WARNING: This is a Uber story. All characters are figments of my imagination. Any similarities to living or dead individuals are unintentional.
VIOLENCE WARNING/DISCLAIMER: The violence in this story, is not into gross or gory. There are fight scenes. Please feel free not to read if violence of any kind bothers you.
LOVE/SEX WARNING/DISCLAIMER: This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depiction's of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.
Florence Warlord was watering her rose bushes, and glanced up when the Mustang came up the gravel drive. A large welcoming grin immediately bloomed on her face. She resembled her brother, Trevor, with the brilliant blue eyes and raven hair, the telltale traits of a Warlord. In her early fifties, Flo, was the picture of robust health and vigor. The hose forgotten, she ran to the car as Dru climbed out. Two very strong arms captured the young writer almost before she could extricate herself from the vehicle.
"Dru! My goodness, why didn't you call to let me know you were coming?" Flo beamed, while holding her niece at arms length checking for any changes in the child she raised. "You're still as beautiful as ever, in fact I think you're almost glowing." Dru blushed under the observation, and tried to direct the scrutiny away from herself by motioning for her companion to join her.
Kasey smiling shyly came up beside the two women, her lover winked. Blessing her with a quiver of excitement straight through her stomach. Dru finally untangling herself from her Aunt, "Aunt Flo, this is my friend, Kasey."
A strong hand clasped Kasey's in a confident grip. Flo beamed at the two younger women. She flashed a puzzled grin first at Dru then at Kasey. Then nodded to herself. Something definitely was up, and Flo's heart raced at the possibilities.
"Nice to meet you, Kasey. Any friend of my niece's is welcomed in my home." She couldn't keep from glancing at Dru then to Kasey and back again, the smile never leaving her face, but a softening filtered into the blue eyes. "Well, come on inside so I can catch up on everything you've been doing."
Dru breathed a sigh of relief when Aunt Flo hadn't mentioned the shooting. The older woman hated the local newspaper, so unless Flo watched the news on television she wouldn't have known about Dru's brush with death. The writer knew she would have to tell her and soon before she heard it from someone else. She should have phoned but so much had happened after ending up in the hospital, then she just plain forgot. Sighing internally, she tried to formulate how to break the news to her Aunt. Inside, Flo directed both women into the kitchen. The taller woman scanned what used to be her home.
"Are you girls hungry? I have fixings for sandwiches it wouldn't take hardly any time to set them out." She asked, while watching her niece and Kasey settle around the kitchen table.
Dru smiled, "When have I ever turned down food?"
Flo nodded, "That's true, and I'm glad some things haven't changed." She went about placing turkey, black-forest ham, and roast beef on a platter. Lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles on another plate. "This is very informal, I hope you don't mind, Kasey?"
"Not at all, informal is my middle name," as she inconspicuously slid a hand onto Dru's thigh under the table while Flo's back was turned. The woman started at the touch. The reaction threatened to make the proofreader giggle, forcing her to stifle the tendency immediately.
Flo placed a jar of mayonnaise and plastic bottle of mustard on the table. Dru squeezed the hand on her leg before getting up to retrieve utensils and napkins. "Thanks honey, now sit down and make yourself a sandwich. You too, Kasey, dig in."
Dru put two slices of bread on her plate. She looked up catching Kasey watching her. Emerald treasures stealing her heart. She remained lost in the feeling for a moment before she remembered Aunt Flo. Then forced her attention back to building her sandwich. Stabbing two slices of turkey, she stacked them up on one slice of bread, then added salt and pepper, and finally a dollop of mayonnaise. Kasey screwed up her face when Dru cut the sandwich in half and raised it to her mouth. Seeing her expression, "What?"
"Oh, nothing." Kasey answered, and began putting her own sandwich together. She started with the black-forest ham in a thick layer topped with a glob of mustard. As she brought it to her mouth, she saw the expression on Dru's face. One arched dark eyebrow, almost made the younger woman spew her mouthful of ham sandwich across the table.
"What brings you up this way?" Flo asked, as she poured tea for all of them, then sat down again.
"Remember Iggy?" asked Dru around a bite of turkey, as Kasey concentrated on swallowing. Flo nodded.
"River Day Publishing editor and owner. So what is she up to this time?" Flo took a sip of her tea.
"She's having a writer's retreat for women. I thought I would give her a thrill and accept." Answered Dru with a smirk, her blue eyes twinkling in Kasey's direction.
Flo chuckled loudly, "You've got to be kidding? You never accepted before, so what's so different this time." Dru quickly glanced up at her partner then back to her Aunt.
"Well, it's like this, Aunt Flo. I needed a break and it came at the right time." An expression of disbelief flitted over Flo's face, but she remained silent.
Their lunch completed Flo asked if Kasey would like to see the grounds. She motioned for Dru to go off somewhere and leave her to ask those questions that only family had a right to ask. Dru groaned and knew she was in big trouble. Kasey didn't need to be subjected to the narration of Dru's first tree climbing experience, or the first fort she made, or the practice area she and Carl spared in. But Dru did as she was told and made herself scarce. She wanted to check out her old room, and maybe the old tree house.
Her room was exactly the way she left it years ago. Aunt Flo hadn't changed a thing other than new paint on the walls. Amber color oak wood of the four poster bed and dresser gleamed from waxing. She ran a hand over the smooth wood. With it traveled memories of her first nights of crying herself to sleep. A lone and thinking she would ever be happy again. She had only met Aunt Flo a few times and didn't remember those well. Now she was expected to live with this person. Her tears were so hot her hand, even now, went to her face expecting to feel them. On the dresser her high school picture in its filigreed silver frame forced old pain back to the surface. At graduation, the lost of her parents and brother never pained her more than when she moved into adulthood and college. But Aunt Flo and Carl were there, and they had become her family. Flo was a fair woman, but very strong in her opinions of raising a child. She had never married, and was just as befuddled having a ten year old suddenly thrust upon her to raise as Dru having to be that child. It was a learning experience for both of them. One not knowing what to do with a child and one yearning to have someone make her feel safe and loved. It made for an interesting tug-of-war between the two strong personalities. Dru was never one to back down from an argument if she felt she was in the right regardless who she faced. Carl said they were like oil and vinegar. Though both were separate and didn't mix well, in the end the combination would make a great salad dressing. And in the end they did.
Dru sighed heavily to the room, with the different memories boomeranging around in her head. She thrust the ones of her parents and brother away. Something she had learned to do over the years. That kind of lost and pain wasn't easy to endure, but there wasn't any other alternative. She had learned to live with it the best way she knew how.
She opened the small black, lacquered oriental jewelry box. Her hand froze in mid-movement. The sunlight from the window glinted off the white gold band with repeating circle design. She knew the inscription without having to look. I will love you forever… Blaine. She hated coming home. She hated having to face the pain that she could almost forget when she was in Monterey. Enough distance and time should have blunted the hurt and yet as she looked at the ring she was afraid. She was more afraid now than she had been when facing the pistol aimed at her chest. Could it happen again? Everyone she ever loved died. Why did it happen always to those she loved? So far she hadn't found the answer. A shiver ran down her spine as she walked to the window. The images of childhood memories played out on the large field of grass and trimmed trivets. Trees surrounded the abode and even from here she could spy out her former haunts in the old oak.
At least there were some good times to soften the edges of pain. Carl had been a good thing. He had taught her become one with nature, he would say. The first time she heard him explain it she laughed, which didn't get the best response back from the easy going man. He had high cheek bones, brown eyes and dark tanned skin. He knew exactly who he was. To Dru, Carl, was the wisest person she had ever met, and he was Aunt Flo's handyman around the farm.
Beyond the trees were fields of vineyards. It had taken Flo and Carl twenty years to build the vineyards up to where they were now. Things were going well for Flo. She grew the best wine grapes in all the San Joaquin Valley. The wineries from as far as Napa made bids on her crop. Though it had been hard since Carl died, Aunt Flo was holding everything together quite well. But then she was a Warlord.
Kasey and Flo walked into view. Flo was waving her arm, indicating the old oak, despite herself, Dru smiled. The proofreader appeared to be enjoying herself. The writer watched her every moved, the slight crinkle of her nose if she thought something was gross. Flo was probably telling her the story about when Dru found the huge cockroach. Aunt Flo almost fainted dead away when her charge handed the three inch insect to her. How was the girl suppose to know her aunt had an aversion to the oval, flat body long legged, insect? Just one touch of the antennae in the palm of the woman's hand sent the roach high into the air. That stunt earned Dru a week of being grounded.
Kasey's soft laughter filter through the opened window. The writer liked the way the smaller woman moved, with a hip rolling sway. It also made her think about when they made love. The thought took her breath away. The younger woman had been so trusting, and the open honesty touched the deepest recesses of her heart. Not even Blaine had done that, and the realization made her feel guilty, like she had betrayed Blaine's memory in some way
Kasey liked the smaller version of her partner, and enjoyed finding similarities between the older woman and her lover. Their walk and mannerisms were very much alike. Both had a certain self assurance. Seeing this other side of her partner was exciting. And decided if Dru did take after her aunt, then she would age very well indeed. The woman leading her around the acreage of her farm exuded strength and confidence. She also noticed the writer and the matron both walked with the same familiar gait.
"So tell me how did you and Dru meet?" Flo opened a small gate for Kasey to pass through.
Kasey smiled without even realizing it when she started talking about Dru, and Aunt Flo didn't miss it. "We met at a Publisher's Party."
"Oh no, she hates those things." Standing with arms akimbo leaning against the fence, Flo watched the younger woman.
"I know. It was so funny to watch her work the room. I bet she doesn't even know the effect she has on people." A dreamy gaze glassed over Kasey's eyes.
"No, she doesn't realize the effect she has on people." The older woman smiled. And suddenly Kasey realized the double meaning to her words. She hoped the flush up her neck wasn't too obvious.
"Ah, yeah, well… "
Flo lean over and patted her arm, "Honey, I would have to be blind not to see how you feel about my Dru." Worry came into duplicate blue eyes she loved. "I'm happy for both of you, if this is what both of you desire." Flo rubbed the younger woman's arm a little, then dropped her hand to her side. "I'm thrilled beyond words to see Dru caring again. After Blaine she closed herself off from everyone, even me."
Blaine? Who was Blaine? Oh boy, pass loves poking their heads up. A little knot of jealousy almost broke through, but she held it in check. Of course Dru would have had other lovers. No wonder she was so good at what she did. The writer could arch an eyebrow in her direction and her body would instantly react with such impact she wanted to melt into her strong arms. Was that normal? She didn't know because the fact was Dru was her first. She was embarrassed to admit to Dru that she was still a virgin, especially at her age. Not that she didn't have her opportunities, but she hadn't found anyone she wanted to go all the way with. The first time was supposed to be special, right? Well, that's what she thought, and it was very special with Dru. And she was glad it had been the writer no matter what happened to their relationship. "What? Oh I'm sorry, I kind of spaced out on you there, didn't I?"
Flo grinned, a little mischievous twinkle in her eye, a reflection of one Kasey knew very well, "Like you said, Dru has a special effect on people."
Kasey knew her cheeks were blazing. "Ah, yeah."
She took pity on the proofreader, "Tell me, how did you end up in Monterey?" Flo's boot hooked on the bottom board of the fence for balance as she watched the young woman.
"I have always wanted to live there, and when I found out there was a market for my abilities I jumped at the chance to find out. After graduating from college I bounced from one job to another. Nothing kept my interest." She remembered the expression on her parent's face when she announced she was heading for California. Her father wouldn't even talk to her. It was time for her to spread her wings and fly off to live her own life, which really didn't set well with her family. Her sister, Ricky, knew how Kasey felt, but dreaded being left behind to garner the rants from her folks after. Ricky also gave what money she had saved up and stuffed it without her older sister's knowledge into Kasey's wallet. The first time Kasey noticed was on the bus heading to California. She was checking her funds when this larger wad of cash bulged in a sleeve of her wallet with a sticky note attached. Dream a little dream for me, Ricky. It was enough to bring her to tears. She gave Flo a smile, "Are you sure you want to hear all of this?"
"Of course, it's my duty to look out for my niece. I would hate to think she's fallen for someone who doesn't reciprocate her feelings." The largest grin spread across the older woman's face.
Shock. "I.. um.. I don't know what to say, but I would never take advantage of Dru's affections, honest." She looked the woman directly in the eye. "Never!" She hadn't expected Flo to be so direct, but at least it was out in the open what she felt for the writer.
"Good, I'll hold you to that." Flo moved forward and wrapped her arms around the younger woman. "Welcome to the family, and I'm so relieved that Dru has finally allowed herself to love again." Kasey returned the hug, in wonder of it all. She knew she loved Dru, but not until she confessed it to Flo did she realized how much. They parted and Kasey looked at her feet struggling desperately with what she wanted to ask.
Should she wait and ask Dru? Kasey didn't want to hurt Dru, and her old lovers weren't any of her business, but she was curious. "Flo did Dru love Blaine?" She asked in a very small voice.
Flo studied the strawberry-blondes face, "Yes, very much so. I thought she was going to die when she lost her. Dru blamed herself for what happened, though for the life of me I don't see why. No one could be in two places at once. The witnesses said there was nothing she could have done." Flo touched a leaf on the bush next to her and rubbed the dust off of it. "Dru wanted to die and no one, not even Carl or myself, could help her. That's when she decided to move to Monterey. She stayed long enough for the funeral, then told me good-bye." The older woman's voice wavered slightly. "I thought it was the last time I would ever see her. When Carl died she came home for the first time since Blaine's funeral. She wore her mask of invincibility, the one where she doesn't want anyone to touch or be close to her. That was over a year ago."
Oh God, Kasey couldn't believe her ears. How horrible for Dru. She wanted to go find her partner right then and hold her, to make her feel loved and safe. She realized Flo was speaking.
"When she came here to live after losing her parents and brother, I thought I would never get through to her." A small smile played at her mouth while remembering. "I wasn't the easiest person to live with, and children had been something I hadn't considered. Then Dru came into my life turning everything topsy-turvy. One day I realized how empty my life had been without her." She fell silent, and scanned the vineyard.
Kasey felt an odd sensation, as if someone was watching her. Lifting her eyes, she spied in the trees two very blue eyes studying her. Dru was sitting in what appeared to be an old tree house. Flo followed Kasey's gaze and found Dru at the end of it, and smiled to herself.
"You go on and find Dru, I need to take care of a couple of things." The older woman left Kasey still absorbed in her partner. The young woman wound her way through trivets and rose bushes to the base of an ancient oak the thickness of the height of an average man. A rope with knots hung from a limb, which appeared to be the only means up to where her companion was perched. She pulled herself up one knot at a time until level with the branch. A strong arm reached out directing her onto the sturdy wooden platform. The first thing she did was to throw her arms around the taller figure.
"Mmm, this feels good." Kasey heard a soft rumble of laughter from the chest under her ear. Separating slightly she looked around, "Hmm, nice view." Spread out below were neat rows of grapevines which ended up against a canal levee. Everything was lush and green. "Did you come up here often?"
"Oh yeah, usually when I needed to be alone." Dru eased herself down, leaned back against the tree trunk, and extended her legs, crossing them at the ankles. She patted the area next to her. Kasey settled herself next to her companion, laying her head in the curve of Dru's neck. An arm encircled her shoulders.
"Did you build this?" Kasey wrapped an arm around Dru's middle, holding her closer.
"Carl and I did. It was one of those things he said would help me calm my inner frustrations."
"So did it help?" The pulse in Dru's neck was calm.
"Yes, one of the few things that did." The arm around Kasey squeezed her slightly.
"I wish I had known you then." The young woman thought maybe if she had been there, she could have help Dru through the pain she endured as a child.
"Me too." The proofreader felt the pressure of lips upon her head, and closed her eyes relishing the warmth of their relationship. Could this get any better?
"Good morning, Carla." Iggy reached out for the messages her secretary was handing to her.
"Good morning, Ms. Pinkerton. There were two cancellations and the caterer said she would have dinner ready by seven." Carla watched her employer very carefully, hoping to decipher her mood.
"Seven is fine. Was it Dru who canceled?" The platinum-blonde scanned the messages, looked up at the brunette.
Carla shook her head, "No." She noticed the visible sigh of relief, and hated it.
The night before Iggy and Carla shared a nice time eating Spumoni ice cream and small talked about the house and the city of Jackson. But Iggy sent the secretary on her way a short time after. She wasn't sure, but felt the woman seemed rather testy this morning. Iggy noticed the clipped answers, but decided to ignore it. Carla should know by now she wasn't interested, and that the object of her affection would be arriving that evening.
She did her call backs and some other paperwork, when Carla came in to announce her sister was on the phone. "Robby, what's up?" The publisher leaned back in her chair, rocking it a little as she talked.
"Do you have plans for lunch?" Robby's voice barely a whisper. Instantly Iggy was alert. She checked her watch, it was eleven thirty.
"I'll be there as soon as I can," and hung up. Five minutes later she was in her Mercedes heading over to her sister's. Mango stood in the center of the drive as she pulled up, wagging his tail as if he had been expecting her.
"Well, I see you haven't found other lodgings. Now don't drool on me." Mango cocked his head to the right looking up at her with wide brown eyes. Before Iggy made her way up to the door it opened. Mango squeezed by her hitting her in the leg with his wiry tail. As soon as she saw the expression on her sister's face all thoughts of irritation at the dog vanished. Her arms went instantly out to surround the slumping body.
Iggy eased her sister to the floor while grabbing her cell phone out of pocket. "I need an ambulance." Help was on its way. She cradled and rocked her beloved sister in her arms. "Don't leave me Robby, please. I need you." She kissed the pale forehead. Briefly Robby's eyes fluttered open, and a smile crossed her face as she gazed up into Iggy's.
"I love you, Iggy." She could scarcely lift her hand, but she did and caress the platinum blonde's cheek. "I'm sorry."
"No! I'll hear none of this, you're going to be fine. Just hang in there and help will be here shortly." She held her tighter with every word.
"I'm just so tired, I don't want to fight any longer." The words were only a feeble whisper.
"Oh God, Robby. If you can't fight for yourself then fight for me. I need you. Don't leave me, please don't leave me." Tears dripped onto the face below her. If by sheer will Iggy could save her sister she would have done it.
The paramedics found the two women in the entrance way where Robby had collapsed. They moved Iggy away and started checking vitals. All business and no time to console and worry about the publisher.
Someone was talking to her and she didn't even hear him until she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up and saw very concerned eyes watching her.
"I'm sorry, but I'll need some information." The paramedic had his clipboard in hand. Two other paramedics were placing Robby on a gurney and taking her out to the ambulance. "Are you a relative?"
She nodded speechless watching her sister until the doors closed on the emergency vehicle. "Where are you taking her?"
"Sutter-Amador hospital. Is there anyone to notify? There's insurance and doctor's information we'll need."
"I'll call her husband." Iggy wasn't looking forward to telling Mason. Gods, this couldn't be happening. She scrubbed her face to wipe away the tears. She also needed to let Carla know where she would be. All thought of the retreat cease to exist. Not for the first time she was thankful to have the efficient secretary.
Mason said he would meet her at the hospital. She pulled her car into a parking place and just sat. Her mind a turmoil of emotions, what would she do without Robby? The thought was so foreign that she decided it would never happen. She wasn't going to face that possibility until she had to. A tap on the car window caught her attention. Mason stood his eyes filled with uncertainty.
"Where is she?" He asked as they made their way through the emergency entrance.
"I don't know but I'm sure we'll be able to find out." Iggy kept a handhold on her brother-in-law's arm. She needed it as much for herself as well as to comfort him. He patted her fingers, and smiled sadly.
"She's going to be fine, Iggy." His eyes suddenly became glassy, "She's a fighter." She wanted to believe him, and returned his smile.
"Sure, I know she is." She squeezed his arm.
"When will we be able to see her?" Mason asked the young woman behind the counter taking information.
"I'll let the doctor know you're waiting. He'll come or he'll send someone to get you." The clerk took the clipboard and recorded the information into her computer. Mason and Iggy looked at each other and turned to find a place to sit in the waiting room. Little children sneezed and cough wiping their sleeves across runny noses, while adults sat quietly waiting to be seen. Television blared the noon news. Iggy closed her eyes and leaned her head against Mason's shoulder.
Robby came running over to Iggy. Her eyes bright, laughter on her lips. "Oh Iggy, that was fun. Want to try it?" The taller blonde smiled down at her sister's exuberance.
"Are you kidding, I'm not crazy enough to get on any ride like that." Everyone knew Iggy got motion sickness at the drop of a hat. The Kamikaze ride would have the young girl upchucking as soon as it started. "No Robby, you go on with your friends, I'll sit here and watch."
The miniature version of herself gave her a quick hug, "You're the greatest sister anyone could have." Robby then ran off to join her two friends. Iggy sat on the bench alone watching the masses pass by. Old and young, and she wondered what they thought and did in their lives. Who were they, and what made them happy? The only thing that made her happy was her little sister. Everyone liked Robby, and she was always the center of attention in any group. On the other hand, Iggy was found wanting. Her aloofness kept people at arms length. The one person who made it by her defenses had been her sister. In school, Robby had been class president, cheerleader, and Prom Queen. Iggy all the time on the sidelines enjoyed her sister's accomplishments from afar. College and life hadn't changed their relationship much only the time together. There never seemed to be enough time to visit.
Iggy was happy for Robby when she told her about Mason. She seemed so happy and excited. Love shown in her eyes every time she mentioned his name. Mason was smart and witty, and Iggy had to admit, they were the perfect match.
A cloud of darkness crept through her dream, taking Robby's face and distorting is into a grotesque mask. She reached out to take it off the beautiful face she loved, and it came away with nothingness on the other side. Her sister was gone. All there was, was a loneliness harsher than anything she had experienced before. "Robby!" She screamed into the hell she was floundering in. "Robby!"
Mason shook her gently. "Iggy wake up. The doctor is here." She blinked trying to get her bearings, and finally realized where she was and what was happening. Now alert she waited for the doctor's diagnoses.
"We're giving her every test we know of to find the problem." The young redhead intern, with red eyelashes and tightly trimmed mustache, didn't smile. "I won't lie to you," he paused, "we just don't know what is causing this. But we won't stop trying to find an answer."
"Is she going to live?" the words were out before she could stop them. Horrified at her own question, yet still wanting to be reassured her sister was going to be fine.
The redhead bowed his head looking at the floor for a moment then back up to stare directly into her eyes. "I don't know."
They sat quietly enjoying the view from the tree house, Dru mentioned she had forgotten to phone and inform Flo about the shooting and kidnapping. The young proofreader shot up from her cozy position in the crook of her neck to stare dumbfounded at Dru.
"Hey, hey, hey, I just didn't think," she said drawing the young woman back into her embrace. "I'll tell her before we leave today, okay?" Kasey snuggled back into her position and nibbled on an available ear, which sent tingles through Dru.
"Yeah, you better, but right now I would like you to think about something else," as she drew Dru down into a long lingering kiss.
Dru's hands had a mind of their own that sought out curves and softness which left both of them breathless. Twisting slightly, she maneuvered the proofreader under her as her lips claimed possession of Kasey's. The strawberry-blonde's body arched against her. The sweetness of her taste and the fragrance of her scent filled the writer's emptiness. It was almost painful, the coldness of the void which had been her soul for so long now clutched at the searing love filling the vacuum. Each became more demanding, touching and being touched. Hearing the younger woman groan her name in need made her own passion grow. The writer knew she should stop, this was too public, and her aunt could come out anytime. At the same time she didn't care, and wasn't even sure she could stop if she wanted too. Kasey was her addiction, one she couldn't do without. Propriety won out with great reluctance as she pulled away from the younger woman. She could see the disappointment on her lover's face, which instantly changed to understanding. A small smile played at the others mouth.
"Just wait until later, you'll never have a chance," grinned Kasey.
"I don't want a chance I'll give up willingly." She kissed the tip of her lover's nose. "I'm sorry, but I don't want to give my Aunt a show that might embarrass us all. Though at the moment I couldn't care less who saw us." She sighed, and drew a knuckle down one pale cheek. "You're so beautiful." She breathed, and lightly brushed her lips over Kasey's. "I wish we were alone on a deserted island somewhere, so we wouldn't have to worry about interruptions or life. Just you and me forever."
The strawberry-blonde smiled, then pulled Dru close holding her tightly. "That sounds wonderful, but we're not on an island and we do have real life to worry about." They finally parted.
"C'mon, my aunt is going to wonder where we disappeared to." Dru stood pulling up the younger woman with her. Without another word she picked up her lover and cradled her in a strong grip against her body. "Hold on." Powerful legs recoiled and sent them airborne. Kasey let out a shocked scream of surprise as Dru forced them into a lazy flip in the air. The ground came rushing up at them, and the writer allowed her knees to take the impact with a small bounce. Then settled the younger woman on the ground with a self satisfied expression.
"Whew! What was that for?" Wide-eyed Kasey asked. "Do you do that often?"
"Hmm, most of the time. That's how Carl taught me to get up and down from the tree house."
"Excuse me? You get up that way too?" The grin she received as her answer was enough explanation. "I can't believe you, you're a piece of work." Dru drew her back into her arms abruptly staring deep into emerald orbs, then kissed her quickly.
"C'mon, let's find Aunt Flo." Holding hands they strolled through the trees into the specious yard.
Dru inhaled deeply relieved that Aunt Flo handled the shooting better than anticipated. She had to prove that it wasn't anything by pulling up her shirt to reveal the small wound in her side. The bruises were almost gone, leaving only a little yellowing. The entrance of the injury was the size of the tip of her pinkie finger. Without realizing what she was doing Kasey reached out and ran a hand over the area, then stopped in mid-action when she became cognizant of what she was doing in front of Flo.
"Mm, sorry." Kasey embarrassed lowered her eyes. A finger brought her head up to look into two very pleased and compassionate blue eyes.
"Don't apologize for loving my niece, Kasey." A very warm smile spread across Flo's face. "I'm thankful someone is now around to keep her out of trouble." That earned a chuckle from Dru.
"Oh yeah, she'll help all right." Laughter bubbled out of the raven-haired writer, which earned her a light hearted punch in the arm from Kasey. She winked to her Aunt. "Well, I think it's time for us to head out." After hugs and promises to come back through on their way back to Monterey, they made their departure.
Traffic was light and a companionable silence rested between them. The Mustang hummed along the winding road lined with fields of scrub oaks and meadow grasses. Dru reached over and rubbed her hand on Kasey's exposed thigh enjoying the warmth and softness. A smaller hand covered hers.
They reached Jackson an hour later. Kasey read the directions how to get to Iggy's place. After making two back tracks from wrong turns, they found Iggy's homestead. And both were very impressed.
"Wow." Kasey breathed.
"uh hmm.. Wow." Dru confirmed. The Mustang pulled up in front of the large oak double doors. A young, quite attractive young man came bounding up to Dru as she stepped out of the car. He put his hand out for the keys, which earned him an arched eyebrow.
"I'll park your car in the garage and bring your luggage up to your rooms." His voice was nice too, Dru thought, and gave him her keys. The door opened when they were half way up the steps. Carla stood on the threshold with a very distressed expression. "Oh!"
"Something wrong?" asked Dru.
"Well kind of, yes." Carla was very upset and it showed clearly now standing in front of her. "Please come in, and I'll explain."
A little gasp escaped from Kasey when she took in Iggy's place. "This place is gorgeous."
"Thank you, Ms. Pinkerton has put a great deal of time into it herself." Carla stated with pride, and both writer and proofreader exchanged inconspicuous surprised looks. "I tried to contact you but your cellular phone wasn't working."
"Yeah, that happens through areas like this." Dru eyed her curiously. "What's up?"
Carla sighed, "Ms. Pinkerton's sister has been taken to the hospital. And well things don't look good. That's where Ms. Pinkerton is now. I was able to contact everyone who was attending the retreat except you and Ms. Lovett." She gave the young proofreader a sweet smile, then returned her attention back to Dru. "Because of the circumstances we felt it best to reschedule the retreat."
"I understand completely. Is there a place in town where we may find a place to stay the night?" inquired Dru.
Surprise registered with Carla. "Oh my, no you must stay here, Ms. Pinkerton would never forgive me if she found out you left to stay in town. Please I'll show you to your rooms."
"No, it quite all right, Carla, honest. But we would like to know where to find the hospital." Dru thought though she didn't get along well with the publisher, Iggy may need some moral support and encouragement? It's a traumatic experience to have family in the hospital. A quick look from the secretary got Dru to thinking. Was that jealousy she saw? This was very interesting indeed. She would have to ask Kasey later what she thought. "Please just relax and give us directions to the nearest hotel."
"I'll give you directions to the hospital, but not a hotel. Ms. Warlord, you don't want me to lose my job, do you? And if Ms. Pinkerton thought I let you go to a hotel that's exactly what would happen." Dru felt Kasey's hand on the small of her back. She got the hint and recanted.
"Okay, we're here to stay I guess." A very relieved Carla showed them to their rooms. Dru's a very specious suite and Kasey was located next door in another one only slightly smaller. Both had private baths and lounging areas. Almost like a high class hotel, only better.
Dru cleaned up and changed her clothes. As she shrugged on a cream color blouse she heard a light tap on her door. A smile played across her lips knowing exactly who it was before she answered.
"Hey." The writer said to the strawberry-blonde who glided into the room casting her big grin.
"Hey." The woman replied, wrapping arms around the taller woman. "I missed you."
That brought a very large grin to Dru's face that ran all the way up into her eyes. "We weren't a part all that long." She chuckled deep in her chest, then lowered her head to rub her nose against Kasey's. "But I missed you too." The taller woman liked the dark forest-green blouse sported by the shorter woman which offset the gold spun hair perfectly. The temptation to kiss her lover was too much to resist. Ducking her head she caught willing lips waiting for her. "C'mon, we better head over to the hospital."'
"Sure thing." Kasey ran hands down Dru's well muscled arms. "Let's go."
Kasey watched her friend closely while the writer concentrated on maneuvering the Mustang through traffic. She was very thankful how accepting Flo had been to their relationship. Amazing. Her parents would be less than accepting if not hostile to even consider her being with a woman. Already she knew what they would say. It wasn't in their nature to approve of such an association, especially with their daughter's involvement. She could almost hear her father, how could she do this to them, like it was some kind of disease or mental disorder. She had seen it before in her father the inability to live and let live. He considered homosexuality a perversion, something to be ashamed of. And even if there were a magic pill she could take to rid herself of how she felt, she wouldn't take it. The idea of giving up what she felt for Dru was ridiculous, and why should she?
Dru pulled into the hospital parking lot. Kasey spotted Iggy's car right away. Self doubt hit her like gang busters. A knot of nervous jitters and insecurities settled heavily in her chest. This was stupid, she thought but the doubts wouldn't go away. Iggy's obsession for Dru made Kasey wonder if maybe the writer might have her own attraction for the publisher. A sliver of fear tried to imbed itself into her heart. Finally she shook herself out of the destructive spiral of thinking, it was ridiculous. Dru hadn't shown any interest in the publisher whatsoever, so why was she acting like this? Why was she allowing her mind to run amuck? Woman you better deal with these insecurities or you could mess up the best thing that has ever happened to you in your whole life.
When they entered the emergency waiting room an attractive balding man stood speaking with a doctor, at his side was the River Day publisher hanging on his arm. Immediately Iggy's eyes grew wide when she noticed Dru steering Kasey forward with the writer's hand on her elbow. The publisher's eyes took in the action with a fleeting glance and almost went weak-kneed on them. The man next to her grabbed and eased her into a chair.
Dru crouched down in front of Iggy, Kasey beside her. "Are you okay?" Honest concern laced the words.
Iggy nodded staring at Dru.
"Sorry to hear about your sister." The writer patted the publisher's hand. "Is there something we can do to help?" Kasey caught the reference of the we, which sent a wash of warmth of belonging over her.
"Have you heard anything?" Dru placed a tanned hand on the publisher's pale one. Iggy's speechlessness surprised the proofreader, Mason took up the explanation and introductions.
"You must be Dru Warlord, I'm Mason Leeches, Iggy's brother-in-law." He gave her a small smile then cast a sympathetic smile in the platinum-blonde's direction. "My wife is resting comfortably, but she's very weak. Doctor Weston here, is trying to find out what is causing her illness. Right now, they don't have a clue." Mason shrugged, "Still, we're hoping it will only be a matter of time before they come up with some answers."
"I hope she recovers quickly." Dru said. Then introduced Kasey to Mason. Iggy hadn't moved but stared at the tanned hand holding hers.
"Do you need anything, Iggy?" the writer asked again, while studying the publisher.
Finally finding her tongue, "No thanks, Dru. I'm going to be fine, honest." But the woman's eyes said otherwise. Like she wanted to ask Dru something, but remained silent. Kasey felt the desperation rolling off the publisher as her brown eyes drilled into the woman crouching before her. Her heart went out to Iggy knowing exactly what she was feeling. Obviously the woman was in love with Dru. Not some conquest either like Kasey thought it might be from what she saw at the publisher's party, but real love or what she thought was love. It was almost too painful to watch.
"While your sister is resting, you should try and get something to eat and some rest. I'll have the nurse phone you if there are any changes." The redhead Dr. Weston explained before taking his leave.
"Well Iggy, you do have a catered dinner waiting for you at the house. How about allowing me to drive you home?" Mason spoke to his sister-in-law very gently.
"Good idea, I'll drive your car back to your place and Kasey can take mine." Dru encouraged the publisher. "You need to relax, Iggy, and you know it."
For the first time the publisher dropped her eyes, then nodded. Mason and Iggy climbed into his Lincoln and Dru eased herself into the Mercedes. Kasey took up the rear with the jet-black Mustang. The three cars parked in the horseshoe drive. Again the attractive valet came out to grab keys and flash a brilliant smile at Dru, which earn an arched eyebrow, and caused an amused expression to trickle across her features. Kasey chuckled to herself. Dru was like honey, and everyone else were drones attracted to her. For sure the proofreader knew she was hopelessly gone on the writer.
Iggy moved under her own power. Ramrod posture, and head held high. Kasey could see the will power of self-discipline kick in. Again Carla met them at the door, concern written over her fair visage. She went directly to Iggy inquiring how her boss's sister was fairing. Iggy gave her a look of appreciation. Inside the house Carla proceeded to fill Iggy in on the canceled retreat, and where she had placed Dru and Kasey. This made the publisher's head shoot up to stare directly into Carla's face. They had been speaking very low as not to share their discussion.
Dru got the hint and Mason did too, both moved into the living room with Kasey following. She wondered as she followed her partner into the huge living room, why Iggy responded the way she did to the information from Carla. Could she be thinking that the close proximity of Dru's sleeping arrangement meant more than met the eye? Kasey thought that over. Iggy might be very upset over her sister, but she was also fanatical in her obsession of Dru. Would she do something to try and take the writer away from her? Yes, she would, and realizing this put the finger on why her insecurities had surfaced. How could she believe that this world wise woman, so beautiful and talented, would settle for a hick like herself?
"How about a drink?" Mason offered, as he glanced between Dru and Kasey.
"Sure a simple scotch on the rocks would be great, thanks." Informed Dru, then raised an inquiring dark eyebrow to her partner.
"I'll have a rum and coke, please." Kasey studied her partner, the way she moved and talked. She was learning a few of her mannerisms and quirks. It was nice to have this closeness this desire to know her companion, to share her life in every detail. The proofreader sighed to herself. Still that fear in the back of her mind wouldn't leave her alone.
Iggy came into the room with her brunette secretary. Mason handed out the drinks and gave Iggy a glass of red wine. Carla declined a drink and fixed herself a soda.
"Why don't we go out by the pool to enjoy our libations?" commented Iggy, taking Dru's arm to escort the taller woman outside. Kasey followed with Mason and Carla. The proofreader noticed the barbed looks the young woman was throwing at the backs of the writer and publisher. Again, she wondered if Carla's interested in her boss was more than professional? She would have to remember to ask Dru later.
A slight breeze caught Dru's raven locks, setting highlights of bluish-black glinting around her strong, tan features. Kasey couldn't take her eyes off her lover, and noticed she wasn't the only one. Iggy's red, rimmed eyes, seemed to eat up the woman sitting next to her. Dru acted as though there was nothing wrong or that she had become the center of attention.
"How long has your wife been ill?" Kasey changed the focus of attention. She noticed the quick look of appreciation from two cerulean eyes, cast in her direction.
"About a year or so." Mason took a sip of his scotch, then stared at the ice cubes floating in the honey color liquid. "She has undergone every test imaginable, and so far the doctors haven't found the cause of her problem." He looked up, then gave Iggy a small, sad smile.
"It began with the weakness in her arms and legs, from there she became very forgetful, and just lately the rashes showed up." Iggy added while studying the writer. "What are you thinking, Dru?"
Startled, Kasey watched her partner. Iggy had picked up on the fact that the writer seemed to be digesting the information about Roberta.
"Nothing definite," Dru stated, but even Kasey felt there was more to this than the writer was saying. She would have to corner her later and ask what was up.
She couldn't believe her eyes when the muscular beauty and shorter, compact strawberry-blonde walked through the Emergency entrance. At that very moment she would have handed her heart over to Dru without another thought about it. Well, she would have done that anyway, but to have her go out of her way to show up here, for her. It was almost too much. She wanted so badly to wrap her arms around the woman and kiss her, but knew that wasn't going to happen anytime soon when she noticed how possessive the writer appeared to be with the proofreader. So it was what she had feared it would be. They were a couple. She would have to be blind not to notice the signs. The fleeting glances, the simple touches, and their whole attitude towards each other. Gods, this hurt. This on top of everything, when her emotions were already raw, threaten to leave her in a bloody emotional heap. Could she deal with this now? The cry in her soul wanted to run away and hide. Robby had to make it, she had no one else. Right before her eyes her dream of having a life with Dru dashed into oblivion. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth, though she heard them asking her questions she couldn't answer. Why? Oh God, why now? she kept asking herself.
Finally she forced herself to look directly into the cerulean eyes telling her she needed to go home and to rest and eat. Though neither was important to her. She had to pull herself together. Iggy hated showing this weakness in front Dru, it embarrassed her, and made her less in the eyes of the woman she wanted so badly she could taste it. She couldn't have that, not now. She had to prove to herself it didn't matter. Like Robby, she was a fighter and this was a full bout for the championship. Mason's presence comforted her more than she expected as he led her out to the Lincoln. When they were alone, she could feel him wanting to ask her something but seemed apprehensive.
"Go ahead and ask, Mason. You know you want too." She kept her eyes on the road ahead so he couldn’t see the tears welling in her eyes.
"Are you going to be okay?" he asked gently.
"Of course, the cold fish Publisher of River Day Publishing doesn't have a heart, remember?" The venom in her response shocked even her.
"C'mon Iggy, I know that isn't true. Do you want me to speak with Dru and ask her to leave?"
"No!" Even if the pain was something she wasn't sure she could endure, she knew she didn't want Dru to leave. While the writer was there, there was always the possibility events may turn in her favor. The new couple had been together only a couple of weeks anything could happen. This was a delicate time for them. All the newness and such presented new factors that if worked just right could devastate a budding relationship.
"Whatever you want, Iggy, but if you need me please say so." She knew Mason was serious. He placed a hand on hers, "family sticks together, and I'm here for you."
"You have enough to worry about with Robby, you don't need to worry about an old iron horse like me." She patted his hand. "She just took me by surprise showing up at the hospital. I hadn't expected her to do that. But I won't lie to you, it felt good to know she put herself out for me. It felt very good." Now all she had to do was figure out how to keep Dru thinking about her. Despite knowing Dru and Kasey were a couple, it didn't stop her from formulating ways to separate them. As long as the writer was there Iggy figured she had a chance.
Carla met her as she ascended the steps to the house. She seemed legitimately concerned for her, that was sweet. In the house Carla leaned close to convey all she had taken care of while she had been at the hospital. Everything had been canceled and all who were going to attend the event were contacted. Dru and Kasey were the only two she hadn't been able to connect with.
"I hope you don't mind, I set Dru up in the room next to yours?" The secretary asked of her boss. Iggy could have given the woman a raise just for having placed Dru exactly where she wanted her. This could turn out perfect. No one but Kasey and Carla to worry about, and the secretary would make herself scarce if asked. The one hindrance would be the proofreader. She would have to work it where it wasn't discernible to anyone, least of all the writer.
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