Time: Clock of the Heart

by Alex Tryst

Disclaimers: This is a sequel to Persistence and would be difficult and confusing to read if you haven't read Persistence first. Some of you may recognize the title of this book as a song title from my favorite 80s band, Culture Club, but I assure you that no infringement was intended. I simply felt that George O'Dowd's (Boy George) song of loving, losing, and learning to love again perfectly expressed the sentiments of this piece. I also must state that there are several songs in this book that have been modified from their original content, and even though I attribute them as original works by one of my characters, they really were written by Babyface and on his "For the Cool in You" CD (which I only bought because the sales girl was flirting with me and I wanted a date, but that's a story for another time). Due to the unfamiliarity of these songs, most people won't know the melody, but they read more like poetry, so this shouldn't hinder your enjoyment. As for sex, violence, language and so on, this is a rather tame story. Of course there is sex between two consenting adult women, and if this is illegal where you live or offensive to you, you must do a 180 degree turn immediately. There isn't any violence that I can think of, and I could count the uses of foul language on one hand, well maybe two.

Dedication: To my wife, you are my fondest wish. To my fans of Drew and Lola, this one is just for you. You asked for it, and you got it. Enjoy!

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

Part 2

Chapter 6

Lola made her way back to Drew's room, pausing to take a deep breath before making her entrance. Drew was looking out the window when she came in but gazed over at the door to see Lola standing there with Emma in her arms. "Well, Lola Emerson, or is it Lola Bailey now?" Drew asked hesitantly.

"Actually it's Lola Emerson-Bailey. I hyphenated it because of my dad."

"Paul? What about him?"

Taking the seat she had abandoned several minutes prior, Lola replied, "I didn't really want to start with my dad, but I might as well get it out of the way. The summer before my senior year of high school, my father was killed by a drunk driver. You were at the scene of the accident, and he actually died in your arms, Drew. The two of you were really good friends."

"Oh, poor Katherine. How has she managed all this time?"

Lola shrugged. "I would have to say she managed largely due to you and then Jim."

"Who's Jim?" Drew asked curiously.

"Mom got remarried a couple of years ago. Jim is her new husband." Lola answered wondering if they were ever going to move beyond questions about her mother.

"I see, and how long have we been married?"

"Six years. Six wonderful years." she said with her first smile. "And we have three children. Let me show you the pictures." Holding up the first one, she said, "This is us on our wedding day."

Drew looked closely at the picture Lola was holding up her for inspection. "This is at my parents' ranch. This is my favorite tree." Drew mentioned happy to recognize something.

"Yes. Actually it's our ranch now, but you're right. That is your favorite tree."

"Why do we live here? What happened to my parents?" she questioned timidly.

"You're parents are fine, Drew. They are healthy and happy. When your dad retired, they moved and let you take over the ranch, but they are fine. They've actually been in town, and I just called them a few minutes ago, so they should be on their way here."

Satisfied with that answer, Drew turned her attention back to the photo. She noticed that she was wearing flowing white pants and a long white jacket buttoned all the way up to the collar with long tails in the back. "Nice monkey suit I've got on." she mumbled.

"You looked so sexy in that." Lola commented earning her an uncomfortable stare. Heeding Melissa's warning about sexually charged comments and touches, she said nothing else on the subject.

"You look beautiful, though." Drew complimented seeing the simple white off the shoulder dress that Lola had worn. Lola was holding her bouquet, and Drew had her arm around Lola's waist. When Drew had seen enough of that photo, she glanced up at Lola and inquired, "We really are married?" Lola nodded. Drew furrowed her brow. "Please forgive me if this hurts you in any way, but I just can't understand why and how that was possible."

"I know. Hopefully it'll come back to you, honey. It's going to take a long time to explain, and I think it would be best if Mom and I talked to you together about it."

"Okay. Is Kate coming here today?"

"Yes. She should be here this afternoon. Would you like to go on to the next picture now?"

Drew nodded, so Lola flipped to one of Drew, Jack, and Drew's father, Jackson. "Is that my dad?" Drew inquired looking closer. "And who is this young fellow?"

"Yes, that is your father, and that is our son, Paul Jackson Emerson-Bailey. We named him after our fathers, but we call him Jack . He's five. He'll be starting pre-school this fall."

"What's he like?"

"Surprising with the way we conceived him, he's a lot like you, highly intelligent but also very sensitive and down right precocious at times. He's been having a hard time with you being in the hospital. Normally he isn't overly affectionate, but he's been down right clingy since your accident. I know that he feels responsible even though he can't really express himself adequately."

"Why is that?"

"Well, he was there when the accident happened. You were actually saving him when you got hurt. The two of you were down at the outside training ring, which we added on after we got married, and one of the horses got spooked and almost trampled him, but you pushed him out of the way and ended up getting hurt yourself. I know you might not remember our children, but I hope you can find it within yourself to at least pretend for their sake. They adore you, Drew. Jack idolizes you, and he and our two girls need assurance that everything will be all right and that they are well loved by us."

"Of course, Lola. They're only children. I certainly understand your concern, and just because I don't remember doesn't mean I'm going to turn my back on them. I would never do that. I take responsibility seriously."

"I know you do, Drew. Let's look at the next picture. This one is of my mother, our daughter, Libby, and myself. You took this picture of us last fall at Thanksgiving." she mentioned showing Drew.

Drew looked at the three towheads in astonishment. "Oh my God. If it weren't for the age differences, you'd never be able to tell the three of you apart."

"I know. Kind of creepy, isn't it?" joked Lola.

Drew gave a small nod as she looked intently at Kate. "Your mother certainly has aged well, better than I have. Are we still close?"

"Yes. You're still the closest of friends, Drew. You always have been."

"And why did we name our daughter Libby?"

"Well, her real name is Elizabeth, but we just call her Libby, because you thought Elizabeth sounded too pretentious for a toddler. I'll admit that she is almost exactly like me in every way. There's one last picture here of all of us right after Emma was born." Lola flipped to the final photo and held it up for Drew. "Don't we have a beautiful family, Drew?"

Drew eyed the photo of Lola and her surrounded by their children. Even though she couldn't remember any of them, she could see the happiness on all the faces. "They are all very beautiful." Drew conceded. "I assume you gave birth to all of them."

Bewildered at the comment, Lola said, "Yes, actually I did."

"Then they aren't really mine. We just tell them they belong to both of us."

Lola felt her heart breaking at Drew's comment. "Drew, they are as much a part of you as they are me. Just because I gave birth to them doesn't mean they aren't yours. We petitioned to have you become their legal guardian, but that's still pending, because we added Emma to it. Drew, they call you Mommy, and they have your last name. Just because you aren't related to them in blood doesn't mean they aren't yours. I gave you these children as gifts as a sign of our love for each other. Please don't let such a little detail stop you from being the mother that they need."

"Who's the father?"

"We used a sperm donor. All three kids have the same donor, Drew."

"Do we know him, or does he know us? How did it work?"

"We don't know the donor or vice versa. We decided that was best for us given the potential legal problems if the father could find out. We are the only two parental influences our children have, Drew. They need both of us."

"Could we stop talking for awhile? I'm getting tired from trying to take all this in." Drew mentioned feeling like she was on overload.

"Sure. You rest. We have lots of time to talk."

Lola simply sat quietly once Drew closed her eyes, wondering about their future until Drew's father arrived a little later. "Hey. I thought you said she was awake." he said.

"She was, but she wanted to rest a little. We've been talking since she awoke."

"Oh, okay. How's her memory and her condition? Rose didn't tell me much, just to get over here as fast as I could."

"Melissa says she's physically weak, but she expects a full or near full recovery. However her mind is different. When she first awoke, she claimed to be a twenty-one year old senior at UVA. Melissa got her to understand that she is actually forty-eight and a sheriff, but she's lost twenty-seven years worth of memories. She didn't recognize me at first nor do I think she does now, but I think she's accepted Melissa's explanation that I am not only Lola, Kate's daughter grown up, I'm also Lola, her wife. I don't think she's really come to understand that, though."

"Well, it was hard enough the first time for her when she was going through it. It doesn't seem that surprising that she would have a hard time grasping that in her condition but don't worry, dear. It'll come back to her."

"I hope so."

"Why don't you go home for awhile and be with the kids? Rose is waiting on you to come home before coming up here. She wasn't sure bringing the kids up on the first day would be a good idea."

"She's probably right. I'll go, so she can come up here. Just so you know I showed her some pictures, so she will recognize you as her father, but it's from the picture. I don't know what her response will be to Rose."

"All right. You go on home now and try to relax. This is the hardest part, and you need to be even more rested now."

The next time Drew awoke she looked around for Lola, but she was met with two interested faces. Recognizing her father from the photo, she quietly inquired, "Dad?"

"Hey, Drew. How are you, tiger?" he asked with a relieved smile.

Looking to the woman next to her father, Drew figured it had to be her mother. "Mom, is that you?"

"Yes, honey. It's me." she replied taking Drew's hand in her own.

"I'm so glad you two are here." Drew said feeling overwhelmed with emotions. As tears began to spill out of her eyes, she whispered, "I'm so scared. I can't remember hardly anything."

Jackson put his hand consolingly on her shoulder as Rose stroked her arm soothingly. "We know, Drew, but you're surrounded by people who love you regardless. We won't let anything happen to you."

"Am I really married to Lola Emerson?" she asked, knowing her parents would never lie to her.

"Yes, you are, Drew." her mother answered.

"How? Why?"

"Only Lola can explain that but I assure you that you are deeply in love with her, Drew, even if you don't remember."

"I don't feel that for her, Mom."

"It'll come back to you, Drew. Give it time."

"What if I don't want it to come back? Doesn't Kate hate me?"

"Of course not. Why would you think that? Why wouldn't you want to remember your love for Lola?"

"I was always meant to be with Kate. Why did I settle for Lola?"

"Honey, I know this is hard for you to comprehend, but you did not settle for Lola. You love her, and you are utterly and hopelessly in love with her. You have been for the last ten years."

"Ten years? You mean to tell me I was in love with her when she was still in high school?" Rose nodded. "Did we date when she was in high school?"


"Impossible. I never would've done that."

"Well, you did. I don't think you were a willing victim at first, but she wouldn't take no for an answer. You did fall in love with her, though. You told me so."

"I did?"

"Yes, dear, you did."

Drew thought it over for a moment before saying, "I just don't feel that way now."

Drew's parents stayed the day with her until that afternoon when Kate arrived. The moment that she walked into the room, Drew graced her with a charming smile. "Katherine, so nice of you to come see me." she said.

"You know who I am?" she asked in surprise given that Lola had told her Drew thought she was Kate at first.

"How could I ever forget a beautiful woman like you? Come give a hug." Kate moved to the bed and leaned down to give Drew a light squeeze and kiss on the cheek. Unable to get her own arms completely around Kate, Drew responded with a lingering kiss on Kate's soft cheek as well. "Sit down next to me and tell me how you are." Drew requested tapping the bed with her hand. Kate did as asked, sliding the side rail down so that she could comfortably sit on the bed next to her best friend. Taking Drew's hand, Kate placed it on her thigh, stroking the back of it lightly as she looked at Drew in fondness. "It feels so nice to touch you, Kate."

Kate flushed slightly as she grinned. "Well it's nice to see you with your eyes open, Drew. You gave us quite a scare."

"I'm sorry to have worried you, Katie. It wasn't my intention."

"Katie?" Kate questioned with a smile. "You haven't called me that in a long time. It still makes me feel young when you say it."

"You are young, Katie, young and beautiful."

"Well, I would say you certainly are back to your bewitching ways. I bet the women around the hospital aren't feeling short on compliments now that you've come to. You've always had a way with ladies."

"But have I ever had my way with this lady?" Drew flirtingly teased patting Kate's leg.

Realizing what Drew was implying and that she didn't actually know the answer was yes, Kate blushed badly. Turning to Drew's parents, she inquired, "Do you think it would be possible for me to talk to Drew privately for a few minutes?"

"Sure, Katherine. We could use a little break." Rose mentioned, taking her husband out of the room.

"Kate? What's the embarrassment about? I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."

"It's all right, Drew. I'm just embarrassed to talk about it in front of your parents, not you. To answer your question, yes, you have had your way with this lady. In fact calling me a lady after some of the things we've done together might be too chivalrous."

"What? Kate, you'll always be a lady to me. What did we do?"

"For now let's just say I had the most adventurous sexual encounters of my life with you and leave it at that. I don't really feel comfortable reminiscing, especially since you're married to Lola."

"You mean you and I made love on several occasions, and I don't remember it? How long were we lovers?"

"Almost two years. We lived together and were planning on getting married, but I couldn't let you go through with it."

"Why not? That's all I've ever wanted, Katherine. My whole life all I ever dreamed about was being with you and loving you the way you deserved. I wanted to marry you. Why didn't we?"

"Because you still loved Lola, and I knew I couldn't let you settle for me, especially since you wanted children, and I couldn't give them to you. I didn't want to be second best, and I didn't want to ruin my daughter's chance at happiness, so I stepped aside to let nature take its true course. Not long after that I met Jim, my new husband. This is the way it's supposed to be, but I'll always hold those years in my heart that we finally had a chance to live that one dream, at least temporarily."

"But I love you now, Kate. I don't love Lola like that."

"You just think you don't, but you do, Drew. Furthermore, I'm married again, so there's no place in either of our lives for anything other than friendship. That's the way it's meant to be."

Drew pondered the conversation for a moment before clarifying, "I really chose Lola over you?" Kate nodded.

The rest of the evening passed easily between Drew and Kate as Kate told her stories about her life to try to help her remember. When Lola came back to take the night shift, Drew insisted that she start staying at home for the sake of the kids now that she was conscious, and after much discussion Drew got her way, leaving Drew alone for the night with a promise that Lola would bring the children by for a visit the next day.

The following day Lola didn't arrive at the hospital until after lunch that day thinking that the kids probably didn't need to see Drew's physical therapy session, especially since it would cause her pain. By the time she and the kids got to the room, Rose was helping Drew finish her lunch. Abandoning her food Drew gave the kids a happy smile. "Hey, crew. How are my kids? I missed you two." she said happily.

"Mommy!" Jack and Libby screamed in unison making their way over to the bed. Rose lifted each of them up, so they could give their mother a hug and kiss. Once they were satisfied with their greetings, they settled down next to Drew in the bed.

"So, how have you two been?"

"I missed you, Mommy." Jack said quietly.

"I missed you too, Mommy." Libby added.

"Mommy, when can you come home?"

"I don't know, Jack. It could be a little while."

"I'm sorry you got hurt. I didn't mean to be bad." Jack tried to apologize in his five year old way.

"Jack, it's okay. I'll be fine, but thank you for saying you're sorry. That's what you're supposed to do when you do wrong. I love the two of you so much." she said struggling to get her arm around them for another hug.

Seeing Drew striving to find a comfortable position, Lola suggested, "All right you two. Mommy needs some space now. Why don't you come over here and start coloring those pictures you promised to give her?" Settling the kids to their project, she looked at Drew. "Would you like help finishing your food?"

"That's all right. Mom's got it." Drew replied eying her mother to continue. Rose reluctantly went back to the task, knowing that Drew was uncomfortable having Lola assist her.

When Melissa came around to do her afternoon check, Lola introduced her to the children before requesting to speak to her alone. Going out into the hall, Lola said, "I've been thinking about what you said yesterday about couples counseling, Melissa. I think it might be a good idea to get Drew some individual counseling in addition to that. She doesn't recognize me as her wife, and furthermore she's avoiding me. I don't want it to get worse."

"All right. I'll talk to her about it. I'll let her know that it would be beneficial to her. She'll probably do it."


"Other than that, things are okay?"

"I guess. She's being great with the kids. I'm just anxious."

"It's natural. I'll get some counseling set up for you two. You just have to keep trying, Lola. I told you this would be difficult."

Chapter 7

Over the next month Drew's daily schedule remained fairly constant. She had PT twice a day, daily visits with the kids, and psychological counseling every other day. Even though there were vast improvements in Drew's physical abilities, her memories had failed to resurface leaving Lola frustrated, because Drew had no interest in her other than through the kids. They had only friendly exchanges, nothing that Lola was used to from her usually passionate partner.

Once Drew was cleared to be discharged from the hospital, Drew's positive demeanor became agitated. It was clear she had no intention of even trying to become close to Lola again, sleeping alone in the downstairs guestroom while Lola took the couch and Drew's parents stayed upstairs in the master bedroom. Drew always demanded that her parents help her with her therapy, leaving Lola completely out of the process. Not knowing what else to do, Lola relented, letting Drew have her way and focused solely on the children.

Two weeks after being discharged, the situation at home had not improved between them. Drew's parents had left in an effort to get Drew and Lola to deal with things, but the first night they were alone after the kids had been put to sleep was filled with awkwardness. Drew was sitting at one end of the couch drinking a cup of tea and just reading a book as Lola straightened up the living room. Once that was complete, Lola took a seat next to Drew, closer than she had over the passed several weeks. Drew scowled at her but then continued to ignore her.

"Drew, can we talk? We need to discuss what's happening here."

"Nothing is happening here, and that is fine with me." she grumbled.

"Well, it's not fine with me. You owe it to me as my wife to at least entertain this conversation." Drew sighed and closed her book, giving Lola her attention. "Drew, what's really going on in your head? You've been avoiding contact with me since you regained consciousness, and now that you're home, you act as if I'm not even in the room. I can't go on this way. I love you, and I need you to treat me at least with common courtesy. I can't stand being pushed aside like this by you, especially since I've been nothing but supportive of you. Why are you doing this?"

Drew looked at her lap, knowing that Lola was right. She had been less than receptive to the young woman's efforts to talk and be close to her. "Lola, I'm sorry. I know this has to be hard for you, but it's even harder on me. I don't remember anything, not you, not our kids, not our life, and not our love. Everyone around me keeps telling me how much I love you, how in love I am with you, but I can't remember it, and I don't feel it. You are Kate's daughter, and for that I do care about you. I love you like a second mother, not a wife or lover. I've tried to picture it, but I can't. It makes me ill with guilt. I can't pretend that I do feel something that strongly, and I shouldn't have to. I'm sorry. I know this has to hurt you, but I can't be what you need. I just can't."

Lola felt her heart being ripped from her chest at the admission. At that moment she wasn't sure if she could even speak as the tears began to fall in rapid streams down her face. Seeing that her confession had completely shattered the younger woman, Drew reached out to her in sympathy but was rebuffed. "Please don't touch me, Drew. I could very likely die from your touch right now. It's too painful. I don't know what to say. I guess I asked for it by forcing you into a corner about it. I should've just let us work it out on our own time."

"My feelings are not going to change, Lola. I'm sorry to hurt you this way, but I can't go on living as life companions when I don't feel that for you. Would you really want me to go on this way?"

Lola let the question sink into her brain. She knew she and Drew would both be miserable if Drew really didn't feel deeper for her. It wouldn't be the marriage they once had. There would be no intimacy or physical contact, and even though Lola didn't rely solely on those things in their relationship, they were too important to her to forgo just for the sake of calling themselves a couple. "I would never want to put you through anguish like that, Drew. I do love you enough to spare you pain whenever possible, but I refuse to call it quits on our marriage. The doctors said this would take time, not to rush into things. I'm begging you to heed that advice. Please don't make any decisions in haste."

"I want to leave, Lola. I want out. Please let me go."

"I can't." she hoarsely replied putting her hand on Drew's arm. "You are my world, Drew. You are my life. I need you. The children need you."

"I'm not going to walk out on the kids. I'll be there for them. I promise. I'll be as good of a mother as I ever was, but I need you to release me of this burden. Being your wife is not something I can do. I don't know how I did it then, but I can't do it now." Hearing Drew call their relationship a burden shredded that last piece of Lola's heart. She began to uncontrollably weep as she rocked herself back and forth on the couch. Not knowing what to do to bring the blonde consolation, Drew quietly got off the couch. "I'll pack my belongings in the morning." she mumbled softly before beginning to walk away, but Lola's hand shot out and grabbed a hold of the hem of her khaki shorts.

"Wait, Drew." she whispered. Drew looked down at her expectantly. In all her life Drew had never seen such a wounded expression on anyone before, and her heart went out in compassion to the young woman. Lola took a deep breath and stood, gazing at Drew with unguarded complete love and adoration. "Do you have any idea where you're going to go?"

"No. I hadn't thought that far ahead. Why?" Drew asked suspiciously at the unexpected turn of the conversation.

"Do you want the kids and me to move out instead?"

"No. I want you and the kids to stay here for now. This is their home, and I don't want to upset them any more than necessary. At some point a move might have to happen, because I think they'll be better off with you on a daily basis, but for now the four of you stay here."

"I'll make you a deal, Drew. I'll give you the keys to Mom and Dad's old place and let you stay there as long as you want, but you have to do something in return for me."

"What's that?"

"Promise me that you won't start any proceedings to legally end this relationship for six months and also keep supporting the kids financially until I can find a job."

"You and the kids will be taken care of financially. Don't worry about that. As for the relationship, I will do as you ask but only because I can see how much I've already hurt you. Maybe in six months time, it will be less painful. I'm going to go to bed now, so I can be rested for tomorrow. Good night, Lola." Lola said nothing as she collapsed onto the couch again.

The following morning Lola and Drew were both up before the kids. Coming across each other in the kitchen, they each mumbled a morning salutation before going about their own business. As Drew left the kitchen with a cup of coffee, Lola stopped her. "Just so you know, I'm taking the kids to Mom and Jim's to go swimming today. I don't think they should be here to watch you move your things."

"I think that's a good idea."

"I'll give you a call later as we head back, and maybe you could come see them to bed tonight."

"All right. Thanks, Lola." Drew said before taking her leave.

Picking up the phone, Lola called her mother. "How are you this morning, Lola? You don't sound good. When are you, Drew, and the kids coming over?"

"Um, the kids and I will be there before lunch. Drew's not coming."

"Why not? She's still on leave, isn't she? She's not ready to go back to work."

"She is still on leave, but she had other things she needs to do today." Lola whispered trying to hold herself together over the phone, but her mother sensed something wrong instantly.

"Lola, what aren't you telling me?"

"I don't want to do this over the phone. We'll talk when the kids go down for their naps this afternoon."

"All right. If that's what you want. See you in a bit."

When Lola arrive with the children, Kate cast a concerned glance in her direction as she hugged her grandchildren but she respected Lola's wishes not to discuss it in front of the kids. However as soon as they went down for naps after lunch, Kate pulled Lola onto the couch in the living room. Silently she held her youngest as Lola cried what seemed to be an endless river of tears. After several minutes Lola simply croaked, "She's leaving me."

"What? What do you mean she's leaving you? You mean she's ending your relationship?" Lola nodded trying to wipe her wet face with her hands. "Why on earth would she want to do that?"

"I don't know, Mom. She refuses to give us a chance. She won't listen to reason. She won't heed the doctors' advice to take it slowly, not to expect miracles."

"Exactly what did she say?"

"Just that it made her ill to think about us together sexually. She thinks of me as a daughter, not a wife or lover, and she couldn't pretend to be anything else. I don't know what to do, Mom. I can't go on without her."

"I know it feels that way now, sweetie, but it will get easier. I promise. What happens now? You both aren't living in the house I suspect."

"No. She's agreed to let the kids and me stay at the ranch, and I gave her permission to stay at your and Daddy's old house. In exchange for that she has to wait six months before filing a request to split our assets. She promised to keep supporting the kids and me until I found a job. I really do think I've lost her, Mom."

"Don't give up, Lola. Just because Drew has doesn't mean you should. I don't know why she has decided to go against all the advice of the doctors, but if she ever does remember, she'll live to regret it."

"Maybe but that doesn't do anything for me now. She's determined to just walk out on everything we've built together. Something is going on with her, and I don't know what it is. I know Melissa said Drew was thinking as her twenty-one year old self and that included being in love with you, but surely she knows that you two could never be together. Could you? Would you leave Jim for her?" Lola asked, suddenly unsure of where her mother stood on the subject of Drew's affections.

"No, I would not leave Jim for Drew. I don't love her that way, not the way you do. You have nothing to worry about between Drew and me, Lola. I would never do something like that."

"I'm sorry to question you. I'm just feeling so lost right now."

"It's understandable. You're going through a trauma yourself. Drew is not the only one who has suffered."

"What am I to do, Mom?"

"I don't know, but I am sure of one thing. You can't give up. You fought so hard to win her, fighting against everything, me, her, society. She meant that much to you. If she still means that much to you, you have to fight for her love, even if it means fighting her."

When Drew arrived at Kate and Paul's old house, she felt awkward at first. The last recollection she had of the place was the time she had sat with Kate and the girls the summer vacation between her junior and senior of college, and her feelings for Paul were less than friendly. In fact she had been seethingly jealous of the man who had stolen her beloved Katherine, even though she never dared mention it to her friend.

Opening the door she set her bags down at the entrance as she looked around the living room. All the furniture was covered in sheets or plastic to keep dust away, and it was clear that no one had been there for awhile. Experimentally flicking on the light, she was pleased to see that there was electricity. Drew's first order of business was to open all the windows to air out the house, so she slowly made her way to each window. As she moved into the master bedroom, she felt uncomfortable as if she as intruding on the privacy of Kate and Paul. Looking around the room after opening the blinds, a picture on top of the dresser caught her eye. Going over to it, she picked it up for further inspection. Wiping the dust off the glass with her hand, she studied the photo of herself with a man she assumed was Paul. They were older than Drew could recall, thinking that they were at least in their late twenties if not early thirties. They had embraced each other around the shoulder for the picture even though both sported dirty clothes. Drew was holding a string of fish while Paul had two poles, and they were both smiling brightly at the camera. Drew wondered if there was any information on the back, so she proceeded to open the frame. Sure enough of the back of the photo said in Kate's distinctive handwriting, "Paul and Drew taking the girls on their first camping trip." Suddenly a grin broke out on Drew's face as the memory seemed to hit her out of nowhere.

Paul, Drew, and the girls had jsut come back to their camp site with their dinner, and as the two adults chatted about the best way to cook their recently caught meal, Natalie called their names to gain their attention. When they looked over at her, the nine year old was standing there with the camera she had receieved as a birthday present from Drew. Immediately Paul and Drew embraced each other, smiling proudly as they showed off their fishing efforts.

Later that night as the four of them settled down to sleep in their tent, Drew slept on one side and Paul on the other with the two girls between them. There had been a disagreemtn between the girls as to who was going to sleep next to Drew, the winner having been decided with a coin toss by Paul. Drew was awake listening to the sounds of the night when she saw Lola's little head pop up from her sleeping bag. Whispereing the eight year old's name, Drew reached out for her. Lola whimpered said she was scared by the noise. Drew brought the little girl into her arms as she assured her that nothing would ever happen to her as long as she and Paul were around. She stroked Lola's blonde hair gently until they both fell asleep.

"I remember." she whispered to herself, relieved that something had returned to her as she placed the picture back where it belonged. She had Paul must have become friends somewhere alone the line, meaning that Drew had ultimately gotten over the loss of Katherine. Drew knew the only way she could've been friends with the man was if she no longer had feelings for Kate.

Leaving the master bedroom, she wandered through the rest of the house, hoping for more clues that would unlock her mind. When she came to the last closed door, she figured it had to be Lola's room, one of the previous bedrooms obviously belonging to Natalie with some of the memorabilia. Drew took a deep breath, not knowing if she was prepared to enter the childhood room of her wife, wondering what might be inside, especially since her mother had told her that she and Lola had dated while the blonde was still in high school. Knowing she had to face whatever might be on the other side of the door, Drew pushed it open and stepped into the room.

The bed was bare just like all the others except for a tiara that had seen better days hanging from one of the bedposts at the head of the bed and pom poms hooked over the other. Surprisingly there weren't any pictures anywhere out in the room. Seeing a photo album on the bookshelf above Lola's desk, Drew went over to it. Flipping through it, she realized she didn't recognize any one in there, figuring they were all friends of Lola's from school by their ages, but just before she put the book back on the shelf, a large envelope fell from the back, spilling its contents on the floor. Drew leaned down to retrieve them when she noticed that they were pictures of her. Drew put the book on the desk to use both hands to pick up the massive collection before glancing through them. Every single photo was of her alone spanning her life from the time she was in high school herself standing in her basketball uniform to her leaning next to her squad car in her sheriff's uniform. With over fifty photos in the collection, it spanned her entire adult life. Drew turned them over looking for any sort of background information, seeing some of them marked by Kate's hand but the other handwriting was unfamiliar. Drew reckoned it was Lola's, and each picture was meticulously documented with the date and event. Drew was amazed at the opportunity to glimpse back through her entire life even though most of the pictures she didn't recognize and learn about what she had been like as well as realize that Lola's fascination with her was more equivalent to an obsession than a crush. Having that realization dawn on her made Drew really uncomfortable as she moved to put the book back in its place. She put the pictures of herself back in the envelope but decided to keep them close to her, thinking that they might help spur some memories if she studied them enough.

Having gone through the entire house, Drew decided to stay in Natalie's room, feeling the safest there, so she moved all her bags in there before heading out to the garage for more exploration. Hitting the garage door button mounted just inside the doorway, the door creaked open, letting the stale air escape. There was an vintage yellow Volkswagen Beetle in the garage as well as several boxes and miscellaneous items. Drew moved to the car. Trying the door, she was pleased to find it unlocked. Drew slid into the passenger's seat as her hands roamed over the dashboard. Another memory flashed before her mind as she sat in the car of she, Natalie, and Lola.

It was sometime after Natalie's sixteenth birthday, and the young brunette had insisted on showing off her new car to Drew the day she got it. Having gotten into the passenger's seat, Drew allowed Natalie to chauffeur she and Lola down to the old Baskin Robbins for ice cream. Drew had bought them all cones which they ate outside leaning against the car, but once they were finished, Lola, who only had her driving permit, begged for a chance to drive the car. Natalie adamantly refused until Drew took her aside out of Lola's earshot. Subtly slipping the teenager a twenty, Drew requested that Natalie allow Lola to drive. With an annoyed sigh, Natalie snatched the money and relented. Lola squealed in delight as Natalie handed her the keys, but instead of thanking her sister, Lola grabbed Drew for a grateful hug and kiss on the cheek before excitedly jumping into the driver's seat.

Drew grinned to herself but abruptly a black guitar case caught her eye on top of a pile of boxes. Retrieving it off the top of the pile, Drew squatted down to put it on the floor. Even though the case had been banged up through the years it seemed to still be strong with very little rust around the joints. Drew's name had been scratched into the paint onto the top of it. Drew smiled as she recalled Kate doing that with Drew's knife one night when they had spent the night together in high school.

Popping open the locks, Drew gently opened the case. Pages and photos fell out of it first, revealing Drew's old guitar that looked like it hadn't been used in years. Drew thought of the last time she played it, the night before Kate was married to Paul, but it certainly looked like it hadn't seen the light of day since. Picking up some of the pages that had fallen from the case, Drew smiled as she saw some of the songs she had written in high school and college but felt a bittersweet tug at her heart as she came to the last sheet. It was the last song she had ever played on her guitar, the love song that she had written for Katherine, the one that had expressed her undying love and devotion. At the time she knew Katherine had not known it was written for her, because Drew had been too scared to admit her feelings, especially since Kate was engaged to Paul, but Drew had sung it to her with all she felt in her heart before locking her old guitar away along with her emotions never to be seen again.

Drew picked up the two photos next, smiling when she realized they were of she and Kate in high school. The first one was of just Kate, sitting in the bed of Drew's father's truck in her cheerleading uniform giving the camera what Drew used to call Kate's bedroom eyes. Even as Drew looked at the picture that look jumped started her libido as it had always done every time Kate ever gave her those eyes. The second picture was of the two of them on the porch swing at Drew's ranch. They were both dressed in jeans and sweaters, and Kate was sitting in Drew's lap, Drew's arms around Kate's waist and her head on the blonde's shoulder as they smiled brightly for the camera. Drew remembered the picture as her favorite couple photo of the two of them. Putting them aside with the sheets of music, Drew gently picked up the guitar itself and tentatively plucked at one of the strings. It struck a flat note before snapping. Drew smiled nevertheless before putting everything back in the case and taking it back to the house.

Knowing there was work to be done, Drew began unpacking her clothes before making a list for the grocery store of the things she would be needing. As promised Lola called that evening as she was leaving her mother's asking that Drew meet her at the ranch to spend time with the kids.

Drew went over to the house after a stop at the music store to buy new strings for her guitar and arrived before Lola and the kids had returned. Nevertheless Drew made herself comfortable in the living room watching tv. When she heard the garage door open, she went to meet the kids.

"Mommy!" Libby and Jack exclaimed racing to her.

"Hey, kids. How was swimming?"

"We had so much fun, Mommy. I wish you had gone though." Libby mentioned.

"Me too but I had a lot of work to do today. Maybe next time. Did you eat already?"

"No. I thought you might make cheeseburgers here for them. They are their favorites you know."

"You mean they're your favorites." Drew teased, suddenly wondering where the comment had some from.

Lola shot her a curious glance. "Drew? They are my favorite. Did you remember that?"

"I don't know why I said that. They really are your favorite?"

"Yeah, the way you make them they are."

"Well, let's hope I remember how to make them then." she joked, trying to bring light to the situation that neither of them really felt. "Speaking of remembering things though, some things did come back to me today."

"What?"quickly Lola inquired, hoping that it had to do with their relationship.

"Camping with you, Natalie, and your dad when you were eight. I saw a picture of Paul and me, and it just came back to me. I also remember the yellow Beetle. The day Natalie got it the three of us went out for ice cream, and you drove us home."

"Well, that's good. I'm glad." Lola replied trying to cover her disappointment that it wasn't something more intimate between them.

"I think it was the picture itself that helped me remember your father. Do we have any photo albums around here? I thought maybe if I looked at some more photos it might trigger something."

"Yeah. We have lots. I'll dig them out for you."

"Great. What about at your parents' house? Are their any around there that you know of?"

"I don't think so. I think Mom took most of that stuff to Jim's. I'll ask her next time I talk to her if you want."

"That's okay. I'll ask her myself."

Lola nodded, ending the conversation as she sat at the table with her children helping them complete a puzzle they had started earlier in the day while Drew prepared them all dinner. Lola kept an eye on Drew however, feeling small comfort that Drew seemed to know exactly where everything was in the kitchen without asking. Neither of them spoke about their separation in front of the children, so they spent the remainder of the evening as a family until the kids had been put down for the night. When Lola returned for putting the kids in bed, she found Drew cleaning the kitchen from supper.

"You don't have to do that, Drew. I'll get it later."

"It's okay. I'm almost finished."

"How's the house? I haven't been over there in forever. Is everything all right?"

"Yeah. It's a little dusty, but everything seems to be okay. It was interesting to be there, because I'm sure so much has taken place there that I can't remember. I took a tour every room. Your room was enlightening."

"My room? Why's that?"

"I found something that kind of disturbed me. I didn't mean to snoop, but I was looking through a photo album you had, and an envelope fell out of it. You had quite the extensive collection of my life in pictures. I've been told that we had a relationship when you were in high school by my mother, but I have to say that when I found those photos today, it seemed to me like your feelings for me, at least then, bordered on obsessive. Is that true?"

Lola gave a small nod. "I guess you could say that. It's true I did have a lot of pictures of you. I even had many of you out in my room until you broke my heart the first time by breaking up with me right after I went to college. When that happened I took them all down and stuffed them in that envelope you found. I didn't want to look at them, but I knew I couldn't throw them away either."

"Why did we break up?" curiously Drew inquired.

"You wanted me to have freedom, said I needed to live my life the way college kids were met to live."

"Is that the only reason I gave you?"

"No. You saw me kissing another girl. I cheated on you, Drew."


"Because I wasn't ready for commitment I guess. Even as much as I loved you, I was only eighteen. I didn't really know who I was or what I wanted from my life except when it came to you. I've always known that I wanted to be your wife, but for some reason the time and distance got to me. This other girl was there, and it was just one of those things. I was crushed that I had done that to you. I felt so terrible, and even though you never said it, I could see the pain in your eyes. Knowing I was the one that put it there was almost too much to bear."

"I see. When did we get back together then?"

"Right before my senior year of college."

"What happened in the meantime?"

Lola rolled her eyes and sighed. "In the meantime I cried my eyes out while you proceeded to fuck my mother."

"Oh. I take it this is a sensitive subject. I'm sorry I brought it up."

"It's okay. You don't know. It is a sensitive subject for me. You and Mom basically lied to all of us about it, by hiding the relationship, because you knew it would destroy me or so you said when I finally confronted you about it. As much as I care about you and Mom, it still hurts to think about, because you both knew I was still in love with you when you two were sleeping together, but you did it anyway."

Drew nodded feeling guilty about the incident even though she couldn't remember it. Just the look on Lola's face told her that it was traumatic for the young woman, so she felt sorry for her part in the matter. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry for hurting you like that, Lola."

"It's in the past." Lola mumbled. "Listen, I want to talk to you about something serious, Drew. Why don't you come sit down?" she suggested gesturing to the chair next to her at the table. Even slowly took the indicated chair, wondering what Lola was about to say. "Drew, your moving out of the house could cause us a serious problem."

"How's that?" Drew asked, already not liking the direction of the talk.

"The petition for you to become legal guardian for the children hasn't been granted yet. I'm afraid that if anyone finds out we aren't living together, it will be denied, and I don't want that. Regardless of our relationship, you are the children's mother just as much as I am, and they need you. You deserve to be their guardian, but us splitting up could make it more difficult to be approved. I just want you to be aware of the fact that your actions effect more than just you and me. Our children's lives are in the balance as well."

"Then we'll just have to make sure no one finds out that I'm not living here at the house with you all."

"I already told my mother, but I don't think she'll tell anyone. She feels the same way we do about the kids. I think it would be best if you spent as much time as you could around the house with us. I know you don't want to be anywhere near me right now, but the kids need you, and we need to make it at least look like you're still living here. We need to look very familiar with each other. You know what I mean?"

"Yeah. I need to make it look like I belong here with you. We need to pretend everything is fine."

"Exactly. Now we've already been through all the interviews and stuff when I was pregnant with Emma, but because we recently added her to the petition, it hasn't gone through yet. We have a hearing in a couple of weeks. We're going to have to do one hell of an acting job to pull this off, Drew, or we can have it rescheduled for a later date."

Drew thought about it for a moment before replying, "I think we should do it as soon as possible. We can blame my accident for any incongruencies, even get Melissa in there to say that I'll eventually recover to make it believable if we need to. It might be harder for me later."

"All right. If that's how you want it, that's what we'll do, but I have to tell you that this means everything to me, to us, Drew. If you're not ready, we shouldn't go in there. We can't afford to blow it."

"I'd do anything for my children, Lola, and I'll do this. I'll give you the act of a lifetime if that's what it takes. Don't worry about that."

"I am going to worry, Drew. It really does mean everything to me. Outside of us, this means more to me than anything else in this entire world."

Drew gazed at the young woman who's eyes were conveying the seriousness of the matter. Instinctively reaching to touch Lola's cheek, Drew whispered, "I can see that. You have my word that I'll be everything you need me to be in that courtroom. I swear it on all I am, Lola."

Lola leaned into Drew's hand, indulging in the unexpected caress for a moment. "Thank you, Drew." she whispered.

Drew nodded before pulling her hand away. "Could you round up those photo albums now? I'm about ready to get out of here."

"Yeah. Sure. One more thing, I haven't told the kids you aren't sleeping here at night. With your work schedule you never saw them in the morning anyway, so maybe with a little luck, they might not even notice as long as you make your nightly appearances."

A couple of days passed with Drew visiting every day in the evenings. The kids seemed none the wiser about the situation much to Drew and Lola's relief. However one day Kate had taken the children for the day with plans not to return them until it was their bedtimes, so Drew stayed at her own place, figuring Lola could come up with a reason of why she wasn't there if need be.

Drew spent the evening on the porch watching the setting sun and strumming her guitar when she saw a car turn into the driveway. As it came to a stop, Drew smiled as Kate emerged from the driver's seat. "How are you, Katherine?" she asked casually.

"Fine. You?" Drew shrugged. "Nice hat you've got on there. You look like a regular cowboy in that outfit. Lola would be drooling over you about now." she teased referring to the cowboy hat adorning Drew's head and the tight jeans and boots she was wearing.

"Well, this hat is better than this God awful haircut they gave me at the hospital." Drew joked. "What are you doing here?"

"I just wanted to see you and drop off those photo albums you asked for. Is that all right?"

"Sure. That's fine. I just figured you'd leave them with Lola, though."

"Well, my ulterior motive was to see you. It's been awhile. May I sit down?"

"Yeah. Be my guest. Is it strange to see me now occupying your house?"

"A little, yes. When did you start playing again?"

"I didn't realize I had stopped permanently. You mean to tell me this is the first time you've seen me with a guitar in years?"

"Yeah. The last time I heard you play was the night before my wedding. You left your guitar at my house, and it stayed there forever until my parents moved. They brought it me, and I just stored it in the garage. I didn't want to get rid of it, because I had so many fond memories of you playing."

"You want to see something funny?" Drew inquired opening the case and pulling out the pictures. She handed them to Kate.

"Oh my God. Look at us. We look so young. What a nice looking couple we made, huh?" she mentioned.

"Yeah, I think we did. Too bad I never got any action out of you, though. I wish I hadn't been so scared to make a move on you."

Kate laughed. "I probably would've given in had you put the moves on me." Neither spoke for a few minutes as Drew idly plucked at the strings of her guitar until Kate said, "Hey. I recognize that song."

"You do? What is it?" Drew challenged, knowing there was no way Kate would remember that it was one Drew had written.

"I don't remember what it's called, but it's the one you played for me the night before I got married. It was such a beautiful song. Didn't you write it?"

"Wow. Yeah, I did."

"Do you remember the words by chance?"

"No but I do have them written down." she mentioned holding up the sheet she had been referring to as she played.

"Would you sing it for me, Drew?" Kate asked quietly. Drew hesitated but Kate gave her a pathetic pout whispering, "Please, Drew."

Drew laughed. "God. So that's where Lola got that pouting lip? All right. I'll play it but only because you begged." Drew plucked the strings a few times as she cleared her throat before beginning to sing.

"I can't imagine living one day without you

I'd rather just lay down and die

'Cause all I care about is what I mean to you

Sweet lady just knowing you is heaven

I'll always want you in my life

I can't explain, I can't explain the way I feel

You are the rhythm of my heart

And every beat you give is just how I make do

Swear girl nothing else could matter

Just stay hear in my heart

And I'll always love you

Deep in my heart

Always love you, always love you

And I'll always love you

Deep in my heart

Always love you, always love you

There's not a feeling in this world that can describe

All of the joy you bring to me

I can't believe you found a way to maximize

All the love you give and do commit

Stay here in my life

And I'll always love you

Deep in my heart

Always love you, always love you

And I'll always love you

Deep in my heart

Always love you, always love you

And only everything that your heart could desire

Is all that I want for you

That's all I desire

And everything and anything you wanna give

Say the word my darlin' and I'm there to commit

You can think it, you can dream it

And I'll make sure you receive it

And I'll always love you

Deep in my heart

Always love you, always love you

And I'll always love you

Deep in my heart

Always love you, always love you

I can't explain, I can't explain the way I feel

You are the rhythm of my heart

And every beat you give is just how I make do

Swear girl nothing else could matter

Stay hear in my heart

And I'll always love you

Deep in my heart

Always love you, always love you

And I'll always love you

Deep in my heart

Always love you, always love you"

As the last chord faded into silence, neither woman spoke at first. Drew took a deep breath and sighed as she placed the guitar aside. When she looked over at Kate she found the blonde near tears. "Why did I never see it, Drew? Everything I ever needed to know about the way you felt was in that song. How could I have missed it?"

"You didn't want to see it, and I wasn't very good about showing it, especially since I knew I had lost you."

"All these years I believed that lie you told me about it being for your girlfriend whatever her name was. It wasn't for her at all, was it?"

"Nope. It was for you, Katherine."

"Of all the cold, heartless things that have ever happened to you, I inflicted you with the worst pain by making you stand up next to me in a church as my maid of honor while I gave my life to another the day after you sang me that song. I never understood your reluctance. You really didn't want to do it, did you? What kind of a friend was I?"

"No. I really didn't want to do it, but you wanted me to, and even then I could never say no to you, Katie. You shouldn't give it another thought. It was a very long time ago, and I was dead inside long before you and Paul took those vows. It actually hurt worse the night you told me you were engaged. That was the worst night of my life. After I left you, I went to the bar and got wasted and proceeded to try to drive my truck home. I didn't even care about anything any more. I could've cared less if I killed myself. In fact that's probably what I wanted to do, which is why I got hammered. I got pulled over on the way home, but fortunately for me, the officer was my father's best friend. Thank God he didn't drag my ass to jail like he should have. I wouldn't be the sheriff today, wouldn't have even been able to get into law enforcement if it weren't for him. He simply brought me home and let my dad deal with me. My father tore me up one side and down the other the next day, but I still didn't even care. Finally after about four hours of him screaming at me, he asked what I had to say for myself, and do you know what I said? I looked up into his face and simply said that you were engaged to be married. It's the only time in my life that I can ever remember my father cradling me like a baby as I wept. I swore I couldn't go on another day, another hour, another minute, that I would surely die from heartbreak. You see, he always assumed you and I were together, and I never told him differently, because I wanted to believe that I could win you. He and I have never talked about that day again as far as I can remember."

"I never knew that, Drew." Kate said softly touching her friend's arm.

"I didn't want you to know that I had been so stupid. I could've killed myself or someone else. That really was the dumbest thing I have ever done that I know of in my entire life. And for what? A broken heart." Drew mumbled taking up the guitar again and beginning to strum, signaling the end of the conversation.

Taking the hint Kate asked, "So, when are you planning on going back to work?"

"Probably next week. I'm doing all right physically. I can drive, and I can fire my side arm, so as long as there isn't too much activity, I should be okay. I think it'll help a lot. I can't stand being cooped up like this."

"I know. You never could handle too much inactivity. Tell me. How are you and Lola doing?"

"Fine I guess. We see each other every day to spend time with the kids. Since the custody hearing is coming up soon, we're trying to familiarize ourselves with each other enough to make it seem like we're still together. As of now, you're the only one who knows we're not living together. We don't want that to get around at the hearing."

"Don't worry. As far as I know, you're spending all your nights in Lola's bed. You and Lola deserve this no matter what your troubles. The kids need you both. I'll do all that I can to assure that they get that."

"Thanks, Kate. We appreciate it."

"Now how about you play me some more songs? I know you have other songs in there. It's been forever since I've heard them." Kate said with a smile. Returning it Drew agreed before taking off into another tune.

Chapter 8

The day of the custody hearing Drew and Lola arrived together with the children. Even though most of their friends and family had already been interviewed prior to the court date, Kate and Jim came to show their support for them as well as babysit the kids. When it was time for them to enter the courtroom, Drew stood and began to give their kids hugs and kisses before leaving them in Kate and Jim's care. Lola picked up Emma to get her situated on her hip before giving the older two the same treatment as Drew had. Kate hugged Drew before moving to Lola.

Leaning into her daughter's ear, she whispered, "You have to have faith, Lola. Believe in the love you have for Drew. Let them see that. You can do this."

"Thanks, Mom."

As Drew and Lola walked toward the courtroom, Drew paused just before they got to the door. Lola looked up at her questioningly when she stopped. Drew extended her hand to the young woman and waited for a response. When Lola hesitated Drew whispered, "For the children, Lola."

Lola suddenly realized Drew was planning on giving the acting performance of a lifetime by pretending that they were indeed still in a loving relationship by showing affection to her. Nodding in understanding Lola said, "Of course. For the children." Slipping her hand into Drew's she suggested, "Why don't you hold Emma as we go in?"

They entered the courtroom just behind their attorney before moving to sit next to her. Drew held out Lola's chair for her and waited until she was settled to sit in her own before the hearing began. The judge they had was a woman and seemed sympathetic to their situation, but she raised issues about Drew's ability to provide and protect the children given her accident. Fortunately for them Melissa had volunteered to come speak on Drew's behalf. However Drew insisted on addressing the judge herself much to the disapproval for their attorney, but Drew felt compelled to answer to the questions raised by the judge. Standing up Drew moved around in front of the table.

"Your honor, I appreciate you giving me the chance to speak. It's true that I was recently involved in a serious accident, but as you heard from the specialist that attended to me, a full recovery is definitely possible if not expected. No one has mentioned the reason I was in an accident, but I would like to tell you about it. Even though I don't remember the details, I've been told that the child that I call my son, five year old Jack, had gotten into some mischief with some of the horses at our ranch, and I actually had to save him from a potential accident himself. The point, your honor, is that I would do anything for these children to ensure their safety and well-being. From the moment each of them has entered our lives, they have brought nothing but happiness to Lola and myself. Lola and I have been in a serious committed relationship for six years, and even though it is not recognized by our state, it's recognized in our hearts and in the hearts of our family and friends. She is a special woman to give me these three gifts, and I love and cherish each one of them. It is Lola's and my greatest wish that I become the children's legal guardian, and it is my desire to give my wife everything I can within my power. However this is not within my control, but it is within yours. I am a good mother to those children and a good wife to Lola. We have an ideal home full of love and understanding. The kids live in an atmosphere where they can grow and be their own people with our complete support. I provide well for them financially and will continue to do so. The kids already recognize me as their mother, even share my last name, and heaven forbid anything ever happen to Lola, I need the law's protection to do what is best for these kids. If the children and I ever lost Lola, it would be devastating, but I could and would go on, because the children would need that from me. However if I lost the woman I love and then my children on top of that because of a law that doesn't recognize me as their legal parent just because I'm another woman, I don't think I could go on, and I know my children wouldn't be able to either. They need me, your honor, for their emotional, physical, and financial well-being, and I want to have that responsibility. Regardless of the ruling here today, Lola and I will continue to raise the children as if they are of my flesh and blood, but it would a great comfort to us to have the state's assurance that I can continue to adequately protect these kids in case something were to happen to Lola. Please show my children that our judicial system is not prejudice against two people who love each other completely and have the means of supporting them simply because we are not what is considered a traditional family by society. Thank you."

When Drew took her seat again, she spared Lola a smile as she squeezed her hand on the top of the table. They all looked at the judge expectantly who was staring back at them with equal intensity. "Well, Sheriff Bailey and Ms. Emerson-Bailey, this is a difficult decision to make, because your relationship is not recognized by the state. If you were a man and a woman, you wouldn't even be here, but since that is not the case, you have come here seeking legal protection under the law, the same law that does not recognize you. Sheriff Baily, I understand the way you feel about these children. Children are easy to love, especially when someone you adore gives them life, but the fact remains that they are not of your blood regardless of their name, and I could deny your petition on those grounds alone. Plus the fact that you are not in your top emotional shape as admitted by your own doctor, should give me more of a reason to dismiss this case. Thirdly you are indeed a woman who has chosen to spend her life with another woman, making it extremely difficult to grant your petition for custody." The judge paused for a moment as if she was collecting her thoughts. Drew cast a look over at Lola, seeing the young woman's eyes full of unshed tears. Drew's heart was beginning to sink as well, but she refused to let the judge see her emotions. Setting a determine stare on her face, Drew looked back at the judge. "Having said all that, Sheriff Bailey and Ms. Emerson-Bailey, I am granting legal guardianship to Drew Bailey effective immediately." Both Drew and Lola gasped as the judge continued. "Sheriff Bailey, you have proven yourself to an excellent provider for these children thus far, even putting your life on the line to protect them from harm. Between you and Dr. Johnston, you have allowed me to see that your feelings for these kids as well as Lola extend far beyond what some parents have for their own flesh and blood. You have taken this role seriously since day one according to the interviews of your family and friends, and you have demonstrated to my satisfaction your commitment to the well-being of these three children, so from this moment forward Jack, Libby, and Emma will have two legal parents, Lola Emerson-Bailey retaining her rights as the biological mother, but you, Drew Bailey, having the rights and responsibilities of their legal guardian. Your petition is granted. Case dismissed."

Without even thinking about it, Lola threw her arms around Drew's neck, hugging and kissing her frantically as the reality settled. "We did it, Drew. We really did it."

Drew smiled demurely, allowing the blonde her moment of excitement. "Yes, we did, Lola. Come on. Let's go get our children and celebrate." she stated taking her wife by the hand and leading her from the courtroom. As soon as they cleared the doors, Drew dropped Lola's hand and moved to where Melissa was standing waiting to hear the verdict. "Thank you for coming today, Melissa. Your testimony made a difference."

"Glad to have been of help, Drew. It means a lot to Lola."

"It means a lot to both of us even though things are not going they way she wished them to with us."

"She told me you had moved out. Drew, it's going to take time to get back to the way things were. You really shouldn't be making moves in haste."

"Thanks for the advice, but I know what I'm doing, Melissa. The time away has been good for me. I've started to remember some things."

"That's great. Every memory recovered is one more piece of your life restored. Hopefully it'll all come back to you eventually."

"We're having a little celebration back at the ranch, Melissa. We would love it if you could come."

"It would be my pleasure. Thank you, Drew."

The rest of the afternoon passed pleasantly. While Drew played with her children, Lola entertained their guests. However once everyone had left the party, leaving the two of them alone, they didn't speak directly as they sat next to each other on the floor with the kids. When it was bedtime, Drew helped Lola give the children their baths and tuck them in before they found themselves alone in the family room.

Lola looked at Drew who she knew was only pretending to be engrossed in the tv to avoid conversation. Even though she knew Drew was only acting, Lola had felt so close to her during the hearing. Drew had gone out of her way to give her emotional and physical support, making Lola's heart ache at what they once shared. "Drew, I want to thank you for all that you did today. You really are a born actress I guess. You nearly had me convinced that everything was fine between us." she mentioned.

"I told you I would do whatever it took for the kids, and I did. I knew we had to look like we were really together. It was a means to an end, Lola."

Lola gave a nod as she tried to retain her composure. "Well, thank you anyway. Now I can be assured that our children will always be safe if anything should ever happen to one of us."

"That's why I did it."

A moment passed before Lola tried again to get the older woman to talk. "Listen, Drew. Jack is going to be starting school in a few weeks. I was thinking that maybe we could both take him on his first day. I know he's a little anxious about it."

"Okay. That's fine with me. I'd like that." Drew answered still not opening up at all.

"Drew, please. I'm trying to have a conversation with you. Even if we aren't going to be a couple any more, we still should at least be friends for the sake of the children. Don't you think?" Lola inquired in exasperation.

Drew looked at the young woman. Giving a small nod, she conceded, "You're probably right. They'll begin to notice something wrong if we don't try harder."

"If you don't try harder, Drew. I feel like I'm out on this limb alone. Give me something to work with."

"You're right. I'm sorry. I just don't know what to do here, Lola. I'm really uncomfortable around you, knowing what you want from me and that it's an impossibility."

"I guess I understand, but we're still going to have to try to move beyond that, both of us are. I'll do my best to stop trying to see you as the woman I love, but you have to stop seeing me as your enemy. I am not some sort of vixen who coerced you into marrying me in the first place even though that's the way you're making me feel. Even though you don't remember it, we did love each other at one point enough to believe that we could have a marriage, and furthermore we believed that it would last forever, or else we wouldn't have done it in the first place, not to mention added children to the mix. No one could convince you to do something you didn't want to do in the first place. I know you know that much about yourself, Drew. Things have changed now much to my disappointment, but we both have to deal with that. As much as it hurts me, I have no choice but to let go of the best thing that ever happened to me, because you refuse to believe in us. You want me to give up on you, Drew, but I'm having a hard time with that. However, I will do my best to respect your wishes, but I need you to do that same for me. I need you to respect that fact that this is a difficult situation at best. The children need us to get along regardless of how we feel about each other, and I need you to at least pay enough attention to me, so we can get along amiably. I'm tired of being ignored by you, Drew, because you're uncomfortable. Well, guess what? You're not the only one. Do you think it's easy for me to sit here knowing how you feel about me?"

"I guess I never thought about it that way. I'm sorry, Lola. I will try to do better with this."

"I'm going to hold you to that, Drew. Now that the hearing is over, I wanted to talk to you about something else important regarding the kids."

"What's that?"

"I know we agreed that you would continue to support the kids and me until I got a job, but there is a distinct possibility that even with my getting a job, it could cost us both more money with trying to find full-time childcare for three kids. Are you prepared to deal with that issue? The reason I quit my job in the first place was because neither of us liked the idea of having strangers look after our children."

"Yeah, I don't like that thought. It would be better if one of us could look after them."

"I agree, so that begs the question of which one of us is going to do it. You are too busy with your career to take a leave of absence for the kids. You wouldn't have anything to go back to, Drew."

"That's true. I'd have to retire, and I don't want to do that. If you didn't mind, you could always keep looking after them."

"I don't mind. In fact I enjoy it, but are you prepared to support me financially for the next five years until Emma enters school? You really will have to pay for everything, except mortgage or rent. Mom has already said I could move into the old place when you're ready to take the ranch back, but I would need help with everything else."

"I know, but I don't see another way around it, Lola. If that's what I have to do to ensure my kids' well-being, I'm prepared to keep supporting you and them for as long as it takes. I do feel a sense of responsibility to you too, Lola. I will take care of you."

"Thank you, and when the time comes that I can return to work, will you allow me to take my job back as the office manager at the stables?"

"I don't see why not? Horses are your life. You should do what you enjoy." Drew replied.

Lola looked at her quizzically. "How did you know horses were my life? I mean it's true, but where did that come from?"

Drew shrugged. "I just knew. Well, I better get going. I'll see you tomorrow."

Chapter 9

Life between Lola and Drew began to settle into a routine over the course of the next few months. Even though Drew couldn't remember her life as Lola's wife, the two of them had formed a congenial but tentative friendship. Drew spent all her free time with the children, allowing Lola time of her own to relax and enjoy some of her forgotten hobbies such as riding. One afternoon Drew had picked Jack up from school and took him home to find a strange car in the driveway. Escorting Jack into the house, Drew was surprised to find Lola and Melissa having lunch at the kitchen table.

"Hey, Drew. How are you?" Melissa greeted with a smile.

"Hi, Melissa. What surprise to see you here." she stated looking to Lola.

"Oh, Lola was kind enough to invite me to go riding with her this afternoon. She's convinced she can turn me into an equestrian."

Seeing the uncertainty on Drew's face, Lola asked, "You were planning on staying with the kids this afternoon, weren't you? Did I get that wrong?"

"No. I was going to stay here. You two go have a good time. Don't worry about us." nonchalantly Drew replied feeling an emotion that she could've sworn was jealously strike her at the thought of Lola spending time with the attractive doctor. Dismissing it she continued into the family room where she and Jack promptly started to play. She barely even looked up when Lola announced that they were leaving and would return in a few hours.

Drew didn't give Lola any thought until Jack had been put down for his own nap. Since neither of the girls were awake yet, Drew just straightened up the house before sitting out on the back deck to enjoy the fall weather. She let her thoughts wander to Lola and Melissa. Even though no one had said anything, Drew sensed that Melissa had more than friendly interest in the blonde. Drew thought about what she knew about Melissa. The doctor was in her mid-thirties and beautiful. Lola had made her admiration known for the young brunette on several occasions, making Drew wonder if their was a budding romance between them. Drew admitted to herself that she could see Lola with the doctor, but the thought of Melissa living with her children made her uneasy. She had never considered that Lola may find someone else, potentially making the children have a three-parent household, which made her concerned. To her knowledge the kids still believed that Drew was living there so to introduce a new adult into the equation might confuse them. Drew was still contemplating the situation when she saw Lola and Melissa riding back toward the barn triggering a recollection of a time when Lola had gone riding with another brunette.

Drew noticed Lola and Jess, her friend from college, coming back from their ride.

She and Kate were setting the table and placing the food down, when Kate suggested, "Why don't you run down to the barn, and tell them it's ready? I'll finish this."

Drew sauntered down to the barn to do Kate's bidding. The barn door was open enough that Drew could step through without opening it further. As she rounded the corner to the row in which Lola stabled her horse, she stopped short in shock. Lola was leaning against the stall door, her arms around the young brunette's shoulders. Jess was leaning into her, and they were exchanging a methodical kiss. Drew felt her stomach lurch. They didn't notice her presence, so she quickly retreated back to the barn door. Even though she felt pain searing through her, she knew she couldn't let on that she knew anything. Slamming the barn door open as loud as she could, she announced herself. This time as she rounded the corner, the girls were just casually standing next to each other looking at Lola's horse. Drew saw Lola cast a guilty glance at Jess, but she didn't comment on it. "I just wanted to tell you that supper was ready, so hurry up." Drew turned and left without waiting for a response.

Drew's heart seized in her chest and she suddenly found it difficult to breath. Taking to her feet she began to pace as she pondered the memory that had just come back to her. She had learned from Lola and Kate that she had Lola had broken up when Lola was a freshman in college, so Drew wondered if she had remembered the moment of catching her in the act of cheating that Lola had previously confessed to. The pain associated with the recollection was almost too much for Drew to bear as she realized she had to have cared a great deal for the blonde to be hurt so badly. Hastily the knowledge that she had loved the young woman enough to be crushed swept over her, and Drew wasn't prepared to deal with the fact that she truly may have had romantic feelings toward Lola at one time. Trying to regain her composure, Drew convinced herself just because she may have felt that way once held no bearing on their current relationship. She didn't have those kinds of feelings toward the blonde presently, which calmed her almost immediately.

When Lola and Melissa returned from the barn, Lola sensed something amiss with Drew instantly. "Hey, what's up? You look like something is bothering you." Lola mentioned with concern.

Drew shook her head trying to clear her thoughts as she answered, "No, I'm fine. Just taking it easy. You know how I am. I can't stand to sit still too long."

"Ain't that the truth." Lola joked patting Drew on the shoulder.

"So, how was the ride?" Drew inquired of Melissa as the doctor took a seat at the table next to her.

"Great. Lola was right. It's a great sport. I can't wait to go again."

Lola poured to drinks and brought them to the table, passing one to Melissa as she took a seat. Drew was quiet as the two women conversed, but she kept sneaking small glances at Lola throughout the conversation, realizing Lola could talk easier to the doctor than her. Feeling like an outsider, Drew excused herself from the room.

"What's up with her?" Melissa asked when they were alone.

Lola shrugged. "I have no idea, but she didn't look right. I wonder if she remembered something."

Drew was quiet the rest of the evening, making Lola curious as to what was going on in her head, but she didn't ask. Instead she and Drew went about their roles of caring for the children until it was bedtime. Then as soon as that was complete Drew excused herself for the night. Going back to her place, Drew sat out on the back porch and closed her eyes, willing any memories to come to her. Abruptly she was struck with one of Kate and her on that very porch.

During the party Drew helped Kate play hostess, but as the group gravitated to the back field, they stayed behind on the porch.

"That necklace you gave her is really something, Drew. You shouldn't have." Kate mentioned.

"Well, I gave Natalie a pair of diamond earrings and roses for her eighteenth birthday, and I remember Lola saying that's what she wanted too, so I delivered. By the way, did her roses arrive?"

"Yeah. They're in her room, so she hasn't seen them yet. They are stunning."

"Good." Drew answered quietly.

"Drew, are you all right? You seem upset."

Drew shrugged. "I've just got a problem that I need to work out on my own."

"You sure you don't want to talk about it?" Kate inquired staring at her with concern.

Drew crumbled under the gaze. "Lola asked me to have sex with her." she blurted out under the strain of Kate's eyes.

"What?" Kate asked in shock.

"Lola told me that she was glad I was a lesbian, because she wanted a sexual relationship with me." Drew stated slowly.

"I'm sorry. Did I hear you correctly? You just said Lola asked you to go to bed with her?" Drew nodded. "What did you say, Drew?" Drew paused long enough for Kate's eyes to shoot open. "Do I want to know what's about to come out of your mouth, Drew Bailey?" she asked with controlled hostility.

"I told her no, Kate. After all, she was only seventeen at the time, and she is your daughter."

"I have to talk to her."

"I haven't told you everything yet."

"There's more? I'm not sure I could take it, Drew."

"I know, but I have to tell you. Ever since the assault, every time we're alone together, she has tried to seduce me. She's been everything from subtle to obvious, but the fact is she is determined to have me."

"Drew, I'm so sorry. This must be awkward for you. I'll talk to her about it."

"No don't. I don't want her to know that I told you. I don't want her to resent me for the rest of her life. For now, I think I have it under control." she lied.

Kate saw through it. "You're keeping something from me, Drew, and I'm afraid to ask what. Have you taken her? Have you given her what she thinks she wants?"

"No! I haven't had sex with her, Kate!" emphatically Drew emphasized. "But..."

"But? But what? What have you done with my child?"

"She's gotten into kissing me. At first I kept trying to stop her, but she keeps coming. I haven't been able to stop her with my words."

Kate scowled at her. "I want to know everything, Drew! Tell me, or I'll get it out of Lola!"

"Okay. Today she came on to me with another oral assault, and I couldn't stop her. I caved to it. I've felt so horrible since it's happened. I feel like I betrayed you."

Kate's eyes were shooting daggers at Drew. "Let me see if I have this right? You have touched my daughter sexually? You have had your hands on her in intimate ways? That's what you're saying, right?"

Drew could hear the anger in Kate's voice. "Katherine, please don't be upset."

"Upset? I'm a little more than upset, Drew! I'm so angry with you, I don't know what to do! She's a child and even worse, my child!"

"She's an adult by law." Drew feebly pointed out.

"I don't care about your law, Drew! You can take it and shove it up your ass for all I care!" Drew moved to touch her arm, but Kate swatted Drew's hands away. "Don't touch me! Don't ever touch me again! I trusted you!"

"Kate, I'm sorry. You have every right to hate me right now." Drew stated beginning to feel Kate's friendship slipping away from her grasp.

"Hate you? Oh, I hate you all right!"

Drew gulped holding back tears. "Maybe I should just go. I'll just tell Lola good bye and then I'll be on my way." Drew said standing.

"No!" Kate yelled jumping from her chair. "You stay away from her! Don't go near her! You don't see her! You don't talk to her, and you sure as hell don't ever touch her, or I swear I'll make you suffer!"

Meekly Drew nodded. "Fine. Good bye, Katherine. I love you."

Drew scurried down from the porch and walked around to the front of the house where her truck was parked. Leaning into the driver's side window, Drew wept uncontrollably, mourning the turn of events. She had no idea how long she had stood there, and to her it didn't matter. All that did matter was the fact that her beloved friendship with Kate was gone. She never even heard a car pulling up behind her but felt a disorienting blow to the back of the head. She tried to recover but felt a punch to her kidney, shooting pain throughout her entire body. Her assailant grabbed her by the shoulder to turn her around. Her eyes were so blurred by tears and the knock to the head that she couldn't see the punch to the jaw. There was an audible crack as Drew went face first into the window before falling to the ground. Gaining enough sense, Drew reached for her gun in her side holster but found it empty.

"Looking for something?" the familiar male voice mocked.

"Steve?" Drew mumbled through a broken jaw. Then she heard the sound of gun fire as pain pierced through her chest.

"Oh God. I ruined my relationship with Kate." Drew mumbled. "How could I have done that? What kind of hold did you have on me, Lola?" she asked aloud. "How could you ever forgive me, Kate?" Just then another memory struck.

As she came up the sliding glass door on the porch, she saw Kate standing in the kitchen draining the end of a bottle of vodka. Drew knocked on the door but was ignored. She then tired to open it but found it locked. Banging louder Drew yelled, "Katherine, open up." Drew saw Kate look over at the lock but didn't acknowledge that Drew was there. Suddenly Drew caught a glimpse of what was in Kate's other hand as it came off the counter. Drew's eyes grew wide in fright as she noticed Paul's .45. "Katherine, let me in or I'll break down this door!" Drew yelled. Once again she was ignored, so Drew took a running start at the door barreling through it with her shoulder and stumbling onto the floor. When she rolled over to rise, she found the gun pointed between her eyes.

"Dammit, Drew! I said 5:00, not 4:30! You've ruined everything!"

"Katherine, I don't know what you're about to do, but I suggest you put down the gun. Killing me will only make it worse."

"I don't want to kill you, Drew! I was supposed to be dead by 5:00! You were supposed to find my body, but you ruined it!" Drew gulped. "Doesn't matter, though! I'll be dead soon enough!" she screamed taking a few steps back from Drew.

"Kate, have you taken something that I should know about?" Drew's eyes scanned the counter and saw several bottles of pills. "Okay, Kate, I'm going to stand up now." Drew slowly got to her feet. "Will you please put down the gun?"

"No! I don't want you trying anything either!"

"Katherine, you don't want to die. Think about your family, children, friends. Think of the pain it's going to cause them to know you're gone. Your daughters are too young to be without a mother." Drew stepped toward her. "Please, Katherine. I love you. Let me help you."

"I can't go on, Drew. It hurts too much." Drew noticed her body start to sway. "I'm so tired." she mumbled lowering the gun to her side.

"I know. Why don't you sit down?" Drew suggested stepping to her. Kate didn't move, so Drew pulled the gun away as she collapsed into Drew's arms. Immediately Drew put her on the floor and called for an ambulance.

"Drew, I don't feel good." Kate mumbled incoherently.

"I know, sweetie. Help's on the way. Hang in there. I won't let anything happen to you."

Grasp her head in her hands, Drew frowned as a headache came out of nowhere from all the recollections surging through her mind at once. "Too much! It's too much!" she cried out, realizing that last one was of a suicide attempt that Kate had made in the house she now occupied.

Going into the house, Drew took some aspirin as she tried to clear all the thoughts from her head. Even though things were coming back to her, she still couldn't make sense of them. Picking up her guitar, Drew found solace in playing well into the night before falling asleep in exhaustion on the couch. The following morning Drew was aroused from sleep by a vision in her mind of she and Kate in the living room.

"You want something to drink?" Kate asked from the kitchen.

"Sure. I'm going to start a fire if that's all right." Drew answered.

Kate entered a few minutes later. Drew had Kate's favorite jazz CD on the stereo with all the lights off. Kate laughed at the ambiance. "Always were the romantic." she commented extending a bottle of wine and an opener to Drew. "I'm going to change into something more comfortable."

A few minutes later Kate came back in. Drew noted the flowing autumn frock that Kate had slipped on. Handing her a glass of wine, Drew raised her glass. "To Lola, the most beautiful queen our school has ever seen."

"To Lola." Kate replied sipping her wine.

Setting her glass down, Drew extended a hand to Kate. "Dance?" she asked.

"I don't think we've ever danced together before." Kate mentioned taking Drew's hand.

Leaning to Kate's ear, Drew whispered, "There's a first time for everything, Katherine."

"What are you wearing?" Kate asked feeling the unusual hardness of Drew's chest.

"Bulletproof vest."

"It's uncomfortable. Take it off." Kate demanded.

Drew looked down into Kate's hazel eyes as she untucked her shirt. Kate's hands joined Drew's in working open the buttons. Neither spoke as they stared deeply into each others eyes before being drawn into a gentle kiss. The shirt was soon forgotten as their mouths communicated latent needs.

Drew smiled to herself, wondering if that had been a dream or a real memory of her best friend. Regardless it left Drew feeling amorous at the thought of being sexual with Kate. Concentrating Drew tried to recall any other memories of Kate together and grinned as their first intimate encounter came to her mind.

Raising a glass in toast, Kate whispered, "Happy Valentine's Day, Drew."

Silence prevailed for awhile as they drank their champagne and watched the fire as they listened to soft music. Finally Drew extended her hand to Kate in invitation to dance. "You look absolutely beautiful, Katherine, and you smell incredible." Drew whispered as their eyes met.

"Drew, there's only one thing missing to make this perfect." she mentioned softly.

"What's that?"

Kate said nothing as she brought her hand up to Drew's face. She tucked some of Drew's graying hair behind her ear before her hand moved to cup Drew's cheek. Drew saw the answer in Kate's eyes. Slowly she leaned down and gently claimed Kate's lips in a tender kiss. It was full of softness at first, but just as Drew was pulling away, Kate's tongue licked Drew's lower lip before sliding into Drew's moaning mouth. It left them both breathless momentarily.

"Do you know what you're doing?" Drew hoarsely inquired.


"And you're sure?"

Kate stared deeply into Drew's eyes. "I'm sure. Twenty-four years has been enough of a wait, don't you think?"

Drew's heart quickened as she realized what Kate was saying. "Yes, it has." Drew answered.

They began to kiss again, and Kate pushed off Drew's jacket before beginning on the bottons of her shirt as Drew's fingers found the zipper of Kate's dress. The foreplay was gentle and methodical. Once Kate was down to her undergarments, Drew's hands came up to cup Kate's breasts through her silk bra as her head dipped to taste the flesh of Kate's cleavage.

Kate whimpered softly. "Drew, Drew, take me to bed." she begged.

Drew hoisted Kate up, so Kate could wrap her legs around Drew's waist. They continued to explore each others mouths as Drew ascended the stairs to the bedroom. Drew laid Kate against the bed. "May I turn the light on? I want to see you, Katherine."


Drew turned the bedside lamp on low and gazed over at Kate lying there, wantonly staring at her. Kate sat up keeping her eyes glued to Drew's. Her hands worked open her bra before slowly pulling it from her shoulders, baring herself to Drew for the first time. Drew sucked in a sharp breath. "You are...wow. I never knew you still looked like that after all these years. You're... magnificent."

Taking one of Drew's hands, Kate guided it to one of her soft mounds, seductively whispering, "Touch me, Drew."

Drew gave her a dreamy smile. "Anything you desire is yours, darling Katherine." she replied pushing Kate down into the mattress.

Moaning her best friend's name, Drew drifted back into slumber until a ringing phone woke her a second time. "Morning." she mumbled beginning to stretch.

"Well, I didn't expect to wake you, Drew. You're usually up by now. Do you have the morning off?" Kate inquired.

"No. I had a hard night last night, so I just slept in a little. What's up?"

"Not much. I was just calling to check on you. It had been a couple of days. I talked to Lola yesterday, and she mentioned that you didn't look to good. Are you feeling all right?"

"Yeah, I'm doing all right. I had a lot of things come back to me yesterday, and it really threw me for a loop I guess."

"Really? What did you remember?" Kate asked in excitement.

Drew grinned into the phone. Dropping her voice to a sexy timbre, she replied, "Making love to a beautiful woman in a red dress on Valentine's Day."

Even though she couldn't see her friend, she knew Kate had to be blushing. "Oh. Anything else?" she asked, choosing not to ask for details on that memory.

"Yeah, there were some other things. I'd like to talk to you about them in person if that's all right. They all involve you. Could we met for lunch today?"

"Sure. You want me to come out there?"

"That would be great. I'm planning on being in the office most of the day, so if you could just stop by the station."

"Sounds good. I'll see you about one. Does that work for your schedule?"

"Yep. I'll see you then, Kate. I've got to get going."

"All right. See you then."

When Kate got to Drew's office, Drew took them over to a small café for lunch. After placing their orders, Drew began, "As I said earlier, I remembered some things yesterday and this morning, but I have no idea where they fit into my life. I was hoping you could help with that."

"I'll try. What was the first memory?"

"Well, this morning I recalled us making love for the first time. That was incredible. Glad that one came back to me." she joked.

Kate gave a shy smile. "Well, that took place after you and Lola had broken up, so that would've been the second semester of her freshman year. We actually started dating from that point, and you proposed to me shortly after that."

"I see. So that would've made me about thirty-eight then?"

Kate nodded. "Yeah. Sounds about right. What else?"

"There was also a moment of dancing with you in your and Paul's living room by firelight. There was something about Lola becoming Homecoming queen or something. We were making out."

Again a flush came to Kate's cheeks. "Yeah. I do remember that as well. That was Lola's senior year of high school. You two hadn't started dating then, and you and I had been feeling each other out a little, but we decided that night after Lola and her friends walked in on us that it would be best not to pursue anything. At the time I was still mourning Paul, and I didn't think it was fair to either of us. Was there anything else?"

"Actually, yes there was, and these three are more disturbing to me. It was Lola's eighteenth birthday, and you and I were fighting about Lola. Apparently I had done something with Lola. I couldn't gather exactly what had happened, but you and I got in a huge fight, and you threw me out. Then I ended up getting shot."

"Not one of my finest moments." Kate mentioned. "That's the first time you admitted to me that Lola had stated her sexual interest in you, and you had fallen to her wiles."

"You mean I had sex with her?" Drew inquired in confusion.

"No. You didn't have sex with Lola until Valentine's Day of her senior of high school."

"How do you know that?"

"Because we fought about that too, and even temporarily stopped speaking to each other, but what came back to you was the day Steve shot you. He was one of your farmhands, and he tried to rape Lola."

"Oh God. He didn't, did he?" Drew asked with fear.

"No, he did not, because you came to her rescue. He was arrested but out on bail when he shot you. You almost died, Drew, and that's when Lola told me how she felt about you. That was basically the moment your relationship with Lola began, her eighteenth birthday."

"Interesting. I've got one more for you, and if I tell you about it, I want you to promise not to tell Lola."

"Okay, if that's what you want. What is it?"

Drew paused to clear her throat. "I recalled Lola kissing a girl in the barn and it destroying me emotionally."

Kate smiled at her friend. "That's wonderful, Drew. You're finally starting to remember your relationship with her. That was Lola's freshman year of college. You broke up over that."

"Yeah, I know. Lola told me about it. I guess I just wasn't prepared for the feelings that accompanied that memory. I can't even describe the pain I felt when that came back to me, like my heart had been ripped from my chest."

"I know, Drew. You were crushed. You ran off to a bar and got drunk, and I had to come get you. The following morning you broke up with Lola. It was a terrible time for you emotionally, Drew. I think you had honestly believed at that point that Lola was the one, and it hurt me to see both of you suffering. Out of curiosity why don't you want me to tell Lola?"

"I just don't want her to read into it is all. Just because I'm starting to remember her then doesn't mean I will ever remember our marriage or the feelings we supposedly shared. I have no feeling for her beyond friendship, so I don't want her to get the wrong idea."

"All right. I won't say anything right now, but you can't expect me to keep this a secret forever. She would want to know that you're recovering your memories."

"I'll tell her, Katherine. I'm just not ready to deal with her like that yet."

"What was the last memory that came back to you?"

Drew looked her friend deeply in the eye and reached for her hand. "I remember you trying to take your own life with pills and alcohol. You had a gun, with which I assume you were going to shoot yourself, but somehow I arrived to the scene before you did, and you were madder than hell about it. Why did you try to do that?"

"That was the one year anniversary of Paul's death, Drew. I was in mourning, and I was emotionally dead inside. You saved my life that day, Drew. It's because of you, we shared all those wonderful things that developed between us, and it's because of you that I met Jim. Had I died life would've been very different for you and the girls. I've always been glad that I didn't succeed."

There was a pause in conversation as their food arrived. Trying to be subtle and change the direction of their talk, Drew inquired, "May I ask you something? When I was in a coma, how did Melissa and Lola interact?"

Kate gave her a quizzical look asking, "Why are you interested in that? She was a fabulous doctor to you, and she went out of her way to be there for Lola. I truly think Dr. Johnston is one of the finest doctors I've ever seen. Why do you ask?"

Drew attempted to be nonchalant as she stated, "It just seems to me that Melissa might like Lola as more than a friend. That's all."

"What if she does? How is that any of your concern, Drew? You've made it clear you have no interest in Lola that way yourself. Melissa is nice woman, and she treats Lola well. If you and Lola can't work things out, I'd like to see Lola get on with her life by being with someone else. You're not jealous, are you?" challenged Kate.

"Of course not. Lola can see whoever she wants, but I am concerned about my children. I don't want them to be confused. As far as I know, they still think Lola and I are together. It would be traumatic for them to see her with someone else intimately. They are too young for that. They wouldn't understand."

"Well, if you're really distressed over it, you should talk to her. The two of you are going to have to deal with each for the rest of your lives, because of these children, so you better get used to sensitive chats. She needs to know where you stand. There may come a time in which you or she may want to be with someone else. You're going to have to figure out how the kids will play into that. This is just like any divorce. Compromises will have to be made. You both gave up your freedom by getting married, and just because you're calling it quits, doesn't mean you get it back. You've got three children that are the priority. You and Lola's thoughts and feelings should be secondary to them." Kate took a sip of her tea before stating, "Personally, Drew, I just think you're scared. You're scared of her finding someone else, because you might come to realize that you really did love her, but I also think you're just as scared of realizing that you still love her."

"I don't, Katherine, not like that, not like a lover. I'm still stuck on you that way." Drew teased with a sexy grin.

"Drew, I'm flattered, but you're going to have to get over that. Not only are you married to my daughter, I'm married. Even if you were to divorce Lola and I divorced Jim, we could never go back to way it once was, because you still were married to her. It was weird enough the first time. I wouldn't do it again. Talk about confusing to your kids, having Grandma in a relationship with Mommy. I would never do it. There are so many levels of why that's impossible. Surely you can see that."

"I know. Part of my mind tells me it's impossible, and for the kids alone, I wouldn't really try to do it, but there's just that part of me, I guess it's just the frame of mine of being stuck in a place where I'm still mostly twenty something years old, that still gravitates toward you, Katherine. When that memory of us came back to me, it about knocked me for a loop. It was hot. I just want to know what it was like between us, Kate. Please tell me. What were we like as a couple?"

Kate sighed at the request. She didn't normally like thinking about her sexual relationship with Drew too much, but knowing it was important to her best friend, she relented. Leaning in toward the sheriff, she whispered, "Drew, what we shared was nothing short of amazing. You opened my eyes to a world I never really knew existed. I mean I knew about lesbianism. After all you have been my best friend forever, but what I thought I knew and what was out there was completely different. You touched me in ways no one ever had and probably never will again. What we had was so loving and tender but also torrid and passionate. The sex was undeniably the best I ever had, because you really brought me out of my shell. You encouraged me to be experimental and wild. I mean some of the things you convinced to do with you sexually were things I never would've imagined doing with anyone else. It was incredible between us sexually, and the other facets of our relationship were easy as well, because we had been so close so long, but the fact that we had to hide from our families did make it difficult. With Lola being in love with you, I felt guilty for our relationship, even as much as I was enjoying myself. When I felt you pulling away from me, the summer before her senior year of college, I knew what we shared was coming to an end. I couldn't give you everything you wanted, Drew. You wanted children, and I didn't want to be pregnant again, but more than that, you really were in love with Lola. There was just no way that we could go on."

"Did you hate me for that?" hesitantly Drew inquired.

"No, not at all. There was a part of me that knew when we got involved that it wouldn't last. I mean after all you had already been with my daughter in a relationship, even had sex with her, but I just so wanted to know your touch once. Fortunately once turned into two years. I always appreciated that opportunity to be with you that way, Drew, even if it was twenty-five years later than you would've liked."

Drew nodded as she took all the information in. "So, we weren't in love?" she clarified.

"No. We loved each other deeply, but we were not in love."

"Then why did we get engaged?"

"Because we both wanted the other to be happy and thought we could provide that. We were going to be content to settle for each other. In the end I'm glad we didn't."

"Well, thank you for sharing that with me. I know that talking about us that way makes you uncomfortable. You really have shed some light on the situation for me."

"Then it was worth it, Drew. I hope you realize that Lola was truly the most important woman in your life, even then. She was the one you were meant to be with. You reluctantly recognized it then, and I hope in time you come to know it again."

Concluded in Part 3.

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