A Season of Change

September

Mac looked out of her kitchen window at her family playing in the pool as she reflected on the last month and a half. She and Jess decided not to make their reconciliation public knowledge as of yet. They both reasoned that they needed time to sort out their feelings as well as the details of getting back together. They also didnít want to put the kids through any more change unless they were absolutely sure everything would work out all right. So far though, things were moving along at a nice pace and the two women were happy with each other.

Jess, to her credit, realized that all was not perfect and that she would need to prove herself again. Mac explained it as best she could telling her that although she believes she didnít sleep with Rachel, that she still cheated. They spent a few hours discussing why Mac felt the way she did and she was surprised that Jess didnít discredit or invalidate her opinion. The tall woman took it for face value and told Mac that she would do everything in her power to prove herself.

So far, she had done just that. Jess began wooing her ex wife the next day, discreetly of course, by sending her little love notes, leaving chocolates in her bag after they would meet, and even sent flowers to her office disguised as a grateful client. Mac was almost giddy, feeling like she did when they were first dating.

Thankfully, neither one of them were stupid enough to suggest that they refrain from sex during this time, and it was a good thing too, the intimacy theyíd shared over the weeks was like non-other. Trying not to throw their regular lives out of balance too much proved difficult coupled with dating anew. Even though they wanted to spend more time together, they were afraid to expose themselves prematurely to their friends and family.

Most of their meetings took place at Jessí apartment when they were able to get away. They would usually have dinner and talk, learning about each other all over again. The two women promised each other from the beginning not to hold back and it proved to be very stimulating to say the least.

Mac picked up her romance novel from the counter and walked out to the pool. She listened to the childrenís laughter as she pulled a deck chair into the shade.

"Ma! Look how long I can hold my breath under water," yelled Alejandro.

"Go ahead Iím watching," said Jess. The ten-year-old boy took in a huge lungful of air and disappeared underneath the surface. About ten seconds later, he spluttered back up gasping for air. "Wow! That was amazing," Jess exclaimed, "you must be practicing."

"Yup," said the boy nodding with a huge smile.

"Thatís yes maíam," corrected Mac from her chair.

"Yes maíam," Al mumbled.

"Better," Mac encouraged.

The boy went back to his practicing as Emily got both her mothersí attention. "Watch me!" she exclaimed right before she jumped off the side of the pool. Her arms were forced above her head slightly as her arm floats supported the majority of her weight.

"You are becoming quite the daredevil," said Jess. "Maybe weíll get you jumping into the deep end soon." A look of fear came over her daughterís face. "But only when youíre ready sweet pea." Emily, being reassured, smiled and got out of the pool to jump again.

Jess hauled herself out of the pool and wrapped her towel around her waist. "Well folks, Iíve got to get going."

"Aw Ma!" said her kids in unison.

"Donít 'aw maí me. Besides, youíll hurt your Mamaís feelings," said Jess laughing as she walked up to Mac. "Will I still see you later tonight?"

Mac lowered her sunglasses and smirked. "What do I get if I decide to grace you with the glory that is me?" she asked playfully.

The tall woman pretended to think it over. "Perhaps I can come up with an idea that would make it worth your while your highness."

"Iím sure you could," laughed Mac. "Where are you off to anyway?"

"I have a late client today," answered Jess slipping her sandals on.

"Oh," said Mac hesitantly. Every time Jess mentioned having a client outside of normal business hours, she automatically became suspicious. It seems to be an involuntary response that, for the life of her, she was unable to rid herself of. "Who is it?"

"Your boss Taraís husband William," answered Jess not noticing Macís change in mood. "Evidently he just got done playing a golf tournament and his lower back is giving him some trouble. Tara called me yesterday and asked if there was any way I could fit him in before the long weekend. Seeing as how heís in a tight spot, I told her to send him over this evening and I would help him out."

Mac immediately began to feel ashamed. "Well that was nice of you."

"You know me, just chalk full of niceness," Jess chuckled grabbing her clothes and keys from one of the tables.

Changing the subject, Mac asked, "Youíre sure you want to make our announcement at the party tomorrow?"

"MacÖI thought we already discussed this."

"We did butÖhold on Iíll walk you out." Mac then turned to the pool, "Hey you guys, itís time to get out and get changed for dinner." She was answered by a round of complaints and then 'yes maíamsí as the kids exited the pool and headed into the house. Mac then followed Jess around the corner of the garage to her truck.

"So whatís going on?" the taller woman asked.

"Iíve just been thinking that maybe weíre rushing things. Maybe we should wait a little longer before we tell everyone weíre back together."

"Why? I would think our friends and family would be happy for us. Come on Mac, itís been over a month. What better way to celebrate Labor Day than to stop laboring over this issue?"

Mac made a face, "That was truly lame and didnít help your cause at all."

Jess smiled, "Okay, how about this then?" she said looking around for possible witnesses. The taller woman leaned over a placed a loving kiss on her exís lips. "I know I love you, and I know you love me, and I also know that thatís all we need to make this happen. I would personally like to share with other people the fact that Iím still madly in love with you and that you have so graciously decided to give my loser ass another chance at happiness."

Mac turned inward to her thoughts, and her doubt. She wasnít quite sure everyone would be so receptive. There was also a part of her that didnít want to appear gullible for taking back a person that cheated on her. She almost made herself laugh imagining them being on an episode of Oprah title 'Lying cheaters, and the women who love themí. "I wish I could be a sure as you are."

"What do you mean?"

"Iím taking a big risk here Jess, I just donít want to embarrass myselfÖ" Mac stopped talking when the other woman began scrubbing her face with her hands.

"I thought we had moved beyond this," said Jess sounding irritated.

Mac went on the defensive, "Weíll move beyond it when Iím good and ready."

Jessí expression softened and she put up her hands, "Okay, okay, Iím sorry. If you need more time then weíll wait. I donít want to rush you," she soothed, hugging Mac to her. Placing a quick kiss on the petite womanís forehead Jess said, "Iím sorry to skip out but I really have to go. Weíll talk more later ok?" The tall woman waited for Mac to nod and then opened the door to her truck, climbing in.

Jess watched as Mac waited for her to pull out of the driveway before turning towards the house. The look on the other womanís face was one of uncertainty. Part of Jess wanted to force the issue and make Mac stick to the original plan but she was afraid that if she made one false move she would tumble from the other womanís good graces. The thought of loosing all of the ground sheíd made up was unbearable. Jess hoped that they wouldnít have to wait too long; she was way too old to be back in the closet.

Pulling her cell phone out of her pocket, she dialed her motherís number. After a few rings, the answering machine picked up and spouted its generic message. At the beep, she began to leave her message, "Hey Ma itís me. I was just calling to talk soÖ"

She was interrupted by a clatter on the other end and then her motherís voice came on the line, "Hey homo, whatís going on?"

"Hey, nothing much, I just had something I wanted to talk to you about. What are you doing?"

"Getting ready to go to a BBW event."

"Is Mario going with you?" she asked, inquiring about her mother Terriís boyfriend of over twenty-five years.

"No, he has to work. So what did you want to talk about?" Terri asked.

Not quite ready to get into that conversation just yet Jess tried to stall, "I also wanted to catch up and make sure everyoneís ok."

"Uh huh, well your sisterís pregnant again."

"Whatís this make, her sixth?"

"Yeah, at the rate sheís going theyíll start to walk out fully grown," Terri said laughing. "Madison started back to college, only too happy to get out of the house."

Jess smiled at the mention of her eldest, and favorite, niece. She and Madison had bonded almost instantly after the child was born despite the fact that Jess lived almost a thousand miles away. "Good, itíll help her maintain her sanity for as long as possible."

"I have her number at school around here somewhere; remind me next time you call and Iíll give it to you. You need to call her, oh one who is incapable of keeping in touch. "

"Hey, I keep in touch with you donít I?"

"Only because youíre under threat of death."

Jess laughed, "No, itís because I love you and treat you like the queen you are."

"As it should be," Terri said in her regal tone. "So are you going to tell me why you really called or do I have to wait for the second coming?"

"WellÖI wanted to tell you that Mac and I have decided to get back together."

"Uh huh."

"Well what do you think?"

"Oh you want my opinion. Well my first question is how you managed it?"

"What do you mean?" Jess asked offended.

"I love you but I wouldnít have taken you back after what you did," Terri said with a chuckle.

"Thanks so much," Jess mumbled.

"Well Iím not going to lie to you. I give McKenzie credit for being a bigger person than I am." Jess heard her mother switch the phone to her other ear. "I would be on your toes if I were you. Any little slip up and sheíll have an excuse to put you out on your ass again."

"Thatís my mother, always encouraging," Jess said sarcastically.

"Would you rather I make it all out to be hearts and roses?"

"No," Jess reasoned after a moment.

"Plus it has to be embarrassing to be known as the kind of woman that would take back a cheater."

"I didnít cheat Ma."

"I know, but unless you have proof of that to show everyone else, they donít. I would seriously think about what youíre doing Jessica. Because if you canít prove to her beyond a doubt that you didnít do what she thinks you did, no matter how hard you try, she will always have doubts about you. Can you live with that for the rest of her life?"

Jess thought for a second, "I love her too much not to try."

"Then I would say go for it, but donít do it half ass. You put all of your effort into it or donít even start, understand me?"

"Yeah, I got you."

"Alright homo, I have to go drown myself in the shower before I leave."

"Okay, have fun," Jess said smiling.

"I will, besides, how can I not with all the liquor Iím bringing? Talk to you later. Love you."

"Love you too."

Jess flipped her phone closed and laid it on the seat next to her. Her mother always had a way of making her see the big picture. She also had a way of making Jess feel miniscule in size compared to the picture her mother painted. "I guess thatís why sheís Mom," Jess said to herself.

Pulling up in front of the center, she parked the truck and climbed out. The bell above the door rang as she entered and her assistant looked up from the front counter. "Hey Gina, youíre here late," Jess said walking in and picking up the mail off the counter.

"Hi boss!" said her always-bubbly assistant. Jess just assumed the perpetual good mood came with the territory of being twenty something and she couldnít remember that far back. "The late afternoon yoga class ran a little over so Iím just finishing up closing the register."

"Gina, weíve talked about you locking the door when you do that."

"Sorry boss, Iíll try and remember next time," Gina said, her smile faltering a bit.

"Please do, I donít want to come in one morning to find you dead on the floor. It would be one hell of a mess to clean up before my first client gets here," Said the tall woman with a smile.

"Why are you here so late?" Gina asked as she put all the cash in a bank envelope.

"Got a call from a desperate client; you know me, never could say no to someone in need."

"Yeah, generosityís in now, so consider yourself fashionable."

Jess laughed, "What are you up to over the long weekend?"

"Sean and I are going out the Cape Hatteras for a party. One of his college buddies rented a house out at the beach for the weekend."

"Sounds like a good time. Well, if youíre done you can take off. I can finish up."

"Really?" asked Gina smiling, "Cool! Thanks boss."

"Itís nice to know that though I may be old Iím still cool."

Gina giggled and picked up her backpack, slinging it over her shoulder. "Later boss," she called as the bell rang signaling her exit.

The girl was young but she was an amazing assistant with both the ability to organize and multitask. She had been invaluable to keeping the center running and Jess paid her accordingly. Gina always joked that her boss was paying her way through college. Jess figured it was a good investment seeing as how this woman would probably be running her nursing home.

The tall woman made her way back into one of the massage rooms and started putting fresh sheets on the table. As she worked, she thought about what her mother had said. Was she asking Mac for too much? Mac was the one that came to her asking to end the separation. But did she really know the ramifications of her request? Doubt clouded Jessí thoughts as she turned on the towel warmer and started the CD player. They would obviously have a lot to talk about tonight.

*************************************

"Jess," called Mac backing in to her loverís apartment. When she turned around to face the interior of the apartment, she found the lights dimmed and a small table for two set up in the middle of the room. Standing next to the table in a nice suit was her ex wife, holding a bottle of very fine wine with a rather sexy smirk gracing her lips. "Whatís all this?" Mac asked.

"Reservations have been made for you and a guest, please come in and have a seat." Mac dropped the two large bags she was carrying and walked over to the table as Jess pulled a chair out for her. "This eveningís menu includes shrimp cocktail with Remulade sauce, jerk chicken coupled with sweet potatoes and steamed vegetables, along with chocolate mousse for dessert." Jess moved Macís chair forward and laid a napkin across her lap. "Would you care for a glass of wine my lady?"

Mac laughed pleasantly, "Why thank you, I would love some."

Jess poured a generous amount and said, "Your appetizer will be out presently."

"Oh waiter?" asked Mac.

"Yes Maíam."

"Do you know when my dinner guest will be arriving?"

"Yes maíam. She called ahead to let you know that sheíll be here shortly and that you should begin without her." With a short bow, Jess disappeared into the small kitchen. Mac could see her remove her jacket and roll up her sleeves before she came back out. "Woo," Jess said mock panting as she got to the table, "thought Iíd never make it."

Mac let out a full laugh, "What is all this about?"

"Since Iím not able to take you out to a nice dinner, I figured Iíd bring the dinner to you," Jess answered taking a drink of her water. A sadness fell upon Macís features. "It wasnít a dig; I just wanted to do something different to treat you."

"Why?"

"I talked to my mom today, about us, and before you get upset cut me a little slack. I needed someone to use as a sounding board okay?"

"Go on," Mac said softly taking a sip of her wine.

"I told her about us getting back together and she proceeded to make you out to be a saint. She told me that if it were her, she wouldnít have taken me back."

Mac almost spit out her wine, "Why?"

"The embarrassment mostly, and the inability to trust me ever again." Jess reached out and took Macís hand. "All Iím trying to say is that I understand why youíre hesitant to announce it to everyone. I wish I could change things to make it easier for you but, despite my efforts, the world doesnít revolve around me, and all of my ideas for time travel have failed." Mac chuckled and squeezed her hand. "We will wait until youíre ready before we tell anyone."

Mac breathed an inward sigh of relief. No matter how many times she thought about letting everyone know, she couldnít bring herself to act. "Listen, I know it may seem like Iím ashamed of you or us, but that isnít the case. I just want to get everything right in my own mind before I have to face anyone else."

"I know. Now I think itís time for some food. Oh waiter?" called Jess getting up from her chair.

Mac smiled despite the feeling she was expecting too much of her ex. She just hoped that Jess was telling the truth about how long sheíd be willing to wait.

**********************

The bell above the door of the center rang as Mac walked into the lobby. Gina looked up from behind the counter to see who the new arrival was. "May I help you?"

"Yes, Iím actually here to see Jess," said Mac coming to stand in front of the young woman.

"Sheís with a client right now, is there something I can do for you?"

"Do you know when sheíll be finishing up?"

Gina looked at her watch, "Probably in about five minutes, if youíd like you can have a seat and wait for her," offered the assistant with a smile.

"Thank you, Iíll do that," Mac said smiling in return. She walked the few steps to the waiting area and sat down. The place hadnít changed much since the last time she was here, even though that was over a year ago. It still had an atmosphere of complete relaxation and calm, which undoubtedly had something to do with why clients seemed to show up early for their appointments.

Mac grabbed one of the magazines from the small coffee table and thumbed through it. If failed to hold her interest however, consisting mostly of massage products and what she deemed 'new age crapí. Mac heard Jess before she saw her.

"Try not to do anything too strenuous today okay? You donít want to undo all of the progress weíve made," Jess said amongst the sound of her heavy footfalls.

"Oh donít worry. The only thing I have planned for the rest of the day is laying on the couch watching TV," said the client, keeping pace with the tall therapist.

"Good, you deserve the break." Jess stopped at the counter, not having seen Mac, and spoke with Gina. "Letís schedule Mrs. Welch for her next appointment in about two weeks."

"Sure thing boss, Mrs. Welch, how does your schedule look around the first of October?"

As the lady made her appointment arrangements, Jess noticed the shadow of a waiting client in the lounge area. She was surprised to find that it was Mac, "What are you doing here?"

"Hello and nice to see you too," Mac said with a smile.

"Iím sorryÖI just never expected to see you hereÖever."

"I was in the neighborhood and thought I would drop by and invite you to lunch. That Italian deli is still open around the corner isnít it?"

"Uh yeah," Jess stammered. "Let me check the schedule." Mac followed Jess back around the corner and over to the counter as her last client exited. "Gina, how much time do I have until my next client?"

"Uhmmm, about forty five minutes. Mr. Lancaster is due in at one, and youíre booked solid 'til five o'clock after that."

"Looks like I either eat now or forever hold my growling stomach," Jess mused. Mac cleared her throat quietly. "Oh Iím sorry. Gina, this is my ex wife Mac. Mac, this is my amazing assistant Gina."

Mac held out her hand to the young woman, "Itís a pleasure to meet you."

"Oh you too, the boss talks about you and the kids all the time. Itís nice to finally be able to put a face to the name," chuckled the assistant.

Macís growing discomfort at the daily presence of this woman, around her ex, faded a little. The fact that Jess talked about her here was a little surprising. She had always figured that the woman had kept the two aspects of her life separated. Now that she thought about it, she didnít know why she assumed what she did.

"Weíre going around the corner to the deli; can we pick you up anything?" Jess asked Gina.

"No thanks, Seanís bringing me lunch. Iíll probably eat in the office just in case we get any walk-ins."

"Alright then, consider me out until one."

"Will do boss."

Jess and Mac exited the center and began walking towards the deli on the corner. "Boss?" queried Mac, more than just a little amused.

"I know, she insists on calling me that. After the first few hundred times of doing it to annoy me, it became habit. I got used to it after a while and now I barely notice."

"I like it," Mac said laughing. "Itís like youíre the don of some big massage mafia or something, Boss Jess, or Jess 'the bossí Connor. Quick, quick, make me an offer I canít refuse."

"Ha, ha, you are so funny," said Jess as Mac dissolved into giggles.

They arrived at the deli and placed their orders then sat down at one of the small tables to wait for their sandwiches. "So what did you want to talk to me about?" Jess asked opening her bottle of water.

"What makes you think I want to talk to you about something?"

Jess gave Mac a sarcastic 'pleaseí look. "I know you. You donít show up out of the blue, especially to a place you swore youíd never set foot in again, unless you have something on your mind."

Mac avoided an immediate answer by taking a drink of her Coke. After she swallowed she said, "I need to ask a favor."

"So youíre bribing me with lunch?"

"No," Mac denied smiling, "more like sweetening the pot."

"Iíve always thought your pot was sweet enough," smirked Jess. Mac blushed a little at the comment. "Itís good to see I can still do that to you." Jess gave the woman a moment to recover before asking, "What can I do for you?"

"I was wonderingÖ"

"Order up!" called one of the people behind the counter. Jess held up a finger to Mac and got up to retrieve their lunch. Mac took the moment to try and arrange her thoughts. The tall woman returned to the table and the minute her butt hit the seat Mac rushed to get it all out.

"IwantedtoknowifyouwouldbeupsetifIhadRebeccatakemetotheannualrealestatedinner?"

"Wo, back the nervous train up and run that by me one more time," said Jess unwrapping her sub.

Mac huffed out a breath, "Would you mind if I asked Rebecca to take me to the annual real estate dinner?"

Jess froze mid bite, not looking up at Mac. After a second, she followed through and slowly chewed, never making eye contact. "I didnít know you and she were talking."

"Only for the last month and only at church," offered Mac. "Emily is good friends with Amber and I didnít see why mine and Rebeccaís history should keep them apart."

"Does she know about us?"

"No."

Jess scoffed, "Donít you think you should tell her. She might get the wrong idea if you ask her out on a date."

"Itís not a date. Besides, we came to a mutual agreement, we make better friends."

"Uh huh."

"Well I canít take you and this is my night. I would like to go with someone I can have fun with." Mac softened her voice, "She was good to me."

Jess thought while she chewed. There was no way she could go with Mac and not have everyone in the neighborhood talking by the next day. Moreover, the annual dinner was a big deal in her office; it was when the yearly awards were given out. No doubt Mac was going to receive one this year and Jess could understand wanting to have someone with you to celebrate. Mac deserved to be able to spend a nice night out, being recognized for her achievements.

"Not that you need my permission, but itís alright with me."

"Really?" Mac asked warily.

"I give you my blessing," said the tall woman, doing her best Marlon Brando impression. Mac smiled in relief, and amusement at how bad the impersonation was. "Is that all you needed?"

"UmÖno."

"With all the hedging youíre doing youíre going to need a pair of clippers soon."

"Smart ass."

"Matches my brain," Jess said with a grin.

"Fine, then can your brain and your ass baby sit the kids that night?"

"And the truth comes out."

"You know I just use you for your body and the immense amount of free time you seem to have."

Jess laughed, "Taking advantage of the fact that I have no life. Nice."

Mac grinned knowingly, "So will you do it?"

"Can we stay at your house instead of coming back to my apartment?"

Mac finally settled into her chair and began eating. "Sure," she said in between bites.

"Can I help you celebrate when you get home?" Jess asked suggestively.

"Maybe."

"Can I do that thing with my tongue you like?" Jess was answered by the sounds of choking.

October

Mac exited the dressing room for the tenth time that day. She had been shopping all morning trying to find a dress for the banquet that evening. Jess and the kids had left her long ago to wander around the electronics department. For the most part the store was empty today; the only people there seemed to be her and the sales people. Having found her outfit for the evening, she began making her way through the store to look for her family. As she got closer to electronics, she heard music coming from one of the stereos that seemed to be a little loud. After a few seconds, she recognized it as the theme song from Footloose. Knowing Jessí affinity for eighties music, she could only assume the tall woman was behind the auditory assault.

Mac walked around the end of one of the isles to find a few of the employees gathered around her children and Jess, watching them dance. Her obviously unabashed partner was, along with Emily, doing the telltale dance that Kevin Bacon became known for while Alejandro played the part of Ox or Moose or whatever the other guyís name was. One of the salespeople looked up at Mac and asked, "Can I help you maíam?"

Mac shook her head, "No, Iím afraid to admit Iím here for them," she said pointing to the dancing trio.

The man laughed, "Theyíve certainly broken the monotony around here."

Mac looked on as Jess performed the particularly intricate dance move of dipping both children without banging their heads on the floor. Before the tall woman could right herself, she spotted Mac and froze in place bent toward the ground. Emily and Alejandro both looked in Macís direction and froze as well.

"Weíve been spotted," stage whispered Jess, "deploy operation inconspicuous." All three straightened up and immediately pretended to be looking at an item on the shelf that was nearest them. Jess looked over to Mac non-chalantly, "Oh, youíre done already?"

The group of salespeople laughed as one turned down the radio and they dispersed back to their corners of the store. Mac shook her head looking to the man still standing next to her. "I apologize for their rude behavior," she said shooting a glare at Jess who shrugged her shoulders.

"No apology needed, it was a pleasure to see someone having so much fun with their children." Another customer entered the area and walked to the counter. "Well, let me know if thereís anything I can help you all with, if youíll excuse me."

Mac turned on Jess with an embarrassed smile, "I see you found a way to keep yourselves occupied. And I was worried youíd be bored."

Jess looked to her children and then back at Mac, "We can be very resourceful when left to our own devices. It would be prudent for some people to remember that next time they decide to make a quick stop by the store to get an outfit."

"Okay, okay, Iím sorry it took so long. How about I make it up to you guys by buying us lunch at McDonalds?"

Jess bent down and whispered in her childrenís ears for a couple of seconds. After she got a response she asked, "Can we sit in the playground area?"

Mac sighed, "Yes, we can sit in the playground."

Emily whispered something into Jessí ear. "Can we get happy meals?" Jess asked.

"I think that can be arranged."

"What about sundaes?" Alejandro asked.

"Weíll see," Mac warned.

The three huddled again and then broke away. "We accept your offer," Jess said with a smile.

"Good, now letís go before you decide to put on another performance."

***********************

"Ma, whenís Mama gonna be home?" Emily asked, swinging her feet as she sat in a chair at the kitchen table.

"Not until late tonight sweet pea, after youíre in bed." Jess moved around the end of the table and sat next to her daughter putting down her plate of food.

"Oh," said the girl with a fallen face.

"Why?"

"Because we have a surprise for Mama," said Alejandro chiming in, "and we wanted to give it to her tonight."

"I see, well, I think it will be ok if you give it to her tomorrow." Jess smiled at her daughter as the girl considered this. With a nod, Emily decided it was acceptable and continued eating. "What did you guys get her?"

"Canít tell, itís a secret," answered Emily with a mouth half full of food.

"Donít tell your Mama I let you talk with your mouth full," said Jess after she took a bite of her own cheeseburger. "A secret huh?" Both children grinned widely and nodded their heads. "So secret you canít even tell me?"

"Sorry Ma, we swore," said Al.

"Yeah, crossed hearts and hooked pinkies and everything," continued Emily.

"Wow, that is serious. I guess you shouldnít tell me then," said Jess with a playful frown on her face. "Iíll just be the only one left out." She looked to both her children pouting, putting on her best act.

"It wonít work Ma," said Al.

"Yeah, it wonít work Ma," echoed her daughter.

"Thatís ok," said Jess writing something down on a napkin with a pen she picked up off the table.

"Whatícha doiní?" asked Alejandro.

"Making a note to myself. I want to make sure and remember this when my two lovely children try to pump me for information on the location of their Christmas presents."

"Ma!" they both whined in unison. Jess just laughed and tucked the napkin in her pocket.

**********************

Jess heard Rebeccaís BMW pull into the drive a little after ten. The doctor had volunteered to drive tonight just in case Mac wanted to drink at the party. Looking around the bedroom, Jess decided everything was in order for her surprise and walked into the living room. She continued into the kitchen and out the back door to make sure the porch light was on. As she exited the house, she looked to the driveway to find Rebecca and Mac standing in front of the headlights to the doctorís car. Before she could call out a greeting, Rebecca bent down and kissed Mac, trailing her hand up to the shorter womanís neck.

Before the rage encompassed Jess, she registered that Mac was unresponsive to the kiss and tried to break away. The tall woman came flying through the screen door and down the steps making it to the two women just as Mac was able to push Rebecca off. "What the hell are you doing?" asked the angry woman.

"Take it easy, I didnít do anything she didnít give me permission to do," said Rebecca putting up her hands.

"Anyone ever tell you youíre a bad liar?" said Jess rhetorically.

"You would know," shot back Rebecca with a disgusted glare. Jess grabbed the front of Rebeccaís suit jacket and shirt and pushed the other woman backward until the backs of her knees met the bumper of the car.

Mac was almost too shocked to speak. She was saying goodnight to her friend and then all of a sudden Rebeccaís lips were on her own. She never saw it coming. She also never thought she would ever see the day that Jess would physically attack another person either. "Jessica! Let her go!"

Jess pulled Rebecca a little closer, "What gives you the right?" she growled. Every fiber in her being wanted to knock the smug look off the doctorís face.

"Come on Jess, I thought you believed in karma. You get what you give and all that," answered Rebecca with a hint of a smirk.

As the words left the doctorís mouth Jess felt her resolve slip away. She surged forward lifting Rebecca up and all but slammed her down on the hood of her car. The smirk immediately left the doctorís face.

"Jessica, Jesus Christ!" Mac ran forward wrapping her hands around the larger womanís arm and pulling but nothing happened.

"What makes you think that for one second Iím going to let you have what Iíve fought so hard to get back?" Jess didnít wait for an answer before she let Rebecca go with a jerk. Stepping back she almost ran into Mac who was still holding on to her arm.

Mac took one look at Jessí face and could see the barely controlled anger there. "Rebecca, I think you should leave," she said gesturing to the woman still lying across the hood,

"Iím not leaving you here with her like thatÖ"

Mac put herself in between the two women as Jess stepped forward again. "For the record, I did not ask you to kiss me and I want you to leaveÖnow."

"Youíre not serious about getting back together with her are you?" asked Rebecca as she stood up from the car.

"Thatís none of your, or anyone elseís, business," answered Mac.

"I give up," yelled Jess throwing her hands in the air. Mac turned to see Jess stalk off into the house and emerge a few seconds later with her keys.

"Jess waitÖ"

"What for? You canít even tell her weíre back together. Even after what she just did and how she disrespected both of us. I donít know whatever made me think that if I just gave you enough time you would make a grand announcement and I wouldnít have to sneak around about the fact that I love my own wife!" With that, Jess wrenched open the door to her truck and jumped in turning the engine over.

Mac stepped aside as she watched Jess tear out of the driveway and down the street. "Shit!" She then turned and leveled a glare at Rebecca, "Why are you still here?"

Rebecca shook her head as she walked around to the driverís side of her car and got in. Mac watched as she pulled out of the driveway and then continued into the house. She couldnít believe what had just happened and as she started to review the last few minutes, she became increasingly angry. Angry at Rebecca for her sense of entitlement and Jess for losing her temper so badly. Truthfully, she was angry with herself for letting things get so out of hand. When she thought about it, she realized that Jess was right about her not being able to tell anyone about them. Mac was sure Jess thought it was because she was ashamed of her but in reality, Mac was ashamed of herself. She was embarrassed to let anyone find out that she had taken Jess back after what she did. She could see the disapproving faces of her family and friends and co-workers when they found out. Then she got angry with them for judging her when they had no right.

Mac busted into the bedroom as she took off her shirt but was stopped cold at the door. Her shoulders slumped in defeat as she looked around the room. Jess had lit candles and sprinkled rose petals on the bed and Mac knew within her heart of hearts that if she were to look in the bathroom there would be a bath already drawn with candles and scented oil. There was even a bottle of champagne chilling in a bucket of ice beside the bed. Mac knew that was for her because Jess never drank.

Mac walked over and slumped down onto the bed kicking her shoes off in the process. Things were just all screwed up and Mac had no idea about how to put them right again. All she knew was that she had no inclination to spend the night alone in a bed that had Jessí name written all over it. Deciding to sleep on the couch tonight, she grabbed a set of pajamas from her dresser drawer and went into the bathroom. Sure enough, there was a full tub of water that smelled lightly of lavender. On the counter was vase of a dozen roses with a note attached.

Mac pulled the note from the bunch and opened it:

All of the roses in the world couldnít express how proud of you I am.

            Love, Jess

Mac couldnít help but cry as she clutched the note to her chest and walked out into the living room.

The EndÖfor now.

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