Sedona Rain

Chapter 15

Sleeping late had started to become a luxury Alex was beginning to enjoy, but a knock on the door brought her to the realization that vacation time was over.

"Alex," Kelley called. "Don't tell me you're still sleeping?"

After covering Samantha's exposed ear with her hand, the brunette responded with, "Just a minute, Kelley." She then attempted to carefully unwind her body from that of the small blonde.

"No sense trying to sneak out of bed, gimper," Samantha snickered, slowly opening her eyes. "And . . . don't think you're going to get away without a morning kiss." She sat up and planted a kiss firmly on her lover's lips.

"Honey, Kelley's waiting," Alex objected.

"I'm not going to seduce you, Alex; it was just a kiss." She quickly rolled off the other side of the bed and hurried into the living room to open the door for Kelley.

"Hi, Samantha," I didn't expect you to answer the door.

"Ah," the younger woman smiled. "Did you expect me to sleep through the banging and yelling?"

"Actually, I thought Alex said you could sleep through an earthquake and not be phased." Kelley kissed the blonde on the cheek and followed her into the dining area.

"Was a time," Samantha acknowledged. "But with the walking wounded in bed with me, I tend to wake up every time she groans or moves."

They were laughing when Alex hobbled into the room and sat down next to Kelley.

"So, what's so funny?" the brunette asked.

"Nothing, Alex. We were just talking about you," her mother answered.

"Oh, yeah, now that's funny," Alex commented sarcastically. "You teaching Samantha bad habits?"

"I wouldn't think of it." Kelley patted her daughter on the arm. "How are you feeling this morning?"

"Aside from still limping on this stupid ankle, I'm feeling fine."

"Want some tea, Alex?" Samantha asked as she got up from the table.

"Yes, please, that would be nice."

"Kelley, how about you?" the blonde asked.

"Got coffee?"

"Sure, I think I could drum some up, and I know I saw a coffee pot in one of the cupboards."

"Thanks, hon. I know Aurora and Al will be no good to anyone until they get their first cup."

The women heard a quick rap and the front door opening and closing. Al's friendly voice preceded him into the room. "Did I hear someone mention my name? I let myself in because I could hear you people all the way out in the hall; sounded like a party."

"Good morning, Uncle Al," Samantha's happy voice trailed in from the kitchen. "I'm making you guys a pot of coffee, as you speak."

"That's my girl, Sam." He turned to Alex and smiled. "You got yourself a winner this time munchkin."

"We all seem to agree on that," Kelley affirmed.

"Okay, okay, I'm blushing." Samantha interjected. "I can hear you, you know?"

"Yeah, but this way you continue to display your good side, while we keep showing our butts," Al laughed. He bypassed the table to see if Samantha needed any help. "What have you girls decided to do for breakfast?"

"We really haven't had a chance to discuss anything, Al." Kelley answered first. "I just got here myself. I had to practically bang the door down to get the sleepyheads up."

"No! Not my Alex, she always awakens with the dawn," Al protested.

"Not lately. I guess some of Samantha's habits are rubbing off on me," Alex confessed.

"See. I'm not completely faultless," Samantha chimed in.

"It's a little fault we can all live with, I'm sure." Al hugged the newest member of his family.

"Where are you off to this afternoon, Uncle Al."

"Well, Alex, there's a new play opening on Broadway tomorrow night that I have tickets for and then some friends and I are traveling up to Vermont to witness a holy union. I tell you, that state is going to weigh down the East Coast with gays if things keep going like they are. It's becoming more popular than California."

"I don't think I would go quite that far, Al," Kelley said, laughing. "I do believe it would have to acquire more land to accomplish that feat."

"Yeah, but it certainly is popular," Al concluded. He turned to face his sister. "You gonna let Aurora sleep the day away, sis?"

"No!" Kelley answered, getting up and walking toward the door. "Since the coffee's brewing, I'll go get her. Are you girls going to get dressed, or are you going to stay in your nightshirts all day?"

"You did get us out of bed, remember?" Alex responded, a bit on the defensive. "And we're not quite ourselves when it comes to moving quickly, if you get my drift."

"We planned on dressing while you were off waking Mom up," Samantha interspersed with a smile. "Uncle Al, can you get your own coffee when it stops brewing?"

"No problem," Al affirmed. "I've got it covered out here."

"In that case, I'll go start the shower." Samantha picked up her mug of tea and headed for the bathroom.

When father and daughter were alone, Alex filled Al in on the conversation she had had with Samantha the evening before. He hugged his daughter and apologized for making her life so difficult, to which she smiled and said it was all very worth while, after all she ended up with three loving parents and an outrageous inheritance.

"Honestly, Alex, Samantha seems like a wonderful person, and after the episode in the canyon, I would conclude that you really have found your soulmate. Do you know how lucky you are to have found her?"

"Yes, Uncle Al, I know. My attitude toward life has taken quite a turn since meeting Samantha. The experience we went through the other day also solidified some of the beliefs I was beginning to doubt."

"Well, I'm happy for you, honey. And I'm happy for Samantha. You're not the only lucky one, you know. Samantha's pretty fortunate to have found you, Alex."

"I'm not so sure I'd agree with you on that, but . . . "

"No buts, little lady, there are some things I won't be contradicted on and that happens to be one of them." He sat down next to her with the coffee he had just poured and kissed her tenderly on the forehead. "I know we don't see each other often, but you are my favorite girl, you know?"

"Seeing how there aren't all that many 'girls' in your life, I will still take that as a compliment and say that you are one of my favorite 'boys.' Now, maybe I should go join Samantha in getting dressed before Mom arrives and I get teased for being the only one left in my night clothes."

"I imagine I can amuse myself until someone arrives to talk to me. Go on." He made a shooing movement with his hands, which reminded Alex of her friend, Sonny. She smiled inwardly, as she made her way back into the bedroom.

Kelley and Aurora arrived before the younger women finished dressing, and Al informed them of the situation with Samantha. The three of them had discussed the topic before Kelley spoke to Alex the night before. They were all in agreement that telling Samantha was the right thing to do. Each of them had a bit of a guilt complex when it came to the restrictions they had placed on their daughter early on in her life. Personal constraints that had caused her to remain an enigma to her friends could certainly have been instrumental in her becoming a "loner." It was good everything was out in the open with Samantha. They all hoped that the cheerful blonde was in Alex's life to stay.

The remainder of the morning went quickly. Samantha was made to feel at ease with her new knowledge of the Dorian clan, and the topic was switched to food and shopping. Al had to leave for New York before dusk, so that limited where they could go.

Kelley still insisted that they keep the walking to a minimum to avoid further damage to Alex's healing ankle. The trading post was open, but no one was around to help with the categorizing or naming of the plants Samantha had used to help Alex in the canyon.

Al never tired of talking, and Samantha fed his ego by asking tons of questions about his travels and escapades the world over.

There was so much for the young woman to learn about her new family, and she knew she couldn't fit it all into the course of a few days. Occasionally, she would find herself drifting off in thought to her own family and how they had basically disowned her. That's not fair, Samantha. She would correct herself when the gloom and doom thoughts appeared. Mom didn't disown you and neither did Sally. The only culprit is Dad, and you knew how he would react. Nevertheless, it doesn't make not seeing them any easier.

"Hey, half-pint, you okay?" Kelley's voice broke Samantha's reverie.

"Yeah, just daydreaming," the blonde smiled.


Time for farewells came far too soon, but Uncle Al had his flight scheduled and plans were already made. Unbidden tears welled in emerald green eyes as the gentle man bent down and engulfed the small woman. "It was marvelous meeting you, Samantha. You take good care of Little Al for me," he whispered.

"I will; I promise," Samantha answered with a lump in her throat. "It was great meeting you, too, Uncle Al. I hope you don't remain a stranger."

"I'll try to get back to sunny California soon, little one." He released his hold on the blonde and said goodbye to his sister and sister-in-law, leaving his daughter for last. He rarely visited, but when he did it was always a special occasion.

"You really need to come see us at Alternative Paradise, Uncle Al." Alex whispered, as she hugged the tall man's neck, "I've missed your face."

"I've missed you, too, Alexis. I told Samantha that California would be high on my priority list of places to visit soon. You take care of her; she's a find."

"I know," Alex smiled. "I will; you can count on it." Tears streamed involuntarily from sapphire eyes as she watched Al disappear into the cockpit of the small jet.

She hugged Samantha close and sobbed, "He's really special, Samantha."

"I know, sweetheart. It was a nice surprise for you to see him."

Listening in on the conversation, Aurora interjected, "It certainly was. Kelley thought since he was back in the country he could spare a few hours for his family. He gave her no fight at all. He had just flown into Miami when she called him." She took out a hanky and wiped the faces of the two younger women. Alex smiled and caught her mother's hand.

"Just be careful, Samantha, as long as she doesn't go wetting this damn thing with spit to wipe the dirt off our faces, we're okay," Alex laughed and Samantha joined right in.

"Very funny, Alex," Aurora commented, "but there was many a time that kept you from having a smudge on your face for a picture."

"Okay, Mom . . ."

"Hey, I used to get the same treatment, Alex. It's a mother thing." Samantha giggled. "We'll just have to try to remember not to do it to our kid."

Receiving a look of disbelief from Aurora, Samantha quickly added, shaking her head fiercely and waving her hands, "No, not now . . . I was talking about in the future."

The look on Samantha's face had everyone in stitches, which was a nice relief from the tears of the goodbye. With a final glance at the jet as it left the tarmac, the four women returned to their vehicle and headed back to the Center.

The rest of the evening was nothing more than an extended gossip session; they discussed anything and everything, focusing quite often on Al and his eccentricities. Morning would bring packing and farewells. The women had invited Gary to dinner and lavished him with gratitude, which he quickly announced would be repaid tenfold when he visited California in the not too distant future.

The emotional roller coaster they had all been on during the day left them unusually tired, and all four of the women found themselves in bed before the stroke of midnight.

"Sedona has been a life-changing experience in more ways than one," Samantha murmured into her lover's chest as they lay in bed.

"Yes, we both got a glimpse of our spiritual connection, and you became indoctrinated into the family by my final parent and the last of the Dorian secrets. Tomorrow we start back to civilization and the real world.

"I happen to like my world with you, Alex, and I'm getting secure enough to allow the real world to rear its ugly head and intrude occasionally," the blonde smiled and hugged her lover. "As beautiful as it is here, I miss home," Samantha confessed.

"Me too," Alex concurred. "It's good to know we agree on that. Sweet dreams, my Destiny."

"Sweet dreams, Alex."

Curled up in the warmth and security of loving arms, Samantha almost immediately began to breathe the slow rhythmic cadence of sleep. Alex could feel the smaller woman's mouth curl up in a smile as it rested against her chest.

Alex smiled, also, and once again, as had become a habit, she thanked the goddess for the gift she held so delicately in her arms. It wasn't long before the two lovers were breathing in unison and the world of dreams captured them both.


Sunlight streaked lazily into the room, dotting the walls with patches of gold. Alex opened her eyes in anticipation, not wanting Kelley to wake her up like she did yesterday. Carefully she slipped from the bed, trying her best not to disturb the sleeping form that just seconds before had been clinging to herÁÁbut to no avail.

Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, Samantha squinted, unaccustomed to the light of the room. "You're up early this morning."

"I don't want a repeat of yesterday; I'll probably never live it down as it is," Alex answered. "You don't have to get up just yet. I'm sure Mom isn't awake. I'm going to shower and dress, after I put the tea on."

"No, why don't I go put the tea on, and you start the shower. I'll join you and we'll both be up and dressed by the time Kelley comes calling."

"Are you sure, Samantha? It's terribly early."

"I got a good night's sleep," the blonde informed her lover. "Besides, showering with you is incentive enough to get my butt out of bed."

"Maybe here it is, but I have to drag you out of bed kicking and screaming at home."

"Ah, but that's the difference; we aren't at home." Samantha rolled off the bed and headed for the living room. "Go start the shower; I'll just be a sec."

If they had talked about it, the truth would have come out that both of the women were anxious to get home, now that the time had been decided upon. In actuality, they wouldn't be home for another day or so, but at least they would be back in California.

The warm liquid, streaming from the dual showerheads, felt good as it flowed from both directions and cascaded into the middle of the oversized stall. About the time Alex had the water the perfect temperature, a naked body joined her, pressing close against her body and planting a morning kiss on eagerly awaiting lips.

"I love the way you look when you're wet," the blonde professed, running her fingers through the ebony locks in front of her.

"I love the way you look when you're naked," Alex countered. "Wet or dry, it doesn't matter. " She pulled the smaller woman close and nibbled on her ear. "The reason I was going to dress before you woke up was to avoid having to tell you that we don't have time for this."

"Time for what?" Samantha teased, caressing the brunette's buttocks in a massaging motion.

"Samantha, the purpose of getting up was to be dressed by the time Kelley came knocking on the door. Do you intend for us to be in the bathroom when she comes calling this morning? That would be worse than yesterday."

"Sometimes you can be an unimaginative party pooper; do you realize that Alex?"

"Yes. I suppose you have a valid point there, but I would rather be considered a party pooper this morning than to have Kelley teasing me the rest of the way home." Once again she bent down to kiss the full lips she loved. "Now, we really need to get washed and dressed."

"Okay," Samantha pouted. "I guess we can't have you losing face two days in a row."

Both women were showered, dressed, sitting in chairs, and drinking tea, with coffee brewing for the moms, when Kelley knocked gingerly on the door.

Voices in unison answered the knocking with a verbal, "It's open; come on in." Then they looked at each other and giggled.

Surprised to see both the younger women up and dressed, Kelley's expression was one to be caught on camera. Her reaction only made the culprits smile even more.

"Ah, ha! Thought you'd catch us sleeping again, didn't you?" Alex gleefully accused.

"To tell the truth, yes," Kelley confessed. "But this is a very nice surprise, and I do believe I even smell coffee."

"Absolutely," Samantha replied, "I'll get you a cup; go ahead and sit down."

As morning tends to do on the final day of a vacation, it disappeared into afternoon before anyone realized it. The Jeep was loaded, and the hour to leave was at hand.

"I hope it doesn't take me forever to get you people back here to visit again. Seems like I have to make a major purchase before I get any attention." Gary glanced sarcastically at Alex.

"My life has been going through some major alterations the past few months," the dark-haired beauty answered, motioning with her head to the back of the car.

"Great!" Samantha interjected. "Now I'm an alteration." She giggled and tapped both Gary and Alex on their heads.

"Oh, but such an exquisite modification you are," Gary insisted.

"No good kissing up now, the damage has been done; I've been spoken of as an object."

"Okay, kids," Aurora joined in the conversation. "If you can't play nicely together, I'm going to separate you."

"Actually, they are getting separated in a few minutes," Kelley added, pointing to the airport when it came into sight.

Their host pulled into the parking lot just as Samantha was listing all the good things that had come out of their visit to Sedona, including her getting to meet Gary.

Kelley went to check on their takeoff schedule and to see if the plane had been readied for them to board.

Finally, with goodbye hugs and kisses and more promises to keep in touch, the women were ready to leave Sedona. With conflicting emotions of joy and sorrow, the Californians boarded the plane headed back toward the Pacific Ocean and familiar territory.

While in the air, Aurora made a good case for having the girls stay at the villa for the weekend, and Samantha helped talk Alex into postponing their leaving for Laguna until Sunday.

When they arrived in San Diego, Kelley insisted on driving the Porsche and told Alex and Samantha to ride with Aurora.

"I'm quite capable of driving, Kelley," Alex had tried to argue, only to receive disagreement from everyone present.

"Alexis, let Kelley drive your car home, no sense in taxing that ankle any more than necessary. You have the weekend to relax, and then no one will have any problem with letting you drive." Aurora smiled sweetly as she tried to smooth her daughter's ruffled feathers.

"You know, if I didn't know better, I would think that none of you have any confidence in my ability as a physical therapist. Don't you think I know when it's safe for me to drive?"

In unison she received three definitive 'no' responses.

"Alex, no one has good judgement when it comes to doctoring themselves," Samantha tried to reason.

"Whatever," was the only comment the dark-haired beauty made before tossing Kelley the car keys and turning to walk toward her mother's vehicle.

"On second thought, why don't you ride with Kelley so she doesn't have to ride alone." Aurora suggested. "Besides, this way Samantha and I get to gossip a little more without being interrupted."

Alex grinned at her mother and shook her head. "You are a manipulator; you know that, don't you, Mom?"

"Why, Alex, what a lovely compliment," the older woman chided.

The brunette gave Samantha a kiss on the forehead, before letting her other parent know she would have company on the way home. "Don't believe everything she says about me," she warned her lover before she got into the Boxster.

"What makes you think all the talk is going to be about you?" Samantha questioned, smiling.

"Are we going to stop somewhere to eat?" Aurora yelled over to her mate.

"That probably would be a good idea." Why don't you two just follow us and be surprised.

"Okay," Aurora agreed.

Three hours later they were sitting on the balcony of the villa, drinking wine and discussing what they intended to do to occupy their time for the next few days. It was finally determined that they would spend most of the weekend simply relaxing.

Samantha was beginning to get excited that the Ellen DeGeneres concert was only a weekend away and occasionally reiterated the same to anyone who would listen.

Finally, Aurora and Kelley decided to call it a day. They said their goodnights, and left the two younger women sitting by the pool.

"It's good to hear the ocean again," Samantha mumbled, almost to herself.

"Yes, it does become a bit addicting after a while, doesn't it? I can remember missing the sound when I would go on business trips. I finally purchased one of those sound machines so I could get a decent night's sleep."

"You seemed to sleep alright in Sedona."

"I wasn't alone in a strange hotel room. Gary's place is familiar, and I had you with me. Hey, are you about ready to go to bed?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I am," Samantha answered.

They each stole a final look at the ocean, and then got up and went inside. After getting into their nightshirts, they curled up together on the large bed in Alex's old room.

"Sedona was definitely an experience of a lifetime, Alex, thanks for taking me there."

"It was even more of an experience than I had anticipated, sweetheart, but you're definitely welcome," the dark-haired beauty confessed. Hugging Samantha tightly she continued, "I guess we found out that you really are my Destiny." She nuzzled her face in Samantha's hair and kissed her tenderly on the top of the head.

After mumbled goodnights, the two women snuggled closer together and lost themselves in each other's arms. Alex fell asleep with the sweet scent of Samantha in her nostrils, and Samantha entered dreamland with her head cushioned on the chest of her beloved.


The next three days seemed to evaporate into thin air. Rest and relaxation were of the highest priority, according to the moms, and both the younger women would have to admit that the attention fawned upon them was not difficult to get used to. They mostly stayed in the villa, talked, and played board games. Alex hooked up Samantha's PlayStation Ŕ to the largest of the television screens, and all four of the women had a marvelous time acting like children. They were all novices, but Alex and Samantha became fairly proficient gamers by the end of the weekend, especially after spending the majority of Saturday afternoon sitting in front of the television, competing with each other. Alex turned out to be champion of the action games, while Samantha preferred and could better manipulate the weird looking creature who jumped from one brilliantly hued cube to another in constant fear of color changing varmints.

Aurora made a large bowl of popcorn, and Kelley made a pitcher of what she called frozen rainbows, which consisted of peach brandy, rainbow curacao, light rum, black raspberry liqueur, raspberry sherbet, frozen peaches, and ice. Sam had requested that they watch a pay-per-view movie, and the game room turned into a theatre for the evening.

Nestled together in bed at evening's end, Alex and Samantha discussed how much fun it had been to do absolutely nothing, something they rarely seemed to accomplish anymore when at home. They decided that doing nothing would become a priority in their lives and they would spend at least one day a week doing just that. Then they laughed at the aspect of becoming more like the moms, which gave Alex goose bumps.

"Damn, Samantha, don't tell me I'm becoming my mother!"

"Yeah, you're becoming Kelley, and I'm becoming Aurora."

Once more they found themselves giggling like schoolgirls until finally they both let out a deep sigh and went back to cuddling.

Sleep was not long in the offing and both of them were contented to know that tomorrow night at this time they would be in their own bed, looking out at their own stretch of beach, in the place they called home.


Aurora was in the kitchen when Alex came stumbling in still rubbing sleep from her eyes.

"I could hear you clanking around in here from the hall. I presumed it was Kelley. What are you doing up at this hour, Mom?"

"Actually, I was up about three hours ago. Inspiration, you know; it has total disregard for the human condition and our need for rest. I guess it was all the conversations with Samantha these past few days. My creative juices were flowing, and the longer I stayed in bed the more restless I became.

"Yeah, I can remember the odd hours you would keep when you were doing research or writing."

"I can't wait until she's ready to formulate her thoughts and put them down on paper, Alex. It's going to be fun helping a new writer get her feet wet in the business, especially one I'm so fond of."

"I'll bet." Alex kissed her mother good morning before continuing into the kitchen to prepare the teapot.

"Seriously, Alex, Samantha will have a best seller on her hands when she gets it down on paper."

"I know. I was pulling your chain, Mom. Samantha's lucky to have you to help her with her first book. It's not an easy business to get started in, and with your connections her book will get to all the right people. I appreciate your helping her."

"It's no chore. I love the subject matter, and I love Samantha. It will be good to see her accomplish something on her own . . . "

"Her own," Alex questioned with a crooked grin and raised eyebrow.

"You have the Center, it was your dream to begin with. This will be the fruition of her dreamÁÁher book. I'm just here to give a helping hand."

Again the younger woman smiled broadly and kissed her mother on the cheek.

"We'll be back as soon as we get dressed, Mom. Are you staying up or going back to bed now that you exhausted your Muse for the time being?"

"What time do you girls plan on leaving today?"

"We're going to pack after we eat and then leave."

"In that case, I'll start breakfast and stay up; I can always nap later on in the day."

"Great; we'll see ya in a few minutes."

"Is Samantha up already?"

"No, but she will be when I get back to the room."

"Alex, why don't you sit down and have a cup of tea, and let her wake up naturally?"

"Mom, if I waited for Samantha to wake up 'naturally,' we'd be leaving after dinner," the brunette chuckled but stopped walking toward the hall.

"Let her rest, Alex," Kelley agreed as she walked into the room and eavesdropped on the end of the conversation between her lover and her daughter.

"Goddess, she really has the two of you wrapped around her little finger, doesn't she?"

"Not any more than she has you," Kelley grinned at the younger woman.

"TouchĽ," Alex acknowledged. She sat down at the kitchen table and waited for the tea to brew. "What's a few more hours?"

"Precisely," Aurora smiled, sitting down to join her daughter and mate. "So, what do you want for breakfast?"

"I'd be willing to help Kelley with waffles, if she wants to take the time to make them," Alex volunteered.

"Well, why don't you ask her?" Kelley replied.

"I thought I just did."

"In a very round about way, but waffles it is as long as you're prepared to be the helper."

"Okay," Aurora interjected. "Now I know that breakfast is at least an hour in the making. By the time you add the hash browns, the eggs and the 'meat,' I'll have plenty of time to take a nap. Wake me up the same time you do Samantha, okay."

"Sure, Mom, go get some beauty rest."

Aurora chuckled and gave her two favorite people in the entire world a shake of her head and a wave as she exited the room.

"All right," Kelley turned to her daughter and smiled. "Are you ready to help prepare a breakfast feast?"

"You betcha!"


Had the cooks presumed that the fragrant aroma of the meal being prepared would waft through the corridors and tickle the senses of the sleeping beauties, they would have been waiting until everything was cold before eating. Instead of letting nature take its course, Alex got to be the chosen one to go wake her mom and Samantha.

The hours between breakfast and leaving disappeared almost as quickly as the rest of the weekend had. Alex and Samantha were anxious to get on their way, and the two older women, even though they hated to say goodbye, knew the feeling of wanting to get home that the younger women were experiencing. They all agreed that it was always nice to visit, but that after a while it was just as nice to go back home. As much as Aurora wanted the villa to always be Alex's home, she knew that their daughter had finally found a home to call her own. It was a bittersweet realization, but Aurora was happy with it because Samantha was like a second daughter to her and the best partner she and Kelley could have ever imagined for their Alex.

After a short discussion as to which one of them should be the one to drive, Alex climbed in behind the wheel, and Samantha settled herself on the passenger side.

"You have a very stubborn daughter, Mom; do you realize that?" Sparkling green eyes stared up into Aurora's face.

"Yes, and I lived with her for seventeen years. Your ordeal is just beginning." The older woman bent down and gave Samantha a kiss goodbye. "Make sure she stays somewhere near the speed limit; there's nothing wrong with her accelerator foot." She stood and smiled at her daughter. "When will we see the two of you again?"

"Mom, we haven't even left yet and already you want a date for the next visit?"

"If I don't ask now . . . "

"Probably not until after Halloween, unless the two of you decide to join us up in San Francisco?"

"I don't think so," Kelley informed Alex. "I have something else planned for that date." She looked at her lover and smiled. "And I guess now you'll just have to experience the sensation of anticipation, because I'm not going to tell you about it right now."

Alex beamed at the exasperated look that came over her mother's face. "Hey, you know the wait will be worth the experience."

Aurora broke down and smiled, nodding her head in agreement.

"Okay then, can I plan on you two being here for Thanksgiving?"

"Do you need your answer immediately?" Alex asked.

A small hand reached over and patted the brunette on the knee. "We can give her an affirmative answer; can't we, Alex? Thanksgiving should be spent with family." Her green eyes twinkled when Alex nodded in agreement. Samantha smiled and turned to Aurora. "We'll be here, Mom; thanks for asking us."

"It's a standing invitation, sweetie. Now, you two had best get going before I try to talk you into staying for dinner."

"No way," Alex replied with a chuckle. She turned the key and started the engine. "I want to be rested for the onslaught of unanswered messages tomorrow morning."

"Be sure to remember to call us when you get home." Kelley reiterated the statement that Alex had heard from her mom as a farewell for as long as she could remember.

Alex's last words as she maneuvered the car away from her parents were, "We willÁÁwell, I'm sure Samantha will remember. We love you both."

A smile and a tear shared Aurora's face as she watched her daughter's car disappear down the drive. Kelley stood by her side and placed an arm around the smaller woman's shoulder. "We wanted to see her settled and happy, honey. She is; we have to be thankful for that. Besides, now that she's with Samantha, we'll probably see more of her."

"I know; it's just that I miss her the moment she leaves the driveway."

"We should be glad that Sam is so family oriented. Who knows, Aurora, you might even get that grandchild you've been bellyaching about for years."

That definitely brought a smile to the Aurora's face. She turned and hugged her lifemate. "Even after all these years, you still know exactly what to say to cheer me up."

"It's because of all the years that I know what to say, my darling." Kelley drew her lover close and kissed her on the crown of her head, taking in the sweet smell of Aurora's perfume. "Shall we go inside? The children are gone and we have the house to ourselves." Her smile increased when she heard Aurora giggle, and the two turned and walked slowly back into the villa.


They slowly rounded the corner that brought Alternative Paradise into view.

"Wow, is it just me or are you getting the same feeling I am? Nothing looks better than the familiar surroundings of home. I feel like we've been away for months," Samantha exclaimed as they pulled into the garage.

"It does feel good to be home, and from the looks of the outside, all is well. Kim said she would probably be gone by the time we got back. She had some personal errands to run this weekend."

"So, we have the place to ourselves."

"Yep, just us and Rainbow."

"Gods, I can't wait to see that little fur ball; I'll bet she's grown while we've been gone."

"I'm sure she has. Let's not worry about the luggage, I'll get it in the morning."

Samantha found Rainbow curled up in a ball sound asleep on the couch. She picked the kitten up and noticed that she had, indeed, grown some. Holding the soft fur baby in her arms, she walked to the window and looked out at the ocean. It is definitely good to be home. I don't think I appreciate any view as much as the one I'm looking at right this very minute.

Strong fingers gently kneaded Samantha's shoulders as Alex massaged the muscles that were tight from sitting in the car. The taller woman leaned down and kissed the nape of Samantha' neck. "One of the best things about being home is having you here with me and all to myself." She ruffled the kitten's fur as a greeting, "Well, almost all to myself."

Samantha giggled and put the kitten down on the floor before turning around and facing her partner. "I love the way I feel when I'm in this room with you; it's as though nothing and no one else matters. My world is complete when I'm here by your side." She threw her arms around Alex's waist and held her tight.

"I don't know about you, but I'm kind of tired after that drive." Eyes matching the color of the afternoon sky stared down into green pools of desire.

"You know, I could use an afternoon nap myself."

Even though it was definitely not their intention, the two lovers found themselves fast asleep before they could put into action the real reason they had headed for the bedroom in the first place. In actuality, the drive up from La Jolla and the comfort of being home had relaxed them more than either of them had realized.


Alex had to blink twice to remember where she was, and when her eyes finally focused, the darkness of the room was quite a surprise. This was not at all what I had in mind when I suggested a nap. I didn't really want a nap!

"Samantha." She nudged the sleeping beauty in her arms. "If you sleep much longer now, you won't be able to get to sleep when it really is bedtime.

"Sleep? I didn't want to go to sleep."

"I guess your body did."

"I'm sorry, Alex."

"For what? I fell asleep, too. I just woke up sooner." She squeezed the smaller woman and kissed her on the crown of her head. "You hungry?"

"Yeah, but I don't really feel like going out to eat."

"We could order in," Alex suggested.


"Sure, why not?"


"Okay, pizza it is. Hey, everyone would be happy with the way we are recuperating. We're staying at home like two old married people, napping in the afternoon, and ordering dinner from the nearest pizzeria."

"That's scary," Samantha giggled and gently pushed Alex out of bed. "Better order that pizza before we're too old to eat it."

They allowed the remainder of the evening to unfold slowly and uneventfully. Tomorrow would begin a new week and with it came the realization that it was back to a schedule and back to work.

Alex vowed to begin looking for a full-time therapist who could take over most of her duties, and she talked to Samantha about hiring an assistant that she could train to take her place when they were either away or when being an author took up more of her time.

Alex had proved to herself that she could make her dream clinic come to fruition. But now that she had Samantha to share her life, she didn't want to be tied down to a business that required her undivided attention. She planned on them starting with long weekends, and then she wanted to unhurriedly show her lover the world. Past trips were called to mind when she thought of the places she most wanted to share with Samantha, including many of the romantic, out-of-the-way cities in Europe and, of course, Samantha's dream voyage to Greece.

Kelley had talked of permanent retirement within the next year, and Alex thought it might be nice for the four of them to take a cruise together. She put the thought on the back burner as she watched her lover sitting by the window writing in her journal. It was quiet and serene, and the woman who had thought she would never find peace in the world was finally surrounded by it.

"What are you writing?"

"Just a poem."

"Is it finished?"

The blonde sighed and turned from the window. "It's finished, Alex, but it's rather long. It's one of those form poems, the kind people who don't like to write poetry hated in school. It's called a Sestina and it may seem a little redundant at times, but that's the nature of the beast, so to speak." She looked up into adoring blue eyes and continued, "It's kind of the story of how I felt before I met you and how I feel now. I really had no control over the form; the words have to be used over and over again . . ."

"Stop making excuses for it, Samantha," Alex grinned and reached for the journal. "Are you going to read it to me or should I read it for myself?"

Cheeks that were moments ago pale began to take on a hint of rose. "I'm not that good at reading my own words out loud, but I will if you want to hear it."

"Of course I want to hear it."

"Okay, sit here beside me. It's entitled . . .

A Sestina for Alex
Before you entered my life, Alex, my world was flat, dismal, and empty.
It was a one-dimensional landscape where I simply existed.
The main element that should abound in each life was sorely missing.
You have opened my mind to endless possibilities and filled my heart.
Because of you, my world is now a miraculous place, my heart complete.
You have filled my existence with the one thing it was lacking ~ your love.
I remember back to that day not long ago when I knew not love.
I would walk along a beautiful beach and feel utterly empty.
My life held only the shadow of a smile, for I was incomplete.
Sadder yet was the fact that I didn't even know you existed.
I thank the gods for the day you came along and slipped into my heart.
You instantly filled that hole in my soul where your love had been missing.
Falling in love made me realize that other things had been missing.
I had been blind to their existence, for they couldn't thrive; there was no love.
All you need do is walk into a room to speed up the beat of my heart,
And the way you look into my eyes can make a full room seem empty.
When you're around, I feel as if my old world never really existed.
You are my universe, the other half of my soul; you make me complete.
I can only hope that I do the same for you and make you feel complete.
I no longer walk through life, searching for a piece of me that is missing.
In having found you, I feel as though the Me before never existed.
I am full of life, as we begin to discover each other through love.
No longer must I walk through life alone and be made to feel empty.
My days are now filled with sunshine, because I carry you in my heart.
It's an oddity and mystery, that small organ we call the human heart.
It keeps us alive as it faithfully beats, but we still do not feel complete,
Until another heart beats in unison ~ without it we feel empty.
Before you, I never questioned why, but I knew something was missing.
Now I know it was that intangible magical illusion we call love.
Once found, it's difficult to believe that before love we really existed.
I know cynics would argue that of course before you, I existed.
And the intelligent part of me would agree with them, but not my heart.
That part of me knows better, I was unfinished until I found you and love.
But once you and I found each other we both were made totally complete.
Alex, my soulmate, you are the inexplicable magic that was missing.
Now you are here and our souls are joined, neither of us need ever feel empty.
We merely existed before we met; a place in each of us was empty.
Our souls remembered that we could meld and become the essence of total love.
Now we are complete and need not stumble through life with part of our soul missing.


Tear-misted sapphire eyes continued to look at her lover in awe. "Such a gift you have, Samantha. I'm glad you decided to share that with me . . . write it about us. I feel the same way; I just don't have the ability to take the words and turn them into a concert for the heart like you do. It's beautiful. Thank you." She reached over and drew Samantha into her arms.

"I was afraid you would think it was silly, old fashioned, or just plain boring," Samantha confided in her lover.

"You have another think coming, if that's how you feel. I love to hear your poetry or anything else that you decide to pen. Remember, I grew up listening to the first draft of many a book and poem, too."

Early evening had finally turned late; the sky was peppered with pinpoints of white light, and a soft haze surrounded the moon.

After they had arrived home, the day seemed to have taken on an almost mesmerizing disposition of relaxation, like no day they had ever spent together. Now, it was once again time to sleep, and ironically, they were both ready for the experience. Cuddled in their own bed for the first time in weeks, the two lovers felt safe and secure in each other's arms.

"I guess this is the official end of your birthday celebration, Samantha."

The blonde chuckled into her mate's chest. "Gods, Alex, I guess you're right. I've never had a birthday celebration last two weeks before."

"We'll see if we can make it last even longer next year," Alex stated.

"Longer than two weeks?"


"Okay," Samantha answered with a broad grin. "But, do you think we could leave out the part where we fall through the floor of a cave?"

"Most definitely, my Destiny, most definitely."

"In that case, I'll be looking forward to getting another year older. Of course before we come back around to my birthday, I do believe there is a very special birthday occurring in February."

"Right you are, a very special day it will be, indeed. So . . . why don't you close those pretty little eyes of yours and dream of ways to spend money."

"Alex, what am I going to do with you?" Samantha shook her head and giggled.

"You are going to help me make it to my rocking chair, so you had better get used to having me around."

"I wouldn't have it any other way. Goodnight, sweetheart."

"Goodnight, Samantha, we've got a busy day tomorrow; see ya in dreamland."

Chapter 16

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