Laguna Nights

by Carole Giorgio

Chapter 17

Alex allowed Samantha the luxury of sleeping until she woke up on her own, knowing that this would be the last Monday in quite a while that the blonde would be able to do so. Starting tomorrow the work days would be early, and the two of them would have to be up and ready to open the doors before the employees arrived each day. Luckily, for Samantha, it was a not a business that opened its doors at eight in the morning but rather at 10. At least one of them would have to be ready and waiting by 9:30 to open the doors for the employees.

Sitting at the kitchen table she jotted down a list of who would be coming tomorrow for the orientation. The list was not an extremely long one but it seemed that both she and Sam would be needed to acquaint the newcomers with the facility. They were expecting the receptionists and the people who would be spotters in the gym area and on the climbing wall as well as the people who would be in charge of helping in the pool area. Alex had hired a nutritionist to oversee the juice bar/snack area to be sure the person behind the counter knew what they were doing. She expected a few massage therapists to show during the week to check out the facility, as well as one or two of the martial arts instructors; they were all told to telephone before they came by as normal operating hours would not be enforced until the following week. Lecturers, of course, would not arrive until their designated times for giving the classes or lectures.

The doctors in the area had all been informed of the opening of the Center and a few of them had even made it to the Open House to take a look at what the new establishment had to offer. Alex had personally given the physicians the royal tour and a few of them had their secretaries call to make sure Alex would have the needed paperwork to handle their patients. That, of course, meant adding an employee versed in Worker's Compensation forms, regulations and guidelines. Proper documentation was essential if a business wanted to be compensated by insurance companies and state agencies.

Just last week she had decided that offering biofeedback would also be a plus for the Center. She had looked in her little black book of business contacts and found the names of a few freelancers in the procedure. One in particular was more than happy to relocate to the little beach town in Southern California. Alex was looking forward to seeing Kim again. They had gotten to be quite good friends a few years back, but their friendship had been set to the side when Nikki came into the picture. Kim was another of Alex's acquaintances who had never really liked Nicole. Alex would have to once again eat crow and admit that she had been wrong about her former lover and that Kim had pegged Nikki correctly from the very beginning. When she talked to the biofeedback operator last week, Kim had told Alex she needed to tie up some loose ends in Seattle and then she would be on her way. Anticipated arrival was two weeks from today. Alex marked it in her Daytimer and made a note to add the date to her computer calendar as well. She had told Kim that she and Nikki were no longer a team but the conversation hadn't quite gotten around to include Samantha.

Adding up the regulars, she now had a list of 14 full-time employees who would split the shifts with each group working a 7-hour day. One group would start and work from 9:30-4:30 and the other would work from 4:30-10:30, with the extra time used for setting and cleaning up. They had a totally different Saturday crew and then the cleaners who were subcontracted to come in nightly.

The days would definitely be long for Alex and Samantha until they had a crew they could trust with opening and/or closing up. Because the Center would be open 12 hours a day, six days a week, they would have to have a double shift of regulars and a Saturday crew. They had already anticipated that they would not be able to be in the Center everyday to supervise and were looking to hire a manger and assistant who would be able to take over when they were not there. After all, the venture was a dream of Alex's and she certainly didn't want it to turn into an all consuming nightmare. If she had learned anything from Marge it was to delegate when the load became unbearable.

Alex was fully lost in concentration, but no so much so that she didn't hear the subtle change in the silence of the room as Samantha tiptoed out of the bedroom. She decided to let her lover get to the table area and start to reach for her before she spun around in her chair and grabbed the smaller woman.

"I almost got to you before you heard me," the small blonde squealed as she was being drawn down onto Alex's lap.

"No, you only got that far because I was waiting until you were close enough to grab," the dark-hair beauty smirked as she kissed Samantha good morning. She smiled to herself thinking that perhaps she had lost a little of her edge and had not sensed the blonde imp as soon as she should have, but there was no way in Hell she was going to admit that to the playful beauty now seated comfortably on her lap.

"Oh, Alex -- one of these days I will totally surprise you!" Samantha giggled as she threw her arms around Alex's neck and kissed her back. "What are you up to this beautiful morning?"

"I was just jotting down some things that we need to talk about before the crew arrives tomorrow."

Positioning Samantha so she wouldn't slip, Alex turned the two of them back around to face the table, then picked up the papers she had been writing on and showed them to her lover.

They sat discussing Alex's morning thoughts, sharing one cup of tea. After a few minutes Samantha shifted her position on Alex's lap and turned around to face her lover. A serious expression eclipsed the smile that had been on the younger woman's face since she had gotten up.

"You know, Alex, you made me discuss some pretty intimate stuff last night. At the time it seemed okay, but when I look back at all the descriptions that came out of my mouth . . ."

"I just wanted to know your inner most feelings, and I think you expressed them eloquently. At least I had no trouble following the directions you gave," She tickled Samantha until the smaller woman could hardly breathe. "You make me feel giddy, Samantha -- no one has ever made me feel giddy! People I've worked with for years would never believe I had the ability to joke around and play like I do with you. You have awaken parts of me that have been buried for so long it seems like a lifetime ago."

"Speaking of a life time ago . . ."

"Oh, no -- I allowed you to spend too much time with Mom . . ." Alex shook her head.

"Seriously, Alex" Samantha continued. "Your Mom says she knows this person who's great at regressions. I think that would be so much fun! Who knows, we may discover that we really are soul mates and that we have been together throughout antiquity. It would certainly explain why we were drawn to each other so quickly." She smiled sweetly, mustering all the innocence she could into a child-like smile.

"Samantha . . ."

"Oh, P-L-E-A-S-E Alex . . . Aurora said she would even pay for the sessions." Samantha fluttered her eyelashes as she lowered her head coquettishly.

"Why can I not say No to you?" The taller woman sighed and shook her head. "Okay, Samantha. As soon as we have everything here going along at a clip and able to function without us, we'll take a trip to Mom's and have her set up an appointment with her regressionist. Don't be disappointed if it doesn't work."

"I won't. I promise. But I'm sure it will." The blonde showered her lover with quick little kisses all over her face. "Thank you Alex, thank you. I can't wait!" With that she got up and walked into the kitchen. "All that begging has made me hungry. You hungry?"

"I could eat something small. I was thinking maybe we could go for a swim this morning. It will be the last weekday morning we'll have for a while all to ourselves." She looked over at the happy blonde smiling back at her from across the kitchen counter and raised an eyebrow as she gave Samantha a crooked smile.

"Sure, a swim sounds great. We haven't had time for the ocean lately. After we swim we can come back up here and have lunch." She accented the last word by opening up her robe to expose a naked body.

"We could have lunch first," Alex retorted.

"No . . . no. Small breakfast, swim and Then Lunch!" came Samantha's reply as she turned and began searching the cupboards for some peanut butter for the bagels she had just tossed into the toaster oven.

Samantha fixed the bagels and orange juice and called it breakfast. When they were finished with the small meal the two women gathered up their swimming gear and headed out to the beach area. The sand was warm and the ocean was a bit cooler than the temperature of the air. Samantha caught her breath as she slowly began walking into the blue/green water.

"It's a lot easier to get used to if you take the plunge," Alex teased as she dove headfirst into an oncoming wave. "Slowly walking into the water like you're doing is what makes you so cold." Alex tried to inform the shivering blonde.

"Yes, but . . . oh . . . okay," Samantha said as she reached out and duplicated Alex's dive into the next wave that was just beginning to break.

When she came up for air, she spotted Alex about 100 feet ahead of her beckoning her to follow. "Come on Samantha," she yelled, "I'll stay here 'til you catch up."

The two swam until they had almost exhausted themselves, riding the waves both singularly and as a joined team. Samantha got quite good at holding onto Alex as she lay on her lover's back, arms around her waist, riding the big waves into the shoreline. Alex was quite proficient at guiding the duo to their destination without drowning them. The two spent some time floating on their backs, looking up at the clouds in the azure sky. Samantha was quite good at pointing out clouds that took on the shape of imaginary creatures. On a more serious note, they contemplated about how the coming week would unfold as it drew ever closer to the actual opening of the Center.

Alex found herself lost in thought as she pondered on how it would be meeting Samantha's parents and how difficult it was going to be to keep from displaying affection toward Samantha when they were around.

Samantha shook Alex out of her reverie by playfully splashing the tall, dark-haired beauty as she floated along in a dream state, staring up beyond where the eyes could see.

"Penny for your thoughts."

"Not worth a penny, Honey. Just relaxing, taking in the sights, sounds and odors of one of the most beautiful beaches around. This is most definitely the best way to start off a new week." She stood in breast high water and pulled her lover close. "What more could I want but to have you at my side in the middle of the ocean on a deserted beach?"

"Oh, I don't know . . ." Samantha grinned, gazing into sparkling sapphire eyes that put the sky to shame. "Perhaps having me by your side in the middle of our large water bed, completely naked and ready to fulfill your every desire."

"Now -- that might indeed top my list of desires." Alex hugged Samantha closer and kissed her passionately, the smaller woman wrapping her arms around the taller to keep from going under the water.

Alex released her hold on Sam and the two started swimming back toward the shore.

Grabbing up their towels and the scuba equipment that they hadn't gotten back out of the water to use, they raced toward the cliff and home.


After a warm bubbling jacuzzi they began frolicking in the waterbed, thoroughly enjoying each other.

Samantha insisted on trying out a new massage on Alex. It was one she had read about in one of the massage magazines Alex had ordered for the Center. She began by warming the cinnamon flavored massage oil, which she had purchased at a speciality shop in town, in her hands. She then began trickling it slowly down the front of Alex's body. Sitting astride the tall beauty, Samantha started at the neck area and gently massaged the oil onto every inch of skin on the front of Alex's body. She cupped her hands around her lover's breasts and began to slowly lower her body onto Alex's. With a mischievous smile on her face she softly blew in the vicinity of her lover's nipples. Alex let out a small murmur of surprise. The response elicited by her lover's breath was a totally unexpected one. There was an inexplicable feeling of warmth wherever the small blonde's breath landed.

"Samantha, where did you get that oil?"

"In the little novelty shop downtown," came the reply as the smaller woman leaned more of her body on Alex's and placed her mouth totally over one of the erect nipples. "The woman who sold it to me promised that I would get a positive response from using the oil," Samantha whispered. Alex began to verbally respond but Samantha began trailing the tip of her tongue around the entire area then gently blew once again on her lover's body, looking up to watch the reaction on Alex's face. "It seems as though she was right," the small blonde smiled. Samantha traveled further down the front of Alex's body, adding more oil, blowing on and then kissing each area until she finally lowered herself to the region between her lover's thighs. She parted Alex's lower lips and applied some of the oil to the soft area within, following the procedure by softly blowing on the anointed area. Soft moans of pleasure escaped Alex's lips and Samantha smiled as she first blew on the aroused portion of her lover's body and then gently licked the flavored oil from the same.

Samantha glanced up at Alex and smiled again, "I'm not quite sure which tastes better, my love, you or the oil." She grinned and continued tantalizing the woman of her dreams. There was no need to hurry the act of love for the two had nothing planned for the entire day except to spend it with each other. Samantha pleasured Alex totally as the tall dark Amazon of a woman reached orgasmic pleasure at the tongue and fingers of the woman she loved. When Alex finally drew Samantha close to her preventing the smaller woman from moving in any direction, Sam gave in and snuggled close wrapping her arm around Alex's waist and resting her head on the taller woman's breast. "I love you more than you could possibly imagine," the petite blonde whispered.

"Oh, I can imagine, my Destiny . . . I love you even more." Alex hugged Sam close and kissed her gently on the top of the head. "I bless the day and thank the Goddess every night for bringing you into my life, Samantha. Don't ever leave me, Please. I don't ever want to go back to being the person I was before I met you."

"That thought can leave you mind forever -- you're definitely stuck with me for the rest of your life . . . or as long as you'll have me. No doubt about it." Samantha answered the plea with a slight squeeze.

Exhausted from the physical exertion of first the swim and then the act of making love, the two women fell into a deep sleep awaking just as the sun was beginning to come around the side of the building and splash rays of light into the dimly lit room.

"Come on, princess, we seemed to have slept a good portion of the afternoon away," Alex stated as she gently shook her partner.

"Yes, but it was a lovely nap . . . I dreamed of the two of us walking in uncharted woods and over small hills leading into an enchanting valley. We didn't have anywhere we needed to be and the countryside was absolutely beautiful. We stopped by the edge of a huge lake and stripped to bathe. The water was warm and there was a small waterfall close enough for us to swim over and use as a shower. Alex, it was such a familiar place. We were dressed like travelers who mostly walked from place to place, boots and all. As usual you looked marvelous, even more buff than you are now." She closed her eyes to try to bring back the scene but failed. "I hope we go there again, in my dreams -- it seemed like an interesting province."

"You can incorporate it into one of your stories," Alex told her lover, "but now we need to get up and get dressed. We're going out for dinner." She rolled over and out of the bed, turning back to offer Samantha a helping hand.

"I guess if I have to get out of bed, going to eat is the best of reasons," she grabbed the outstretched hand, leaving the bed and her dream behind for the time being.


Over dinner they began talking on a deeper level than they had allowed time for during the past week. It was hard to believe that they had known each other for less than a month and knew so little of each other's lives before that time. Falling in love, although totally unexpected, had been as natural a reaction as breathing. Just three short weeks ago Samantha had no idea in what direction her life was going. All she had been sure of was that she wanted to write. Alex had a dream intertwined in a business she was working on. Neither had anticipated a new love affair that would enrich their lives, but both were ecstatic that the miracle had happened. Within the span of these three short weeks, two lonely strangers from different worlds had had their worlds collide and the collision had turned out to be a stroke of good fortune for each of them. Love at first sight had been a myth to Alex and a dream of Samantha's -- both found out that the "myth" indeed had a grain of truth in it, as all myths seemed to do.

Samantha began quietly talking a little more about her folks, trying to fill Alex in so there wouldn't be a lot of surprises when Friday arrived. She explained that her father was a little on the tyrannical side and that living with him after she had become an adult was impossible for her. She didn't know how her sister kept her sanity. He was chauvinist, manipulative and sometimes just plain mean but on the other hand, he was also a very good provider. Even with all his faults, he truly loved his family and they loved him. Samantha just could not live under his roof any longer.

"Daddy had really wanted at least one of us to be a boy," the small blonde confessed to her lover. "When that didn't happen I think he learned to cope with the disappointment, knowing that at least we would some day marry and he would then have "sons" in his family." Samantha tried to smile but there was a look of melancholy that was difficult to hide when she spoke of her Dad.

She continued explaining to Alex that she knew her father loved her; he just had a difficult time showing affection. He had been hard on his girls when it came to school even though he didn't think college was a necessity for young women. He was strict with his girls when it came to dating, not allowing them to date before they were 16 and making sure that he met and approved every beau. Don Riley was the kind of man who paraded his family around like prized possessions. As she remembered back, Samantha told her lover that when she was an adolescent she had begun to believe that deep down inside her Dad didn't really like women very much. He was an excellent provider and they never wanted for material things. He showered gifts upon them on holidays and birthdays, but affection was doled out sparingly.

Samantha had always been his favorite, constantly striving for her father's affection, learning early that she would have to settle for what he could give. It took all her courage to leave his house and venture off to college. He only let her continue on in school because he was sure she would attain her "MRS" degree there. It was even more difficult to inform him she wasn't coming back to live with them 'until she got married' but was going off on her own and to a different state.

Her little sister, Sally, had begged her not to leave, and she tried her best to explain to her younger sister that her life was stifled under Daddy's wing and that she didn't want to end up like their Mom - a woman with no dreams left save for the ones she bestowed upon her children.

"Oh, but Alex," she changed facial expressions, grinning broadly, "you will like my Mother. She is nothing like your Moms but she's a very loving, caring person with a good sense of humor that is hidden beneath a facade until you get her away from Daddy. It's almost like she has a split personality. When Daddy's around she's quiet and almost subservient -- something I'm sure you'll simply hate. But we grew up with her being like that and so to my sister and me, she is just being Mom. Her favorite past-times are going shopping and to the theater. I'm not really sure which she enjoys more."

"Honey, you don't have to apologize for your parents," Alex told her lover, feeling that Samantha was perhaps getting a little worried that she had been telling her too many unpleasant aspects of her parent's personalities. "I'm sure I'll like them just the way they are. Remember, I don't have to live with them, simply entertain them for a few days. Besides that, they created, birthed and raised the most wonderful woman in the universe. I will be sure to thank them for that!" She winked at Samantha and smiled broadly.

The two women finished their meal and were sitting quietly just looking . . . emerald eyes into sapphire and sapphire looking back into emerald . . . across a small candle-lit table. The mellow atmosphere of the quaint restaurant matched their moods perfectly.

Alex put her hand on the table, palm up, for Samantha to take. "You know, I can honestly say that I have never felt so comfortable with another person, aside from my parents, in my life. I know I've said it before and you'll probably become quite tired of my repeating it, but Samantha I had just about given up on the idea of love before you came into my life. Past relationships had made me extremely cynical. That I could open my heart to you and allow you to penetrate my wall in such a short period of time is as much a surprise to me as it is to everyone who knows me." She picked up the small hand lying within her own, brought it up to her lips and softly kissed it.

Samantha lowered her eyes and told Alex that she had always had mixed emotions about love before she had fallen so deeply in love with her. She had always thought that she would want personal freedom because her mother had seemed to have so little. She wanted to be loved but she also wanted to pursue a career and be able to take care of herself.

"Alex I've been waiting for years for my Prince Charming to come along on a white steed and sweep me off my feet, rescuing me from the confinements of my father's hold on me." She ginned and stared into the deep blue eyes she adored, "Never in my wildest fantasy did I think that it would be a Princess with a castle on a cliff who would fulfill my desires." Her smile vanished as she became quite serious, "I hope I never disappoint you, Alex. I still sometimes pinch myself when I wake up in the morning and look out at the ocean. I'm afraid that someday I'll awaken to find that it has merely been a marvelous dream, a figment of my imagination . . ."

Long slender fingers reached across the table to stop the pouring forth of doubts. "No, my Destiny, you could never disappoint me. I will do my best to live up to your expectations. We don't want that dream of yours turning into a nightmare now do we?"

Alex motioned to the waitress that they were ready for the check as she poured a final glass of wine for the small woman sitting across the table from her and then refilled her own. "One more toast for the evening and then home, my love," she smiled, lifting her left eyebrow sensuously. "May we portray the perennial lovers and continue to live Happily Ever After." The two women laughed as they clinked glasses and finished off the last of the robust red liquid.


On the way home they decided that they would end this extraordinary day with a walk on their beach in the moonlight. Upon reaching the warehouse, Samantha decided that she wanted to change into shorts. She told Alex she felt more comfortable walking along the water's edge if she didn't care about getting wet, and she knew Alex would always find a reason to end up in the water. Getting no argument from her lover, they went inside and changed. In minutes they were back out and walking toward the beach stairs. The sky was dark but the moon was unusually brilliant, especially since it was not scheduled to be full for another week. Even the stars seemed to be celebrating the night, sparkling like diamonds above the two lovers as they walked hand in hand along the shoreline.


Cassandra sat alone in her small apartment, staring out of the picture window. She'd been drinking since coming home from work and decided to pay a little invisible visit to #1 Alternative Paradise Drive.

Her telescope had a permanent position, focused slightly west and to the south of her building complex. The blinking red light she spotted when placing her face near the eyepiece, marked the apex of Alexis Dorian's Alternative Paradise. The old warehouse had a helicopter pad on top of its roof. Being one of the tallest buildings in the area and right on the shoreline, it had become a landmark for planes going between the San Diego and John Wayne airports. It was always easy to find. She grimaced at Alex's good fortune. Cassie couldn't conceive how the woman who, in her mind, had ruined her life would be allowed to have such a perfect existence.

The auditory surveillance equipment she had placed in the elevator when she was there for the open house had been a stroke of genius. She could easily monitor the coming and going of the two women, knowing whenever they left and returned to the building, even if she didn't always know where they were headed. The where didn't really matter, after all she definitely knew when and where she and Samantha would have their next encounter and was maliciously looking forward to the meeting.

Moments ago she had turned the volume up on the monitoring device and heard the women as they got into the elevator on their way to she knew not where. Focusing her telescope on the area surrounding the building she watched as the two lovers's left the warehouse and proceeded down onto the moonlit beach. As they began frolicking in the water they had no idea that hatred was watching from afar.

Wrath continued to feed her poor spirit, and her heart hurt every time she thought about the ideal life her archenemy seemed to be living. How could it be possible that her life was in ruins while Alex's was thriving? It just wasn't fair and she was bent and determined on equaling the playing field that fate had dealt the two of them.

The only reason she had started listening tonight was because she was bored, depressed and lonely. Watching them romping on the beach did nothing to elevate the frame of mind she was already in.

She ran her hands through her already disheveled bleached blonde hair and poured herself another shooter full of Tequila. Perhaps a few more shots and she would be numb to the pain that was now engulfing her. Whoever said that revenge was sweet might have known what they were talking about, but they never mentioned the period of time while waiting for the revenge to come to fruition -- This was far from Sweet. She was miserable, more miserable than she had ever been in her life. All she did nowadays was work, come home and think about how she was going to disrupt Alexis Dorian's fairytale existence. She wanted the raven-haired beauty to feel anguish similar to that she had been enduring for far too long. Hurting Alex may not relieve her misery but at least she would have company and if 'misery loves company', she couldn't wait for the unsuspecting companion.

"I'll crash that damn ivory tower of yours, Alex. I'll bring it tumbling down around your beautiful head and laugh as your world crumbles into dust." She pushed the telescope away from her, turned off the sound monitor and staggered toward the bedroom, barely making it to her destination before collapsing on the bed in a drunken stupor.


Samantha was the first to spot the small shiny movement in the sand directly before them. A wave had just washed up on the shore and was quickly receding back into the depths from which it had come. Something had been left behind, something that was wiggling and shimmering in the brilliant moonlight. Samantha moved closer to Alex, not sure whether to be curious or afraid of the swift movements in the sand. She let her gaze continue ahead of her and saw that there seemed to be hundreds of shiny objects twisting and turning along the shoreline, seemingly having been deposited there by the wave that was now making its way back to the sea.

"Alex, do you see the movements in front of us?" She looked up questioningly into Alex's face and was surprised at the response.

"How lucky you are Samantha, some people try all their lives to experience a night like this and never accomplish it."

"What are you talking about?"

Alex quickened her pace, almost running toward the area splattered now with constantly moving silver objects. "Come on Samantha, I think the run has just begun."

"The run of What??" came the confused reply.

"Grunions . . . Samantha this is a grunion run. You've read about them haven't you?"

"I've hear a little about them," the small blonde confessed, "but I thought they were a California myth."

"Well, now you can see for yourself that they are certainly not a myth." Alex reached back and grabbed Samantha's hand. "Come on catch one."

"How?" Samantha queried.

"Try to find an area that seems to be thick with them, be there and ready when the next wave breaks on the shore because it carries them in. Then when you see them, just go down on your knees and grab one with your hands." Alex smiled broadly at her disbelieving lover.

"With my hands! You want me to pick up fish with my hands?"

"It's the only way you can legally catch a grunion. You can be fined big time if you catch them with anything other than your hands. No nets, no buckets, just human against fish. You can put them into a bucket after you catch them but you had better be using your hands when you do."

"I don't know Alex . . ."

"Come on, Samantha -- don't be such a stick in the sand . . . this is fun!"

The sight of her statuesque lover down on her knees groveling in the sand after a squirmy little fish cracked Samantha up.

"My but you are a sight! That is a very undignified position, my love." Samantha stood over Alex laughing.

Alex reached up and caught Sam behind the knees, bringing her down into the sand. "There, now we're both looking rather undignified -- try to catch one Samantha." She looked at Sam with an expression that definitely could have been taken for a dare. "They are very hard to catch. You probably couldn't catch one anyway." With that she quickly darted over a few yards and caught two of the small fish, one in each hand. Holding them up like trophies she smiled broadly back at Samantha. "Maybe you'd better not try, I wouldn't want to show you up too badly."

Well, that did it! Samantha sat back and waited for the next wave to bring in a crooked line of the tiny fish. She lunged at two of them as they burrowed down into the sand, but she came up empty handed. She got up on her feet and raced from fish to fish as they began to retrace their paths back to the sea. She kept missing them by inches. The harder she tried, the faster they seemed to move. Alex sat down on the sand, shaking her head and laughing in near hysteria as the small blonde ran from one spot to another, coming up empty handed whenever she tried to grab one of the small fish.

"By the Goddess, I wish I had the camera with me," Alex said. "These are pictures that should be captured forever. You're absolutely priceless Samantha." She continued to laugh at the now irritated blonde.

"These slippery little fish are nearly impossible to catch. They're too fast for me!" Samantha whined as she shot Alex a "Go to Tartarus" look and began concentrating on the next wave of incoming grunions.

Alex came closer and put her arm around Sam's shoulders. "You have to be more than quick, Honey. Try to anticipate where they are going to go before they get there. If you try to catch them as they are going, you'll never do it. Get in front of them and let them wiggle toward you."

Samantha nodded and positioned herself down from the tide line, closer to the water. She waited for the next rush of water and abundance of little fishes to appear. She was not disappointed as the shoreline was again soon sparkling with the small grunions. Setting her sight on a couple of them in the sand above her she lunged full body when the little creature began to make its way back to the sea.

"I did it! I did it! I caught one," she shouted as she waved the small flash of silver in her hands. "Now what do I do with it?"

"If we had a bucket we could fill it with them, take them back up to the house and have dinner tomorrow, but it would take a bucket to make a meal. As it is just know that you've been grunion hunting and have succeeded in catching one. Maybe we can plan the next attack and have something to keep them in."

Samantha released the small creature and sent it on its way back to the ocean. "You were right there was a sense of accomplishment in the capture of that small being. But why the rules and what are they doing up on the shore?"

"You really don't know do you?" The taller woman sat down in the wet sand and pulled her lover down with her. "Look down the shoreline Samantha. Watch what happens when the wave breaks.

The runs usually occur during a high tide with a full moon; we're really lucky to see this tonight. We must have missed the scouts that were sent out first. They ride in on the waves ahead of the majority of the grunions, checking out the beach. I guess they go back and tell the others that the beach is safe. I don't think anyone knows for sure how they know if a beach is okay to populate. They come onto the shore to mate Samantha. That's what they are doing when you see them in pairs, then they separate and go back to the ocean. If we were allowed to pick them up with utensils they wouldn't have a chance to propagate and there were be no more grunions in a very short period of time. The rules give the small fish a fighting chance and actually give them the advantage because they're very fast!"

"I picked up a fish that had just had sex! Yuck!!" Samantha responded wide-eyed, looking down the shoreline at the glimmering display. "By the Gods Alex, what if some huge creature decided to do something like that to us? Just think about it . . . how horrible!" She noticeably shivered all over at the thought.

Alex shook her head in laughter, "Samantha, I think you may be the only person in the world who's concerned about the grunions having privacy and the invasion of it by humans." She grabbed the smaller woman's hand and pulled her close. "What do you say to a nice warm bath and a glass of wine?"

"A warm bath sounds enticing and I do have to admit that watching the grunions was a unique experience. I wouldn't mind watching them again, but I don't think I want to participate in the harvesting of the little sea creatures."

The two women looked out at the shoreline bathed in a living shimmering silver as the invasion of the grunions continued totally out of harms way. Arm in arm they slowly turned toward the cliff and began walking back toward the warehouse.


By the time they reached the house Samantha had decided against the bath and opted for a warm shower instead. It was already quite late and they were going to be getting up early in the morning to greet the new employees. Samantha had a little anxiety about being a "boss" but Alex assured her that if she treated the people the way she would want to be treated that the day would go quite smoothly. Samantha informed Alex that one of the martial arts instructors had mentioned dropping by on Wednesday and that she had also spoken to one of the massage therapists who wanted to come by Wednesday afternoon.

"I guess they're going to straggle in day by day. Maybe we should have given everyone a time to come so we don't have to be at everyone's beck and call." Alex didn't like not being in control. She was used to being the one setting the appointment times, not waiting around on other people to tell her when they were coming.

"No, Alex," Samantha countered, "I think it'll turn out just fine. We have last minute things we need to do around the house and offices anyway. We've made sure that they phone before they come so we'll be able to schedule our free time around them." Impishly glancing over at her lover she added, "I can always make time for you between the instructor and the massage therapist." She grinned broadly at Alex.

Alex turned to face Samantha, continuing the business discussion as they proceeded getting ready for bed. "Because we'll be doing some patients from doctors, I've hired a licensed physical therapy assistant to help in the clinic. My main concern will be doing the initial, interim and discharge evals. She'll be able to handle the treatments for the most part and do the daily dictating. I'll basically be around just to supervise." She walked into the bathroom to brush her teeth and added, "I figured this would be best until we see just how many clients we will be receiving from the doctors and whether we'll need a full time therapist on board." Alex had almost forgotten to tell Samantha about the PTA and figured she had better fill her in before Angel arrived on Wednesday. "Guess you can take care of the martial arts instructor while I show Angel around."

Alex came out of the bathroom to an unsmiling Samantha sitting on the edge of the bed.

"Her name's Angel?" Samantha asked. "Where did you hire her from and why didn't you tell me about her before, Alex?" The look on her face was almost one of accusation.

"Samantha," Alex started as she crossed the room to sit next to the small blonde. "I need someone to do the physical therapy treatments while I'm busy doing administrative stuff. I didn't want to hire another PT as long as I wasn't totally swamped, so I hired an assistant." She looked very confused as she continued trying to explain a situation that should have been self-explanatory. She mentally scolded herself and made a note to keep Samantha informed from now on. "I guess I should have discussed the hiring with you but honestly, Honey, it just slipped my mind."

Samantha looked up seemingly contented with the explanation, "I'm sorry, Alex. I shouldn't have reacted like that . . . after all it is your business and you know what's best . . . I'm just kinda coming in in the middle of things . . . I don't need to be informed of Every decision you make." She got up from the edge of the bed and started into the bathroom.

"Samantha," Alex began again, now totally confused at the reaction of the younger woman. "I don't understand your antagonism. I have no intention of Not informing you from now on, believe me. As far as I'm concerned, we're full partners. I didn't purposely not tell you. I guess I just went ahead and made an executive decision and then forgot about it with all the other stuff that was going on around the same time. What's really bothering you?" She got up and walked to the open bathroom door. Placing a long slender arm on either side of the frame she leaned in watching the woman she loved brush her hair.

Alex repeated her question. "What's Really bothering you, Honey?"

The small blonde turned, toothbrush still in her mouth, tears in her eyes. "I don't know." She mumbled through the toothpaste, tears forming in emerald pools as she leaned over the sink and rinsed her mouth. "As silly as it sounds, I think it's her name." She turned and looked up at the lanky beauty hanging on the bathroom door frame and smiled. "I think I had a slight twinge of jealously." Hanging her head she walked over to the door and threw her arms around Alex's waist.

Staring up into eyes she could easily lose her soul in, she tried to explain that they had not had to deal with any one else since they've been together and the name Angel just sounded more personal than business-like to her.

Alex laughed inwardly as she picked the smaller woman up in her arms. "Those green eyes are as green as I ever want to see them, do you hear me? Angel is an employee just as all the rest of the people arriving this week are. Your first, and Only, love affair is definitely going to have it's difficult moments now isn't it? Getting used to all kinds of new emotions, are we?" She kissed Samantha passionately to convince her that there was absolutely no reason for jealously.

Sam pulled her head back and half whispered, "Maybe I'm getting ready to start my period; mood swings are not in the least unusual at that time of the month."

"Oh, joy -- What else do I have to look forward to? -- on a monthly basis is it?" Alex laughed again and threw Samantha onto the bed then plopped down beside her. "Well, my little green-eyed monster, I think perhaps it's time we get some sleep before we have to deal with the minions in the morning."

Samantha snuggled close to her lover and wrapped her arms around her. "I love you terribly, Alex. I promise I'll try not to be jealous. I really do know better. I just can't seem to help myself. Before my mind has had a chance to really think everything out, my emotions go on a roller coaster ride to my heart and I blurt out stupid notions."

"The only 'Angel' in my life is you, Samantha. My Heaven is in your arms. Don't ever forget that." She leaned down and gently kissed her love goodnight."

"Goodnight, Alex -- sweet dreams," came the soft voice from the vicinity of her chest.

"Ditto to you, my Destiny. We've a busy day tomorrow, sleep well." With that she reached over and turned off the last of the bedroom lights, drenching the room in starlight and rays from the still brilliantly shining moon. Far below them on the beach the small silver fish known as grunions were fulfilling their own destinies.


Morning came early and Alex's internal clock was back on track and raring to go. She glanced down at the bundle in her arms and smiled. Today is the beginning of the venture, my Destiny. Thank you for being here and being a part of this with me. I am so very happy the Goddess brought you to me. She kissed the soft flaxen head and gently shook the slight body, loosening arms that had remained wrapped around her throughout the entire night. Samantha stirred slightly as her eyes fluttered open.

"Good morning, boss lady, ready to tackle the troops?" Alex smiled down looking into still sleepy eyes.

"As ready as I'll ever be," the small blonde yawned as she released her hold from around Alex's waist.

The two businesswomen got up and dressed, picking up and continuing the discussion from the night before about how they were going to handle the employees as they arrived today.

After a small but adequate breakfast and with two oversized mugs filled with tea, the two women stepped into the elevator. A kiss for luck and then Alex pushed the button to lower the lift to the first floor.

The day proceeded along smoothly with all the employees turning out to be extremely personable. Alex had done an excellent job of sifting through hundreds of applications and Samantha was pleased with the caliber of the persons who appeared at the front doors at precisely 10 am. They were all standing out there when the partners reached the first floor. They had even introduced themselves to each other which Samantha took as a very good sign that they would be able to work together as a team.

The initial tour kept the entire entourage together but after that Samantha took some of the people and Alex took the rest to sit them down and explain their job descriptions on a more personal level. The entire orientation only took three hours and by two o'clock the last of the stragglers had left and all were prepared to return on Monday morning, Monday afternoon or the following Saturday to actually begin their working association with Alternative Paradise.

Samantha shut the two glass doors and began locking up. Just as she turned the last of the bolts she felt the warmth of two long, slender arms as they draped themselves around her neck. The smell of Alex's perfume permeated the air. A kiss was planted gently on the top of her head, sending chills all the way down to her toes; she knew the rest of the evening now belonged solely to the two of them. Alex's hands slowly began inching toward the opening of Samantha's blouse. Inquisitive fingers touched the smooth white skin beneath the cloth and elicited love bumps to form over Samantha's entire body. The small blonde laid her head back on Alex's chest, closing her eyes and breathing a sigh. "Gee, I thought everyone had left, are you from the day or the evening crew?"

Fingers that had just seconds ago been tender and loving emerged from her blouse to attack Sam's waist as Alex tickled the Irish imp and spun her around until they were face to face.

"I'm from the here-all-the-time crew," Alex answered as she picked up the now giggling blonde. "I have just spent nearly four hours being gracious, intelligent, understanding and friendly." She continued to carry Samantha through the gym, heading for the vicinity of the pool. "I have nothing left to give. I now have some free time before I have to start all over again being a creature of niceties . . . in the meantime . . ." Reaching the edge of the pool she held Samantha out over the water squirming and screaming to be let down.

"Let you down? Did I hear you ask to be let down?" Alex questioned.

Realizing that "let me down" was not the phrase she should be using at this point in time, Samantha tried a different approach.

"No, no. I most certainly did not say 'let me down', I think you must have heard me incorrectly, what I was saying was 'have a crown'. Yes . . . you should have a crown . . . for being such a noble employer today. A crown made of laurel . . . that's the ticket . . . a victory crown!" She raised both her eyebrows as she looked into the face of her lover who was trying to absorb the meaning of the last few sentences. Alex shook her head with a negative reaction.

"No . . . I really think you said, 'let me down' and of course I always want to do whatever it is you desire, so let your wish be my command." Finishing her sentence, she deposited the slight blonde into the deep end of the pool, completely clothed.

"Are you crazy?" Samantha gulped as she came up for air.

"Certifiably!" Came the answer from the tall, dark beauty as she took off her shoes and dove in next to her lover. "I am so tired of being polite and correct. It's time to just cut loose and relax -- she swam closer and began undressing Samantha, throwing the sopping clothing to the edge of the pool piece by piece.

"Someone might look in and see us, Alex." Samantha contested.

"No, no. No one can see into the gym, only out, remember? Or did I forget to mention about the film on the windows? Damn, maybe I did forget, but you've got to remember that all that was completed before you arrived so I can't be held accountable." She smiled at her lover as she removed her panties and threw them up out of the water. She dove under and grabbed Samantha's feet and ran her hands up the smaller woman's body stopping at strategic spots to fondle and caress. She drew the fair-skinned beauty into her arms and kissed her fervently while small hands began helping her to wiggle out of her own soaking wet clothes.

"I want to spend the rest of the day just holding you, making love to you, satisfying my appetite for you. I don't want to see another person or hear another voice other than yours."

Taking Samantha's hands in her own she twirled the smaller woman around until Sam's arms were draped over her shoulders and she swam out of the deep water into the shallow with Samantha on her back. They ended up sitting on the stairs leading out of the pool.

Samantha scooted up onto the top step and Alex positioned herself one stair below her. She began by lifting one small foot out of the water and running her long fingers up the shapely leg. She placed the caressed leg under her arm and Samantha wrapped it around her lover's back. Alex pulled her a little closer and proceeded to take the remaining leg out of the warm water and do the same, adding kisses this time. After she placed her lover's leg around her own body she put her arms around Samantha and slowly arose from the water, lifting Samantha up with her. With a fire that only love possesses she kissed her naked lover, feeling the warmth of the smaller woman's body as Samantha returned her passion.

"I want you more than I've ever wanted anything in my life, Samantha." Alex continued walking toward the elevator, still carrying her precious package. "I can't get enough of you, I want to be so close to you that I feel like I'm a part of you."

Alex stepped into the open elevator and Samantha pushed the button closing the door and starting it on its way up to the penthouse. The short ride up was quiet as Samantha laid her head on Alex's shoulder and held her tightly.

"Now, a penny for your thoughts, Samantha," Alex queried as the lift stopped and the doors opened.

"I was just mulling over what you just said. I feel exactly the same way. It kind of goes back to the story I told you when we first met. We're like pull-aparts who have finally found each other and are trying to mold ourselves back into being a single individual." She looked lovingly at Alex and then continued, "As much as we want to be one, we need to remember that we really are two separate people. I have to give you time to be yourself and vice versa. We may not need it now, but I'm sure that for us to survive we will need to learn how to do that eventually."

"Well, aren't we philosophical today?" She smiled at the blonde as she walked across the threshold to the apartment and in return received an unsmiling mock-glare.

"I was giving you your penny's worth. You shouldn't ask if you don't want to know."

"Hey, hold onto your britches there, little Miss . . ."

"I don't have any Britches -- can't you see I'm naked?" By this time they had reached the living room. The small blonde wiggled out of her lover's arms and stood in front of the couch with her hands on her hips, doing her damnedest to keep from grinning.

"Oh, I most certainly can," came the reply as Alex gently pushed her down onto the soft piece of furniture. "And, I might add, you're quite beautiful when you're naked." She placed her own body on top of Samantha's and all thoughts of meaningful conversation ceased.

"I'm going to make love to you Samantha, just the way you like it and then we're going to sit and have a glass of wine as we watch the ocean roll toward and away from the shore. When we're done doing that, I'm going to make love to you again and so it shall continue until we are both totally exhausted and want for nothing but sleep."

True to her word Alex did just that. The only change in her agenda was that between the wine and the repeat of her first vow, Samantha made love to Alex . . . just the way she liked it.

End of Chapter Seventeen

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