Alex listened to the sound of silence as she retraced the steps she and Samantha had just taken down the hall to the elevator.
Funny how comfortable it was to have her here with me. She thought to herself. Of course she knew that Samantha had no idea of her lifestyle and that she would probably have nothing to do with her if she did. So, she began thinking of ways to keep her new found friend in arms' reach without getting romantically involved with her. Not getting amorous about Samantha was really going to be hard because she already found herself feeling extremely attached to the young woman.
Well, just take it one step at a time, Alex, and see where it leads. You may end up with just a really good friend and you've needed a good friend for a long time now.
Her immediate agenda was to plan something special for their next encounter and she only had one night to come up with an enticing suggestion.
Alex decided to take a slow look around the lower level of the clinic. Things were beginning to fall nicely into place. The gym area was totally completed as well as the locker room and shower areas. The workers had just finished constructing the climbing wall a few days ago and today the finishing touches had been put on. She was pleased with the aesthetic look of what she thought might have turned out to be a monstrosity. She had gotten the idea to add this to the establishment when she was in the Cave Wall down in Old Town in San Diego. There would be a lot of uses for equipment such as this: dexterity, peace of mind, body building and just plain fun. She had a good time picking out the colors and shapes of the climbing holds. As she looked up at the wall with the overhead lights illuminating it, the colors were very spectacular.
She had decided to mix and match when it came to the holds. If she remembered correctly, she had chosen from four different shapes and colors: The drips were an aqua blue and reminded her of water droplets; the mushrooms looked like natural fungus hanging on the wall and were various browns and tans; the desert holds were an assortment of lizards, snakes, pottery, and cattle skulls and these were a beautiful coral color; lastly there were the pebble holds that encompassed every color under the rainbow and ranged in sizes from a silver dollar to that of a fist. The arrangement of the holds could be changed on a bimonthly basis that way the regulars would not get bored with climbing the same wall week after week.
Alex was glad she had decided to put some angles in the wall to make the climbing a little more of a challenge and actually to make it a little safer for beginners. She had the construction people open the warehouse up, all the way to the top for this project, making it the full three stories high with a glass ceiling. Looking up at the ceiling at night was beautiful. There was still a touch of light in the sky tonight, but on a dark night the stars would all be visible and the moon would shine down and illuminate the wall with silver light. Alex half decided to climb the wall tonight but thought better of it and walked back to the elevator.
She got into the elevator, put her key in and went up to her living quarters. On the way up she realized that she was a little hungry. Funny, I hadn't even thought of food while Samantha was here and now it's almost 9:00 and I haven't eaten dinner. Lucky for her she ate that pizza at lunch. At least now she wasn't starving. Besides that she did have the left over pieces -- she could eat them now instead of saving them for breakfast. If she had been smart, she would have invited Samantha to go out for something to eat after the sun had set -- Stupid. You always think of things after it's too late. Oh, well there'll be other times. I need to remember to take it slow so I don't scare her away.
The elevator came to a halt with an easy jerk. She got out and went back into her apartment. I guess I could give Mom a call. Actually, I do need to tell her that I won't be down this weekend. Dreading the reaction her mother would have to her not coming, she walked over, picked up the receiver and dialed the familiar number.
The phone only rang twice before Aurora's voice came through with her typical, "La Jolla Paradise."
"Hi, Mom. I didn't get a chance to call yesterday so I thought I'd give you a buzz and let you know that this weekend is not good for me to come down." Alex started the conversation.
"Oh, Honey. We were so looking forward to seeing you. Exactly when Do you think you'll be coming down and why can't you make it this weekend?" Her mother whined at her through the telephone line.
Alex hated having to tell her mom no, she always felt like such a bad daughter when she did.
"Listen. Something just came up. Well . . . that's not exactly true . . . Some--one just came up." Alex confessed, deciding she wanted to talk to her mom about Samantha. After all her mom was just about the closest friend she had right now and she was usually pretty easy to talk to.
"Oh, really. And is this Some--one any--one we know, Alex?" Her mother inquired.
"No. In fact, I just met her tonight. She's a really nice person and she's new to Laguna. I told her I would show her around this weekend." Alex answered, trying to keep the emotion out of her voice.
"Uh, huh. So . . . This is an . . . obligation kind of thing?" Aurora asked with a slight hint of sarcasm in her voice.
"No, Mom. It's not an 'obligation kind of thing.' I made a conscious choice to ask Samantha if she wanted me to show her around as opposed to coming down to La Jolla for the weekend. There! I said it. Now, I'm ready for the 'we never get to see you' lecture." Alex responded.
"Okay, Alexis. No lecture. I know you have a life of your own. But you do know we love you and just want to see you once in a while. I know we'll be coming up for the Pageant of the Masters probably around the middle of July. You will find some time to go to that with us won't you, Alex?" her mom asked.
"Yes, Mom. I'll do my best to make sure I put that weekend aside -- Are you coming on the weekend or are you going to come up during the week when it's less crowded?" Alex asked.
"We don't know yet, honey, it's according to whether or not Kelley can get the time off. I'd rather come during the week but you know how busy the summer months can be." Her mother then decided to change the subject. "All right, I'm over you not coming down this weekend, so tell me all about this Samantha. Is she a new love interest or what?" Her mother asked.
"Well . . . if it were up to me, she'd most definitely be a new love interest but I don't think she even knows I'm gay. We just . . ." Alex began but was interrupted.
"Alex! You know better than to fool around with straight girls! They can be nothing but trouble for you. What are you thinking? You jeopardize your heart before you even start when you mess around like that!" Her mother chided her.
"Mom, give the girl a chance. As I said we've just met but I Really like her, even if it never goes any further than a really good friendship. I need a friend here in Laguna. Someone close that I can talk to and do things with. And please don't go giving me the 'I'm your friend, Alex' talk. I know you're my friend, but you're my mom first and that can really get in the way sometimes. Just let me sort this out. I promise I will come to you if or when I need help. And I promise to keep you well informed. Is that fair enough, Mom? Let me at least try to act like an adult occasionally, okay?" Alex finished with a plea in her voice that registered all the way to La Jolla.
"Well," her mother started, "She must really be something to have you that much on the defensive after only the first meeting. So, tell me a little about her and where you plan on taking her this weekend." Aurora said with as much compassion as she could muster, feeling that her only child was again heading for disaster in the love department. She hated it when Alex fell for someone who would eventually turn around and hurt her. Aurora simply wanted Alex to find someone who would love her and be good to her. If she had someone like that Aurora could stop worrying about Alex so much.
"Mom, she's about 5'4", and has short blonde hair that reminds you of fairies it's so soft and fine. Her bangs are feathered and she has that girl-next-door look to her. She's built really cute, just right actually, not like a lot of the anorexic bathing beauties that dot the beaches here. And she has a bubbly personality that makes me want to smile just being with her. She has the greenest eyes I think I've ever seen. And her imagination would give yours some competition. She told me a story about the sunset tonight that was absolutely beautiful. Her name is Samantha Riley, so I guess the green eyes come from Irish ancestry. She reminds me of you in that she is or wants to be a writer and maybe after I know her a little better I can bring her down and introduce you to her or maybe if you guys don't mind she can come with us to the Pageant of the Masters -- that is if she wants to."
Aurora thought of interrupting with a question but it seemed that her daughter was on a roll so she just let her continue talking.
"She's really interesting to talk to and she seems to like at least some of the same things I do . . . well . . . she likes the beach and sunsets. Anyway, I really like her and hope we can become very good friends. Maybe, if I'm exceedingly lucky she'll be gay, too. Maybe she's as afraid of scaring me off as I am of scaring her off -- but I doubt that." Alex told her mother.
"Alex," Aurora finally got a word in, "She sounds lovely and I wish you all the luck in the world. Just keep your heart intact until you get to know her a little bit better, okay, hon?" Her mother beseeched her. "Now, tell me about your apartment and the business. How is everything coming along."
Alex described all that had happened in the last week since she had talked to her mother, including the altercation with the construction worker, which got Aurora a little more than slightly upset. She then stated that most of the equipment was already in place and that she was looking forward to opening the doors to the public. She asked her mom if she and Kelley would be coming to the grand opening and Aurora gave her the already assumed affirmative. She further described how the apartment was coming along and told her that it would probably not be fully furnished before the opening of the clinic. She made sure her mom knew that getting the clinic set up right was her first priority and that the apartment took second place. She made Aurora promise not to push her about the situation and in return promised that Aurora could pick out a picture or something for the apartment and that she would not balk about it.
"Well, Alex," her mother finally chimed in, "we've been gabbing for nearly an hour already and Kelley's giving me that 'get off the damn phone' look. So, listen, sweetie, you take care of yourself and call me if you need anything, understand?" Aurora said to her daughter.
"I will Mom. You know I always do. I love you, and Kelley."
"We love you too, Alex. Hey, listen. Before I hang up, I've been thinking . . . you know that Sawdust Art Festival is starting soon there in Laguna, that might be just the place to take your new little friend. What do you think?"
"Mom -- I think that may be just perfect. There is something for everybody there. Thanks, I knew I could count on you to help think of somewhere interesting to go. I really love you, Mom."
"I know, honey, I'll talk to you later. Bye." With that Aurora hung up.
Alex let out a sigh of relief. She always enjoyed talking to her mother but sometimes she could be a bit overbearing, in a loving motherly sort of way. She knew her mom was right about falling head over teacups for a straight woman but in affairs of the heart Alex felt one didn't always have a choice. It would make things a lot easier if Samantha turned out to be gay, but Alex found that the easy way was not usually what she ended up with. Now at least she knew where they would be going this weekend, if Samantha agreed to go. She felt very lucky to have such an understanding Mom, one she could talk to about almost anything.
It was beginning to get late so she dismissed the thought of eating and decided to pour herself another glass of wine. While getting her wine she remembered that she had not told her mom about her decision to cut her hair. Oh, well. It's always good to leave some things left unsaid. Maybe I'll just wait and let them SEE what I've done. She giggled to herself as she ran her fingers through what was left of her black tresses. I don't care what anyone else thinks. I feel like I've shed 10 pounds and five years -- it's cool, easy to take care of and what's most important is that I Like it!!
Alex walked into the bedroom, mentally reliving the activities of the evening as she undressed, sipped her wine and finally sat down on the bed, watching the movement of the ocean below her windows. She convinced herself to retire early, well not exactly early but earlier than usual. It had been quite a busy day.
The moon was now high in the night sky as Alex finished her wine. The moonlight streamed across the waterbed and she felt a pang of loneliness as she laid back on the huge bed that she shared with no one. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Alex, she thought. Turn around and look at the beautiful view. She listened to her own thoughts and turned back around to watch the silver light dance on the water as tiny white caps rose, rolled and then broke on the beach. Another beautiful Laguna night. She was blessed to be here in this place of quiet that she loved so much. The only thing that would make it more of a paradise to her would be to have someone special with whom to share the moonlight and with whom to share her life. Maybe if her wish came true tonight, that person would be someone she had just met.
As Samantha pulled away from the warehouse and out onto the private road she noticed headlights pulling out behind her when she made the first turn off of what would soon be Alternative Paradise Road -- if Jane's rumor was correct. Funny, she thought to herself, I don't think there are any other buildings on that stretch of the road. Maybe someone else found the beach like I did. By the Gods I hope not, I want that beach to stay as private as possible. She did a double take on that thought.
Well, she did want the beach to remain private -- that's what had attracted her to it in the first place. There was plenty of coast line for others to explore. She had found her quiet place and she selfishly wanted it to remain just that. But slipping around in her mind were other thoughts that she was not quite ready to give voice to so she let them remain elusive and concentrated on her driving.
The ride toward home was short one but there was so much to think about. Samantha couldn't wait to tell Suzanne that she had met the tall, dark-haired stranger from the beach. She never thought she would meet her this soon. She wanted to tell Suzanne just how nice Alex was and how beautiful she was up close and personal. What she couldn't understand was why she felt so damned happy about meeting her and why she was actually missing her at this very moment. She had never had a stranger affect her in such a fashion before.
Maybe we were friends in another life, she thought. That would explain why I feel so good just being around her. Maybe we've been through this all before and that's why we are so comfortable with each other.
She got the impression that Alex seemed to be as comfortable around her as she was around Alex. The inexplicable element was why she felt such inner warmth when she touched Alex or when Alex touched her. It was more like the kind of a feeling you are supposed to get when you find someone you're romantically attracted to. She actually felt a tingle from her hand to the top of her shoulder when Alex touched her hand reaching for the Dictaphone machine earlier in the evening. At the same time she got that little catch in her throat and throb in her heart that she gets when watching a romantic movie and the two main characters touch. She couldn't explain it to herself but she was worried more about the fact that she wasn't worried about not being able to explain it.
Her stomach rumbled at her and she decided to stop at B.J.'s for a 'to go' pizza and a salad because she didn't feel like cooking at this hour and she was obviously hungry. She should have asked Alex if she wanted to join her for dinner, but as usual wasn't thinking fast enough before she left the warehouse to make the invitation. That would have really made a nice ending to what began as a business meeting.
Speaking of the warehouse, she hadn't even gotten to take the royal tour of the building. She would have to remember to ask Alex to show her around the next time she was there. Actually, when she stopped to think about it she didn't even give Alex her phone number. She thought about calling the office in the morning and telling them to go ahead and give out her number if Alex Dorian called for it, after all she might have some troubles with the machine - Yeah, right!
Samantha pulled up to B.J.'s and almost got hit in the rear by a car that was obviously following her too closely and didn't anticipate her pulling over into the loading/unloading zone in front of the pizza place. She got out of the VW and gave the other car a menacing look. Watch where you're going. She mentally told the stranger. Sam decided to eat her salad while she was waiting for the pizza to cook. She hadn't realized just how hungry she really was until she actually smelled the food. It only took about 15 minutes and she was soon on her way out the door. As she glanced across the street, she recognized the same car that had almost hit her simply sitting there with the driver inside. Guess that person has nothing better to do on a Monday night than sit around in front of Pizza Places waiting for cars to tailgate and almost hit. Samantha sarcastically thought to herself.
She then put the thought aside, got into her vehicle and took off for her apartment. Turning into the apartment driveway she decided to stop and get her mail. This is useless stop -- nothing but junk as usual. Junk and bills. She turned to throw some of the mail into the trash can located next to the boxes when she again spotted the same car. Great, now I have a new neighbor who wants to crush in the back of my car. She mused to herself. She got back into her car, pulled up in front of her building and parked in her regular spot.
Upstairs in the apartment her message light was blinking and was quite visible in the darkness that enveloped the room as Sam walked in. Answering machines -- what lovely devices -- Samantha thought as she walked over, turned the light on, put the pizza down and looked at the number of calls she had received. Only one tonight, good. I'm really not in the mood for going through voice mail.
She pushed the button and the message began . . . same beginning as her earlier message . . . "Hi, Sammie. It's Mom. I thought you would have gotten back to me by now. I'll be up until around 11 tonight if you want to give me a call. We miss you, honey. Bye."
"Darn," Samantha spoke to the air, "I didn't want to but I guess I'd better call her tonight." She opened up the pizza box and put two pieces on a plate. Then she went and got a large glass of water before sitting down by the phone to call her mother. She had no idea what she was going to say. She was really getting used to doing things her own way and in her own time. She wanted her folks to visit but she wasn't sure she was quite ready for them to come so soon. July would be here this weekend so maybe with a little fast talking she could get them to put off coming down until the middle of August. That would give her at least another month to get everything squared away and know the area a little better. Not that anyone ever needed to know the area with her father around, he was never shy about asking the locals questions.
"Ok, here goes," she picked up the receiver and dialed home.
"Hello, Riley residence." Her mother answered the phone.
"Hi, Mom. It's me."
"Well Hi, Sammie. I'm glad you got back to me tonight. I was beginning to wonder whether your machine was working or whether everything was all right. Everything is all right, isn't it." Her mother asked.
"Yes, Mom. Everything is just fine. I was just doing a little evening job tonight for my boss. She asked me to deliver a machine to one of our new clients who's opening up a business here in Laguna." Samantha answered her mother.
"Well, what do you think about our coming to visit next month?" Her mother asked.
"Mom, I think the visit is a great idea (Samantha lied) but why don't you wait until about the middle of August. It's not really good to come just when these things open. I think they're better about half way through because all the really big crowds are gone by then and you get a better chance at seeing everything without being pushed around." Samantha told her mother, knowing that her mom didn't like large crowds. She was hoping her statements would delay the early visit.
"Gee, Sammie, when you put it like that I can see that maybe the middle of August would be a much better time to come. It will also give Daddy a little more time to get the itinerary together. You know how he loves to plan everything out so we don't miss a thing." Her mother said with a smile in her voice.
"Oh, yeah, Mom. I know exactly how much Dad loves planning for a vacation. Will Sally be coming with you?" Samantha asked as she thought to herself -- Oh, Please say YES.
"If we came in July as we anticipated, she wouldn't be able to take off but if we give a month's notice I can see no reason why she couldn't come with us. It will be a real family reunion then. We miss you a lot, Samantha. Are you sure you're happy living there in California? Don't you miss the lake and the woods?" Her mother asked.
"I miss all of you, too, Mom. And, yes I do miss the lake and the woods but the ocean has a magic all its own and it was a lot easier to make the transition than I had thought it would be. I love Laguna and I know you will too when you see it." Samantha said. "So, Mom . . . why don't you talk everything over with Dad and then get back to me. If I'm not here just leave a message like you did and I will get back with you as soon as I can. Remember it is summer and there are a lot of things to do here so I am out of the apartment quite a bit when I'm not working."
"Okay, Samantha. I'll talk to Daddy and we'll get the dates set and Daddy will make the reservations for the plane and the motel. I'm getting excited already. Tell me Samantha how do you like your new job?"
"Mom, it's just great. It's like being my own boss. I get my work when I want to basically and have 24 hours to get it back to the main office. If I want to take a day off, no problem as long as I give a little notice. It's great. I'm happy here, Mom -- Really." Samantha stated.
"Well, honey. I'm happy if you're happy. I'll let you go for now, this is costing you a lot of money. Give yourself a kiss and a hug from me and I'll tell Daddy and Sally you said 'Hi'." Her mom said.
"Okay, Mom. I'll talk to you soon. I love you." Samantha ended.
"We love you, too, Samantha. Bye for now." And her mother hung up the phone.
Well, Samantha thought to herself, at least they won't be coming until the middle of August. I can get all my shit together by then I'm sure. Sam was glad she had used the approach she had on her mother. It didn't make her sound like she just didn't want them coming down yet.
I think maybe I'll just turn in a little early tonight. It's been a long day. Samantha thought.
She finished off the pizza she had put on her plate and put the rest in a baggie and into the refrigerator. Pizza always made good breakfast food as far as she was concerned. Then she went in and took a quick shower and came back into the living to lock everything up. She went to the window to make her evening wish and to ponder on the events of the evening. It was really nice to meet Alex and she hoped they would become very close friends. She needed a close friend in the area. Not that Suzanne wasn't close but she had Danny and he would be coming home soon and then Sam would be pretty much on her own or would feel like a third wheel tagging along all the time with the two of them.
Samantha thought again about calling the office in the morning and telling them they could give Alex her phone number if she happened to call for it. Then she thought again. Perhaps I'll simply go for another morning swim. I wanted to start doing that on a daily basis anyway. If tomorrow is as lucky as today, Alex will have the same idea and this time I won't have to watch her from a distance. Well, that certainly settled what her wish for the evening was going to be.
End of Chapter Three
Go on to Chapter Four