Part 2

"I ... I think you can tell I've grown pretty attached to you over the past few days."  Alex began running her fingers through Bryn's soft, golden hair.

Bryn's heart leapt into her throat.  "I ... guess so," she answered softly.

"And ... I think you feel the same way about me.  Am I right?"

"Yes," Bryn whispered hoarsely.

Alex sighed in relief.  "Then there are some things about me that you need to know."

"Go on," Bryn encouraged, giving Alex a little squeeze.

Alex hesitated.  "I'm carrying around a lot of emotional baggage ... more than

enough for both of us."

Bryn just listened, encouraging Alex with her body language.

"I haven't had a meaningful relationship with anyone for a very long time." Alex closed her eyes.  "It's ... very hard to talk about."

"I'll be waiting when you're ready, Lex," Bryn whispered. She gently stroked the surgeon’s silky hair.

Alex sat up and wrung her hands together, her dark brows expressing her pain.  She bit her lip. "Bryn ... I ... I'm not capable of having a physical relationship right now."  Alex stared down at her hands.

Bryn looked shocked and confused, her green eyes questioning. "What ... what exactly do you mean?  You don't want that?" she asked, feeling a little hurt.

Alex smiled ruefully.  "No.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  But ... I can't."

Bryn struggled to understand.  "Can you please explain?"

Alex was clearly miserable. "I … I can't."

"Go on, honey. It's okay." She began rubbing the tall surgeon's back.

"I ... I can give pleasure, but I can't receive it."  Alex put her face in her hands, feeling her stomach roil.

It finally dawned on Bryn what Alex was struggling to tell her. "You mean you can’t..."

Alex took a deep breath and nodded.

"Oh, Lex!" Bryn gathered Alex into her arms and held her tight.  "That must have been so hard for you to tell me."

Alex couldn't answer.  She was at her limit emotionally.  She just held on to Bryn and let the warmth of her arms soothe her.  The two women stayed like that for a long time before Bryn finally spoke. "Is this because of something that happened to you?"

Alex shrugged.  "It isn't any one thing.  It's more like a lot of things that were cumulative."

Bryn sighed.  "Have you seen a professional about this?  Maybe someone could help you, or refer you to someone who can."

Alex blushed, and then sighed.  "Kate knows."  Boy, does she know!

Bryn suddenly realized what Alex was telling her. "Oh."  I thought those two had a history.  The petite blonde scratched her nose.

"We went to med school together in Boston."  Alex rubbed her temples.  "She was the closest thing I ever had to a friend.  She's been in Atlanta for a few years now, so I stayed with her while I looked for a place to live.  Things were never really serious between us, and we parted friends.  She tried to help me, even suggested seeing a colleague of hers.  But ... I just can't ... it's too personal."

"It's not your fault, Lex." She kissed the top of the dark head.

"If you want to bail out now, I'll understand," Alex replied quietly.

"No!  We'll get through this.  Together, okay?"

"Okay."  Alex's voice cracked slightly, and she cleared her throat. "Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure.  We'll take things nice and slow, and when and if you're ready for a sexual relationship, I'll help you."

Alex pulled away and cupped Bryn's cheek in her hand.  She slowly moved in closer until her lips gently touched Bryn's, and then she kissed her.  Alex was unprepared for the surge of electricity that went through her.  She had never experienced a kiss so tender, or so sweet.  It left her breathless.

Bryn thought she might faint from the intensity.  When their lips parted, she leaned in and returned the kiss.  She felt as if she could kiss Alex’s soft lips all night long.

Both women eventually pulled away, knowing things had to be taken slowly.  They continued to tenderly hold one another.  Alex spoke first. "These past few days have been like a roller coaster. I can't remember feeling so miserable, yet so wonderful at the same time."  Alex kissed her cheek.

"I was just thinking the same thing."  Bryn returned the kiss.  "You must be exhausted by now, Lex. I want you to get some sleep.  I'm worried about you."

"I really like the sound of that, Bryn."  Alex patted her shoulder gently.  "Put your head right here?"

Bryn snuggled into her shoulder, and they both fell asleep.  Alex was free of her pain ... for a while.


The little girl clung to her younger brother perched on her lap.  She heard her mother whispering on the phone. The woman was outside in the hallway, crying occasionally as she spoke.  The youngster knew something was terribly wrong.

Her younger brother David sobbed quietly.  He knew if his brave older sister was upset, that something was definitely not right.  His mother was acting strangely and wouldn't tell her two children what was wrong.

Suddenly, the closet door opened.  "Alexandra, David, you're going to Aunt Jane's house.  Something has come up."  She sniffled, but tried to put on a brave face.

"Mommy, what's wrong?"  The little face was fearful, as huge blue eyes looked directly into her mother's hazel ones.  "Something bad has happened, hasn’t it?" The little lip trembled.

Her mother looked like a deer caught in headlights.  "It's nothing to worry about right now, dear.  You and David are going to spend the night with your cousins.  Now come on."

The girl clutched her little brother's hand tightly. "No!  I'm not going until you tell me! Where’s my daddy? I want to call him!" She valiantly fought back tears.

"You can't.  Now let’s go."

The two children were quickly hustled into a car and driven across town.  The girl was so frightened; she thought she might be sick.  She couldn't let that happen.  Her mommy would be mad.

After hurried goodbyes and a few perfunctory kisses, the children were sent to the playroom with their cousins.  The girl sat quietly with her brother on her lap, hugging him close.

The girl's older cousin, a boy of eight, knelt down next to the two children.

"Please tell me what's wrong, Andrew?  You can't keep it a secret from me.  You're the only best friend I have left.  Please!"  The girl looked pleadingly at her older cousin.

"Mom said not to tell."  The boy was torn.

"You have to.  I'll find out anyway."

The boy began to cry.  "Uncle David ... your dad ... he suddenly got real sick ... and he ... died."

The girl began to scream. The past week had been a terrible trial for her.  First, her best friend had left, and now, her dad was gone, too.  Without the loving support of her remaining parent, she never recovered from the trauma.


Alex awoke in a cold sweat.  Bryn still slept peacefully in her arms.  She hugged the petite blonde close, needing the comfort.

Is it really fair for you to get involved with Bryn?  You're nothing but damaged goods, Alex.  You can't even shed a few tears for the loss of your little patient.  It's a miracle you have any feelings at all.

And what about being intimate with Bryn?  How happy will she be when you're unable to let go with her ... to give a part of yourself so precious in a relationship?  How long can anyone's ego deal with that?  I doubt yours could, Alex.

And what will Bryn think of you when she learns your ugly little secret?  She'll have to know.  Can she forgive you for that mistake?

You're not perfect, Alex.  Just like Olivia said.

But Bryn is just too special to let go. You have to try.  You already feel so much when she's around.  She's awakened emotions in you that you thought were dead and buried. Besides, you'd never do anything to hurt her.  Hell, you'd die first.

Alex kissed Bryn on the top of her head as her eyelids began to droop. "Please hang in there, Squeak.  I want to make this work for us," she whispered as sleep finally claimed her.


Morning came very early for the two friends.  Alex had surgeries to perform and Bryn was due at the hospital to work her seven to three shift. Alex's alarm went off at 5:45 a.m. and she carefully shut it off.  Opening her eyes, she gazed fondly at the sleepy, tousled blonde snuggled up next to her.

"Bryn, time to wake up."  She shook her gently.

"Ahhhhh," Bryn squeaked as she stretched.  Alex loved it when Bryn made that sound.

"Have you always squeaked like that, Bryn?"  The tall surgeon grinned as she stood up slowly.

"Huh?  What do you mean?"  she replied, yawning and looking up with bleary green eyes.

"That squeaking noise you make when you wake up.  You know, the one that earned you the name Squeak?"  Alex tapped Bryn's nose fondly.

"Oh ... that!  Yeah, so I'm told ... since I was tiny.  Why?"

Alex chuckled.  "No reason.  It's just incredibly cute!"

Bryn smiled sweetly. "I'm glad I can entertain you, Lex!" She stretched once more, and then stood. "Well, I guess I had better go home and get ready for work."

"Would you like some coffee?"  Alex asked.

"That sounds great. I can barely keep my eyes open."

"Same here.  I'll just be a minute."

After making a quick trip to the bathroom to use the facilities and to wash her hands and face, Alex went to the kitchen to make coffee.  Meanwhile, Bryn got dressed.  Soon, she appeared in the kitchen, looking somewhat rumpled.  To Alex, she was incredibly cute. "Here's your coffee, Bryn."

She took the coffee from the beautiful doctor as Alex leaned over and gave her friend a gentle kiss on the cheek. "Thanks so much for coming over last night," she whispered in her ear.  "It meant a lot to me."

"I couldn't let you be alone at a time like that." She returned the kiss and gave her a warm hug.

"I'll see you at the hospital, Squeak."

"Good luck with your Tetralogy of Fallot patient."

"Thanks ... I'll miss you."  Alex stroked Bryn's soft cheek.

"Me, too.  Bye, Lex." She gave Alex one last hug and was out the door.


Don't ya love her madly

Don't ya need her badly

Don't ya love her ways

Tell me what you say

Don't ya love her madly

Wanna be her daddy

Don't ya love her face

Don't ya love her as she's walkin' out the door

Like she did one thousand times before

The huge operating suite was sterile and cold - literally.  The room temperature had to be kept low because of the flammability of the general anesthetics used.  The beeping of a heart monitor could be heard, as well as the hum of a heart-lung machine.  In the background, Jim Morrison belted out 'Love Her Madly'.

"All right, take her off bypass," the tall surgeon commanded.  She stepped back and sighed.  Everyone held a collective breath as the tiny, newly repaired heart filled with blood, and gradually began to beat.  Evidence of a smile appeared in the faint crinkle around Alexandra Morgan’s crystal blue eyes.

"Close her up, Paul.  I'll see her as soon as she gets to P.I.C.U." Dr. Morgan trusted Paul Silver implicitly to suture Emily Ford’s tiny chest. She had instructed him herself in the art.


Dr. Morgan left the surgical suite; removing her gloves, cap, and mask as she did.  Her long black hair fell across her shoulders, having been freed from the prison of the surgical cap.  She made her way into the locker room, and changed into her street clothes: a pair of denim Levis, a crisp, white oxford shirt, and black boots.  She added a simple pair of 14k gold hoops to her ears.  Her white doctor's jacket completed the outfit.

Alex was mentally and physically exhausted.  She had performed two complex surgeries: one Coarctation of the Aorta, and one Tetralogy of Fallot repair.  She had been up nearly twelve hours already, and she still had to make rounds. And of course, Emily would be waiting in Pediatric Intensive Care. Alex was taking extra precautions with her latest patients, still haunted by the death of young Will Blake the day before.

What went wrong? she thought to herself, as she went about making rounds.  I can't believe I lost a patient to a common, routine surgery.  I can just hear Olivia now.  Don't be a surgeon, Alexandra; you're a woman!  You'll never be as famous as your father, Alexandra; you don't apply yourself. I guess Olivia would really enjoy my latest shortcoming, Alex thought grimly.  She rubbed her temples and tried to think of something pleasant - Bryn.

After she finished up at the hospital, she looked forward to having dinner with the petite blonde.  Bryn was cooking dinner for Alex at her home. They had made plans earlier, when Alex saw Bryn in the P.I.C.U. She was caring for the surgeon's CoA patient after he was stable enough to leave recovery.  The surgeon knew the boy was in very capable and loving hands.


The P.I.C.U. was awash with bright lights and sounds.  A small blonde toddler, a girl, lay in a sterile white crib.  She was completely surrounded by tubes and machines, and a thin white bandage was taped to her chest.  A short, dark haired woman attended to her every need - and there were many.

Alex walked over to the crib to check on her little patient. "How's she doing, Claire?"  the tall surgeon inquired.

"Emily’s just fine, Dr. Morgan."

Alex stroked the baby's cheek. "I want to be notified immediately if there's the slightest problem, okay?"

"Certainly.   She's doing really well so far, though."

"Things could change in a heartbeat," Alex said grimly as she walked out the door. "Feel better, little one," she whispered as she headed down the hall towards home.


The petite blonde sighed as she prepared for her dinner guest.  Changing into a pair of faded denim jeans, and a black tank top that showed off her virtually perfect form, she wondered why she felt so melancholy.  She was usually very upbeat.

She should be feeling on top of the world. The gorgeous Dr. Morgan was coming over for dinner.  In addition, the tall surgeon seemed to be crazy about her. She smiled briefly.  And the feeling was definitely mutual!

Bryn remembered their first meeting at the hospital.  She was caring for one of Dr. Morgan's post-op patients.  As usual, she was telling the child one of her stories.  When she had finished, she put on one of her favorite CD's, which she often used to soothe her patients.  The gentle melody of 'Never Alone' filled the room:

Go to sleep,

Don't you weep,

Tomorrow's gonna be,

Tomorrow's gonna be,

Tomorrow's gonna be, a brand new day.

Dr. Morgan smiled shyly from the doorway.  "That's one of my favorite songs."

"Mine, too."  Bryn returned the smile and inadvertently stared, unable to take her eyes off the magnificent woman in front of her.

"I'm Alexandra Morgan."  The surgeon held out her slender hand to the nurse.  When their hands clasped, Bryn felt a surge of warmth that went straight to her heart.  This woman looks like a goddess, she thought.

"It's nice to meet you.  I'm Bryn O'Neill."

Before Bryn could think, the surgeon had asked her out to lunch.  And she had readily accepted.  Something special had happened between them that very first day.  Everyone in the hospital knew that Dr. Morgan ordinarily avoided socializing with other staff members like the plague. Apparently, Bryn was the exception. That suited her just fine.


As she French-braided her long, golden hair, she thought back to her arrival home

that afternoon.  Her mom, Kathleen, had come over earlier to wallpaper her guest

bathroom.  She often did favors for her elder daughter; the two were especially

close.  As usual, she brought along the two family dogs, Teddy and Gracie.  They

were both curious Welsh Corgis, ordinarily very well behaved. Today, however,

Gracie had jumped up on Bryn's bed and decapitated her childhood stuffed dog, Noah.

The damage seemed irreparable. Bryn was inwardly very upset, but didn't make a fuss.  She didn't want to make her mother feel any worse than she already did.  Bryn often put the feelings of others before her own.

She felt terrible. Noah had been with her throughout her illness, many painful and

frightening tests, and finally, the heart surgery itself. In addition, her own childhood ordeal of open-heart surgery and illness had been on her mind all day long.  She could have died just as William Blake did.  Fortunately, she sailed through her surgery and rapidly grew into a very active, healthy child.

Bryn sniffled.  I have to get out of this mood.  I don't want to make Lex feel bad.  God knows she has enough problems of her own.  I know she's blaming herself for Will's death.  She's so stoic and controlled, and such a perfectionist.  No wonder she has trouble relating to others intimately.  She seems to have an amazing capacity to show love and tenderness, though.

As Bryn went to the kitchen to start dinner, she thought about how vulnerable Lex had looked the night before.  It broke her heart to think about it.  She made a vow to herself to stand by her beautiful friend - no matter what the outcome of their relationship.


Alex didn't arrive home until nearly 7:00 p.m.  She was running on sheer adrenaline at this point.  Deciding to forego working out, she opted instead to head straight for Bryn's.  She had missed the bubbly nurse and couldn't wait to see her.

After running a brush through her long, dark hair, applying blush and lip-gloss, and spritzing herself with Opium perfume, she was ready.  She hopped into her black BMW, and a short time later pulled into the driveway of Bryn's small but neat home.  Very nice, Alex thought to herself.

Bryn appeared at the door before Alex could even ring the bell.

"Hi," she replied warmly.  "Come on in."

"Thanks."  Alex smiled shyly and stepped forward to lightly kiss Bryn on the lips.  "I missed you," she said softly as she pulled away.

"I missed you, too, Lex." Bryn leaned forward and hugged the tall surgeon.  "Um ... why don't we go into the family room," she replied, a slight tremor in her voice.

They walked down a wide hall, which was adorned with family photos.  Many were of Bryn as a small child: some alone, others with another smiling young girl. There were also photographs of the two siblings and their parents, including the family dogs.   In the younger pictures, Alex observed that Bryn was noticeably thinner, and very pale.  The surgeon was puzzled, but decided not to comment.

"I really like these photos, Bryn," Alex complimented.  "You were such a beautiful child, and you haven't changed one bit."

"Thanks, Lex." Bryn blushed.  "They mean a lot to me."  She pointed to a group shot.  "In this picture are my dad, Kevin, my mom, Kathleen, and my little sister, Cameron.  The two dogs are Teddy and Gracie.  Gracie is, at this moment, on my bad dog list!"


Bryn led Alex into her bedroom.  She picked up Noah’s body and his head.  "Look at this!"

Alex felt an odd sense of de ja vu when she looked at the dog.  Shaking her head to clear it, she replied, "Uh oh!"

Bryn suddenly burst into tears.

"Hey!  Don't cry ... please?"  Alex sat down on the bed and pulled Bryn onto her lap.  She began to rock her, rubbing her back gently.  "It's okay ... maybe I can fix him.  I am a surgeon, remember?"  she crooned.

Bryn just sobbed her heart out, burrowing into the warm, soft shoulder.  She couldn't speak.  Alex murmured soothing words into her ear, and continued to rub her back.  Finally, her sobs quieted, and not a moment too soon for Alex, who couldn't bear to see her cry.

"What's going on, Squeak?"  Alex pulled a tissue out of her back pocket and wiped Bryn's nose.  "Tell me what's wrong."

Bryn told Alex everything about her heart defect: about the surgery, her stuffed dog, the pain, and the endless tests. About how sad she was that Will Blake had died.  And most importantly, how she had turned a difficult start into a career that she adored.

When she was done, the stoic surgeon was fighting back tears.  She cleared her throat, and jumped up, grabbing the mangled dog and his head.

"Hold dinner for us, Squeak.  I have an emergency surgery to perform!" Alex left quickly, leaving a hopeful Bryn behind.

A half hour later, Alex returned, holding Noah behind her back.  She was smiling her endearing lopsided smile.  She presented the beautifully repaired dog, which was sporting a beautiful blue satin ribbon around his neck, expertly tied.

Bryn staggered as the force of long buried memories resurfacing overwhelmed her senses. "Oh my God!" she gasped. "Lexi, it’s you!" She threw herself into Alex’s arms.

"Of course, it's me, Bryn!"  Alex chuckled.  "But why are you calling me Lexi? I haven't been called that since I was a little girl."

Bryn hugged Alex, clutching the stuffed dog between them.  "You're Lexi Morgan!  Your dad performed my surgery!  My parents took me to Boston because David Morgan was the best pediatric heart surgeon in the country.  You made rounds with him one day, and we became friends.  I remember when you tied a ribbon around Noah's neck for me ... just like tonight.  You tied it perfectly ... even then."  Bryn was so excited she could barely talk.

Alex looked confused. "I was just covering up the suture line around his neck.  Let's go sit down on the couch and talk."

Bryn tucked a lock of dark hair behind the surgeon's ear.  "Can't you remember?  You brought Pinwheels to the hospital for me ... because I wouldn't eat.  You even brought peanut butter and blueberry jam sandwiches ... all your favorite foods."  Bryn chuckled.  "I ate everything you brought.  Heck, I'd probably have eaten Brussel Sprouts if you'd suggested them."

Alex wrinkled her nose.  "Not a chance of that happening."  She reached for Bryn's hand and held it.

"I had the biggest case of hero worship imaginable."  Tears welled in Bryn's sparkling green eyes.  "I cried all the way home on the plane."

Alex looked down at their clasped hands, crestfallen that she couldn’t share in the memories.  "I'm sorry, Bryn.  I can't seem to remember."  She felt like a piece of her heart was missing.

Bryn suspected that something traumatic must have happened to Alex to affect her memory.  She was sensitive to other’s feelings almost to a fault.  "It's okay.  Don't worry about it.  I'm just so happy we're together again ... we said we'd be best friends forever.  I can't believe you're here with me.  And you sewed up Noah like new!"

Alex smiled ruefully.  "Yeah ... I have many skills."

Bryn laughed.  "That you do.  You were probably sewing at the tender age of two."  She wiped happy tears from her cheeks with the back of her hands.

"Three, actually," Alex quipped.  "My dad had me pegged to be a surgeon by then."  She paused, and then smiled sadly.  "He was so funny.  I had him wrapped around my little finger ...  there was nothing he could deny me."  Alex's beautiful features grew dark.

"Where's your dad, now?"  Bryn rubbed her arm soothingly.

Alex sighed.  "He died of a brain hemorrhage when I was seven.  An aneurysm in his brain suddenly burst."  Alex fidgeted, clearly in pain.  "It was totally unexpected."

"Oh, Lex! I'm so sorry!"  Bryn put an arm around her.

"My life kind of fell apart after that."  Alex cleared her throat.  "But I survived.  I'm a big girl after all."

Are you, really?  Bryn hugged her sympathetically.  "Listen, why don't we go into the kitchen and eat dinner?  The lasagna's in the oven."

Alex suddenly looked like a little lost girl.  Bryn decided it was time to give her some much-needed TLC.


The two women walked into the cheery, open kitchen.  It was decorated in shades of forest green and cream.  Bryn opened the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of White Zinfandel. She uncorked it and filled two glasses.  Alex took hers and sipped it, then looked quizzically at Bryn.

"You never told me how Gracie managed to eat your stuffed dog."  It was a valiant attempt on the surgeon's part to be humorous.

"My mother came over to wallpaper my guest bathroom.  Our dogs go everywhere with her."  Bryn took a sip from her glass.  "I suppose Gracie was mad that I wasn't at home, so she decided to get even.  Mom's gonna love you forever for sewing him up, by the way. She felt responsible."

"I’m glad I could help out."

Bryn set the table and removed a green salad from the refrigerator.  She then took a loaf of garlic bread and a pan of lasagna from the oven, and placed them both on the table.  The two friends sat down to eat.

"Your mom must be really nice," Alex said quietly as she took a bite of salad.

"She's the best.  Dad, too, once he figured out I wasn't going to break after my surgery.  He was a little overprotective for a while there."

"I can hardly blame him.  Plenty of my kids' parents are exactly the same way."  Alex just picked at her food, clearly upset by the evening's events.

"Don't you like it?"  Bryn asked, concerned.

"It's delicious.  I'm just not very hungry tonight ... sorry."

Bryn got up and stood behind Alex, wrapping her arms around the beautiful surgeon's neck.

"What was that for?"

"Nothing.  You just looked like you could use a hug."

"You're a very perceptive woman, Bryn O'Neill."

Bryn kissed the top of the dark head.  "C'mon, let's skip dinner tonight and go directly to dessert.  I think we both need it!"

She led Alex into her family room and gently sat her down on a big, overstuffed, cream-colored couch.  She pushed a pillow behind the surgeon's back.  "Now wait here while I get dessert and coffee.  You look really beat."

"Will you stop fussing, Bryn?"  Alex teased.  "I always look beat after performing surgery all day."

"I know, but I just want to pamper you a little!"

"You're really good at that, you know?"  Alex gently tapped the blonde's nose.  She loved the way it crinkled when Bryn smiled. Bryn winked and left to get dessert.

The tall surgeon sat back and closed her eyes.  The last couple of days had been brutal.  She was still smarting from the loss of her patient, and now she faced more pain ahead.  Will Blake's parents had called, asking her to come to his memorial service on Saturday.  Just thinking about it, tied up the surgeon's stomach in knots.

Bryn soon returned with a tray bearing two large slices of chocolate fudge cake and two mugs of coffee.  "I bet you're hungry enough for fudge cake, aren't you?"  the blonde teased.

That got a smile out of her.  "Busted!  I love chocolate cake!"

"Me, too," Bryn enthused as she took a bite.

"Mmm, chocolate is just what I needed.  It's such a mood elevator.  Thanks, Bryn."

After coffee and dessert, both women cleared the dishes and retired to the back deck.  There was a cool breeze, and it blew the surgeon's dark bangs away from her forehead.  Bryn thought she looked incredibly beautiful.

Alex sat down on a hanging swing, and encouraged Bryn to sit next to her.  She put an arm around the petite blonde's shoulders.  "Mmm, you smell nice.  What are you wearing?"

"Red," she answered shyly.  "You like it?"

"Mhm.  It's nice on you."  She gave Bryn a gentle caress.

"Thanks."  Bryn nestled close, loving the soft strength that was uniquely Alex.

Suddenly, the tall surgeon pulled Bryn onto her lap.  "There, that's better.  You're so cuddly."  She squeezed the blonde affectionately.

"Mmm.  Bryn nuzzled her nose into the beautiful doctor's neck.  "You smell great, too.  That's Opium, isn't it?"

Alex nodded, and then her body went into automatic pilot. She began stroking the small blonde’s back and soon they were locked in a fierce embrace. Alex initiated a soft, lingering kiss, until her fears kicked in and she gently moved away, completely breathless.

Bryn leaned in again, not wanting the kiss to end.  She kissed the tall surgeon deeply, and began running her hand up and down her friend’s thigh. Alex moaned, and then carefully pulled back.  "We ... we have to stop, Bryn ...  I'm ...sorry!"  Alex stood up and leaned against the railing, carefully taking deep, cleansing breaths.  She was pale, and beads of sweat had popped out on her forehead. Her heart was pounding wildly.

"Lex, honey, are you okay?"  Bryn came up and began gently rubbing her back.

"Yes ... No, not really … I just ... I'm really sorry."

"It's okay.  There's no hurry," she whispered.

"But I want to ...  and I can't ... I'm too afraid!"  Alex bowed her head and covered her face with her hand; her fear of intimacy was paralyzing.

"Give it some time, Lex. I’m willing to." She began stroking the long, silky hair.

Bryn's loving touch felt so good to Alex.  She wanted to drown in it.  Gradually, she began to calm, and she turned around and hugged the petite blonde tight. You're so good for me, Bryn O'Neill."

"I hope so.  Are you okay now?"  she asked softly.

"Yeah.  Just a little embarrassed."

"Don't be."  She rubbed the surgeon's back.  "And if you want to talk about it, just let me know.  It might help."

"I wish I could.  I've always been taught to hold my feelings in, so it's really hard for me."

"I guess that helps you in your professional life ... the stoic, controlled surgeon."

"Yeah ... but it's murder on my personal life."  Alex looked down and bit her lip.

Bryn gently took Alex by the shoulders and looked directly into her crystal blue eyes.  "Let me in when you're vulnerable, Lex.  I won't expect you to be perfect, or judge you.  I can see what a soft and beautiful soul you have underneath that tough shell ... and I want to see more."

The surgeon smiled ruefully.  "For you, I'll try." Alex gently cupped Bryn's cheek.  She's such an angel.  Swallowing hard, a cold fear gripped her gut.  She suddenly realized she was falling in love with Bryn ... hard.  It was a totally new feeling for her, and frightening in its intensity. "Bryn ... you know I ... " Alex swallowed hard, struggling to get the words out.  "We ...  even though I can't ... I can still please you, if you want ...  and, I'd like that."

Bryn thought her heart was going to break watching the beautiful woman struggle.  She couldn't imagine what Alex was going through.  What happened to you to cripple you so, emotionally?  She wanted to strangle the person or persons responsible.

"Listen."  She took the surgeon's hand and kissed her knuckles.  "I won't try to deny how attracted I am to you, but this relationship involves the two of us.  I'm waiting for you, Alexandra Morgan ... understand?"

Alex smiled.  "I understand.  Just remember my offer, though."

Bryn nodded as they both sat down on the swing together to cuddle.  "Can I ask you something?  Don't answer if you feel uncomfortable."

Alex nodded shyly.

"Can you ... " Bryn blushed.  God, this is hard.  "Are you able to ... feel pleasure at all?"

It was Alex's turn to blush.  She paused, and then cleared her throat.  "Yes ... when I'm alone," she whispered hoarsely, wringing her hands.

"I'm sorry!  I shouldn't have asked you that!"  Bryn felt like kicking herself.

"No, it's all right ...  it's a very valid question.  Physically, everything works just fine.  I have very intense feelings for you ... at this very moment, in fact.  It's just ... emotionally, I have a problem."  Alex ran her fingers through her long locks.  "You could spend hours trying.  I'm sure it would feel sensational ... but ...  I'd never get to my destination."  Alex bowed her head.

Bryn felt like a knife had been twisted through her heart.  She was feeling waves of pain radiating from her friend.  Gently kissing the surgeon's cheek, she whispered in her ear.  "Let's talk about something else, okay?  Everything will work out fine; you’ll see."

Alex nodded and laid her head on Bryn's shoulder.  She was emotionally spent.  The petite blonde hugged her, and stroked her hair.  After about ten minutes, Alex spoke. "I have to attend Will Blake's memorial service on Saturday.  Will you take a rain check on that Braves game?"

"Actually, his parents asked me, too, since I cared for him that first day.  I didn't bring it up because of everything else that's been going on.   We can go together ... give each other moral support ... and of course, I'll take a rain check.  We can go another time."

"I'm so relieved that you're going with me.  It'll make things a little easier."  Alex squeezed her hand.

"That's what best friends are for."


The rest of the week flew by quickly.  All too soon for Alex, Saturday morning arrived.

Bryn came over early to spend time with her.  The surgeon had worked late every night, and the two hadn't seen each other as often as they would have liked.  Alex was taking extra time with her patients, giving them all that she possibly could.  The extra effort had begun to take its toll on the beautiful surgeon.  Bryn noticed that she looked tired and drained.  She also seemed distracted and more irritable than usual.  Dressed in a black, sleeveless linen shift, with matching pumps, and wearing her long hair down, she looked spectacular in spite of her fatigue.

Bryn wore a simple black shift with black pumps as well.  The sleeveless dress showed off her muscular arms.  She was in excellent physical condition from years of working out; she had always made her health a top priority.  The two women together presented a stunning pair.

As soon as Bryn arrived, they moved out to the screened in porch to share a pot of coffee together.  They were talking about visiting the stables when the phone rang.

"Who in hell is that?"  Alex grumbled, standing up.  She picked up the phone.

"David?"  Alex was incredulous.  "You do realize it's eight o'clock on a Saturday morning ...  I was at the hospital, of course ...  I left a forwarding address, she can send my stuff there..." The tall surgeon's tanned coloring suddenly drained from her face, and she looked exceedingly angry.  "Well, you can tell Olivia I said she can go fuck herself!  I'm sure no one else would want to!"  Alex slammed down the phone, shaking.

Bryn was aghast.  She had never heard her friend be so rude to anyone. Before she could say anything, Alex rushed out to the back deck.

Bryn hurried after her.  Alex was leaning against the railing of the deck, trying in vain to compose herself.

"Hey!"  Bryn put an arm around the shaking woman.  "Want to talk about it?"

"I really don't need this right now."  Alex drew in a long, shuddering breath.

"Need what, Lex?"

"Family problems.  I thought Olivia and David were out of my life for good."  She sighed.  I don't even know how he got my number."  She rubbed her temples, grimacing slightly.

"Anything I can do to help?"

"You're helping just by being here with me."  Alex smiled ruefully.  "I'll tell you about it another time.  First I just need to get through the memorial service."  She put an arm around Bryn.  "Um ... I'm sorry about my foul mouth."  The surgeon looked sheepish.

"Don't worry about it.  Just remind me not to get on your bad side."  Bryn chuckled.

"That will never happen, Squeak."  Alex hugged the petite blonde as they made their way out the door and headed for Bryn's jeep.




The memorial service was held at St. Luke's Episcopal church in Atlanta.  It was very trying for both women, but much more so for Alex.  To make matters worse, they didn't feel comfortable holding or comforting each other, preferring to be discreet.  Bryn was the stronger of the two by far, yet she cried quietly through most of the service.  Alex just sat there, trying to offer support to Bryn with sad blue eyes.  As usual, she managed to stay in control.

The tall, slender seven year old took her mother's gloved right hand.  Her brother David held the other one as they moved to the front of the church.  People were crying, and dressed all in black.  There were beautiful flowers everywhere, and at the front of the church, was a casket.  She told herself that her dad really couldn't be in there.  He couldn't have died because he was never sick.  How can a person who wasn’t even sick, die?

But somehow he was.  Her dad was gone, and they were going to put him in the ground and cover him with dirt.  The girl shivered at the thought, and began to cry quietly.

Her mother scolded her.  "Alexandra, you must be brave.  Now be a big girl for Mother and don't cry.  You don't want to make David cry, now do you?"

The girl bit her lip and shook her head.  "No," she hiccuped, quickly drying her eyes.

The surgeon snapped out of her reverie, hearing Will's parents crying.  Be brave, Alexandra.  Now you really are a big girl.

The vicar delivered the small boy's eulogy.  It was very brief, as Will Blake had only been on earth for two short years.  Bryn looked at Alex, trying to offer some solace.  She knew the surgeon was feeling responsible, even though it wasn't her fault.

"Are you okay?" she whispered as the service finally came to an end.

"I'll be all right," Alex lied.  "I just need to get home as soon as possible."  Bryn detected a slight tremor in her voice.

"C'mon, then.  I'll take you home."  They left as quickly and unobtrusively as possible, both needing the solace of each other.

They stepped into Bryn's maroon Jeep Grand Cherokee.  The blonde pulled out a tissue and gently blew her nose.  "Hey!"  She cupped Alex's pale cheek in one hand, alarmed.  "Are you sure you're going to be okay?"

The surgeon was pale, trembling, and beginning to sweat.  "I ... I feel kind of queasy, Bryn.  I just really need to get home ... please?"  There was a touch of urgency to her voice.

"Okay.  Hang on, I'll have you there in a jiffy."  Bryn cast a worried glance towards her friend, who was growing more pallid by the second.

The moment Bryn pulled into the driveway, Alex jumped out of the car, hurried into the house, and just made it to the bathroom before she threw up.  Bryn realized she was sick and hurried after her.  When she came into the bathroom, her heart sank. Alex was on her knees, retching violently into the toilet.  She immediately grabbed a washcloth, wet it, and knelt beside her.  Bryn alternated between supporting her, gently wiping her face, and rubbing her back. She never left her side until the spasms subsided, and Alex weakly tried to stand.

"C'mon, Lex, let me help you."  Bryn guided the tall woman to the sink so she could rinse her mouth and wash her face.  When she was done, she helped her to her bed.  After pulling back the covers, she took a soft, white V-neck tee from Alex's drawer.  She undressed her, and assisted her in putting the shirt on.

"There.  Lie down."  She tucked Alex in and knelt by the bed, gently stroking her hair.  "Feel better now?"

The pallid face was in stark contrast to Alex's dark hair.  "A little," she replied shakily.

Bryn felt her forehead.  "No fever, in fact you're cold and clammy.  Was it an emotional reaction?"  She continued absently stroking her hair.

Alex closed her eyes.  After a long pause she answered.  "Not exactly ...  it's a really bad migraine that came on very suddenly ... made me terribly nauseated."

"Why didn't you tell me?" she asked gently. "We could have come home."

"It was very sudden.  Bryn, it ... it happened because I was holding all my emotions inside.  It's ... happened before."

Bryn's heart went out to Alex.  She took off her shoes and climbed into bed with her.  Taking Alex into her arms, she began to stroke her hair. "Do you want to take something for the headache?"  Bryn asked, as she began to massage the throbbing temples.

Alex nodded. "In the medicine chest ... the same medicine you gave me last time ...  if it'll stay down ... if it won't, you'll need to page Kate."

Bryn became alarmed.  If the stoic surgeon mentioned calling Kate, then she had to be very sick.  She hurried to retrieve the pills, along with a small glass of ginger ale.  She administered the medication, and crossed her fingers.  After about ten minutes of stroking the surgeon's forehead, Alex fell asleep.

Bryn searched Alex's closet and found the Tigger sweatshirt.  She changed into it, and then climbed back into bed with her friend, who was now sleeping peacefully.  She pulled Alex into her arms again. "Everything's going to be okay," she whispered, kissing a pale cheek.  "I love you, Lex ... with all my heart."

Alex smiled in her sleep, a very sweet and contented smile.


Alex slept for most of the day.  Bryn had gotten up hours before and changed into the clothes she had in the car: jeans, a form fitting pale blue tee, and sneakers.  She busied herself around the house; making iced tea, chicken salad, and lemon muffins.  She was hoping Alex would feel like eating once she awakened.

By 4:30, Bryn was growing restless.  Every half hour, she peeked into the surgeon's room to make sure she was all right.  Each time she checked, Alex was still sound asleep.  I hope she's okay, Bryn worried.

Deciding to brew a fresh pot of coffee, she thought about the difficult day the two friends had been through together.  Alex had obviously been very upset by the morning phone call.  That had been a bad beginning to a day that included a funeral for a two year old. Her friend was carrying around a lot of deep pain and anger inside, and Bryn wondered how she could help her release it.  She feared for Alex’s health if something wasn't done soon.

When the coffee was ready, she poured herself a latte sized cup of the fragrant brew, yawning as she did.  Then she took the steaming beverage out to Alex's screened in porch to drink it.  The room was beautiful, decorated in deep blue and white.  Both she and Alex enjoyed it, as it provided a wonderful view of the surgeon's private, wooded back yard. The two women reveled in each other’s company, and over the past weeks had grown very close.  The minute Bryn realized who Alex was; she had known immediately that she was in love with her.  Oh, face it, Bryn!  You were in love with her before then.  You feel whole when you're with her!  All you want to do is hold her, make her happy, be with her ... emotionally and physically!  Oh, how you want to be with her physically!  C'mon now, Bryn!  You can do this!  Just take deep breaths!  You can and will wait ... for Lex.  Hell, you'll wait forever if necessary!  Bryn picked up a Pediatric Cardiology journal from the coffee table, and fanned herself briskly.

There are other, more important issues here, Bryn.  For instance, will Lex ever remember our time together?  It was so special:

It was several days after Bryn's surgery.  She had been moved to a private room, and all the tubes and wires had been removed.  The child was making a remarkable recovery, but the nurses had had a difficult time coaxing the little girl to eat.  Good nutrition would be important; she needed fuel to help heal her incision.  The tiny girl had very little reserves to begin with.

Around lunchtime, her new friend arrived for a visit.  She was carrying a large picnic basket, and wearing jeans and a pale blue Snoopy tee shirt.  Her beautiful black hair was tied back in a loose ponytail.  The little blonde couldn't believe that this big second grader wanted to be her friend.

The dark haired girl beamed as she hopped up on the bed and gave the slight four year old a gentle hug and a somewhat sloppy kiss on the cheek.  "I didn't hurt your incision, did I?" the precocious child lisped.

The little blonde pulled her pajama top all the way up, peering curiously at the bandage.  "You mean where your dad unzipped me?"

The older girl giggled.  "Yeah, where Dad unzipped you!"

The blonde tot sighed.  "No Lexi, it doesn't hurt much.  But I don't like the food ... it tastes yucky."  A lower lip poked out.

"I knew you wouldn't like it," she announced confidently.    So our housekeeper, Anna and I made a picnic for us.  Even Davy, my little brother, will eat this stuff!   He's four, too."  The girl reached inside the basket and began taking out a variety of goodies:  peanut butter and blueberry jam sandwiches, chocolate Pinwheel cookies, little containers of apple juice, and a big bag of Cheetos.

The little blonde's green eyes grew wide.  "Pinwheels!"  she squealed.  "That's my favorite cookie!"

"Mine, too, Bryn!  Now eat up so you can get better."  The older girl handed a sandwich to her little companion as she took a healthy bite of her own.

The child impulsively threw her thin arms around her friend and hugged her.  "I love you, Lexi," she said matter of factly. "You’re my best friend in the whole world!"

"I love you, too, Bryn."

By the time she was discharged from the hospital, the girl had blossomed into a healthy, active little dynamo, with pink, round cheeks.

The petite nurse wiped tears from her cheeks angrily. " Why can't you remember, Lex?"  Bryn stood up and began to pace.  " How am I going to help you?"  I'm not giving up, she thought.  I'll never let you out of my sight again, Alexandra Morgan ... I know you're my soul mate.


Around 5:30, Bryn tiptoed into Alex's bedroom to check on her again.  The dark haired beauty was just beginning to stir.  Sleepy blue eyes tried to focus as Bryn leaned over the bed.

"Hey!  How are you feeling?"  The blonde sat down and began stroking dark bangs out of the surgeon's eyes.

Alex blinked sleepily.  "Mmm…" she stretched ... "Very sleepy."

"You want to go back to sleep?"  She leaned over and gently kissed Alex’s cheek.

"Right now all I want to do is hold you."  Alex took Bryn in her arms and held her close.  "You feel so good."  She inhaled the sweet scent of the blonde.  "Thanks for being here for me today," she whispered.

"I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."  Bryn laid her head on the beautiful doctor's shoulder.  She couldn't get close enough to her.

After about ten minutes, Alex pulled away.  "Sorry, but I have to get up ... be right back."  She made her way to the bathroom, returning shortly. Her elegant face was still pale, and her dark hair tousled.

"Lie down, Lex.  I'll bring you a glass of iced tea."

Alex snuggled back into the covers, relishing the feel of the soft sheets.  She was still feeling very drowsy from the medication.

"Here."  Bryn put a straw to Alex's lips.

"Mmm ... that tastes great.  Thanks."

"I also made chicken salad and lemon muffins if you're hungry."

"So that's what smells so good.  Maybe later when I'm more awake." Alex paused.  "I'm really sorry I slept all day."

"Please don't apologize, you needed it.  I felt so bad for you."

"It was pretty rough.  There’s nothing worse than throwing up when your head is about to explode."

"Poor baby," Bryn crooned.

Alex smiled.  "I'll be fine.  Only my pride is hurt ... I guess I didn't handle the memorial service real well, did I?"

"No, but only because you have to be so stoic and controlled all the time.  You'd have been much better off if you'd cried."

Alex was annoyed.  "It's just not my way," she confided tersely.

"Oh, so throwing your guts up is your way," Bryn replied, her green eyes flashing with anger.

Alex looked wounded.  "I certainly didn't intend for it to be.  I was upset ... I held it in ...  I got a headache!"  The beautiful surgeon sighed deeply and closed her eyes.  "You know, Bryn, I warned you that I was carrying around a lot of emotional baggage!"

"God, Lex, I'm so sorry!  I didn't mean it that way."  She rubbed her friend’s back soothingly.  "I was worried about you, damn it! You scared the hell out of me!"

"Bryn ... let’s be frank … I’m not sure if you can handle a relationship with me. Outwardly, I'm very in control ... especially at work.  But you can see that my personal life's a mess." She ran her fingers through her rumpled black locks.  "Until this morning, I hadn't spoken with a family member in years.  And you already know the sad story about my intimacy problems.  It might be best for you to back out now."

Bryn could see that Alex was teetering on the verge of tears.  And she knew that all this was coming from the surgeon's deep insecurities. "Let’s get something straight, Lex. I have absolutely no intention of backing out now.  I already care too much about you.  I only want to make you happy ... to see you smile ... you have the nicest one I've ever seen."

Bryn was really chipping away at the iron walls surrounding the dark haired beauty.  Alex felt them crumbling around her ... very slowly. "I care about you, too, Bryn," she replied, barely above a whisper.

"Then please trust me.  Trust me not to hurt you, or betray you, or to think less of you because you're human ... because you feel."

"I'm trying ... but, it’s really hard for me."

Bryn saw Alex's bottom lip quiver for just an instant.  She took her in her arms and held her close.  The beautiful woman allowed it... she couldn't resist being held in those arms.  She breathed in the scent of Bryn's fragrant, golden hair.  She felt the warmth of the small, muscular arms.  Most of all, she felt the love emanating from the heart of her best friend - a love that had already begun to mend a very deep wound - inside her own heart.

Alex pulled away at last, and spoke. " I think I'll get cleaned up and we can go out to sit on the screened in porch.  Then we'll talk ... I'll tell you about that phone call this morning."

Bryn was surprised, but pleased.  Alex was beginning to open up to her.  "I'll make a fresh pot of coffee." The petite blonde headed for the kitchen.

While Bryn brewed a fresh pot of coffee, Alex freshened up.  She put on a pair of denim shorts, which accentuated her long, beautiful legs.  She carefully brushed her dark hair, and added a bracelet to her slender ankle.  Since she often went barefoot, her jewelry box was filled with the bracelets.  Alex preferred simple, but elegant jewelry.

As Bryn brought out a tray with their coffee, Alex sat down on the blue and white loveseat, crossing her long legs as she did.  Bryn tried not to gawk, but was unsuccessful.  Alex smiled knowingly.  She knew Bryn was looking at her legs, and she was getting a huge kick out of it.  For a moment, her troubles were forgotten.

"Um ... sorry ... I've never seen you in tight shorts before!"  The blonde cleared her throat as she sat down beside her. God, I love those legs! Oh, how I would love to …

"Don't apologize.  I like you looking at me that way."  Alex gave Bryn a heart warming, sexy smile.

Bryn poured coffee into two latte mugs, her hand shaking a little.

"It's really okay, Squeak.  You know, you never fail to make me smile."  She took the trembling hand and tenderly kissed every knuckle.

Bryn slowly moved closer to Alex until their lips brushed tenderly.  It was a gentle, yet passionate kiss; meant to affirm the deep bond forming between them, yet non-threatening to the insecure surgeon.  "I hope I never do ... I love to see that smile."

"Will you stay with me tonight?"  Alex asked, a hint of vulnerability in her voice.

Bryn giggled.  "I packed a bag just in case."  She paused for a long moment; the petite blonde mustering up all her courage.  "Let's have that talk now, okay?"

Alex looked down into her mug and sighed.  "I guess it's time."  She paused for several moments, taking a deep breath. "That was my younger brother, David on the phone this morning. I haven't seen him or Olivia or spoken to them in three years." Pain shadowed the beautiful features.

"Is Olivia your mother?"  Bryn took the surgeon's slender hand.

"Yes, biologically. But she's never been a real mother to me," Alex replied bitterly.  "Now David, that's another matter.   He's always been her baby from day one, her little male heir.  They always clicked.  Just like Dad and me ... we were kindred spirits."  Alex's blue eyes deepened a shade.

"Go on, honey.  I'm listening to you."  Bryn tightened her hold on Alex’s hand.

"After Dad died, Olivia became more remote and controlling than ever - even to David.  Many times, I was his substitute mother.  When he'd get frightened in the night, he'd climb into bed with me." Alex sighed. "Olivia didn't have a lot of patience with small children, so I had to grow up very fast.  And because I was so tall for my age, and very precocious, she treated me like a little adult ... which I wasn't."  Alex's voice showed absolutely no hint of emotion.

"Olivia has always pulled David's strings.  He's dependent on her; wants to please her all the time.  And me ... after a while I became very rebellious and did everything I could to displease her.  She didn't think I was good enough to be a surgeon and tried to discourage me ... big mistake on her part.  I became more determined than ever."

It was cool out on the porch, and Bryn covered them both with a soft afghan.   She felt helpless, and wanted to do everything in her power to comfort Alex.  The pieces of the puzzle that was Dr. Morgan were beginning to fit together.

"Olivia always expected me to be perfect, to never make a mistake.  She wouldn't let me show my feelings, but worse than that, she wouldn't allow me to be a child."  Bryn saw a flicker of pain in the deep blue eyes.  "I began to hate her, and I always wished that she had died instead of Dad.  That, of course, just made me feel guilty."

Bryn had begun to rub her companion’s hand, which had grown very cold.  She kissed it affectionately.

"A few years ago, I did something totally unforgivable in Olivia's eyes.  David agreed with her, and took sides.  I couldn't believe he could do that to me after all I had done for him ... I suppose he just can't be his own person.   She never gave him the chance."  Alex's face twitched, and Bryn could tell she was working very hard to hold her emotions in check.

"What did David want this morning?"

"Olivia is selling Dad's cottage on Cape Cod, and she wants me to come and get all my stuff.  David tried to be friendly to me ... he even acted contrite ... but I can't be civil to anyone who is friendly to that bitch."  The surgeon's face darkened with anger.

So that's why there are no pictures of her mother in her office.  Who could blame her?  I seem to have my work cut out for me ... but I'd do anything in this world for Lex ... anything!  Bryn poured more coffee for her companion.

"I told David to have Olivia send me my stuff.  She can certainly afford it.   I'm never going back to that cottage again!  It was never a home after Dad died anyway."  Alex hung her head.

Bryn sensed that Alex had had enough emotional turmoil for one day.  "I'm here for you, Lex," she whispered in her ear.  "I can't believe anyone could treat a little girl as special as you were that way.  Not to mention the wonderful human being you turned out to be.  We'll be all right ... together."

Alex smiled sadly, and squeezed Bryn's hand.  "Together.  I like the sound of that."


The two women ended up spending the entire evening in bed together, watching old movies and cuddling.  They both needed to be close after their emotional day.  They ate sandwiches and muffins from a tray, and shared popcorn and hot chocolate while they watched movies on the VCR in Alex’s bedroom.  The two also learned new things about each other.  For instance, Bryn couldn't believe it when she found out that the tough surgeon hated snakes with a passion.  She learned that little tidbit when the movie "Deadly Predators" came on.  And Alex discovered that Bryn was terrified of spiders while watching "Kingdom of the Spiders".  The petite blonde clung fearfully to her throughout the movie ... which Alex thoroughly enjoyed.

Finally, around 1:00 a.m., the two began to yawn.  Bryn's head was firmly planted on Alex's shoulder; the surgeon's arms wrapped around the blonde in a loving hug.  Even their legs were intertwined.

Alex kissed the top of Bryn's head affectionately.  "I guess we had better go to sleep now, Squeak.  I'm beat."

"Me, too," she yawned.  "Mmm, you make the best stuffed animal!"  She squeezed the surgeon tight.

Alex chuckled.  "I'm happy to oblige."  The two fell asleep together peacefully.  In spite of the pain they'd gone through that day, each wondered if they'd ever felt this happy before.


On Sunday, the two friends visited Apollo, and Alex actually persuaded Bryn to ride with her.  She enjoyed the feel of the petite blonde in front of her as they rode.  It felt like the most natural thing in the world.

Afterwards, they ate a picnic lunch of peanut butter and blueberry jam sandwiches, Pinwheels, apple juice, and Cheetos, all prepared by Bryn.  She was trying to jog Alex's memory.  Although the surgeon couldn't remember their time together as little girls, she loved that Bryn had fixed her favorite childhood treats.

As the two spent more time together, Alex gradually became more relaxed, open, and playful - at least away from the hospital.  Bryn was delighted, but she still wondered what the surgeon had done to alienate her family - particularly her younger brother, since it was pretty obvious that the relationship between mother and daughter was in tatters to begin with.  Not wanting to push her friend too far, she decided to let Alex bring the issue up, when and if she was ready.

When Alex returned to work on Monday, she continued to be uptight and vigilant about the care of her patients.  She had always been a perfectionist, but now she was even more particular, working later than usual.  Bryn worried that the surgeon would be stricken with another one of her agonizing migraines.  If she does, I'm putting in a call to Kate, the blonde nurse thought stubbornly.

Finally, to Bryn's relief, Friday arrived.  She knew the surgeon would let down her guard a little, and she and Alex would make plans to spend the weekend together.  But first, they had a long and grueling workday ahead of them.


Bryn adjusted the I.V. drip leading into the tiny hand of the infant girl.  A respirator breathed for her, and she was totally dependent on the myriad of machines, tubes, and wires surrounding her.  Dr. Morgan had worked for endless hours repairing the many heart defects the child was unfortunate enough to be born into the world with.  Now it was Bryn's job to care for her.  Alex had requested it, and since she was such a respected surgeon, the staff was happy to accommodate her.

As Bryn recorded the baby's vital signs, Dr. Morgan entered the room.  After smiling warmly at the blonde nurse, she walked over to the infant's bed. "How are you doing little one?"  she asked softly.  Alex gently stroked the baby's head with one finger.

Bryn couldn't suppress a smile at the tenderness Alex displayed as she examined her patient.  She found it irresistible. "She's holding her own.  I just wish she had someone who cared about her," Bryn said wistfully.  "I don't see how a mother can just give up her child like that ... just because she wasn't born perfect."

Instantly, the dark haired surgeon's mood changed - from that of gentle caregiver, to quietly furious.  Her blue eyes darkened to purple, and her face turned white.  "Did it ever occur to you that she might have a damned good reason?"

Bryn was shocked.  She had never seen Alex this angry before; at least not with her. "Now, take it easy, Lex.  I didn't mean to judge this baby's mother."

Alex took a deep breath and counted to ten.  She was losing it, and her tiny patient depended on her to keep it together.  "I'm sorry, Bryn.  I'm just tired, I guess."  She focused all her attention on completing the examination.

Bryn swallowed hard.  "It's all right ... just forget about it."  Truthfully, she felt hurt and angry; but she didn't want her feelings to affect the care of her patient in any way.

After writing orders in the baby’s chart, Alex placed her pen in her coat pocket.  "I'll call you later, Bryn," she said quietly, as she walked out the door.

The petite nurse nodded and returned to her patient.

Alex went straight to her office.  She was very shaken by the angry exchange, and felt like kicking herself. Bryn had no way of knowing what she had been through.  Maybe it's time I told her, the tall surgeon mused.  She'll have to know sooner or later.

Alex poured herself a cup of strong, fragrant coffee from the white carafe in her office.  She sat down at her desk and sighed.  What if she doesn't understand?  Alex thought miserably. What if she thinks I’m a monster?  The mere thought of Bryn's disapproval made her stomach ache.  Alex put her face in her hands and tried to regain her composure.

At that moment, Bryn peeked in the open door of Dr. Morgan’s office. "Hey.  Are you okay?"

Alex quickly straightened up.  "Would you like some coffee?" she asked, changing the subject.

"Well, sure, but you didn't answer my question."

Alex poured Bryn's coffee and fixed it exactly as she liked.  "Close the door and sit down, please?"

Bryn's heart leapt into her throat.  She did what Alex asked, and then gratefully reached for her coffee.

"I ... I'm really sorry for snapping at you, Bryn.  That was very unprofessional of me."

Bryn looked wounded.  "Unprofessional?  Is that it?"  Sage green eyes flashed with anger.

"No!"  Alex was shaking.  "There's more ... I shouldn't have treated my best friend that way."  The surgeon looked down into her cup and bit her lip.  "We need to talk," she said, very quietly.

Bryn could clearly see that Alex was in a great deal of pain.  She reached across the desk and gently squeezed her hand.  "Anytime you want to talk, I'll always be here for you ... you know that."

Alex nodded.  "Why don't you come over after work and I'll order up a pizza for dinner - with everything on it."

"No, anchovies, though."  Bryn wrinkled her nose.

"No anchovies ...  you've got yourself a deal!"  Alex smiled shyly, feeling slightly better since Bryn's anger seemed to have vanished.

"Um ... I've got to get back to my patient now, but I'll see you tonight."

"Thanks, Bryn.  I'd give you a hug and a kiss, but I'd better not do it here."

"It's okay.  That's probably a good idea."

"Bye."  Alex brushed two fingers against her lips and turned them towards Bryn.

Bryn returned the gesture.  "Bye, Lex."

As the door closed, a single tear rolled down Alex's cheek as she swallowed hard against the lump in her throat.  She wasn't sure she could get through this evening ... but she had to try. Bryn deserved an explanation.


As soon as Bryn got home from work, she took a quick bath and changed into jeans and a soft gray, long-sleeved tee.  She French braided her long, honey gold hair.  After applying a touch of make-up and perfume, she dashed out to her jeep and drove to Alex’s home. She was very anxious to see her friend. It was obvious the older woman was going through a great deal of distress since the events of the past couple of weeks.  Her patient's death, and the family phone call were part of it, but Bryn was sure there was more to it than that. She hoped that Alex would continue to open up to her.

Alex opened the door for Bryn.  The dark haired surgeon looked stunning in a simple white tank top and white jeans.  Her slender feet were bare, as usual.

"Hi!  C'mon in."  As soon as Bryn stepped inside, Alex closed the door and pulled her into a fierce hug.  "So sorry," Alex whispered as she buried her face in Bryn's soft hair.  "You still mad at me?"  she asked, sounding more like a frightened child than a confident surgeon.

Bryn squeezed the tall woman tight.  "I'm not mad, Lex," she answered softly.  "You're really hard to stay angry at, you know that?"

Alex smiled ruefully.  Then she cupped Bryn's face gently in her hands and leaned down to softly kiss her lips.  The kiss deepened and intensified.  After long moments it ended, leaving them both quite breathless. "Um ... would you like a glass of wine?"  Alex asked, as the two women tried to regain their composure.

"Sure.  I could use one right about now," Bryn answered, as she willed her wildly pounding heart to slow.

They went into the kitchen, where Alex poured two glasses of Merlot and handed one to Bryn. Alex paused. "Bryn …I want you to know I'd never intentionally hurt you."  She took a sip of wine.  "You have no idea how important you are to me." The petite blonde's wide green eyes stared intently into Alex's blue ones.

"There's something I want to tell you."  Alex fidgeted. "But before I do, you need to hear the truth about my past."

Bryn swallowed hard. "Go ahead ... I'm listening."

"I ... I'd feel more comfortable sitting on the porch.  Let's go."

Carrying their glasses, they moved to the open, cheery room.  As they sat down beside each other, Alex downed her entire glass of wine.  She took a deep breath and spoke.  "After I explain, you might not ever want to see me again."  The surgeon felt vulnerable and exposed.

"There's no chance of that happening, so get that idea out of your head right now."  Bryn took Alex’s hand and kissed it.

Alex gathered up her courage and sighed.  "Bryn ... the reason I got so angry at you today was because I..." She stifled a sob.  "I gave up a child of my own once."  Alex covered her face with one hand.  "Only, I killed my child. I had ... I had an abortion!"  Her voice broke then, and the hand that Bryn was holding trembled.

Bryn's mouth fell open and she gasped.  She then took the trembling hand and kissed it, intent on showing support and acceptance.  Alex was valiantly fighting back tears.  Bryn could see how much it was taking out of her to hold them back, and it was tearing her apart.  She wished Alex could let go of her pain.  But the stoic surgeon refused to cry, taking a few deep breaths, and then regaining her composure.

"You want to tell me about it, honey?"

Alex nodded.

"Before you go any further, I want you to know that nothing's changed between us."

Alex sighed in relief, her lower lip trembling.  She took in a deep breath and began.  "About three years ago, I was feeling lonely and empty, and frankly, in need of release.  So I went out with a friend - a resident at the hospital.  We both got really drunk, and we..." Alex bowed her head. "We ended up in bed together."

Bryn looked confused.  "But I thought..."

"I ... I hadn't admitted to myself that I was gay then, but obviously I was ... I had been with more than a few women ... but I just told myself I did it to spite Olivia."  Alex laughed bitterly.  "Ironically, she never even suspected."

"What about David?"  the blonde asked sympathetically.

"Yeah ... he always suspected ... said it didn't matter one bit. I never did come clean with him, though... I told him I wasn't sure. I was afraid Olivia would find out."

"What happened with the abortion?"  Bryn put a sympathetic arm around the broad shoulders.  Her body language conveyed nothing but love and acceptance, which gave Alex the courage to continue.

She looked down at her hands, one of which Bryn continued to hold.  "I found out I was pregnant a month later.  I confided in David, who told Olivia ... without my permission."  She pursed her lips together.  "He meant well, but ... Olivia went ballistic!  She called me a slut, and said that Dad would be so ashamed of me." The surgeon hung her head. "You can’t imagine how much that hurt." Alex blinked back tears. "I told Olivia I hated her, and that my father would have loved and supported me no matter what.  We had a terrible argument, and she ended up slapping me across the face.  Then I told her I planned on having an abortion as soon as possible.  She said she never wanted to see my face again ... I told her that was fine, she was never a real mother to me anyway."  Alex's voice grew flat, and completely devoid of emotion.  "Two days later, I went through with the procedure.  I knew I could never be a mother … I had no role model."  Alex’s jaw was clenched so tight it was shaking.

Bryn just closed her eyes.  She felt like she was going to burst into tears any moment.  Her heart was breaking for her friend.  "What happened with David?"  she whispered hoarsely.

"He was terribly upset ... said I was wrong for not consulting him first.  He’s very religious, and wanted me to keep the baby.  After that, we just drifted apart ... although I suspect Olivia had something to do with us not reconciling."

The two sat together for a long time, just holding each other.  Eventually, Alex spoke.  "I ... I feel so guilty.  I can never save enough lives to make up for what I did.  I'm supposed to preserve life, not take it!  My entire professional life has been dedicated to that!"  Alex's dark brows furrowed in pain.

Bryn gathered Alex into her arms, and wrapped an afghan around her.  She rubbed her back soothingly.  "That's a heavy load you're carrying around, Lex ... even for your broad shoulders.  Let me share it ... please?"

Alex nodded silently, and hugged Bryn tight.

"What's done is done.  You can't keep beating yourself up all the time because you're human. Maybe you made a mistake … but it doesn’t change how I feel about you."

Alex's heart felt as though it would burst.  "Bryn, there's just one last thing I have to tell you."  There was a slight tremor in the surgeon's voice.

"Go ahead, honey."

"I'm in love with you."

Bryn's mouth fell open, and she began to tremble.  "Would ... would you please repeat that?" she whispered.

"I'm in love with you."  Alex took both of Bryn's hands in hers, kissing them. "I feel like ... I've always loved you."  Blue eyes searched green ones for reassurance.

Bryn fought back tears.  "I love you, too!"  She was laughing and crying at the same time.  "With all my heart, my Lex!"

They fell into one another's arms; Alex smothering Bryn with gentle kisses; Bryn gently caressing the surgeon's hair and face.  Both felt as if they might burst with happiness.

"You love me ... I can't believe it," Alex whispered, as she gathered Bryn into another affectionate hug.  "I never thought I would be happy again ... but I am."

"You'd better believe I love you back!  You're worthy of all the love and happiness in the world, and I intend to give it to you.  It doesn't matter what else happens to us as long as we're together.  I'll be your family ... your best friend ... whatever you need me to be."

Alex had reached her emotional limit, so she just nodded as she sat and held Bryn in her arms.  After about fifteen minutes, she pulled away and looked into Bryn's eyes intently.  "Dance with me?"

"My pleasure."

"Hang on for just one minute."  Alex stood up and popped a disc into the CD player.  She held out her arms to Bryn as 'Never Alone' began to play.

 Lay your head, down to bed, and let your slumber sweep your cares away,

In your dreams, chase moonbeams, all the way across the Milky Way.

Bryn smiled in delight.  "Our favorite song!"  She put a hand over her mouth and fought back tears.

Alex smiled and held out her arms for Bryn. The blonde walked into them and they began to move effortlessly together.  The surgeon held her as close as possible, nuzzling her nose in the soft, golden hair.  Bryn had her ear pressed against Alex's warm breast, and she could hear her heart beating.  Neither ever wanted to let go of the other.

When the song ended, Alex whispered in Bryn's ear.  "I love you, Bryn ... I'll never get tired of telling you that."  She gently kissed her cheek.

"I'll never get tired of hearing it.  And I love you ... with all my heart!"

They kissed again, very sweetly.  It was a kiss that each poured all their love into.  Alex felt as though every wall around her broken heart was crumbling – piece-by-piece.  It frightened her immeasurably, but she had absolutely no control over it.

After long minutes of just holding one another, Bryn's stomach began to protest.   Alex laughed nervously.  "I suppose I need to get better at remembering to feed you, Squeak.  I forget that other people get hungry.  I'll call for a pizza loaded with everything right away."  The surgeon's own stomach had begun to rumble once the weight of her burden had been lifted from her chest.  She couldn't believe that Bryn still loved and accepted her ... but somehow she did.

"Don't forget, no anchovies!"

"Okay, no anchovies it is!"  Alex telephoned an order for a large pizza with everything, and went into the kitchen to search her pantry for chips and salsa.  She quickly prepared a tray, and added two bottles of Coors Lite.

Bryn's eyes lit up when Alex returned.  "Yum!  Chips and salsa!"

"You like?"  Alex raised a dark brow.  "I couldn't let my best girl starve now, could I?"

"Nope!"  The blonde winked as she dug into the chips, while Alex opened a bottle of beer.

"Dr. Morgan!  Are you trying to get me drunk?"

"Me?"  Alex asked innocently.  "Of course not!  I just thought we deserved to kick back a little after the past couple of weeks."

Bryn suddenly grew serious.  "What you told me tonight took a lot of courage ... I'm really glad you trusted me enough to share it."

"Me, too. I haven't trusted anyone in a long time ... and I didn't want anything standing in the way of our relationship.  I feel ... so much better.  Thanks for understanding."  Alex gave Bryn's braid a gentle tug.

Bryn leaned in and nibbled the surgeon's lower lip.  Alex felt it all the way to her groin.  "Oh," she whimpered breathlessly.  She then pressed her warm lips to Bryn's and kissed her deeply.  The two were heavily involved by the time the doorbell rang.

"Oh, damn!"  Alex cursed, pulling away reluctantly.  "I'll be right back!"  She caught her breath and straightened her hair as she hurried to the front door.

Bryn just stood there, touching her lips, which were still tingling from Alex's sweet kisses.  The petite blonde suddenly realized something – Lex hadn't panicked when the two got involved in one very intimate lip lock.  Maybe she forgot, Bryn thought.  Or it could have been the alcohol we were drinking. Even so, I'd better be very tender with her ... her heart's still so fragile.  The blonde sighed deeply.

Alex returned with the pizza then, smiling shyly.  "Are you ready to eat?"

Bryn just smiled devilishly and nodded.

Alex raised an eyebrow, smirking.  She poured more beer for them, and they sat side-by-side, feeding pizza to each other.  Bryn hadn't seen Alex eat that much since the first time they had shared Chinese food together.  It made her so happy to see her friend in such a relaxed, playful mood.  Lex could be so much fun, and she was incredibly affectionate - at least to her.

The two eventually polished off half the pizza, and two beers each. Suddenly, a fierce storm began raging, caused by an unusually warm front moving through the area.  Before Bryn could even react, Alex pulled her onto her lap and hugged her close.  "Don't worry, Squeak ... I've got you," she soothed.  "I know how much you hate storms."

The blonde nurse was too perplexed to be frightened.  "How did you know that?  I never told you I was afraid of storms!"

"Sure you did!  Otherwise, how would I know?"

"You must remember from when we were kids!  One night at the hospital, there was a terrible storm, and you refused to leave me. I was so frightened … but you stayed to get me through it."


Two little girls snuggled close in a hospital bed.  The younger girl had her thin arms wrapped tightly around her older companion.  The dark haired girl good naturally ignored the chokehold around her neck.

"Take it easy, Bryn.  We're safe here.  This is my dad's hospital you know, and he would never let anything happen to me - or any of his patients.  Especially if the patient is his daughter's best friend."  She smiled endearingly; her missing teeth made her look irresistible.

"But I hate storms!"  She let go of the girl's neck long enough to reach for her stuffed dog, then hugged them both.  "Mommy, I want Lexi to spend the night ... please?"

"When the storm is over, Lexi will have to go home, sweetie.  It's against the rules for her to stay.  But when you get out of the hospital, Lexi is always welcome in our home.  Maybe she can come for a week or two next summer - if it's okay with her mom and dad."

Both girls’ eyes grew wide as they imagined spending all that time together.  Bryn's mother walked over and enveloped them both in a loving hug.  Lexi was quickly becoming like another daughter to her.


Alex’s face fell.  "I can't remember, Bryn ... I'm sorry.  I wish I could."  She kissed the blonde's cheek.

"Don't worry, Lex.  I know you will someday ... at least you remembered that I hate storms!"  And, just as she had on that night so long ago, Bryn snuggled closer to her best friend.

"It should pass soon."  Alex paused, gathering up her courage.  "One thing I do remember is caring about you - from the first day I saw you in the hospital, I had very deep feelings for you.  Then, after you spent the weekend caring for me, I ... I couldn't sleep on the nights we spent apart."

Bryn was touched; she knew how difficult it must have been for her vulnerable friend to reveal this to her. "I hate going to bed without you, too! Let’s not do that anymore."

Alex grinned crookedly.  "Works for me!  Did you by any chance pack a bag for tonight?"

"You know I did!"  Bryn gave the surgeon a playful smack on her behind.

"Ow!" Alex faked a pout as she rubbed her backside, pretending to be in pain.

"Oh, I didn't hit you that hard, you big baby!"  Alex continued to pout, sticking her lip out further.  Bryn chuckled, then tried to push the lip back in with her index finger.  Suddenly, the surgeon captured the digit between her teeth, and gave it a playful nip.  Bryn yelped in surprise.

"Now who's the big baby?"  Alex slowly moved closer until they were staring into each other's eyes.  She felt Bryn's sweet breath on her face.  Their lips met, oh so tenderly.  I can't stop kissing her, Alex thought.  Her lips are so sweet, so soft, and she smells so good.  "Mmm," the surgeon moaned breathlessly.  "I think you had better not sit on my lap anymore - at least for a while."

Bryn gave Alex a sultry smile.  "Whatever you want ... I'm letting you go at your own speed.  And whatever speed that is, is fine by me.  I just want you to be comfortable."  She tucked a lock of hair behind the surgeon's ear, and kissed her on the cheek.

"My current speed is not nearly fast enough."  Alex smiled ruefully, her playful mood darkening.  "I'm just really ... afraid of failure.  I mean, if we got started ... and I couldn’t … I …" She swallowed hard.  "It's very humiliating ... not to mention frustrating."

"Maybe we shouldn't have had so much to drink.   I think it made us both..." Bryn blushed.  "You know."  She whispered in Alex’s ear.

"Oh yes, I know all right!  And trust me, I was there before I drank a single drop of anything!"   Alex smiled sadly, then slowly began to chuckle.  She couldn't help it.  The look on Bryn's sweet, innocent face; plus the comment the blonde had made, which had surprised her; sent her into a fit of laughter.  Soon she was rolling on the floor.

"What's the joke?"  You're laughing at me again!  Lex, stop!"

"I can't believe you said that!  This whole situation is unbearable, but you're still so cute and funny!  Oh, my sides!"  Tears were rolling down Alex’s cheeks.

"Well, I was too embarrassed to say it out loud, for heaven's sake!"  Finally, the laughter became contagious, and Bryn joined her companion on the floor - rolling and laughing with her.  It wasn't long, however, before the petite blonde realized that something was terribly wrong.  Her companion had curled up into a fetal position on the floor, and covered her face with her hands.  She wasn't making a sound, but her broad shoulders had begun to shake violently.   Bryn scrambled into a kneeling position directly in front of her friend.  "What's wrong, Lex?"  she asked frantically, gently pulling her hands away from her face.

The surgeon's beautiful face crumpled.  "I ... I ... can't hold back any longer! I … " Alex began to sob in great heaving gulps.

Bryn pulled her gently into her arms.  "Don't try!  I’ve got you, baby. Shh," she whispered softly. "Just let it all out.  Everything’s gonna be just fine."

The usually stoic Alex sobbed uncontrollably.  She was releasing years of terrible pain and anger - and it came bursting forth with violent strength.  Bryn rocked her as a mother would a child, helping her through the storm.  She tenderly stroked her hair and kissed it.  "Just let it all out, baby," she crooned.  "I love you."

Alex clung to Bryn as if her life depended on it.  "Don't ... let go ... of me," she pleaded, sobbing.

"I won't, my love.  I promise."  She planted another kiss on the damp forehead.

"Why can't … my own … mother … love me?"   Alex cried harder as she burrowed into Bryn's warm shoulder.

"Shh, it's not your fault.  You're the most lovable person I've ever known," she crooned.  "Something just went wrong somewhere and it went wrong with Olivia. It had nothing to do with you. Just look how much your dad loved you ... and he was a wonderful person," Bryn's sweet voice soothed.

"Oh God, Bryn! I … I can’t stop!" Alex wept, beginning to panic at her lack of control.

"Then don’t, honey." She pulled Alex closer. "Shh, it’s okay. Just go ahead and cry. It’ll make you feel so much better." She rubbed gentle circles on her friend’s back.

Eventually, Alex cried herself to sleep on Bryn's shoulder.  From time to time, she involuntarily hiccupped.  The petite blonde had never seen anyone break down like that before, and she was emotionally drained.  The outburst hadn't surprised her at all - the only thing that surprised her was how long it had taken Alex to fall apart.

Bryn plucked an afghan from the loveseat, and covered them both with it.  She then wiped her own tear stained face - seeing her love in that much pain had been incredibly difficult.  She kissed the dark head.  "Now maybe you can begin to heal.  I love you, Lex."  Soon, sleep claimed her, too.


The slender seven year old stood on a chair inside her mother's closet.  She then maneuvered herself up, and climbed onto the top shelf.  Smiling, she reached for her prize ... a tan, Mohair Steiff teddy bear named Harry.  Her dad had given it to her on her second birthday, and she treasured it like no other toy.  She had loved some of his fur off, but otherwise he was in splendid shape.

She carefully hopped down to the chair, and then put it back exactly as she had found it.  Taking Harry, she stopped in front of a large chest of drawers.  Opening it, the little girl carefully reached in and tenderly stroked the fabric inside.  She plucked the soft tee shirt from the drawer, and took Harry and the shirt into the linen closet.

She cuddled Harry close while holding the soft shirt to her nose.  It still held the distinctive scent of her beloved father, and it comforted her.  Soon, she began to cry quietly, not wanting anyone to hear her.  Of course, it wasn't long before her little brother barged in.

"What's wrong, Lexi?" he pouted.  "Are you crying about Daddy and Bryn?  And why won't Mommy let you talk to Bryn on the phone?"

"Go away, Davy," she sobbed.  "I don't need anyone anymore, and I want to be alone!  Besides, if Mom finds out I have Harry, she'll just put him away again!  Now please go!  No one's supposed to see me cry ... I'm a big girl!"


Alex began to thrash against Bryn's shoulder.  "Go away!" she mumbled, obviously distressed.

"Shh," Bryn crooned.  "It's only a bad dream!"  She rubbed her back soothingly.

Just as the angry face of the young girl's mother appeared - to scold her, it suddenly changed into the sweet face of Bryn, who took her into her arms.   "It's okay, Lex.  I'm here ... and I'll never leave again."

Alex smiled in her sleep and completely relaxed against Bryn's shoulder.  She fell immediately into a deep, restorative sleep.


Sometime during the night, Alex awakened.  She felt uncomfortable and stiff; her head on Bryn's damp shoulder.  The petite blonde’s arms were still wrapped around the surgeon, keeping the promise she had made earlier.  Alex nudged her gently.

"You can let go of me, Squeak," she whispered tenderly.  "I'm okay now."  She stroked Bryn's soft, golden hair.

"Hmm?  Ahhhh!"  The blonde stretched and yawned.

Alex suppressed a chuckle at what she had begun to refer to as "the Bryn noise".  "Let's go to bed.  We'll be more comfortable there."

"Okay."  Bryn allowed herself to be led into the bedroom.  Alex grabbed the Tigger sweatshirt from the closet and handed it to her companion - she loved the way Bryn looked in it.

While the sleepy blonde changed, Alex went into the bathroom to wash her tear stained face.  She gazed into the mirror, looking at her blue eyes, which were red and puffy.  I can't believe you did that, Alex.  You broke down and cried - like a baby.  You completely lost all control.  It's not like I had a choice, though. I couldn’t have stopped if my life had depended on it. Once Bryn brought down that last wall, the dam just burst.

In retrospect, it hadn't been such a bad thing.  It had felt so good to let all those feelings out - while Bryn held her.  They had been smothering her for a long time, and now she felt so cleansed.  Still, she was terribly embarrassed by her uncharacteristic lack of composure.

Alex brushed her teeth and added a pair of blue silk boxers to her white tank top.   As she brushed her long, raven hair, Bryn came in.

The small blonde looked approvingly at the surgeon's attire.  "Um ... I just need to wash my face and brush my teeth," she stammered.

"Help yourself, love."  Alex smiled and kissed Bryn on the nose.  She felt closer to her than ever - in spite of her embarrassment.  "I'll be waiting for you."

The blonde smiled sweetly.  "Be right there."  As Bryn washed her face and brushed her teeth, she replayed the events of last night in her mind. Seeing Alex in that kind of pain had nearly broken her heart.  Yet she knew it was necessary for any kind of healing. Maybe she won't get those awful headaches as often now. And maybe we have a chance for a normal sexual relationship. God knows it would relieve a lot of my tension!

After unbraiding and brushing her hair, Bryn climbed into bed with Alex.  Although the surgeon appeared pale and tired, she seemed more relaxed and contented than before, the tension erased from her beautiful face.

"Hey!  You look like you're feeling a lot better ... I think getting everything off your chest must have helped."  Bryn kissed her forehead affectionately.

Alex blushed.  "I do feel pretty good ... but that's because a certain beautiful blonde professed her love for me."  She playfully rubbed noses with Bryn.

"Oh, is that it?  Well, it's true!  I'm head over heels in love with you, Dr. Alexandra Morgan."

"Right back at ya," she purred.   Alex rolled on top of Bryn and began kissing her gently.  Soon, the kiss became much more passionate, and Alex pulled away.  "Bryn ... please ... I want to show you how much I love you.  I need to, so much. We'll be okay as long as you let me lead."  She began kissing the blonde's neck and worked her way up to a soft ear.  Bryn shuddered … she had never felt so alive with sensation.  She wanted to say yes ... with all her heart.  But she wanted this to be mutual ... she wanted them to share their love - together.

"As much as I'd love for you to show me how you feel, I'd prefer to wait for you.  We're in this together, Lex."  Bryn paused for a moment.  "Why don't we just play things by ear - see where we go.  I have no expectations of you whatsoever - we can just make each other feel good ... and you can stop at any time ... okay?"

"Okay," she answered huskily, as she began to nibble the blonde's ear lobe.  "Oh," Bryn whispered, as she turned her head to give Alex greater access.  The woman beside her smelled so good, and felt so warm and soft up against her, that she hoped she would be able to control herself.  She could feel Alex’s nipples harden through the thin material of her tank top, and she longed to caress them.

Alex made her way back to Bryn's soft lips and kissed her deeply.  She’s a fantastic kisser; and an even better lover, I’ll bet.  The two were so turned on, that it wasn't long before they began to involuntarily rock their hips against each other.

"Oh God, Bryn!"  Alex breathed, kissing the blonde's neck.  "I've never wanted anything or anyone as much as I want you."

"Mmm ... works for me!"  She was running her hands up and down Alex’s back, and thinking of moving them lower.  "Are ... you doing okay?"

"Yes." Alex was still frightened, but she knew Bryn would never betray her trust.

"Can I ... touch your breasts?" 

"Alex closed her eyes and smiled.  "Yes," she answered breathlessly. Bryn slipped her hand underneath the surgeon’s tank top and cupped her right breast in her hand, gently squeezing the nipple. "Oh, I love you touching me there!"  Alex arched her back in sheer pleasure.

"Can I take your top off?"  The blonde asked, a gleam in her eyes.

For a minute, Bryn thought she saw a look of panic in the blue eyes ...  then it disappeared. Alex nodded, smiling shyly.

"You're sure?"

"Damn sure! Take it off!"  Alex answered, impatient.

Bryn smiled as she peeled the clothing from the surgeon’s slender form.  Her mouth fell open at the sight ... she had never seen such beauty.

Alex looked at her through eyelids that were half open.  "Go ahead ... I know you want to." Bryn smirked, and lowered her golden head to a beautiful breast.  She began to suckle her tenderly at first, then harder. "Ohhh ... God, Bryn …you make me feel so good!"  Alex ran her fingers through the silky hair, and pushed her head closer.  She had never been this aroused before.  Her hips began to rock again.

Bryn stopped her ministrations briefly.  "Honey, would you like me to go anywhere else?" she whispered.

Alex looked like a deer caught in headlights.  "I want you to ... so much ... but I'm afraid."  The surgeon's dark brows furrowed in pain.

"Listen," Bryn whispered in Alex's ear.  "What if I hold you while you touch yourself?  You might feel more comfortable being in control, and maybe then you can have an orgasm."  She nibbled her soon to be lover’s ear playfully. "It's okay, you know."

The mere thought of reaching a climax in Bryn’s arms melted any embarrassment Alex might have felt. "Okay," she whispered breathlessly. " We can try... for a while.  And … please, take your shirt off? I want to see you."

Bryn had her sweatshirt off in seconds. Alex couldn't take her eyes off the beautiful woman.  The thin, white scar running down her chest did nothing to detract from her perfect body.  Alex very tenderly ran her finger down the scar, causing the blonde to tremble.  The surgeon then kissed it.  "You're so beautiful, my Bryn.  I love you."

"You don't mind my scar?" 

"I love it because it's part of you ... it helped make you the special, strong, compassionate person you are.  And it makes me feel closer to you ... because my dad healed you."

Tears welled up in Bryn's eyes as she took Alex in her arms. Her past insecurities about her appearance disappeared, and her focus shifted to the gorgeous woman she was holding. "Can I?" She glanced down at the silk boxers.

"Go ahead," she replied sultrily.

The blonde carefully slipped the boxers off, and marveled at Alex's slender, naked form.  There were no words to adequately describe the stunning woman that lay beside her. "I won't touch you anywhere you don't want me to.  Okay?"

"Okay.  Just kiss me, ... please?"

The blonde began kissing Alex as she held her.  A small hand moved lower to knead a soft breast.  The surgeon moaned deeply; her need was rising rapidly.  Bryn guided Alex's hand across her flat belly to where it was needed the most, and then moved away.  Knowing fingers began their work ... she was more than ready.

"Oh, God ... feels so good ... Oh, Bryn."  The surgeon’s eyes were closed in ecstasy.  The blonde held her; kissing her lips, her neck, her breasts.  From time to time she couldn't resist watching Alex’s hand work its magic ... wishing it was her hand.

Alex had never felt such intense need ... Bryn was driving her crazy ... and what they were doing was unbelievably exciting. She couldn't have held back if she had wanted to.

Bryn could tell that her love was getting close.  She was writhing, and moaning softly.  Watching her was incredible; it was easily the most erotic thing she had ever witnessed. Bryn began to whisper sweet nothings into her ear, helping her along.

Alex felt the delicious pressure build and build until it burst, and she simply shattered. "Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God! Bryn!"  Her hips left the bed and she shuddered violently again and again.  Bryn held her close as the intense waves of pleasure slowly began to subside.  Alex was unable to move or speak.

"Easy, love.  Just rest a minute."  Bryn smothered her with gentle kisses.  She then stroked the damp bangs away from Alex’s forehead.  As she looked into the beautiful blue eyes, she wasn't surprised to see tears.  "You okay, baby?"

"I'm fine ... it's just ... overwhelming.  That was the most incredible experience of my life, and I..." Alex pulled Bryn to her chest, burying her face in the golden hair.  Silent tears fell freely as Bryn gently rubbed her back.  "I ... I've never experienced anything like that before ... and I haven't been able to climax with anyone ...  under any circumstances ... for more than three years.  And even before then ... it was never easy for me."

"I'm so happy for you, honey.  I guess that means you enjoyed it," she said playfully, as she hugged her lover tightly.

Alex smiled through her tears.  "Oh, yes!  Enjoyed is not the right word!   And I feel so close to you."  She tenderly kissed Bryn's hand.  "Before, I was broken ... and now, I feel like your love is putting me back together ... piece by piece."  She wiped tears from her eyes.

Bryn's beautiful face glowed with happiness.  "I love you, Lex ... I always have."

"I love you, Bryn.  You're my angel."  She slowly moved in for a tender kiss.  "Now it's your turn," she said in a deep, low tone.  "I have to show you how I feel."  Once again, their lips met in a deep, searing kiss.  Alex began to rock against her companion; she couldn't get close enough.  Her lips moved down the blonde's neck to a soft, round breast.  She began to suckle.

Bryn's eyes flew open.  The sensation was incredible!  Alex’s mouth felt so warm and soft, and she definitely knew how to use it.  "Ohhh!"  The blonde threw her head back.  "Lex, please don't stop!"  She pushed against her, needing her touch as much as she needed to breathe.  She was very aroused to begin with ... watching her love earlier had nearly sent her over the edge.  "Lex, please ... touch me!"

Alex smiled her sexy, lop-sided smile.  She loved seeing this side of Bryn.  "You like that, huh?  Show me what you want," she whispered in her ear.

Bryn boldly took the surgeon's hand and placed it on her gray cotton panties.  "These are gonna have to go," Alex teased, removing them in one swift motion.  Her throat went dry when she saw her love naked for the first time.  Unprepared for the surge of emotion that raced through her body, she stared at Bryn for a long moment.

"Lex!"  Bryn complained.  "I showed you what I want! Please … don’t stop!"

Alex smiled as she moved her hand slowly down Bryn's flat belly, stopping at the moisture between her legs.

"Oh, Lex!  Right there ... yes!"  Bryn decided right away that Alex had the most talented hands on earth.

Suckling a soft breast, Alex moved her hand continuously below.  From time to time, she would alternate breasts; then kiss her love's neck, lips, and ears.

Bryn felt like she was going to die.  It was all she could do to keep from touching Alex where she wanted to touch her most - but she didn't want to rush her.  She felt the pressure deep within her reach the boiling point.  Lex was a fantastic lover - just as she had expected.

"Lex," she moaned softly.  "I need you … I want you to …"

"You want me inside?"  She kissed the blonde's ear, and then blew in it.

"Yes!  Now!" 

Alex gently slipped two fingers inside, keeping up a steady motion, then carefully added another.  She continued planting tender kisses and nips everywhere, focusing on her lover’s beautiful breasts.  It didn't take long.

Bryn suddenly held tight to Alex and stiffened.  "Oh ...Oh ... Oh ... Lex! Ohhh!"  Her release ripped through her ... she shivered as she clung to her love.  Finally, she collapsed limply in her arms.

"Ah, Bryn … are you gonna be okay?" she teased.

"As long as we stay in this bed for the next two days," she laughed breathlessly.  "You are wonderful!  It's never been like this for me before."  Tears welled in the clear, green eyes.

Alex beamed. "For me either. I'm so glad I made you happy.  That's all I ever want to do, you know."  She kissed Bryn’s nose as she held her close.

"I'm very happy, my Lex.  I love you so much!"  She began kissing her partner’s soft, full lips.

Alex gently pulled back.  "I love you, too ... but don't start something you can't finish."

Bryn moved in for another kiss.  "Oh, I intend to finish all right."

Part 3

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