The doctorís tone was authoritative and unyielding. "Sheís still contagious and will be for several more days."

Dev put her hands on her hips. "I really donít care, doctor. I will be going in there." Her hand shot out, and she grabbed him by the wrist, checking the time on his Rolex. "At about 4:35, as a matter of fact."

"That goes contrary to my best medical advice as your chief physician. You simply cannot-"

Blue eyes flashed. "If you try to keep me out," she said, dropping his wrist, "Iíll call in the Marines to clear the path."

The short man gulped audibly, and Dev could see beads of perspiration suddenly begin to dot his bald head. God, she was the most difficult patient heíd ever had! "Itís my duty to inform you that it is not in your best medical interests to be around Ms. Strayer, your sons, or Ms. Drysdale for the next several days." He puffed out his chest and stood his ground. "Iím afraid Iíll have to insist. Iím certain that Mr. McMillian would back up my-"

"You can insist until youíre blue in the face, doctor! And David McMillian is not the President. I am. And I donít intend to be kept from my family when they need me most. My own father, who is an extremely competent and well-respected physician himself, says that getting this strain of the chickenpox is a crap shoot. I think Iíve been through enough crap this year, donít you? My chances of catching it are slim. But if itíll make you feel better, Iíll wear one of those silly, little masks." Dev pointed the mask still hanging around the doctorís neck.

"Well, um, yes." He gave a short nod. "That would greatly reduce your chances of infection." He nodded again, wishing he had thought to suggest that to begin with. "Other than staying completely away from them, which is something I can see you wonít do," he finished in a rush before Dev could begin arguing with him, "the mask would be best, Madam President." He was mollified for the time being, now that the President was at least starting to see reason. "Iíll see that you get one immediately."

"You do that," she said, already heading back towards her room. "Iím going to put on some blue jeans." And then visit three spunky blondes that Iíve been missing with all my heart.

* * *

True to her word, five minutes later Dev had changed out of her suit and was now wearing jeans, sneakers and a short-sleeved denim shirt. Her mother had talked Frank and Ashley into a visit to the rose garden, luring them away from their prospective checkers match with the promise of ice cream later. The older woman had smiled indulgently at her daughter, knowing she needed a few moments alone with Lauren to say hello. Besides, what kind of people stayed indoors when it was such a beautiful day?

The boysí nurse was sitting outside their bedroom door, reading a magazine, when Dev approached. The young woman quickly explained that the doctor had given them each a shot earlier, and that it had not only brought down their slight fevers, but put an end to their itching. The only reason they were napping now was that as soon as the medicine began to take effect, and they started to feel better, they had begun wrestling with each other like there was no tomorrow. They were simply worn out.

Devís doctor had found the nurse only moments before and grumpily given her a paper mask to pass along to the President. She handed Dev the turquoise-colored mask, and chuckled when the President rolled her eyes but dutifully put it on.

Devlyn thanked the nurse and quietly crept into the boysí room. They were snuggled together in Aaronís bed, wearing only their underwear. The bedding was in a pool around their feet, their pillows were on the floor, and they were both drooling. God, she wished Lauren were here with her camera. Dev moved quietly over to the bed and perched on its edge. Ashley was right. They were spotted freaks. But they were her spotted freaks. And that made all the difference.

She softly stroked the top of each fair head before pulling up the sheet and tucking it around them. "Good rest, boys. Weíll catch up at supper."

Dev left instructions with the nurse to let the boys know she was home when they woke up. With butterflies in her belly she made her way to Laurenís room. I should have brought flowers or something. Or candy. She likes chocolate. Damn! Why didnít I bring chocolate? Iím much more charming with the help of chocolate. Dev had almost talked herself into going to get some at this very moment when she found herself standing in front of Laurenís door. A Secret Service agent walked past her with an odd look on his face. But the dark-suited man said nothing.

She frowned, giving him a look as he walked by. "Whatís with him?" Then she realized she was still wearing the surgical mask and must look a little odd. "Oh, well," she mumbled, reaching up and knocking lightly on Laurenís door.

Her knock was greeted by a loud thump as something hit the door.

Lauren yelled out, "I told you to go away! And donít even think of coming near me with that damned harpoon you call a needle! Donít make me sic Grem and his demon litter on you. Theyíre meaner than they look!"

Blue eyes went round. "Oh, boy." Iíll bet sheís been giving the doctor hell. Heh. Good girl. "Laur-" Dev paused and slipped off her mask, stuffing it into her pocket. "Lauren, itís me."


"Yup. Can I come in?" Dev had just begun to turn the handle when Laurenís voice stopped her.


Dark eyebrows lifted. "What do you mean no?" she asked impatiently. "I want to see you!"

"No. Go away!" A pause. The next time Lauren spoke her voice had softened. "Iím not fit to be seen, darliní. And you might catch it."

Dev narrowed her eyes at the door, wishing she had X-ray vision. "I donít give a damn what you look like; I want to come in!" She leaned her forehead against the cool wood. "Donít make me order an air strike."

Lauren chuckled, but sobered quickly. Could this be a trick? "You donít have a needle with you, do you?"

Dev rolled her eyes. "Gee, I knew I was forgetting something. Ever since I got over that pesky crack habit, Iíve been fresh out."

"Very funny. Okay."

Thank God, Dev thought as she began to turn the knob.

"You can come in as long as you donít laugh."

Dev stopped, then bit her lip. I will not laugh. I will not laugh. The President opened the door, took one look at Lauren, and burst out laughing. "Oh, God, Iím sorry."

Laurenís wavy, shoulder-length hair was sticking up wildly in all directions. She was wearing a pair of old, gray sweats and an oversized T-shirt that swallowed up her compact body, making her look like a little girl. Her skin was slightly pale except for the speckling of bright red dots that covered every inch of exposed skin. One hand was roaming her body, scratching as furiously as her fingers would allow. She was wrapped in a sheet and wearing the absolutely most pathetic face Dev had ever seen. Well, when she walked in it was pathetic. Ever since sheíd laughed, Lauren just looked pissed.

"Kill, Gremlin!" Lauren shouted. "Attack! Eat her!"

Gremlin was lying on the floor at the foot of Laurenís bed. To his credit, he did look up at the President in response to his mistressí command. Unfortunately, all he could muster was a weak growl and a big yawn. Fatherhood was even more taxing than the activity that got him in that position to begin with.

Dev took the time to shoot the pooch a disgusted look before smiling sympathetically at her sick friend. "Iím sorry, sweetheart. You just look so adorable, I couldnít help but laugh." The murderous glare in Laurenís eyes let Dev know the writer wasnít buying it, and she sat down on the edge of the tall bed, close to Lauren, but not touching her. "I missed you. I love you," she said softly.

Laurenís gaze immediately softened, and she sighed. "I love you too." She shook her head sadly. "Youíre going to continue to make it impossible for me to stay angry with you, arenít you?"

A satisfied smile worked its way across Devís lips. "Basically." She reached up to smooth back a lock of golden hair only to have Lauren duck out of her way.

"Devlyn! You canít touch me!"

"Wanna bet?"

Lauren blew out an exasperated breath. "I donít want you to get sick."

Dev shrugged one shoulder. "And I canít not touch you. Not anymore."

Laurenís heart melted at the words. She looked up into honest eyes and felt herself fall a little bit more in love with this amazing woman. "Iím so glad youíre home," she whispered.

"Me too."

They stared at each other for a long moment, and Lauren could see something lurking behind Devís eyes. She knew Dev was upset about the people who had been killed when the FBI raided the Brothers of Freedom compound. David had told her that Dev had taken the deaths of the children especially hard, which didnít surprise Lauren in the least. It was a horrible waste. These months of getting to know and love the Marlowe children had driven that point home.

With a morbid streak that surprised even Washington insiders, the Press had relentlessly harped on that aspect of events during Devís tour of the bombing sites. They assigned the blame to Dev and the Attorney General, and the nation followed right along with them. The tall woman appeared to take it all in her stride, patiently answering question after question about every detail of the raid, and every decision she had made concerning it. But even on television, Lauren easily spotted the lines of tension that etched Devís normally open face, and the wariness in her usually unguarded personality. Especially when a reporter would mention Lisa and Brian Lindsay.

"Are you okay?" they both asked simultaneously. They smiled.

"Iím okay, Lauren. It wasnít a fun trip. But it needed to be done. Iím just glad itís over."

Lauren ached to hug her friend, and felt her frustration building over the fact that she couldnít. Then an idea came to her. She scooted down by Gremlin and picked up a small blanket that had been tossed across the foot of her bed. The shorter woman grabbed it and shook it open.

"What? Phft! Phft!" Lauren threw the blanket over Dev, covering her upper body completely and cutting off her words. Before she could say anything else she felt strong arms wrap around her and squeeze her tightly. Dev closed her eyes in pleasure, instantly returning the comforting embrace. "Damn, I needed that."

"So did I."

Dev frowned at the unusual heat she could feel coming from Lauren. "You have a fever," she pointed out flatly.

"A little one. Yes." Lauren shifted in Devís arms as Devís fingers grazed her back. Ooooo... Jesus, that feels good! She moved again, this time pressing her shoulder into Devís and wiggling it.

Dev looked a little alarmed. "Uh, Lauren?"

Lauren threw her head back. "Ooooooo, yeah."

The President sucked in a breath, immediately aroused by Laurenís low groan. When Laurenís movements grew more frantic, Dev finally caught a clue. "Oh, no, you donít! Iím not a scratching post." With firm hands she pushed the smaller woman away.

"Pleeeeeeeease," Lauren begged. "Iím itching everywhere!"

"No." Dev shook her head from under the blanket before pulling it off. "I canít."

"Yes, Devlyn," Lauren said seriously. She pinned the President with stone hard, gray eyes. "You can. For the love of God, scratch my back. I need you to scratch it."

Dev tried not to think about how sexy and cute Lauren looked when she begged. She loved her; she could overlook the bright red dots. "I wonít." And Iíd die before I put one mark on your beautiful skin. Well, normally beautiful.

"Puuuuhleeeeez," Lauren whined pathetically. With a loud moan, she flopped backwards on the bed and began moving around like a fish out of water, trying to get to a spot between her shoulder blades.

"No." Dev rose to her feet. "Get the shot the boys got, and youíll feel better," she explained reasonably.

"Shot? A needle stabbing into my flesh, and a foreign liquid forced into my body?" Lauren made a face. "Are you insane?"

"Most likely. But thatís not the point." Deciding it was safe to be near Lauren, just not on the bed with her, Dev knelt in front of the bed. Shivering in revulsion as she caught a glimpse of one of the puppies that had wandered out from under the bed, Dev scooted closer. "I just want you to feel better, sweetheart."

"I want that too, Devlyn. But you know how I feel about needles."

Dev smiled affectionately. "I know, but it will just be a small one."

Lauren regarded her skeptically. "How small?"

"Tiny. Barely noticeable."

"And it will stop the itching?"

"Or your money back," Dev finished lamely.

Laurenís head swayed back and forth as she considered her options. Three more days of itching until she went insane. Or the shot. This was a really tough call.

"You know," a leer transformed Devís face, "once you start feeling better, Iíd love to scratch an itch of a different kind."

Dead silence.

"Call the doctor."

Sunday, September 12th

"So?" Dev settled down on a bench in the White House sculpture garden. The afternoon was sunny and crisp. A gentle breeze blew across the lawn, bringing with it the scent of wet grass. Dev raised her arm in a familiar manner, inviting Lauren to snuggle into her. The movement still caused a dull pain in her shoulder muscles, but the President considered the closeness of the position well worth the discomfort. "Are you feeling better? Her eyes lighted on a delicate metal windmill sculpture that moved with every gale. "You look great, Lauren. Iíd never even know youíd been sick."

Lauren didnít care that they were outside, and instead of snuggling next to the tall woman, she laid her head in Devís lap, stretching out on what was left of the bench. "I feel soooo much better. The doctor gave me a clean bill of health this morning. No more fever, no more itching. Iím even glad I had that shot," she admitted somewhat sheepishly. "It made the last five days bearable."

Dev gently combed her fingers through Laurenís hair, rolling its heavy strands between her fingertips. "Iím glad youíre feeling better." Dev frowned. "Iíve discovered that I hate it when youíre sick, and thereís nothing I can do about it."

"Nothing you can do about it?" Lauren snorted quietly as she absorbed the warm sunshine and Devís interested gaze with idle pleasure. "Yeah, right. And I suppose everyone has Bethesdaís best doctor making house calls for the chickenpox."

"Well, IÖ" Devís face colored, and she looked off into the distance. "I just wanted you to be okay."

"Youíre sweet." The writer tangled her fingers with Devís free hand. "So," she gave the hand she was holding a little tug and let out a slightly nervous breath. "Now that Iím feeling better, and weíre allowed to talk about the tough stuff, how are you really doing, Devlyn?"

Dev remained very still, then shrugged a little. "Iím okay."

A slender, pale eyebrow arched. "Donít, Devlyn," she said with quiet finality. "After all these months, I know better."

The President looked down and regarded Lauren seriously. She was met with a direct gaze. "You do, donít you?"

"Yes." A tiny smile curled red lips. And she gave Dev a playful poke, drawing her out. "So tell me. How are you doing?"

Dev sighed so deeply it was nearly a groan. "How am I supposed to be doing?" she bit out harshly. "I got innocent women and children killed. I hurt like hell."

Lauren chose her words carefully. "You didnít get anyone killed."

"I did!" Dev insisted. "I sent in the FBI. I gave the order." She swallowed hard. "I knew they were in there. I knew those bastards had women and children in there. And, God help me, I did it anyway. Two babies died that morning. The little boy, Brian, was caught in the crossfire and shot in the chest. The little girl, Lisa, died from smoke inhalation when the west wing of the compound caught fire."

Devís chin began to quiver, and Lauren felt her heart break. Lauren sat up and looked at Dev, meeting watery blue eyes with her own. The younger woman gently cupped Devís cheeks with both hands, dropping a soft kiss on her lips, before slowly gently pulling back, waiting patiently for her to continue.

Dev swallowed again, nearly undone by Laurenís tenderness. "They found the girl curled up under her bed with her dolls and her backpack." Dev laughed without a trace of humor. "Apparently, she was hiding from the big bad government invasion."

"Jesus." Lauren closed her eyes and squeezed Devís hand. The exact cause of death for individual militia members and their families hadnít been released to the Press yet because of the ongoing investigation.

"They were nearly the same ages as-" Dev stopped, the churning in her guts threatening to send up her last meal.

"That wasnít your fault, darliní," Lauren whispered. "Stop blaming yourself. Youíre not eating." Her fingers grazed dark circles that had become a nearly permanent fixture under Devís eyes over the past few weeks. "Youíre not sleeping."


"No!" Lauren lowered her voice. "No. Those people had to be stopped. We both know that. You did what you had to so that could happen. That doesnít make you responsible for the childrenís deaths. Their parents became responsible when they put them in harmís way. Not you."

Dev nodded miserably. "David has been saying the same thing. But I just feel so damned responsible for it all. And I should. That comes with the job." She exhaled wearily. "In my heart of hearts, I know there are horrible things happening everyday that I canít control, no matter how much I want to. But this... how do you live with this?" Her eyes pleaded with Lauren for an answer, but the biographer held her tongue, letting Dev finish. "I hurt for everyone who died that day. On both sides. But to have the names of those two innocent children weighing on my heart, knowing that if I personally hadnít said ĎGo in thereí, theyíd still be aliveÖ" Dev looked away. "Thatís hard to deal with."

"I know," Lauren muttered quietly, gently guiding Devís face back around with the palm of one hand. She softly stroked a prominent cheekbone with her thumb and tilted her head slightly to the side as she spoke, sending soft, pale hair tumbling over one shoulder. "Iím so sorry that youíre hurting. But youíre a caring woman, Devlyn. I wouldnít expect anything less from you." Lauren smiled softly. "But you made the best choice under the worst of circumstances. You told me so yourself. Donít second-guess that now. You did the right thing." She held out her arms. "You look like you could use a hug."

Dev smiled, slipping into Laurenís outstretched arms. "From you? Always. Never doubt that." Dev felt much of the tension of the past weeks melt away under Laurenís comforting touch. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to be held. "Youíve got the touch." She murmured, sinking deeper into the embrace. Soothing my soul. "I love you."

Lauren pressed her cheek against Devís, feeling its softness and warmth. She squeezed her tightly, praying to convey even a fraction of the love and concern she felt for her. "Any time, Devlyn. I love you too."

Dev rested there for a long moment, listening to the birds, finding a surprising amount of solace and peace. She blew out a long, slow breath and did her best to just let the worries and guilt go. It would take more time, to be sure. But she had that. And she wouldnít be alone.

When Dev finally pulled back she was ready for a change of subject. "Now I want you to tell me something." She lifted a dark, playful brow, indicating that the deep thinking part of the conversation was over.

"Whatever it is, I didnít do it." Lauren grinned charmingly, irrationally pleased that she could help to lighten Devís load.

Dev chuckled. "Oh, Iím sure you didnít. Youíre totally innocent, right?"

"Oh, yes," Lauren dutifully replied, batting golden lashes.

Dev nodded. "I see. So, tell me, sweetheart, what kind of videos are you watching while Iím away?" Okay, I pretty much know what kind. But itís still fun to watch you squirm. Blue eyes twinkled. "Even more importantly, what kind of books is my mother sending you?"

Laurenís face immediately turned bright red. That was the last question she expected, and her mind reeled for a moment as she searched for a good answer. "Why?" she squeaked. Oh, yeah, Iím brilliant with words. She mentally rolled her eyes.

"Because just before my parents left, my mom said she sent you a book that would help you identify all the parts, despite your good head start." She grinned and bumped shoulders with the shorter woman. "Did she give you a book on the care and feeding of your very own lesbian or something?"

Lauren burst out laughing, feeling a little dizzy from her blush. "Umm... something like that." She wriggled her eyebrows. "Itís got pictures."

Devís own grin widened. She had missed this with Lauren, and needed it just as much as she had needed the talk. She loved teasing her friend. She gave her another slight nudge. "What kind of pictures?"

"Wouldnít you like to know?" And now that Iím feeling better, I think it would be a very good time to show you.

Friday, September 17th

It had been another magical evening for Lauren. In her wildest dreams she had never imagined herself in this place, either emotionally or physically. Part of the magic was undoubtedly the setting, the White House itself, whose walls held unimaginable secrets and whose rooms were as interesting and unique as they were beautiful. Even after nine months of living there, Lauren found herself utterly fascinated. Then there was her dinner partner, the most powerful person on earth. Not too shabby there either. But the biggest factor was Dev herself Ė not her influence or position, but the woman underneath, whom Lauren had come to adore.

"I canít believe I just had dinner with the King of England." She laughed a little, taking Devís hand as they strolled through the garden.

The President pulled away in mock annoyance. "Is there no woman in my life impressed with the fact that I am President of the United States?"

"Yes." Lauren rolled her eyes and laughed. Only you could pull off that ego, darliní. "I was horribly impressed with you the first time I laid eyes on you." Then she paused and started to laugh. "No, thatís not quite true. When I first saw you in person I nearly dropped dead on the spot. But obviously Iíd seen you on television a gazillion times before that."

"A gazillion?"

Lauren nodded. "At least."

"Wow. My PR people rock." Dev made a motion for Lauren to continue as they passed in and out of the shadows created by the softly glowing lamps that lined the garden path and a full moon.

"I wasnít really impressed with you until I took the time to go beyond the sound bites that saturated network television. But once I did... wow!" Lauren quirked a playful grin. "Or maybe the fact that I was stoned out of my mind at the time."

Dev nearly stumbled. "Excuse me?"

The blonde woman scrunched up her face and smiled brightly, crinkling her nose and the corners of her eyes. "Itís not what you think," she laughed.

Dev accepted Laurenís answer easily, but not before offering a tiny snort. She kicked a stone from her path. "So is that why you didnít vote for me? Because I was over-exposed?"

Lauren stopped dead in her tracks, tugging Dev to a halt with her. "How do you know I didnít vote for you?" Her hands automatically went to her hips, and she shot Dev a meaningful look.

Dev scratched her cheek and smiled ruefully. "Oh, that." She winced inwardly. Me and my big mouth.

"Yes, that," Lauren demanded.

"Well, umm... Michael Oaks was a little overzealous in the materials he requested for your background check." Devís eyes conveyed regret and a good dose of embarrassment. "That information is private. I swear it. But that doesnít mean, if you ask the right people, itís not easy to find out. Iím sorry."


"Are you mad at me?" Dev braced herself.


"Really mad?" Dev tilted her head to the side and peered into eyes that looked nearly translucent in the muted light.

Lauren dropped her hands from her hips. "I should be." She tugged on the stems of her glasses, bringing the glasses a little higher on her nose, and sighed. "But Iím not, I guess."

Dev smiled. "Thank you." But the smile slid away quickly. "Why didnít you vote for me?!"

"Oh, God." Lauren rolled her eyes as the women resumed their walk.

"What?" Dev waved a frustrated hand in the air. "I want to know."

She laughed. "I know you do."

Dev growled in mock frustration. "Why are you torturing me?!"

"Because itís fun."

"Well, there is always that."

A long arm wrapped around Laurenís waist as they slowly walked, the easy rhythm of their strides matching perfectly.

So, this is what being in love is like, Lauren thought with equal parts awe and gratitude. God, was I stupid before. If Iíd only known... Now she understood what Dev had been talking about. Making sure that it was realÖ that it was right. She glanced sideways, admiring the way the moonlight washed over Devís hair, bathing her in a rich, white aura. And at that very moment, Lauren realized that nothing in her whole life had ever felt so completely right.

She had, in her own way, loved Judd, but there had always been something missing. A connection that was absent from their marriage. Lauren never felt as if part of herself was missing when they were apart. Even in the best times she had never longed for his touch or laugh or smile. Never bled when he was cut. With Dev it was so different. If, for some reason, they couldnít talk, which they did most evenings when Dev was finally finished for the day, Lauren would lie awake in her bed and listen for the Presidentís distinctive footsteps and the sound of the door opening just down the hall.

No matter what she was doing, or whom she was talking to, she always found her eyes or thoughts straying to Devlyn. And when miles separated them, she felt truly alone.

They walked silently. But it was a comfortable silence. A gentle peace stole over Lauren.

Dev stopped and turned to face the shorter woman, pulling her into a tight embrace. "Iím so very much in love with you, Lauren. You have no idea-"

"No." Lauren shook her head emphatically. "Youíre wrong. I do. For the first time in my life I honestly do understand. More than that, I finally understand what you were trying to say to me in your room that night. About having it all." She reached up and cupped Devís cheek, peering into eyes that shone silver in the moonlight.

"I think we do." Dev slowly leaned in and gently kissed the writer. Their lips separated, but only a hairsbreadth, and Devlyn whispered, "Itís been worth it, hasnít it?" Believe it like I do, Lauren. With your whole heart.

"Oh, yeah," Lauren sighed, immediately feeling the loss when Dev pulled back far enough so that she could look her in the eye and gage her reaction. Something suddenly clicked in Laurenís mind, and she thought of the fresh roses that had been placed in her room every morning since her very first day at the White House. She smiled, utterly charmed. "Youíve been courting me from the very beginning, havenít you, Devlyn Marlowe?"

Dev felt a heat flood her cheeks. But the blush went unnoticed in the dim light. The tall woman leaned in until Lauren could feel the heat of her body and whispered in her ear. "Thatís the point of courting, Lauren. You fall in love so slowly that it becomes a part of you without your knowing it." She brushed her lips against Laurenís ear, feeling the tremor left in the wake of her tender touch. "You do realize that at this very moment the marksmen on the roof are probably watching us," Devlyn teased a bit. "Didnít your little sex video tell you that this is a big turn on for most males of the species?"

Lauren groaned. "The video pretty much ignored men altogether, which was sort of the point, smarty pants. And youíre never going to let me live that down, are you?"

"Youíre not the one who had to explain to her Chief of Staff why there were erotic sounds coming from her bedroom when I called you. He thought we were having phone sex, for Godís sake!"

The breeze blew a lock of Laurenís hair into her eyes, and she reached up, absently tucking it behind her ear. "Iím so sorry. That was a bit of a surprise for me too. A joke from Wayne, I think. Or maybe it wasnít a joke. Iím not exactly sure." She leaned into Dev as they began heading back towards the White House. A gust of wind caused her to shiver and shift closer still to her warm-blooded companion.

"Cold, sweetheart?"

"Mmm hmm. A little."

"Then I know of a certain fireplace and two cups of cocoa that have our names on them."


Dev kissed the top of Laurenís head. "As many as youíd like."

* * *

Lauren wiggled her toes in front of the fire, grinning from behind her mug as Dev pulled on fleece slippers. "Wimp," she muttered, getting a lovely view of Devís tongue as a reply. "This is truly heaven. Take those off and let the fire do the work."

"Nuh uh," Dev grunted, picking up her own mug and joining Lauren on the floor. "Hate being barefoot. Have since I was a kid."

"Any particular reason why?" Lauren leaned back, staring into the glowing embers as the wood let off an occasional pop or hiss.

Dev thought about that for a moment, rolling a swallow of hot chocolate around in her mouth. "None that Iím aware of. But maybe I had a traumatic, barefoot incident when I was little."

"Maybe subconsciously youíre afraid youíll have to make a mad dash through the woods naked," Lauren taunted. If Dev could find every excuse to bring up the video, the least she could do was to return the favor.

"I admit it wouldnít be on the top of my list. I had scratches in delicate places that itched for weeks."

Lauren snorted, having to clamp her hand down over her mouth to keep from losing her cocoa. "No comment." Ooooo, wait. Wasnít there talk of scratching a particular itch when I was sick? God, I itch!

Dev reached over and pushed a lock of blonde hair behind Laurenís ear. "Thatís my line."

Lauren looked confused. "God, I itch?"


Lauren shook her head, suddenly realizing what Dev meant. "Never mind."

"Are you okay?" Dev questioned softly. "You seem a little distracted." When Lauren nodded in an uncharacteristically shy fashion and smiled at her, Devís face instantly mirrored the gesture. She was glad to know she wasnít the only one who could be thrown off track by the simplest of looks or touches or phrases. She drew her fingers lightly up Laurenís neck and threaded them into silky, pale hair. The touch was soft and intimate, and meant to garner the writerís complete attention.

It did.

Lauren found herself holding her breath without knowing why.

Dev set down her mug, then deftly relieved Lauren of hers, though neither womanís eyes strayed from the otherís. The President lifted her other hand to Laurenís face, tracing a pink cheek with her thumb and silently drawing Lauren closer. She didnít stop until their faces were almost touching.

"I think you should know, Madam President, if you donít kiss me, Iím going to die." Laurenís voice was an octave below normal, and it resonated all the way to Devís bones.

"Me too," Dev breathed.

Their lips met, slowly, gently, brushing together in an explosion of sensation that caused both women to moan and shiver. Nothing was ever rushed or hurried with Devlyn. And Lauren wasnít sure if she should be singing her praises or cursing her name. But whichever it was, it would have to come later. Right now her body was otherwise engaged. She was set on a sweet, low burn when the kiss deepened, and warm, wet tongues began gently tasting and exploring.

Dev was nearly done in by the soft moans that escaped Lauren as their lips eagerly brushed together again and again. In the garden, in the moonlight, bewitched by a pair of shining gray eyes, Dev had already decided that tonight she wouldnít stop unless Lauren asked her to. The writerís gentle touch, and the heady smell of her skin and hair, only served to strengthen Devís resolve. She was nervous as hell, but her body shared none of her mindís trepidation and was responding in hot flashes to Laurenís touch and taste and the heat of the moment.

"Oh, God," Lauren gasped softly when they parted for much needed air.

Dev groaned, and her eyes fluttered open with exaggerated slowness. "That was, umÖ"


"Oh, yeah," the President agreed quickly. "But your kisses always are." She wiggled her brows a little, trying not to look as aroused as she felt.

"Can we-" Lauren paused and wet her lips. "Can we do that again?" she asked quietly, giving Dev an adorable grin that she knew the older woman found totally irresistible.

Dev nodded nervously. "Actually, why donít we move someplace where we can be more comfortable?"

The blonde woman glanced down, flushing a little at the suggestion. She was pretty damned comfortable right where she was. "Like?"

"The couch?"

Considering the couch was all of six inches away, Lauren had no reason to object. "The couch could be good." She sucked in a slightly ragged breath and slid up to perch on its edge. Lauren glanced down at Dev, who was rising to her knees.

Dev placed warm hands on Laurenís thighs, and the smaller woman adjusted her legs so that Dev could kneel between them. This was different. Mixed in with the desire sheíd seen so often in her friendís eyes, was a good dose of fear. Lauren could think of only one reason that Dev would be afraid right now, as opposed to all the other times theyíd kissed in front of fireÖ after a wonderful evening together, sitting so close together they could feel the heat of each otherís skin through their clothes. Oh, God. Lauren suddenly became very aware of her own heartbeat and the sensitivity of her skin.

Devlyn swallowed hard and reached out to take Laurenís hands. "Iím very nervous, just so you know. Iím not trying toÖ I mean," she stopped again and frowned, clearly unable to articulate exactly what she wanted to say. "Iím justÖ Iím-"

Lauren pressed two fingertips against Devís lips, feeling their incredible softness. "I understand." She removed her fingers and replaced them with her lips, giving Dev a gentle, almost chaste kiss. "Donít worry," she whispered against Devís mouth. "Nervous goes both ways."

Blue eyes widened a little. "It does? You donít seem-"

"I am."

Dev licked her lips. "Okay. Just didnít want you to think that I wasnít. Because I so very am," she admitted.

Lauren shrugged a little. "But weíll be that way together, right?" She searched Devís eyes for her own reassurance and was instantly rewarded by a stupid, lovesick, lopsided grin that threatened to melt her into a puddle right on the spot.

The President took a deep breath and let her hands slowly slide up Laurenís thighs, then hips. Her palms found their way under Laurenís sweatshirt, stopping the moment she felt the hot, bare skin of her belly.

Lauren sucked in a quick breath, and her body jerked in response.

Dev almost pulled away, but small hands covered hers, holding them firmly in place. She flicked a questioning gaze at Laurenís face and was held there by intense, dilated eyes.

Lauren leaned in, enjoying the feeling of Devís hands on her naked skin. They felt as good as sheíd imagined they would Ė warm, soft and strong.

Dev moved closer and dropped her mouth to Laurenís slender neck, nuzzling the hot, slightly damp skin, and tasting its saltiness with gentle lips and tongue. Her hands traveled slowly up around the younger womanís torso, to her back, where she began a gentle massaging.

"Oh, thatís niceÖ" Lauren moaned as she wrapped her arms loosely around Dev. "Very nice." Of its own volition, her head rolled to the side.

Devlyn responded without hesitation, moving up Laurenís throat to the slight hollow behind her ear, nipping softly as she went.

Lauren gasped when Dev hit a particularly sensitive spot.

For Dev, it was an experience she was sure would kill her before the evening was over. But what a way to go. Lauren felt so good, and it felt so right to be touching her, that she couldnít even fathom stopping. Not now. "Iím thinking," Dev whispered as she took Laurenís earlobe into her mouth and sucked gently, "I dunnoÖ bed?"

"Yes," Lauren breathed. She was pretty sure if this torture didnít end soon, sheíd find herself on the other end of a federal prosecution for hurting the President of the United States.

They stood on slightly wobbly legs and walked slowly towards the large four-poster bed along the back wall. At the foot of the bed, Dev stopped. She cupped Laurenís chin with her palm and gently tilted her head upward so she could look deeply into her eyes. Despite the butterflies in her belly, Dev smiled and spoke with a quiet certainty. "If you want to stop, you just say the word."

Lauren gave a quick nod, frantically trying to remember how to form a coherent, verbal response. She finally settled on, "Okay." Like thatís gonna happen! her mind snorted incredulously. Nothing short of a nuclear attack on the United States was going to stop what was happening in this bedroom tonight. She drew in a deep, but ragged, breath when she felt her sweatshirt being tugged up her body. Yes. Too many clothes. The idea was more than welcome, and Lauren lifted her arms over her head to assist in its removal. Her jeans and panties were next. And when Dev trailed her fingers down her thighs, as she swept the material off her body, Lauren felt as though she might faint. Thin, satin bra straps were lowered one at a time, and kisses left in their place. Lauren closed her eyes and moaned softly.

Devlyn took in the sight before her and licked very dry lips as Laurenís bra fell from her boneless fingers. "Beautiful," she whispered reverently. "Absolutely beautiful." She slowly reached out and allowed her fingers to make contact with smooth skin that glowed slightly in the faint light of the room.

The way Dev was looking at Lauren sent a flood of blood to her belly and a rush of heat between her legs. She felt as though she were being worshipped by those incredible blue eyes and wasnít nearly as nervous about her nakedness as she thought she would be. Any remaining uneasiness was fading fast as her body reacted to Dev. Lauren took in the rapid rise and fall of the taller womanís chest, and the flare of her nostrils, as she stood open before her, exposed and inviting.í

Devís breath caught as her hands slowly slid over more soft skin. She leaned in and placed a tender kiss on Laurenís cheek. "I love you."

Lauren turned her head and captured Devís lips in a sweet kiss. She laid her hands on Devís hips and gave a gentle tug, bringing their bodies together all along their lengths. When their lips separated, she pulled back a little and smiled. "I love you too, Devlyn. Very much," she said softly. "With all my heart." Her gaze quickly dropped back to the full lips she already wanted to taste again. Lauren threaded her fingers through long, dark hair, and she went back for more, offering herself to Dev in every way she could convey with a heartfelt, passionate kiss. She was rewarded with a deep moan and a rush of breath as the kiss turned hungry, and she gave herself up to the passion of the moment.

A hot path was cut across flesh now slightly damp from anticipation and desire. Devís fingernails caused a tingling sensation up and down Laurenís back as the President grazed her skin. A tremor tore through Lauren as a rush of desire hit her so hard she felt her knees go weak.

The writerís hands soon found themselves working their way under Devís shirt, pushing it up as they sought silky skin. Dev ducked as Lauren pulled the material over her shoulders, then her head. She felt her shirt slide down her back as Lauren simply dropped it the second it cleared dark tresses.

Laurenís gaze burned a path from Devís face to her chest. She grinned broadly, fully appreciating Devís braless condition. "Definitely a nipple." Lauren chuckled as Dev lowered her arms.

A dark, elegant brow lifted. "Mom was right. You do recognize the important parts."

"Umm, Dev?" Lauren questioned, never taking her eyes off Devís breasts. She licked her lips and swallowed.

"Yes, sweetheart?"

"Weíre about to make love, right?"

"God, I hope so," Dev breathed. "Iíd hate to have to go swimming in the Potomac."

"Then leave your mother out of this."

"Deal." Dev laughed, but it quieted quickly when she felt Laurenís fingers begin to work the buttons of her jeans.

The smaller woman instantly dropped to her knees and began sliding off Devís jeans and panties at the same time. Where Devís fingers had trailed down her thighs, Lauren used her lips to tenderly pay homage to every inch of newly exposed skin. She worked her way down one leg, then back up the other, as she slipped off her fleece slippers then pants and panties. By the time she reached Devís hip, both women were visibly shaking. She placed one last kiss on Devís hipbone before rising to her feet.

It felt as though fire was rushing through Devlynís veins, and her furiously pounding heart was threatening to escape the confines of her chest. She wrapped her arms around Lauren and slowly began leaning her back towards the bed. Both women moaned loudly at the first exquisite feeling of skin on skin as their bodies met again. Dev prayed nothing would interrupt them. She was sure if they had to stop now, she would simply die. "Oh, GodÖ" she groaned as Lauren came to rest on top of her, and soft breasts pressed into hers. Their legs tangled together, igniting a new fire in her soul.

For Dev it was an expression of absolute love, trust, and devotion to the woman now in her arms and bed. To touch her like this, to finally add a physical dimension to the deep love they shared, sent her spirit soaring and set her body aflame.

Dev savored Laurenís tentative touches, which were growing bolder by the second. This was where she wanted to be. Always. She didnít give her heart easily, but once she did, she held nothing back. Anything she had, anything she was, was Laurenís for the taking. I want her for the rest of my life. For an instant, the thought surprised her, then she felt Laurenís breath caress her neck as she left a gentle trail of kisses on her neck and shoulders. "LaurenÖ"

The younger woman smiled when she heard Dev say her name. She had never heard it said with such passion and urgency before, and her own body responded with enthusiasm. God, itís never been like this before. So good. So right, her mind thrilled. There was no denying her reaction to the combination of soft skin, toned muscle, and womanly curves beneath her. And she admitted to herself that she should have given into some of her curiosities years ago. But when Dev whispered her name in her ear, and sure hands drifted from the small of her back to her bottom, pulling them closer together, she knew it was more than gender. It wasnít just a woman making her feel this way. It was Dev. And that made all the difference. There was no way on the planet that Casey would have evoked these sensations or emotions. It was the person. And she was hopelessly in love with the person.

Remembering that she was the one who had done this before, Dev rolled them over and slowly began kissing her way down Laurenís body, the blonde womanís soft whimpers and moans urging her on.

Every muscle in Laurenís body went rigid with pleasure, and she heard herself moan just as her very sensitive nipple was enveloped by a hot, wet mouth. Her hands found purchase in Devís hair, and she gasped, pulling Dev tightly to her breast, desperate to be closer still "God, yesÖ" she encouraged, shifting her body and making more room for her lover to take her places theyíd never been together.

Dev hummed her approval into Laurenís breast, her own body pulsing in time with the gentle ministrations of her lips and tongue. She knew it wouldnít take much before she would simply explode from the pleasure she was giving and receiving.

They crested together as a couple, and again as individuals. And when their bodies finally came to rest, the room was filled with soft whimpers and labored breaths. They cuddled together, pulling the sheet up over their damp bodies.

Lauren snuggled close to Dev and hummed quietly, waiting for her to say something. She kissed the hollow of Devís throat, feeling her loverís ribs expand against her as Dev drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly, ruffling Laurenís hair.

Dev kissed the writer on the forehead. "I love you, and Iím keeping you, Mighty Mouse."

Lauren laughed and poked Dev in the side, drawing a muffled squawk. "I love you too. And you certainly gave a new meaning to Wonder Woman."

Now it was Devís turn to laugh. "And here I was afraid Iíd lost my touch."

"Oh, no, darliní, your touch is just fine." Lauren closed her eyes, feeling the irresistible tug of sleep. "Trust me, itís juuuust fine."

Saturday, September 18th

Dev woke automatically at 4:30 A.M., only this time the warm body curled up next to her gave her a very good reason not to get up. She rolled over and wrapped her arm snugly around Laurenís waist, spooning their bodies together. Without waking, the writer laid her hand on Devís arm. Dev sighed happily. Yup. I am staying right here. Not moving a muscle. Besides, itís Sunday, and Lauren would kick my butt if I got up this early.

A few more moments ticked by, and Dev gave into temptation. She grinned and swept back Laurenís hair, placing several soft kisses at the nape of her neck. Dev was greeted with a long, steady growl she was pretty sure wasnít Gremlin. "Morniní, sweetheart."

"Sleep." Lauren captured her hand. "Dark. Nighttime. Sleep."

Dev chuckled. "Youíre cute when youíre monosyllabic."

"Nighttime has two syllables, you damned Yankee. Go back to sleep," Lauren mumbled. She rolled over and tried snuggling in that way, burrowing into warm arms.

"Yes, maíam. Anything you say." Dev kissed Laurenís forehead.

"But when you do drag your backside out of bed," Lauren teased, reaching out a fraction of an inch to kiss just blow Devís collarbone. "Iíll have two poached eggs, toast, coffee with cream, two sugars, and a glass of milk."

Devís eyebrows jumped. "Oh, you will, huh? What? You think this is a fancy hotel or something?" The President couldnít wipe the stupid grin off her face. Hell, she couldnít muster the willpower to even try. She had wondered many times what a Ďmorning afterí would be like with Lauren, and she was delighted to find it was pretty much what she had expected.

Lauren groaned, more awake than she wanted to be. "Well, last night you were trying to impress me. Taking me out, buying me root beer floats." She sighed and let her fingernail graze over a nipple that was too close to ignore. Dev jumped a little and squealed in surprise, causing Lauren to laugh. Immediately contrite, she covered the spot of her attack with the warm palm of her hand. "I just kinda figured Iíd get breakfast too."

"Would you like me to cook it for you?" Dev grabbed Laurenís evil hand and brought it to her lips, kissing it soundly.

"Oh, thatíd be wonderful," Lauren uttered softly as she buried her face between Devís shoulder and the pillow.

"Okay, then I will." Dev struggled and broke free of the laughing womanís grasp.

"Where are you going?"

Dev stalked across the room, naked as the day she was born.

Lauren pulled Devís pillow to her face and nuzzled it as the tall woman slipped into a robe.

"Iím going to the kitchen to make you breakfast."

"You are not!" Lauren shot up a little too quickly and had to give herself a second to stop seeing stars.

"Yes, I am." Dev wiggled her feet into her slippers.

"The President of the United States is not going to the kitchen to make me breakfast."

Dev leaned over and kissed her nose. "Youíre right, the Presidentís not, but Dev Marlowe is."

"Do you even know where the kitchen is?" Lauren moved towards Dev and tugged on the belt of her bathrobe.

"No, but Iím sure someone around here can direct me." Devlyn put her hands on Laurenís shoulders and pushed gently, guiding her back to bed. "You just stay right here. Iím going to go fix you breakfast."

"God, I love you." Lauren snuggled back down into the covers and rolled one eyeball in Devís direction.

"Youíre not so bad yourself." The President winked.

"When you get lost trying to find the kitchen, Iíll send Gremlin to find you." She heard Dev make several mumbled, derogatory comments about her dog as she walked across the room. "But not for a few hours," Lauren added softly just the bedroom door, and her eyes firmly closed.

Chapter 10

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