Laguna Nights

by Carole Giorgio



Chapter 10

"Wake up sleepy head," Alex called from the living area. She'd slept unusually late and attributed it to being totally relaxed for a change. Even at that she had been up for nearly two hours and had, as silently as possible, packed almost all of their belongings. Getting no response from the bedroom she headed in that direction with a cup of tea in her hand.

She put the hot liquid down on the nightstand and sat on the edge of the bed, smiling at the sleeping face unaware of her presence. Gently she shook the blonde beauty to awaken her. "Come on, Samantha. Time to get up and go eat. Eat Samantha, time to eat."

"Ohhhh, no -- not now -- a little later," came the mumbled response.

"No. Not later -- now," Alex insisted as she shook the woman again. "This is your last chance."

Samantha pulled the covers up around her neck, rolled over and put her head under the pillow with a soft moan.

"Okay, can't say you weren't warned," Alex began as she got up and went into the bathroom to turn on the shower. "No more, Ms. Nice Person," she called while standing outside the shower stall as she opened the door and turned the water on. She thought about only turning on the cold but could not bring herself to be that cruel, so she turned the cold faucet on full force and then added a little of the hot. Still not receiving a response from Samantha, she marched back into the bedroom, pulled off the pillow and covers and picked Samantha up, throwing the still sleeping woman over her shoulder.

"I warned you about this yesterday. Today we have time for a watery wake up call." Alex chuckled as she carried the surprised woman she had flung over her shoulder into the bath area.

She opened the shower stall and just as Sam opened her eyes and mouth to object she was gently placed on the cool floor of the shower with luke warm water drenching her immediately.

"By the Gods, Alex!" Samantha yelled. "What are you doing???"

"I'm waking up a sleepy head that ignores me when I try to be nice," Alex answered her.

"Well," Samantha continued, standing in the shower with her hands on her hips and her nightshirt clinging to her, "I guess I'm awake now, aren't I?"

"Yeah, you look awake to me," Alex laughed at her soaked lover.

The smile on Alex's face quickly changed to a look of surprise as Samantha reached out from the enclosure and drew the taller woman in with her, pulling her close. "If I'm gonna take a shower with my clothes on -- so are you," she giggled and looked up at Alex smiling. "Good morning to you, too," she continued as she stood on her toes to give her lover a kiss.

The two women fooled around in the shower a little, after having taken off their drenched nightshirts and throwing them over in a corner of the stall. First Alex soaped up and rinsed Samantha off using her hands as soaping vehicles and making sure all areas of the lithe body under her hands were thoroughly cleaned. She, of course, had to get on her knees to get to Samantha's calves and feet, which led to some interesting sidetracking that had nothing at all to do with washing. Needless to say they were pleased that the shower stall was not the average one-person-size and there was even a small corner seat built into it which was used when knees began to buckle. Samantha's turn was next and there was not a spot on or in Alex's body that escaped soap and/or water. They laughed together as they mused in detail if the inventor of the handheld shower massage ever thought of the diverse uses of the water device. While continuing to snicker they contemplated writing the company an elaborate thank you note.

Because they spent more time playing in the water than anticipated they needed to get serious about dressing and packing when they finally got out. The two lovers were standing at the window looking out over the Bay, wrapped in each other's arms, talking quietly about all that had transpired in the last few days, when Sonny and Ray arrived at the door.

"It's open, come on in," Alex instructed their friends.

"Morning Ladies," Sonny chirped as he pounced through the door. He continued walking toward them, hands behind his back. "And are we all rested and hungry?"

"Yes, very much so," Samantha replied and Alex gave an affirmative nod. "And we're showered and ready to go," she added giving Alex a wink.

Sonny stepped a little closer and brought his hands from behind his back, "A little remembrance from your friends who live in the City by the Bay," he announced as he handed Alex a card and Samantha a box. The card was addressed to the both of them and the box was wrapped in beautifully colorful metallic rainbow paper.

Samantha looked from one to the other of the two gentlemen standing in the room, her face beginning to take on a slight rose color, "What . . . you shouldn't have . . ."

"Now, now," Sonny interrupted, "you don't even know what it is yet. Go ahead, girl. Open it," he instructed her as he gave a little waving gesture toward the box and Samantha.

Samantha carefully, so as not to tear the beautiful paper, opened the small box while a smiling Sonny looked on. Inside she found rainbow-colored tissue paper cradling a round golden plaque the size of a CD disc. As she opened the paper she immediately saw an engraved likeness of the Golden Gate Bridge with "Summer 1999" etched above it. There was also a small wooden holder to place the plaque on.

"By the Gods, Sonny and Ray," Samantha practically whispered, "this is gorgeous!"

The two men stood smiling as Samantha further examined the plaque and her eyes began to fill with tears. She moved closer to Alex so the two of them could look at the unique gift together. Below the engraving of the Bridge was the symbol of the Claddagh framed on either side by names -- on the right was written Alex & Samantha and on the left Ray & Sonny, below the symbol were three words: Love, Loyalty, Friendship.

Samantha could hardly contain herself as the tears began to flow. Sonny walked over and embraced his new friend. "Hey, girl. This was supposed to make those Irish eyes smile, not tear." He gently swept a falling tear from her cheek and smiled over at Alex. "We just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate your friendship."

"He had one of our friends do a rush on this the last two days," Ray explained with a nod in Sonny's direction. "Lucky for us, Lance's a very good friend and an extremely talented artisan," Ray told the girls as they continued to examine the beautiful plaque.

"I know you know what the Claddagh stands for my Irish friend," Sonny said to Sam, trying to get her to lighten up.

"Ye. . .yes," Samantha replied, regaining her composure. "The hands are the symbol of friendship, carefully holding the heart which stands for love and the crown is an emblem of loyalty. I've always loved the rings -- this is . . . I don't know what to say . . . you guys . . . this is one of the best gifts anyone has ever given me -- us! Actually . . . it's the first gift anyone has ever given us," she glanced at Alex who nodded in agreement. "That makes it doubly special. Thank you!"

Samantha handed the box to Alex and gave Sonny a huge hug and kiss and then walked over to Ray and gave him the same.

Sonny broke the embarrassment of everyone by asking Samantha, "Did I hear you say 'By the Gods?'"

Sam blushed a little and then explained to him that she had gotten into the habit of saying 'By the Gods' when she discovered mythology and totally engrossed herself in the subject. For some reason the words seemed to trip easily off her tongue and she tended to forget that it might sound weird to listeners. As was her custom to give more information than anyone ever asked for, she added that her dream was to some day walk the steps of the Parthenon and to visit the Temple of Athena Nike and the Island of Lesbos.

"Okay, okay." Sonny laughed, "Before you give me the complete history of Greece, I think I understand. You know, Alex always says 'Goddess', using the excuse her mother raised her saying that and now there's you and your 'Gods' -- we surely have an eccentric little group here," he laughed. "At least there's never a dull moment." He turned and looked at Ray who was looking at his watch. "So, are we ready to go eat?"

"Alex hasn't opened the card yet," Samantha said as she walked into the bathroom to rinse her face and rid it of all traces of dried tears.

"She can do that downstairs," Ray said as he picked up one of the suitcases. "I'll go bring the car around front and meet you all there." As he was walking out the door he added, "We had better get started; we're almost late for our brunch reservation and you know how Sonny feels about being late."

Alex made a double check of all the rooms, making sure they hadn't forgotten anything. Sonny picked up the small suitcase Alex had purchased for Samantha to take her souvenirs home in, leaving the larger one for Alex to get. Samantha came back out of the bathroom and grabbed her purse, that being the only thing left to take.

"All right, Let's go eat. I'm starving." Samantha linked her arm in Sonny's and Alex closed the door to the suite as the trio headed toward the elevator.

Fifteen minutes later they were all seated at a waterside table at one of San Francisco's most prestigious seafood establishments. Alex had opened the card on the way to the restaurant, and Samantha's eyes had misted up as her lover read the sentimental verse out loud. Again Sam thanked the guys for the gift and the wonderful Saturday they had all spent together, stating that San Francisco would be top on her list of most memorable cities. She made Alex promise that they would visit again in the not too distant future.

The buffet was extraordinary. Main dishes ranged from lobster, shrimp or cheese enchiladas to spaghetti and bow tie pasta with a choice of marinara, meat or alfredo sauce. There was an entire table for create-your-own omelets or eggs any way you wanted them with more fixings than Samantha had ever seen, making the choice of omelet stuffings very difficult. On one of the tables were chips with three or four different salsas, pancakes, waffles, and french toast. Of course the old standbys of toast, English muffins and hash browns were not forgotten. Meat dishes were also available for those who were still carnivores and the gals teased the guys as they piled their plates with ham, sausage and bacon. Complimentary drinks consisted of mimosas or champagne which could be substituted or accompanied by a variety of juices. Finally the pi╦ce de r╚sistance was the dessert table which was not lost on the small group as each of the four chose at least one portion of decadence ranging from cheesecakes, torts and fruits to cookies and soft serve ice cream.

Try as she did, even Samantha could not taste of everything, but Alex made sure to comment on the fact that she certainly tried as she asked the status of Samantha's hunger. "Are you full yet?" She smiled at her companion.

"What would you do if I said -- No?" Samantha wanted to know.

"I think I'd cart you off to the Ripley Museum to have you examined and put into one of their Believe It Or Not Books," Alex joked back.

"Well, she certainly can put it away and not have it show on her figure," Sonny chimed in. "I wish I could do that! I'll have to diet for a week after you two leave to take off the extra pounds I've gained just watching her eat." He laughed and gave Samantha a hug.

Ray ordered a final round of mimosas for the table then quieted everyone down as he lifted his glass and they all followed suit. "One final toast to friendship and a healthy start to a beautiful relationship for our favorite two ladies."

"Here, here," was the response from the other three friends at the table.

"Now, we really have to get started or you're going to miss your plane and have to stay another week," Ray grinned at his old and new acquaintances.

"We couldn't have that," Alex said with a smirk on her face.

Ray paid the bill and the small troupe left the restaurant.

The ride to the airport was the longest any of them had been in a car for the entire week. The four friends seemed to have talked themselves out at breakfast and were all in a semi-stupor, due to being fuller than any of them needed to be. Even Sonny seemed at a loss for words, besides commenting on how uncomfortable he was because he had eaten so much. Ray showed him no mercy and told him it was his own fault, that he knew better than to get that second waffle topped with whipped cream. Samantha just laughed and Alex added that Samantha would probably be hungry again before they got back on the ground, which landed her an elbow in the ribs and a stern look from Sam.

"What?" Alex exclaimed. "And Ouch! You know it's the truth." She smiled over at Samantha and kissed her on the cheek.

"Just because it's the truth doesn't mean you have to tell the world," the small blonde whined.

"She didn't tell the world," Sonny joined in. "She only told two of your closest friends who had already figured it out anyway, especially after watching you eat this weekend." He reached back and patted his friend on the knee, smiling.

It had been a unanimous decision to just drop the women off at the porter's station instead of parking and going with them to the gate. Alex had seen enough of Samantha's reactions lately to know that airport good-byes could be nothing but wet, sobbing affairs and she didn't want to drag out the departure and get everyone upset after such a lovely morning.

"You know, these past few days have been the most fun we've had with Alex in years," Ray said as he pulled the car into the curb to drop his friends off. "I don't remember the last time, before this weekend that I've seen her smile a genuine smile," he looked over at his old friend. "I believe the two of you are on the brink of a wonderful life together. I'm reminded of Sonny and me when we first got together and it brings back many marvelous memories. I feel honored that we were able to share in this part of your lives." He finished his little speech, opened the car door and got out.

"Damn, Ray," Sonny stared after his partner in disbelief. "I think that's more than you've said at one time in weeks!" He looked around at the girls as he opened his own door to get out. "Go figure," he continued shaking his head. "But -- he's absolutely right and I feel the same way." Sonny nodded in the direction of his lover as he added, "Guess we'd better help old gabby Ray there get your stuff."

Ray had already walked around to the back of the car, opened the trunk and pulled out the two big bags. He was halfway to the porter podium before everyone else was out of the car. Alex walked over to fill out the luggage forms, and Sonny got the last of the baggage as he and Samantha started their farewell to each other. They were like two little kids, one of whom was leaving and moving away from the neighborhood. They must have been friends in another lifetime, Alex thought to herself as she pondered how quickly they had become close. Now I know San Francisco will receive at least a yearly visit from us, she smiled knowing that she loved to visit the city and now would have a very good reason to make repeated trips. There was still a lot for Samantha to see and Alex had every intention of showing her every bit of it.

All the baggage was labeled and thrown onto the moving belts leading to the plane. Alex gave the porter his tip and turned around prepared to say good-bye to her old friends. One look at Sonny and she knew it was not going to be an easy good-bye; he was already starting to get misty-eyed. "Why all the sad looks?" she asked, glancing at each one of the faces staring at her. "Alternative Paradise will be opening in less than two weeks now and you two will definitely be coming up to the open house, right? You promised!" She smiled at the guys and then at Sam. "So, you see -- no need for tears! Now let's just do this quickly and we'll be in touch with you within the week."

"Within the week?" Sonny screeched. "You had best give us a call when you get home. We want to make sure you're safe and I won't sleep a wink until I know. You got that?" He smiled at Alex as he threw his arms around Samantha. "Well, now little one, I guess we'll be visiting in less than two weeks like Alex said. You keep her in line, ya hear? Don't let her go back to being all work, it sure made for a dull Alex."

"I will Sonny, I promise," Samantha told him, holding back a sniffle. "I'll be looking forward to the opening of the clinic even more now that I know you guys will be coming up." She gave him a kiss and then she and Alex switched friends.

Samantha said her good-bye to Ray and Alex did the same to Sonny, promising to call as soon as they got home. Then she told the guys to go on and leave and scooted them on their way. She and Samantha turned and entered the building with Samantha taking one last look around as they got on the escalator, waving at Sonny who had also turned around to watch his friends leave.

"They sure are nice people," Samantha told Alex as she turned back around and grabbed Alex's hand.

"Yes, Samantha they're very nice people. I intend to see to it that we keep in touch with them." She smiled at the small woman standing beside her and then glanced down at her watch. Their mini-vacation was over but she was glad to be going back down to Laguna. Actually, she was looking forward to having Samantha all to herself for a little while. There was still a lot of getting to know each other to be done and plans for their immediate future to be made.

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

The trip back home was uneventful. Samantha had fallen asleep on the plane. After crying on-and-off throughout the entire morning, even though most of the tears were happy ones, she found herself to be extremely tired and the flight very conducive to a short nap. Alex leafed through the airline magazine and listened to music. During the car ride home they chatted about all they did in San Francisco and Samantha again thanked Alex for asking her to go with her. Alex thanked Samantha for going and the mutual admiration conversation went in a circle until they both started laughing from the silliness of it. Within an hour of landing they were pulling into the garage back at the clinic.

"Why don't we go on upstairs and I'll call for a pizza," Alex suggested as they got out of the car. "We haven't had any real junk food for a couple days, I don't feel like cooking and really don't want to go out to eat. How 'bout you?"

"Hey, pizza is always tops on my list of favorite foods," Samantha agreed. "But don't forget to call the boys first!" she added with a wink, "You don't want Sonny calling here in the wee hours of the morning because you forgot and he couldn't sleep," she said smiling. "And . . . how'd ya know I was getting hungry?" She looked over at Alex and winked then walked around to the back of the car to help her lover get the bags out. "We can just throw my stuff in the VW now so we don't have to take it back upstairs," she offered.

Alex gave her a strange look but took Samantha's two suitcases out and placed them in the back seat of the Volkswagen, then went back to get her suitcase out of the trunk.

"I could've helped with one of those, you know," Samantha told her.

"I know, but they weren't that heavy and it was easier just to do it myself. Come on, let's go on upstairs." Alex put her arm around the smaller woman's shoulder as they left the garage and entered the warehouse.

"It was a good mini-vacation in San Francisco, and I had a great time, but you know, Samantha -- I'm glad we're home," Alex hugged her lover close as they walked through the building and over to the elevator. Home, she thought to herself, Now I can really concentrate on making this home. A home for me and a home for Samantha. All I have to do is convince her that she should call this place home, too.

As Alex put the key in the elevator slot the two women were each lost in their own thoughts. Alex held Samantha close to her, her arms around the shorter woman's shoulders, the small blonde leaning with her back against her lover's chest. The short ride up was a silent one.

Alex had said "we're home" and that had started Samantha thinking. Home Samantha, did you hear her say Home? I would love to make this my home, too, but I don't want to seem like I'm rushing her. I don't even know if I should stay or go back to my apartment tonight. It sure will be lonely without Alex to cuddle up with. I'm already spoiled, being in bed without her next to me will be torturous. It seems in some ways like we've been together forever.

The elevator reached its destination and the two women walked in silence through the kitchen to the living room area. Alex dialed the pizza house and ordered pizza and two salads then dialed San Francisco and spoke to Sonny. She only talked long enough to tell him that all was well, the flight was uneventful and that they would be in touch about the date for the open house. She hung up the phone and went over to the window to join Samantha.

"You know, Alex, as beautiful as it was in San Francisco -- the view from here is still better. Maybe I feel this way because here is where our love began," Samantha confessed, as she turned and put her arms around Alex's waist looking up into eyes she could lose her soul in. "I feel so . . . at home . . . here with you," she admitted as Alex bent slightly forward and passionately kissed her on the lips.

"You'd better feel at home here, honey," Alex whispered. "Because we're going to be here for a long, long time and I don't intend on letting you go. Wanna go for a swim after dinner? We haven't been in the water for days."

"Sounds great -- did I leave my suit here the last time we went swimming?" She gave Alex a puzzled look. "I don't think so," she concluded.

"You don't need a suit," Alex smiled at her, "Look out there, the beach is empty. We'll go down in tee-shirts and play it by ear. Au natural! Feel adventurous?" Alex grinned at her lover and gave her a wink.

"Sure, I'm game . . . I think," came the reply as she unintentionally began to blush.

Alex poured them each a glass of wine. "Here, this will give you a reason to have rosy cheeks," she laughed as she handed Samantha a goblet. They sat and watched the water and talked a little about each of their families while they waited for the pizza to arrive. It wasn't a very long wait as the buzzer sounded in less than 45 minutes, and Alex went down to retrieve their meal. Neither one of them had realized how hungry they had been, but between the two of them they ended up eating almost the entire pizza, plus their salads. Alex started to pour another round of wine when Samantha stopped her.

"If we're going swimming in a little while, I think we should hold off on that, don't you?" she questioned the raven-haired beauty.

"Yes, I think you may be right. Let's give ourselves a half hour to let our food get well on the way to being digested and then we'll start down," Alex agreed.

"So . . ." Alex started. Because she had to start sometime and now was as good a time as any while they were just sitting around waiting. "We seemed to make a pretty good team up there in the big city, don't you think?" She looked at Samantha who was sporting a puzzled look.

"Good team? Yeah, I guess you could call us a team." Samantha looked at Alex oddly. "Although, I don't know that team would actually be the term I would use for us." What does she mean, Team? Samantha wondered. Partners, lovers, more than friends -- but a Team?

"I don't think you understand where I'm coming from," Alex continued seeing the look of utter confusion on Samantha's face ". . . I meant when we were working together at the gym with the guys. You know, you with the typing and computer and me doing the physical stuff and getting them set up and . . . all that," Alex clarified.

"Oh -- that kind of team," Samantha breathed a sigh of understanding. "Now I see what you mean. Uh, huh. Yeah. We did make quite a team. Everything got done in a timely manner and no disagreements while in the process. Team-work -- we seem to do well with it." She smiled over at her lover, finally realizing that she was not talking about their personal relationship but a business one.

Samantha had glanced out the windows and couldn't help changing the subject for a split second. "Oh, Alex, look!" She pointed out the window toward the ocean. "Dolphins at sunset -- what a welcome home present. The Golden Gate Bridge looked beautiful at sunset but this . . . this is so . . . unobstructed . . . so uncivilized looking . . . and now the dolphins!"

Alex stepped behind her so they could both view the living portrait and held her close as they watched the family of dolphins make their way down the coast line. She kissed Samantha on her head, taking in the sweet fragrance that had become an aphrodisiac to her and then made a statement that came from her heart before it ever had a chance to register in her head. "Samantha, will you make this your home?" She whispered.

Samantha slowly turned around to face her lover, "This -- my home?" She looked into intent blue eyes. "Do you mean right Here? Are you asking me to move in with you, Alex?"

"Samantha, I want to share everything with you and I don't want to wait for the right time. I want the right time to be now. No one knows what tomorrow will bring and I don't want to miss a minute of you, a second of you. I don't want to sleep without you in my bed. I don't want to wake up in the morning without your face being the first thing I see," was Alex's answer, then she smiled realizing that perhaps she had not exactly answered the question. She stared into the glistening green eyes staring back at her, "Yes. Samantha, I'm asking you to move in with me and to share my life, starting right this minute!"

"Oh, Alex . . . are you sure? This is such a big move, for both of us," the smaller woman stated.

Alex's heart dropped into her stomach as she felt that maybe she had read everything that had happened in the past few days incorrectly. Maybe Samantha loved her but not enough to change her entire life and move in with her. Maybe she was assuming too much. She inhaled deeply and sighed. "Samantha, I don't want you to feel obligated to do anything. I'm sorry if . . . I'm rushing the situation. Forget it."

She lifted her head to look out upon the water, not wanting Samantha see the tears that were forming pools in her eyes. Silence enveloped the room because there was a lump forming in her throat that would have given her emotions away had she tried to speak.

Small hands reached up to Alex's face and brought it back down to once again lock eyes. "My darling, Alex," she began, "I would love nothing more than to move in here with you and share your life. It's just that I feel I have nothing to offer in comparison to all that you offer me. I don't ever want to be without you, Alex. I just want to be worthy . . ."

The rest of her sentence was cut off by lips that covered hers as Alex kissed her and held her close. "What you offer me, my Destiny, cannot be measured in material gains," the dark-haired beauty whispered into her lover's ear. "You've just made me the happiest woman in the world. And now we are both truly home."

The two women stood there in each other's embrace contemplating the commitment they had just made to one another. Both feeling quite content with their decision.

"So, shall we go consummate this decision with a ritual of water?" Alex asked after a few minutes, a sheepish grin spreading across her face.

"Why not, always a first time for everything!" Samantha giggled at the thought of a watery celebration.

"Okay, here's the deal, we just put on nightshirts -- nothing else -- and," she looked down on the beach and saw that it was still deserted, "when we get down there we'll just leave the shirts and towels on the blanket and go in. From there we cross our fingers that no one else decides to go beach walking on our little strand."

"And if the do?" Samantha questioned.

"We'll just stay in the water until they leave or I'll tell them they're on a private beach and to keep on moving." Alex informed her lover.

"Is it a private beach, Alex?" Samantha asked.

"It's on its way to being one," Alex smiled at the blonde, "I started the process about three months ago and was promised the signs by next week. I sure am glad they didn't come early, though. We might never have met. "

"Me, too." Samantha stated as she followed Alex into the bedroom to change.

"As soon as the signs arrive we can put up fencing to block off the area in front of the clinic. Then we won't have to worry about other people," Alex finished explaining as they changed into nightshirts and gathered up towels.

Ten minutes later the lovers found themselves on the still deserted beach. Alex had turned on the light that illuminated down to the sand enough for them to see, casting shadows over the dunes. There was only a sliver of a moon out and the stars were dulled by the presence of some wispy clouds. Enough light was available to see where they were going and to see each other, that was all they were concerned with. Alex made a mental note to add a cabana as soon as possible, a wooden patio off the sand and a platform with a shower. She even put in the back of her mind a small pier extending out across a short distance of the water. They laid their towels down on the blanket Alex had grabbed out of the bedroom closet and looking around, dispensed of their shirts.

The breeze from the water hit the bare skin of the lover's, creating instant goose bumps all over their bodies. Alex couldn't keep her hands off the vision before her. She ran her fingers down the contour of Samantha's body and then pulled her close. "By the Goddess, you are beautiful," she whispered in Samantha's ear.

"Back at ya," Samantha replied, giving Alex a peck on the cheek and pushing away from her. "We're going in the water, remember? Last one in gets to do dinner dishes for a week," Samantha yelled as she gave herself a huge head start, running toward the ocean.

Her lead was not enough, even though she was more than half way to the water by the time Alex started. In seconds Alex had caught up with the small blonde, swept her up from behind, grabbing her back and under the knees as she continued toward the ocean. She kept running, carrying a flailing Samantha who was trying to get down from the stronger woman's grasp, to no avail.

"No, Alex," Samantha screamed. "Don't . . . let me get in a little at a time . . . it's cold . . . don . . ."

Splash, she was flung out and landed in the water while a smiling Alex now stood a few feet from her, barely wet to the waist.

"And that, my darling, is what happens when you try to beat me," Alex laughed as her lover came gurgling up out of the ocean.

"I'll get you for that," Samantha warned. "Just you wait -- when you least expect it -- I'll get ya. And the dishes for a week -- that's off -- you cheated!"

"Do your best, little one," Alex responded as she dove into the water beside Samantha. "Come on, let's swim."

They swam for a while until Samantha, not being as good a swimmer, began to get a little out of breath. She turned on her back and began floating. Alex caught the movement out of the corner of her eye and stopped swimming. She stood up, chest deep in the ocean beside her lover, watching as Samantha's body rose above the water, her firm breasts glistening in the trickle of light from the moon. In Alex's eyes she was a silhouette of beauty on the ocean. She reached out and touched the floating vision, feeling the nipples respond to her tender caress. As she placed her other hand under Samantha's back, she drew her close enough to be able to lean over and cover one of the nipples with her mouth. The combination of soft skin and water was erotic and Alex explored the buoyant body before her. Her hand slowly traveled from the breast down to the stomach, and finally to the curly mound that was partially covered with the sea. She heard Samantha moan above the sound of the waves as she continued touching the smaller woman, drawing her even closer. Samantha threw her arms around Alex's neck, showering her with kisses and acclamations of love as the two continued to drift along the shoreline intertwined.

Occasionally a wave would push them closer to the shore and finally they decided to ride the waves in. When they reached the area where Samantha could comfortably stand, she did and she had somehow gotten in front of Alex. As Alex came up from body surfing she was greeted unexpectedly by splashes. Samantha had caught her off guard and then began running in the knee-deep tide toward the sand. She should have known better than to think she could outrun Alex -- anywhere -- but it was worth a try. Long legs, leaping through the ankle-deep water, went a lot faster than knee-deep legs and Alex caught up with her lover, grabbed her and swung her around, having her feet clip the waves as they broke along the shoreline.

Still holding Samantha up she asked whether Sam wanted to go for another dunk.

"Put me down," shouted the small blonde, trying her best to look annoyed.

Alex feigned throwing her back into the ocean but instead continued to carry her until they were almost on the dry sand where she gently put her down and drew her close for a delicate embrace. Samantha, her arms now around Alex's waist stood on her toes to kiss her lover, then began moving her hands slowly down Alex's back to her firm, muscular buttocks, gently squeezing as she felt the natural curves on either side.

Alex nibbled on her ear and mumbled that she had better stop teasing if she knew what was good for her.

"Who said anything about teasing?" Samantha answered. "Turn about's fair play. What do you think you did to me in the water?" She brought one hand around the front of Alex's body and in between her legs, playing with the soft curly hair that hid her lover's soft, wet folds.

Alex could feel her knees beginning to buckle and grabbed Samantha's hand.

"No, you don't, Samantha." Alex scolded, removing the hand that continued to play with the soft curls.

Samantha pulled her hand out from under Alex's. "You just let my fingers be, Alex Dorian. I'm not ready to go upstairs yet."

"Can we at least get on the blanket?" Alex smiled at the small blonde, looking around to make sure they were still the only people on the beach.

"Yeah, that might be a good idea, keep us from getting sand in certain areas that would best be without it," Sam laughed as she pulled Alex by the hand and ran toward the blanket. "Hurry, I don't want to loose the mood.

"No chance of that!" Alex stated, reversing their positions as she got in front of the smaller woman and ended up reaching the blanket first. She stopped at the edge and went down on her knees with Samantha directly behind her. Sam put both her arms around Alex's neck and kissed her on the top of the head as the taller woman had done to her so many times before. She continued leaning on Alex's back slowly pushing her forward, first onto her hands and then down onto her stomach. Of course Alex gave no resistance, letting Samantha think it was all her doing. The smaller woman's pseudo-victory arrived when Alex was down on the blanket with Samantha was lying on top of her.

Samantha showered Alex's neck and ears with soft kisses, her tongue tracing the curves of her lover's ear and then gently sucking on the soft lobe. She continued kissing her way down Alex's back tasting the mingling of Alex's own sweetness with the salt of the ocean. The mixture excited the passion of a new experience in the small blonde as her lips kissed the round muscular butt of her companion. She spread Alex's legs and placed her hand between them, feeling all the muscles of the taller woman's body tense at the anticipation.

"Not yet, my love," Samantha cooed to her partner. "Turn over and let me look into those eyes of yours -- my windows to your soul."

Alex did as she was bidden and saw Samantha had gotten on her knees, giving the larger woman an advantage -- she caught Samantha off balance, landing her flat on her back.

"Gotcha now," Alex smiled as she switched positions with the blonde and was now lying on top of her, holding her arms up over her head with one hand. She passionately leaned forward planting kisses all over Samantha's face and lips and traveling down to the flat stomach. Without letting go of the smaller woman's hands she ran her other hand down to the blonde mound of curls and gently played in the soft hair. She then teased and tormented her lover by playing gently over the areas of pleasure that begged to be stimulated to a greater degree. Each time Samantha would let out an exclamation of pleasure, Alex would smile, knowing that the enjoyment was two-fold. When she felt Samantha could take the taunting no longer she passionately entered her and consummated their ritual of love.

The crashing of the waves drown out the outcries of love coming from Sam as Alex drove her to a final climax. Alex smiled with satisfaction as she lay beside her lover, holding her close enough to feel the beating of her heart.

"I love you, baby," Alex purred as she kissed Samantha on the cheek, "I love making love to you."

"I love you, too, Alex," came a breathless response. "You make me feel like I've never felt before and each time it gets better." Samantha smiled at her lover and snuggled closer.

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

Off in the distance beyond sight yet with the capability of seeing stood a solitary figure who had just spent the best part of an hour glaring angrily through binoculars and was now viciously tearing at a photograph that had been developed earlier in the morning. "Just you wait! I'm not done with you yet!" came the growling comment that was audible only to the speaker.

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

The two lovers on the beach were oblivious to the fact that they had been observed. The wind was beginning to chill slightly and they decided to go back up to the house and into a warm jacuzzi to conclude the evening's festivities. They pulled on their shirts, folded up the blanket and gathered the towels before making their way back toward the cliff.

Halfway up the stairs they stopped on the platform and looked back out over the water, listening to the roar as the waves crashed upon the shoreline.

Alex cradled Samantha in her arms while Sam leaned back against her lover for support. "The sound of the ocean is so enchanting," Alex murmured into Samantha's ear.

"It is a soothing sound, isn't it?" Samantha agreed. "Now it will always sound like home to me," she continued as the ocean once again brought out the romantic in her. "I hope the passion we feel for each other lasts for a lifetime, Alex." Samantha turned and looked into two dark pools, unable to completely see the love that was emanating from them. "I don't know about you but I have made love and been made love to in the past week more than I have in . . . forever! I almost feel like . . . I don't know . . . it just isn't something I'm used to, but I can't seem to . . ."

"Hush, Samantha," Alex laughed at her lover. "Actually, it's been a very long time since I've made love to anyone or had anyone made love to me, too. But with you, I can't seem to help myself and you know what --- I don't want to. I think we're in the proverbial sheet-burn stage." She looked at her lover, smiled and then tightened her grip on her.

"Some passions never die, my love, they'll just eventually take a gentler form. I've watched my parents for years and have always envied them their passion for each other. They've been together almost 33 years and they still steal kisses in the kitchen, whisper into each other's ears and hold hands in the movies or while riding in the car. I hope we're as happy as they are after we've spent that much time together." Alex looked down at Samantha, trying to imagine not wanting to kiss or touch her every time she laid eyes on her. It will be a long time before this passion turns cool, my love, she confessed in thought.

"I can't wait to meet your parents, Alex," Samantha told her companion with enthusiasm. She then lowered her eyes and her voice as she confessed, "I'm not in as much of a hurry for you to meet mine. I know they'll love you at first, but . . . after they find out about our relationship . . . I'm not sure how the tide will turn."

Alex lifted her lover's face to once again look into now misty emerald eyes. "How are you going to tell them, Honey? Do you want me to be there with you for support?" Alex questioned, getting very concerned that Samantha might be putting herself in harm's way when she told her parents.

"I'm not sure yet, Alex. But they will be down for the Pageant of the Masters so I'd better start thinking about it, or rather I should say we should start talking about it so I have some idea how to deal with the situation. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about what their reaction might be."

"At least we have a little bit of time to plan," Alex countered. "Maybe my Mom can give us some clues - it's not the same situation but she's still a parent and she is pretty good with people." She gave Samantha a hug and then suggested that they go on up to the house. "We can talk about it more after we get to the house or in the morning after we've thought about it for a while."

"Sounds like a good idea," Samantha agreed. As they neared the front doors she remembered about the symbols. "You still need to tell me about all of these," Samantha reminded Alex as they approached the stained glass.

"I will, give us a little time to get some of the really important things out of the way first -- like getting you moved in." Alex opened the door, waited for Samantha to get in and then closed and locked the door behind her. She had an unsettling feeling as she was closing the doors and let her eyes search the area in front of the building. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, she shook off the feeling as being silly and turned back around to Samantha.

"You know, we didn't even check to see if the pool and Jacuzzi areas got finished while we were gone. Mind taking a little tour to see what was done in our absence?" Alex asked putting her arm around Samantha.

"Not at all -- lead the way," was the response.

They stopped by the supervisor's desk and checked on the notes that had been left in Alex's box. She read that the pool and the two Jacuzzi tubs had all been filled and the chemicals all checked out. The gym equipment had been finished being delivered and had been placed in the areas she had designated. The track upstairs was to be finished in the morning as was the guard rail that surrounded it.

"That's all I need to know for tonight." She turned back to Samantha after putting the paperwork back on the desk. "Let's go check out the pools." There was no need to turn on the lights, she knew the way by heart. She grabbed Samantha's hand and led her toward the pool area.

"Very impressive," Samantha stated as they walked around the perimeter of the pool.

Alex walked over and turned on the lights that just lit inside the pool yet gave plenty of illumination to the room, especially since the room was mostly glass. She walked over to Samantha who was staring inside the pool. Alex had commissioned a local artist to the paint the sides and bottom with creatures of the sea

"Look at the dolphins -- they look real from here Alex! What a wonderful idea. And there -- is that a manatee?" She bent slightly forward to get a better look.

"Yeah, why keep to the animals of this area only? A bit of variety is good," Alex answered as she came closer to her companion. "Look down there -- you'll see seals, blow fish, otters and even stingrays." She pointed a small distance from the region Samantha was looking at and when Samantha moved her head to follow Alex's hand, Alex pushed her in.

"Oops!" she laughed. "Did you want to swim with the creatures tonight?"

"Why, you!" Samantha yelled from the middle of the pool. "Do you want me to sleep in the water tonight? First the ocean and now this! Get your butt in here with me, or do I have to come out and get you?"

"I don't need to be told twice," Alex answered as she took off her shirt and dove in, coming up beside the smaller woman. She reached out and pulled Samantha's sopping shirt over her head, wrung it out and threw it to the side of the pool then grabbed her lover and kissed her. "You are just too sexy when you're wet!" She drew Samantha closer and traced the smaller woman's body with her hands. "That's not to say you're not sexy when you're dry, but wet is very nice!" They swam around looking at all the sea creatures, Samantha marveling at how realistic they were.

"Okay, we christened this pool, let's get out and go check out the Jacuzzi." Alex prompted.

"I'd say I'd race ya, but every time I've tried so far has ended up disastrous for me," Samantha laughed. "So, you lead and I'll follow."

Like a couple of kids who had been locked in the school gym after hours, they first got into the men's Jacuzzi and then tried out the women's. Alex turned on the sauna before they went into the first pool and by the time they were finished the sauna was steaming. It checked out to be working perfectly, even though the dry heat was not Alex's favorite. The finishing touch of the evening was the shower stalls where they used the sample shampoo and conditioner on their hair before drying off and heading back upstairs.

Alex tried to tempt Samantha into breaking in the mat on the gym floor, but Samantha insisted that it was time they go up to the apartment. She gave the excuse that she was thirsty but what she really wanted was to get Alex up to the waterbed; she had plans for the rest of the evening. Love on the beach was exciting but she wanted to finalize the night by making love to Alex in the soft, comfortable bed. She had never been sexually turned on by anyone before, and now she could not get enough of touching the woman she had fallen in love with or enough of having Alex touch her.

In her mind she put together a scenario where they could spend an entire week locked up in the house, only taking time out to eat, go the bathroom and occasionally sleep. She figured that after a week like that they would at least be able to carry on a more normal relationship without having to touch each other each time they were in reaching distance. Then she reconsidered -- maybe she should make it a month!

Now she knew how all her girlfriends felt in high school when they had crushes on boys. Samantha didn't want to be anywhere that Alex wasn't and she wanted to be in physical contact with her at all times.

At any rate, Samantha, got her way and the two ended up back in the apartment. Sam went and piled up the pillows for them to lean against and Alex poured them a glass of wine. They sat, still unclothed, in front of the windows looking out over the ocean with Alex's arms wrapped tightly around Sam, breathing in her fragrance. The business woman in Alex began talking about work, but Samantha kept interrupting her by turning around and kissing on her neck or tickling her until she finally gave up and told Samantha that they really needed to have a serious conversation in the morning. Samantha agreed, but admitted she did not want to have it tonight. Alex condescended and shelved the discussion as they finished their wine. Samantha then lured her lover into the bedroom.

Sam was quite determined that the rest of the evening would go her way and when she put her mind to things, she usually won. The conversation died as the seduction in the bedroom began. The small blonde found new methods of teasing before delivering what she promised, but deliver she most certainly did. As a newcomer to being in love, she was a quick study and Alex was delighted at being on the receiving end of all those pent up emotions.

The night was turning into morning as the two women lay wrapped in each other's arms. There was a lot that needed to be accomplished in the next couple days. The Clinic needed finalization so they could open the doors the following week. Physical therapists, massage therapists and all the instructors who had already been assigned positions in the Clinic needed to be contacted and told exactly when they could begin. The dates had been tentatively made months ago and now confirmation calls were in order.

Alex had in mind just the right person to help organize all that was left to do, in fact, that person was at this moment falling asleep in her arms. All Alex needed to do was to persuade Samantha that working together would be as wonderful an experience as loving and living together was going to be. She was sure she wouldn't have any problems convincing Sam, the trick was to slow her down long enough to listen to what Alex had planned.

Samantha stirred slightly and tightened her hold around Alex's waist, "I love you, Alex," came the whispered confession from the half-asleep woman.

Alex was glad to be home and glad that Samantha was in her life to stay. The Clinic, the parents and what to do with Sam's apartment were important but not so much as her having Sam within speaking distance at all times. She tightened her hold on the small blonde and gently stroked her hair as she kissed her goodnight.

"I love you, too, baby," Alex softly replied in a hushed tone. Tomorrow was going to be a very busy day. She again thanked the Goddess for letting the vivacious imp in her arms become part of her world as she, also, closed her eyes and slept.

Chapter 11

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