The One

by Alex Tryst

copyright December 2001

Disclaimers: These characters are my own. This story does involve sex scenes between two consenting adult women. If this offends you or it illegal where you live, find somewhere else to play. If you want to drop me a line about the story, please e-mail me at Harsh comments will be immediately deleted, but constructive criticism is always welcome.

Dedication: To my wife, you are my fondest wish.

Now on with the show.......


Ashton flicked her cigarette against the pavement as she sighed in dejection. The day was not turning out as she had planned. Raking a hand through her dark locks, she checked her watch again. Knowing that she truly was on her own now, she took one last look behind her at the two story Victorian. She had spent the last twenty three years of her life living in a sham out of respect for her mother, but it was over now. Even though she should've felt the freedom of being released from her lies, she still felt as empty her childhood home.

A month ago she had gotten the call that had changed her life forever. Her mother was ailing. Immediately Ashton came to her bedside, but as she had laid eyes on her mother the first time after her extended absence, she knew it was the end. Her mother had always been her confidant, the only one to ever know her for who she truly was and what her dreams entailed. The end had come quickly, taking her beloved mother during the night at the hospital, finally having succumbed to her battle with lung cancer.

Not long after the relatives appeared trying to help Ashton through the difficult process of trying to figure out what to do with her mother's estate. Being that she was the sole inheritent, she was left some money, her childhood home, and her deceased father's old Chevy Impala. It had taken time to sort through all the belongings in the home, but after successfully ridding her house of her overbearing family, she called her old best friend from high school, Karla.

Karla had remained a local after their graduation and went to a state college nearby while Ashton left home looking for adventure at her new school on the West Coast. She remembered back to seeing Karla for the first time after the funeral. Ashton was sitting on the front steps of the house drinking a beer and taking a cigarette break when she noticed the lithe blonde coming up the sidewalk.

Ashton gave her a sexy grin brought on by all the alcohol she had consumed that day. "Hey, Karla."

"Hello, Ashton. How are you doing?"

Ashton shrugged. "How are you?"

"I'm okay. Um... I don't know if you saw me at the funeral or not. I wanted to come talk to you, but you were surrounded by all those other people."

"It's all right. You're here now. You want a drink or smoke?" she offered fishing her packet of cigarettes from her front sleeveless t-shirt pocket.

"I don't smoke any more and neither should you."

"Yeah. Well, old habits die hard. How about a beer?"


"Okay. I'll be right back." Ashton disappeared into the house, returning a few moments later with two new beers. They both took seats on the stoop.

"I've missed you, Ashton. When you left for school, I thought I'd never see you again. I'm sorry it's taken this to bring us together again."

"Yeah, well I didn't really have much to come home to at the time. I guess I should've come sooner. I didn't have much time with my mother at the end. She faded so fast once I was here."

Karla just gave a nod as she took a sip of her drink. After a moment of silence, she mentioned, "You look so different, Ashton. I probably wouldn't have recognized you on the street." Her eyes trailed over Ashton's muscle shirt and tight blue jeans.

"It's the hair." Ashton mumbled, running her hands through her short do.

"It's more than that. It's everything, your hair, your clothes, your personality. You're a completely different person, Ashton. What brought about this change?"

Ashton was quiet a moment before replying, "I found my true self. I was so lost, but over the last five years I've found the real me. I guess I always knew this is who I was but was afraid to show it. My mother didn't like it so much, so I just denied myself. Enough about me. Look at you. You are exactly the same."

Karla ran a hand along the skirt of her yellow sun dress nervously. "Well, maybe on the outside. I guess I've grown up too. I've been through a lot the last five years, Ashton, much of which I wish you had been here for. I was really lonely when you left."

"Well, tell me. What's been going on?"

"Well, let's see. I don't know where to start really."

"How about with college?"

"Okay. School was all right for the most part. Although I had a few bad things happen." She paused. "I... uh... I actually ended up getting pregnant my sophomore year."

"Really? Who was the father?"

"This guy I had been dating. I was actually date raped. There was a big trial and all. I'm surprised that your mom never told you about it. It was in the news."

"I'm sorry that happened. What happened with the baby?"

" got an abortion, but no one else knows that. I told everyone else that I miscarried, so you can't tell anyone, not even my parents."

"All right. I won't say a thing. Anything else important?"

"I fell in love and got married but not to the same person."

"You're married?" Ashton asked in surprise.

"Divorced actually. It was a mistake. I was trying to be something I wasn't."

"I know what that's like." Ashton mumbled. "But you fell in love? Who was it?" Karla didn't say anything for a long time, peaking Ashton's interest. Sensing it was information she might not want to share, Ashton said, "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to, but you know you can tell me anything."

"I know. It's just that it was so difficult for me when it happened, and I've just now started to heal. I don't want to have to relive that hatred."

"Karla, you can trust me. You know you can. I'm not going to be upset with you. If you were in love and happy, that's all I'd want for you. It doesn't matter to me who it is as long as they made you happy."

After a few more silent minutes, Karla stated hesitantly, "Her name was Cindy. I met her at school."

Ashton smiled at her friend. "Well, I guess we still have a common interest after all then." she joked lightly trying to relieve the tension between them.

"You mean... you?"

"Yes, Karla. I am a lesbian. What happened with Cindy?"

"It wasn't mutual. I've never felt like that, Ashton. It took me long time to accept that I had feelings for her, but I made the mistake of saying something to her about it. It was painful to not only have those feelings not returned but to become the source of abuse from my peers. I know part of my reason for marrying Kenny was to try to salvage my reputation. Life hasn't been good since. Kenny and I had an awful marriage, and he constantly reminded me of what he thought was my shortcoming. The verbal abuse was too much to take, so now I'm divorced and living at home with my parents again. I hate my job, and I'm pretty miserable here. As terrible as it is to have to see you under these circumstances, this has been the best thing that's happened to me in a long time."

"It's good to see you too, Karla."

"So, what about you? Do you have a girlfriend?"

"No, actually I don't. What are you doing job wise these days?"

"Nothing exciting. I had been working at Kenny's dad's car dealership in the HR department when we were married, but once we got divorced, I left. I've just been waitressing and looking for something else to do. What about you?"

"Actually, I've kind of gone into business for myself. My roommate and I have been fixing cars and bikes out of our garage back at home for the last three years, and I found that it was keeping me pretty busy not to mention bringing in good money, so I've just stayed with it. We actually just applied for a loan to buy a real garage before I came out here. We were approved, so as soon as I get back, we're taking over a place."

"That sounds exciting. When do you think you'll have to go back?"

"I'm probably going to go back in about a week. I've got to get this place completely cleaned out, so I can sell it."

"You're going to sell your childhood home?" Karla asked in surprise.

"Yeah. There's nothing for me here now. I don't have any family, and my home is in San Francisco now. I'm going to sell the house and take the old Impala back out west. I got her up and running pretty well, so I was just going to take a road trip in her."

"That sounds like fun." Karla mentioned taking another sip of her beer and looking out to the street.

"You want to join me?" casually Ashton asked.

" Oh, I couldn't."

"Why not? What's really holding you here? A job you hate? An ex-husband? Why not take a little time off?"

"A cross country road trip..." Karla said as if pondering the thought. "I don't know if I could afford it. I mean it would be expensive to get a plane ticket back."

"Who said anything about coming back?" Ashton asked.

"Ashton, are you proposing that I drop everything and move across the country with you?" Karla inquired.

"Why not? Are you really that happy here? At least in San Francisco you'll have friends that will accept you for who you are."

"Where would I live? What would I do?"

"You can stay with me, and we'll find you something to do."

"I don't know, Ashton." Karla stated in uncertainty.

"I'll make you a deal, Karla. You come with me. If get out there and don't like it, I'll buy you a plane ticket home myself, but I think you'll like it."

Karla shrugged. "I'll think about it."

Ashton brought her thoughts back into the present. She looked at her mother's house again silently bidding it good bye before turning to get into the Impala. She was supposed to meet Karla at Karla's parent's house in ten minutes, so she put the car in gear and drove away without a look back.

Arriving at Karla's she found her blonde friend sitting on the swing on the front porch, suitcases already on the curb. Ashton smiled as she made her way up the walk. "Good morning. Is this it?" Karla nodded. Sensing something wrong, Ashton asked, "You okay? Have you changed your mind?"

"No, I'm coming with you. It's just that my parents aren't happy about this. They think I'm being foolish. They said that I shouldn't trust you after the way you treated me the last several years, you know with you not being around when I needed you and all."

Ashton nodded. "Well, how do you feel about it? That's what really matters."

"Ashton, if I didn't think I could trust you, I wouldn't be going with you. They don't know you the way I do. I now understand why you left this place and didn't come back. I should've done it too a long time ago."

Ashton gave a nod before gathering up Karla's stuff and packing it in the car. "Is this all you want to bring?"

"Yeah. That's most of my clothes. My parents have agreed to send me the rest if I decide to stay, and I figured I could just borrow from you if I needed something before then if that's all right."

"Sounds like a plan. Your chariot out of this hell hole awaits." Ashton said with a smile.

Coming to the car, Karla smiled at Ashton. "Thanks for asking me to come with you, Ashton. Who ever thought that you would turn out to be my knight in shining armor?"

"Would that make you my damsel in distress?" Ashton joked opening the car door for her friend.

Karla touched Ashton's bare arm. "It makes me anything you want me to be I guess. I owe you for this chance."

"You don't owe me anything, Karla. I'm happy for the company. You're the best thing about this town, and I'm glad to be taking you with me. Friends help each other, and this is a way for me to make up for not being here sooner."

The first part of the drive that morning passed quietly. Once they got out onto the highway, Ashton turned on the stereo. "You still like rock?" she inquired fiddling with the radio trying to pick up a station.

"I listen to everything these days. I'm not particular about it. Whatever you want is fine."

"We might not have much of a choice." Ashton mentioned after a moment. "I never thought to check on the radio before we left. It wasn't imperative at the time. Looks like we won't be getting anything until I look at it closer." she said switching it off. "So, maybe we should spend this time to catch up. Tell me more about Kenny."

"Okay. Let's see. I met him at school second semester my junior year. At the time I had already gotten myself into trouble with Cindy, but Kenny didn't seem to care about that. He seemed pretty nice. I quickly realized that I could try to be more of what everyone else wanted me to be by dating him, so I did. I thought I could convince myself that Cindy was a fluke. Kenny and I got married right after graduation. Not too long after that I realized it had been a mistake on my part, because my feelings for women in general were getting stronger, and I was becoming more withdrawn from him. You know I didn't like him touching me, and things just started to get bad. He started becoming verbally abusive, because I think he realized what was happening, and I took it for awhile, but then I just realized I couldn't live the rest of my life that way. I ended up filing for divorce about six months after we got married and moved back in with my parents. I haven't seen or spoken to him since the divorce was finalized, and that was a few months ago. What about you Ashton? What kind of relationships have you had since leaving our hometown?"

"Well, I'll admit when I got to San Francisco, I went wild. I always knew that I was gay but had hidden it, so when I first hit the Castro, I was just crazy. It was like I had come home, though. The community was so great. I really came out of my shell. I went through girlfriends like meals during school, but that was kind of the norm where I lived. If you didn't have dates with three or four different women a week, you were some sort of social wall flower, so I did my best to make the rounds. However now I'm at a place in which I'd like to settle down a little. I'm not looking for the flavor of the moment anymore. I'd like to have a serious girlfriend if I could."

"In all those girlfriends was there ever one that you really were interested in?"

"You mean for the relationship or the sex?"

"The relationship." Karla clarified.

Ashton pondered the question a moment. "Maybe one or two but the long term interest wasn't returned."

"May I ask you something personal?"

"You know you can."

Karla looked out the passenger window at the passing scenery. "Have you had sex with a woman before?"

"Lots of women, lots of times. Why do you ask? Have you?"

"No. What's it like?" Karla inquired with innocent interest.

"It's great, Karla. I don't know if I can really describe it. It's just one of those things you have to experience for yourself. Have you thought about being with a woman that way?" Karla gave a little blush causing Ashton to smile. "Who was it? Cindy?" she asked looking over at her friend.

"Well, not in explicit detail or anything with Cindy but yes."

"Then who is making you blush that way?" she pressed playfully.

"I don't really want to say."

"Come on, Karla. You can tell me. Some woman in Kenny's family?"


"A co-worker?"

"No, Ashton."

"A friend then?"

After a moment of hesitation, Karla replied, "Yes, she is a friend, a very good one, and I feel weird about it sometimes. I never meant to have those thoughts about her, but they just came to me in a dream."

"Must have been some dream to get you embarrassed like that." Ashton teased. Karla just looked out her window again. Knowing that she had crossed the line, Ashton apologized. "I'm sorry, Karla. I shouldn't be making fun. Sometimes you are just so fun to tease, because you're so innocent."

"Innocent? I wish I was sometimes." Karla mumbled.

Ashton reached over and took hold of Karla's hand, making the blonde turn to her. "Karla, regardless of what's happened in your past, you still are a wonderful woman. Anybody should feel honored to be with you, and if they can't accept your past, they are not worthy of your affections. You did what you thought you had to, and no one else has the right to judge you for that."

She smiled squeezing Ashton's hand. "Thanks, Ashton. You always know how to make me feel better. You deserve the same. There is a woman out there for you, and she'll be really lucky when you find her."

As night settled over them on the first day, they decided to stop driving around 10:00. Getting a room at one of the hotels right off the highway, Ashton secured the car before joining Karla inside their room. As she walked in, Karla was standing at the foot of one of the beds digging out clothes from her bag. Ashton looked around at the dingy room that had seen better days. "Well, this is not exactly what I had in mind, but I guess this is as good as it's going to get on short notice." she mentioned. "Tomorrow we'll have to remember to stop earlier to get a better room. This one looks like they would charge an hourly rate if you know what I mean. Maybe we should check the sheets first."

Karla nodded her head in agreement going to the top of the bed and yanking back the covers. "This looks okay."

Ashton went to her bed to pull back the covers, but it was quite obvious that they hadn't been laundered in quite awhile. "This is unacceptable. I'm going to see if we can get a new room." She returned about twenty minutes later sighing with defeat. "Well, there aren't any more rooms here, and the other hotel across the way is worse. I think we're stuck here."

"That's okay. We'll be fine. Why don't we just both sleep in this bed together since the sheets at least look clean?"

Ashton eyed the double bed. She and Karla hadn't shared sleeping space since they were in high school, but seeing that they didn't really have many options, she agreed. "All right. I'm okay with that if you are."

"Yeah. You want the bathroom first?"

"No. You go ahead."

When Karla had closed the door behind her, Ashton began to undress. She was off in her own thoughts as she folded her clothes and put them away when Karla returned. As Ashton turned around from her bag, she saw Karla standing there in an oversized pink sleep shirt with her blonde hair pulled over one shoulder. Ashton risked a glance down at Karla's bare legs. Even as much as Karla had been through, she still reminded Ashton of a little girl at times. Ashton gave a smile to her friend and moved into the bathroom to brush her teeth. She returned to see Karla sitting on the edge of the bed waiting on her expectantly.

"Which side of the bed do you want?" Karla asked.

"It doesn't matter to me." Ashton replied slipping her toothbrush and toothpaste back into her bag. She went over to double check the lock on the door before turning to go to bed, but as she turned around, she noticed Karla in bed leaning against the headboard. The blonde was staring at her contemplatively. "What are you thinking about?" Ashton asked coming to slide in next to her friend.

"How different you really look. I never could've imagined you with this short hair." Karla mention running her hand through Ashton's dark hair. Her fingers skimmed the rim of Ashton's ear. After a moment Karla pulled her hand away and looked to her lap.

"What's wrong?" Ashton inquired seeing a sadness overcome her friend.

Karla shook her head. "It's nothing. I was just thinking about Cindy. I've never touched a woman the way I just touched you. I just wanted to touch her and hold her."

Ashton put both arms around Karla's waist trying to comfort her. "Karla, you are a beautiful, caring woman, and if she couldn't return your feelings, it's her loss."

"I know, but it doesn't make me feel any better." she mumbled leaning onto Ashton's shoulder.

"Here. Put your arms around me." Ashton instructed settling them down into the bed. "Put your head on my shoulder." Karla did as she was told curling up next to Ashton in the bed. Ashton held Karla in silence for awhile rubbing her friend's back and playing with her hair. "How's this feel?" Ashton whispered after almost half an hour.

"Nice." Karla sleepily answered snuggling in closer.

Absentmindedly Ashton kissed the top of Karla's head. "Good night, Karla." she muttered closing her own eyes.

Morning found them still embraced. As Ashton awoke, she realized that she was pressed into Karla's back with her arm draped over her friend, her hand nestled under Karla's breast. Ashton tried to pull her hand away slowly before she was caught accidently trying to feel up her friend, but as soon as she moved her hand, Karla whimpered in her sleep, clutching Ashton's hand with her own.

Trying a more direct approach, Ashton leaned into her friend's ear. "Karla, Karla, let my hand go. I need to get up."

Karla groaned in her sleep mumbling incoherently, "A few more minutes, baby."

Ashton raised her brow in response. Thinking that her friend might be dreaming, she pulled her hand a little more forcefully but to no avail. "Karla, please. I want to go shower." Ashton tried to reason with her sleeping companion.

"Ashton." Karla muttered turning onto her back in her sleep.

Ashton looked at the blonde, still obviously asleep. Their hands were now on one of Karla's breasts. Ashton pondered her predicament for a moment, trying to figure out the best way out of the situation. Slightly wiggling her hand, she worked part of it out of Karla's hold. However as she got half of it free, Karla moaned as her back arched up forcing her breast further into Ashton's grip. Ashton groaned at the feel of the soft flesh under her hand, but she did not want to take advantage of her sleeping friend, so with determination, she yanked her hand free so hard she ended up on her back again. Suddenly Karla jerked awake obviously startled. She looked around the room before her eyes settled on Ashton.

"You okay?" Ashton inquired, pretending not to know what had awoken her friend.

"Yeah." she mumbled in obvious confusion. "I was just having an unsettling dream I guess. Did you sleep okay?"

"Yeah. Slept fine. You?"

"Okay. What time is it?"

" A little after 8:00."

Karla stretched her arms above her head. "Oh, what I would give for another half hour." she stated.

Ashton smiled. "Well, why don't I shower first, and then I'll go out and try to find us some breakfast while you get dressed. How does that sound?" she proposed.

Karla's arms came round Ashton's neck as the blonde leaned in to kiss her cheek. "I'd love you forever." she whispered with a sexy smile.

Ashton took a deep breath at her friend's uncharacteristic display of affection. Karla looked so beautiful lying half awake with her hair wild around her. Being privy to one of her sexual dreams as well made Ashton's libido spring to life. However she knew that a sexual relationship with Karla would ruin their friendship, so Ashton just gave a warm smile answering, "Anything for my best friend."

Ashton took a quick shower while Karla remained in bed. She dismissed Karla's behavior as she dressed for the day and left in search of food. By the time she returned, Karla was dressed for the day as well with all their belongings sitting by the door ready to go. Ashton put out her cigarette in the ashtray before handing the food to her friend. "This was all that was around." she mentioned. "Why don't we eat here before we leave? I don't want any extra trash in the car if I can help it."

The second day on the road was filled with talk as the two women chatted to pass the time, but around dinner time Ashton decided to stop of the night in order to find a better hotel. She and Karla unloaded their things before Ashton suggested they go have a real meal instead of fast food. With Karla agreeing wholeheartedly, they set out to the restaurant they had seen a sign for a few miles ago on the highway.

Once they had placed their order and were left alone, Ashton smiled at the blonde. "So, what did you think of Kansas so far? I could've skipped seeing this state." she joked.

"Yeah. The scenery wasn't great but the company was."

Ashton smiled. "Yes, it has been so far." she agreed. "Originally I was shooting for San Francisco tomorrow, but since we stopped so early tonight, I thought we would take an extra day and maybe take the long route through Northen California. It's really beautiful. I think you'll like it."

"Okay. You're the driver. Whatever you want is fine. I'm having a great time so far."

"Good. I'm glad."

"Ashton, I just wanted you to know that I was sorry about last night. I didn't mean to get down like that over Cindy."

"It's fine. Don't worry about it."

"I think it was more than just Cindy, though. I think I was just feeling down in general about women. You know after hearing about your escapades, I guess I was feeling a little envious that I hadn't been able to have the same kinds of experiences. I really wish that I could find a woman that makes me happy too."

"You will, Karla. I have no doubts about that. You're going to be a hot ticket at home. Women will be swarming you. You're gorgeous, and you are one of the nicest, most loving women I've ever known. You'll have them lined up around the block."

Karla laughed. "Well, I don't really want them lined up around the block either. I guess I'm in the same boat you are. I want someone serious. I'm not interested in casual dating."

"Well, I wish you luck in that pursuit. I know that you'll make one woman really lucky. Tell me something. We haven't discussed this yet, but what kind of women do you like?"

Karla shrugged. "I don't know. I like dark hair, women that are in shape, smart, funny, but most importantly sweet."

"Cindy was all of those things?"

"I thought so, but it turned out that she wasn't so nice after all. I could've sworn that she was a lesbian. She was a total jock, played basketball and softball. She was really popular, but under it all, she was mean spirited."

"Well, maybe she was having issues herself and didn't want to admit that she was gay."

"I don't know, but it doesn't matter now. I haven't spoken to her since junior year."

"It's her loss." Ashton mentioned taking a sip of her beverage.

"What kind of women do you like, Ashton? Do you have a certain type?"

"I guess I lean toward the innocent pretty girls. Many of my past girlfriends were just coming out or curious. I guess it's not really smart of me to date them if I'm looking for long term commitment, because once they've had a taste, they go wild, but then again so did I. I'm definitely attracted to that type though, the sweet, girl next door. There aren't a lot of those in San Francisco, though, because the experienced ones have lost their innocent look, and even the first timers are sophisticated, because they're from the city."

"So you really would like a little small town beauty queen?" Karla teased.

Ashton looked at her companion as she pondered the joke. By all measures Karla was the type of woman she was attracted to, a beautiful, naive, tiny town woman. She had the looks and personality that Ashton had always wanted in her long term partner. Her thought shifted to Karla's stated type, realizing that she stood up against Karla's requirements of being dark-haired, sweet, and athletic but quickly pushed any thoughts of them coming together as a couple from her mind as their food arrived.

That night they had two decent double beds in their hotel room, so they slept separately. As Ashton lay in her bed after they had said their good nights, she thought about the fact that once they got back to her place, either Karla was going to have to sleep on the couch or share her queen bed. Even though she trusted her straight male roommate and business partner completely, she still didn't like the idea of him having easy access to Karla when she was asleep. Her friend had gone through so much already where men were concerned that she felt the need to protect her as much as she could. Ashton drifted to sleep that night wondering what Karla's plans would be once they arrived in San Francisco.

The last two days of the trip passed much the same way, and they arrived back at Ashton's house late in the evening. Parking the car in the driveway, Ashton picked up as much stuff as she could manage and then led Karla inside. Since no one was home, Ashton quickly dropped everything in her room and went back for several more loads until the car was empty.

"Well, welcome to my house. It seems as if my roommates aren't home right now. Let me give you the tour." Ashton led Karla through the house, showing her every room before ending in her own. "This is where you and I'll be crashing. I figure you'd be more comfortable sleeping in here with me than on the couch, and you'll have a bit more privacy this way."

"Okay." Karla nodded eying the bed.

"I think I'll rearrange some of my clothes a little later after dinner, so you can have a place to put your stuff. I think I can probably talk the guys into letting you have the hall closet too, since we hardly ever use it. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty hungry, and I don't have any food in the fridge. There's a diner just a few blocks from here. Let's eat there."

"All right. Just let me freshen up a little. I'll be ready in a minute."

"Okay. I'm just going to check the mail. I'll be right back."

Ashton was standing in the kitchen sorting all the mail she had received while she was gone when Karla came in wearing one of Ashton's old sweatshirts. "I hope you don't mind that I borrowed this. I forgot where I packed my jacket, and I didn't want to dig for it."

"It's fine. We're going to walk, so I was going to tell you to grab something warm. It can get a little cool here in the evenings if you're not used to it. I should warn you now while I'm thinking about it. Since I live with two guys, we label everything in our fridge, so if doesn't have my name on it, don't eat it unless it says the word 'house' on it, which means it's for community use. It took us a long time to come up with that system, but it's saved all of us a lot of arguing. Okay?"

"Okay. Sure."

"We'll have to stop at the store on the way back too, so I can get some basics. Come on now. It's starting to get late, and I do have to work tomorrow."

"When do you think you and your roommate will be taking over your garage?"

"Well, by the looks of it, he's already started packing stuff. We close on it tomorrow."

Over dinner Ashton began to tell Karla about her two roommates, Jack and Steve. "Steve's my business partner. He's straight but pretty cool. He has a girlfriend, so there are times when he's not around the house a lot in the evenings, but of course then there are times when she visits him on the weekends for marathon sex. He's not a bad guy. You'll like him I think. Jack on the other hand, is a complete fairy. He's your typical gay man. Sometimes he can be annoying, because he's more of a woman than I am. He's definitely a high maintenance guy, likes to shop and have his artsy friends over. He goes through men like nobody's business, but on the bright side, he loves to cook, so a couple of times a week he'll make dinner for us."

"Are they going to be okay with me staying for awhile?"

"Yeah. I ran it by them. I said that you were going to be on an extended visit, and they were fine with that. If you decide to stay, which I hope you will, we'll have to figure something out as far as rent goes and what not, but for now, you're my guest. I hope that you'll take some time to explore the city. Steve and I are going to be pretty busy with the new garage and all, but I'll try to take some time off to give you a tour as well."

"You don't have to. I think I can manage. I know you're busy, and if I stay here, I'll have to find my own way anyway. This will be a great chance to see how I like it."

When they returned home that night, both the guys were home, so Ashton gave Karla a quick introduction before Karla excused herself to get ready for bed. As Ashton stood in the kitchen talking to Steve about the agenda for the next day, he asked playfully, "So, what team does Karla play for? She's a babe."

Ashton laughed lightly. She had heard Karla be referred to in a positive light pertaining to her physical attributes before, but she rarely gave it any thought herself. However now as Steve mentioned it, Ashton felt herself becoming slightly jealous. Trying to play her feelings down, she said, "She's definitely on my team, so no hitting on her."

Steve shook his head. "Man, sometimes you just have all the luck. You get to sleep next to that beauty every night. Tell me. You put the moves on her yet?"

"No. We're just friends. We've known each other since junior high."

"But you can't tell me that you don't think she's hot." he said.

Ashton took a look over her shoulder to make sure Karla wasn't around before she whispered, "She's hot all right, but she's like my sister. I couldn't date her. It would be weird."

"Your loss." Steve mumbled finishing off his beer. "Listen, I'm spending the night at Mandy's tonight. I'll catch up with at closing tomorrow."

"How is Mandy these days?"

"She's good. You know as crazy as this may seem, I'm beginning to think she's the one."

"Well, that's a good thing, Steve. Nothing wrong with that."

"I know, but I just never thought that I would be settling so soon, but I can't help it."

Ashton smiled. "Well, tell her I said hi. I'm going to get ready for bed. It's been a long week."

"Speaking of which, is that the Impala you were telling me about out in the driveway?"


"It's awesome. I have you decided what you're going to do with it yet?"

"No. I want to keep it, but I'm not sure where to store it. With our bikes and equipment already in our garage, that doesn't leave a lot of room down there, but maybe once we move, there will be enough space."

"Or you could always store it at the garage. We could put it in the lobby with the other bikes for sale. It would be safe there."

"True. We don't have to decide right now, though. You better get going to Mandy's before she starts without you." Ashton joked referring to his girlfriend's sexual appetite.

Steve laughed. "I'll see you in the morning. Kiss Karla good night for me."

Going into the bedroom, Ashton found Karla in bed already reading one of Ashton's books. Ashton just smiled at her before digging out her own pajamas and heading into the bathroom. A few minutes later she came to the bed, sliding in next to Karla and setting the alarm. "What time would you like to get up tomorrow?" she asked.

"No time specifically. What time are you getting up?"

"I'm going to get up at 7:00. I have to be out of here by 8:00. You want to come with me? You could see the garage. I know that Steve and I won't be doing a whole lot of work since we close tomorrow. We'll probably just be packing up our stuff and moving some of it."

"I'd be happy to help you if you want."

"That would be nice. Well, we better get some sleep then." Ashton mentioned. "Are you finished reading?"

"Oh yeah. I was just passing time until you came to bed."

Turning off the light, Ashton settled herself under the covers and promptly fell asleep. In the morning she awoke to the sound of the alarm beeping annoyingly at her. Slapping at it in her sleep, she moaned in irritation. Trying to drift off for a few more minutes, she tried to turn onto her side but found herself unable to move due to Karla being curled up into her with her head on Ashton's shoulder. Ashton looked over at Karla who hadn't even budged when the alarm went off as she thought of her conversation with Steve. It was true that she had known Karla most of their lives and she fit the mold of the woman that she wanted, but their newly rekindled friendship meant a lot to Ashton. Even though she had never admitted it, she had missed the blonde's company when she left home, but she had been convinced at the time that her sexuality would end their longtime relationship. However now she knew that it had actually served to strengthen it. Ashton wanted Karla to find happiness as much as she wanted it herself and hoped that she could help her friend her own true identity. Embracing Karla closer, Ashton ran her hand through the blonde's hair lightly. Karla burrowed further into Ashton's shoulder in her sleep. Ashton smiled wondering if extracting herself from Karla's clutches was going to become a regular morning predicament for her.

"Karla, I have to get up." Ashton whispered. Karla didn't respond. Trying another tactic, Ashton gently rolled them both over, so Karla was on her back. Smiling down at her sleeping friend, Ashton leaned in and kissed her forehead. Karla mumbled her name sleepily. Ashton had to grin knowing that the blonde was thinking of her in her dreams. Suddenly it made her feel special to know that a woman held her in even in subconscious thoughts. Before she even realized it, she had leaned in again, this time planting a kiss on Karla's temple. "Good morning." she gently said trying to rouse her companion from sleep.

"Morning." Karla mumbled in reply absently stroking Ashton's arm.

"I've got to get going. I'll let you know when the shower is free."

Karla gave a nod, but Ashton knew she really wasn't paying attention. Sliding out of the bed, Ashton hit the shower and dried her hair before coming back into the bedroom. When she walked in, the alarm was beeping again, but Karla was still passed out in the middle of the bed. Having learned that her friend was responsive to light over their trip, Ashton clicked on one of the bedside lamps.

Karla scowled and opened her eyes. "What time is it?" she asked.

"It's 7:20. You still want to go with me? I want to leave at 8:00."

"Yeah. Just let me get dressed. Do you have any clothes I could borrow? I'm sure most of my stuff is too wrinkled."

"Sure. You can borrow whatever you want, but it's probably not your style. I'm going to get something to eat. You want something?"

"Whatever you're having and coffee too."

"Coming right up." Ashton stated heading out the door to the kitchen.

Closing that day went smoothly, and then Steve, Ashton, and Karla went over to the shop. The place had been cleaned and was sitting empty when they arrived. "Well, here it is." Ashton mentioned. "The first thing we've got to do after getting moved in is hire a couple of mechanics. Steve and I have more than we can handle in work right now."

"It's a great space. I didn't think it was going to be this big."

"Well, we sell bikes too." Steve said. "You know buy them, fix them up, and then sell them. Ashton, we should talk about how we're going to set everything up while we're here."

"Yeah. Good idea. What are you thinking?"

The day passed with the three of them packing up their garage at home. Steve went to rent a truck to take their things to their new space, leaving Ashton and Karla to finish the rest. "You know, Steve and I really appreciate the help today, Karla. You're supposed to be on a vacation here, not toting tools around."

"It's okay. I'm just happy being with you, Ashton. I'm having fun."

"Well, I'll take you out to dinner tonight as a thank you. Tell me. Have you ever had sushi? There is this great place I know of. Feeling adventurous?"

Karla gave a smile. "You'd be surprised how adventurous I'm feeling. I'm up for that. I think I'm up for just about anything tonight."

"Great. Well, as soon as we finish here, well get cleaned up and go find some fun."

Ashton invited both her roommates out for sushi that night, but they declined saying they already had other plans. Once Karla and Ashton were clean and dressed, they hopped on Ashton's bike to go into downtown. When they arrived at the Japanese restaurant, they were seated at an intimate table in the corner.

"So, what's good here?" Karla inquired looking over her menu.

"Why don't you just let me order for us? I promise it'll be good."

"Okay. I trust you."

Ashton ordered them an assortment of sushi and hot tea as well before they were left alone. "So, do you have any idea what you'd like to do tomorrow? I'm sure we can get a guide for you, so you can see what interests you."

"That would be nice. I take it you and Steve will be busy with the move."

"Yeah. We'll start early in the morning to move in all our stuff. We'll probably be finished with that by mid-day, and we've got a lot of work to do as well. I'll probably be gone all day."

"In that case I guess I'll just take in some sights and stuff."

When their food arrived, Karla looked at Ashton skeptically. "Trust me. You're going to like it. Here. Try this one. It's my favorite." Ashton said picking one up.

"You first." Karla answered. Shrugging Ashton took a bite before holding it up to Karla's mouth. Karla looked at it for another moment before opening her mouth wide enough for Ashton to feed it to her. Karla moaned after a second. "This is good." she conceded chewing what she had in her mouth.

"Told you it was. Try this one next." Ashton said holding out another one for her. Instead of taking it from Ashton's hand though, Karla just ate it straight from Ashton's fingers. When Ashton pulled her hand back, she popped the other half in her mouth. "Good stuff, huh?"

"Very good. You know I thought I heard that sushi was some sort of aphrodisiac. Is it true?"

Ashton shrugged. "I don't know about that, but I guess it could be, especially if you feed it to your dinner companion." she joked taking a sip of her tea.

"You ever bring any of your girlfriends here?" Karla asked curiously.

"No. Actually I haven't. It's more expensive than I usually like for a first date. This would be like a third date meal if I ever got that far with a woman of course." she teased.

"Then I should feel special that you brought me here?"

"You are special, Karla, and don't let anybody tell you differently." Ashton seriously replied.

Karla blushed. "I don't know why you don't have a serious girlfriend with the way you talk. I would think any woman would love to hear those kinds of sweet words."

Ashton shrugged. "I don't say them unless I mean them, but in your case, I've always known that you were special. Why else would I have wanted you for a best friend?"

Karla nodded absently as she thought about how she first met Ashton. It had been the first day of seventh grade, and Karla had been new to the school, having just moved into town a few weeks before. She had remembered Ashton hanging around with other girls at the locker right next to hers. As she approached she tried to adopt a casual expression even though she was desperate to make some friends. It hadn't been a great day to that point and now it was lunchtime. Since she didn't know anyone, Karla dreaded going into the cafeteria to sit alone. As soon as she opened her locker, Ashton turned and gave her a dazzling smile.

"Hi there. You new?" Ashton had asked.

"Hi. Yeah." shyly Karla answered.

"I'm Ashton. I'm in your algebra class."

"I'm Karla." she said putting her books away and tentatively reaching for her brown lunch bag.

"You going to lunch now or next period?" conversationally Ashton inquired.


"You want to sit with my friends and me?" she asked confidently.

Karla smiled. "Yeah. Thanks."

"Come on then." Ashton stated as her friends walked away, but she waited to walk with Karla.

Ashton had been Karla's lifeline the first couple of weeks of school, always including her in the activities she was doing, and when Ashton had her first slumber party that year, she had invited Karla. Even though Karla eventually made her own friends, she and Ashton still remain the close, often choosing each others company over their individual cliques.

Suddenly Karla's thought were interrupted by Ashton inquiring, "What are you thinking about? You seem off somewhere else."

"Oh, I was just thinking about meeting you for the first time. You saved me from a fate worse than death."

"How's that?" curiously Ashton asked.

"You asked me to sit with you at lunch the first day of seventh grade when I didn't know anyone else. You seemed to go out of your way to be nice to me."

"Oh that? Well, you want to know something funny that I've never told you about that day? I actually asked you to sit with us, because I thought you were cute. I already had figured out that I was gay, and it was my once shot at flirting with you. At the time I knew I wanted to do more than that, but I still thought it was wrong to feel that way. By the time I figured out that I was better off living my life as my own, you and I had moved into a place that I never would've forsaken."

"Why didn't you ever tell me when you knew so young?"

"I was scared, Karla. I didn't know there was anyone else out there that felt the same way I did, and I didn't want to lose you. Then I made the decision that I should break my ties with you, because I knew I couldn't handle your rejection when you found out. I guess I was just being stupid."

"But I understand at the same time. I felt the same way when I realized that about myself. However none of that matters now. We're here together, and I'm glad we're still friends after all these years."

"Me too, Karla. Of all the people I know, I still feel like you know me better than anyone. We have so much history."

Over the next week Ashton was busy with the shop leaving Karla to entertain herself. On Saturday night it was Ashton's turn to stay late at the shop, since she and Steve had agreed to alternate who stayed late on Saturdays, so she was there until 10:00 that night. When she arrived home, the place was empty. Going into the kitchen, she found a note from Karla saying that she had gone out with Jack to a bar and hoped to see her there later. Ashton grabbed a beer from the fridge and went back to her bedroom to take a shower. Stripping off her grease-stained dirty clothes, Ashton stepped into a warm shower and leisurely began to scrub away the grime from her day's work. She felt so tired after working the whole day that she contemplated not going out to meet Karla, but she knew that she should. When she had gotten herself clean, she went back into her bedroom and rummaged through her drawer. Finding the pair of boxers that she wanted, she slipped them on. She then laid down on the bed as she considered what she could wear but her heavy eyes kept closing, so she decided that a small nap would do her good before she left. Crawling into the unmade bed, she snuggled into her pillow.

The next time she awoke the room was completely dark. She felt disoriented thinking that she had left the light on when she had laid down, but suddenly she was aware of her arm around somebody. Ashton glanced at the clock noting that it was after 3:00 in the morning, and Karla was passed out next to her. Ashton pulled away from Karla and turned over going directly back to sleep. It was after 10:00 the next time she awoke, and she was on her back with Karla's head on her shoulder as was a common occurrence. However as Ashton started to become fully conscious, she realized she had slept through the night without a shirt on and currently Karla's hand had found its way just under the waistband of her boxer shorts to her bare hip. Ashton looked at her sleeping companion. Karla's body was practically draped over hers, one of Karla's bare legs nestled between her own. Ashton also became aware of her own arm curved around Karla's torso, her fingers on the bare skin of her friend's back. Apparently Karla had taken off her clothes for bed but hadn't bothered to put on any sleeping attire, wearing only her matching red lace underclothing. Ashton felt Karla's breasts against her own with only the blondes's thin bra separating them. Ashton took a deep, slow breath trying to calm the pulsing in her veins at the sight of how beautiful Karla had become over their years apart. She hadn't seen her friend so scantily clad since they were in high school, and even though Ashton had thought her attractive then, it paled in comparison to what she was presently witnessing. Just then Karla rearranged herself against Ashton, her hand leaving the warm place in Ashton's shorts and moving around Ashton's neck as she pulled her body further on top of Ashton. Reflexively Ashton moved both her arms around Karla's waist to steady her sleeping friend as Karla nuzzled her head into Ashton's chest. Ashton's heart was pounding now that Karla was lying completely on top of her, bare skin meeting bare skin, and Ashton wondered if Karla would wake to the change in her heart rate and breathing or her leg now situated firmly between Karla's thighs, but the blonde remained blissfully asleep.

Ashton cast her eyes to the ceiling wondering how she got herself in this predicament. Karla had always been a heavy sleeper, even when they were kids. Ashton recalled all the times they had spent the night together. Karla had been impossible to wake then, and Ashton often found her in positions she thought unthinkable to sleep in. However never had she considered the scenario of waking up to her best friend lying semi-naked on top of her or her own body beginning the respond to the blonde. Ashton wondered if her reaction was due to her dry dating spell.

Karla moaned in her sleep breaking Ashton's musings. Looking down again, Ashton intently watched Karla sleeping as she lightly rubbed her best friend's exposed back. As her fingers trailed lazily up and down over the blonde's skin, they kept running into the strap of Karla's bra. Knowing that Karla wouldn't wake, Ashton gently unclasped it and lowered the straps off Karla's shoulders, giving her complete access to the expanse of naked skin. Ashton drifted back into a light sleep as she stroked Karla's back lightly until she felt Karla stirring again.

When she opened her eyes Karla was beginning to stir from sleep. Ashton wondered what Karla would think to find them embraced this way, but before she could move Karla, Karla shot up, looking around in confusion. Her bra slipped off with her movement, exposing her to Ashton's gaze, but instinctively Karla's grabbed at it, holding it in place. Karla's eyes gazed over Ashton's bare breasts before looking up into her friend's face.

"Good morning." casually Ashton greeted crossing her arms over her chest.

"Hi." she mumbled obviously bewildered by her current state.

"You must have had a good time last night. I'm sorry I didn't join you, but I fell asleep."

"Yeah, it was fun, but I don't really remember how I ended up at home."

"I'm sure Jack took care of you."

Karla just nodded looking around the room for clothing and finding last night's outfit on th floor. She reached for her discarded top and turned away from Ashton slightly to slip it on. Ashton sensed her discomfort in waking up naked with her by the way Karla avoided eye contact. "Karla, are you all right?"

"I'm fine." she lied.

"Okay. What are you plans for the day?"

Karla gave a shrug. "Probably just hang around here and do laundry and stuff. I don't feel so great."

"All right. Well, if that's the case, I'm going to head up to the shop for a little while. Steve and I are trying to catch up from our move still." Ashton got out of bed and headed to the bathroom without a look back.

Karla watched her retreating form. She didn't know how she had ended up in bed the previous night or why she woke up naked on top of her friend. The sheer shock of it had caused her to jerk away, but now she wished she had been able to enjoy the moment a little more. She had felt deeper feelings than friendship for Ashton since they had reunited, but she didn't know if she should pursue them. Ashton had gone out of her way to make her feel welcome as she had done so many times before, and Karla didn't want anything to harm their relationship. It seemed as if Ashton clearly wanted them to remain friends, even though the way she awoke in Ashton's arms made her contemplate whether or not Ashton had feelings for her as well. She sat in the bed pondering the turn of events until Ashton came out of the bathroom dressed in her mechanic's jumpsuit.

"I'll see you later." she simply said before practically bolting out the door.

Karla sighed as she collapsed back onto the mattress. Ashton usually wasn't so short with her, confirming her suspicions that the brunette had been as uncomfortable as she was with how they awoke.

Ashton and Steve were both at the garage that day working. The usually talkative Ashton was quiet, so after a couple of hours of working in silence, Steve asked, "Is everything all right with you? You've hardly said two sentences since you got here."

"I'm okay. I just have a lot on my mind, you know my mom, work, Karla."

"Karla? What's going on with her? Did you two get into a fight or something?"

"No. I don't know. I like having her here and all, but at the same time I feel weird about it."

"What's weird about it?"

"We've been friends for such a long time, but I think my feelings are changing for her, and that's scary to me. I don't want to lose her."

"Do you think it's because you haven't had a girlfriend in awhile, and she's just around, or do you think you really have feelings for her?"

"I really don't know, but I fear it's the latter."

"Do you think there's a chance she feels the same?"

"I don't know that either. Sometimes I think maybe she does, like this morning for example, and then other times I can't tell."

"What happened this morning?" Steve inquired inquisitively.

"I woke up to her on top of me naked, but she was sound asleep. When she awoke, she jumped out of my arms, but for just a second there she looked at me in a way that I thought could've been perceived as more than friendly interest. It feels so good to hold her, Steve. Her skin is so soft, and her body fits so well against mine. I don't know what to do or how to handle myself. We're sharing bed space out of necessity, but I wake up everyday cuddled up with her, and I love it."

"Sounds like you have a thing for her to me." he said.

"But it's silly. We're friends, and that's all we'll ever be."

"It is if you don't tell her how you fell." he mentioned.

"I can't, Steve, not yet anyway. I have to know for sure. I couldn't lose her friendship over a little crush."

"Suit yourself."

A few hours later there was a knock on the shop door that caught their attention. Going to see who it was, Steve returned a few moments later with Karla behind him. Conveniently he excused himself, leaving Ashton and Karla just looking at each other.

"Hi. What brings you here?" Ashton inquired getting onto her feet as she eyed Karla's outfit of a white sun dress with pale pink flowers.

"I just wanted to see you, but if I'm bothering you, I can go."

"No. Stay awhile if you want. Let me get you a chair, so you can sit somewhere while I work." Ashton went into the office area where Steve was hiding to grab a chair. He gave her a goofy smile, but she ignored it picking up a plastic chair and going back to the garage. "Here you go. You want some coffee? Steve and I made a pot a couple of hours ago."

"That's all right. I'll pass, but thank you anyway."

Ashton nodded before going back to work on a bike. She worked silently for a few minutes, but she was aware of Karla's presence and Karla's eyes on her. "So, what have you done today so far?" asked Ashton casually.

"Not much. I ran some laundry. I threw some of your clothes in with mine. I hope you don't mind."

"No. That's very sweet of you. Thanks. I hardly ever get a chance to do it myself, and I have to be extra careful with my work suits since they get grease on them and stuff."

"Well, I didn't even touch those. I just did your t-shirts, socks, and underclothes."

"Still that's very nice of you. Thanks."

"What time are you planning to get out of here today?"

Ashton shrugged. "A couple of hours or so I guess. I'd like to have the afternoon free. Why?"

"Well, I just thought maybe we could go somewhere unless you have other plans."

"No, I don't have other plans. Where did you have in mind?"

"I don't know, maybe the pier."

"With all the tourists? That'll be interesting. Sometimes it can be such a pain here in the summer. Everybody wants to go to the bay. That's where all the fun is." Ashton mumbled.

"Well, we don't have to do that. I'd be content just hanging out with you wherever you want to go." Karla said.

Ashton could hear the slight hurt in Karla's voice at her less than positive response. "Listen, Karla. If it's all the same to you, I'd like to have a little personal time today. You know how I like some alone time, and I really haven't had any lately. We can do the pier some other time. Okay?"

"Oh, yeah. Of course. I guess I'll just catch up with you at home later then." Karla replied making a move to stand.

Knowing she had hurt the blonde's feelings, Ashton stood and turned to her friend. "Karla, wait. Listen, forget about what I said. I'll take you down to the pier later." she offered.

Karla shook her head. "No, Ashton. You do what you need to. You aren't here to entertain me. I'll be fine on my own. I'll see you later."

Ashton watched Karla leave without another word. She felt terrible for making Karla unhappy. Sighing she leaned against the bike she was working one as she thought about the way she was feeling toward her friend. She was still sitting there when Steve returned.

"Hey. Where's Karla?"

"She left." Ashton mumbled.

"What? Why so soon?" Ashton shrugged. Steve frowned at her. "What did you say to her?"

"She asked me to go to the pier with her, and I said I needed some alone time today. She said she understood and would see me later at home." Ashton explained.

"Then why do you look as if you feel like the world's biggest jerk?"

Ashton sighed. "Somehow I hurt her feelings. I guess this morning has made things awkward for us. Maybe I should say something, but I don't know what I would say to her. I just feel weird around her right now."

"This isn't good, especially since you two are living in such close quarters. You better clear the air between you."

"I think it might be wise if we didn't sleep together for awhile, but I'm not sure how to do that without making her think I was totally repulsed by this morning. I'm just not sure I can handle myself properly right now. Part of me wants to jump her bones and the other run in the other direction in an effort to save her from my lustful desires." Ashton joked.

"You're going to have to find some middle ground there. If you really don't want to sleep with her anymore, you can crash on my futon if you want."

"Thanks but I'm not sure I should leave her in my room alone. I don't want her to feel like I'm rejecting her."

"Then why don't we move my futon into your room? You two can still be close but have some space at the same time."

"That'd be great, Steve. Thanks for the help."

"No problem. However you know this is only a temporary solution. You have a much greater issue to deal with here."

When Steve and Ashton got home, Karla wasn't there, so they took the opportunity to move the futon into Ashton's room. Ashton then took a shower before taking her bike on a long drive out of the city to clear her thoughts. On her way back home, she stopped in at one of the local coffee shops for a drink. Taking a seat after she had placed her order, Ashton buried her head in a newspaper that had been left on the table by a previous customer. After a few minutes, a cute waitress approached her with a cup of coffee.

"Double espresso?" she asked with a flirting smile.

Ashton grinned in return making a show of looking over her body. "Looks delicious." she stated. The girl blushed. "I'm Ashton." she introduced holding out her hand.

"Sam." the young woman replied taking her hand. After a moment of just staring into each others eyes, she said, "I have to get back."

Ashton just nodded giving a charming smile. She leisurely drank her coffee looking up every once in awhile to see Sam trying to eye her subtly. This went on for almost an hour before Ashton was ready to leave. Getting up from her table, she made her way over to the counter.

Sam smiled brightly at her. "Is there anything else I can get you?" she inquired hopefully.

"Yeah. How about dinner sometime this week?" Ashton inquired with casual confidence.

The smile on the young brunette's face gave away her answer before she said, "That would be nice."

"Great. What day is good for you?"

"Tuesday. There is a place I know of and there is a poetry reading here afterwards. How does that sound?"

"Sounds great to me." They exchanged phone numbers before Ashton left, feeling a little better about where she stood with Karla.

Arriving back at home, she found Karla in the kitchen with Jack cooking dinner together. "Hey." Ashton greeted them.

"Hi." Karla said barely even looking up from her task.

"Hey, Jack. I wanted to thank you for watching out for Karla last night. I totally fell asleep after my shower. I was so tired after work. I didn't mean to diss you."

"It's fine. We had a good time. Right, Karla?" Karla nodded in agreement. "You need to get cleaned up, Ashton. Dinner will be ready soon." Jack mentioned promptly dismissing her from the kitchen.

Sensing that she wasn't wanted there at the moment, Ashton made her way back to her room. She noticed that Karla had cleaned up and put away their clothes. Additionally the futon had been made into a bed from where Ashton had left the sheets sitting on top of it earlier. She knew at that moment Karla wasn't over earlier. Deciding to play things by ear, Ashton made herself presentable for dinner. The meal passed with Jack and Karla carrying most of the conversation, and then they left Ashton to clean up the kitchen alone. After dinner Ashton sat outside on their front porch, smoking and stargazing alone. She didn't know what to say to Karla, but she knew if she didn't say something, things would continue to get worse.

Going inside to get ready for bed, she found Karla in their room doing the same. "Karla, can we talk a minute?" tentatively she asked.

"Yeah. Sure. What about?" Karla inquired trying to act nonchalant.

"Today. Things have been weird between us, and I think it has to do with this morning." Karla looked over to her. Even though she was silent, Ashton knew it was her cue to continue. "Listen, you had a lot to drink last night, and I was just exhausted, so we really shouldn't be bothered by waking up half dressed next to each other. We've been like that together before." Karla gave a nod. "Karla, you've always been a heavy sleeper, and we've always just kind of gravitated toward each other in our sleep. That's never been a problem before, but I admit I felt a little weird about waking up the way we did this morning, and I think it's because of how we were dressed. However I don't want things to stay weird between us. It was just one of those things. I wouldn't want something silly like this get in the way of our friendship or anything."

"Me neither, Ashton." she replied as she thought about the one thing that had been paramount on her mind that day. The one thing she wondered most about was why her bra was undone when she awoke, but she knew she couldn't get up the never to ask. She wasn't sure she could bear Ashton's response, whatever it might've been, so she let her mind wonder as she asked, "What's with the futon?"

"I just thought we might be a little more comfortable this way. That way you can have the whole bed to yourself since you like to roam in your sleep, and I'll sleep on the futon, because I need very little space." Ashton tried to explain, but she wasn't sure she was doing an adequate job.

"Are you sure, Ashton?" Karla inquired skeptically.

"I'm positive, Karla. I haven't been sleeping really well lately, and now that I have to work everyday again, I need to get my sleep."

Karla shrugged. "Okay. If you say so." She wasn't sure Ashton was being completely truthful, but she let it go.

On Tuesday night Karla was hanging out with Jack when Steve came in from work. "Hey, Jack, Karla."

"Hey, Steve." Karla greeted. "Where's Ashton? Did she stay late tonight?"

He gave her a confused look. "No. She stopped working right on time. She took a shower at work and then left. She didn't say a word to me."

"She showered at work?" Karla asked.

"Yeah. It looked like she was going somewhere by the way she was dressed. She had on her date clothes. I thought maybe the two of you..." His sentence faded as he saw her expression change. "Maybe she was just going on an errand or something." he offered to make her feel better.

Karla dropped her head slightly. "It's okay, Steve. You don't have to make excuses for her. She's free to do what she wants." Karla moved from her chair to the picture window overlooking the street.

Steve and Jack exchanged looks of helplessness. Not knowing what to do, Steve changed the subject. "So, what's everybody doing for dinner?"

"I've got a date." Jack answered.

"What about you, Karla?"

"I don't have any plans." she mumbled.

Jack turned to Steve. "She made Ashton dinner." he softly stated.

"Oh." Steve said.

"It's okay, though. I just assumed she'd be here and wanted to do something nice for her. If you're hungry, Steve, you're more than welcome to it."

"Okay but only if you join me." he said trying to brighten her mood.

As Steve and Karla sat at the table together, Steve wasn't sure what he should say to Karla. He didn't know where Ashton was, but he had seen that look on Ashton's face when she had left. It was the one he had seen many times before when she was on the prowl. Now as he looked across the table, he saw the sadness of a woman who was desperately trying to act unaffected by Ashton's absence.

"Karla, may I ask you something personal? How long have you and Ashton known each other?"

"About ten years. We met in junior high. We were the best of friends until she left for college. Then we lost touch until just recently when her mother passed away. It's good to have her back in my life. I missed her the last five years."

"And may I ask how long you've known you were a lesbian?"

"I realized that in college."

A few minutes passed before Steve said, "I feel like I should tell you, Ashton won't be home tonight."

"Do you know where she is?"

"No. However I know what she went to do. She's on the make, Karla. She's out to find a willing woman on which to unleash her tension."

Karla shook her head. "You don't have to say any more, Steve. I get the idea." she stated looking into her plate.

"Why don't you tell her?"

"Tell her what?" Karla asked innocently.

"Come on. I might be a dumb, straight guy, but I can see that you have a thing for her." he joked.

"It's nothing, just a crush. I don't want to lose her friendship over something so little."

"But it's not so little if she feels the same." he mentioned.

Her eyes perked in interest. "Did she say something to you?" she inquired quickly.

Steve smiled. "She'll kill me if she found out I told you, but yes, she said something about you."


"She's feeling the same toward you, but she doesn't want to act on it in fear of losing your friendship. Sunday morning threw her for a loop I think."

"She told you about that?"

"Not in any details. She was just saying how great it felt to be able to hold you that way, but she was afraid at the same time, because she wasn't sure she could handle being so close to you physically. That's the real reason the futon is now in there."

Karla nodded. "I thought she wasn't being completely honest with me about that."

Steve looked at her seriously. "Karla, your relationship is none of my business, but Ashton is my friend. I'd like to see her happy."

"So would I, Steve. I don't know what to do though. I've never been the aggressive type. I've never even had a girlfriend, so I don't know how to let her know that I'm available."

"Well, if you want this to work, you're going to have to take a stand first. She will not come near you. She made that clear to me, but I think if you came onto her, she's totally take the bait."

"You really think so?" Karla inquired in interest. "You're not just saying that?"

"Well, I'm not saying to just jump on her or anything. You're going to have to be subtle about it, but I think she'll crumble to your wiles. Who wouldn't?" he said with a smile.

Karla blushed. "I just don't know. What if it doesn't work? What if we ruin our friendship? I couldn't handle losing her a second time after just finding her again."

"Then maybe you should figure out exactly what you want from her. Is it a long term relationship or a fling? If it's just a fling then it's not worth throwing away your friendship, but I think there could be more to the two of you."

"That's what I want, Steve. I want Ashton as my girlfriend but only if we can have a serious relationship. I'm not about to throw away ten years just to be a notch on her bedpost." A moment passed before she asked, "You want to know something interesting?"

"Sure. What?"

"For as long as I can remember I was always fascinated with her, the way she looked, the way she carried herself. I was always amazed that she chose me for her best friend. I remember times as a teenager spending the night together. I used to watch her sleep sometimes, and there was just something about her I was drawn to. I didn't know what it was at the time, but I just wanted to be near her all the time. Thinking back on it, I think I've always felt this way about her. I thought Cindy was my first love, but now I think Ashton really was, but I just never realized it as that."

On Wednesday morning when Ashton arrived at the shop, Steve was already there. "Good morning, sunshine." he joked. "Have a good date last night?" he inquired seeing her in the same clothes and looking slightly disheveled.

"Yeah, it was pretty good, at least the sex was anyway. The girl wasn't my type, though. She turned out to be a little too young for my taste."

"Well, did you happen to mention to Karla that you had a date? When I got home last night, she had made you a very nice dinner. She was disappointed to learn that you wouldn't be home to enjoy it."

"Oh great." Ashton mumbled.

"Ashton, why don't you ask Karla out? She would say yes."

"What makes you think that?"

"Come on, Ashton. You know when women are attracted to you. Karla is a great girl, and she would make you happy. What if she's just as afraid as you are?"

"Still I would feel weird about dating her when we're living in the same room. It kind of forces us into an uncomfortable position. I don't really know what to do."

"Well, what if you were staying in separate rooms? Would that help?"

"Probably a little but there are only three rooms in the house. There's nothing that can change our situation."

"Actually there is. Mandy's looking for a roommate. Mandy and I had talked about moving in together, but we decided not to do that yet. However what if we convinced Karla to move in with her? Karla will need a place if she decided to stay. They've met, and I think they'd get along well. The place is dirt cheap, and then you and Karla can explore this new turn in your relationship without pressure."

"Well, that would work well, but Karla doesn't have a job. How is she supposed to pay rent? I could pay it for her, but I know she wouldn't want that."

"Well, I've been thinking about that too believe it or not. You know how we've been thinking about hiring another mechanic and a counter person? Well, we could offer Karla the job of being our customer service person, and she can help us with our books. We've been too overwhelmed with paperwork and the books to really concentrate on what we want to do that having an office manager of sorts would be helpful, and she has experience in this area. We have enough money saved to put two more people on payroll full time, and I really think that we'll be able to bring in more business with our hands free to work just on the bikes and cars."

Ashton thought about it for a moment. She agreed with Steve that they should hire some people and that Karla was a good candidate for the position. "All right. Let me talk to her about her intentions."

"Maybe I should do it, Ashton. After all it's probably going to be weird between you two tonight when you get home. We wouldn't want her to think that we're trying to force her out of the house."

"Okay, if you think you'll be able to convince her."

"I think so. We've become friends, so I think she trusts me not to steer her wrong."

That evening Steve and Ashton came home at the same time. Jack was fixing dinner with Karla talking with him. Ashton and Steve greeted them both before heading off to their own bathrooms to shower. As the four of them sat down to their meal, Steve asked, "Karla, I was wondering if I could take you out for a drink after dinner. I wanted to talk to you about something important."

Karla glanced at Ashton who remained impassive. Curious as to what Steve might have to say, she answered, "Okay. Ashton, are you coming with us?"

"No. I'm so tired that I think I'm just going to crash, but please go on without me." she encouraged.

An hour and a half later Karla found herself in a cozy booth with Steve in the ice cream parlor a few blocks from their house, having decided to have dessert instead of drinks. "So, Karla, you've been here for a couple of weeks now. What do you think you'll be doing? Are you going to stay out here permanently? I know Ashton would love it if you did."

"Well, I want to stay, but with the way Ashton's acting, I'm not sure it the best idea."

"Don't worry about her. She's just scared of the way she feels for you right now, but I know she wants you to stay. She told me so herself."

"If that's really the case, I would need a place to stay. Living with you all was not a permanent arrangement. Besides it wouldn't be a good idea to be that close to Ashton with the way things are right now."

"That's actually part of the reason for asking you out tonight. Mandy is looking for a roommate, and I thought maybe you'd like to live with her. You two seem to get along all right, and it's not too far from where we live, but far enough to give you and Ashton some much needed space I think."

"That certainly would be better than trying to find a place on my own or having to move in with someone I've never even met before, but I don't have a job yet. It's one thing to crash with Ashton but quite another to impose on Mandy that way."

"Well, that leads me to the second reason for bringing you out. Ashton and I have decided to hire two people for the shop, a mechanic and an office manager who would also do customer service. You have experience with HR and customer service, so we thought we'd offer you the position. We would teach you how to do the books of course, but that would free us up to strictly work in the garage. Right now we're a little overwhelmed with the paperwork and dealing with all the people coming through the door. We need someone behind the counter almost all the time, and we need someone to do paperwork. If all goes as planned, we'll be hiring more people as time goes on, and your position would be redefined, because you're much too smart to be stuck behind the counter. We know you're over-qualified for this job, and you could leave it for something else at anytime without hard feelings, but it would be helping us out. What do you think?"

"Well, that's a generous offer, Steve, and I really appreciate it, but how does Ashton feel about it? Does she think it's a good idea, or is she just going along with your idea?"

"She agrees that you would do the job wonderfully and that living with Mandy would be a good idea if you were going to stay. The only reason we agreed to let me tell you is because we didn't want it to seem like we were trying to get rid of you after what's happened between the two of you. She doesn't want you to leave San Francisco whether she says it to you or not. She wants to date you but felt restricted with the current living situation. If you move in with Mandy, you two would have a shot, and by working at the garage, you help us out while making enough money to live on. I won't lie to you. It's not a cushy job by any means, and the pay will be just enough to cover your bills, but we kind of assume that you'll either get a raise soon if all goes well, or you'll move on to something better. However in the here and now, it would be a great help to us."

Karla smiled at him. "You know Mandy and Ashton are lucky to have you, Steve. You're a wonderful man and friend. I'll think about it."

"Great. Why don't you come by the shop tomorrow around closing? We'll talk about the specifics of the job, and then I'll take you over to Mandy's so you can see the place."

"All right. That sounds good. Now tell me something. How was Ashton today?"

"She was fine. She conceded to me that she wants to be with you, but she feels uncomfortable pursuing something while you're staying with us. I think by you moving out, you stand a better chance, but you'll still have to pursue her. She doesn't want to ruin things between the two of you."

"I'm scared of that too, but I'm more scared of being without her, Steve. I'm ready to take a chance. I just need to figure out how to approach it with her."

"Tread lightly whatever you do, but go for it. She needs you, Karla, and she's never needed anyone."

Weeks passed with Karla working at the shop with Steve and Ashton and living with Mandy. Once she had moved out, the tension that she and Ashton had been experiencing dissipated, being replaced with the familiarity of their friendship, not knowing that the other still wanted more. The new mechanic, John had proved to be a wise investment for them, bringing several clients of his own to the shop, giving Ashton, Steve, and him a steady workload. However every once in awhile, Ashton caught him trying to flirt with Karla, making her seethingly jealous, even though she never said anything about it to either of them.

One evening after the shop had closed and Karla had left, the three of them were left leisurely straightening up the garage. As they finished they just stood around talking and drinking soft drinks when John asked, "What do you two think about Karla? Do you think I have a chance with her? She seems too nice to be single."

Steve shot Ashton a look, but Ashton said nothing. "She is a lovely woman." Steve agreed. "However you're not exactly her type."

"Why not? What's her type?"

"Let's just say she has her eyes on someone else and leave it at that."

Instantly Ashton was intrigued. "Who?"

Steve looked at her seriously. "Ashton, if you don't know the answer to that, you are more of a fool than I thought you were."

Ashton looked to the ground. "Still it would be weird working together and all."

"Ashton, you're just scared shitless of taking a chance! First it was the fact that you two had been friends for so long! Then it was the fact that she was living in the house! Now it's that she works here! You're running out of excuses, Ashton! The real reason you won't ask her out is that you're a chicken shit! If you're not woman enough to grab hold of the best thing that's ever happened to you, then maybe you don't deserve Karla!" he yelled.

Ashton felt like she had been punched in the chest as her heart dropped into her stomach. She knew Steve was right. She was too afraid to make a move, but instead of refuting any of his attacks, she just sighed. "You're right, Steve. I don't deserve her." she mumbled making her way over to the door. "If you'll excuse me, I'm going to head out now. I'll see you both tomorrow."

Ashton made her way home to an empty house. Going to the fridge, she pulled out a couple of beers and went into the living room. Falling onto the couch, she sat in the silence. It was the first time she had been totally alone since her mother had died, and the quiet was overwhelming. She spent the next few hours sitting on the couch staring out into nothing as she thought about how lonely she felt as she drank more beer. However a ring of the bell broke her thoughts, but Ashton chose to ignore it. A few moments passed before she heard the lock turning, making her wonder why one of her roommates would've rung the bell before coming in. Her question was answered though when she saw Karla walking into the living room.

Karla looked down at her best friend in contemplation. Steve had come over to see Mandy after work and had been visibly upset, but he wouldn't discuss it with her. Now her suspicions were confirmed that he and Ashton had gotten into a fight by her friend's sullen demeanor. "Hey. Hope you don't mind that I let myself in." Ashton shook her head but said nothing as she began to cry. It was too much to see Karla in this state when her defenses were down about everything. Karla crossed the room to Ashton bending at the waist to look her in the eyes deeply. "What's wrong, honey?" softly she inquired.

Ashton began to sob as her eyes flittered over Karla, taking in her exposed cleavage from the angle in which she was leaning. "I'm alone. My mother is gone, Karla. I have no one."

"Ashton, you're not alone. I'm here for you."

Ashton reached out Karla, pulling her down onto her lap as Ashton cried. Karla wrapped her arms around Ashton protectively, allowing her friend to weep into her shoulder. There was silence for a long time before Ashton whispered, "Stay here tonight. I don't want to be alone."

Karla looked into Ashton's wet eyes. "Of course. Anything you need, Ashton. I'm here for you, and I'll never leave."

"Thank you." Ashton replied returning her head to Karla's shoulder. Stillness surrounded them for a long time. Even after Ashton had calmed, she continued to hold Karla on her lap. Ashton became aware of Karla's faint perfume on the neck of her friend as she nuzzled her nose into Karla's blonde hair. The feeling of the petite blonde in one of her signature sun dresses sitting on her lap was beginning to stir Ashton's desires, their bodies so opposite by every measure melding together in complete perfection, Ashton's rugged physique and strong resolve giving way to Karla's soft skin and delicate nature for the moment.

"It feels so good to hold... someone." Ashton mentioned after several moments, still too scared to commit herself to revealing her feelings completely but wanting Karla to know she was appreciated."

"I'm glad I can be here for you, Ashton. You're my friend, and I care about you deeply."

Ashton enjoyed Karla's frame pressed so tightly against her own before realization dawned on her that she might have ruined Karla's dress by forcing her to sit upon her lap being that her clothes were so full of dirt and grease. "Oh, Karla, how thoughtless of me. I'm sorry. I forgot that I hadn't changed out of my work clothes. I probably got dirt all over you." she apologized releasing her grip on the blonde.

"Ashton, it's okay. Don't worry about it. You needed me, and I'm here for you. That's all I care about really. Perhaps we should both change though. You should take a shower, and I'll fix us something to eat. Okay?" Karla affectionately brushed back Ashton's hair behind her ears and then cupping her cheeks in loving hands. Mesmerized Ashton simply nodded as she drowned in intense hazel-eyed gaze of her friend.

The rest of the night passed quietly curled up together on the couch. Ashton's mind was focused completely on her companion however even though she kept her eyes on the tv. Being able to hold Karla so closely felt right to her, and she hoped that the blonde felt the same. Karla's thoughts were also on her dark haired friend. Ashton had seemed so scared and needy when she first arrived, but after settling she still kept a close vicinity to Karla, making Karla smile to herself. It was all she ever longed for, being the one Ashton sought for comfort and dreamed that she could open Ashton's heart to the love only she could provide. When it was time for bed, they wound themselves up in each others arms before drifting off to sleep.

The following morning Ashton and John were the first to arrive at the garage. "You know, Ashton, I didn't realize that Karla was your girl. I've been out of line by flirting with her. I'm sorry if I caused problems."

"You're apology is accepted, John, even though it's unnecessary. As much as I wish for Karla to be mine, she isn't. She's her own woman, and it's none of my business who she associates herself with or goes out with."

"But it's true that you want her to be yours. I could tell by the look on your face yesterday when Steve mentioned it. For that reason, I will not give her any more of that kind of attention."


"Did you and Steve make up yet?"

"No. I haven't seen him since I left last night, but I think he sent Karla over to check on me, because she came by a little while after I got home."

Karla was the next one to get into work. She gave them both a pleasant greeting but immediately turned her attentions to her obligations. Steve however rolled in about ten minutes after they had opened for the day with a six pack of Ashton's favorite beer in his hand wrapped with a red bow.

"Sorry I'm late. I had an errand to run." he mentioned. "Ashton, can we talk outside for a minute?" Ashton nodded and followed him outside. "Look, I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am about yesterday. I had no right to go off on you like that. I guess I just was tired of seeing the two of you just making eyes at each other when I know for a fact that both of you want more. However it was never my place to try to force the issue with you. Karla would be so lucky to have you and vice versa. I never meant to infer that you were less than worthy of her companionship. I just want you to be happy, Ashton. I care about you, and I know that you're struggling right now with the death of your mother and your new feelings for Karla. I just want you to know that I'm here for you and that I will lay off about Karla. Please accept my apology. I feel terrible about the way I acted."

Ashton smiled at him as he gave her the beer. "Didn't you send you peace offering yesterday by sending Karla over to the house?"

"I was upset, and I knew you didn't want to see me, so I decided to crash with Mandy. I thought seeing Karla might make you feel better, so I urged her to go to the house."

"It did make me feel better. We had a nice evening."

"So am I forgiven or what?" he asked with a nervous laugh.

"Yeah. I know you're just trying to look out for me. I know you're my friend, Steve and that you have good intentions. Nothing can change that. Come on now. We've got a lot of work to do around here."

A few days later was Friday and being that it was Ashton's turn to take Saturday off, she invited Karla to spend the evening with her out on the town. As Ashton prepared for the night, she decided that she would try to put feelers out regarding Karla's feelings. She dressed in her black leather pants and favorite black shirt before checking to make sure she had enough money for the evening. Figuring she was as ready as she ever would be, she made her way over to Karla and Mandy's apartment taking one quick stop to get Karla flowers.

When Karla answered the door, she felt her breath leave her momentarily as Ashton stood before her looking dark and dangerously sexy in her outfit for the night. However as her eyes scanned over her friend, her gazed stopped at the flowers Ashton was holding. She looked questioningly into Ashton's dark eyes.

"Hi. May I come in?" Ashton asked, her confidence beginning to grow seeing Karla's reaction to her.

"Yeah. Sure." Karla managed to state allowing Ashton access into the apartment.

"These are for you. I just wanted to thank you for being there for me the other day."

"They're beautiful, Ashton. Thank you, but you didn't need to do this. I was glad to have been there."

"I wanted to all the same."

"Well, um, just let me find something to put these in, and I'll be right back. Please make yourself comfortable." she said gesturing to the couch.

Ashton then noticed that Mandy and Steve were sitting there watching the news. Ashton saw Steve's knowing grin. Pointing a finger at him, she sternly said, "Not a word out of you, Steve."

"Nice pants." he stated anyway. "Pulling out the big guns, huh? Leather pants, flowers. What are you trying to do? Woo her? You've already won her affections."

"Steve, remember your promise. No interference."

He held his hands up in surrender as he turned his attention back to the tv, but Mandy seized the opportunity to add her opinion. "You do really nice, Ashton, and I'm sure it's having the affect you desired on Karla. She is ready for you and has been a long time."

Before Ashton could offer any sort of comeback, Karla returned with a cardigan sweater wrapped around her shoulders. "I'm ready when you are, Ashton."

"Um, I brought the bike. Are you sure you're going to be comfortable in that? I mean you look really nice tonight. I don't want you to mess up your dress."

"No. I'm fine like this."

"All right. Why don't you put my jacket on? It's a little cool out, and I wouldn't want you to get a cold." she said holding up her black leather, motorcycle jacket up to help Karla into it. Curving a protective arm around Karla's waist, they headed for the door. Ashton gave a quick look behind her and noticed Steve give her the thumbs up sign to which Ashton grinned. "Don't wait up, Mom and Dad." she joked before following Karla out the door.

Getting onto the bike first, Ashton steadied it so Karla could mount it as well. "So, where are you taking me tonight? You were being so secretive earlier today."

"Well, I was thinking that we would go have dinner at this seafood restaurant down on the pier. Then I thought maybe you'd like to go for a little stroll, take a ferry ride if you're up for it, and after that I was thinking we might hit a dance club if you're in the mood. Finally if I'm still standing after that, I was thinking we could go for some coffee or a nightcap. How does that itinerary strike you?"

"That sounds wonderful, Ashton. It seems as if you put a lot of effort into it, and I like everything you decided upon."

"Fabulous." Ashton mumbled feeling Karla snake her arms around her waist. Just the feeling of Karla's hands on her stomach made it quiver from excitement.

Dinner passed pleasantly with casual conversation, Ashton subtly complimenting Karla whenever she could. Karla seemed to be glowing under the attention, further fueling Ashton's hope that something more could become of them. When the bill arrived, Karla reached for her purse as she asked Ashton how much she owed, but when she didn't receive an answer, she reached for the bill herself only to find her hand being covered by one of Ashton's in a tight hold. Karla looked across the table into her companion's dark eyes questioningly.

"Karla, for one night, please allow me treat you like the queen you deserve to be."

Karla instantly felt her heart jump into her throat at the words and way Ashton was suddenly looking at her. It was a look she had never seen on Ashton's face before and reeked havoc through her body as it sent electricity skittering through her whole being. Abruptly the atmosphere had changed around them from relaxed and friendly to thick and sensuous. In that moment Karla knew without a doubt that she wanted the woman in front of her like she had never wanted anyone else in her entire life. Giving a shy smile, Karla gently pulled her hand out of Ashton's signaling her consent.

It took them both a few moments to regain their composure, but by the time they were ready to go, they had both settled somewhat. When Ashton asked if Karla wanted to go for a walk along the pier down to where the ferries were, Karla agreed experimentally looping her arm through Ashton's. She received a smile from her tall friend in response, but they were still quiet on their walk. They went for a ride on one of the boats, and as they circled Alcatraz, Karla mentioned that she still wanted to visit there when she got the chance.

Later that evening they found themselves in what Ashton claimed was her favorite club in the Castro, listening to the music and having a few drinks. Feeling braver after a few beers, Karla asked Ashton to dance. Ashton instantly took her hand leading her to the floor. They didn't touch much at first, but Karla was determined to push the envelope with her friend to see exactly how far things might go. Karla subtly began to move into Ashton's personal space as the songs began to blur from one into another, and it wasn't too long before they were practically body to body as they swayed to the hypnotic bass.

Looking into Karla's hazel eyes, Ashton realized things were moving farther than she had planned, but at the same time she felt helpless to stop her body from responding to Karla's allure. Ashton felt her body moving on its own accord, her hands perching on Karla's hips and bringing the blonde closer. She groaned as their hips connected. Karla responded by sliding her arms around Ashton's sinewy back.. They moved in unison for neither knew how long, their bodies touching everywhere, each feeling the slightest movement of the other. Karla hadn't looked into Ashton's eyes in panic for the display she was now showing, but she couldn't bring herself to pull away from the body she wanted so much to touch uninhibited. Knowing she had to face whatever reaction Ashton might be having, Karla spared a glance up at her. What she saw practically made her jump out of Ashton's embrace. The intensity of Ashton's brown eyes made Karla's skin hypersensitive. She felt as if Ashton wanted to eat her alive. Even though she had never seen it on Ashton before, she knew raging hunger when she saw it. She was about to become Ashton's next meal if she wasn't careful.

Pulling away a little, she leaned up to Ashton's ear and requested another drink. Ashton obliged taking her by the hand back to the bar. As Ashton sipped her beverage, she knew she had to try to reign in her hormones. All she wanted to do was let Karla know she cared about her as more than a friend, not turn her into her next sexual prey like her other previous lovers. Taking several soothing breaths, Ashton asked Karla if she was having fun. They spent a few more hours at the bar, but they never got as close as they had been on the dance floor. When they were getting ready to go, Ashton helped Karla into her jacket before inquiring as to if she wanted to go for coffee and dessert. Enthusiastically Karla said that she did, so Ashton took them down the street to one of the coffee shops.

Instructing Karla to find them a table, Ashton placed their order for them and then joined the petite woman. Taking Karla by the hand, Ashton smiled at her. "This is the most fun I've had in ages." she said. "Thanks for coming out with me."

"I'm having fun too, Ashton. I had been hoping since I got here that we could go out like this and get into some trouble." Karla joked.

Ashton laughed. "Yeah me too."

They noticed that they were still holding hands at the waitress arrived with their order, and Ashton reluctantly let go for the moment. They shared a piece of pear torte and a couple of lattes as they quietly conversed about nothing. Smoothly Ashton inched her left hand across the table as their eating was complete, hoping that Karla would get the hint. She wasn't disappointed when a few moments later, Karla's fingers teasingly brushed against her own.

Reluctantly the night had to come to an end, and Ashton dutifully walked Karla to her apartment door. She watched the blonde unlock it and turn back. "Would you like to come in?"

"No, that's okay. It's getting late. I've got to be up at a reasonable hour if I'm going to do laundry and be ready to meet you in the afternoon to go to Alcatraz."

"All right. Well, I had a great time, Ashton."

"Me too." she replied reaching out for Karla. Karla went willingly into her arms for a long hug. "Thank you for the pleasure of your company, Karla. You made my night." she whispered kissing the top of Karla's head.

Sensing that was all she was going to get out of Ashton, Karla looked up at her, cupping her cheek for a moment as they stared at each other. She saw the openness in Ashton's eyes and knew if she kissed Ashton, her tall friend would not resist, but she really wanted Ashton to make that move first. Giving Ashton some incentive, Karla leaned up and brushed her lips lightly against Ashton's cheek. "Good night, Ashton. I'll see you tomorrow." she whispered in her most provocative voice before turning to go inside.

As soon as Karla closed the door, curiosity got the better of her making her peek out the peep hole. Ashton was still standing there, one hand against her chest, the other raking through her hair in an obviously flustered state. Karla giggled lightly, knowing she was on her way to making Ashton hers.

The next afternoon when Karla arrived at Ashton's house, she was greeted by Ashton on the front porch idling playing with a packet of cigarettes. Next to her was a carton of them as well as a lighter. "Hey there. What are you doing?" Karla asked in interest.

"I have something for you. Here. I want you to have these." she stated holding all the cigarettes up for Karla.

"You know I don't smoke, Ashton."

"Not to smoke, Karla. To throw away for me. I've decided to quit."

"Oh, Ashton! That's great! I'm so proud of you! When did you decide?" she asked taking all the cigarettes and lighter from her friend.

"I've been thinking about it since I had gone home and seen what it did to Mom. I've been cutting back, but it wasn't working, so I decided to try a more medical method." she said lifting her shirt sleeve so Karla could see the patch she had applied to her bicep. "So far so good."

"Oh, this is wonderful, Ashton." she said leaning down to give her a hug.

"Thanks. Now would you go throw those in the trash can before I change my mind?" Ashton joked pointing to their trash can on the curb.

Karla did as requested before coming back. "You ready to go?"

"Yeah. Just let me lock up. You look nice today."

Karla flushed as her eyes surveyed her own outfit of a light pink, long sleeve, cotton blouse and khaki pants with matching pink tennis shoes. "You look good too, Ashton. It's so rare that you let the world see your sexy legs." she stated seeing what her comment might do to Ashton.

Ashton grinned as she looked at her bare legs. She hardly ever wore shorts, but being that it was the height of summer, she decided to let loose for once and show off the work she had done at the gym. Choosing to ignore Karla's comment, she said, "I'm glad you wore your walking shoes. The hills on Alcatraz are a bear. We'll be getting our workout today."

Even though Ashton had been to the tourist spot before, she thoroughly enjoyed being with Karla. The blonde looked beautiful that day, so soft and feminine that it made Ashton ache in her heart and her body, especially when Karla took many opportunities to touch her or hold her hand. Once they had arrived back to the mainland, Ashton suggested they visit the national park on the other side of Golden Gate Bridge that she had pointed out to Karla while on the island. Karla agreed, so the two set out on the long journey across the bridge and up the mountain.

The park was fairly deserted when they arrived due to the fact that the fog was not far from rolling in as a common occurrence in the afternoons. However Ashton and Karla didn't let it dampen their spirits as Ashton took Karla by the hand and led her to the western most part of the park that had one time served as a look out for the military.

"It is so beautiful here." Karla said in awe as she looked out over the expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

"Yeah, it certainly is." agreed Ashton looking directly into Karla's eyes. Ashton embraced Karla gently. "I don't think you could possibly know how happy I am that you are here with me right now, Karla."

Karla smiled up at her as she put her arms around Ashton's neck. "I do know, Ashton, because I feel the same way."

Ashton leaned in touching her forehead to Karla's as she took a deep breath. "Karla," she groaned. "I've been trying so hard to fight what I've been feeling, but I can't any more. I need you."

"I need you too, Ashton." Karla whispered in a hush, thinking that if she opened her eyes this moment would only be a dream.

"Karla, I want to kiss you." she desperately declared opening her eyes to slits to see Karla as moved as she was.

"Please." Karla whimpered.

Ashton closed her eyes again as she covered Karla's lips gently with her own. Ashton felt her troubles slip away with the mere touch of Karla's mouth against hers. Karla was yielding and winsome, and Ashton could taste a hint of strawberry lingering on Karla's lips from her lipgloss as their mutual exploration continued. Ashton felt the connection all the way down to her soul as she began to delicately probe deeper, meeting Karla's tongue with her own, the two of them joining in a intense but loving expression of their most intimate feelings for one another. When the need for air became preeminent, Ashton pulled back slightly and looked down at Karla. The blonde looked as dazed and light headed as she felt.

"Whoa." Karla babbled incoherently.

Ashton gave a little chuckle. "Whoa is right. It's never been like that for me."

"Me neither." Karla responded.

"You know, I've been afraid of this, because no matter what happened, I didn't want to lose your friendship. It means so much to me, Karla."

"I know. It means a lot to me too, but if we both want this, then I think we should explore our feelings for each other. I've never felt like this for another person in my life, Ashton."

"I haven't either, Karla, but I want to do this as well. I've wanted so much for you to be my girlfriend since I saw you coming up the walk at my mother's house."

Karla laughed lightly. "Oh, Ashton, I've been feeling this way just as long. I can't believe we wasted all these weeks, because we were too scared."

Ashton laughed at the predicament as well. "We better get going. It's not going to be too safe to ride the bike down the mountain with the fog coming this way."

"Kiss me once more first." Karla demanded quietly.

"My pleasure."

Going back to the house, they found it empty. "You getting hungry at all? I worked up quite an appetite with all that walking we did today." Ashton mentioned. "Maybe we could grill something outside. What do you say?"

"Sounds good to me." Karla answered quietly.

Ashton eyed her closely. "Are you all right with everything?"

Karla gave a bewitching smile as a soft flush graced her cheeks. "Yeah, I'm okay. I'm just still in shock I guess. This is something I've dreamed about for a long time, Ashton, long before you ever came home. You remember that afternoon when we sat on your mother's porch. You asked me if I had ever wanted to be close to a woman this way, and I blushed at the question."

"Yeah. You were so embarrassed."

"Well, I blushed, because you were the one I had thought about." she admitted shyly.

"Really?" Ashton replied with a slight blush of her own as she moved toward her girlfriend.

"Really. I'm just amazed that you're here in front of me. I feel like any moment I'm going to open my eyes and find that this was just another fantasy."

Ashton pulled Karla into her arms. "I feel the same. I just want to keep touching you to know that it's real."

Karla was still at the house when Steve came in from work. She and Ashton were wrapped up in each others arms sitting on the front porch stoop talking when he strolled up the walk. Seeing them together he gave a goofy, hopeful grin. "So, what's up you two?" he asked pausing in front of them.

"Not much. We're just enjoying the evening. How was work today?" Karla inquired as she idly caressed Ashton's bare knee.

"Work was good. Lots of people coming through. We certainly missed you today, Karla." Steve's eyes watched Karla's hand for a second before looking at Ashton, who was grinning stupidly at him. "Oh, man. I can't believe it. Ashton, you've been whipped by this little pixie." he teased lightly.

Ashton took the teasing in stride. "I'm afraid so. I've been beaten into submission." Karla smiled up at her.

"Well, thank you, Karla, for doing what long needed to be done. She needs you whether she admits it or not. I'm so happy for the two of you. Now maybe you won't need me for the go between." he joked before heading inside.

Ashton smiled down at her girlfriend once they were alone again. "Do you have any idea how beautiful you are, Karla?" she inquired absently stroking back wisps of blonde hair from Karla's face.

The blonde blushed. "You've always made me feel beautiful, Ashton." she whispered leaning in to Ashton's lips for light kiss. After a moment she mentioned, "It feels so good to finally be in your arms. It's what I've always wanted."

"Me too." Ashton agreed going back for another kiss. Several minutes and deep kisses later, Ashton pulled back slightly feeling herself becoming increasingly amorous with each passing lip lock. Ashton tried to take calming breaths but found it impossible by the way Karla's fingertips and lips were tracing over her neck. Dropping her head back, she moaned lightly. "God, Karla, that feels good." The blonde moved onto Ashton's knee, so they were facing each other completely. Ashton's hands took off on their own accord, moving over Karla's back and hips, instinctively move Karla's body into hers as their mouths met again. "Baby, you're driving me crazy." Ashton growled into Karla's ear as she nipped at the blonde's tender neck.

Karla whimpered, cradling Ashton's head closer. "Ashton, please." she pleaded as one of Ashton's hands came up over Karla's clothes breasts.

"Please what, baby? Tell me. I'll give you anything."

"I want you, Ashton."

"Oh, I want you too, Karla, so much." she replied starting on the buttons of Karla's pink blouse.

Karla pulled back to look into Ashton's eyes. Cupping the brunette's head in both her hands, she stared deeply into Ashton's dark eyes. "Ashton, I love you. Please love me. I can't wait any longer." she pleaded.

Ashton's heart hammered loudly as she realized what Karla wanted. "Oh, Karla, I love you too, sweetie. I want so much to be with you but only if you're truly ready."

"I'm ready for you, Ashton. I have been for years. Touch me everywhere. Show me everything. Please." she softly begged.

Without another word Ashton scooped Karla up into her arms and started the trek back to her room. Karla giggled as Ashton struggled with the front door as she busied herself with attending to Ashton's ear with her lips. Finally getting them through the door, Ashton kicked it closed with her foot. Heading directly for her room, they bumped into Steve coming out of the bathroom, but Ashton ignored him, practically running him over with, only having eyes for Karla as they began kissing again. When Ashton got them back into the bedroom, Karla pushed the door shut behind them before Ashton laid her precious package on the bed.

Slowly Ashton undressed Karla, taking her time in kissing every inch of skin she exposed until Karla was only in her white lace undergarments. She smiled down at the blonde softly kissing her lips, expressing the tenderness that she felt for her longtime friend and soon to be lover. Tentatively Karla began to remove Ashton's clothes as well until she was completely naked.

Closing the distance between them, Ashton lowered her body onto the blonde's. Nuzzling Karla's hair, Ashton kissed her ear sweetly as she inquired, "What do you want, Karla? How can I please you?"

"I want it all, Ashton. Take me. Make me yours." she whispered, curving her arms securely around Ashton's bare back.

Ashton smiled down at her before taking off the last barriers of clothing between them. She began a leisurely pace of loving the woman in her arms. Starting with Karla's face, Ashton traced over her features with faint kisses as her hands moved along the contours of Karla's petite frame. Moving further down the blonde's body, Ashton turned her attention to Karla's inviting breasts gently caressing and kissing them with a reverence she had never bestowed upon any other woman. In that moment she knew she was experiencing something more special than any other time she had been with someone, and for the first time in her life, she was actually making love, instead of just taking her own pleasure. In her heart all she wanted was to bring pleasure to Karla. Struck with that observation, Ashton suddenly stopped her ministration and looked back to Karla's face, flushed with growing desire and love.

Their eyes met and held in a long gaze. "I love you, Karla. I love you more than words could ever express." she whispered.

Karla smiled at her bringing Ashton's head down to hers for a long kiss. "I love you, too, Ashton. Please make love to me, baby. I need you."

Armed with a new found sense of purpose, Ashton returned to her attentions to Karla's body, sliding down to kiss along her stomach before dropping even lower. Gently separating Karla's thighs, Ashton bowed her head to worship at Karla's most intimate place. She allowed Karla to guide her, responding to every thrust of Karla's hips and cry of mounting passion as Karla firmly gripped to Ashton's dark hair. Ashton directed her beloved to peak several times with hands and mouth before coming back up to meet her lover's eyes.

"You really are the best thing to ever happen to my life, Karla. I can't believe I waited this long to tell you. Never again will you be alone. I'll be yours for as long as you want me."

Karla gave her a teary but loving smile as she stroked back Ashton's hair from her face. "Forever?" she questioned hopefully.

"Forever and a day." Ashton whispered. "You are the one I want to be with for the rest of my life. I've always known that, Karla."

"So have I, Ashton. I'm yours finally, and I'm never leaving your side again."

Ashton smiled. "Well then, my precious wife, allow me to take you to heaven again?"

Karla grinned. "No, my tall, dark, and dangerous wife. It's my turn to take you." she seductively said turning them over. Kissing deeply they gladly sealed their fates of eternal devotion as they bound themselves in the love they only found in each other.

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