Georgia On My Mind

by Alex Tryst

copyright January 2003

Disclaimer: These characters are of my own creation, except for one, Isaac Mizrahi. He is a real person, and I tried to keep him as true to himself as possible. No infringement was intended. This story is about two women (big surprise there) who are doing all right in their respective lives until they meet each other, and that's when mayhem ensues. I should mention as well that some of my old favorites make an appearance, so if you are a fan of "Love in Photographs", you will enjoy seeing Torrance, Helen, and company. If you have not had the pleasure of reading "Love in Photographs", just know that this book will definitely spoil that one, so you might want to read it first. However this is not a sequel by any means and can stand by itself. I just think you'll find more pleasure in the minor players in this work if you have read that one. As far as things to look out for, there is violence such as gay bashing and racist and homophobic remarks, so please be aware. And one last thing I should note. I tried to actually write out the southern accent the best I could, so please go lightly on commentary of the speech. This is my first attempt at affecting a drawl in dialogue.

Dedication: As always to my wife, you are my fondest wish. To the inspiration for the title I credit the song "Georgia on My Mind" sung by the one and only Ray Charles. This is a perfect title given my leading southern lady. Of course in my own way I also thank my blonde muse who has been the star of several books now and more to come I'm sure. Of course I cannot forget my beta reader who has kept me motivated on more than just this book.

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

Part 4

Maneuvering her own body down the blonde's, she took her time kissing the hips she adored. Then she slowly licked a path across the flat stomach before dipping her mouth lower. Even after the incredible peak she had just reached, Georgia's hips still responded to the strong tongue as it inched to it's destination. Within moments she was riding the plateau again, teetering on the verge of climax with each tender stroke. No crevice was left unexplored, but it was clear Blake was on a mission to taste all the blonde had to offer as she tidied up the pool of excitement that she had created. However that only served to spring forth another flood, which she gladly consumed as well. Each time she thought she had tired the southern beauty queen out completely, she was surprised to find a little more energy in the young body. Determined to wring every last ounce of pleasure out for her lover, Blake kept pace past her own exhaustion until it was clear Georgia could go no further. Slipping off the blonde's body and snuggling into her side, Blake encircled her in protective arms. Reflexively Georgia moved in closer, spooning up against the strong body behind her own.

Neither spoke. As much as Georgia wanted to claim her absolute love for the attorney, she withheld. Blake had given her more in one night than anyone ever had in her entire life, and she didn't want to push the woman who had finally agreed to at least attempt a real relationship with her. Instead she simply closed her eyes and enjoyed the comforting embrace, knowing that words could never capture what had just happened.

Even though Blake was physically exhausted, her mind was too active trying to process what had taken place to drift into dreams. She laid awake just staring at the woman in her arms, taking in all the features. She knew she enjoyed the blonde's body tremendously, but tonight was the first time she had found deeper joy in making love. Thinking back over what had just transpired between them, she realized it was because she had remained open and vulnerable to whatever might have happened. Never had she been so close to anyone that way, but she was glad that she had taken the chance with the southern belle.

"Georgia?" she whispered. The blonde mumbled incoherently, making the older woman think that she had fallen asleep. "I love you, Georgia Carmichael." she confessed, saying those words for the first time ever to any woman that she had dated.

The blonde stirred at the words, but said nothing. She had awakened enough when Blake had called her name the first time to hear the admission, but when the attorney had actually made it, the small woman was too immobilized in shock to give a reply. Instead she just let the avowal wash over her, bringing closure to what had started hours ago in the attorney's office.

The following morning Georgia awoke to an empty bed. The sun was shining in Blake's bedroom windows, but the loft was silent. Checking the bedside clock, she realized that the attorney had probably already gone to work since it was after nine. She rolled over onto her back at the same time stretching. Her body was sore after the previous night's activities, but she hardly paid attention to her stiff back. Her only thoughts were of the brunette and the three words she had said before slipping into sleep.

Georgia had been so startled at the sudden declaration that she stayed awake long after the older woman had started to dream. The blonde spent long hours simply gazing at the woman who had changed her life. So many things had happened since they had met seven months ago. The writer reminisced over the first time she had kissed the older woman in the truck at the fair. She had no idea what would unfold by giving in to her fantasies. It grieved her still that she had caused the attorney so much pain, emotionally and physically. However it was clear that the older woman had moved beyond that hurt. Georgia never truly thought she would ever have a chance with Blake after what she had done to the woman, and yet the brunette had found it someplace within her to love her in spite of all the problems she had caused. Even more the tall woman had started to trust her by allowing herself to be unprotected in intimacy. The woman that had opened her eyes to life loved her. Blake had saved her in more ways than one, and she knew she would be forever grateful for the chance to know love the way it was meant to be.

Slowly rising from bed, Georgia made her way into the bathroom. She saw a toothbrush on the counter with a note next to it. It simply read that Blake had to go to work early for a meeting and to feel free to use whatever the blonde wanted. Deciding to hold off on a shower until she returned home, Georgia used the toothbrush. However once she had finished, she contemplated what to do with it. She saw Blake's toothbrush standing alone in a silver cup next to the facet. Curiously she put hers beside it and then stood back to reflect on the picture it created.

Two toothbrushes, one dark and one light, very much like their owners stood closely together. Georgia decided to leave hers with Blake's, figuring if the older woman didn't like it there that she would move it. However until such time, the writer would be content in knowing that a part of her was always at the loft, even when she was away. Moving back into the bedroom, she slipped on her clothes from the previous night before making the bed for the attorney.

She looked thoughtfully at it for a few moments before opening the bedroom door to leave. Immediately she was greeted by two large dogs, who wagged their tails happily at her appearance. She smiled and patted each of them as she moved into the kitchen area to find Jack sitting on a bar stool reading the paper quietly.

"Mornin', Georgia." he said taking a sip of his coffee.

"Good mornin' Jack. How are you feelin' today?"

He shrugged. "Well, I had just started to drift off last night when I heard some ruckus goin' on next door. Thought somethin' might be wrong." he stated. "Took a minute to realize that you two were just otherwise engaged."

Georgia turned crimson at the idea of her ex-husband and friend hearing Blake and her together. "Oh, Jack, I'm so sorry." she apologized.

He shook his head. "Don't be, Georgia. Obviously Yankee knows her stuff. I never was able to that to you. I just want you to be happy. Know I know you are."

"We were just kids then, Jack. We didn't really know what love was. I never knew different until I met Blake."

Jack shrugged. Changing the subject he mentioned, "Yankee left me a note saying she wouldn't be back until late. I guess that means I'm on my own today unless you have plans."

"I have to work actually."

"Oh? And exactly are you doin' these days?"

"I write fashion columns for Vanity Fair magazine."

"Wow. Your mama would be proud if she could see you. Ain't that her favorite magazine?"

Georgia nodded. "I like to think that she's readin' my columns. I miss her, Jack."

"I'm sure she misses you too, Georgia. Cindy was always such a nice woman, a much better mama than my own."

"She does have a way with people. I wish I could see her."

"Well, talk to Yankee 'bout it. Maybe she can set it up so you cain."

"Someday I will. I don't think enough time had passed yet to feel safe. I know she's not gonna do anything to hurt Blake, but I don't want my daddy findin' out where any of us are. He'd try to hurt her, and I ain't gonna let that happen 'gain." He gave a nod in understanding. "Well, I have to get goin'. I'm meetin' some friends for lunch today, and I have an article to work on before then. You want to join us for lunch though?"

"Yeah. Sure. I ain't doin' anythin' else."

"All right. I'll call you later."

Blake was just finishing up a meeting that day when Glenda buzzed her to let her know Torrance was there to meet her for lunch. Knowing she had to share her newfound experience with one of her best friends, she hurriedly stowed her important papers in her desk and rushed to the lobby to greet her.

"Well, look at you. What happened?" Torrance inquired seeing a difference in her friend's countenance.

"I'll tell you about it in the cab." she stated ushering the photographer toward the elevator. As soon as the doors closed, she gave a beaming smile. "Tor, you'll never believe this, but I think I'm in love."

"Think? No, you are, my friend. Helen and I have known that for awhile now. I'm glad you've realized it. Have you told Georgia?"

She shook her head. "I can't. Not yet anyway. I just need more time. I mean last night I said it to her, but she was asleep at the time, so that doesn't really count."

Torrance laughed. "But the fact that you even said it at all is a big step. So to what do you owe this revelation?"

Blake shrugged. "Oh, I don't know. Her ex was in some trouble, and I bailed him out. I guess she took that as a sign that I cared about her, and she told me how she felt. It was strange, Tor. Women have said that they loved me before, it never affected me at all, but last night when Georgia told me that she loved me, something happened. I couldn't just ignore the statement. It moved me so much, and I just had to show her how I felt. I couldn't say it, but I just had to do something to let her know I felt the same."

"Did you succeed? I guess that's what really matters."

"I think so. I hope so, Tor. Last night was like nothing I'd ever experienced. I mean in the past sex was just that, sex. Women came and went from my bed, and I really never gave it much thought other than where I would find the next one. Then Georgia came, and I want her to stay, Tor. She's everything I've ever really wanted in a woman. She's smart and sexy. She's caring. I could just stare into those blue eyes and sweet face forever."

"But she's also hurt you so deeply, Blake. Are you over that?"

"Helen hurt you, and you still loved her." the attorney pointed out.

"Yes but Helen didn't almost get me killed even though I felt like I was dying at the time. Georgia is the reason for what happened to you. She's responsible for that, Blake. Have you truly forgiven her?"

Blake nodded. "Tor, I know this might be hard to believe, but I forgave her the day she admitted in court what had happened between us and acknowledged her responsibility in the incident. It takes someone truly sorry to do what she did. She knew she could have ended up like me by openly saying she had relations with me with all those Klansmen in the room, especially when they were the ones that had supposedly come to her defense and were on trial for theoretically protecting her. She risked her life in an act of penitence, and I found it impossible not to forgive her for being such a strong woman. Trusting her again has taken a lot longer, but I trust her now, because I know that she loves me. I believed it when she said it, and I believe it now."

"Wow. You really have come a long way in such a short time. I'm impressed. If she's what you want, then I'm happy for you. I've also hoped that you would find a woman that could tame you. It's good to see that one actually exists." she joked as they hailed a cab.

Blake gave the driver directions to the restaurant before asking, "So, what is Helen doing today?"

"Actually, she's supposed to be having lunch with my mother and Georgia. It'll be interesting to see what her take on things is. I'm sure Helen will get the juicy tidbits. She and Georgia seem to share that kind of information. Kind of makes me feel weird actually. I hear all these things about you that I never necessarily wanted to know, so I can't help but wonder what Georgia knows about me that I rather she didn't." the photographer teased lightly.

"Women. They are such gossips." Blake quipped.

That evening when Blake returned home from work she found Georgia and Jack making dinner while the two dogs sat attentively near them watching the activities. "Hey, Yankee." Jack greeted.

"Jack, Georgia, how are you?"

"We're good. How was your day?" Georgia replied.

"Long. I had lunch with Tor though. She said you were supposed to go out with Helen and Maria."

"Yeah. Jack and I met them for lunch."

"Oh really? What did you think of Maria, Jack?" she asked in interest as she sat her briefcase on the bar.

"She's very nice."

The blonde laughed lightly. "You should've seen it, Blake. Maria was so taken with his charm. If she weren't already married, I would think she was interested."

The tall woman chuckled lightly. "Well, she's always liked younger men and women for that matter. She loves hanging out with the younger crowd. She's the perfect example of the adage that you are only as old as you feel. She's quite the looker for a woman in her sixties, huh Jack? Very Sophia Loren."

He gave a nod as he took a sip of her drink. "She is attractive." he conceded.

Changing the subject the attorney inquired, "So, what are you two up to now?"

"Well, I thought it would be nice to make you dinner, because I figured you'd be tired. Jack was just kind enough to help." Georgia answered. "Then I thought after that you and I could take the dogs on a walk in the park while Jack gets some rest. He's been movin' 'round more than he should."

"That sounds good. About how much longer do you think dinner's going to take? Do I have time to take a shower and change?"

"Sure. It won't be ready for another half hour or so."

"All right. I'll be right back then." she replied moving toward her office. She tossed her briefcase down onto the sofa in there before heading to the bedroom.

As soon as the door was closed, Jack looked at Georgia. "What kind of greetin' was that? You don't kiss her when you see her?" he asked.

"I didn't want to make her uncomfortable. It's kinda weird you know. You're livin' with her, but you're my ex-husband. I don't think she wants to do that in front of you."

"Well, why don't you go tell her hello now? I'll watch dinner. Go on. Here. Take this." he stated grabbing a wine glass and filling it up half way. "She looks like she needs it."

Going into the master bedroom, Georgia heard the whirlpool running. Gently she knocked on the bathroom door before tentatively sliding it open. Blake was lounging in the tub with her eyes closed. Her arms were propped up on the sides and her head tilted back. The blonde simply stood there a moment looking at the scene. The tall woman's body was on clear display, and suddenly the last thing on Georgia's mind was dinner. Since the brunette didn't open her eyes, the little woman assumed that she didn't hear the first knock and proceeded to do it again. This time dark eyes opened to mere slits.

"I thought you might like this." Georgia stated nervously as she stepped to the tub. She sat down on the edge and looked at her girlfriend. Softly she reached out and pushed dark disheveled hair back away from her lover's face. "Bad day?" she questioned.

"Just really long. Didn't get much sleep last night and only took a break when I went to lunch with Tor but even then it was mostly business. I'm just looking forward to relaxing and maybe going to bed early. I have to get up early tomorrow morning for a massage. My shoulders have been so tight lately, and I haven't been able to get rid of it myself. Finally had to break down and get an appointment with Helen's masseuse to see if she can get it out."

"Let me see. Sit up for me." Georgia instructed as she handed the wine over to her girlfriend.

Blake took the glass and did as she was told. Soft hands touched her bare shoulders and gently began to kneed them. Silence prevailed as the writer massaged the shoulders for long minutes until she felt them relax. "You're really tight." she mentioned. "This would be better if you were lying down. I could get a better angle. Maybe after we walk to dogs I'll do some more." she suggested tracing over the attorney's ear in affection.

Blake nodded in agreement. "That would be great. It already feels a little better." she said.

"Good. Well, you drink this and relax for a little while. Come out to dinner when you're ready." she stated meeting brown eyes. Quickly she pecked the attorney's lips. "Welcome home." she whispered rising from her position and leaving Blake in peace.

Watching the small woman leave, that older woman thought about how nice it was to have Georgia there when she had arrived. The thoughtful things like dinner, glass of wine, and impromptu shoulder rub all were pleasant surprises, and it made her wonder what it might be like to come home to the pixie every night. She had never considered living with a woman before, but now the idea didn't seem as scary as it used to.

Half an hour later she returned to the kitchen to find her company setting the table. The three of them sat down to their meal and amiably chatted while they ate. When it was over, Jack shooed them out the door with the dogs, saying he would take care of the dishes, so the two of the wrapped up in their winter wear and headed to Central Park with the hound and great dane in tow.

Snow was falling lightly as they crossed the street to the park. Blake handled both dogs with one hand as she held tightly to Georgia's gloved hand with the other. The blonde looked adorable in her black coat and black and white knit cap. Her smile brightened when the attorney broke their clasp to curve her arm around her shoulders. Together they strolled unhurriedly through the park while people rushed by around them. Normally Blake would have been in as much of a rush as the strangers, but tonight she hardly even noticed the inclement weather. The only thing she really saw was a pair of blue eyes and beaming smile.

As both dogs came to a stop in order to investigate something at a nearby tree, Blake turned to her little girlfriend. Both of her arms found their way around the petite form. Instantly Georgia moved into her, snuggling close to the warm hard body. Blake sighed in contentment. She had never known joy the way she felt it at that moment, standing in the snow, holding the woman she loved. She knew in that instant that Georgia was not just an attempt at a relationship. Now that she had given her very soul to the woman she held, she knew she didn't want to take it back. It was forever gone to the blonde, and it no longer frightened her. In fact she felt comfort in knowing that Georgia was the one that held it.

"Georgia." she whispered.

"Yeah, Blake?" the writer inquired looking up at her lover's face.

The attorney swallowed hard, but she drowned in blue eyes. Unable to stop herself and not wanting to, she proclaimed, "I love you, Georgia."

A small gasp escaped the blonde at the pronouncement. She knew it was true, but she had never truly expected Blake to say it. A trembling smile transformed her face as her eyes teared. "I know." she whispered. "I love you too, Blake."

Leaning down the tall woman kissed her girlfriend tenderly. It would have gone on for several minutes had the dogs decided to take off, practically jerking Blake along with them. However she was able to get them both under control. Looking back at the blonde, both of them laughed lightly in amusement of the situation. "I have an idea. You want to go ice skating?" Blake asked.


"Sure. Why not?"

Georgia shrugged. "I've never been."

"I'll teach you. I promise to hold you up the whole time if you need it. Come on. It'll be fun."

"What 'bout the dogs?"

"They can come too. What do you say?"

"Okay. As long as you promise not to let me fall."

Taking the younger woman's hand, she pledged, "If I let you fall, you have permission to drag me down with you. Come on. It's only a short walk from here."

When they arrived at the ice rink, the crowd was thin, being that it was the middle of the week and still early in the evening. Blake rented two pairs of skates for them and then came over to where Georgia was sitting with the dogs. Both of them slipped them on before the attorney secured the dogs to the bench, so they wouldn't run off but had the freedom to roam as far as their leashes would allow. Extending her hand to the blonde, she helped her to her feet.

Georgia wobbled slightly as she tried to get used to the skates. However Blake held her securely as they made their way over to the ice. "You first." she insisted when they got to the edge.

Blake gave a little laugh as she stepped out onto the ice alone. She skated a few yards before making a flourishing spin and heading back. "See. It's easy once you get used to it. Come on. I'll even skate backwards if that will help you." she offered extending both her hands. The little woman tentatively took them and let Blake pull her out onto the ice. Her legs trembled slightly as she tried to hold her balance. "All right. You ready?" the brunette inquired. Georgia gave a timid nod. Skating backwards so they could face each other, Blake held tightly to her girlfriend and maneuvered them around the rink several times. The longer the blonde was up, the easier it began to feel. Seeing the more confident look on the writer's face, the attorney inquired, "You ready to try it yourself?"

Georgia nodded. "Don't leave me though." she insisted.

"Never." Blake growled sexily letting the blonde free. The younger woman tried to move herself a few yards. She seemed to be doing all right until she had to make the turn and began to wobble precariously. However just as she was about to fall, strong arms swept her up. Blake laughed a little. "That was close." she teased.

Georgia laughed too. "Yeah, it was." she answered.

"You're doing well though. Try it again."

The petite woman let go of her girlfriend for a second attempt. This time she focused solely on staying on her feet, and after successfully making a lap, smiled up at her companion in achievement. "I did it." she stated proudly.

Blake grinned softly. "You certainly did, Georgia." she replied linking hands with the little woman again. They skated for a long time holding hands and leisurely talking. Hours passed, but neither wanted to leave. It was the first time since the Blake's initial visit to Stillwater that they were able to hold a real conversation with each other. Even though the sexual tension was still obvious between them, each of them seemed more relaxed. Penitently they decided that they had to get the dogs home and headed back through the park toward the loft.

Upon arriving it was obvious that Jack had retired for the evening. Taking their coats Blake hung them up to dry on the coat rack and then moved to the kitchen to put on a tea kettle of hot water. Meanwhile the blonde went to the living area and started the gas fireplace. A few minutes later Blake joined her with two cups of tea and some cookies. Together they stretched out on the rug in front of the fire. The dogs joined them as well, and the foursome quietly stared into the flames and cuddled into each other.

The rest of the evening passed that way. However Georgia finally succumbed to a yawn as the night got later. She checked her watch, noting that it was already passed eleven. "It's gettin' late." she whispered, snuggling closer to her girlfriend.

Blake responded by holding her tighter. "Yeah, it is. So much for going to bed early." she joked lightly.

"I should probably get goin'." regretfully she stated not making a move to stand.

"Do you have to? Would you like to stay here?" the brunette asked softly, hopefully.

Looking at her the writer saw that the invitation was genuine. "Do you want me to?" she clarified. Blake nodded. "All right. Then I will. I wasn't really lookin' forward to goin' back out in that weather anyway."

The attorney nodded in agreement. "Come on. There's a warm bed waiting for us. Why don't you go ahead? I'm just going to straighten up a bit first."

"All right but don't be too long." Georgia replied kissing her quickly before heading back to the bedroom. She immediately went in the dresser to pull some pajamas out for herself before going into the bathroom to change. She noticed that her toothbrush was exactly where she had left it that morning making her smile. Doing her nightly routine, she settled herself in bed and waited for her companion. When Blake came to bed, she pulled the blonde into her arms and kissed her deeply. The little woman responded with a moan, but as the kiss continued, it became clear that the attorney wasn't trying to initiate something more. Instead she just kissed her to her fill before settling down to sleep.

Putting her head on the pillow, Blake curved protective arms around her lover. "Good night, Georgia." she whispered.

"Night, Blake. Sweet dreams." the younger woman responded relaxing in the embrace and falling asleep.

A few weeks passed in similar fashion with Georgia spending an extended time with both Jack and Blake at the attorney's loft in between her work schedule. The living situation began to feel less bizarre as Jack and Blake seemed to actually get to know one another, and the writer was glad that her ex and current loves were getting along so well.

However one Saturday morning after Georgia had gone back to her place, the two of them sat at the kitchen table discussing Jack's future in New York. Jack seemed pensive, so the attorney tried to get him to open up about what was on his mind. "What's going on in that head of yours, Jack?" she inquired casually as she skimmed the paper.

"I'm just tryin' to figure out how to buy this place that I want. I've been out of work too long, and I wanted to buy another bar or restaurant. I've seen some up for sale, but New York is expensive, Yankee. I'm havin' a hard time figurin' out if I can afford the risk of puttin' all my assets into somethin' and then gonna the bank for more."

"Well, do you have a place in mind for sure already?"

"I've looked at a few businesses. Most of which are all right, but I'd want to change it up and make it my own if I bought it. It might be better just to start from scratch, but I'm havin' a difficult time with the bank about it."

"They won't give you as much as you want?"

He shook his head. "I was thinkin' about askin' Georgia, but I cain't do it. I know she'd want to help, but I don't want to burden her that way. Besides she doesn't have the resources that I need."

"Sounds like you need a business partner to help you finance the thing."

"Yeah. Between what I have now and what I can borrow, I think I can only come up with half of what I need."

"How much do you need?"

"I'm lookin' at about four to five hundred thousand more to do what I really want. I want it to be upscale, not like that hole in the ground I used to own. I know how to run it well, but I need the money up front to get it started. Do you know anyone who might be interested in investin'?"

She shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe. Did you run numbers on everything?"

"Yeah. Let me get them." He returned a few minutes later and spread them out over the table. Together they went through them line by line as Jack discussed his vision for the place.

Several hours later after exhausting the extensive plans he had, Blake sighed. "Sounds like you have everything planned out the way you want it. Your proposal is great. The bank wouldn't give you any more than three hundred thousand?"

"No. It's not like bein' at home where everyone at the bank knows me. These people don't know me from anyone on the street. They aren't impressed by fancy proposals and what not. I mean I can still sell my house in Stillwater for another hundred thousand probably. I just don't know. What do you think, Yankee?"

"Well, I can think of a few people off the top of my head that might be interested. However having a partner poses special problems like possibly compromising your plans. Can you deal with that?"

"It depends on what it is they want changed."

She nodded. "What if I invested in the place with you? Do you think you'd be amiable to having me as a business partner?"

"Maybe. Did you have some changes in mind to the place?"

"A few. Nothing major though. I like your ideas, and you seem quite capable of the project. If I go in with you on this though, I'd only do this if we can be one of the top restaurants in the city. I think I have the contacts to make that happen, but it's probably going to cost more capital, which I'd be prepared to pay. I'm thinking that an extra three hundred thousand on top of an initial five hundred would probably accomplish what I want, but that tips the scales a bit as far as ownership. On the flip side, I'm willing to be a silent partner after the place is operational and let you buy me out until we are fifty fifty again if you're interested."

"Tell me what you have in mind." he responded in interest.

Later that afternoon after an extended discussion the two of them went out to see the site that Jack had in mind for the establishment. Pleased with the location, Blake and he settled on an agreement on what each of them wanted to do and planned to formalize their agreement in contract before going any further with it. Of course both of them agreed not to tell Georgia about what was taking place, deciding it would be better to leave the little woman out of the loop for the time being.

That night when the writer came by as she usually did, Jack made the announcement to her that he would be moving out of Blake's and into his own place. Georgia was taken by surprise, because she hadn't thought of the fact that he might actually leave the loft. Curiously she inquired how he had managed to find a place to live and work which made it possible, but as agreed upon with Blake, he merely answered that he was starting his own business again, not going into great detail about what was happening. Nevertheless Georgia was thrilled to learn that he had plans to stay in New York permanently by opening another restaurant and bar.


As spring came alive in the thriving city, construction of the new restaurant was well underway. Blake had used some of their financial resources to promote the place, so a buzz had taken hi0gh society well before its grand opening scheduled for May. In the mean time Jack and she spent long hours together when she wasn't at the law firm, planning the perfect launch party. Using all her contacts as well as relying heavily on Torrance and Maria's, they formed a guest list that would make any celebrity envious to be ignored. However everyone tiptoed around Georgia about it as much as they could, knowing that both Jack and Blake wanted to surprise the blonde with their creation.

After Jack had moved out of the loft, the blonde continued to frequent it. Over the course of the past few months, her things had begun to migrate as well, and it wasn't long before the attorney's home office had become a second office for her and her clothes took up half of the master closet. In fact she saw more of the tall woman's home than her own, making her wonder if it was time to discuss the need to keeping two residences with the attorney. She knew that would be a difficult discussion to have with the woman she loved, because Blake had been slow to commit in the first place, so she decided to ponder how to approach it with her lover.

One night as they lay quietly in bed after a strenuous evening of love making, she decided to break her silence on the subject. "Blake." she said turning over to face the older woman.

"What?" she asked with a smile tucking some of her girlfriend's blonde hair behind her ear. Seeing the trepidation of Georgia's face she grew concerned. "Love, what is it?" she inquired.

"You know, I spend a lot of time here, Blake, most of my time in fact."

"I know. It's nice having you around."

"What if I spent all my time here? Would it still be nice?" hesitantly she questioned.

"What do you mean? Like if you lived here permanently?" Blake asked for clarification. Suddenly her heart pounded in anxiety at the proposition. She had done so well so far, but bringing up the next step set off warning alarms in her head.

"What if I moved in, Blake? I mean I practically live here already. I couldn't even tell you the last time I slept in my own bed or had a meal in my apartment. There is nothin' in the refrigerator and hardly anythin' in the closet. My apartment is a glorified office, and even then I hardly use it. I'm usually just usin' yours instead. All my things are here, Blake. It makes me wonder why I'm not here. I mean do you think 'bout makin' that next step together?" she inquired.

However Blake's only reply was asking, "You want to move in with me?"

By the tone of her lover's voice, Georgia could tell that she had pressed the woman past what was probably wise, but since it was already out there, she decided not to take it back. She wanted to know where she stood with the attorney after all the time they had spent together. "I think it's worth thinkin' 'bout, Blake. I mean you're thirty-eight years old. Don't you think it's time to decide what you really want? I mean I'm twenty-six, and I've already decided what I want out of life and a wife and what I want is you, Blake. If I cain't have you, then it's pointless for me to stay in a relationship that's not goin' anywhere."

"Whoa. Wait a minute. First it's that you want to move in. Now it's you want to get married?" the attorney asked in panic pulling away from the woman she loved and staring at her quizzically.

"Blake, I just think it's time that you know where I stand on our future. I've known you for almost a year and loved you most of that time. I know what I want. I want to be with you and have a life with you. Someday soon I'd like to be married and have children with you. I just need to know if it's possible to get what I want, and I'm not sayin' this to corner you into commitment. You've been doin' so well with what we have, but I'm ready to move on to the next level. I just want to know if I'm hopin' in vain for somethin' that's never gonna happen."

"You want to have kids with me?" the tall woman mumbled. Her mind found it difficult to process the whole idea of what Georgia had proposed. She hadn't thought beyond what they presently had, being perfectly content to stay where they were, but she knew the blonde had valid points. She deserved to know where she stood.

When Cara had been in her life, Blake had made it clear to her what would and would not happen in their relationship, but she hadn't given the writer the same regard. However it wasn't due to her lack of respect for the younger woman, because she did hold tremendous admiration for what she had accomplished. She just truly didn't know what lie beyond where they were in their relationship. The unknown scared her more than she cared to admit.

Seeing her girlfriend's face, Georgia realized that she had steamrollered the woman. Not knowing how to make it right though, she slid out of bed and headed over to the dresser. She pulled out the first clothes she came to and threw them on over her naked body as she tried to keep her composure long enough to make an exit.

"What are you doing?" Blake inquired seeing the little woman slipping on her sandals. "Where are you going?"

"Home." she replied sparing a sad smile at the woman still lying in bed. "I'm sorry, Blake. I see that I just totally overwhelmed you with what I said, and I apologize for that. This is just somethin' I've been thinkin' 'bout for 'while. I guess you weren't ready to hear it though. I wish I could take it back, but I cain't, because it's all true. Maybe you just need some time to process it. Maybe we both do."

"Georgia, wait. Don't leave." Blake said rising from bed as the blonde made her out of the bedroom. She was ignored though as the shorter woman made her way toward the front door. "Georgia." the older woman called following.

The blonde turned when she had reached the door. Blake was right behind her, her naked body dangerously close. However she managed to look up into the attorney's eyes. "Good night, Blake. Thanks for the nice evenin'." she stated cupping her girlfriend's cheek and leaning up to kiss her. "I'll see you tomorrow."

Blake stood at her door just staring at it for long moments after the writer was gone. She felt as if she had just been swept up in a tornado, being thrown off balance unexpectedly and abruptly deposited somewhere else. It took her a minute to find her bearings and realize what had just taken place. Georgia had just laid bare all she ever felt, all her hopes and dreams for them, and Blake had failed to give the blonde any sort of reassurance. She hadn't acted quickly enough to save the small woman from feeling poorly for expressing her deepest emotions. However as she shuffled back to bed, she realized she had more serious problems to contend with, because Georgia wanted answers. Knowing the blonde deserved them as well, Blake knew she had to figure out exactly where she stood on their relationship.

The next day even though Georgia had said she would come by, she didn't. She merely left a message on Blake's voice mail that she had too much going on for their usual dinner, leaving the older woman to wonder why things were starting to fall apart so suddenly. Needing company that evening, she invited herself out to Torrance and Helen's place for dinner unsure if they would even be there.

The drive out to Long Island helped to clear her mind a little and by the time she had pulled into the long winding driveway, her mood had brightened somewhat. Parking her BMW in front of the house in the circle drive, she made her way to the door with the bottle of wine she had brought along for intruding without a phone call.

A few moments passed before Helen came to the door. "Blake, hi. What are you doing here? Come on in." she greeted leaning to hug her friend.

"Hey, Helen. Sorry to drop by unannounced. I just needed to get out of the city for awhile."

"Well, you're just in time for dinner. Maria and Thomas are here. Come join us." She followed the blonde back to the informal dinning room. "Look who decided to drop in." Helen announced.

"Hi." Blake collectively greeted them all.

"Why don't you take a seat there next to Maria, Blake? I'll let the chef know we have one more person."

"Thanks, Helen. You are a perfect hostess."

"So, what brings you to the Island?" Thomas asked casually.

"Just wanted to get out of New York for awhile and clear my head. All that pollution makes it hard to think sometimes." she joked.

"Well, where's your lovely counterpart tonight?" Maria inquired.

"I have no idea where Georgia is." she answered quickly, so hastily that it was easily understood she was the reason for Blake's sudden departure.

"What happened?" Torrance asked carefully.

Blake shrugged. "Same old stuff. It's nothing really." she replied smiling at John. He reached for her, so she took him out of Maria's embrace. As she played with him, her thoughts began to drift to Georgia. The many times she had seen her with John, there was a radiance about her. It was obvious that the younger woman would be a doting parent and that motherhood would suit her, but she had doubts about her own abilities.

Through out dinner she remained fairly quiet as she contemplated her future with the younger woman. If anyone at the table noticed her solemn demeanor, no one mentioned it, going about their lively conversation. However when it was over though and Torrance was going up to give her son his bath, she invited the attorney to join her.

As soon as they were alone in the bathroom, Torrance inquired, "What's wrong, Blake?"

"Tor, I envy you sometimes. You have never been scared of committing. When you found Helen, you jumped in with her, never looking back. Sometimes I wish I could be like that."

"What happened with Georgia, Blake?"

"Last night she told me that she wanted to know where we stood as a couple. She made her desires known, and I didn't answer them in the way she had hoped I guess. She left my place late last night, and I haven't seen her since."

"So you got in a fight?"

"No. It wasn't a fight. There were no harsh words or anything. She just said that maybe we both needed time to think about things."

"What did she say she wanted?" Torrance inquired gently lowering John into the warm water to start her task.

"Well, it started out as her wanting to move in with me and ended up with us married with kids. I guess once she started talking she just let it all out. Georgia wants to be my wife, Tor. She wants to be the mother of my children."

"Wow. That's quite an admission. What did you say?"

"I didn't say anything of consequence. I didn't know what to say, Tor. I panicked. I don't know what to do."

"Well, what do you want? You've known her for eleven months, as a more than a friend for seven, and then dated her officially for four. Surely you have some inclination of where this is going. I mean you and Jack decided to name the restaurant after her. That's a real commitment, naming your business after your lover."

"I know where this is going, Tor, but I'm scared to death of the idea. I do want to be all that Georgia needs, and I know that means taking her down the aisle. I just don't know if I'm ready for marriage, Tor. How did you know?"

The photographer shrugged. "There was a moment when it became obvious that I couldn't live without Helen. She just looked at me and said she wanted to have my children, and I was so moved by the sentiment that I knew she was the one. The very next day I bought her a ring. Now Georgia has made the same declaration. How did she say it?"

"Well, it wasn't exactly romantic, more matter of fact actually. It was almost as if she just wanted to put it out there to see how I would respond."

"Do you think she really means it?"

"I know she does. I could tell by the way she said it that she meant every word."

"Do you want to be with her for the rest of your life, Blake? That's what this is really about. Do you want to have children with this woman? Do want her to be the last person you see when you go to bed at night, the only woman to ever be in your bed again? Do you want her to be the last face you see when you close your eyes for the last time? I want Helen to be all those things for me. Do want Georgia to be them for you?" rhetorically she inquired as she tenderly soaped her son's dark head.

Blake looked down at John a moment as she contemplated the questions. She knew in the depths of her heart that no one else would ever do in her life or bed than Georgia Carmichael. The woman held her a willing captive, but she was slow to vocalize her feelings. "I don't want to be with anyone else but Georgia." she admitted. "I don't think I could ever walk away from her bed, Tor. She's too enticing, but it's more than her sex. It's good, the best I've ever had, but it's her essence that holds me. She's just as enchanting out of bed. I get great pleasure of just talking to her or holding her hand as we take Bruce on a walk in the park. She's smart and sweet. Her smile never fails to brighten a bad day, and those blue eyes of hers sparkle whenever they look at me. She's everything I ever wanted."

"Do you want to have kids with her?"

"She glows whenever she's around John. It's beautiful to see. The idea of giving her that pleasure makes me ache. I want to give her that, but am I a suitable parent? I know she is, but do I have what it takes to be a provider for a helpless child? I've always been self-involved, and I can't be with a wife and child. Do I have what it takes to make a spouse? I mean it's more than just sleeping next to her and helping her zip up her dresses."

"Yes, it is. It takes work. You have to really want it."

"I don't want her to leave, Tor. I don't think I would ever get over it if she left me now. I have to take the chance in order to keep her. I have to push away that fear and just take the plunge."

"If that's that you feel you need to do." her friend answered.

"Well, it took me a long time to try a real relationship, but once I got into it, I can't believe I didn't do it sooner. I've been missing out on so much by never truly getting involved. The first time I actually told her I loved her I was scared, but when she returned it, it was like a calming wave washing over me. Knowing I had her heart and that she had mine put me at a peace I've never known. As frightened as I am of what this will mean, I think once I do it, I won't be nearly as scared. I know I want to be with her, and I know that I want to have kids with her. My fear isn't in her. It's in me, Tor, but I think she'll be able to help me through it."

"Sounds to me as if you know what you want. Now the hard part is telling her. Maybe the opening of Georgia's couldn't come at a better time for you. I mean you named a restaurant after her, and as soon as she sees it, she's going to know how you feel. You might as well be brave enough to tell her in words." Blake nodded in agreement as Torrance rinsed John carefully before lifting him out of the water. She handed him off to Blake, who was holding a towel. "Can you imagine holding one of these knowing it's your own? A cute little blue-eyed blonde baby that looks just like Georgia?"

"It would be wonderful." softly the attorney replied with smile.

Torrance put a hand on her friend's shoulder. "Blake, ask the girl to marry you. I know that's what you want. Whether you think you're ready or not, Helen and I know you are, so just go for it. You'll be glad you did when she says yes."

Over the next few weeks Blake and Jack were busy with the final preparations for the restaurant opening. The attorney hadn't had much free time to spend with Georgia, but after that night she had decided to take things in small steps, asking the woman to move in with her. The request seemed more than enough to please the little woman, so she brought the rest of her belongings over during those few weeks.

On the evening of the launch party, Georgia still had no idea where they were going that night. Blake had only told her that there was a business party they needed to attend and that it was a formal affair. Around seven that evening, Blake returned from work to find Georgia already getting dressed for the night. Rushing into the bedroom, Blake tore off her clothes in a hurry. She was running late that day, and she had surprises for the little blonde before they went to the party.

"You look great, beautiful." she complimented as she raced into the shower. "Are you going to be ready in half an hour?"

"Yeah. Will you?"

"Yeah. It doesn't take me very long to dress. I'll be right with you. We have two errands to run before the party. Of all days to be running behind."

"Don't worry about it, honey. We'll be fashionably late. That'll be okay. Take your time."

Knowing that the little woman had no idea what was coming, Blake just ignored her advice and continued to hurry. Twenty minutes later she stepped out of the bathroom dressed in a clean new suit ready for the evening. She admired Georgia for a moment as the little woman stood at the window looking out over the city. "You look like an angel. One of Isaac's dresses?"

"Donatella Versace." the blonde answered turning to her girlfriend.

"Well, whoever it belongs to, it's just perfect for you. I love everything about it." she mentioned moving closer. She leaned down and softly kissed her bare shoulder.

"And who dressed you tonight?" the writer teased. "Let me guess." Blake stood back to let her look. "Ralph Lauren?"

"The one and only. How'd you know that?"

Georgia smiled. "I'm paid to know. Ralph Lauren always looks so good on you, so sexy." she stated sliding her hands up the lapels of the attorney's suit black pinstripe jacket.

"Well, we should go. There are a couple of things we need to do first."

Leaving the building Georgia was confused when Blake directed her over towards the park. However she simply let the tall woman escort her over to the carriages. The blonde gave the older woman a quizzical look when the attorney said they were going on a ride through Central Park. Blake assisted her up into the carriage before climbing in herself.

"You're bein' quite mysterious this evenin'." she mentioned.

"I just wanted some time to unwind with you before tonight. I wanted to take you on a ride for awhile now, but we've just never gotten around to it. It's fun and a good way to have some alone time." she stated. Reaching under the seat, she pulled out a bottle of champagne and two glasses.

"You come prepared." the blonde teased. "Something tells me this was planned. I don't think all of these carriages comes equipped with champagne."

"Well, can't I do something romantic for a change?"

"I didn't say I minded." she answered with a smile as Blake handed her a glass. Trying to remain calm, the attorney decided to just let Georgia talk for awhile, by asking her what was going on with work. The blonde was none the wiser at first as she chatted away, but the whole time the older woman tried to get her thoughts in order for what she was going to say. Finally after more than half an hour the writer realized that her girlfriend wasn't really there with her in the moment. "Blake, where are you?" she inquired seriously.

"What do you mean?" nervously the attorney asked.

"You haven't been listenin' to a word I've said."

"You're right. I haven't." she admitted.

"Then why did you ask if you weren't interested?" the little woman sulked.

"I was stalling for time." the brunette uneasily replied.

The answer caught the blonde off guard. "What are you stallin' for?"

With a fidgety smile, Blake pulled a small box from her pocket. "I was trying to work up my nerve to give you this." she honestly said, opening the box and turning it toward the little woman.

Instantly Georgia's breath caught at what was inside. A large diamond with two smaller ones to set if off sat perched on top of a platinum band. "Oh my God." she breathed.

"Georgia, about a month ago you asked me where this relationship is going, and I just wanted you to know my answer. My entire life I've been scared of settling down. I was essentially alone for thirty-eight years, and then my Great Aunt Millie died. That brought me to Stillwater and to you, Georgia, and I haven't been the same since. From the day you walked into my life, I knew there was something wonderful about you. I can honestly say that I was smitten with your cute smile and bubbly personality. We were friends suddenly and then just as suddenly we were more. From that night at the fair, I've never been able to rid myself of the feeling of you. The first time you kissed me, you branded me, Georgia. You left a mark on my soul. I moved through many emotions regarding you, but there was one that always remained. Under everything else I knew that I loved you in a way and in a depth that I have never felt for anyone else. I've been scared my whole life of commitment, but with you commitment is all I want. I know that there will never be another woman to ever grace my life the way you have. When I think about my future, you're in it. More than that children are in it too. Georgia, I want to make this relationship more than long-term. I want it to be permanent." Sliding off the seat down onto her knee, she continued, "Georgia Carmichael, I want you to be my wife and the mother of my children. There is nothing else in this world that would make me happier than to take you as my bride. Will you give me the greatest honor of my life by accepting this ring as a promise to someday take that journey with me? Will you marry me, Georgia?"

"Oh, Blake. I never imagined this would come from my little huff. I had no idea you really felt this way. I'm speechless. This is all I've ever dreamed about since I moved here." she confessed as tears began to stream down her face. "I want to marry you more than anythin' else in this world." With a confident smile, Blake pulled the ring from it's box and slipped it on Georgia's left hand. "This is a beautiful ring, Blake. I love you so much." she stated pulling her fiancee up for a deep kiss.

"I love you too, Georgia." she confessed.

When the carriage ride was over, Blake took them back to her building where a limousine was awaiting their arrival. "Where are we goin' now?" the blonde asked curiously.

"It's a surprise, love. Trust me. You'll love it." she answered as the driver opened the door for them. The ride was quiet until they pulled up to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Taking Georgia by the hand, Blake led her over to the elevators. Neither said a word, even though the blonde was immensely curious as to what was going to happen next. Arriving at the tenth floor, they walked down to the end of the hall where Blake knocked casually.

Within moments the door opened, and Georgia screamed in surprise as her mother stood there looking elegant in an evening dress. "Mama!" she exclaimed hugging her tightly.

"Georgia! How are you, baby girl?" she asked cupping her daughter's face with both hands.

"I've never been happier in my whole life, Mama." the blonde cried.

Cindy looked at Blake and smiled. "I take it she said yes, sugar?"

"She did, Cindy. You don't mind having me for an in-law, do you?" the tall woman teased lightly.

"I couldn't be prouder, Blake." she answered pulling away from her daughter long enough to hug the attorney.

After a moment the brunette mentioned, "We should get going. We have that party to go to."

Georgia nodded. "Right. I almost forgot with all that's happened. Just let me use Mama's bathroom for a minute. I bet my make up is a mess." she stated. "You don't mind, do you, Mama?"

"Not at all. Take your time."

A few minutes later the blonde reappeared. "Are we all ready?" the attorney asked casually. "Cindy, do you have everything you need?"

"Yes, I'm ready."

Casting her fiancee a confused glance, Georgia asked "I thought you said this was a business party."

"It is, but your mother is coming with us. I figured you would want to spend time with her. That's why I got her an evening dress. Shall we go now, ladies?" she inquired extending an arm to each of them.

The ride to the restaurant didn't take very long. Georgia was so caught up in catching up with her mother that she hardly noticed that they had arrived until the driver had opened their door, and she noticed flashing cameras illuminating the darkness. With a proud smile, Blake helped her from the car. Escorting both women toward the door, Blake smiled and waved at the paparazzi. The writer was so overwhelmed with all the attention that missed the awning with her name across it. However as they got to the door, she saw the word "Georgia's" etched in glass in her own distinct handwriting. She looked up at the attorney in confusion, but Blake said nothing instead proceeding through the entrance.

As soon as they cleared the doorway, they were greeted by the sight of Jack standing there in a tuxedo watching the crowd. When he saw them, he smiled brightly. He reached out toward Blake when she came close enough. "We did it, Yankee!" he said happily clutching her into a hug.

"We certainly did, Jack." she answered pleased with the heavy gathering. "How long is the wait?"

"There's always a table for you, partner." he stated. Turning to the blondes with the attorney he greeted them as well. "Miz Erwin, how are you this evenin'?" he inquired with a grin as he leaned in to kiss her on the cheek affectionately.

"I'm fabulous, Jack. How are you?" Georgia said with a beaming smile. He looked dapper in his suit and stood proud amongst the crowd of aristocrats. In fact had she not known him as a child, she would have never guessed that he was just a poor boy from Georgia. He looked as if he belonged with the rest of New York society.

"I couldn't be better. My dream of this place has become reality thanks to your fiancee, and my best friend had gotten engaged. Life couldn't be better right now, Georgia." He smiled at Cindy. "Cindy, it's good to see you in New York." he greeted her with a kiss to the back of her hand.

"It's good to be here, Jack. You look good."

Jack smiled at Blake. "I had a little help cleanin' up. Turns out we, southerners, don't have the monopoly on manners after all. Well, let me show you to a table. Blake, if you could help me by makin' some rounds that would be great." he said moving them through the crowd.

"Of course. I'll meet and greet. After all I'm the one who invited everyone. I should at least play hostess." she replied. Sitting the two blondes, Blake excused herself to talk to people.

When Georgia and her mother were alone, the writer asked, "Did you know 'bout all this?"

She nodded. "Surprised?"

"I had no idea any of this way comin'. Blake's totally blown me away tonight. She and Jack own this place?"

"Yeah and they named it after you."

"I cain't believe that they kept this a secret from me the whole time. I knew Jack was workin' on this, but I had no idea Blake was involved."

"She wanted it to be a surprise. She told me that she and Jack are business partners now and wanted to make this one of the best restaurants in the city. I'd say they were well on their way."

"They certainly are." Georgia agreed. "I really should talk to people too a little, Mama. After all I do know most everyone in here as well." she said as she waved at yet another acquaintance.

"Then go ahead. You and Blake have fun. I'm enjoyin' just watchin' you together."

Leaving her mother at the table, Georgia said hello to people as she searched for Blake in the crowd. She found her talking with Maria and Thomas. "Thomas, Maria, hi." the blonde said with a smile as she hugged Maria.

"Blake was just telling us the good news. Congratulations." Thomas said putting his hand on the attorney's shoulder. "We thought the day would never come when this one settled down."

"Well, it just took the right woman to do it." Blake answered.

"You simply must let me help you with some of the details, Georgia. I know lots of people." Maria mentioned.

"I know you do, and I'm sure Blake and I would be grateful for any assistance you could give us. Where are Helen and Torrance tonight? I haven't seen them."

"Oh, unfortunately they couldn't be here. John is sick. They told me to send their condolences though."

"Oh poor baby. At least he's got two dotin' parents to care for him."

"Tell me, Georgia. Who was that on Blake's arm when you came in? She looks just like you."

"That's my mama. You should come meet her."

"I'd be delighted." Maria said. "Excuse us."

Once the two women were gone, Thomas grinned at Blake. "You've really gone and done it, huh? She's the one?"

"Yeah, she's the one, Thomas. Hard to believe, isn't it?"

"I'm glad that you have finally found her. I know Torrance and Helen will be disappointed that they weren't here to share in this night."

"It's all right. If they haven't heard about it by the morning, I'm going to call and tell them."

"Listen, I've been wanting to talk to you about something, but there just hasn't been a good time. The Democratic party has asked me to consider running for governor in the next election. I've been out of politics for awhile, but I'm still very involved in the party. I lobby heavily on a state and national level, so my name is still out there even though I'm not tied to any office right now. Basically they want me to come out of retirement though to campaign. We're trying to move the party as a whole in New York in a more liberal direction, and they think I'm the man to do that."

"Are you going to do it?"

"I'm seriously considering it, but they want a younger person on the ticket with me, someone with great potential and liberal popularity. Blake, I'd like to put you on the short list I present to them as potential running mates. Granted you don't have the political experience that some of the others on the list do, but you have something that they can't bring to the table. Your popularity as a social activist far outweighs your lack of experience as a politician, and you are about as far left as they come. At the very least, even if you don't make the ticket, I'd like to see you on my staff. Would you consider stepping into politics?"

"Are you sure I'm the woman you want?"

"Well, you'd only be the second woman on the list. I've known you for almost half your life, Blake. I know your work history and your ethics. I wouldn't ask you if I didn't think you could do it, but politics is a way of life, not a job. It would mean changes for you and Georgia. I mean even if I put you on the list that doesn't guarantee that you'll run with me, but I would like to put as many qualified candidates up for discussion as possible. What do you say?"

"Thomas, it would be an honor to be considered, so how could I refuse such an offer? I appreciate the gesture."

"So, is that a yes?"

"Yes, most definitely. It would be an experience like no other to work with you."

"Great. I'm pleased to hear that." After a momentary lull in conversation while they both looked around at the crowd, he stated, "You know it's so interesting to see how children grow. I still remember you when you were just a twenty year old misfit that I thought was a horrible influence on my daughter." he said with a laugh. "It took a long time for me to realize that you were in fact one of the few better influences she had back then."

"Yeah, well, I wouldn't say our first meeting was a positive first impression." she joked.

"I'd say not. I remember that like it was yesterday actually, surprising Torrance at school and finding the two of you. Were you just stoned or drunk too?"

"Both I think." she replied.

"Well, you looked it, and you two were quite busy entertaining those other two women. Boy were you two surprised to see me standing in your dorm room doorway. I remember you had all those black lights and the loud music going, and that marijuana smoke was so thick when I opened your door that it came flooding out into the hallway."

Blake gave a embarrassed laugh. "Yeah, well, I remember looking up from the bed and seeing you standing there like God in the second coming. You were larger than life, and I was scared out of my wits."

"Well, I can't believe that was almost twenty years ago. Now here you are having finally decided to settle down. I couldn't be prouder if I was your own father, Blake. I hope you know that." he said.

"I do, Thomas, and I feel as if you've always been my second father."

"Tell me more about this new business partner of yours. Who is Jack Smith really? How come we've never met him before?"

"He's Georgia's ex-husband actually and the one that saved my life in Stillwater when the Klan tried to kill me. A few months ago I had the opportunity to return the favor for him. We started out kind of rocky. After all he and Georgia were still married when I met them, but he and I have come a long way with each other. Under it all, he's a good guy, Thomas. He had some issues to deal with regarding Georgia and me, but I'm happy to saw that he has moved beyond them. I think he's just as thrilled actually that Georgia and I are engaged."

"Well, were they really supposed to be together? I mean it seems to me that his interest really isn't in women at all." Thomas observed.

"What are you talking about?"

"Look at him over there with Isaac." he stated.

Continued in Part 5.
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