For disclaimers see Part 1


Tie Break

by Bonnie (


Part 25






Chapter 36

Breakfast was a quiet affair. The small group of people sat around the large table, clinging to their coffee mugs or picking listlessly at the food. Irene sat at the head of the table, holding onto her brightly colored mug and watching everyone around her.

Mike and Mishka were the only ones who were eating with something close to enthusiasm, digging into their eggs and bacon like there was no tomorrow. The Hinkels both shuffled the eggs around their plate as if the movement alone would reduce the amount. Kevin seemed to be deep in thought, staring at the contents of his mug as if he expected the meaning of life to suddenly jump out at him.

Carol was in constant motion, checking her watch, sipping from her coffee, looking outside, eating, and back to checking her watch. I wonder what she's waiting for. Or who. Maybe the deputy. He should have some results from the lab by now.

Just then, Mishka looked up at her and met her eyes. "This food is very good, Mrs. Patakis," he said between bites. Everyone around the table nodded.

Irene smiled warmly at him. I knew I liked him. "Thank you, Mishka. But there's no Mrs. Patakis here. You can call me Irene." She paused, then added, "Or Mom, just like those two," pointing a finger at Kevin and Mike, who were grinning at her.

"Oh, okay," the young man mumbled. "I'll try to remember that," he added politely.

"Do that," Irene said with a grin as she reached over to him and patted his forearm. She cleared her throat. "I'd like to talk to you after breakfast, if you don't mind."

"Yeah, so would we," Kevin chimed in, pointing to himself and Mike.

Mishka looked from them to Irene and back. "Okay," he answered amiably, "sure." However, the expression on his face clearly said that he was still trying to figure out what they wanted to talk about with him. Suddenly, his expression cleared, then fell as he realized that they surely wanted to tell him that Shana wouldn't marry him now, couldn't marry him now. With a heavy heart, he grabbed his mug like a lifeline and took another sip.

Irene watched the young man and realized that he was probably expecting the worst. She patted his arm again, trying to reassure him, but when his expression didn't change and he refused to meet her eyes, she said, "Don't worry, Mishka. Everything's going to be okay. I've just got an idea that I'd like to discuss with you." She looked to Kevin and Mike and was rewarded with a double nod.

"If you don't mind," came Dr. Hinkel's voice from the other side of the table, "we would like to be there when you talk to Mishka here." He smiled at the young man. "We talked a lot with him and maybe he'll be more comfortable with us around."

Mishka nodded silently.

"And if this is about what I think it's about, we'd like to say something, too," Mrs. Hinkel said with a smile in Mishka's direction.

As everyone nodded their assent, Irene mentally shook her head. Boy, is this going to be one intimate talk after breakfast. The sheriff will probably stay as well …

Just then, Carol took another look at her watch before her gaze wandered outside again. To Irene's watchful eyes she had a decidedly nervous air about her. She thought for a second, then chose to just ask her about it. "Are we keeping you from something, Sheriff?"

Carol looked slightly startled for just one moment, before she answered calmly, "No, you don't, Mrs. Patakis." She looked outside again. "I've just got the feeling I should be out there, checking the grounds. Something is making me nervous." She got up from her chair. "I think I'm just going to follow my instincts. Thank you for a wonderful breakfast. I'll see you all later."

She stopped behind Irene's chair and leaned down. "Listen, I know you don't like me or trust me and I can even understand that, but I'm really only trying to help here. There's something or someone out there, and I have to go and find out what it is. Please, try to trust me."

With a pat to Irene's shoulder, she moved away from her. At the door she turned around and faced the older woman again, wondering what her blank expression meant. She mentally shrugged her shoulders. Can't do much else here, I guess.

With another smile she walked out of the kitchen, leaving behind a bemused Irene. For a moment there, the sheriff had sounded almost sincere in her concern, and Irene's dislike started to waver.




Anne was feeling mellower than she thought she should under the circumstances. On the other hand, she mused, I'm lying here covered by the woman I love, feeling very well loved, circumstances be damned. Right now, she just couldn't bring herself to allow any serious thoughts into their bed.

She felt so damn good, it couldn't get any better.

Could it?

The toned body above her stretched languidly, sliding along all her most sensitive places, and a quiet voice tickled her ear with its raspy sweetness. "God, I love you."

So, hell yeah, it could. Anne smiled, surprised that she could feel tears welling up in her eyes.

Shana noticed the emotional state her lover was in by the very quiet sniffle she almost, almost didn't even hear. She pushed herself up on her hands and looked Anne in the eyes. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." A bruised hand reached up and touched her face. "Just happy." A shrug. "So happy I actually feel almost bad about it."

"Why do you feel bad because you're happy?" Shana's voice made it clear that she felt like she was talking to one very strange woman.

"Because there's so much going around us and I'm lying here with you in a cocoon of happiness, thinking that the world could come to an end and I wouldn't even notice as long as I could still feel you in my arms."

Judging by the very wide-eyed look she received from Shana, Anne figured she had said something right. She grinned up at her lover with mock innocence. "What? Didn't know I could talk?"

And then it was her turn to be rendered speechless by the gentlest kiss she had ever experienced. Wow. "Okay, you win," she mumbled around still-tingling lips when Shana drew away.

"I didn't know we were competing," Shana said with a smug, if slightly dazed air. "But since I seem to have won," she leaned down and kissed Anne's breastbone, "what is my prize?"

"I don't know," the dark-haired woman chuckled, happy that her lover was so relaxed. "Choose something. Anything."

The blonde woman stopped what she was doing. "Anything?" She scrunched her nose up in thought. "Hmm."

Uh oh. Now that was an invitation for trouble, Patakis. Anne swallowed and waited nervously for whatever Shana could come up with.

"I think I'm just going to ask you a few questions and expect you to answer me truthfully." Shana's voice was gentle and playful, but the nervous twitch of Anne's mouth alerted her to the fact that there were indeed things that her lover probably wanted to keep quiet. Then she remembered the line of questioning that had been interrupted by their love-making, and she decided to follow along her former path.

She was so engrossed in her thoughts of possible questions that she almost missed the hoarsely whispered "yes" from the dark-haired woman beneath her.

Shana looked down into the blue eyes that were watching her unwaveringly, and she almost decided not to ask her anything. But … There were a couple of things she needed to be reassured about, things that were probably fueled mainly by her own insecurity, and she thought that now might be a good moment to clear things up.

She cleared her throat and put her body in full contact with Anne's again. The tall body beneath hers shifted and then they were lying side by side and eye to eye. Emboldened by the almost visible connection between them, Shana plunged headlong into her first question. "Anne, is what Carol said true?" Interpreting Anne's clueless expression as lack of understanding, she amended her question. "She said that I could never be enough for you because you needed … other things."

"Things like power and control and a partner who could be easily dominated?"

Shana nodded and averted her eyes, suddenly not so sure she wanted to hear the answer. Anne put two fingers under her chin and gently forced eye contact again.

"The woman Carol knew back then needed all that, maybe, but that wasn't me. I have everything I'll ever need right here, lying next to me. And she is beautiful." She kissed Shana's forehead. "I admit, I always liked being in control with other people, and I even enjoyed inflicting pain if I thought it would enhance my pleasure and that of my partner, but I seem to be another person with you, with different needs and wants. Somehow, I'm more myself when I'm with you."

She grinned at her silent lover. "However, should you ever want to try some … things, just let me know. I might still know a trick or two."

Shana loved every single word that Anne said. She always knows how to make me feel better. And, yes, there were some things that she'd probably like to try … as soon as she found out what they were. She smiled at her lover, who waited patiently for the next question.

Okay. "Did you ever sleep with a man? I mean, I know what Carlos tried with you, but--" she stopped when she saw the pained look on Anne's face. Oh shit, she did. And judging by the look on her face, it must be a doozy. Probably someone we both know.

Anne's gut felt like a horse had kicked her. She couldn't believe the accuracy with which Shana found her weak spots, the things she wanted to remain hidden. She watched her lover's face closely and could practically see the thoughts behind the green eyes. Okay, now she’s realized I slept with a man. Yup, it's a big one, Shana. This is where she pictures every man we both know. Oops, and now she thinks she's found him.

Shana mentally went through a list of man she thought would appeal to Anne or had any other connection with her. She was certain that it was someone they both knew and not just some passing fling. When she came to their closest acquaintances, the realization hit her like ten tons of bricks. It could only be … "Kevin," she breathed out.

"Yeah," Anne pressed through a suddenly dry throat, "Kevin."

Shana sat up. "But he's … I mean … how? When? And for God's sake, why?" She stammered her questions out while her mind was running a mile a minute, trying to determine what that would mean for them.

"Shana, honey, please calm down first," Anne said quietly. "It was a long time ago, and we both tried to forget it. It didn't mean anything back then and it sure doesn't mean anything today."

Anne's quiet attitude relaxed Shana somewhat. "What happened?" she asked in a much calmer voice.

It was Anne's turn to sit up. "As I said, it was a long time ago." She closed her eyes for a moment before she focused her gaze on the green eyes in front of her. "When you left me that night, I just packed my stuff and left everything behind." There was no question which night Anne was talking about. "Leaving wasn't very hard with all the money I had, and I just moved from hotel to hotel, never staying too long in one place. You might remember that I missed out on a couple of tournaments that year as I spent most of the time drinking my sorrow down in some bar or my hotel room."

"Oh, Anne, I'm so sorry," Shana whispered and took Anne's hand in a comforting gesture that was still tinged with guilt.

"Yeah. Anyway, after several weeks of traveling around aimlessly, I landed at my favorite hotel in New York City. I went into my room and turned on the TV just in time to hear the news about Pete's death." She swallowed down her tears. "I swear something snapped in me that night. I ran out and got myself a couple of bottles of bourbon and then proceeded to very methodically empty them." She took a deep breath.

"What I didn't know was that Kevin had started to call all my favorite hotels to try to find me and that the guy at the reception was an old friend of his. So, the guy called Kevin, and Kevin took the next flight from Chicago. When he barged into my room, I was well into the second bottle. I was totally drunk. I don’t think I've ever been so drunk before or since. I guess I really was trying to drink myself to death since there was nothing there for me to live for."

Shana couldn't bear the distance between them one second longer. She snuggled up to her lover and ended up lying across her lap with one arm on Anne's shoulder and her head pressed against a breast over a fast-beating heart.

She missed the gentle look on Anne's face as the older woman ran a bruised hand through her short blond hair. She cleared her throat and continued. "Kevin just took over from there. He made me upchuck all the alcohol, made me eat something, and I think he tried to drown me with all the water he made me drink. Today, I thank him for what he did, but back then, I hated him and wanted to hurt him. I came onto him, really strongly, kissed him and touched him, but he just didn't react. When I realized that I broke down, and I can't remember much after that. Kevin told me a lot of what happened then, but I don't know if it's all correct. He's such a gentle man." She smiled for her old friend. "He said I got so very vulnerable when I broke down that he just couldn't bear the sight. We cuddled for a long while, and when I was feeling a bit better, I started kissing him again, but in a much nicer way, apparently, since he didn't turn me down. He said I appeared to be totally lucid by that time, only very, very small and vulnerable and full of self-hatred. When I woke up we were both in bed, naked and very embarrassed. I couldn't believe what I had put him through, and he couldn't believe what he'd done."

"He'd better," Shana exploded against her chest. "He took advantage of you when you were drunk!"

"Baby, hey," Anne quieted her. "That's not Kevin's style and you know that. You don't know what was going on with him at the time, and I didn't know either back then, but we talked about it quite a lot later on. He had just been dumped by Mike over a spat they had, and he felt very unloved and vulnerable himself." She kissed her lover's head. "All it was, was two friends making each other feel better for a moment. And feeling bad about it forever after."

Something in her lover's tone made Shana look into her tear-filled blue eyes. "What else happened, Anne?"

"I got pregnant." She took a deep breath. "I had an abortion."

"Oh my God," Shana breathed. "What you must have gone through. Why--"

"Oh, please, Shana," Anne interrupted her, weary of the topic all of a sudden. "What would I do with a kid, in my situation? By the time I realized I was pregnant, the kid was probably already an alcoholic, or dead. It was really never a question, was it?"

"What did Kevin have to say about it?" Shana knew Anne had a point; still, the thought of her friend going through all of that pained her. And it's all my fault, basically.

"He doesn't know," Anne said casually, "and I really prefer it that way." She suddenly felt the need for a hug and tightened her hold on the woman in her lap. Shana pulled her into her and just held on to her in silent comfort. When they pulled apart a while later, there were tear tracks on Anne's cheeks, but she smiled at her lover nonetheless. "You see, this kid will be both our firstborn." God, why on Earth did I say something stupid like that? Makes me sound like I regret it. It really wasn't that big a thing.

Shana smiled brilliantly. "You don't know what it means to me to hear you talk about this baby like that." She kissed Anne soundly. "I love you, you know."

So, that's probably why I said something like that. Anne kissed Shana back and tried to forget the past. "Oh, one thing," she said hastily, "I don’t think Mike knows any of this. I think it would be best for all of us if it remained that way."

"Okay," Shana mumbled while she kissed Anne's nose. "I'll try to remember that."

The dark-haired woman smiled at her, but the smile was only half-hearted. Shana saw the emotions twirling around the sky blue eyes and decided to change the topic and lighten the mood. "So, tell me, lover … would you really crawl over broken glass to beg me to love you?"

"You bet I would," Anne said with a smile that showed her happiness at the turn in the conversation.

She gently pushed Shana from her lap and scooted down to lie flat on her back in the middle of the bed. Shana watched mesmerized, following with her eyes the lines of the gloriously naked body in front of her. Anne stretched out completely and put her hands under the headboard in a silent invitation.

Oh my. Shana just swallowed.




How am I going to put this? Irene wondered. Nice and smooth, so as not to scare him? Or do I tell him bluntly that he won't ever get to marry my daughter-in-law, even if his life depended on it. She shook her head, knowing that if worst came to absolute worst, she'd let him marry Shana. Or I'd marry him myself. She chuckled at the thought of the very young man standing next to her before a justice of the peace. Okay, here we go ...

"Listen," she began, but stopped when she heard Kevin utter the same word. She threw the blond man a questioning look, which he answered with a nod, inviting her to speak first.

Irene cleared her throat and began again. "Mishka," she said, looking at the young Russian with a warm smile, "I've thought about your situation a lot and--"

"So did we, and--"

A sharp glance to the side stopped Mike's interruption before it really got under way.

"As I said before I was interrupted," Irene started for the third time, shooting Mike a pointed look, "I think I've got an idea how to solve … your problem."

Mishka's face showed that he very well knew where Irene was going with her introductory words. He looked crestfallen. "You mean, I will not marry Shana to stay in this country, because Shana will stay with Anne now." The way he said it made it sound like a punishment, not just a statement of fact.

Irene nodded compassionately. "Yes, but--"

"But she promised," Mishka blurted out.

"Yes, I know, Mishka," Irene said quietly as she put her hand on his forearm to calm him down. "But I've got another solution for you."

"Mikhail," came Dr. Hinkel's voice from across the table for the first time, "stop worrying. Everything will be all right."

The fatherly tones seemed to reassure the young man and he nodded. Dr. Hinkel continued, but addressed Irene now. "I'd like to make a suggestion, if I may?"

Irene nodded, curious to find out what was going on behind the old man's eyes. The elderly couple exchanged glances and Mrs. Hinkel put her hands over her husband's hand on the table.

Mike bent over to Kevin and whispered in his ear. "You know, lover boy, the way I'm reading this, we could have cuddled instead of making calls all around the world this morning."

Kevin grinned and nodded, letting his lover know that he thought the same thing. I wonder, however, where they're taking this. He thought he knew what Irene might have been up to, but he thought that the elderly couple had only stayed to support Mishka. He was very curious now.

His thoughts were interrupted when Dr. Hinkel started speaking again. "Mrs. Patakis, we … my wife and I … thought a lot about all this last night and this morning. About the situation. We realize that Mikhail here cannot really marry Ms. Wilson since she so obviously will be much happier marrying your lovely daughter." He took a sip of his coffee, taking his time and pausing to appreciate the aroma as if it were the first cup of coffee he’d enjoyed after a month on the moon.

Get on with it, five people thought in three different languages while squirming in their seats. There was a collective sigh when the old man put down his mug and took a breath.

"We also thought that … maybe … our daughter ..." He stopped, his voice having taken on a rather hoarse note. "That our Daniela might not come back to us," he finished after another sip of coffee, which no one begrudged him. "We're not fools, you know. It's been such a long time. Even if Daniela is still alive … and I do want to believe that with all that I am … she might not want to come back to Germany with us. We might never see her again, no matter what." He looked at his wife, tears trailing down both their faces.

"That's why we thought," his wife took continued, "that it would be a great idea if Mishka came with us when we go back to Germany in two weeks."

Kevin, Mike and Irene all took a breath to say something, but Mrs. Hinkel's somber voice kept them quiet. "We thought about it a lot, as Fritz already said. It would be so much better for Mishka in Europe, with us. We speak Russian, there are a lot of Russian-speaking people in Berlin … he would feel more at home there." She looked into the faces around the table. "And he would be able to play tennis. And since he's a very promising player, or so I've heard," she smiled, casting a sidelong glance at Mishka that told everyone present who had told her that, "he will have no trouble staying in the country."

"No trouble?" Several voices asked at the same time.

Both Hinkels nodded. "With the state German tennis is in, they'll be happy to get a bit of new talent as soon as possible. The German government is funny that way," Mr. Hinkel said with a derisive snort. "Normal people can wait forever to be allowed to work or get permanent residency in our country. But when you're a sports star and they want you to play for Germany, it takes no time at all. With Mikhail being Russian, we'd probably be able to find a German grandmother of his somewhere in his pedigree, and then it's no problem at all." He leaned back in his chair, satisfied that he'd said all there was to say in the matter.

There was complete silence while everyone digested the information. "Wow," was Mike's comment after a while. "You know, we were thinking in the same direction, but we thought--"

"You thought I would the one to adopt Mishka," Irene said with a smile. "So did I, by the way." She smiled at the Hinkels. I really like this idea. I think they could be good for each other. She looked at Mishka, who hadn't said a word.

The young man seemed to be deep in thought. He was studying the back of his hands while his fingertips traced errant patterns on the table. At long last, he raised his eyes and looked at Irene, and then at the Hinkels. "No trouble at all?" he asked again, very quietly.

Mrs. Hinkel leaned over to him and put her left hand on his hands on the tabletop. In reflex, he turned his hands and held her much smaller hand between his. "No trouble, I promise," she answered with a bright smile that made her eyes glow in a warm color. "I promise," she repeated for good measure.

Mishka thought again. America or Germany, Berlin or … this place with Shana and Anne and Irene? He looked around the table, looked at the faces that surrounded them. He loved America, the freedom of everything here, the people. But he also was a very European man, and loved Russia and his Slavic soul. He also liked the Hinkels. They had been awfully nice to him, and they had spent long hours talking the previous night and that morning. Talking about Russia -- in Russian -- and Germany. They had told him about their house in Pankow, a nice part of the old East Berlin, where all the embassies used to be before the reunification.

The longer he thought about it, the more he liked the idea. He had known from the first moment he had seen Shana and Anne together that this was where Shana's heart was, and that marrying her would be no good to either of them. But he didn't want to go back to Russia. He raised his eyes to meet the gray eyes of Fritz Hinkel and his wife, and uttered a single syllable. "Da." Yes.

Mrs. Hinkel hugged him to her chest, tears falling freely again. But they didn't look like tears of unhappiness, and she smiled among them. Her husband wore a quiet smile as well, sitting back in his chair, one hand still clasped in his wife's right hand.

The way they're sitting there, they look like a real family, Irene thought when she saw the picture before her. Mrs. Hinkel, sitting between her husband and Mishka, each man holding one of her hands. A feeling stirred inside her that felt a lot like jealousy, but she brushed it away and decided to be happy that finding a solution had been easier than imagined. Now all we have to do is tell Anne and Shana, and one part of our problems is solved.

Although …, she sighed unhappily, it's only the smallest part. There's a much bigger one running around somewhere. Her thoughts involuntarily strayed to Carlos and the threat he posed to her family.

Then suddenly she remembered something Shana had said to her. She looked at Mishka. "Mishka, I've got a question for you." The young man turned his eyes away from the Hinkels and looked at her with an open expression she hadn't yet seen on him.

"Yes?" he asked, sounding like he was eager to please.

"How did you know where Shana was?" She saw the confused expression on his face. "She told me that nobody knew where she was going, so we were wondering how you knew to come here."

"Oh," was his first reply. "Ah … I got a call from a man who told me that Shana was coming here, and that I had to come here if I still wanted to marry her. He gave me a very exact description, told me how to get here, and I drove all night to come here."

"Carlos," Irene breathed. "It must have been Carlos."

"That bastard has his hands in just about everything," Kevin growled. "He probably wanted to drive another wedge between Anne and Shana. Only God knows why."

"I wouldn't be surprised," Mike added, "if he had something to do with Mishka's problems at home, too. By now, I'd believe just about anything anyone told me about him."

Irene cocked her head and listened for a moment, thinking she had heard a noise outside. When it wasn't repeated, she shrugged it off and concentrated on the conversation again. Probably Carol, making her rounds, checking the perimeter.

"You know what really pisses me off?" Mike asked. "The fact that Shana's parents must have told Carlos where to find her. I’d bet everything I have that Carlos is behind the car accident, and that his tennis managing business is only a clever cover-up for his other … business."

A colorful string of expletives trickled out of Kevin's mouth at the thought of Carlos and Shana's family in cahoots with each other. "If I ever get my hands on him, I'll kill him. I rip him apart with my bare hands!"

"Well, well," came a cold, but cultured voice from the door, "isn't it nice to be so fondly remembered."

Everyone turned around to watch as a well-dressed man, handsome in a cruel kind of way, entered the kitchen. He wore an impeccable coat and black leather boots and gloves. His right hand held a gun, pointing it at the table rather casually.

"I know his voice," Mishka mumbled, confirming the suspicions that it had indeed been Carlos who had sent him here. "Is this Carlos?" he whispered in Mrs. Hinkel's ear.

A nod was his only answer before a hardly human scream broke the impasse, and Dr. Hinkel catapulted out of his chair in the direction of the much younger man.

"You bastard. You stole my daughter," the old man rasped out. "Where is she? Where is she?" He was on the surprised Carlos now, pummeling his chest, trying to bring him down on the floor with all his power. But his bones were much older than the rage in him, and the younger and well-trained man kept him easily at bay.

"Who is that old man?" he asked mockingly. "What is he mumbling about?"

With another bout of energy, Fritz Hinkel jumped at Carlos again, almost managing to take him down this time. Kevin, Mike, and Mishka were already on their feet, on their way to help the old man who had petrified them with his attack.

Just as they were about to tackle the grappling adversaries, a shot rang out, making them all stop short.









Chapter 37

Shana had, the brunette decided, a distinct deer in the headlights look on her face. The blonde just sat there, looking at her hands, not moving a muscle. Then her green eyes fluttered shut and closed out Anne's inquisitive gaze. She heard and felt the deep intake of breath that came from the smaller woman kneeling next to her.

Shit! That was too much, too soon, Anne thought and closed her own eyes.

For both of us.

Closing her eyes, she realized instantly, was a big mistake. The loss of control she felt was almost palpable and her eyes flew open.


Her heart was racing, her muscles were twitching, and the more she thought about her fear of losing control, the more she felt the loss. Intellectually, she knew that nothing would happen to her, that she was safe in Shana's hands, but she had never felt so vulnerable, had never felt more naked than she did at that moment. Her instincts told her to get the hell out of that bed and run.

A fleeting image crossed her mind. She could practically see herself running through the snow towards her own house, lurching inside, racing upstairs into her bedroom, locking herself in, and hiding under her own covers in her own bed.

No, this was not for her, and the sooner she stopped it, the better. What a relief it was to see that Shana didn't seem to like it, either. She's probably scared.

It was the only thought between her and the door.

She looked at Shana again and watched as the green eyes opened and gazed along her body. She felt the roving eyes physically, was completely aware of the flames licking at her skin at the tips of Shana's green rays of fire. She knew it was impossible. But if she closed her eyes, she would still be able to pinpoint exactly which part of her body Shana was looking at. Of that she was certain.

She had to put a stop to this. Right now!

She cleared her throat. "We don't have to do this, you know," she said as casually as she could. "Maybe, um … maybe this isn’t the right time to try this."

Shana seemed to consider that as her eyes moved to meet Anne's. Her gaze was open and not at all what Anne expected to see. It was neither nervous nor frightened. If anything, it seemed interested and questioning, and suddenly the tall woman was confused. Now she looks totally comfortable. Why was she just looking at me like that when everything is okay? What's going on here?

"Your muscles are twitching, honey," Shana murmured as if to herself, interrupting Anne's thoughts with a quiet voice that still revealed the question behind that observation. She put a hand on Anne's right thigh and was surprised at how tense and tight the muscles felt. It was like touching a live wire, all raw power and tension. Like a Japanese bow that was drawn to the extreme and would snap at any second.

She met her lover's eyes, seeing uncertainty there and something else. Something she had never seen before, and all of a sudden she understood the hidden meaning behind Anne's remark. "You're scared," she gently remarked with a hint of surprise. She softly trailed her hand up and down Anne's tense thighs. "What is there to be afraid of?"

When Anne didn't respond, she amended her question. "Why are you nervous, sweetheart?" she asked, hoping that the use of the endearment would reassure her lover.

The tall woman, trying very hard not to jump out of the bed and run, gripped the headboard hard with her bruised hands. She gave herself a mental pep talk, knowing she was probably confusing or scaring Shana with her reaction. Come on, you've got to say something to her. Tell her what's going on with you, that this is not for you. Everything will be all right and you can try it again later. Much, much later.

Shana's hand continued to gently caress her thighs, moving up one and then down the other, and slowly, the tenderness of the touch and the always reassuring connection with the blonde made it through to Anne's addled brain. See, it's okay. Nothing to worry about. Explain it to her.

The pressure of Shana's hands increased, as if the blonde sensed that Anne needed to be grounded right now. The constant stroking was really getting to the brunette and wherever the smaller woman touched her, Anne's skin tingled and burned, leaving goose bumps and tiny raised hairs wherever it traveled.

Shana watched her lover closely, silently processing what she saw. She realized how difficult this had to be for her lover when she heard the headboard groan under her lover's death grip and the resulting deep moan that escaped the dark-haired woman's chest. But she also noticed that Anne was beginning to react to her touch, both by getting less tense and, seemingly, a little aroused. Shana began to wonder whether the moan she had heard had really been caused by pain. Wonder if she even notices her body's reaction.

The blonde was certain that Anne's nervousness had nothing to do with her, and everything to do with the way Anne had handled things … sex … before them. She decided that talking about it couldn't hurt. It might help Anne get over her nervousness and might help Shana to understand that side of her lover much better.

Besides, she was really beginning to like the idea of having Anne lying before her, so vulnerable and yet so powerful. It was proving to be an immense turn-on, and just as she realized that, she knew she had gained another insight into the problem at hand.

"You've never done that before, have you?" she asked quietly, never ceasing in her gentle caresses. She didn't know how to proceed with her skittish lover, but she was willing to just wing it and speak and act from her heart.

"Never done what?" Anne growled, a sound that made Shana all too aware of her lover's state of mind. Shit, she's going to bolt any second now.

The blonde woman knew she had to soothe her lover or they'd never have a chance to explore this new facet in their relationship, and she really, really wanted to do that. Without thinking twice about it, she lay down, covering as much of Anne's longer body as possible. When her lover twitched violently for a second, she realized that, as much as she trusted Anne with her safety, that move could send her flying across the room in no time.

After just seconds, however, long arms released their hold on the headboard and wrapped around her in pure reflex. Shana sighed in relief, slowly letting out the breath she had been holding since laying her body over Anne's.

Anne chuckled, almost against her will, when she felt Shana's relief as a small gush of air that caressed her neck. She had been shocked at first when she was covered by the compact form of her lover, but then just as soon she had felt strangely quieted and grounded by it.

She also felt infinitely better since she wasn't lying naked before her lover's burning gaze any longer. She relaxed considerably and nuzzled her lover's hair, just because she could and because it made her feel better.

Just as she was about to release a sigh of relief and contentment, she remembered Shana's question. You've never done this before, have you? She knew her lover well enough to know that sooner or later Shana would get back to that question. She was also certain that it would be much sooner than she would have liked. She gave the question some thought, trying to come up with an answer.

Before she could formulate one single thought, however, she felt Shana's deep intake of breath that heralded clearly that a talk was about to happen.

"Anne?" came the slightly muffled voice from somewhere between her shoulder and her neck.


"You know I love you more than anything, don't you?"

The voice was still soft, and Anne wasn't sure if the tinge of insecurity she heard in it was real or imagined. God, what can I say? In this situation? Anne knew why Shana was asking, and the tears that in her eyes out of nowhere told her that she had been a total ass.

"Yes, baby, I know," she rasped, shame and love coloring her voice. "I love you, too. I love you and I trust you with my heart," she added. When there was no response from the blonde woman, she continued. "You know that, don't you?"

She rolled them both over, hating the fact that she couldn't see into her lover's eyes in their position. Now, lying on her side, she propped her head on her elbow and lifted Shana's face with her free hand. "Baby?"

Shana looked at her, with her face buried in a pillow. Anne thought she looked absolutely adorable, but she was too worried by her lover's lack of reaction to act on her instinct to kiss her lover. "So," Shana suddenly spoke, "you trust me with your heart, but not with your body. Is that it?"

Anne felt that question like a slap and pulled her head back in a sudden motion. "No, that's—-"

"Anne," the blonde woman interrupted her. "I'm sorry, that didn't come out the way I wanted it to."

"No, Shea, I think it's exactly what you wanted to say." Anne swallowed. "And I can understand it, but it's not true. It's not true." She leaned over and kissed her lover's head and when she wasn't pushed away, did it again. "Let's talk about this. Please?"

Shana nodded and moved closer to Anne, needing to feel the connection between them. She knew deep down that Anne was right and that it wasn't a matter of trust, but for a second she’d had doubts. I think I really want this, and I need to know if she'll be able to let go of her need to be in charge.

Somehow Anne knew she had to start this time. "You're right," she began hesitantly, "I've never done that before. I thought I could do it with you, but I sort of panicked and …"

"Why did you panic?" Shana seemed calm and collected now. She brushed disheveled bangs from Anne's eyes. "Were you afraid that I would hurt you?"

"No, no, not at all," Anne replied as she took Shana's hand into her own and kissed it. "It's just that … that …" Jesus, how do I explain it to her without sounding like a complete asshole? "I've always been the dominant partner in bed." She shook her head. "You probably couldn't even call me a partner because most of the time I didn't even think about the other person's feelings. Everything was only about me, about my …" She hesitated.


A nod. "My power, my release, my will, my control." She looked straight into Shana's eyes. "And it was never done lovingly because I never loved any of the people I was with." She paused. "I hurt people, Shea," she murmured, "because I needed to be in control."

"I'm asking you again. Did you really think I'd hurt you?" Shana ducked her head to be able to look into Anne's now downcast eyes. She didn't believe that Anne was afraid of being physically hurt, and she wanted her lover to see it, too.

Anne shook her head. "N-no, I really wasn't. I know it's hard to understand, but that's not it." She trailed off, not knowing what else to say.

"I know it's not easy to explain, sweetheart, but I really want to know. Please, try."

"When I was lying there, naked, I … I felt so weak." A shiver went through Anne's body. Then she mumbled something that Shana didn't understand.

"What was that, honey?"

Anne looked up at her, feeling almost silly for having to repeat herself. Her mind had been working a mile a minute during their conversation and it occurred to her that there was really only one reason why she had panicked before. "I said I didn't know what to do."

"You didn't know what to do," Shana repeated. About what?

"Yes. That's why I reacted the way I did. I didn't know what to do." Anne sounded almost happy now that she had voiced what she had discovered. "You didn't do anything and I didn't know how you feel and …"

Shana could have slapped herself over the head when she realized what her lover was saying. She wrapped her arms around Anne and snuggled as close as she could. "Honey, I was admiring your beauty. I thought about where to start. How to touch your body. You're so beautiful and I wanted to touch you everywhere at once. All I wanted you to do was react to my touch."

The blonde woman looked into her lover's face and pulled it down for a searing kiss that left them both breathless after it ended. She went back for another kiss, trying to put all her love and desire into it. Her hands roamed over Anne's strong back, tracing and gripping well-defined muscles and scratching lightly with blunt nails.

Anne let out a strangled groan from deep in her chest when the wave of desire hit her. She kissed Shana back, deeply, possessively and passionately. Her hands began to wander and she began to turn their bodies so she was lying on top of Shana.

At least she tried to.

She was met by a gentle, but strong resistance that she hadn't expected. Remembering what they had been talking about before the fire had erupted in her veins, she acquiesced and let herself be pushed onto her back. Shana was extremely gentle in her movement, all the time kissing Anne deeply while slowly pressing her down onto the mattress and crawling on top of her.

Once she had Anne on her back Shana began to run her hands up and down her lover's sides, starting at the thighs and ending at the shoulders. Anne relaxed into the touch and let her arms fall to the side. With every upward stroke, Shana pushed Anne's arms further up until her hands were level with the headboard again.

Anne was getting almost dizzy from the intensity of the kisses and the lack of oxygen, but it was way too nice to stop. When her hands finally touched the wood of the headboard she caught on to what her lover was doing. By then, she was so aroused that she didn't want to stop. I want her so much, she thought and gripped the headboard.

Shana lifted her body away from Anne's, slowly pulling out of the searing kiss they were sharing. Several nips at her lover's lips later she moved far enough to be able to look into Anne's eyes, which opened when the tall woman noticed her withdrawal. The blonde woman could clearly read the question in the blue eyes. "I love you, Anne," she whispered. "Please, let me make love to you."

Anne could only nod. She'd do anything to feel those lips on hers again, to feel her lover's touch. Shana once more got on her knees, but instead of sitting next to Anne, she straddled her thighs to let the dark-haired woman know that she was very close by. She swallowed hard when she saw the trust displayed in the blue eyes that gazed at her. Trust and desire.

Shana ran her hands up and down Anne's body again, never staying too long in one place and never touching where her lover wanted her the most. Her fingertips lazily drew concentric circles around two very attentive nipples, getting closer and closer which each turn, but never touching. When the blonde sensed that Anne was about to collapse from sheer anticipation, she took both nipples between her thumbs and index fingers and tugged on them.

Anne let out a low growl that was quickly followed by a moan that she couldn't have stopped had she wanted to. She was almost past being aroused at the moment. She was incredibly wet and knew that if Shana touched her, really touched her, she would explode into a million little pieces.

It surprised her to no end how excited she was getting from her lover's touch. Not being in control, giving herself over to the woman she loved with all her heart, made her feel strong instead of weak all of a sudden. Now that she knew that her lover expected her only to enjoy their lovemaking, she had the freedom to do exactly that.

A rather sharp tug on her nipples brought her back from her thoughts and made her groan. Shana leaned down to swallow any more groans with her mouth as she covered Anne's lips in another fiery kiss. Then she moved lower, first nibbling on a long neck before descending on the two hardened peaks that almost looked like frozen raspberries by now, deeply red and very hard. The blonde grinned and took the right one into her mouth, sucking very gently before biting down and giving the straining nipple a sharp nip. Then she moved over to its twin to grant it the same treatment.

Anne tried to stay as motionless as she could, even though Shana hadn't told her to. She just had the feeling that it would enhance her lover's pleasure, and so she tried to calm her body's natural movement down. But when Shana began sucking and nipping on her nipples, her hips began to move in a rhythm with Shana's mouth. And there was nothing she could do about it.

Shana moved even lower, licking a hot trail across Anne's toned stomach, following every movement the heaving muscles made. Anne was panting by now, trying to draw in deep breaths, but it felt like it was never enough. The dark-haired woman felt butterfly kisses on her stomach and then Shana's tongue dipped into her navel, nearly making her jump off the bed as her desire rose yet another notch. God, I'm going to come soon if she isn't careful.

Shana enjoyed the almost constant moans and groans coming from her lover, but she knew that she had to release her soon if she didn't want to tease her too long. She also felt the desire that was burning in her belly and she too wanted to find release. Soon.

She scooted backwards on her lover's legs, and by the groan that escaped Anne, the tall woman could feel Shana's wetness on her thighs.

"Oh, God, baby, please," Anne panted in a very deep voice that spoke of heat and desire. "Please … touch me, I can't stand it … no more."

Shana ran her hands up her lover's thighs, trailing her thumbs very close to Anne's sex. She didn't want to torture Anne too much this first time, especially since she knew that she would definitely want to do this again. She also wanted to be in Anne's position and offer her lover her vulnerability.

She dipped her fingers into Anne's slick folds, drawing another groan from the tall woman. This one sounded almost relieved. Shana moved one of her legs between Anne's thighs to give herself more room, and Anne eagerly spread her legs. The blonde woman leaned down and took a deep breath of her lover's intoxicating aroma, wanting nothing more than to bury herself in it forever. She leaned in and reverently kissed the dark hair just above her hands and nuzzled her nose into the short coarse hair. Her tongue darted out to taste her lover.

A shot rang out clearly from somewhere close in the house, scaring the hell out of both women.

Anne's eyes flew open and her heart threatened to beat out of her chest. Shana jumped almost a foot off the bed, looking very confused and cursing like a Greek sailor on a mission to hell.

"What … what the hell was that?" Anne snarled as she let go of the headboard and came into a sitting position. Her body didn't think for a second that this was funny. All she wanted to do was get down on her back again and be loved.

She also knew that something not good had happened. Her mother didn't have any guns in the house, and the only person she knew who had one was Carol. Maybe there's an intruder somewhere on the grounds. Oh God, Mom.

She scrambled out of bed and noted with surprise that her legs weren't really holding her up. She sat down on the side of the bed and took a deep breath, trying to calm her still-raging arousal to a manageable level. A level where I don't spontaneously combust when I leave this bed. She turned around to her lover, who hadn't moved. The blonde only groaned.

"Come on, baby," Anne said, "we need to go see what happened."

Shana only stared at her. "Oh God, please let's ignore it." She moved towards her lover, trying to pull her back onto the bed.

Anne gently disentangled herself. "Shea, come on. Someone might be hurt."

Shana gingerly moved off the bed, trying to stay on her own two feet. "Oh, believe me," she growled, "for that someone will get hurt." And then she started to throw on some clothes.

Despite the situation, Anne had to chuckle at her lover's behavior. She felt just the same way about their predicament and was constantly telling her body to calm down and not jump on the blonde, but she was also drawn to where the shot had come from.

They got dressed without saying another word and moved over to the door. Before they left the room, Anne felt a hand on her arm. She opened the door and turned.

"Anne," Shana whispered, suddenly very serious, "whatever happened here is probably not good. Please promise me you'll be careful. I love you."

The dark head nodded once and they walked down the hall towards the kitchen.




Lousy timing, eh?

Don’t worry, this is to be continued ASAP in Part 26

Return to the Academy