Redemption Song

by BlondeBard

Disclaimers: Xena and Gabrielle belong to MCA and Universal Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story contains fairly graphic violence. It also contains a consensual relationship between two women. If this is not legal where you are, or you are not of age, then read another story.

The characters contained in this story are mine, and mine alone. Do not copy or distribute this story without my consent. Characters within this story bearing resemblance to persons dead or alive are unintended.

Thank you to my beta author Buxxer.

Also thanks to my beta readers Mercury and Pawkat.

Apologies to all who have been waiting for this part. The holidays and an unhealthy obsession with Mahjong have contributed to my delinquency.

All comments can be sent to

Part 9

After Sean left, Megan turned her attention to Toni. "What were you thinking?" she asked, a tinge of outrage in her voice. "You could have been seen. They might still be watching my family."

"I'm sorry. You know I wasn't trying to put them in any jeopardy. It's just…"

"Just what Toni? That was a really stupid thing to do," she stated, not meaning for it to come out as harsh as it did.

"I didn't want to see you hurting anymore…"

"I'm already hurt Toni. But I would be more hurt if something was to happen to you," she explained. She approached her lover who was hanging her head.

"I shouldn't have done it, I know…but it was worth seeing you smile," Toni told her softly.

"What am I going to do with you?" Megan asked Toni as she wrapped her arms around her tall lover.

"Anything you want," Toni answered with a sly grin.

"Here's something I want," Megan purred, pulling Toni's T-shirt off and nibbling her breast through her bra.

"All yours."

"And this," Megan explained as she unbuckled Toni's belt and jeans pushing her down on the bed.

"Probably be easier if you removed my boots first," Toni told her as Megan tried to tug her jeans off.

"Where's the challenge in that?" Megan asked teasingly.

"I see your point."

"And I see yours," Megan smiled menacingly. Her jeans and boots trapped Toni's legs while she pulled Toni's bra up over her head but stopped, tangling it around her wrists.

"Sweetie," Toni tried while submitting to Megan's assault of kisses, "I can't move very well."

"Mmmm, my point exactly," she told Toni, suckling one breast while pinching the nipple of the other with her hand.

Despite her limitations, Toni brought her bound hands down and pulled Megan's head closer as she arched her back into the kiss. Toni was stunned. Every time Megan touched her, her reaction was the same. She was overwhelmed. She had no idea where the feelings came from, but knew that she had no control over them. This strong young woman she held in her arms made her feel like a teenager. Everything was new. Everything was electric. Her body was on fire. She knew that she would be over the edge the moment Megan touched her between her thighs. She didn't want that. But Megan had asked her to let her have her way every once and again, and she realized suddenly what drove this need. It was the need to please. To give pleasure without asking anything in return. She knew then that Megan felt that need as keenly as she did. So she lay back and relaxed, and let her beautiful redheaded lover show her how it was done. Toni climaxed almost the instant Megan touched her with her probing tongue calling out her lover's name.

Megan had enjoyed her exploration. She was excited when Toni didn't resist her overture. She wanted to bring her lover to climax without being stopped. And was thoroughly delighted when Toni let her explore to her heart's content. She was especially pleased by how excited Toni was. Although it was over nearly before she had begun, she knew that they had all night, and that Toni had understood her need to please her as much as she herself was pleased. Of course, after Toni found release, she began to put her efforts towards pleasing Megan, which, Megan minded not at all.

Toni yanked off her boots and released her legs from the confines of her jeans. She then turned her attention to her smirking lover. Megan had fallen back on the bed and Toni prowled over her. Megan giggled at the playfulness Toni was exhibiting.

"What are you going to do with me?" Megan asked, giddily trying to figure out Toni's agenda.

"Mmmm, wouldn't you like to know?" she growled. She moved over Megan's prone form choosing her plan of attack when Megan grabbed her and pulled her in for a long, slow kiss. Toni allowed this for a few moments before pulling away. "Uh-uh, two can play at this game," she smiled teasingly.

"What? What are you going to do?"

"Well…you can either lie back and enjoy…or I can tie you up…hmmm?"

"Um…well…since you put it that way…I'll…um, behave."

"Good girl," Toni responded. Megan placed her arms up over her head and waited. Toni descended on her slowly. She kissed Megan along her jaw and began to work her way down her chest. She was suddenly hampered by Megan's shirt. She looked her in the eye and placed her lips on the top button. Slowly she eased it out of its hold with her teeth and tongue, and she heard Megan gasp.

Megan wasn't sure if she was going to survive this slow seduction. She was eager for Toni to touch her, but it seemed that this might take a while, the way things were going. Toni was enjoying the look of anticipation on Megan's face. She wanted this to last. She wanted to be able to touch Megan, and elicit the same response from her, that she had gotten from Megan's touch. She was on her third button when Megan grabbed her, pulling her close.

"Please…Toni…touch me…please…"

"Yes…I will love, but you have to play by the rules. Behave, or be tied up."

"I'm sorry…I just…need…" she tried to explain as she gave in and removed her hands once again. She was slightly excited by the idea of Toni tying her up, but she knew she would enjoy it much more if she just relaxed and followed Toni's instructions. She threw her hands above her head again and waited.

When she had finished the last button, Toni was delighted to discover that Megan had worn the bra that hooked in the front. She considered trying to undo it with her teeth and tongue, but realized that it was probably out of her reach, so she undid it with her hands. She pushed the bra and shirt aside and gazed longingly at the prizes before her. She was unsure of where to start. She wanted to be able to take both in her mouth, but knew that she had to make a choice. Her choice was to lick and nip at each alternately. The sounds that she was eliciting from Megan thrilled her. She loved the noises that came from her partner when they made love. They ranged from satisfied sighs to tiny squeaks of excitement. She sat up and removed Megan's high-tops and slowly worked her belt loose. She knew that Megan was ready when she slid her jeans over her hips and pulled them free because Megan almost purred.

"Tell me what you want."

"Touch me…anywhere…everywhere…"

"Be more specific," Toni encouraged, nipping at her breasts again.

"Here," Megan told her, guiding her hand to the warm, wet place, between her legs.

"Just here?" Toni asked as she teased her fingers along Megan's wet folds.

"No…inside…please…Toni…I want to feel you in me…mmmm…"

"Like this?" Toni inquired as she slipped several fingers inside.

"Yes! Just like that…oh Toni…yes…" Megan responded eagerly as her hips left the bed to meet her partners gentle thrusts. Toni increased the pace and occasionally stroked Megan's hardened nub, eliciting even more of the fantastic sounds that her lover produced. Toni knew Megan was nearing her climax, so she slowly withdrew her fingers. Megan whimpered in protest and opened her eyes to watch her lover. Toni placed one digit after another in her mouth and licked them clean. "Please…don't stop," Megan begged.

"Oh, I have no intention of stopping, I just wanted a taste…maybe more than a taste…" Toni replied as she began to place tiny kisses on Megan's abdomen and slowly, sensuously moving lower. Her tongue probed the tender spots near Megan's hips and then between her thighs, before moving back to her wet center. She slowly reinserted her fingers and gently claimed the throbbing nub with her lips and tongue. It was all the contact Megan needed as she went crashing over the edge, her hips beating a wild rhythm. Toni slowed her movements as Megan did, but stayed where she was. She rested her head on Megan's thigh and stilled her fingers until she felt her lover relax, and then she started again, sending Megan over a second time.


They awoke the next morning and started their trip south to Key West. Barring traffic delays, Megan estimated the trip at 10-12 hours depending on how long they stopped for lunch and such. They took turns driving at two-hour intervals.

While Megan drove, Toni wrote, and while Toni drove, Megan read. Toni told Megan about the safety deposit box in New Jersey that contained her writings. She explained that she had scanned the pages she had written in longhand into her computer and saved them to disk, including the journals she had kept since she was a child. Megan was delighted that she was able to read more of Toni's stories. Toni was working on her third story that centered on her fictional detective, Jessie Birch. Megan noted that in the most recent story, Jessie had found a new friend. Her name was Melissa O'Hara and Megan giggled at the physical description of the character, which was loosely based on hers. To top it off, Mel O'Hara was a police officer, who came from a long line of police officers.

"What's so funny?" Toni asked when she heard Megan giggle.

"Jessie's new friend Mel is a cop," Megan told her by way of explanation.

"Yeah?" Toni asked, a blush beginning to rise on her cheeks.

"She sounds really familiar," Megan teased, "like someone I know."

"I guess," Toni answered, her cheeks burning.

"They're getting to be pretty good friends," Megan said conversationally.

"I suppose," Toni told her.

"Thanks," Megan said reaching over and squeezing Toni's hand, genuinely touched that Toni would write her into one of her stories.

"No problem," Toni answered smiling.

The trip was uneventful, except for the rush hour traffic they ran into on the turnpike as they passed through the Miami suburb of Kendall. By the time they arrived in Key West, it was nearly 10pm. They checked into the cheapest motel they could find, with the intention of finding more suitable accommodations they next day. They were looking for a place that they could rent by the week or month. One of the criteria was that it be an efficiency so that they would not have the expense of eating out at each meal.


As luck would have it, they found a place not too far from the main streets of Key West. The guesthouse was called Rainbow House and was exclusively for women. They paid in advance for a month's rent for a room with a kitchenette. The motel also sported a couple of pools and hot tubs for their enjoyment. After moving their things in, Megan decided that the next order of business was to find them both bathing suits, as neither had anticipated the need, so neither of them had one.

Megan quickly found a suit she liked. It was a forest green, two piece sports suit. Good for swimming as well as tanning, although she balked that she didn't tan well, Toni insisted she buy the suit as it complimented her eyes. Toni was another story. Each time Megan pointed out a suit, Toni found a reason not to purchase it.

"What's wrong with this one?" Megan asked, holding up a black two piece bikini in front of her lover.

Toni paused as if considering it. "The top looks too big," she told Megan.

"Well, let me find one that will fit your itty bitties," Megan teased. Toni looked down at her less than ample cleavage and sighed. Megan searched through the rack until she found the suit in a smaller size. "Here, how's this?" she asked.

Toni took the suit and held it up to herself in front of the mirror. "Do you really think black is my color?" She asked Megan.

"Good God Toni, except for your blue jeans, I don't think you own any clothing that is not black. How could it not be your color?" Megan asked exasperated. "Will you just go try it on?"

Toni took the suit into one of the fitting rooms. Megan was flabbergasted by Toni's reluctance to buy a simple bathing suit. She wondered if Toni had suddenly become shy, and then giggled at the thought of her immodest lover suddenly too bashful to wear a bathing suit in public. Toni emerged in the suit and Megan whistled teasingly.

"That's perfect," she told Toni.

"Maybe I should get a one piece," Toni pondered aloud.

"Mmmm, honey, she's right, that's you," the clerk told her as he wandered over. They were the only two customers in the shop and he had nothing else to do. He had introduced himself earlier as Bill and had offered to help them if they needed it. Toni and Megan had smiled at each other when he greeted them, their gaydar going off simultaneously.

"I told you," Megan gloated. It was the tenth suit Toni had tried on and they had spent nearly two hours in the shop.

"Okay, okay, it seems I'm outnumbered today. We'll take it," she agreed grumpily heading back into the fitting room to change.

When she emerged, she found Bill and Megan chatting amiably as he rang up their purchases. Megan had obviously included some beach towels and sandals for each of them.

"Listen," Bill told them, "the shop closes at six. My boyfriend Jack is a bartender and I usually hang out there in the evenings. If you gals want to stop by I'd love to see you again."

"That sounds like fun, Bill. Where is the bar?" Megan asked.

He took one of the shop's cards and wrote the address on the back. "I usually get there around 8."

"Great, see you then," Megan told him as he put Toni's suit into the overstuffed bag. They headed back to their motel to change and then find something for lunch.

"Here," Megan said to Toni, tossing her a pair of boxer shorts.

"What are these for?" Toni asked.

"I don't recall you having a pair of shorts either. They are to wear over your bathing suit. I got you several pairs."

"Oh," was Toni's only response as she reluctantly changed from her jeans to the more suitable attire. Although it was November, Key West was still very warm, and she had to admit that her jeans were rather hot. The sandals that Megan chose for her fit perfectly and went well with the bathing suit, boxers and T-shirt. Megan grabbed two of the beach towels and dragged Toni out the door.

They ate steamed oysters, conch fritters and peel and eat shrimp for lunch. Megan insisted on heading for the nearest beach when they finished.

Megan dropped her towel in the sand and quickly divested herself of her sandals, shorts and T-shirt and ran for the water. Toni watched, mesmerized by her lover's beautiful form. She laid out her towel and stripped down to her suit and plopped down.

Megan swam around in the Atlantic for several minutes before realizing that Toni had not followed her into the water. She spied her tall lover sitting on her towel gazing back at her. She beckoned to Toni who shook her head no. Megan swam around in the gentle waves for several more minutes before heading back up on shore. She approached her lover who was grinning.

"Why didn't you come in?" Megan asked, spreading her towel next to Toni's.

"Too cold," Toni replied, "besides, I was enjoying the view from here."

Megan took hold of her wet hair and squeezed out the excess water onto Toni who yelped in surprise. She immediately pounced on Megan tickling her senseless. Megan pulled Toni down for a kiss when her laughter subsided. Suddenly she felt Toni's hesitation and saw her eyes dart around.

"Hey, Toni, no one here cares. It's just a kiss…okay?"

Satisfied that none of the other beach goers were watching Toni placed a timid kiss on her lover's lips.

"So, the New Yorker is afraid of a little cold water huh?"

"No…it's just that no one in New York goes into the ocean at this time of year."

"You mean that no one swims in New York in November?"

"Well…not in the ocean, anyway."

"So where do they go?" Megan queried.

"To the nearest heated pool or Jacuzzi," Toni told her smiling.

"Ah, I see, spoiled."

"You got it."

They returned to the motel to get cleaned up for the evening. Megan stopped at the pool and dove in to wash some of the salt water off of her body. Toni sat on a lounge chair and waited while Megan did several laps.

"Hey good looking, give me a hand out of here?" Megan teased as she came to rest at the edge of the pool.

"Sure," Toni smiled as she approached the beautiful strawberry blond woman. She reached out her hand and began to pull Megan out of the water, when she suddenly realized that Megan was trying to pull her in. She tried to get herself out of Megan's grip but was unable, and she tumbled headfirst into the pool.

Panic was her first response. She began kicking and flailing, trying to right herself and get her head above water. Her frantic efforts paid off when her feet hit the bottom and she pushed as hard as she could, breaking the top of the water choking in panic. She looked around wildly and found that she was close to the pool's edge. She was barely able to grasp the fact that she stood well out of the water as she reached out and hauled herself out of the pool. She could hear Megan laughing as she stalked off angrily.

Megan's laughter died on her lips as she watched Toni extricate herself from the pool. She figured that her lover would be a little miffed, after all, the pool turned out to be colder than the ocean. She watched as Toni drew herself out of the pool and stormed off. "Toni? Hey…Toni?" she called after her, confused as to why this would cause such a reaction. She quickly climbed out of the pool, grabbed their discarded towels, clothing and sandals and raced after her lover.

The door to the room was locked, and Megan realized that Toni had the key. She knocked on the door. When she didn't get a response, she banged a little harder. "Toni…Toni…open the door, please." She waited and then banged again. "Look, I'm sorry. It was just a joke," she explained through the locked door. After a couple of minutes, not getting a response, Megan began to worry that something more was wrong. She dropped their belongings and raced around to the leasing office. It took her several minutes to locate the day clerk and get an extra key. She ran back to the room, her hands shaking as she tried to place the key in the door lock. Finally she got the door open and stumbled into the room. It was dark and Toni was not in the main room. The door to the bathroom was closed and she could hear the shower running.

She rushed to the door and tried the knob, finding that door locked as well. "Toni…baby…I'm sorry. I was just kidding around. I'm sorry I pulled you in. The water was colder than I thought it would be. Please open the door," she pleaded. Again she waited and got no response. She jiggled the knob several more times before realizing that it had the same kind of lock as the front door. She fit the key in and opened the bathroom door. She was immediately assailed by large gusts of steam. The shower curtain was pulled to and at first she wasn't even sure Toni was in there, but then she realized that she was sitting down in the tub. She began to reach for the curtain when Toni spoke. It was low but she heard it nonetheless.

"Get out."

"Baby, listen…I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset…"

"I said, get out," this time more forcefully.

"I don't understand," Megan tried, the tears obvious in her voice. "Please, tell me…"

"Get out! Get out!" This time it was a furious shout.

Megan stumbled back out of the bathroom, tears streaming rapidly down her face. She closed the door behind her and collapsed on the bed, sobbing. She tried to figure out what exactly she had done that was so wrong. She knew that her little prank had been childish. The water had been very cold. But she couldn't figure out why Toni was having such a bad reaction. She lay on the bed crying until, exhausted, she fell into a fitful sleep.

When she woke, it was nearly 45 minutes later. She looked around the darkened room and flipped on a light. She replayed the events of the last couple of hours in her head and still couldn't figure out what had made Toni so angry with her. She noted that the water was no longer running, but that the bathroom door was still closed and Toni had not emerged. She approached the door and knocked gently. "Toni?"

"Just leave me alone Megan," Toni shot at her from behind the door.

Megan sat heavily on the bed, the tears beginning again in earnest. She looked at the clock by the bedside. 7:34pm it read. She suddenly remembered Bill's invitation to meet him. She realized that she needed someone to talk to. She wasn't used to not being able to pick up the phone and talk to her mother or her brother when she felt the need. Toni was unwilling to talk to her, so she decided to get dressed and meet Bill.


Once Toni had calmed down, she realized that she was being unfair to Megan. But something inside of her screamed when it came to revealing any weakness, no matter how little. Initially she had been extremely angry with Megan for pulling her into the water. By the time Megan had tried again to talk to her, she had gone beyond angry, right into self-pity. So she had told Megan to leave her alone. Approximately 15 minutes later, she heard the door to their room slam shut. She jumped out of the now cold bath water and opened the bathroom door, revealing an empty room. Quickly she pulled the plug on the tub and began to take off the clothing she had still worn when she had gotten in. She squeezed the water out of the boxers and T-shirt, hanging them across the curtain rod to dry. She removed the bathing suit and sandals, throwing them both haphazardly in the tub.

She dressed as quickly as she could and dragged a brush through her hair. Grabbing their door key, she went outside and stopped. She had no idea where she would find Megan. Her heart began to sink as visions of a certain night in New Orleans popped into her head. At least then she knew some places to try. She stepped back into the room and closed the door. She looked around and noted that Megan had changed out of her bathing suit as well. She searched around and found that Megan had taken her wallet and the special pouch that concealed her handgun.

'Think Toni, damn it! This is your own fault. Why didn't you just tell her? Of all the pig-headed, stubborn messes you've gotten yourself into…why this, why now? You love her. Why can't you just be honest with her? Is it so hard to be vulnerable? To admit that you are not perfect? Christ, you haven't even told her half of the things you've done in your life, and you let a little thing like this come between you?' she berated herself. She thought back along the day. She had enjoyed their little shopping trip, but was unable to admit to Megan why she really didn't want a bathing suit. Then it struck her. Bill had invited them out. Where? What was the name of the bar?

She looked around the room and spotted the bag that their purchases had been placed in. She emptied the bag on the bed and searched for the card that contained the name of the bar. The only thing besides the purchases they had made was the receipt. 'Shit, shit, shit! Think. What was the name of that bar?' She began to pace the room trying to remember what Megan and Bill were talking about. She couldn't recall the bar's name, and the harder she tried, the farther away the memory became. Suddenly she stopped her pacing. A thought popped into her head. "What would Jessie do?" she spoke out loud trying to reason through her own fictional detective. "If she wanted to find someone, where would she begin?" With a small laugh, Toni grabbed her wallet, tucking it into the back pocket of her jeans and headed out.

She started at the store where Bill worked watching the bar signs carefully; hoping that one would jog her memory. Although most of the shops were closed, one that sold tobacco and lottery tickets was still open. It was 8:30pm. She entered and approached the clerk. "Do you know Bill, he works down the street at the clothes shop?"

"Yeah," the clerk answered noncommittally.

"His friend Jack is a bartender. Do you happen to know where he works?"

"No, but I think Bill lives near Hemmingway House," the clerk told her.

"Thanks," she smiled, getting one step closer. She consulted her map and headed towards the famous house where Ernest Hemmingway had lived. When she arrived, she saw several apartment dwellings and began her quest anew.

"Hi," she smiled at one sleepy clerk. "Do you know Bill, he works at that little clothing shop on Duval Street. His friend Jack is a bartender."

"Yeah, I know Bill, why?"

"Well he told me and a friend to meet him at the bar where Jack works, but I can't for the life of me remember the name," she explained honestly.

The clerk told her the name of the bar that Jack worked at.

"Thanks, you've been a great help," she told the tired clerk.

She headed toward the bar, hoping that she would find Megan there. She didn't know where else to look, and Megan and Bill had seemed to hit it off. Toni reasoned that Bill reminded her of Megan's brother Sean, so maybe Megan had the same idea.


Megan dressed and grabbed the card that Bill had given her earlier. She figured that she would get to the bar at about 8:15 on foot. She hoped that Bill would be there, because she really needed someone friendly to talk to, even if it wasn't about Toni. She hoped that by the time she returned, Toni would have gotten over whatever was bugging her and would be ready to talk about it, but in the meantime, she really needed a drink.

She was delighted when she arrived to see Bill sitting at one end of the bar, talking to a very handsome bartender, who she could only guess was Jack. She caught his eye as she approached and waved. Eagerly he beckoned her to join him. She sat on the stool next to him.

"What can I get you Megan?" the bartender asked.

She was surprised that he knew her name, but Bill must have told him. "Bourbon and coke please, Jack," she winked. Jack smiled and went to pour her drink.

Bill looked her up and down and then blurted, "What the hell happened to you, girlfriend?"

"N…nothing," she tried.

"Please, you look a sight. Did you and the tall gorgeous one have a fight?"

Megan looked away, and saw her drink sitting conveniently in front of her. She picked it up and downed half the contents. "What makes you think that?" she asked.

"Well, the puffy red eyes and your lack of companionship are pretty much dead giveaways," he chided, hoping to draw her out.

"You know Bill, you are one of the first people I've met since coming here, and you are one of the nicest, which is why I came to meet you tonight. But the last thing I wanted to do when I got here was to share my troubles with you. I thought maybe we could hang out and I could get my mind off this."

"We can do that. Or you can tell me what's wrong, and then we can do that," Bill replied with a glint in his eye.

Megan laughed and started at what she knew was the beginning. "I dove into the pool to get the salt water off of me and asked her to help me out of the pool, with the intention of dragging her into the water. I knew it was cold, but I don't know why she got so angry. She wouldn't talk to me after that, so I came here," Megan concluded her tale.

"When you went to the beach, did she swim with you in the ocean?" Bill inquired.

"No, she said it would be too cold," Megan answered.

"And when you went back to the motel and jumped into the pool, did she seem like she was interested in getting into the water?"

"No, I just figured it was because it was even colder than the ocean."

"Did she dip her toes in the ocean to see how really cold it was?"

"No, she just sat on the shore. But I did splash her with some water."

"Did she dip her toes in the pool to see how cold it was?"

"No…but…I don't understand what you are getting at," she told her new friend.

"Well, Megan. I can come up with just two reasons why she would react the way she did."


"One is that she is hydrophobic and the other is that she can't swim," Bill stated simply.

"Oh my god!" Megan exclaimed suddenly realizing what was going on.

"I was right, wasn't I? She's hydrophobic!" Bill exclaimed. "I knew I should have become a shrink."

Megan began to laugh and cry at the same time. Bill realizing her distress gave her a tender hug waiting until she pulled herself together. "I've got to go talk to her," Megan told him.

"Megan honey, I'm sure she will come here when she is ready to talk about it. And actually, you promised me that we would hang out, after I dragged your woes out of you."

Megan sighed. "You're right. I did come here to forget about my troubles. She'll find me if she wants to talk. At least I know where she lives," Megan giggled.

"Thata girl," Bill told her as Jack placed a fresh drink down in front of them both.

Jack, Megan and Bill conversed for nearly an hour when Bill took Megan's hand. "Don't look now honey, but I think, tall, dark and apologetic is here," he said. "I'm going to go see what is on the jukebox."

Megan turned toward the door and spotted Toni trying to adjust her eyes to the light. "Jack, if you don't mind, two more," she pointed at her drink.


Toni approached Megan slowly. She was ashamed of her childish reaction to what Megan thought was a harmless joke. Now she had to apologize to her lover and explain why she had behaved so foolishly.

"Hi," Toni started, "I'm sorry for the way I acted. It was stupid."

Tears began to form in Megan's eyes as she noted the difficulty that Toni was having at trying to explain her actions. "Why didn't you just tell me?" Megan asked her quietly.

"You figured me out, did you?" Toni asked brushing a tear off of Megan's cheek.

"No," Megan gulped, trying to stop the tears, "actually, Bill figured you out. I feel like such a fool for not seeing it myself…"

"Don't…please…Megan. Don't cry. I can't stand to see you cry, especially not over me. I should have told you. It was just…stupid…vanity…that I couldn't tell you that I don't know how to swim. I guess I never thought it would come up. But most of all, I would like to apologize for my behavior. It was infantile, and I am truly ashamed. I guess…I guess I didn't want you to know that there wasn't anything I couldn't do. I'm sorry."

"Don't you dare be sorry. I'm the one who acted like a child. Pulling you into the water like that. I should have seen what was going on. I mean…first you didn't want to buy a bathing suit…then you wouldn't swim with me in the ocean…" she babbled.

"Stop already. You were right…now you're making me feel even guiltier…if that's a word."

"I just want to know why? What happened?"

Toni placed her fingers on Megan's lips to stop her. "You are definitely not in the wrong on this one sweetheart. I am. I knew what you intended when we went to get bathing suits. I should have told you then, but my pride wouldn't let me. I figured that I would avoid the subject for as long as I could until I could get up the nerve to tell you. I'm very sorry Megan…will you forgive me?"

Her answer was an excited kiss mingled with joyful tears that Megan still couldn't hold back. She relished the kiss for several moments before releasing her soul. She looked at her lover in the eye once again. "I'm really sorry."

"Me too," Megan agreed. "Please, let's not fight again. I don't think I can stand it. Let's just tell each other everything, that way, there won't be any more secrets."

"Yeah," Toni agreed wistfully, wondering if Megan really wanted to know all of her secrets. "But there won't be any surprises either," she reasoned.

"Okay, you've got a point. How about if we compromise."

"How?" Toni asked her sweet young lover.

"How about if we agree to tell each other things that we think they should know when the time arises? Such as, 'I don't know how to swim' when I ask you into the water?"

"That sounds like a plan," Toni smiled at the young woman she held in her arms. She leaned forward and gently kissed her again.

"Tell me something."


"When you were a kid, you never went to the seashore?"

"No, we couldn't afford trips like that."

"Didn't you have a lake…or…I don't know…a YMCA pool?"

"Sure we did."

"And you didn't learn how to swim then?"

Megan watched as Toni shuffled her feet nervously, almost as if she were embarrassed.

"Pop took me. And I didn't like it," Toni explained, her voice fading.

"He took you to the pool?" Megan asked touching Toni lightly on the arm.

"Yeah," Toni replied, her voice fading again. Megan knew this was Toni's way of not wanting to talk about something. But she wasn't shooting her down either, which meant that if Megan asked the right questions, Toni would answer honestly.

"How many times did you go?"


"And…" Megan prompted, tired of guessing.

"The first time was great. They didn't expect anything. We just had to get in the water and that was about it. The second time we all kicked around the pool with those board things. But on the third visit they wanted to teach us about going under water. I was fine at first. We held onto the side of the pool and held our breath. The next step was to move away from the edge. And…and I don't know…I could do it when I had a solid grip on the side of the pool, but then…I just…panicked. Pop took me out of the class after that."

"What did you do on hot summer days?" Megan asked, knowing that she and her friends were in the pool in their back yard.

"We played in the fire hydrant, like everyone else," she answered simply.


"Well, it looks like everything is working out," Bill said as he ambled back towards the two women.

"Yes, it is," Toni told him sincerely. "By the way, thank you."

"For what?" he asked, surprised at the sentiment.

"For looking out for the love of my life. And for being a friend," she added grabbing him and hugging him jovially. She saw the cute bartender's eyes shoot up and disengaged herself. "Hi Jack, I'm Toni, it's nice to meet you," she told him extending her hand. He shook it with enthusiasm, glad when he realized that he wasn't going to have to put some eager young woman off of his husband again.

The four of them chatted until Jack got off at 10 and left to go get some munchies to stave off the impending hangovers.


"Will you let me teach you how to swim?" Megan asked as she watched Toni in the bathroom. She could tell that Toni was hesitating, unsure of whether she wanted to even put the bathing suit back on.

"No! I mean…I'm really too old to learn how to swim now," Toni covered, trying not to sound as scared as she was at the prospect of going near the water again.

"You didn't know how to ride a horse, but you let me show you," Megan tried a logical argument.

"Yeah, but if I fell off the horse, I wasn't going to drown," Toni replied simply.

"Good point. Here's another. My mother didn't learn to swim until she was in her forties. She let me, Colleen and Sean teach her. She wouldn't let my Dad try. She was afraid he would throw her in, you know, the sink or swim method."

"Apparently that is your method as well," Toni responded dryly. She turned to face her lover, knowing that her last statement had stung, and immediately wished she could bite back the words. "Megan, I didn't mean that."

Megan had turned away. If she had only known that Toni didn't know how to swim, she wouldn't have dragged her into the pool that way. She gained a new perspective on her own mother's fear of the water. Mom had resisted learning until she and Sean and Colleen were teens, before she would let them even try. Somehow she knew that her children would take a softer approach than her own husband would.

"I understand," she told Toni, "I really do. I'm very sorry that I did that to you. I can't even imagine how terrifying that must have been."

"It wasn't terrifying," Toni added defensively, "just unnerving."


"What do you mean by okay?" Toni asked still talking to Megan's back.

"I mean, okay, you don't want me to teach you how to swim."

"That's not what I said."

Megan turned to face her agitated lover. "What did you say then?"

"I…I…" Toni turned away from Megan, her feelings showing more than she liked. "I want to learn how to swim. I just don't want to be embarrassed."

Megan approached Toni and placed her hands on Toni's hips from behind. "Do you think that I would embarrass you? On purpose, I mean?"

"No. Definitely not on purpose."

"Well, I didn't mean to embarrass you yesterday, at least, not on purpose. If I had known that you didn't know how to swim, I would have never pulled you into the pool."

"I know." Toni turned and embraced her smaller lover. "I just didn't know how to tell you."

"Well you sure picked a fine way to do it," Megan smiled up at her. "So, you will let me teach you?"

"Well…maybe…in the pool. When no one else is around."

"Actually, it would be a lot easier in the ocean…"

"Where people can see us?" Toni asked alarmed.

"Well, the first rule of swimming is knowing how to float. And you float a lot better in salt water than in fresh water," Megan supplied.

"How about another compromise?" Toni offered.


"You give me a few lessons in the pool when no one is around, and then I brave the Atlantic?"

"Deal!" Megan grinned happily.


The lessons in the pool were less than satisfactory, at least, in Megan's point of view. But Toni was happy that no one had observed them. Megan insisted that Toni learn to float. Toni balked at the idea, it seemed so sissy to her, but the lesson turned into one of trust. The second lesson that Megan insisted on was holding your breath under water. Toni found this exercise rather silly in the pool. She was able to hold her breath for nearly two minutes before needing to come up for air. Eventually they took the lessons to the ocean. Toni realized that Megan was right, the basic principal of floating was much easier accomplished in the salt laden Atlantic. But the holding of one's breath underwater was daunting when waves were gently crashing over one's head.

The first technique that Megan taught Toni was the breaststroke. She explained that although freestyle was the predominant stroke, most people sank before they could swim hence the stroke that most firmly pulled you out of the water. It took nearly two weeks. One week to gain Toni's confidence, and another to teach her the few basic strokes that would keep her afloat in deep water. After that, it was all Megan could do to get Toni out of the pool each evening.


Megan sat dejectedly by the poolside one evening, watching Toni swim laps. Just watching her had exhausted Megan. But Toni swam determinedly from one end to the other. Maybe just to prove she could do it. She tried all the techniques. Breaststroke, freestyle, butterfly, and backstroke…until Megan was tired from watching. After teaching her, Megan had even made the mistake of challenging her to a competition. With her long strides, Toni had beaten her at every race. Megan gave up and sat in the Jacuzzi.

Feeling energized, Toni emerged from the pool and spotted her lover sitting in the warm Jacuzzi, looking rather dejected. She approached and entered. "Penny for you thoughts?" she asked Megan.

"Jealousy," was Megan's response.

"What?" Toni asked as she settled herself down beside her tiny lover.

"How is it, that I can teach you how to swim, and in less than two weeks, you can beat me at every race. It's not fair," Megan pouted.

"I see. So now all I have to do is teach you something I know, watch you kick my ass, and then we will be even, huh?"

"I suppose," Megan replied with a slight smile.

"And I guess I don't get to count the time when I showed you how to play the ponies and you won the big jackpot, and I didn't, huh?"

Megan's head shot up, but there was a hint of a smile. "C'mon, that was just beginner's luck."

"Yeah, yeah, so you say," Toni grinned back.


Toni suggested to Megan that they take one of the Casino Cruises. Megan balked, knowing that their money was limited. Toni suggested again that this was why they should take one of these Casino Cruises. Megan agreed reluctantly. She knew that Toni was a good gambler, but the thought of losing what little money they had didn't settle well with Megan. Toni convinced her that if nothing else, they would have a great time that day. They bought their tickets and left on the ship with one hundred dollars to gamble between them.

Toni had coached Megan how to play black jack. Mostly Toni wanted to go because she knew that they sold football cards. She didn't initially tell Megan that they had to go back out the next day to collect, but she was sure her lover would understand if they won. She placed bets on ten different cards…all college teams. Seven of her ten cards won. For her initial bet of fifty dollars, she won over $3000. In the meantime, Megan had spent most of her seven hours at the black jack table. She started with $50 and ended with $150. When Toni explained that she had won as well, Megan was ecstatic. Toni told her that in order for her to collect on her bets, they would have to take the cruise again the next day. She explained that her winnings weren't official until the end of the college football day, and that they couldn't just collect the money, but had to be back in international waters to do so.

Megan didn't protest as much as she expected. Especially since she had had such a great day at the black jack tables. So they went out again the next day, and Megan won another $30. Toni, had made a private bet and had won another $1000. Luckily the other bettor was a good sport and had paid up without incident, but Toni realized that she was slipping quickly back into a life that she had just left behind. She knew that she could sit down at the black jack table and win ten times the amount that Megan had, but she resisted.

When they left the gambling ship, Toni confessed everything to Megan. At first, Megan was hurt, not to be included in Toni's schemes. Toni explained quickly that she didn't want Megan to be exposed to the more dirty side of gambling and was glad that Megan accepted. But she did so on one condition. That Toni not gamble without her knowledge again. It only took a moment, while looking into her lover's eyes before she accepted the condition.


It was almost Thanksgiving Day and Toni had watched a change come over her lover. They had gone out on a couple of the gambling cruises and had quietly made enough money to cover not only their basic expenses, but some extra money as well. But as the holiday drew near, Toni realized that Megan was missing her family. She wondered if Sean would make the promised appearance that she knew would lift Megan's spirits. Try as she might, she was unable to pull Megan out of her funk. Jack and Bill had invited them to Thanksgiving Day dinner, which they had accepted. Megan had insisted on making dessert, Pumpkin Pie, but to Toni's dismay, had neglected to tell her that it included cleaning a couple of actual pumpkins. They had to do this at Jack and Bill's place, as their efficiency did not have enough utensils.

Toni and Jack busied themselves in front of the TV while Megan and Bill fussed with dinner. Actually Bill fussed. Megan made dessert and kept Bill company, hoping to pick up a few tips. They had a grand dinner. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potato pie, corn pudding and rolls. They stuffed themselves and dozed for a while in front of the television. Upon waking, they found themselves hungry again, and had turkey sandwiches. Then they had Megan's pumpkin pie with whipped cream. While Jack and Toni watched yet another football game, Bill and Megan played cards, until everyone was exhausted. After helping them clean up, Megan and Toni headed back to their room.

They sat together for a while on the small love sofa in the front room. Toni was still trying to pull Megan out of her odd mood. She tried snuggling and kissing, but it didn't seem to be satisfying her young lover.

"Let's go sit in the Jacuzzi," Toni tried.

"Nah. Not really in the mood," was Megan's response.

"You wanna go to bed?" Toni tried again.

"Nah. Do you mind if we just sit and watch TV for a while?" Megan asked, oblivious to her offer.

"Megan, please tell me what's on your mind. Because I'm getting tired of trying to guess."

"What do you mean? Nothing's on my mind. I just want to watch TV, okay?"

Toni recognized Megan's defensive remark, but wasn't going to let the subject drop. Her patience was wearing thin at being shut out. "Look, I know you are missing your family. I understand. But don't shut me out too."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Megan responded absently.

"Yes you do damn it," Toni remarked turning Megan's face toward hers. "I know that you miss your family. I know that you are used to being with them on big holidays. And if I'm not the one you want to be with when you can't be with them, then just say so, and I'll stop wasting my time thinking that I matter to you!" With that remark she left Megan sitting in the living room of their quarters and stormed into the bedroom, slamming the door behind her.

The last thing Toni wanted to do was to pick a fight with Megan, especially at a time like this, when she was missing her family so dearly. But damn if it didn't hurt that even she couldn't lift her spirits just a little. Again she realized that the situation that they were both in was her own fault. But she would never regret having fallen in love with Megan. 'Maybe Megan regrets falling in love with me,' was her initial thought. 'She says that she loves me, and she doesn't regret it, but when things like this come up, she is a whole other person. I've tried? Haven't I? Haven't I?' she asked herself as the tears poured down her face. She threw on her nighttime T-shirt and crawled under the covers, angry tears coming out of her eyes.

Megan sat on the sofa stunned into reality. She had no idea that she had been pushing Toni away, but Toni's reaction made it clear that she had. Of course she missed her family, who wouldn't? That thought stopped her dead. Toni wouldn't. Toni didn't have a family to miss. 'I am Toni's family, her only family, and I just let her think that she means nothing to me. She has spent the last few hours trying to cheer me up, and I wouldn't even give her that. I'm a horrible person. I wonder if she will forgive me?'

Megan padded softly towards the bedroom. She heard a gentle sobbing coming from the other side of the door. She knew that Toni would not want to be caught in such a manner, so she made some noises before she entered the bedroom. She quietly made her way over to the bed.

"Toni?" she tried.

It was obvious that Toni was pretending to be asleep. Megan didn't want her to know that she knew Toni was awake, so she gently prodded Toni's arm as she climbed into the bed beside her.

"Toni, wake up, please. I need to talk to you."

"What?" Toni pretended. She had hoped Megan hadn't heard her crying.

"I need to tell you something."

"Can't it wait until morning?"

"No. It can't."

"Okay," Toni responded, acting as if she was wiping the sleep out of her eyes. In reality, she was wiping away the last of her tears.

"I love you."

"Megan…I think that could have waited until morning," she said rolling over, annoyed.

"That's not all I want to say to you," Megan continued.

"Just say it, I'm really tired."

"I realize that I have been rather unpleasant lately…"

"Umm…" was Toni's response.

"Okay, a real bitch?"

"Okay." But Toni would still not look at her.

"But in my infinite childishness I realized that I was missing something that you never had. A huge family…especially at the holidays. And I guess I just expected you to understand my loss and pain. And my biggest regret is that I didn't realize that you fill that void."


"You don't believe me, do you?"

"Kinda hard to, considering the way you've been acting." She felt like a child saying that, but it was the way she felt.

"Okay, you're right. I've been acting like a child. Spoiled and not getting my way. But I've never been without my family at the holidays. And I didn't mean to act like you don't matter to me, because you do. Now tell me how to make it up to you?"

"Tell me you love me."

"I love you Toni, with all my heart," Megan replied quickly, a wide grin on her face.

Toni rolled over to look at her lover's face. She saw a radiant love glowing at her from Megan's face. "Okay then, show me," she smiled back at Megan, quirking her eyebrows.

Megan proceeded to show her just how much she loved Toni, over and over again. When the sun rose, they ignored it and made love several times more. It wasn't until they heard the persistent banging on their door did they finally awake.

"Toni? Megan? C'mon. Get up!" More banging followed.

"What?" Toni shouted.

"I thought we had a date today?" Bill yelled through the door. It occurred to Toni first. Today was the Friday following Thanksgiving, the day that Sean was set to visit.

"Oh shit! Megan, baby, c'mon, get up," she prodded her lover.

"Mmmm, just a couple more minutes," was Megan's typical response.

"It's Friday!"


Toni knew better than to try to talk to Megan when she was still asleep. "Baby, we've got to get up and start the day. Bill is banging at our door."

"Tell him to come back later," she mumbled.

"Okay…whatever you say," Toni told her as she slid out of the bed. She grabbed her boxers and a T-shirt, threw them on and answered the door before Bill could bang on it again.

"Well, good morning, Sleeping Beauty," Bill told her.

"Shut the hell up, and good morning to you too Bill," Toni smiled crookedly at him.

"Well? Isn't it the big day?"

"Yes, but she isn't awake yet, so she doesn't realize it. So can we meet you two in about an hour?"

"Yeah…okay fine, if that's the way you wanna play it…"

"Don't start with me Bill, you wont' like me when I'm angry," she grinned evilly at him.

"I can take a hint. We'll meet you at our place in an hour. Make sure you've wiped that snarl off your face before you arrive."

Toni closed the door and turned back toward the bedroom. She wasn't sure if she should wake her partner gently or just pounce. She was very excited at the prospect of seeing Sean, mostly for Megan's benefit, not at all because she actually liked the little jerk.

She went in and bounced on the bed a couple of times, rousing her mate. "Hey darling, time to get up."

"C'mon, Toni, just a few more minutes. It's not like we have somethin' to do…" she slurred sleepily.

"No, except YOU told Bill and Jack we would be at their place for breakfast."

"I told them that?" she asked confused.

"Yes you did. And they just stopped by to give us our wake up call. C'mon, I'll even help you shower."

"Well…since you put it that way," Megan arose from the bed and moved towards the bathroom.


"Does she remember or what?" Bill asked.

"I really don't think so, so I think it will be a nice surprise when we show up there and she finds her brother," Toni told him.

Jack and Bill had asked them at one point early on what had brought them to Key West. Megan had jumped in and told them that Toni was a writer and that she was her editor and that they were there to stimulate Toni's muse. And it was believable considering they saw Toni with her longhand booklets or typing away on Megan's laptop. Once they had spent a bit of time with Jack and Bill, some of their façade had begun to break down. Jack and Bill knew that they weren't just editor and writer, and that they were in Key West to hide from more than just an absent muse. They suspected they were hiding from disapproving parents, but they didn't question beyond that. But they knew that Megan's brother was going to visit and that the visit was supposed to take place the Friday after Thanksgiving, but according to Toni, Megan had, in her drunken state, forgotten about it.

Toni finally got Megan out of bed and they made their way to Jack and Bill's house. They had a very nice breakfast out on their veranda. Afterwards they donned their swimsuits and headed toward the Atlantic. Toni and Megan had purchased masks and snorkels after Toni had learned to swim and they kicked around looking at various sea life until they were all exhausted.


They went back to their room to shower, playing in the heated water. Toni pressed her lover against the shower wall, her leg between her thighs as she kissed her unmercifully. Megan was unable to contain her excitement and came within moments. As Toni toweled her dry she pondered, "Did you?"

"Did I what?" Toni asked, knowing perfectly well what Megan was asking.

"You know? Megan said again, almost shyly, hoping that she pleased her lover as she had been.

"What do I know?" Toni teased.

"Please Toni…did you…you know?"

"Say it lover," Toni prompted.

"Did you come?"

"You don't know?" Toni wondered. She came the moment Megan did, but obviously her lover didn't know that.

"I…I…wanted you to…when I came…but I was too…damn it…you're teasing me aren't you?"

"You…yes…I did," Toni told her. "I came when you did. You turn me on so unbelievably. I really wasn't trying to tease you. I just wanted to hear you say it. Your voice is so sexy. It turns me on so incredibly. If you were to ask me to come again, I would."


"Mmmm, yeah," Toni responded.

"My voice?"


"So, if I asked you to come you would?"

"In a moment, well, with a little touch or two."

"Toni," Megan growled. "I want you to come for me." It was the boldest statement she had ever made in her life.

"Make me," was the response.

"You are going to be sorry you asked me that," was Megan's determined response.

Megan decided she would torture her lover. She would start with kisses to her body in places that she didn't expect. Megan was delighted with Toni's responses. Her kisses went lower down her lover's body. Toni groaned and shifted her hips towards Megan's lips and wasn't disappointed. Just as Toni reached her peak she heard Megan whisper, "come for me Toni," and with that request she slipped over the edge into oblivion.


"I don't really want to go out tonight," Megan explained in a languid voice. "I'd much rather stay here."

"Well gorgeous, so would I, but you promised Bill and Jack that we would meet them," Toni explained.

"How come I don't remember promising to meet them?" Megan asked.

"Because you had a little too much to drink," Toni told her, hoping to get her off the subject of whose idea it was to go out. It was blatantly obvious that Megan didn't remember that Sean had promised to meet them at Fat Tuesday, and she didn't really want to remind her in case he didn't show up. "Look, we'll just go and meet them for a couple of drinks, and then come home, okay?"

Reluctantly Megan agreed and they left for the bar. They met Jack and Bill and drank a couple of Banana Banshees. Finally, Megan had convinced Toni that it was time to go, when Toni saw Sean come up the steps of the bar. She excused herself to go to the bathroom and worked her way around the bar until she came upon Sean.

"Hey there Sean," she said as she grabbed him in a bear hug. After his surprise wore off, she told him that Megan had not remembered that he was going to come. She didn't realize at first that Sean's roommate was with him, until she recognized the young man who had walked in on them at his apartment in Gainesville nearly a month before. "What is he doing here?" she demanded angrily.

"Look, Toni, Greg is in my life, and I couldn't come here without him knowing why. He understands that this is to be kept private. I wouldn't have told him if I didn't think I could trust him," Sean replied with a hint of anger in his voice. "Am I going to get to see my sister or not?"

"Yeah…sure…look, Sean, I didn't mean anything by it, but…"

"But what? You can be trusted and I can't?"

"That's not what I was trying to say…"

"Save it Toni…I just want to see my sister," Sean told her. "C'mon Greg," he told the other man, grabbing him by the hand.

"Oh shit," Toni said to no one in particular, hoping that the feeling of foreboding she had would not come true. She followed a ways behind and watched from a distance as Megan discovered her Thanksgiving surprise.

Continued in Part 10.

Back To Main Page