Laguna Nights

by Carole Giorgio

Chapter 16

Even though the sun was having a difficult time peeking through the cloud cover, Alex's inner alarm went off and she awoke to a gray colored sky. Gently untangling herself from Samantha's hold, she slipped out of bed and into the bathroom. She showered and dressed, smiled over at the still sleeping imp in her bed and went into the kitchen. For sure Kelley would be up already so she opened the door to the hall, a sign that at least someone was stirring on this side of the building. She poured a cup of tea and went to sit in the living room and wake up completely.

"Glad to see you still retain some of your old habits. It's nice to occasionally have company to watch the sun come up," a familiar voice rang through the living room as Kelley helped herself to a cup of tea. "So, is Samantha a late sleeper like your Mom?"

"Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I've fallen in love with my Mother. That's a scary thought, you know," the younger woman smiled over at her parent. "But then, you've put up with Mom for a long time, so I guess that's at least a good sign."

"Samantha seems sweet, Alex. I hope this lasts for you. I would love to see you settled down and happy for a change." Her eyes twinkling, she added, "We may even get to have a grandchild?"

"I wouldn't go that far, Kelley. We've never talked about kids. I don't even know how Samantha feels about children. We've been too busy just getting to know each other and getting this business off the ground."

"I won't push it, but you know how your Mother is. She'll be dropping little hints in no time, I'm sure." She smiled at her daughter, "I think her biological grandmother's clock is ticking."

They both got a good laugh out of that one, with Alex just shaking her head and putting up her hands in a gesture of surrender.

"Tonight should be interesting, Alex. I think we'll all enjoy the show. Aurora made sure we got the same seats as last year so we're real close to the stage."

"I think the theme has to do with the end of the millennium, doesn't it?" Alex asked.

"It's called 'The 20th Century: Ten Decades of Arts,'" Kelley informed her daughter. "I've heard that they have taken out the final scene, you know, DiVinci's Last Supper and replaced it with Salvador Dali's Sacrament of the Last Supper, in keeping with the 20th century agenda. As I said, it should be interesting."

Alex suggested that they start waking the others up, but Kelley said to let them rest a bit longer for the day and evening would be quite long.

One by one the stragglers trickled into the living room. Ray, then Aurora and finally Sonny came shuffling in, heading for the teapot. Sonny let out a remark about not having coffee and Alex pointed him in the direction of the instant. He wrinkled his nose and settled for finding some tea that contained caffeine.

Alex shook her head and professed that if they were to wait for Samantha to wake on her own they would be having lunch instead of breakfast. The consensus was to go out for breakfast and then down to the town for a little shopping. Alex headed for the bedroom to awaken the straggling sleeper.

A gentle shake barely got a rise out of the slumberer. "Let's go sleepy head; everyone else is up and dressed."

"Why doesn't anyone ever let me sleep until I wake up on my own?" came the soft whimper from the small blonde as she rubbed her eyes.

"Because if we let you wake up on your own, we'd miss the entire day and probably some of the evening," replied her lover bending over and giving her a good morning kiss. "Don't whine, it's not becoming. Everyone is up, dressed and hungry. You have exactly 15 minutes to get up and ready or we'll go out to Eat without you," she whispered into Samantha's ear.

Green eyes opened wide to the magic word 'Eat.' "Okay, I'm up and on my way to the shower . . ." She entered the bathroom, "See me starting the shower . . ." she reached in and turned on the water "15 minutes, I'll be good to go in 15 minutes, don't you dare even think about leaving without me!" came the final comment as she disappeared into the shower stall.

Alex laughed, shook her head and walked into the living room to tell the rest of the troupe that the final member had joined the living and would be ready to go in the allotted amount of time.


The morning sped quickly by and window shopping turned into a shopping spree for Aurora and Sonny, who insisted on stopping at a nursery for some large dwarf trees for the Center as house warming gifts. They purchased two palms for around the pool area and two citrus trees. Kelley talked the man into delivering them immediately and the small caravan started back to the warehouse, trailing a pickup full of trees, under a sky that had finally decided to clear and let the sun shine through.

The Pageant was still hours away, so Kelley suggested making a large pitcher of margaritas and having a pool party to celebrate the newly acquired shrubbery. She received no objections, so proceeded to the kitchen area while everyone else headed to their various rooms for swimming attire. The afternoon followed the morning in speed and early evening was quickly upon the little group. It had already been decided that they would eat after the main event so they had snacked throughout the afternoon along with the liquid refreshments.

Samantha had taken this extra time to get to know Aurora a little better and to ask her opinion on how to inform her parents that she was a lesbian.

"You know Sam," Aurora began, "everyone takes news like that differently. How do your parents feel about homosexuals?"

"I don't really know how my Mother feels, we've never talked about it, but I know that my Father thinks it's terrible. That's why I'm afraid to tell him, I don't know how he'll react to me." Samantha looked deep into Aurora's eyes, hoping the guru of positive thinking would have the magical answer that would make everything all right and easy."

Aurora looked at the young woman with compassion but could not give her the answer she desired, "I wish I could tell you to take that leap of faith and just tell them, but if your Dad is homophobic there is really no telling what his reaction might be. Perhaps the best thing is to let him meet Alex first and get to like her just as your friend. After all they don't live in the area and you don't have to deal with the issue on a daily basis."

"But, there will be Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up and I refuse to be without Alex for our very first holidays together. Explaining to my parents that I'm bringing someone home for a family gathering would be really difficult and I know Alex would want to spend some of the holiday time with you two and I'd have to explain that, also." Samantha was beginning to get misty-eyed and her voice was starting to crack.

"Samantha, I think the best thing is to let it ride for now. Don't stress over it. Think positively about it at night before you drift off to sleep and give yourself some time. You'll be seeing your parents next week. Don't even attempt to bring up the subject during that meeting. Give them time to get used to your new environment and your new friend. Let them see how happy you are and how much fun it is to be with Alex. Keep it light this first meeting." She smiled at the young woman and drew her near to give her a motherly hug. "I'm sure it will all work out as it is supposed to. Remember we are all where we are supposed to be and there is nothing that happens without a reason. Even bad things have a reason."

"I'm sure Mom and Dad will really like Alex. After all . . . what's not to like?" She smiled at the older woman, the sparkle back in her eyes just thinking about her lover who was busy racing in the pool with Ray and Kelley.

Sonny who had just come in on the end of the conversation heard the word Dad and asked Samantha what he did for a living.

"He's a salesman. Pretty high up in the company, he's District Manager over about 20 other sales reps covering a couple states. His main areas are Washington and Oregon with branches out to Utah and Idaho, mostly the far northwestern part of the country." Pride showed in Samantha's face when she talked about her Dad and it made Aurora angry to think that this man could possibly turn against his own daughter because of who she fell in love with.

Sonny widened his eyes and smiled at his friend, "That sounds pretty prestigious, what's the name of the company he works for?"

Water droplets hit Samantha's shoulders making her squeal in response as Alex came up from behind dripping and leaning over to kiss her on the neck. "Company Who works for?" she butted into the conversation.

"Alex -- that's cold!" came the reply from the small blonde, "and . . . company my Dad works for."

"Okay, I'm curious . . . what company?" Alex just smiled as she shook her head like a puppy spraying water all over her lover.

Samantha wiped herself off and threw the towel at Alex, "I shouldn't even tell you for that but since Sonny asked . . ." she turned and faced her friend, " . . . Dad works for a large medical supplier called ZZ Medi-aide."

"No!" came the almost involuntary response from the wet, dark-haired beauty standing over the small gathering.

"What do you mean -- No?" Samantha asked.

Alex squatted down in front of her lover, putting her hands on Samantha's shoulders. "Please, honey, don't tell me your Dad is a big wig at ZZ Medi-aide. Please tell me you're kidding."

Samantha looked in wonder at the reaction she was getting from Alex, "Of course he works there, and has for 25 years. In fact, he's a damn cornerstone. What's the problem? Alex, you actually look pale."

"Samantha, ZZ Medi-aide is one of the biggest competitors Have It All has. Marge Silkton and Dick Sanstein are arch enemies. "I've gone rounds with more of their sales reps than I care to acknowledge and have taken quite a few accounts away from them when they thought they had everything all tied up with a ribbon. Whatever you do, don't mention Have It All around your Dad, and especially don't let him know that I am associated with the company. Damn . . ."

"It's okay, Alex, don't go getting so upset. I'll just introduce you as the owner of Alternative Paradise. Dad doesn't need to know about Have It All." Samantha patted Alex on the shoulder like a small child. "I didn't mean to upset you."

"I know, honey, I just wasn't expecting that particular company to come out of your mouth." Alex shook her head and smiled at the small gathering. "I'm sorry, I probably overreacted, it was just a shock."

"I think it's time we all headed for the showers," chimed in Ray, changing the subject. "It's six o'clock and that will give us all an hour and a half before we have to leave for the amphitheater."


Sitting out under the stars meant that dress was casual and everyone was glad the clouds had dissipated, leaving a clear evening sky. This would be the first Pageant for Ray, Sonny and Samantha. Kelley reminded everyone to keep their ticket stubs as they needed them to get into the festival in the morning. Aurora was anxious to see the reactions of the newbies to the 'living pictures' they were about to experience.

The program explained a little of what they were about to see and there of course was a list of all the scenes that would be portrayed. A great majority of the paintings to be enacted were going to be Norman Rockwell's from the 1940's and 1960's. On the list was "Rosie the Riveter", "USO Volunteers", "Picasso vs. Sargent" and "Astronauts on the Moon." Kelley was anxious to see the George Segal white plaster human figures because two of her favorites, "The Commuters" and "Rush Hour" were on the bill. Ray was interested in seeing the display from "The Great War." It seemed like there was going to be something to please just about every artistic palate.

The orchestra played an introduction and the program started promptly at 8:30 with 'International Exposition from 1900'. Alex had to laugh at the expression on Samantha's face. When the curtain rose, the small blonde's mouth dropped open and her eyes got as big as saucers; she had no idea the type of display that was going to be on the stage when the curtains opened. There were a series of bronze and porcelain reproductions, painted people who stood absolutely still and looked exactly like the object they were imitating. She couldn't believe people could stand still for that long, until Sonny reminded her of the plaster man they had seen up in San Francisco.

The reproductions of the paintings had everyone in awe; there were even frames around the scenes to complete the illusion that a life-size painting was being viewed. No one was disappointed in the enactment they had picked as their favorite. Samantha was especially fond of the recreations of the 1950's album covers which they had entitled "Rock Legends." Toward the end of the evening the audience was privy to an open curtain while the performers were preparing the next scene so everyone could see how they were orchestrated. All in all the evening was a smashing success and Samantha said she would have no trouble whatsoever sitting through the entire experience again the following Saturday night.

The only moderately uncomfortable time throughout the entire evening was that during the intermission Samantha was slightly jumpy. Ray, Alex and Kelley were standing in line for refreshments, Aurora had gone to the ladies room and Sonny observed that Samantha had an uneasy look on her face as she seemed to be searching the crowd. When he questioned her as to why she seemed so edgy, she told him it was just that there were so many people and she wasn't used to such crowds. The answer seemed to pacify her friend and he suggested that they go look at one of the souvenir booths. Had the truth been known, she was afraid of running into the psychotic blonde who seemed to have a knack of showing up at any affair Samantha was attending since she had met Alex. She didn't want a confrontation here at the Pageant and especially not in front of Alex's parents. Samantha certainly didn't want her new in-laws thinking she was going to be bad luck for their daughter. So far it seemed to her that she was well accepted into their little family and she surely wanted to keep the consensus in her favor.

When the show was over, Alex suggested a restaurant on the waterfront a little further south on Coast Highway, away from the pageant crowd. It was a quiet little place which didn't remain so once the entourage arrived and spotted the piano bar over in the corner. Kelley and Ray convinced the two "show people" to contain their talents until after dinner and promised that after dining they would be allowed to give the patrons the pleasure of hearing their lovely voices.

Dinner, dessert, two bottles of champagne and many, many songs later the small troupe was headed back toward Laguna to sleep off the intoxication of a night of pleasant memories.


Even with only a few hours sleep, habit would not allow Alex or Kelley to sleep long past the rising of the sun. They greeted Sunday morning before any of the others knew the morning had arrived. The festival opened at 10 a.m. and they figured the rest of the party could sleep in a little before needing to be awakened. Alex made tea and they sat and talked about the future of Alternative Paradise, the escalation of real estate prices in California and the change in Alex since Samantha came along.

Kelley totally approved of Samantha and had no trouble conveying that fact to her daughter. It had been a long time since Alex had brought someone home who both of her parents approved of and, in actuality, the feeling was a rather good one. Early morning moments such as the ones they were sharing gave the two women some special time alone, time they occasionally needed to cement the bond that tended to be pulled apart in times of adversity. Even though she knew Alex was a grown woman, Kelley found it difficult not to give Alex her opinion, an opinion that more frequently than not Alex did not agree with. The two had butted heads more often than they would care to remember but always seemed to find a special time to bond again and make the relationship right. As in the old poem about the child not growing under her heart but in it, the connection between the two was as close, if not closer, than if they had been blood relatives. Actually, Kelley's strong hands had been the first to cradle Alex, as Kelley had been helping in the birthing room, had cut the umbilical cord and was the one who handed the newborn to an anxiously awaiting Aurora.

They had finished off the first pot of tea and as Alex got up to make another, Kelley suggested that perhaps it was time to awake the sleepers and get the day started. Alex totally agreed and said she would, of course, get Samantha who would probably be the most difficult to awaken, if Kelley would get the rest of them up. That settled they took off in opposite directions.


"Here we go again, Samantha. It's beyond sunrise and almost out of early morning. Sunday's here and the day is going to be a busy one. Time to get up."

The still somnolent woman placed her hands over her ears, grimaced and shot her lover an evil look through slits of green, "Do you have to be so loud about it? My head is killing me."

A crooked grin appeared on Alex's face as she stood towering over the suffering Samantha. "That's what you get for trying to keep up with the pros. When it comes to champagne and late hours, Mom and Sonny can't be beat. But it looks like the late hours and champagne took their toll on you, huh, Samantha? I'll make you a concoction that will stop the headache and have you fit in no time . . . but you must promise to get out of bed immediately with no more fussing."

"Anything if you can make my ears stop ringing like Quasimoto is inside my head swinging on the bells." Samantha put her head back on the pillow, still holding her ears.

Alex gently helped her out of bed and pointed her in the direction of the bathroom. "I'll be right back, get your butt into the shower."

"Yes, boss," came the whispered sarcastic reply as she started the shower running. "But you had better be back here with my fix by the time I'm through."

It didn't take long for Samantha to finish showering, when she opened the shower door Alex was standing in front of her holding a tall glass full of red liquid.

Dripping wet Samantha stared at the glass of remedy. "What is that? Please don't tell me you expect me to drink it. I can smell it from here."

Alex cocked her head and recited the ingredients, "Let's see . . . tomato juice, vinegar, lemon juice, onion, sugar, celery, Tabasco sauce, salt, pepper and a package of E-mergen-C, all blended together."

"Yuck," was all the hangover victim could manage, with a look on her face like the cure was going to be worse than the ailment.

In the most reassuring tone Alex could muster she explained, "I know it sounds terrible, Samantha, but it really will work and you'll be feeling better before you're even dressed -- I promise."

"Easy for you to say . . . you aren't the one who has to drink it . . . by the Gods it smells terrible!" She took the glass from her lover and holding her nose downed the entire glass without breathing. "You could have at least brought me a cracker or two to ease the taste when I was finished."

"You're very welcome. I don't think I've ever heard anyone more grateful." Alex took the empty glass and began to leave the bathroom.

"Come back here," the small blonde ordered.

"Who could refuse such a sweet invitation?" Alex turned around and walked back toward her still wet lover.

Samantha threw her arms around the taller woman's waist and looked up into devoted eyes. "Thank you Alex, I appreciate the trouble you went through to try to ease my suffering, even though it did taste like dirty socks."

"When was the last time you tasted dirty socks? Have you been keeping something back from me? Do you have little obsessions I don't know about?" Alex grinned and kissed her lover on the forehead.

"Very funny, Alex. Just how many of those drinks have you drunk?"

"More than I care to acknowledge," came the prompt reply. "Now, it's time you got this beautiful naked body of yours clothed, before I decide to let the rest of the party go ahead to breakfast and dine right here on you." Alex ran her hands down smooth, damp shoulders, fondling breasts as her slender fingers caressed the small form in front of her. She bent down and kissed the eagerly awaiting lips that quickly parted to allow a tongue entrance.

Samantha purred, "I love you Alexis Dorian." The still suffering blonde had completed the whisper without allowing her lips to leave Alex's.

"Ditto my little sailor. No more drunken nights for a while unless we take precautions before you start drinking and before you go to bed." Alex squeezed her tightly then stepped back. "I really must let you get dressed, everyone else is probably close to being ready to leave." She turned and started to walk out of the bathroom.

"You don't have to worry about the drinking. I don't intend to have another of these headaches for a very long time. Of course your Mom and Sonny are leaving this evening, so I will have no one around to corrupt me further." She smiled and gave Alex a little shoo gesture with her hands, then proceeded to finish drying and started the dressing process.

Alex stepped into the living room to find it still empty. She walked over to the guest suite and knocked on the door. Kelley answered the knock with, "Come in, it's open."

"I just wanted to see how you two were coming along. Samantha is out of the shower and dressing. I ought to give Mom and Sonny a piece of my mind for plying Samantha with all that champagne last night. She's not used to drinking like they are."

"Alex, stop playing mother hen. She's a big girl. Everyone should have at least one decent hangover in their life. At least then they know how they never want to feel again." She patted her daughter on the back. "Your little cure all should be working fairly soon; it always worked quickly for you if I remember correctly." She smiled and walked toward the bedroom. "I'll go check on your Mom and we'll meet you over at your place. Why don't you go see how the boys are coming along?"

Alex nodded and left the suite, closing the door behind her. As she turned the corner toward the guy's room, she spotted Ray coming down the hall toward her.

"Sonny's just about ready. He really tied one on last night," there was a twinkle in the usually solemn man's eyes. "A hangover's good for him once in a while, humbles him, and champagne is just the drink to do it."

"Well, he's not in that boat alone today. My Samantha has the hangover of her life. I gave her a cure all and hopefully she'll be better in a short time. A couple more glasses of juice and she should be rehydrated. I hate to see her in such pain, but she should have known better." Alex shook her head and the two friends walked toward her living area.

Within minutes the stragglers all appeared in the living room. Strangely, the three of them all seemed to have the same distant look on their faces, although the two older late comers did not have quite as pained an expression. The three individuals who had not tied-one-on the night before all gently chided the three musketeers. Alex fixed two more cure all drinks and a glass of orange juice for Samantha. Her Mother insisted that she did not have a hangover but Kelley nodded for Alex to continue with the remedy. The consensus between the sober three was that everyone needed to be in peak condition for the busy day that was planned so after playing last night it was time to pay the piper.

By 10 o'clock everyone was prepared to leave. Aurora reminded them all that they needed their ticket stubs from the night before to get into the festival. Ray suggested they take the car he and Sonny had rented and then park it in one of the lots and take the shuttle bus up to the event.

Alex scooted in next to Samantha in the back seat and whispered into her ear, "You feeling better than you did when you woke up?"

"I sure am! As terrible as that concoction was to drink it did fix the foggy head, the pain and the desire to visit the porcelain throne on my knees. I think the extra juice probably helped a lot too." She smiled at the beautiful face beaming at her and kissed her on the cheek. It felt great to be able to be herself in front of Alex's parents which brought to mind the ordeal they were going to have to go through this time next week when it was her parents they were taking to the festival. The more she thought about them coming down the more she wished they would call and cancel. The twinkle in her eyes must have changed because Alex got a serious look on her face and started to say something. Samantha kissed her own middle and index fingers and put them to her lover's lips while shaking her head slightly and smiling. Alex took the hint and did not question the flash of a blank stare that had appeared on the small blonde's face and just as quickly turned back into a sparkling smile.

They arrived at the lot not expecting the turnout to be quite as large as it already was. Even with the crowd, it seemed as though the Festival attendants had everything under control and the shuttle buses kept coming one after the other to fill and quickly leave. In less than a half hour after they had left the house they were standing at the entrance to the Festival of Arts.

"Shall we try to all stay together or go our separate ways and fix a time to meet?" Ray wanted to know.

Kelley looked at the group and commented, "I think we should all walk together for a while, at least until we find a food booth and get something in our stomachs. Then we can walk together for as long as seems feasible and if a couple wants to go a different direction then we'll set a time. Does that sound reasonable?"

It seemed as though the idea sat pretty well with everyone. Samantha looked at the program they were given as they walked through the gate and immediately spotted some of the refreshment stands. They looked for something everyone could eat and headed in that direction.

Unusual for such a large group they seemed to have no trouble staying together. Conversation picked up after bellies were full and headaches were extremely diminished or completely eradicated. The atmosphere was more formal than the SawDust Faire had been but the artistry was superb. The variety was abundant as there were painters (oil and watercolor), charcoal sketch artists, pen and ink displays, sculptors, ceramic works and jewelers just to name a few of the categories.

Free workshops took on a different tone as the six exceedingly different personalities all converged on them at once. They all tried their hand at pottery, having to first adorn themselves in full length aprons. Ray gave up after two collapsed vases; Alex gave up after three. Sonny had a grand time making a dish while Aurora and Samantha ended up with mugs. They left their treasures to be fired while they continued down the path, writing down the number of the booth so they would be able to find their way back later in the day.

The area in which Ray shone was the watercolor workshop. He ended up with a beautiful sunset that was actually good enough to be framed and hung. Even Sonny was surprised at his mate's talent and assured him they would find a suitable frame when they arrived home.

Aurora bought a painting that reminded her of a Thomas Kinkade. The artist seemed to have the same ability to play with the light and make it seem as though the painting had a luminosity of its own. The scene was that of a cottage by the sea at sunset and she told Samantha that they could put it up in the guest suite and then she would be able to admire it every time she and Kelley visited.

Occasionally Samantha found herself patrolling the crowd in anticipation of spotting the dreaded blonde, but her fears were thankfully unfounded. She was careful not to upset anyone else as she continued her search. Each time she looked for the horrible woman her spirits would fall, but she was immediately compensated with elation when her search yielded no sign of her evil nemesis.

The rest of the day pleasantly unfolded and they took time to stop, relax and listen to the different musical groups that were seen on stages scattered throughout the area. Aurora and Kelley were partial to the classical while the other four were more interested in the jazz. They sat and listened to a jazz quartet when they stopped for lunch around two o'clock and the rest of the afternoon seemed to speed by.

Everything had pretty much been seen by the time five o'clock rolled around and everyone was more than a little tired from walking. Alex commented that she didn't remember walking that much at Disneyland the last time they were there to which Aurora replied maybe not but that they walked more than that at Disney World. Samantha got in on the conversation by stating that she would gladly walk as much at either Disneyland or Disney World as she had been a deprived child (with a large grin on her face) and had not gotten to go to either of the Happiest Places on Earth. Alex promised that Disneyland would be an easy wish to fulfil and that Disney World would be put on their list of things to do before they got too old. Sonny, of course, chimed in that you never get too old for either of the Disney establishments and Ray suggested the conversation end and they start back to the car.

The shuttles were still running both up to the Festival and down to the town and were overflowing with patrons going in both directions. The little group arrived back at the warehouse close to six and Sonny and Ray headed for their room to add the trinkets they had either purchased or made in the workshops at the Festival to their luggage. Ray wanted to make sure everything was packed and organized long before it was time for them to start to the airport. Kelley suggested that they do the same and the two older women took off for the suite. Alex and Samantha stood and looked at each other smiling. Alex leaned down and whispered in her lover's ear. "We'll be totally alone for the first time in four days in about 2 hours. Mom and Kelley plan on leaving the same time as the guys." She kissed Samantha on the cheek. "Do you have plans for the rest of the evening?"

"Why, I don't believe I do. Alex, what did you have in mind?" The small blonde batted her eyelashes and smiled innocently, barely able to keep from laughing.

"I thought perhaps a nice warm Jacuzzi, followed by a quiet evening just enjoying one another," came the quick reply as an eyebrow raised and a crooked smile crossed the face of the beautiful dark-haired woman. "At least this weekend I could touch you without having to curb my actions too much. Come next weekend I don't know how I'm going to manage."

"I feel exactly the same way, Alex. I was wishing they would change their minds and decide not to come, but once Dad has his itinerary mapped out there's no changing it. I'm afraid we're going to have to suffer through the visit." A slight frown appeared where a smile had just been.

"Hey," Alex took her lover's face into both hands and tilted it up to look directly into moist green eyes. "Let's have none of that. It won't be that awful. As a matter of fact, I'm looking forward to meeting your folks and especially to meeting your sister. I just wish I could thank your parents for having you. If it wasn't for them you wouldn't be in my life right now." She kissed away the frown and it was replaced once more with the smile she could not get enough of. "That's more like it, let's go see how the guys are coming along with their packing."

They walked over to where Ray and Sonny were staying just in time to meet them coming out of the room.

"Well, we're all packed and ready to go," Sonny told the girls, "Ray's going to take the suitcases down and then we'll just have to get in the car and drive."

"Here," Alex offered, "let me help with those. You two go on over to the suite and talk with Mom and Kelley, we'll meet you back up there in a few minutes." She grabbed one of the large suitcases from Ray and he heaved a sigh of relief for not having to carry all the bags down by himself.

Sonny and Samantha started over toward the suite, discussing the next time either the guys would come down or the gals would venture back up to San Francisco. They found the suite door open so went in, preceding their entrance by talking loudly.

"Hello," Sonny bellowed, "You had better be decent because we're already in the room." He looked over at his friend and giggled.

Kelley came out of the bedroom area with a suitcase in each hand. She looked in the direction of Samantha and Sonny, "Aurora thinks she needs to pack for at least a week no matter how long we're staying. I think she put half the house in these bags." She placed the suitcases by the door and went and sat on the couch. "Make yourselves comfortable, she's closing up the overnight case and primping. Heaven knows why, we're just going in the car."

"I'll go make sure she hasn't left anything," Samantha said as she started toward the bedroom. She knocked lightly on the door before entering. "Aurora, are you decent?"

"Depends on who you ask?" came the quick reply. "Come on in, Samantha." Aurora poked her head out of the bathroom and smiled at the younger woman.

"So, do you feel a little more at ease about next weekend?" the older woman asked.

"Not really. I've resigned myself to the fact that I can't just blurt out to my family that I'm a lesbian, but not being able to act normally around Alex is going to be a real chore. I almost wish they would decide not to come down . . ."

"Don't say that Samantha, you don't really not want to see your parents, especially when they live so far away. There will come a day when they won't be around to visit you and you'll have an emptiness in your life. Your visit will go just fine and you and Alex can just be good friends for the weekend, it won't kill either one of you." She moved closer to the small blonde and gave her a hug. "It's really good to have you in our family. I'm glad Alex finally found a nice girl to settle her down."

Samantha began to blush.

"So, have you two talked about starting a family yet? I don't mean to rush you but I am at the grandmother stage you know and would love to be spry enough to do things with my granddaughter while I'm spoiling her!" Aurora smiled broadly at the now totally red-faced woman standing in front of her.

"Actually, we haven't talked about anything as serious as children. I guess we should because I don't even know where Alex stands on that topic. As for myself, I like kids and always had in the back of my mind that eventually I would settle and start a family of my own, but . . ."

"Well, I just wanted to put the thought out there . . . no hurry . . . next year would do just fine." She smiled again and then told Samantha that it was their decision, but she really would like to have a grandchild to love and spoil.

Kelley called into the room announcing that everyone else was in the living room and waiting for them to finish and join the group. Aurora picked up the packed bag and put her arm around Samantha's waist as the two of them walked out of the room.

The final visiting hour was spent reminiscing over the past few days, the success of the open house and the fun at the Pageant and Festival. No one seemed to really want to leave but the time approached and leaving was inevitable. Ray tore Sonny away from Samantha and Aurora with the threat of not visiting again. Even though everyone knew it was idle, it did get Sonny moving a little faster toward the car. Ray made Alex promise to bring Samantha up to San Francisco at least for the Halloween extravaganza in October, if they couldn't manage to get away any sooner. He extended the invitation to Aurora and Kelley. The two younger women made a commitment and the two older women promised to consider the venture. Before long the guys were on their way to the airport and final family goodbyes were all that was left of the glorious four-day visit.

Kelley and Alex went back upstairs to retrieve the luggage, giving Aurora and Samantha a little more time to talk.

"You know, I feel as though I've known Alex forever," the conversation was started by Samantha. "It's like I've been away all my life and have finally come home. Not home to Laguna or any place in particular, but to Alex. It's like Alex is my home and wherever she is, that's where I belong, also.

"If you are truly soulmates then the feeling would be exactly like that when you finally find each other in this life," Aurora explained. "I know an excellent past life regressionist in La Jolla. If you're interested Samantha, have Alex bring you down as soon as you two can manage a weekend. Let me know as soon in advance as you possibly can because she's a very busy person and it usually it takes up to six months to get an appointment with her, but she's a good friend of mine and I could pull some strings for you."

"That sounds terribly exciting, but a little scary. I guess you've been through it, huh?"

"Yes, I went years ago and even talked Kelley into experiencing it. As it turned out, we've been together many times in the past. We've also been with Alex quite a few times," Aurora told the younger woman. "Who knows, we may have even been with you but didn't know who you were in this lifetime at the time we had our regressions."

"I would love to have a regression. Do you find out places you've lived as well as people you've lived with?" Samantha wanted to know.

"Oh, yeah. We've lived in Ancient Greece, the Hawaiian islands, China, Africa and of course North America to name a few of the places that have come through in the sessions. It surely is an experience. I've done it a couple times just to see what else might come through." She smiled at the small blonde. "It will be our treat for both you and Alex . . . if you can get Alex to do it. I haven't had any luck, but you might have an easier time getting her to go."

"I will definitely work on her, Aurora." Samantha smiled broadly just anticipating the adventure.

Changing the subject, Aurora got a bit more serious. "Samantha, I don't know how you feel about calling me Mom. You might want to wait until you know me better or you are with Alex longer. But whenever you are comfortable with the term, it's fine with me. I think we are all going to get along great and I have lots of stories to tell you about Alex when she was little." Aurora hugged Samantha and gave her a kiss on the forehead. It made the smaller woman think of how like her Mother Alex was in certain respects. She also had a warm, tender feeling thinking that Aurora totally accepted her as a daughter-in-law in such a short period of time. "Don't answer now -- just do it if and when it feels natural."

Echoing from the front of the building came the voice of Kelley, "Okay, ladies, conversation will have to be postponed to a later time and place. This little party of two needs to get underway and on the road before my lovely mate here decides I will be vacationing from the office on Monday . . . again." She turned to Alex with a mock look of indignation, "Did you know that the last time we went away for a weekend in Sedona, your Mother turned it into a week's vacation?"

"No, I don't think she mentioned that little feat to me," Alex grinned over at her Mom. "But if you have to be kidnapped and made to vacation, Sedona is a lovely place to do it." She looked over at Samantha, "Of course that will also be one of our little excursions. Probably in the near future as one of my clients called not too long ago stressing over the fact that I was too busy to fly in and help him with some expansion. I promised I would make it a priority as soon as the Center here was opened and running."

"You won't have to twist my arm to vacation, I can promise you that," came the response from Samantha.

Kelley motioned that the car was packed and it was time for them to get going. While Alex was saying goodbye to Kelley, Samantha again thanked Aurora for the dinner out, the Pageant and the lovely picture they had hung in the living room in the guest suite. She also thanked her for making it so easy to be a part of their family. Aurora told Samantha that making her part of the family seemed very natural to everyone involved, so it must be a sign that their relationship was destined to be a good one.

The young women switched parents and Samantha walked over to Kelley. Kelley gave her a hug and told her again how good it was to have met her and that she was thrilled to see Alex so happy. She whispered into the small blonde's ear to take good care of her "little girl", and of course Samantha promised that Alex would always be her top priority.

Both the parents had mentioned the fact that they knew Alternative Paradise was going to be a smashing success with the two girls working it together. They also knew that anything Alex had ever put her mind to had been successful and there was no reason for this business to be any exception.

With all the farewells said there was nothing Aurora could think of to do to delay the departure any longer. She got in the car and off they went, waving until the warehouse was totally out of sight.

Alex turned to her lover and sighed. "We are actually absolutely alone." She looked around and repeated herself then picked Samantha up and kissed her passionately. "I've been wanting to do that all day!"

"And what do you have planned for the rest of the evening?" Samantha asked with a twinkle in her eyes.

"Well, I thought we start with a glass of champagne . . ."

"No, I don't think so!" came the emphatic reply. "I won't be drinking champagne for quite a while. The memory of this morning's awakening is still much too clear."

"I do believe I suggested a nice warm Jacuzzi earlier today and then simply enjoying each other the rest of the evening. Do you suppose you could fit that into you schedule?" Alex smiled at the smaller woman standing in front of her.

"Oh, I think that could all be arranged," the small blonde smiled up at her lover.

"Marvelous," Alex made a sweeping gesture toward the building and with a slight bow bade Samantha to go inside. "The sooner we start the better," she smiled as Sam practically ran into the warehouse.

Unable to contain themselves in the elevator, Alex took Samantha in her arms and again kissed her as though she hadn't seen her in weeks. "Why does it feel like we haven't been together in forever?" she asked the small framed woman in her arms.

"I don't know, but I have the same feeling. It wasn't like we couldn't be ourselves around your parents or around the guys, it just seems like we haven't been alone." She giggled and hugged her lover close. "Well, we're alone now . . ." as the elevator stopped and the door opened she added, ". . . and at the top of the world."

They stepped out of the lift and Alex proceeded to turn on the security system so she wouldn't forget to do it later. With everything locked up and secure, she followed Samantha into the living quarters.

Samantha was already running the water for the Jacuzzi so Alex put some soft music on the stereo and poured them each a Mimosa sans the champagne. By the time she lit the candles in the bedroom the water had stopped running. The flickering light from the bathroom let her know that the scene had been set and was minus one of the major characters. With fluted glasses in hands she entered the bathroom, tall, dark and naked and slowly stepped into the warm tub, handing Samantha a glass as she seated herself beside her. "To Samantha, who handled the meeting of my parents with graciousness and savoir-faire," she tilted her glass toward Samantha's. As the glasses gently clanked Samantha added, "And to Alex who had the farsightedness to pick two lovely parents who would accept me for who I am." She smiled as she drank the pure orange juice and winked at her partner, "Ah, Mimosa just the way I like it, virgin -- which is not how I like my women."

Alex almost spit out the juice in her mouth as the last of Samantha's sentence hit her ears. "Your Women, did you say Women? And . . . just how many would that be, pray tell?" She looked over at her lover barely able to keep from laughing out loud.

"Oh, that really didn't come out right now did it? You know what I mean, that I'm glad you had experience because I am such a novice, but that's not what I said . . . but that's what I meant. Damn, for a bard I need some practice. Words should not come stumbling out of my mouth, they should come trippingly off my tongue, sounding like music." She grinned and the flickering candlelight made her green eyes twinkle like the stars.

"By the Goddess," Alex exclaimed, "You are beautiful, Samantha." She put her glass on the side of the tub and reached for her lover's, placing it beside her own. "Come here, my beauty." She gently pulled the smaller woman close and tenderly embraced her. "It's nice to know that no one will be knocking on the door or rushing us tonight. I want to take my time and savor every inch of your softness." Samantha looked up into sapphire eyes filled with desire and knew that the attentive look was meant only for her.

"I love you Alex," she whispered as the sensuous lips she longed to possess drew closer and closer. She felt the tip of her Alex's tongue tickle the perimeter of her own lips and opened them slowly to allow her lover access to the moist pleasure within. As a moan began to escape from somewhere deep within her, Alex covered her mouth with her own, losing the murmur to the air but not to the ear. Alex smiled inwardly, knowing that she could pleasure her lover with a mere touch and a kiss yet she knew there was much more in store for the small beauty she cradled in her arms.

Breaking the passion of the moment Alex breathed softly into her lover's ear, "I think we've had enough of the tub for tonight. Ready to get out?" Getting an affirmative nod, Alex stood up and offered Samantha a hand as she reached with the other for the towels. Even the ritual of drying became a tantalizing affair. Alex wrapped a towel around herself and used the other to slowly and methodically dry Samantha, starting at her toes and working her way up the body, pausing momentarily as she reached erogenous zones. By the time she was finished drying Samantha, she was totally dry herself. So as not to break the tempo of the mood that had been so painstakingly set, she picked Samantha up and carried her to the bed.

The spread had been turned down and the crisp sheets seemed to welcome the lover's, affording them a cool touch to offset the heat that radiated between the two of them. Samantha lay on her back with her arms outstretched, beckoning Alex to join her and complete her as only Alex could.

The tall, dark-haired siren wasted no time in accepting the invitation. She nestled her face in golden locks as she nibbled at Samantha's ear, her breath causing love bumps to form on the smaller woman's body. "What's your pleasure, Samantha?" she queried her love. "What would please you most?"

Long, slender fingers trailed down the sides of the woman under her.

Receiving no answer, save for a whimper, she repeated herself. "Samantha, what would please you most?"

"Alex anything you do pleases me," came the reply.

"No, my love, tell me what you want. I want to hear it from you. What do you want from me?" There was a smile in the words but it was certain that the question needed an answer.

"I love it when you kiss me everywhere. The softness of your lips ...."

"Everywhere? Where is everywhere?" Alex continued as she eagerly kissed her lover's face, neck and breasts, stopping after teasing an erect nipple with her tongue. "Where mostly would you like me to kiss you?"

"Alex, don't tease," Samantha whined.

"Oh, but Samantha, I'm serious. How do I know what pleases you most if you won't tell me?" Still the smile came through in her tone, but Samantha knew her lover was serious and that the question needed an answer that only she could render.

"I want you to kiss my neck, which you already did and then my chest, which is where you are now . . ."

". . . And . . .?" came the reply quietly demanding a continuation of the description.

"Alex then I want you to kiss my abdomen and then my thighs and then . . . oh, Alex you know . . ." Samantha was sounding slightly frustrated.

"Samantha have you never been asked before?" Alex wanted to know.

"You know I haven't. I told you I had hardly even had sex with anyone before you and that what I did was mostly experimental. Alex . . ."

"Come on Samantha, you can tell me -- what gives you the most pleasure? Tell me the story, my bard."

"As if you didn't already know . . ." the small blonde smiled, knowing she was not going to get away with not telling Alex exactly what she wanted to hear. "I love it when you slowly kiss my entire body while your fingers are leisurely caressing me everywhere before and after your lips have reached the same areas. My heart begins to beat faster when you place your hands on either side of the inside of my thighs and kiss the area below my abdomen. As you gently open the folds below the mound and between my thighs, I hold my breath in anticipation of the ecstasy that I know will follow when you place your tongue inside where no one had ever done so before you. The sensations my body experience are almost impossible to describe, except to say that my entire being tingles at your touch, even at the mere thought of your touch. These are sensations I had never experienced until you loved me." She stopped and looked down at Alex who had rested her head on Samantha's stomach and was listening intently.

When the small blonde stopped talking, Alex looked up and smiled, "Go on, Samantha, I'm sure you haven't finished yet, would you like me to stop there . . . where you did . . . and continue no further? Is that all you desire?" she gave a puzzling look with a tilt of her head.

"You know I wouldn't want you to stop there, smart ass," Samantha grinned down at Alex whose mischievous eyes were twinkling. She sighed and closed her eyes as she visualized and relived in her mind the last time Alex had made love to her. Samantha had never spoken words of love such as these out loud and even though it was Alex she was speaking to, she was still a little embarrassed at the way the words might sound.

"Alex, I am overcome with passion when you lick me softly and then with a quickened pace, until I can stand the intensity of emotion no more and am overflowing in my love for you and the fervor of the moment. It is at this point that you always seem to know when I have reached my outer climax and you enter me tenderly to complete the scenario of bringing me to an orgasm, the likes of which I had never in my wildest fantasies imagined." Samantha opened her eyes and looked down at her lover who was looking up at her with eyes an iridescent blue in the glimmering candlelight. "Now . . . Alex . . . are you satisfied?" She lowered her voice to a whisper, "Do you know how you make me feel? Alex, my love, do you know how I want you to love me?"

"Not only am I satisfied, I am totally enamored. Your wish is my command, my Destiny." She began where she had left off stroking Samantha's breasts and kissing her abdomen. Occasionally she would glance up into the face of love and smile, then continue as the dialogue had envisioned. Alex reached each area Samantha had described, touched, kissed and touched it again. She continued, her hands stroking as lips were kissing, lips kissing while fingers moved to a new location only to be followed by a flicking tongue and soft lips. When she parted the area between her lover's thighs and below the curly blonde mound Samantha could control her exclamations of pleasure no longer. Her breath quickened and her breathing became louder, causing Alex to grin and look at her face. "I love to watch you become aroused. Hearing your moans of satisfaction and anticipation heighten my own. Your desire seduces me . . . ."

"Alex, don't stop . . ."

"I have no intention of stopping my love." Alex kissed the inside of each thigh as her fingers grazed the soft curls, then she kissed between the folds and as Samantha requested she began to softly lick the moist area, Samantha's movements continued to arouse Alex more and more. "I love you Samantha," she would murmur between flicks of her tongue. "I love the way you move . . . I love the way you feel . . . I love the way you taste."

True to Samantha's dialogue, Alex knew when the time was right to change her direction and enter her lover to finish pleasuring her. She maneuvered herself to straddle Samantha's leg as her own passion continued to grow. The more Samantha responded, the more she responded in like. As the rhythm increased from a slow, steady pace to a faster, yet still steady one, the two bodies moved in synchronicity. As Samantha began to reach an orgasm Alex could feel the pulsation within the small frame below her and her own exhilaration could no longer be contained -- she climaxed simultaneously with Samantha.

Alex held Samantha for a few moments until their breaths began to steady and become less rapid. She could still feel her lover's heart beating hard and fast beneath her and was hesitant to remove her fingers from within the moistness that was still pulsating, as Samantha muscles would occasionally tighten up around her fingers. The smile on both their faces would have be akin to the age-old adage about the smile on the cat that ate the mouse -- that of total satisfaction.

"Had anyone been in the guest suite they would surely have heard you, you know?" Alex teased her lover.

"You weren't so quiet yourself," came the quick reply.

Alex started to remove her hand only to find a smaller one on top of it, holding it in place. "Don't move that one inch, if you know what's good for you," Samantha whispered to her as she smiled. "I think we'll just sleep like this."

"I don't think I could remain in this position the entire night," Alex kidded back with her.

"Okay, if you insist." Samantha relinquished the fingers with a sigh. "You felt marvelous, Alex."

"So did you, my love."

"We have exactly four more nights alone before the Riley's will be descending upon us," Samantha reminded Alex.

"I think I can keep you pretty busy the next four nights," Alex countered, she blew out the candle on her side of the bed then rolled over onto her back waiting for Samantha to extinguish the other candle.

Samantha turned back toward her lover and snuggled up close in her now nightly position, holding Alex tightly. "It will be a long three days, but . . ."

"No buts, Samantha," Alex scolded. "The visit will be a pleasant one. You haven't seen your folks or your sister in a while and it will do you all good to get to see one another again. Besides, I want to meet the people who created the love of my life. I just wish I were able to thank them properly . . . maybe some day. Now, we need to get some rest, the week ahead doesn't leave much time for relaxation." She kissed Samantha on the forehead and squeezed her shoulder. "Goodnight my precious."

"Goodnight, Alex -- sweet dreams,"

"I have nothing but, now that most of my waking dreams have come true," Alex assured Samantha.

Within minutes the slow, steady breathing of the two women was the only sound that filled the room, aside from the faint echo of the waves far below on the deserted beach.

End of Chapter Sixteen

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