by Boudica X
Disclaimers: All my characters so there's really no need for this section.
Warnings: This isn't my usual type of story. There's no violence or physical confrontations of any kind. (well except the good kind) What would a romance story be without sex? There is a little bad language but I kept it to a minimum.
Thanks: Thank you to Helene for BETA reading. Your ideas were invaluable. Thank you to my beautiful wife for inspiring this story. You will forever be my muse.
Other Warnings: This has the potential for becoming a series, so don't get upset if you didn't get enough this time. <g> Depending on feedback, I could be persuaded to continue the tale.
And always, if you read me, please feed me email@example.com
“Does your mom have the kids for the whole night?” asked Jess rolling over in bed to watch her ex dress.
“No, remember I told you she could only keep them for a couple of hours. Besides, we have church early tomorrow and the children’s choir is singing. I hope you didn’t forget because you promised to be there,” said Mac donning her shirt. The petite woman ran a hand through her tousled hair, “How do I look?”
“You would probably look more presentable if you put on pants,” Jess said smiling. Said pants were thrown in her direction.
“I know that ass, I meant my hair.”
“You look fine,” said the tall redhead getting up, “Anyway, that’s the type of hair cut that no one would notice.”
Mac laughed, “Oh my mother would notice, believe me.”
Jess just shook her head as she handed Mac her pants back and put on her own. After deciding to forgo the shirt she asked, “What time does the service start?”
“Eleven, just look for me when you get there, I’ll save you a seat.” Mac sat on the bed to put her socks and shoes on.
Jess walked over and stood between her legs. Lowering herself onto the other woman and pushing her back onto the mattress she asked, “Are you sure your mom can’t watch them for a few more minutes?”
Mac moaned slightly at the feel of Jess’ tongue on her neck. “Yes I’m sure. She already called once to find out when I was going to get there. You’ll just have to wait for next time to finish that thought.” Mac pushed her lover aside and got up again. The two walked to the door of Jess’ studio apartment, Mac grabbing her purse along the way. Mac stopped in the doorway and turned back, “Don’t forget, eleven.”
Jess saluted sarcastically and Mac backhanded her in her bare stomach. Then the woman turned and walked through the door leaving Jess in her empty apartment. She ambled through to her tiny kitchen and put some water on to boil, and as she went, she spotted something red on the floor. After picking it up, she realized that it was Mac’s underwear. Laughing to herself, she stuck the lacy fabric in her jean pocket and continued on her way.
The next morning, Jess pulled up outside of the church at ten forty five as she waved to one of the other parishioners. Turning the truck off she mentally steeled herself for the Christian onslaught. It seemed like every time she came here someone had to bring up how unfortunate it was that she and Mac broke up. The end of their twenty-year relationship had been hard enough without all of their friends chiming in on the tragedy. However, the church was good for the kids, and what was good for her kids, Jess was able to handle in small doses.
Hoping to make it in the building and seated before anyone caught her, she avoided making eye contact with the other people entering the church. Unfortunately, once she made it through the door, little Mrs. Gungoll caught her before she could make it to the sanctuary. As Jess mused on the meaning of the word and how much she needed what it was offering, the elderly woman shuffled up to her for a chat.
“Jessica, it’s so good to see you. You haven’t been around in a while.”
“I know Mrs. Gungoll, but I know I’ve told you before that I’m a Buddhist. I only come when the kids are performing.” Jess waived at a couple of people as they entered the narthex.
“Well honey, at least you and McKenzie are raising your kids right, keeping them in the church and all.” The elderly woman reached up and gave Jess a hug, effectively pulling her halfway to the floor. “You two young ladies are good people. I’m sure you’ll make sure your kids are too.”
“Yes ma’am, we intend to,” said Jess rising back up to her full height after the woman let go. “Well, I should find Mac and my seat before they start. I’m sure we’ll talk again soon Mrs. Gungoll. Have a lovely day.”
As she walked away, Jess breathed a sigh of relief. She had only gotten the short speech this Sunday. No matter how hard she tried, that old woman would always catch her. Sometimes Jess thought she lye in wait when she found out Jess was going to be there.
The sanctuary had been decorated for Easter and everything was in white and pastels. Shortly after she entered she spotted Mac sitting in one of the front pews next to her mother. Making her way there, she managed to sidestep any other impromptu lectures from the other members of the church.
“Hey,” said Jess scooting onto the end of the pew next to Mac.
The fiery redhead turned and smiled, “Hey, you’re actually early, I’m impressed.”
“I seem to remember many an occasion that I was forced to wait for a certain someone that always seemed to be running behind. By the way Pot, my name is Kettle,” said Jess with a smile on her lips.
“Point taken,” and under her breath said, “Say hello to my mother.”
Jess leaned over a little in the pew to look at the woman sitting next to Mac. “Kathy,” she said smiling, “good to see you.”
Mac’s mother eyed Jess for a moment and then smiled in return. She had liked the tall redhead a lot after she got to know her, despite her own religious beliefs. That was, until the woman ruined her daughter’s life. “Jess, glad you could make it. My grandkids are very excited, I’m sure they’ll be happy to see you.”
Jess sat back against the pew again, “That went well,” she muttered under her breath. Mac tried to stifle her laugh by masking it with a cough but Jess didn’t think she was successful.
Soon the service was underway and about halfway through the children finally made it up front to sing. It was a performance that was less than perfect, but the proud parents in attendance were more than happy to overlook that. As they walked off stage, Jess’ two children turned and waved to her, both with huge smiles on their faces. She returned the wave and the smile and added a wink for a job well done.
After the service, the adults all stood outside of the choir room waiting for the children to be released. Mac chatted with a few of the other parents while Jess leaned against the wall and tried to make herself scarce. The doors burst open and the children rushed out running to their respective mothers and fathers. Mac bent down, hugged both of her children, and then turned them loose on Jess.
“Ma, Ma did you see me?” asked her son Alejandro.
“I did Al, you were very impressive,” she said bending down to hug him.
“What about me?” asked her daughter.
“Oh Em, you know I’m always impressed by you,” Jess whispered in her daughter’s ear as she picked her up. “You both were wonderful, outstanding, fabulous…”
“We get it Ma,” Al said a little embarrassed.
Jess smiled at her two children. They had been theirs almost since birth and as far as Jess was concerned, they belonged to her before the final adoption papers were signed. Alejandro was sent to them from Texas when he was only a year and a half old and Emily came from their own state when she was taken from her mother due to child abuse. Luckily, the child had been so young at the time, only three months, she didn’t remember anything before her time with Jess and Mac. The two women raised them like their own and had done so since the very beginning.
Emily laid her head on her mother’s shoulder and asked, “Are you coming to breakfast?”
“I don’t know sweet pea, I don’t recall the two most important people in my life inviting me to breakfast today.”
Mac watched the exchange between her children and her ex. Looking at them, no one would doubt that Jess loved those children more than anything in the world. That was probably why the two women had been so amicable when they first separated. They knew above all else they needed to keep things as normal as possible for Alejandro and Emily.
After they had settled into a comfortable routine, the women had rekindled a physical relationship as well. Mac justified it to herself that neither one of them had time in their lives for girlfriends. They both put everything they had into their kids. Moreover, being together as long as they had they both knew each other’s buttons in and out. If she stopped to think about it, Jess was the only woman that could press her buttons so quickly and so thoroughly. It was a matter of efficiency and practicality. They didn’t have to worry about any sexual diseases because neither one of them had slept with anyone else in over two decades.
It was safe, and consensual, and a much needed stress reliever. Well, that was what Mac told herself anyway. That’s why she never stopped to think about it too long lest she develop a different point of view on the situation.
She was brought out of her revelry by her daughter, “Mama!”
“Yes love,” answered Mac smiling.
“We invited Ma to breakfast, kay?”
“O K,” said Mac with an exaggerated nod of her head.
The three adults and two children ended up and Denny’s for their after church meal. After waiting in line for about fifteen minutes, they were seated with Kathy and Mac on one side of the booth and Jess and the kids on the other.
“How’s Tom?” Jess asked Kathy before taking a sip of her coffee.
“He’s fine,” she said smiling at the mention of her husband. “Still getting his workshop put together.”
“And Sam?” Jess queried again as she moved Al’s water glass from the vicinity of his elbow.
“Started his masters program and got a job with the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra. He’s sitting second chair but I told him I could knock off the other harp player if he wanted me too.”
“I got a letter from Allison the other day,” said Mac motioning for the kids to quiet down. “She says she’s doing well in London but misses everyone. Evidently the new hotel she’s managing is getting ready for their grand opening and things are busy right now.”
“It sounds like your children are doing well Kathy. Anyone heard from Stephen lately?” Jess asked.
Mac’s mother chuckled bitterly, “No, the ingrate. Last I heard he was still married to Summer and on the base in Coronado but God only knows where they are now.”
“Ms. Pigford says God knows where everyone is, all times,” piped up Emily.
“She does huh?” said Jess with an accompanying tickle. The little girl squealed softly then leaned into her mother’s side.
The rest of the meal went on without too much catastrophe. Al knocked over his orange juice but it was only half-full and then Emily tried to help clean it up by using her brand new white coat. Overall, it was a rather uneventful breakfast. The small family stood in the parking lot as they loaded the kids into Mac’s SUV. Jess was buckling Emily into her car seat when the little girl leaned forward and kissed her cheek.
Smiling Jess asked, “What was that for?”
“Love,” said the little girl brightly.
“Oh, well in that case,” and Jess grabbed the girl’s face, planting a raspberry on her chubby cheek. Emily squealed with delight and kicked her little legs.
“I hate to interrupt you two, but I know a couple of little people that need to get home so they can clean their rooms,” said Mac.
“Awww, mama,” whined Alejandro from the seat next to Emily.
“Yeah mama,” echoed his sister.
“I know, I know, I’m such a horrible mother,” laughed Mac.
Jess finished her goodbyes and stepped aside so Mac could pull the car out of its parking space. As they began to drive away, Mac paused and rolled the window down. “I almost forgot, the thermostat is on the fritz again. Can you come by later tonight and take a look at it?”
“Sure,” Jess said taking her keys out of her pocket.
“Plan on staying for dinner, I’m making meatloaf tonight.”
“Oooooo, you just had to go and sweeten the pot didn’t you?” replied Jess. The tall woman waved as the car pulled away carrying the three most important people in her life.
Jess knew she was still in love with her ex wife. She didn’t try to deny it, she just suppressed it. She didn’t think that Mac knew and that was just fine with her. Knowing everything about a situation only seemed to complicate things anyway. She stepped up into her truck and turned the ignition over. Deciding she didn’t want to go back to her apartment alone, she headed for the massage center. The center was a place she and Mac had started together a while back. After the break up, though, she bought Mac out with a loan from the bank and took on an assistant. The center was usually closed on Sundays but Jess liked to go there for the relaxing energy. She would meditate and study new techniques as well as make routine repairs. Mostly she used it as her personal sanctuary, a place where nothing could get to her, even if the thing plaguing her was her own heart.
Later that evening Jess arrived at what was now Mac’s house. “Hello,” she called as she walked through the open back door.
“We’re in here,” called Mac in response from somewhere in the house.
“Well that narrows it down,” Jess laughed. Continuing through the kitchen and into the dining room she finally spotted the kids lying in front of the TV watching a video. Mac was sitting on the couch with one of the romance novels she was so fond of reading. “I see the classics are still alive and well,” said Jess gesturing toward the DVD case of The Little Mermaid.
“Well, it’s Em’s favorite, and since this is her day to pick, that’s what we’re watching.”
Jess turned to the TV just in time to see Ursula rise up from the depths of the ocean. Emily gasped in surprise, even though she had to have seen this movie over a hundred times. Jess shook her head and asked Mac, “You said there was something wrong with the thermostat?”
“Yeah, it’s not working.”
“Well what is it not doing?”
“I don’t know. It’s not thermostating or whatever. I’m not the handywoman around here, that’s your job.”
“Are you gonna get your tools out Ma?” piped Alejandro from the floor.
“Yes I am, in fact, can you run out to the truck and grab my yellow tool box from the back?” Al nodded emphatically and ran for the back door. Jess walked down the short hallway of the home stopping at the thermostat and began to pull the cover off.
“I guess I should get dinner started,” said Mac to no one in particular. “Do you want to help me Em?” No response came from the four year old as she continued to be enthralled by the movie. “Just like your mother,” Mac mumbled walking into the kitchen, “turn on the TV and all ability to communicate is gone.”
“Did you say something?” called Jess from the hallway.
“No…just talking to myself.”
“Are you answering yourself yet?” Jess asked smirking as she poked her head around the corner into the kitchen.
“No, insanity has yet to take full hold on me.”
The back door banged open and Alejandro entered carrying a toolbox that was almost as big as he was. “I got it,” he said grunting and struggling to close the door.
“Well then let me get the door for you sir,” chuckled Jess as she moved to help him. “If you would be so kind as to take that into the hallway and dig out the flashlight for me. Thank you.” The ten year old struggled on through the kitchen and down the hallway being careful not to bump any of the corners with the toolbox. Jess turned a smile on her ex wife, “My assistant and I are not to be disturbed until dinner is ready.” A dishtowel was hurled at her head for her trouble, which she caught and placed on the island before following her son.
Mac laughed as she watched Jess leave the kitchen. Shaking her head, she got down to the task of making dinner. First things first, she put a CD in the player so she would have a little music to cook by. As she got out her loaf pan, her thoughts turned to her son. Alejandro loved it when Jess would take out her tools and work on a project. Whether it was building a table or Emily’s hope chest or just making random repairs about the house. He was always right there by her side, holding the flashlight our fetching some tool or another. It made him feel important to be helping his mother and based on his opinion, ‘contributing to the household’.
Jess popped her head around the corner again, “Has the furnace been working ok?”
“I don’t know honey; I haven’t had to run it because it’s been so warm outside.” After a second Mac froze when she realized what she’d said. The term of endearment had just slipped out before she could catch herself. She turned around to look at Jess, a little apprehensive about how she would take it.
“Don’t worry,” said her ex, a bittersweet smile on her face, “I know it wasn’t on purpose.”
As the woman disappeared back around the corner, Mac breathed a sigh of relief. Those little slips were happening more often these days. The first time it had happened Jess had gotten her hopes up thinking that maybe reconciliation wasn’t impossible. Unfortunately, a fight had followed the little blunder that dashed all of those hopes. Mac could still remember the look of disappointment in Jess’ eyes when she realized that Mac hadn’t said it on purpose.
Every once in a while a moment of regret, like this one, would rear it’s ugly head and Mac would find herself rethinking her decision to separate. Then the reality of the situation and the truth of why she left Jess would barge to the forefront of her mind and the lingering anger would effectively shut down all possibly encouraging ideas. What hurt even worse was that Mac was specific about the one thing that she would never forgive Jess for, and it felt like the woman had gone out of her way to make sure she’d done that and more. Deciding to stop her train of thought before it ruined her mood and her meal, Mac turned her full attention to her meatloaf.
A short time later Emily came into the kitchen, “All done,” she announced.
“Did it end happily like every other time you’ve seen it?” asked Mac. Emily nodded with a huge smile. “Good, I’m glad. Did you remember to put the movie back in the case?”
“That’s yes ma’am,” said Mac, correcting her daughter.
Emily’s smile fell slightly but with an encouraging look from her mother, it returned. “Yes ma’am.”
“Why don’t you help me by putting all of the silverware on the table?”
“Kay,” said Emily walking over to the corner of the room and retrieving a step stool. It was a special stool that Jess had made for the girl with her name carved into the top.
Mac hated to admit it but she had her own stool that Jess had made her to compensate for her short height. The stool that was made for Emily was partly a joke at her mother’s expense and partly a necessity. Both stools had their owner’s names carved into the top and had been stained in a deep merlot color to match the chair railing throughout the house. Mac hated to admit it but the thing came in handy, especially now that she didn’t always have Jess’ height to help her around the house.
She watched as Emily pulled the stool over to the silverware drawer and began removing forks. “How many people do we have for dinner tonight?” she asked the girl.
“Um…Ma, you, Al, and me,” said the girl ticking the names off on her fingers. “Four,” she announced proudly.
“Very good. So how many forks and spoons are you going to put out?”
“Four!” exclaimed Emily showing her mother the proof on her counted fingers.
“Good job, now get to it, you still have the plates and glasses to do too.” Emily saluted much like Jess had done yesterday and then returned to her task.
It wasn’t too long after the table was set that a whoop of joy was heard coming from the hallway. Then Al and Jess came skidding into the kitchen doing a happy dance.
“Who are the two most wonderful, smartest people you know?” asked Jess slapping hands with her son.
“Um…how many guesses do I get?” asked Mac teasingly. The two handy people stopped mid celebration, both turning with their hands on their hips. She let them simmer for a few seconds before conceding, “I’m just kidding. You two are the most wonderful, smartest people I know.”
“What about me?” asked Emily.
“You?” asked Jess, “Well you and your Mama are the two most wonderful and smartest people I know.” Mac had to look away from the love that was evident in Jess’ eyes when she turned to her.
The petite woman wiped her hands off on a dishtowel and then turned back around. “Who’s ready to eat?”
“Me!” exclaimed Alejandro and Emily.
“Okay, everyone is bathed, read to, had their drink of water, had their second drink of water, been read to again and is now on their way to being fast asleep,” said Jess coming back into the kitchen.
Mac laughed and turned from the sink where she was doing the dishes, “And it only took you three hours this time. I think that’s a new record.”
“I have been known to be persuasive,” Jess said smirking as she walked up to Mac and stood behind her. The shorter woman could feel the heat of the body behind her through her clothes and resisted the urge to lean into it. “I do recall being able to talk you into more than a few things in the past.”
Mac dried her hands and turned around leaning against the sink. “That is true, but only because I let you. I really just give you the idea and then let you think it was your own doing.”
“Oh really? So if I were to do this,” said Jess pressing the front of her body against Mac’s, “you would take credit for it?”
“Mmhmm,” Mac vocalized with a smile.
“And if I were to do this,” Jess said picking Mac up and placing her on the counter next to the sink, “that would also be your idea?”
“Mmmmhmmm,” Mac moaned out as the tall woman parted her legs to stand in between them.
“I must say, you’re a very smart woman to be doing all that and this,” Jess pulled Mac’s upper body forward and kissed her neck, “at the same time.”
“Yes…very smart…so smart I’m going to give you the idea of kissing me again on the other side.”
“You mean like this?” and Jess did just that, letting her tongue flick out and caress Mac’s pulse point.
“Yesss,” moaned Mac, “just like that. See how well you take direction?”
Jess grabbed Mac behind the knees and slid her forward bringing the apex of her legs in contact with the taller woman’s stomach. Mac wrapped her legs around Jess’ waist and pressed herself into the other woman. A groan escaped Jess and she captured Mac’s lips in a searing kiss, allowing her hand to roam of its own accord up the woman’s body and behind her neck.
The kiss seemed to go on forever, neither woman being able to dominate the other for too long. When they broke away momentarily, Mac began pulling Jess’ t-shirt out of her jeans, “We shouldn’t…not with the kids here.” Jess grunted her agreement as she started to unbutton Mac’s blouse and leaned up to kiss the woman again.
“Oh god,” Mac breathed when Jess released her mouth and lifted her off the counter. They began making their way toward the bedroom as Mac took over the job of undressing herself.
They had made it to the bedroom door when a shout was heard from upstairs, “Mama!” The two women froze to listen for footsteps coming down the stairs. When there were none, and the shout was repeated, Jess gently placed Mac back on the floor.
It was Alejandro. “Coming!” Mac yelled as she buttoned her shirt back up.
Jess stepped back to put some space between her and the flustered woman in front of her. “I should get going…before…”
“Yeah, I’ll um…I’ll call you,” stammered Mac heading for the staircase. She stopped before going up though and turned to watch Jess move into the kitchen. She took a deep breath to calm her hormones and listened for the door to close.
“I’m coming honey.”
“Don’t forget to stop and get ice on your way over tomorrow. I need it for the cooler I’m going to put outside by the pool,” said Mac into the phone.
“I won’t forget. I don’t like my Pepsi warm anymore than the next person. Besides, it’s not like there would be any place selling ice on Memorial Day weekend if I were to forget,” returned Jess playfully.
Mac paused a moment and then decided to ask, “Are you bringing a date?”
A few seconds passed before Jess answered, “No.”
“Come on Jessica. It’s been ten months. You need to start moving on, for both our sakes.”
“This isn’t really something I need you to talk to me about, let alone rush me into Mac,” said Jess a little irritated. Then hesitantly, “Why, are you?”
“Yeah…I invited her and her daughter.”
“Well how long have you known her? I mean are you sure you want her to meet the kids?”
“She already has…”
“What?” Jess yelled.
Mac took a deep breath, “Relax. She’s from church. Her daughter is in the same Sunday school class as Emily.”
“When did this happen?”
Mac could hear the hurt in Jess’ voice and part of her heart went out to the woman. “I’ve known her for a while but we didn’t start dating until last week.”
“I see…I’m happy for you.”
“Jess please don’t…”
“No I’m serious Mac. You deserve someone in your life.” Mac was surprised at the sincerity in Jess’ voice. “I’m just sorry…”
The sentence hung there until Mac broke the silence, “Yeah I have a feeling you’re going to be sorry for a while.” She didn’t mean it to be such a scathing remark. Silence was her only companion on the other end of the line, “Jess?” No answer, “Jess I didn’t mean…”
“Yeah I know. So I’ll see you around ten tomorrow morning to get the grill set up?”
Sighing Mac answered, “Yeah, sounds good.”
With a quick goodbye, Jess hung up the phone and set it down on her coffee table. She flopped back on the couch and tried to stamp down the feelings that threatened to erupt all over her apartment. It seemed that Mac was beginning to move on from their lives with little to no effort while she was being torn apart inside trying to forget what she lost. A little voice inside Jess picked that moment to interrupt her pity party with some truth, reminding her that she was the one that caused the loss in the first place and that she was only getting what she deserved.
Stopping that thought, she scrubbed her face with her hands and stood up. It was time for bed, although she didn’t think sleep was going to be a hospitable mistress tonight.
“Tom, can you watch the grill for me while I run in and get some more meat?” asked Jess picking up a plate.
“Sure,” said her ex father-in-law getting up from his lawn chair.
Jess continued across the lawn and up the back steps. Pushing open the door she said, “This may sound weird coming from a lesbian but I need more me…” She froze before finishing her sentence at the site before her. She had caught Mac and, what she assumed was her new girlfriend, kissing by the sink. Mac almost jumped out of the other woman’s arms when she realized who had come through the back door.
“Jess, aahhh…” stammered Mac as she tried not to blush down to her toes.
“I’m sorry for interrupting,” said Jess walking over to the refrigerator. She took her time retrieving what she came fore, giving her the opportunity to compose herself before turning to face the two women again. To say that seeing Mac in another women’s arms hurt was too much of an understatement to fathom.
“It’s not exactly the introduction I pictured but…Jess this is Rebecca, Rebecca this is Jess, my ex wife.”
Rebecca stepped forward and stuck out her hand, “A pleasure to meet you.”
“That statement there tells me she hasn’t told you why we separated,” commented Jess as she accepted the woman’s hand.
“Excuse me?” asked Rebecca.
“You’ll have to forgive me; I’ve been standing in the sun too long. It’s a pleasure to meet you too.” Jess held up her plate that was now full of steak, “Well, I have to get back outside, hungry people waiting.”
Jess made such a hasty retreat Mac could have sworn she saw a smoke trail follow her out the door. Turning back to Rebecca, she offered up an apologetic smile, “Could I offer you something to drink?”
The other woman leaned forward placing a comforting arm on Mac’s shoulder. “Relax; I have no expectations and a thick skin. Whatever she throws at me I can handle.”
“I’m sorry for putting you in this situation.”
Rebecca shrugged, “Eh, if it wasn’t me it would be someone else. However, the fact that I’m the one who gets to stay tonight while she takes the kids, makes it all worth it.” She leaned down and captured Mac’s lips again in another kiss that left the petite woman’s knees just a little weak.
Standing at the grill, Jess watched the two women through the kitchen window. She tried not to focus too much on the feeling of her heart shattering while she flipped the steaks again. Up until now, she had harbored an evidently false hope that perhaps she and Mac would be able to get back together, to reestablish their connection and make their family whole again. Now, watching Mac with another woman, she realized that there was no chance of that happening. For the first time since the separation, she experienced how deeply her mistake had affected her.
After she factored in all of the hurtful things said and all of the assumptions made, it all came down to one mistake, hers. Jess flipped the steaks again as she recalled the fateful conversation that had ended her marriage.
“Where were you?” asked Mac.
“Work, remember I called and told you Carol made a last minute appointment tonight? She is all stressed out over her daughter’s wedding,” said Jess coming through the door.
“Huh,” Mac uttered sarcastically, “funny, I got a different story.”
“What do you mean?”
“It must have been right about the time you were driving home. I got a call from Rachel.”
Jess froze at the name, not really daring to move.
“You won’t believe what she had to tell me, and believe me; she gave me all the sordid details.”
“Details about what?” Jess asked.
“Please don’t play dumb Jessica, not now,” said Mac running her hand through her hair. “I’m only going to ask you this once so make sure your answer is a good one. Did you sleep with her?”
“What? No,” said Jess genuinely shocked.
“Have you done anything else with her?”
There was no immediate answer from the tall woman as she dropped her eyes. Tears began running down Mac’s cheeks as she continued. “How could you? How dare you for that matter. What makes you think my love is something you have the right to trample over?”
“She kissed me, I didn’t want…”
“Did you kiss her back?” interrupted Mac.
“Did you flirt with her, touch her? Do you l-love her?” asked Mac with a hitch in her voice.
Jess cast her eyes down again, “I’m not in love with her.”
“Not now while you’re being yelled at but I’m sure you were while you were fucking her behind my back!”
“I never slept with her!”
There was a part of Mac that realized Jess was telling the truth, she could tell by looking into her eyes. However, that part was so small and had such a tiny voice that the hurt and anger overshadowed it. “You’re a liar,” said Mac in a very calm, very quiet voice.
“No, I’m not. We kissed and that was all. I did not sleep with her.”
“I don’t believe you, and besides, is that supposed to make me feel better? Oh no honey,” said Mac in a mocking tone, “I didn’t fuck her I just fell in love with her and kissed her.”
“You’re going to wake the kids.”
“No I’m not. MY children are at my mother’s.”
“Don’t you sweetheart me. You lost the right to call me sweetheart the minute you screwed up.”
“Oh like this is all my fault,” said Jess getting angry.
“I’m sorry, I think you’ve gone and lost your damn mind if you think that I played any part in your mistake.”
“Really? So you don’t accept any blame for the last six months. No blame for how stagnant the relationship has become or for the lack of time we’ve been spending together?”
“That’s your defense? I haven’t paid enough attention to you so you found someone else who would?”
“No! And as always you’re not listening to me!”
“Well excuse me, all that I seem to hear coming out of your mouth is blah blah blah I’m a damn cheater.”
“I didn’t cheat!” yelled Jess at the top of her lungs.
Mac backed up a little surprised. Jess hadn’t yelled at her like that in a long, long time. “Get out of my house. Get out and don’t come back until I give you permission.”
“It’s my house too…”
“Not anymore it’s not. You’ve lost that privilege, and you’ve lost me.” With that, Mac turned and stalked out of the kitchen leaving Jess standing in the doorway. In turn, Jess did the only thing she could do. She left.
Jess yanked her hand away from the grill when the burning sensation finally penetrated the fog that was masquerading as her brain. She looked at her knuckles, “Shit.” Walking over to the cooler she reached in and grabbed a handful of ice.
“Are you ok?” came a voice from behind her. Jess turned to see Rebecca standing there looking a little worried.
“Yeah, it’s just a little burn.”
“Can I see?” asked the woman holding her hand out.
“Why, you a doctor?” asked Jess offering up the burnt appendage.
“Pediatrician actually. I specialize in dealing with big babies,” said Rebecca turning the hand over to look and the knuckles. “It’s already starting to blister, do you know if McKenzie has any burn cream in the house?”
“You call her McKenzie?”
“It’s a habit I have, calling people by their name.”
“Everybody calls her Mac.”
“You call her Mac, to others she is McKenzie. Now about the burn cream.”
“I don’t know about the cream but she probably has something better,” said Jess searching for Mac. Spotting her standing only a few yards away she yelled, “Hey Mac, you still have lavender oil in the house?”
“Yeah…you burn yourself already?”
“In the downstairs bathroom next to the first aid kit.”
“Thanks.” Jess started for the house holding the ice on her knuckles. She noticed Rebecca following her, “I can take it from here Doc.”
“Don’t call me Doc, and I would like to take a closer look if I may. You might need a dressing to protect from infection.”
“Suit yourself,” said Jess kicking the back door open. The two walked into the bathroom and Jess popped open the medicine cabinet. “Ah, there it is,” she said grabbing the tiny bottle of lavender essence.
“I’m curious, why the lavender?” asked Rebecca standing in the doorway.
“It’s a natural remedy. It doesn’t cure the burn but it stops it from continuing to burn. Works even better with steam and oil burns that just seem to keep burning no matter what you do. Just dab a little on,” Jess said doing just that, “and…aahhhhh, instant relief.”
“She was right about you, McKenzie I mean,” said Rebecca crossing her arms.
“She said you wouldn’t fight me, metaphorically speaking I mean.”
“Do you always follow everything up with ‘I mean’?” asked Jess with a smirk.
“Only when dealing with people who I feel the need to simplify things for.”
Jess laughed, “Touché.” She then turned and sat on top of the toilet lid. “No, I won’t fight you. It’s not what she or the kids need right now, or ever for that matter. But make no mistake,” Jess said as her voice lowered an octave. “If you hurt her, or one of my children, I will see to it that you are never heard from again. And if you think I’m playing, try me.”
Rebecca had no doubt by the look on Jess’ face that she was telling the truth. “So noted, but I assure you it won’t come to that.”
Jess nodded once, “Good, because she doesn’t need another screw up in her life, she already has me.”
In spite of her intention to act as cool as possible toward Jess, Rebecca found herself feeling for the woman. “Here, let me take another look.” Jess offered her hand again and the pediatrician poked at the burn a little. “Let me wrap this for you just in case. You should be just fine in a few days but if it gets infected it’ll be a whole other issue.”
“The lavender helps with that too,” Jess said standing and retrieving the first aid kit.
“And what is it you do exactly?”
“I’m a massage therapist,” answered Jess perching herself on the edge of the sink.
“That explains a lot,” muttered Rebecca.
“I’m also an Aquarius, like long walks on the beach, and I’m a Buddhist too if that helps.” Rebecca just shook her head.
Mac stifled a laugh as she backed her way around the corner. She had heard the two women talking and stopped to listen. The petite woman sobered slightly as she replayed the conversation in her head. What she heard surprised her. She didn’t think that Jess took any responsibility for what happened to them. She knew it took a lot for the woman to even admit when she was wrong let alone take responsibility for a mistake. She put her thoughts on the matter aside and decided to return to the party. She figured that if Jess and Rebecca were going to kill each other they’d have done it by now.
Walking back out into the yard she found her mother sitting by the pool. “Everything ok?” Kathy asked.
“Yeah, Jess just burned her hand and Rebecca’s helping her bandage it.” Mac sat down in the chair next to her mother. “Mama?”
“Yes child,” her mother answered without lifting her head from the back of the chair.
“Have you noticed anyone else besides Jess that calls me Mac?”
Kathy thought for a moment, “Well your father and the rest of the family call you by your middle name. I’ve never heard any of your friends call you anything but McKenzie. So no, I’d have to say that I’ve never heard anyone else but Jess call you that. Why?”
Mac shook her head, “No reason, just curious.”
Just then, a big whoosh was heard and Kathy and Mac turned to see Tom jumping back from the grill as a fireball erupted. “If your girlfriend is done playing doctor, will you please tell your ex wife I said to get her useless butt out here and keep him away from the grill.”
“I’m on it,” said Mac jumping up from her chair.
“Cool!” she heard Alejandro exclaim from somewhere in the yard, “Do it again!”
A couple of weeks later Jess got a call from Mac on her cell while she was driving home from work. “What’s up? Are we still on for tomorrow?”
“That’s actually what I called to talk to you about,” answered Mac hesitantly.
“I really hope you’re not canceling on me. Your mother hasn’t taken the kids in almost a month and…”
“I’m sorry Jess, but I can’t.”
The woman driving sighed, “Alright, I guess I’ll just have to save up all my sexiness for next time.”
After a long pause Mac continued, “I also wanted to talk to you about that.”
“Okay, I’m listening,” said Jess warily.
“There can’t be a next time. Rebecca and I have decided to date exclusively.”
There was a pause on the other end and then, “I see. So you’re sleeping together now.” It wasn’t a question because Jess didn’t need her to confirm in order to know she was right. “When did that development occur?”
“I don’t really think that’s any of your business,” Mac responded a little irritated. As far as she was concerned, Jess had no right to know anything about her sex life.
“Oh, I get it. You were just using me to get your rocks off until something better came along. Perhaps you’re the one who should be giving me money every month. To pay for my services that is.”
“That was uncalled for!” yelled Mac.
“Really? Who’s the one that makes sure the house stays in working order? Who’s the one that’s been serving as your twenty-four hour handy man? I cut the grass, I fix what’s broken, I pick the kids up from wherever they may be when you can’t, and I pay you almost eight hundred a month in child support.” Jess smacked the steering wheel with the palm of her hand. “Not to mention that since our children are adopted, you still get a monthly stipend from the state that I never see a penny of!”
“Funny, I always thought that you got what you deserved for sleeping with your assistant!”
“I. Didn’t. Sleep with her!” screamed Jess and flipped her cell closed. “And she wasn’t my assistant, she was my employee!” she yelled to the interior of the truck.
“Mama?” said Emily peering around the corner of her mother’s bedroom.
“Yes honey?” responded Mac seeing the apprehensive look on her daughter’s face. She put the phone back in its cradle and patted the bed next to her for her daughter to sit down.
Emily scampered into the room and climbed up next to her mother. “Why were you yelling?”
Mac took a deep breath to calm her nerves, “Your Ma and I were just having a disagreement. But everything’s okay.”
Emily leaned against her mother, “Yelling is bad. Why do you yell at Ma?”
“Because sometimes she makes me very angry.”
“Like when she went to live at her ‘partment?”
Mac smiled bitterly, “Yes, like that.”
“You shouldn’t yell at Ma,” said Emily after a couple seconds of thought.
“Why’s that?” asked Mac a little too tired to care she was being lectured by her four year old.
“She’s lonely,” said Emily tracing little circles on the top of Mac’s thigh, “and sad.”
Mac started at her daughter’s very adult revelation, “Why do you say that?”
“’Cause she misses us, and when we’re at home, there is no one at her ‘partment to love her.” Mac was busy in thought when Emily asked, “Mama, what’s a sistant?”
“I she coming next weekend for forth of July?” asked Rebecca, wrapping her arms around Mac as she stood at the kitchen window watching the children play outside.
“I don’t know, she hasn’t said,” answered Mac turning in the other woman’s arms.
“Who else is going to keep your father away from the grill?” Rebecca mused.
Mac smiled, “In her absence that job would fall to you.”
“What’s her number?” asked the doctor making her way to the phone.
“Jess’ number, I’m going to call and beg her to come. Hell I’ll even pay her as long as I don’t have to be the one that makes sure Tom doesn’t blow up the back yard.”
“Put the phone down,” said Mac laughing. She made her way over to Rebecca and folded herself into the other woman’s arms. “She just needs space. As long as she takes care of the children I’m willing to give her all the space in the world.”
Rebecca released her girlfriend and walked around the island getting a glass from the cupboard. Mac almost got a warning out before she turned on the faucet. Unfortunately for the doctor, it came a little too late and when she engaged the faucet a stream of water erupted and sprayed her down the front of her upper body.
Mac tried to stifle her giggle, “I’m sorry. I forgot to tell you that the sink is broken.”
Rebecca pulled her shirt out of the waist of her pants and wrung it out over the sink. “Why do I not believe you,” she said with a half smirk. The back door flew open and Emily ran into the kitchen with Amber, Rebecca’s daughter, in tow. When the two girls saw the state Rebecca was in, they began to giggle. “I had an accident,” said Rebecca trying to find amusement in the situation.
“I’ll call someone to come fix the faucet,” said Mac moving to pickup the phone.
“Yay!” piped up Emily, “Ma’s coming over.” She turned to Amber, “If we ask her she might play shark with us in the pool.”
“Really?” asked Amber.
“Yeah. She’s way better at it then Mama!” exclaimed the little girl.
Noticing the unhappy look on Rebecca’s face Mac said, “I could call a plumber and have them come by tomorrow to look at it.”
“Tomorrow’s Sunday, if you do get someone to come out they’re going to charge you an arm and a leg.”
“But I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable,” said Mac sincerely.
“It’s not that I feel…," the pediatrician surrendered, “Call her. At least you know the job will be done right and she does work for food.”
“Yeah! Let’s get our suits on,” Emily said and then she and Amber rushed from the kitchen.
Mac dialed Jess’ number and waited for her to pickup. While she was waiting, she hoped that the woman had had enough time to calm down from their last conversation. Any kind of communication that transpired after the fight had been cool and almost professional. Nothing in Jess’ demeanor had changed toward the children, but she kept Mac at arm’s length.
On the forth ring she finally picked up, “Hello?”
“No, she’s in the shower. Hold on and I’ll get her.”
“What is it?” Rebecca asked seeing the stunned look on Mac’s face.
“Some woman answered the phone.”
“What?” Rebecca said looking for clarification. Mac waived her quiet as Jess came on the line.
“Um, hi. It’s Mac.”
“Are the kids ok?” Jess asked in a rush.
“Yeah, yeah they’re fine. I actually called to ask a favor.”
“No Sugar, the other cabinet…”
Jess chuckled, “Not you Mac, I was talking to Kayla. What do you need?”
“Oh? I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
“Nah, we’re finished. What can I do for you?”
Mac wrestled the phone from where Rebecca was trying to listen in, “Well, the faucet’s broken in the kitchen and every time I turn it on it sprays water all over the place.”
“And I was wondering if you could stop by today and take a look at it.”
“And if you leave right now I’ll be waiting naked draped across the island.”
“Do I have your attention now?” Mac covered the mic on the phone to keep Rebecca’s laugh from getting through.
“Veeeery funny. Hold on.” Mac heard the phone being covered up followed by a little rustling and a very feminine giggle. She only assumed it was Kayla seeing as how she had never heard Jess giggle like that. “Okay, what now?”
Mac sighed, “Can you come by today and fix the broken faucet?” After getting no response for a few seconds she offered, “You could bring Kayla and we’ll grill out. Em’s wanting you to play shark with her and Amber in the pool.” Mac turned to see Rebecca staring at her with a surprised look on her face.
“Let me check.” The phone was covered again and then Mac heard Kayla exclaim from the other line ‘I love kids’. “We can be there in about and hour.”
“Great, I’ll see you then,” said Mac and hung up the phone. Turning to Rebecca, she immediately recognized a look of mischief on the doctor’s face.
“Oh this is going to be fun,” Rebecca said with a huge smirk.
True to her word, about an hour later the front doorbell range and Rebecca opened the door to find Jess and a rather attractive young woman standing on the stoop.
“What’s up Doc?” said Jess.
“I suppose you think you’re being witty,” responded the pediatrician.
“Nah, I just know it bugs the hell out of you.” Jess turned to the woman next to her, “Kayla, this is Rebecca, doctor extraordinaire.”
Kayla offered her hand, “Nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” said Rebecca noticing how young the woman was.
Jess hefted her toolbox, “Well let’s get the faucet taken care of shall we?” The three women traveled through the house to the kitchen to find Mac and the two girls seated at the table playing a card game. “Hey Mac,” said Jess with a wave, “I’d like you to meet Kayla. Kayla, this is Mac.”
Jess’ date walked over and shook hands with the seated woman. “It’s so nice to meet you. Jess has told me a lot about you.”
“Hi Ma!” said Emily loudly.
“Hi sweet pea!” answered Jess. Then with a somber expression on her face she said, “You better go check the water in the pool. When I was coming up the driveway I thought I saw a dark shadow moving around on the bottom.”
Emily turned to Amber and whispered, “See I told you.” Then the two girls jumped from their chairs and ran for the pool.
“Don’t get in the water unless there’s an adult out there with you,” called Mac after them.
“Kay,” the girls answered in unison.
“Where’s Al?” asked Jess.
“He went to the beach with Bobby and his family. He won’t be back until late tonight,” answered Mac.
Jess nodded and moved to the sink. Rebecca leaned against the opposite side of the island as Jess stood between it and the counter. “So what’s going on with the faucet?”
“Turn it on and see for yourself,” said Rebecca turning around to face the sink, leaning her palms on the countertop with a smirk.
Jess turned the faucet on full blast and as she heard the irregular surge in water pressure, she stepped aside at the last moment. The stream of water shot across the island and hit Rebecca square in the chest. To Jess’ credit she kept a straight face as she quickly shut the water off and turned to the doctor saying, “I can see how that would be a problem.” Smirking, Jess picked up a dishtowel and handing it to Rebecca. The doctor snatched it from her and pressed it to the front of her shirt. “It’ll only take me a minute to fix this. The washer probably just needs replacing and it’ll be good as new,” she said turning to Mac.
“I’m going to go change my shirt…again,” Rebecca ground out as she walked from the room.
Once Rebecca cleared the threshold of the room Kayla and Mac burst into laughter. “That wasn’t nice,” Mac finally got out around giggles.
“I didn’t know it was going to spray all the way across the room,” argued Jess innocently.
“Somehow I don’t believe you.” Mac then looked out the window to the pool deck. “I better get out there, Em’s looking a little miffed that one of us hasn’t followed them out so they can swim.”
“Oh I’ll go,” said Kayla. “I already have my suit on just in case they splash.”
“Ok, thanks,” said Mac a little surprised that the woman offered.
“Kay, be careful,” said Jess bending down to her toolbox, “she may look small, but she’s feisty.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” said Kayla smiling as she walked out the door.
When the woman was out of earshot Mac turned to Jess, “She’s a little young don’t you think.”
“What do you mean?” Jess asked turning off the water under the sink.
“She looks like she’s still in high school.”
“No she doesn’t.”
“Yes, she does. What is she, like nineteen?”
Jess laughed, “I wish,” she mumbled under her breath. “She’s twenty nine and a successful business owner I might add.”
“Oh really? What does she own, a lemonade stand?”
“Ha, ha, no she owns a flower shop,” Jess grunted out as she bent down to her toolbox again.
“Which one?” asked Mac in a rush.
“That big one downtown, By Any Other Name, you know, the one on Gorman Avenue.”
Mac knew the place she was talking about, it was the best florist in town. “How did you meet her?”
Jess took a moment to think about what she was going to say. With a deep breath, she tested the waters. “One of my clients introduced me to her.”
“Oh? Which one?”
Jess faced Mac fully and fiddled with the wrench in her hands. “Carol. Kayla was the florist that did her daughter’s wedding.”
A surge of anger almost caught Mac off guard. Trying to calm herself she asked, “When did you two meet?”
“About the time you lectured me on getting on with my life.” Jess turned back to the task at hand.
Mac took a couple of deep breathes and calmed herself down. Just because Jess was going out with the woman who did the flowers for the woman she was supposedly massaging at the time she was cheating on her shouldn’t affect her quite this much.
“If I didn’t know any better,” Jess said interrupting her thoughts, “I’d say you were jealous.”
“Jealous? Of her? Oh I don’t think so,” Mac said shaking her head.
Jess unscrewed the faucet head and placed it on the counter. “Good, because I might keep her around for a while.” The woman looked out of the window over the sink and saw Kayla playing with the girls. “You were right you know.”
“About what?” asked Mac taken off guard.
“About me needing to move on,” answered Jess replacing the rubber washer. “Like you said, it wasn’t good for anyone involved.” She began screwing the faucet back on and stopped, “I still love you, you know? It just hurt too much to hope anymore.”
Mac’s anger deflated at those words. She would be lying if she said there wasn’t a part of her that wanted to get back together. Jess was familiar and safe, well to everything but her heart. Sometimes Mac thought that she would be willing to forget everything if she could just get back what they had.
Jess finished tightening the faucet and then turned the water back on under the sink. She lifted the handle and the faucet came to life, only this time the water went into the sink instead of across the room. “There you go, good as new.”
When Jess looked up Mac saw the hurt and pain in her eyes. “Too bad some things aren’t as easily fixed.”
Jess smiled slightly, “Yeah…too bad.”
“I hope you have that thing fixed because this is the last shirt I have with me,” said Rebecca rounding the corner from the bedroom. She stopped short when she felt the tension in the room and saw the two women looking at each other intently. “Is everything okay McKenzie?”
“Everything is great,” said Jess taking off her shirt to reveal her bathing suit underneath. “The faucet is fixed and just in time too. I have a feeling my little fish out there weren’t going to wait for me much longer.” She dropped her shirt on the counter and walked past Mac, who had yet to move. “Don’t be too long you two, you’ll miss all the fun,” Jess said as she exited the kitchen.
Rebecca stood for a moment and watched Mac then walked over to her and laid a hand on her shoulder. “Are you sure you’re ok?”
Mac turned and wrapped her arms around the doctor. “Yeah, I’m fine,” she said releasing her after a moment. “Why don’t you go ahead outside and get the grill fired up. I’m gonna get changed into my suit.”
“Sure.” With a quick kiss, Rebecca was off to the backyard and the shed that held the grill.
Out of habit, Mac picked up Jess’ shirt from the counter and folded it as she walked back to her bedroom. When she got there she noticed who’s shirt she was holding. Sadness enveloped her as she raised the shirt to her face and inhaled deeply. It smelled of Suave shampoo, sandalwood, and the ever-present lavender that Jess couldn’t seem to get out of her skin from the massage oil she used. In essence, it smelled exactly like the woman with whom she had shared twenty years of her life. The woman that she had loved with all of her heart, it smelled like her Jessica. Then Mac began to cry as she realized finally that Jess no longer belonged to her, she was no longer her Jessica, she was no longer her anything. That thought brought even more tears to Mac’s eyes as she changed to go join the party.
Rebecca had already dragged the grill out and gotten the coals lit by the time Mac made it outside. When the woman finally exited the house and walked over to Rebecca, the doctor asked, “Are you sure you’re doing okay?”
Mac smiled, “I’m fine don’t worry.”
“It seemed a little tense in there…”
“Jess was just explaining that she finally realized it’s time to move on.”
“That’s good news,” said Rebecca smiling.
“Yeah,” said Mac in a low voice as Rebecca wrapped and arm around her.
The two walked over to the side of the pool and sat in a couple of vacant chairs. Mac donned her sunglasses and leaned back against the canvas of the deck chair. At first glance, the woman looked as if she was napping, but behind the tinted glass, she was surveying her territory.
The girls were playing in the pool with Jess while Kayla sat on the sidelines cheering them on. Mac studied Kayla closely, noticing how trim and fit she was. The girl must work out on her off time to have a body like that and be a florist. Kayla trailed her feet in the water reaching down periodically to scoop the liquid up and over her thighs. Her blond hair shown in the sunlight as it shifted over her shoulders when she moved.
“She’s easy on the eyes,” said Rebecca interrupting Mac’s thoughts.
“I don’t know, I think her nose is a little too big.”
“Huh. She’s seems to be good with the kids,” offered the doctor.
“Should be easy for her, she’s not much older than they are,” Mac snipped leaning her head back.
Rebecca’s smirk went unseen, “You don’t like her?”
“I don’t know, I just met her.”
“She makes Jess happy,” said Rebecca just as the two women heard a scream. They looked over to see Jess out of the pool and chasing Kayla. The taller woman’s strides easily caught up to the blond and she found herself lifted off her feet. Kayla was cradled in Jess’ arms as the girls yelled from the pool for Jess to throw her in.
“Don’t you dare,” warned Kayla.
“What are you going to do, arrange me to death?” challenged Jess. “Oooooo, the great and powerful florist has threatened me, whatever shall I do?”
“Don’t make me hurt you,” Kayla said playfully.
“What do ye think me hearties?” yelled Jess to Emily and Amber. “Should I have pity on the lass, or throw her to the sea witch.”
“Sea witch, sea witch,” chanted the girls.
“You heard me crew, to the depths ye go,” and Jess tossed Kayla into the pool. The woman screamed until she hit the water and the girls dissolved into laughter. Jess then turned towards Rebecca and Mac, “Who shall be next, the good doctor, or the mermaid?”
The girls whispered to each other and then began shouting, “Doctor! Doctor!”
“Oh no,” said Rebecca getting up, “this doctor has got lunch to cook.”
When Rebecca walked off toward the grill, the chanting changed to, “Mermaid! Mermaid!”
Jess rounded on Mac and stalked over to her. “Don’t even think about it,” the petite woman said lowering her sunglasses. Not dissuaded, Jess bent down and hooked Mac under her knees while she placed an arm behind her back. “I’m warning you scallywag, you throw me in and you’ll be sorry.” The infectious nature of the play threatened to bring Mac out of her funk.
“What the crew wants, the crew gets,” Jess said as she stood with Mac in her arms. She stalked back over to the side of the pool, “What do ye say me crew?”
“To the sea witch!” yelled Emily.
Turning a look on her daughter Mac said, “Emily Rose, I am your Mama.”
“Sorry Mama,” Jess laughed, “your fate has been sealed.”
Mac felt the body beneath her tense and then she was thrown forward. Jess dropped her arms but before Mac went over the side of the pool she tightened her grip around Jess’ neck. This resulted in both of them falling in, one on top of the other. Mac spluttered to the surface, wiping the water from her eyes.
Looking around her, she didn’t see Jess. “Where is she?”
Kayla looked up from the side of the pool, a worried look on her face, “She didn’t come up.”
The reflection of the sun off the water prevented Mac from getting a good look beneath the surface. “Do you see her?”
“I’m looking,” said Kayla getting up from the concrete.
Just then, Mac felt something grab her leg and she screamed as she was lifted from the water. Jess broke the surface with a roar that sent the two girls into giggles. “Put me down!” yelled Mac, “Put me down now!”
“Okay, okay, hold your horses,” said Jess trying to keep a hold on the struggling woman. When she finally deposited Mac’s feet on the bottom of the pool the woman turned and slapped her hard in the shoulder. “Ow, what was that for?”
“You scared me half to death! I thought you were hurt and that you…you drowned.”
Jess realized that Mac’s distress was real which sobered her immediately. “I’m sorry sweetheart, I was just playing around.” Jess looked to Kayla for help but only got a cold stare in return.
“It wasn’t funny Jess,” Kayla said. “You could have scared the girls.”
“I’m sorry,” and turning to the kids, “I’m sorry if I scared you guys.”
“S’ok Ma, we knew you were fakin’.” With the declaration made, Emily and Amber went back to playing by themselves.
Jess turned back to Mac, feeling guilty at the hurt she saw in her eyes. “Don’t ever scare me like that again Jessica.”
“Burgers are almost done,” said Rebecca quietly from where she was leaning up against the fence surrounding the pool. She had come running when she heard the screams only to find Mac upset and Jess standing a little too close to her for the doctor’s liking. “Why don’t you see if you can get the kids to the table without frightening a year off their lives,” she said to Jess coolly.
Kayla approached quietly and put a hand on Jess’ shoulder, “Come on, I’ll help with the girls.” Jess nodded and turned, going back to the pool with Kayla.
“Are you alright?” asked Rebecca, not moving from the fence.
“Yes, I’m fine,” said Mac, more than a little irritated.
“Funny, you don’t seem fine.” Rebecca turned toward the grill once more and looked back at Mac. “I wonder who you’re madder at, her for scaring you or you for being so scared something happened to her.” Not waiting for a reply the woman walked away to join the others already at the picnic table.
Mac came home to an empty house. Her mother, thankfully, had taken the kids for the whole weekend knowing how hard the next couple of days would be on the woman. She dropped her purse and briefcase by the door, pausing for a moment to relieve herself of the horribly uncomfortable heels she was wearing. Getting a glass down from the cupboard, she reached way in the back and found her coveted bottle of tequila. Taking them both with her she made her way into her bedroom and through to the master bath.
The garden tub seemed to be calling her name so she turned the faucet on to run herself a bath. Deciding to go the distance, she lit the candles that stood like sentinels in the recessed shelves surrounding the tub. Jess had remodeled this bathroom for her as an anniversary present about five years ago. Mac had gone to a realtor’s convention earlier in the week but was scheduled to get back on the date of their anniversary. While she was away, Jess tore the old tub out and, with a little help from some friends, put the garden tub in its place.
Suffice it to say the tub had come in handy that night while they both soaked in it, holding each other, and made love. That year had been a good one and the time they spent together that evening was heavenly. Now this year, Mac would be alone on what would have been her twenty-first anniversary. She preferred the solitude, not wanting her depressing mood to infect anyone else.
Stripping off her clothes, she lowered herself into the steaming water slowly. She set her glass and bottle on the side of the tub within reach and leaned back putting a towel under her head. A deep breath escaped the tired woman as she poured a finger width of tequila in her glass. Taking the liquor in one swallow, she then sat the glass back on the tub and sunk lower into the water.
Two more days and it would be one year since she and Jess had separated. July twentieth, the date would forever be burnt into her memory as the day her dreams had fizzled into nothingness. The life she had built and the home she had made came tumbling down like a house of cards. The worst part of it all was that she couldn’t blame it solely on Jess. She knew that most of the blame lay with her ex for doing what she did, but Mac had had a hand in the events leading up to that night.
The couple had been suffering for some time before everything went to hell. They hadn’t been spending any time together, the kids were taking up all of their free time, and they had been fighting more than usual. The stress of work was getting to both of them, especially Mac who was dividing her time between the center and her real estate. Not only were they fighting all the time, but also their arguments seemed to be more hurtful than normal, reducing one or both of them to tears before it was done.
With all of that going on it was no wonder that they hadn’t been intimate with each other in too long. There was no lovemaking, no quickies, no sex of any kind. The closeness that they had become accustomed to seemed to vanish little by little as time passed until it was almost non-existent. Then that fateful night, when she found out that Jess had turned to another woman to get what was lacking in her life, the rest of her precariously balanced life fell to the ground.
Mac sighed deeply and poured herself another glass of tequila. All she wanted to do was revel in her sadness, get drunk, and pass out on her bed.
“McKenzie?” she heard called from somewhere in the house.
“Fuck,” she said to herself as she recognized Rebecca’s voice then sighed. “In the bathroom,” she called swallowing the contents of her glass.
“McKenzie? I tried to call you on both your phones and got no answer. Are you ok?” asked the doctor entering the room.
“I’m just tired; it’s been a long week.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. The flu is going around the elementary school and the middle school. We’ve been ushering stuffy noses in and out of the office all week long.”
“Were we supposed to meet for dinner tonight or something?” asked Mac knowing the answer was no.
“Um, no, I was so worried I called your mother and she mentioned that she already came by and picked up the kids. So I dropped Amber of at her grandmother’s house and picked up dinner on my way over.” Rebecca smiled slyly, “I must say, if I’d known you’d be in that position when I got here, I wouldn’t have stopped for dinner.”
Mac smiled ever so slightly, trying not to take her mood out on Rebecca. “I needed some time to myself, that’s why I didn’t answer the phone.”
The doctor sat on the edge of the tub and trailed her hand through the water. Picking up the bottle of tequila, she raised an eyebrow, “It’s a little early in the evening to be starting this kind of celebration isn’t it?”
“I’m not celebrating, so I don’t have to wait for the right moment,” said Mac sullenly.
Rebecca set the bottle back down and ran her hand through Mac’s short hair. “How about I put dinner away for later while you finish up here and then I’ll give you a nice relaxing massage. I’ll even warm the lotion for you, what do you say?”
Mac thought about it. She could stay in here feeling sorry for herself, or she could go into the bedroom and let a beautiful woman rub her down and probably have sex. Never being one to turn down a proposition like that she said, “I say that sounds like a good idea. Give me about ten minutes and I’ll be finished.” The doctor bent down and kissed her before heading to the kitchen.
Mac leaned back again against the tub wall. She really should try to have a good time tonight. Wallowing in self-pity never really helped anything and she deserved to be pampered every now and then. After a few moments, she stood up in the tub and pulled the drain to let the water out. Throwing her robe on she walked into the bedroom to find Rebecca already changed into a pair of shorts and a tank top.
“Are you ready your majesty?” she asked smiling at Mac.
Mac returned the smile as she lay down on the bed on her stomach. Rebecca pealed her robe back until it lay just below her hips. Taking some of the lotion in her hands, the doctor began a slow massage to the other woman’s shoulders. Her movements were slow and sensual and in a matter of moments, Mac was relaxing into her touch. Rebecca shifted on the bed and Mac felt her lower herself to lye next to her. She then felt the doctor begin placing light kisses along the top of her shoulder. Rebecca’s lips felt cool on her heated skin and soon they made their way up to her neck.
Rebecca lightly kissed her neck and flicked her tongue out to lick Mac’s pulse point. An image flashed in Mac’s mind of Jess doing the same thing to her in the kitchen only a few months prior. Pushing the picture from her mind, she turned over in Rebecca’s arms and pressed her body against the doctor’s. Rebecca responded in kind and caressed her lips against Mac’s, creating a heady sensation when her hormones and the tequila met. Mac deepened the kiss urgently, wanting to lose herself in the other woman. Rebecca was a little startled by the change but recovered quickly and followed Mac’s lead.
The petite woman maneuvered herself on top of the doctor and straddled the woman’s hips. Letting her robe drop from the rest of her body she began to undulate her hips slowly, pressing herself into the body beneath her. Another flash of Jess in the same position as Rebecca entered her mind as she quickened the pace of her hips. Mac grunted trying to rid herself of the memory. She sat up and ran her hands over Rebecca’s body ending up cupping both of her breasts. The doctor moaned and Mac’s brain morphed it into a moan that was way too familiar.
Mac couldn’t stand it anymore, “I can’t,” she said shaking her head as she stopped moving.
“I’m just not in the mood to do this.”
“You seemed in the mood to me,” countered Rebecca.
“No, I mean I’m not in the right mind frame.” Mac took a deep breath as she shifted to sit on the edge of the bed. “Tonight isn’t the best night to be doing this.”
“What, what do you mean? The kids are gone, we’re alone, we don’t have to go anywhere tomorrow, it’s perfect.”
“Yes, the atmosphere is perfect; it’s just the night that’s wrong.”
“What’s so special about toni…” Rebecca stopped mid sentence when she registered the hurt in Mac’s eyes. “Oh I see,” she said insulted, “I can have you every other night but the night you give yourself to the memory of the woman you lost.”
“Please Rebecca, I’m already hurting enough without you adding to it,” Mac said as she picked up her robe and draped it over her shoulders.
“Well excuse the hell out of me for not wanting to play second chair to your ex.” The doctor sat up, adjusting her clothes to cover her body. “You know, I thought it would pass. I thought the looks you shared and the cute little banter would die down after a while. I thought if I treated you well and gave you time to get over her you would eventually turn to me.”
“I just need a little more time,” said Mac pleadingly.
“Yeah? How long do you think you’ll need McKenzie? Because the rest of us have lives to get on with. We can’t all wait around for you like Jess does.” Rebecca nearly launched off the bed stalking over to her clothes and putting on her jeans. “What makes it even worse is you lead her on. She’s just as much a part of your life as she would be if you two were still married.”
“I have done nothing to make her think that I’m still interested in a relationship with her,” said Mac forcefully.
“Oh really? I’ve seen the way you look at her when you think no one is watching. A blind person could tell you’re still in love with her!”
“Of course I still love her; we spent half our lives together.”
Rebecca pulled her shirt down over her head, “Loving her and being in love with her are two very different things. You of all people should appreciate the significance in that.”
“What do you mean by that?” Mac asked pulling her robe closed.
“Do you think, based on how she feels for you, that Jess could have possibly fallen in love with that other woman? If you yourself hadn’t told me she cheated on you I never would have believed it.” Rebecca picked her keys up from the dresser and headed for the door.
“Please, don’t leave like this,” said Mac blocking her exit.
“McKenzie, I care for you, a great deal, but I’m not going to hang around and wait for you to decide if you feel the same for me. Either you do or you don’t. So take your time, figure it out, but don’t be surprised if I’m not around when you do.” With that said Rebecca left the bedroom and shortly after that, Mac heard the backdoor slam shut.
Mac quickly dressed and slipped on a pair of clogs. She needed to get out of the house, to go somewhere. She needed to separate herself from a house that was full of memories from a life that seemed long passed. Grabbing her keys on the way out the door, she got in the car and started to drive. She wasn’t heading in any particular direction. The driving calmed her nerves and allowed her to put her body on autopilot, to block out all thoughts and just concentrate on the road ahead of her.
She wasn’t aware of how long she drove or exactly when it started to rain outside. Sitting in the parked car, she looked out the window to find herself in front of Jess’ apartment building. Mac opened the car door and stood in the rain for a moment warring with herself over what she was about to do.
Her mind made up, she shut the car door and ran up to the building. Hitting the buzzer, she waited for Jess to let her in. The door clicked and Mac pulled it open to find Jess waiting in the hallway for her.
“Mac, what’s wrong?” Jess asked taking in the other woman’s disheveled appearance.
“I had to talk to you.”
“I don’t think I can take you yelling at me right now Mac. I’ve already had a hard enough time today as it is,” Jess said, hurt showing plainly on her face.
“You’ll want to hear what I have to say. Please.”
“Okay,” relented the other woman. “At least come in and let’s get you dry.”
Mac sat on Jess’ small couch, in her wet underwear, with a towel around her shoulders, watching the other woman as she laid her clothes out to dry. When Jess was finished, she came back and sat down across from Mac on the coffee table. “Mac, I know tonight must be hard for you but what’s so important that you had to come over here in the middle of the night through the poring rain?”
Mac pulled the towel a little tighter around herself, “I want us back…but,” she continued before Jess could say anything, “whether or not that happens will depend on what you tell me tonight.” Jess nodded her understanding. “Whatever you tell me tonight I with hold as truth, I won’t question it or analyze it. I promise you that whatever you tell me I will believe with all my heart, do you understand?”
Whatever it was that Mac was going to ask her, Jess realized that she was giving her carte blanche to tell her whatever story she wanted. Jess reached out and took the hand of the woman she loved, “You have my word, for whatever it’s worth, that all you will hear from me is the truth.”
Mac took a trembling breath, “Do you still love me?”
“Yes, with all my heart.”
“Are you still in love with me?” asked Mac after a few seconds.
“Yes, deeply in love,” answered Jess without hesitation.
Mac steeled herself for the answer to her next question, “Did you have sex with Rachel?”
“No, never,” said Jess again without pause.
Mac let out the breath she was holding and reached out caressing Jess’ cheek. The woman turned her head placing a light kiss on Mac’s palm and moved to sit next to her on the couch. Jess leaned in for a kiss but Mac stopped her with a hand on her chest, “We can’t.”
“Why not?” Jess asked staying right where she was.
“You and Kayla. I won’t be the other woman.”
Jess smiled, “There is no me and Kayla.” At the confused look on Mac’s face she continued. “I let you believe there was because…because I was being petty. Kayla and I are just very good friends. I could never get close to another woman when my feelings for you leave no room for anyone else.” Then, leaning in a little more, Jess kissed Mac with all the passion she possessed, trying to convey everything she felt in that one simple gesture.
The two women broke away and sat there staring into each other’s eyes. “I need you…I need you to make love to me,” said Mac wrapping her hand in the back of Jess’ hair. Granting her request, Jess went in for another kiss, filling it with as much love and passion as the first. As they kissed, they began moving until the taller woman was lying on top of Mac. She trailed her lips and tongue down Mac’s neck slowly, tasting every part of her as she went leaving goose bumps in her wake. Snaking her hand underneath the prone woman she unhooked her wet bra and slid it off her shoulders.
Mac’s nipples hardened when the air hit them and Jess bent low to cover one of them with her mouth. Jess lightly trailed her tongue over the firm nub, teasing it, making it feel almost painfully erect. The small woman’s hips bucked at the sensation of Jess’ warm mouth surrounding her cool flesh. Mac wrapped her arms around the broad shoulders in front of her and pulled the other woman closer, trying to absorb the woman into her body. Jess traced her fingertips around Mac’s other breast and then grasped it gently in her palm. Mac moaned arching her back into the touch. The sucking and gentle massage continued as Mac felt the pressure between her legs build to a blissful ache.
Letting go for a moment, Mac snaked her arms down Jess’ back and grabbed her shirt, pulling it over the tall woman’s head. Having been woken in the middle of the night, the woman was sans bra, and as the shirt was removed, her breasts were exposed to Mac in all their splendor. The prone woman reached out and palmed both of Jess’ breasts, massaging them lightly. Levering herself, Jess maneuvered her body and lowered herself down between Mac’s thighs. The small woman’s hips bucked again when her center met the soft skin of Jess’ stomach. “Oh God,” breathed Mac.
The heat radiating from the body underneath her was almost the tall woman’s undoing. Trailing her hand down Mac’s stomach, she stopped at the top of her underwear and hooked her fingers in the waistband. She tugged lightly and relieved Mac of her underwear. Jess tossed them aside and settled back into the spot she just left causing a repeat of Mac’s response.
“I’ve been dreaming of this moment for too long,” Jess whispered in Mac’s ear. Capturing her lips again, the two women tasted each other thoroughly, breathing each other in. Jess wanted to envelope the woman she loved, to absorb her very being. She wanted Mac to experience such pleasure that she would never want to separate from her again. She wanted the woman to feel the love she felt for her, feel it flow through her and surround her heart.
“Please… off,” Mac panted pulling at the top of Jess’ pajama bottoms. Jess rose up just enough for Mac to get her fingers into the top of the pants and push them down her body. As Jess lowered herself back on top of Mac, she shifted bringing her head even with the apex of the smaller woman’s thighs. Jess reached up taking Mac’s hand in hers and looked her in the eyes. After a brief pause she lowered her head to trail kisses across the other woman’s stomach and down her inner thigh.
Mac grabbed the back of Jess’ head and wrapped her fingers in her hair, pulling her head closer, letting her know what she desperately wanted. Needing no other invitation, the tall woman lowered her head once again, lightly trailing her tongue up the center of her lover’s folds. Jess reveled in the taste of her partner. She had missed experiencing this particular intimacy more than she realized. Mac’s hips bucked and she moaned long and low at the contact, her body remembering exactly what this woman was capable of doing to her. The tall woman tasted her again only this time she anchored her smaller partner with her other arm, wrapping it around her waist. The sensations exploded behind Mac’s eyes as she came so quickly it surprised even her. She had never felt so connected, so alive before. Every cell in her body sang with pleasure at even a hint of a touch from her lover.
Jess road out Mac’s first orgasm but did not relent, continuing to run her tongue over the swollen flesh before her. Mac’s hips moved of their own accord and Jess matched their rhythm for every rise and fall. Releasing the hand she held, Jess slowly entered her lover pausing only a moment at her entrance to prepare herself for the exquisite feeling. Her fingers slid through the wetness and were enveloped by strong muscles that seized onto them like a vise. Mac moaned low in her throat when she felt Jess slide into her, opening her slowly, and causing her to involuntarily clench a fistful of the hair she held onto. “Oh god,” someone said but neither woman could tell who it came from.
Jess stroked her fingers inside of the woman eliciting more sounds of pleasure. Knowing her lover well, she timed the strokes of her fingers and her tongue the way Mac liked them. She began to feel the muscles around her fingers contract and relax and knew that the small woman was near climax. Thrusting her fingers deep inside of Mac, she held on as the body under her arched and the climax hit her hard. Jess moaned as the muscles around her fingers contracted in waves of orgasm. Her own release came a few seconds later as the feelings coursing through her body were too much for her to handle.
Mac finally took a gasping breathe and fell back to the surface of the couch. She was surprised at the feeling of loss that hit her when she felt Jess slide her fingers from inside of her. She grabbed at the taller woman, drawing her up her body and into her arms. The tears came unbidden from Mac and flowed onto Jess’ neck as she held the woman she loved. “I’m so sorry for causing you so much pain,” said Jess in a husky voice.
“I know you are honey,” whispered Mac.
“I swear to you…I will spend the rest of my life making it up to you.”
Jess led Mac to her bed and with a passionate kiss; the lovemaking began again, lasting until a few hours later when they both collapsed from mental and physical exhaustion. Neither woman awoke until many hours later. It was Mac who first joined the land of the living.
Although the two women had had sex after their separation, they had avoided actually sleeping in the same bed with one another. Now, as Mac gently rolled over to face Jess, she realized she had more than missed the feeling of safety she got lying in her love’s arms.
Resting her head on a broad shoulder, she wrapped her arm around Jess’ midsection. The taller woman shifted slightly, automatically molding her body around Mac’s smaller one and pulling the woman closer. The stillness of the apartment coupled with the sound of Jess’ heartbeat slowly began to lull Mac back to sleep. That sound was Mac’s favorite next to the laughter of her children. The sound reassured Mac everything was going to be okay.
It would be a slow process, but after the last year, and everything Jess did to prove to her that she still loved her, she accepted that Jess’ heart beat only for her. Falling asleep with that knowledge gave Mac the most peaceful rest she had in a long time.
The End…for now.
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