All disclaimers may be found in Chapter 1


Sedona Rain

Carole Giorgio: WomynBard@aol.com

Chapter 2

For the third time in fifteen minutes, Alex shook the sleeping blonde, her patience beginning to wear a bit thin.

"Samantha, it's almost 10 and we have to be at Angel's by noon."

"What time does it start?" Samantha whined, not opening her eyes to avoid being bombarded with sunshine. "Do we have to be the first ones there?"

"It's starts at noon and I hate being late."

Another nasally whine was heard coming from the direction of pouting lips. "Haven't you ever heard of being 'fashionably late'?"

"As a matter-of-fact I grew up with people all around me who felt that 'fashionably late' was the only way to attend a function and that the party would not be complete until their announced arrival, when all eyes could turn and admire them."

The vindictive tone to her lover's voice jolted the small blonde to a seated position, verdant eyes opened wide for a second as she stared at the dark beauty before her in disbelief.

"What in Tartarus . . ."

"I'm sorry, Samantha," Alex shook her head. "Bad flash-back." She leaned over the bed and placed a hand on Samantha's shoulder. "Listen, Angel invited Marcy and her guest on my behalf. Marcy is usually pretty much always on time and the party starts at noon . . ."

Ignoring the urgency in Alex's voice, Samantha flashed back to the 'fashionably late' statement. "All what people did you grow up around? You make it sound like you were some kind of debutante." Squinting green slits barely focused in the direction of the contralto voice.

"Samantha Renee Riley, I don't think now is the time to discuss my childhood or my adolescence! If you really don't want to go, I'm not going to fight with you. But I'll tell you right now, I have to make an appearance." She turned and started to walk toward the living room.

"Wait! Okay . . . okay . . . I get the picture. I'm up." Rolling off the bed, she stood, shielding her eyes in a display of mock sun blindness. "Point me in the direction of the shower and push." Levity always seemed to put the smile back on Alex's face and this try was no exception.

"I've already showered so tell you what . . . while you're getting ready I'll make an on-the-run breakfast. We need to stop and get some ice, whatever it is you want to drink and some un-burgers I'm sure they won't have them at the party."

A hollow sounding reply echoed from the bathroom, "Okay, I'll only be a few minutes."

A few minutes was an understatement when it came to how long it was actually going to take Samantha to get ready. From the vicinity of the bedroom Alex could hear various moans and groans of displeasure, followed by drawers being opened and closed. Sam seemed to be having a difficult time deciding what it was she wanted to wear. Finally an exasperated Alex tore into the bedroom.

"What is your problem, Samantha? This is not the most important social event of the season and you've never had trouble dressing yourself before."

"I always have a problem picking out clothes, this time it's just more noticeable. I don't want to look frumpy."

Irritation transformed into laughter. "That's ludicrous, Samantha! I never in my wildest imaginings dreamed you would react like this."

"React like what?" Samantha spit back at her, taking offense to the flippancy Alex was applying to the situation. "You think I'm ludicrous because I want to look good?"

"What's ludicrous is that you could even begin to imagine yourself as looking 'frumpy'. So . . . tell me . . .what's the real problem?" Alex arched an eyebrow, her smile disappeared and she stared intently at the blonde standing in front of her. "The truth, Samantha."

"I just want to look . . ."

"No, no, no. There's more to it than that. What the Hell is wrong with you?" Alex's voice raised an octave in tone. "This is so unlike you, Samantha."

"Okay, okay. I guess I just want to look better than Angel will . . . there . . . I said it. Does that make you happy?" Involuntary tears began to fill the sea-green eyes and spill down the small woman's cheeks.

"Samantha . . . Honey . . . what can you be thinking? You don't have to compete with Angel. Come here." Alex took the smaller woman into her arms, soothingly stroking her head. "There's no competition Samantha, none. Don't put yourself through this and don't put me through it." She tilted her lover's head for their eyes to meet. "Would it help if I swore to you that Angel is not even my 'type'?"

"Could you swear that?"

"Could I? Damn Samantha. Do I need to add courses in self-confidence to our agenda here at the Center? Absolutely I could swear that Angel is not my type. Go!" She turned the blonde around and marched her into the bathroom. "Look in the mirror!" Standing regally behind her partner, she continued, "Look see that pale face in the mirror, the one dotted with angel kisses? See the soft green eyes and hair the color of sunshine?"

"Y - e - s." Samantha slowly responded.

"That's my type! I see no dark eyes, no dark hair, and no olive-colored skin looking back at me. But it is most definitely the face of an angel My Irish Angel." She turned the sobbing woman back around and held her closely. "Do I really need to say anything more?"

"You could say, 'Samantha wipe your stupid face and get ready or we'll be late'." The sparkle was back in the brilliant green eyes as the last of the tears dried on her face.

"I don't have to say it, you already did." Alex kissed the woman she wanted to spend the rest of her life with and hoped to the Goddess that someday Samantha would trust completely that she meant what she said. She knew she had to take into consideration that this was Samantha's first intimate relationship and a life-changing one at that. She even realized there would be various stages the newly outed lesbian would probably go through. Nevertheless, she hated playing these 'do you really love me games'. She played them what seemed like a lifetime ago and there was no desire to have a rerun.

Before walking out of the bedroom Alex opened one of Samantha's drawers, and picked out a daisy print camisole, she opened another and got a pair of white linen shorts. The self-appointed clothing coordinator threw the apparel on the bed and voiced in the direction of the bathroom, "Your clothing is laid out, Madame. I'll meet you downstairs in the garage."

Minutes later, Samantha walked into the garage to find Alex checking water, oil, and washer levels.

"Guess I need to take her in for a checkup before we drive down to Mom's."

"That's always a good idea before taking a trip," Samantha agreed.

"You ready?"

"Yeah, thanks to the help of my wardrobe mistress."

"Okay, let's get started."

Food and beverage shopping didn't take very long and Alex pulled the Boxster up in front of Angel's studio apartment by 11:57. She grabbed the cooler containing the ice, drinks and un-burgers out of the trunk, while Samantha retrieved the canvas bag holding their swimsuits, sunscreen, and towels.

"Are you satisfied, Alex? We're made it here before noon."

A long tanned arm reached out and encompassed the waist of the questioner. The tall woman bent down and whispered softly into a perfectly shaped ear. "I'm happy we're here early. I'm overjoyed there's a smile on your face. And, in case you don't realize it, you look beautiful."

Samantha tingled as her body began to react to the gentle touch of her lover's breath. "If you keep that up, you can just go say hi and bye at the same time, because we'll need to go home so you can finish what you're starting." A broad grin appeared as the blonde turned her head to look into playful blue eyes. "This little gathering has exactly one hour to make me glad I showed up, right?"

"Indubitably! You're not in a party mood one hour from this very minute and we're outta here."

Offering Samantha her free arm the two strolled up to the door.

Three feet from the apartment door, they could already hear the music. There was no doubt it was going to be a rowdy affair. The welcome sign on the door bid the guests to "Come On In."

Once inside the women realized that they may have been on time, but they were not the first arrivals. There was a couple standing over by the CD player sifting through the albums and another in the kitchen. Through the back door Samantha spotted Angel out on the deck, seemingly talking to yet another guest. Alex deposited the cooler in the kitchen area and the two went outside to greet their hostess.

"Hey, glad you two could make it." Angel stated as she helped a friend move one of the tables to the edge of the deck to make extra room. The small dark-skinned woman looked as though she had been taking advantage of the flexible hours she was keeping at the Center lately. Most of the therapy clients were arriving either early in the morning and or early in the evening. Samantha noted that the woman's olive-skin was obviously darker than it was a month ago. Angel had no qualms about showing off her shapely figure; she sported only the top of her bathing suit and a pair of faded cutoffs. The petite Italian motioned the two new arrivals over to meet her friend.

"Alex, Samantha this is Joey, she's up here with Lisa and Jake who are in the kitchen."

Introductions were acknowledged all around as the two from the kitchen made their way out onto the deck. Having reloaded the CD player, the other couple also came out to join the little group. Not being very good at small talk, Alex felt this was as good a time as any to go get a beer and to bring back a wine cooler for Sam.

By the time Alex got back with the drinks, Samantha was engrossed in a literary conversation with Stella, who was doing her graduate work in journalism at San Diego State. They were still talking and sitting on the steps that lead down to the beach when Marcy and her new girl, Von arrived. Sam graciously excused herself from Stella and went to join Alex with her old friend. More than an hour passed and Samantha was having no regrets about letting Alex talk her into coming to the party.

Angel didn't seem to be hanging as closely around Alex as Samantha feared she would, although she did notice the small dark woman staring in Alex's direction from time to time. Of course she needed to take into account that she, herself, was constantly glancing over at Angel.

By 2 o'clock the party was in full swing, between the music and new acquaintances, Samantha had pretty much forgotten about her earlier trepidation. On the other hand, boredom was setting in with one particular, not exceptionally conversational, dark-haired beauty.

"Does anyone other than me think the sand needs a few visitors?" Alex looked around at the bodies peopling the deck. "Volleyball anyone?"

Marcy was the first to respond. "Volleyball sounds great. Hey, Angel, you got a net?"

"Sure do, just a sec and I'll go get it." The small Italian headed off, beer in hand to retrieve the equipment.

Alex darted inside and donned her swimming suit then made sure there was a drink in Samantha's hand before making her way down to the beach to help set up the net and block off the bounds.

Samantha and a few of the less athletic types offered to stock one of the coolers with a variety of the drinks scattered around the kitchen and bring it down to the beach.

In her own element the dark-haired Amazon towered above the rest and out shined them all. She and Marcy were picked to be the captains of opposing teams. As they began dividing the women into teams, Alex did her best not to choose Angel, but it was fairly obvious that the small woman wanted to be on her bosses' squad. Alex didn't want to intentionally hurt the younger woman's feelings. She gave Samantha an "it's out of my hands" look and picked the Italian as her last player.

There was no doubt that Alex was in one of her favorite environments as the game began. Samantha watched with pride as her lover served and scored numerous times, obviously one of the best players in the match. She found herself mesmerized, watching the way Alex's muscles rippled as she moved fluidly across the sand. The small blonde had not thought it possible that a human could jump as high or as quickly as her Alex did when she blocked serve after serve. Her grace was unmatched by any of the other players, whether she was jumping or squatting to retrieve and send the ball to its final destination back over the net.

"You Go Alex!" Sam yelled occasionally when a particularly difficult shot was accomplished.

Sporadically, the tall dark-haired figure would glance over at the sidelines and smile in Samantha's direction or shoot one hand high in the air with a short wave before returning her attention to the game.

Even though she preferred being a spectator, Samantha was sure she would have been just as good a player as Angel. The fact was she didn't want her relationship with Alex to become one of competition. She liked the yin/yang tone of their coupling, more of - player/spectator, therapist/paper pusher, cynic/dreamer, reader/writer. There were areas in which they were equal, but each having her own strong points made for a blend of the two distinct personalities, as opposed to being carbon copies of each other.

She cheered again as Alex hit a difficult spike back at Marcy who was a near match in expertise on the other side of the net. The game ended and it was decided the time had come to pay the ocean a little visit.

"Samantha, go get your suit on, Hon, I'm hot," Alex announced, sweat dripping from her ebony hair and streaking down her face, her tanned arms glistening in the afternoon sun.

"You sure are, but I could take care of that . . ." the small blonde answered grinning.

"I'm certain you could, but not Here and not Now," the tall beauty smiled back.

Samantha ran over and handed her lover a beer before climbing the stairs back into the house to change into her bathing suit.

While Samantha was gone, Alex decided to do some people studying, it seemed Angel invited quite a diverse group of friends to this little Labor Day affair. The display of tattoos adorning the bodies of the women present showed a variance in lifestyles, which ranged from militant feminists to surfer gals. She wondered where in the scheme of things Angel placed herself. More than one couple so far arrived on a Harley Davidson and to the opposite extreme, there was an old Woody parked at the end of the street nearest to the beach with surfboards strapped on the roof.

Several surf and body boards were scattered around in the sand near the deck stairs. Alex picked up two of the smaller boards, found the owners and asked permission to use them.

When Samantha came down the steps and back onto the beach she spotted Alex sitting alone, staring out at the ocean, two colorful body boards resting on her lap.

"Whatcha got there, Hon?" Samantha asked as she tapped her lover on the shoulder.

"Body boards, ever ridden one?"

"Can't say that I have lakes don't have waves and I don't think there's really any use for them without surf."

"Nobody likes a smart ass Samantha." Alex smiled, handing one of the boards to the small blonde. "Here, it's time for your first lesson. These are easy to learn on I think I got my first board when I was about four."

"What did you do, learn to swim in the womb?" Sam asked sarcastically.

"Practically," Alex admitted. "We did the 'mommy and me' thing in the pool before I learned to walk."

"Damn I thought I was kidding," Samantha admitted.

"Backfired, huh?" Alex smiled down at the bewildered face of her lover. "Southern Californians surf is in our blood! Come on Samantha, let's get some sunscreen on those pale shoulders of yours and then go have some fun."

Samantha brought a sun-block that allowed some tanning, so she could acquire at least the semblance of a tan before the summer faded into autumn. She was beginning to get a complex as she looked around at all the golden-brown bodies and realized that she now lived in one of the sunshine states and should probably stop looking like death warmed over. A mental note was etched on her memory to suggest to Alex that they start spending more time on the beach during the daylight hours, before this Indian Summer faded into Fall.

Alex generously applied the sun lotion to lightly freckled shoulders but refused to allow Samantha to do the same on hers.

"Don't need that stuff. I never burn," were her final words on the subject.

"If you burn . . ." Samantha began to protest.

"If I burn, I'll suffer. Trust me, Samantha, I won't burn."

That conversation ended, it was time to head for the water. Alex hadn't been surfing in years and was looking forward to experiencing, again, the thrill that the sport always afforded her. Instead of spending time talking about what to do with the boards, she handed the more colorful of the two to Sam and motioned for the blonde to follow her into the ocean. Samantha was a quick study and soon the two of them were body surfing the waves into shore.

Alex would have never acknowledged the fact that she enjoyed showing off for her lover and was secretly smiling deep within when Samantha, using her coquettish demeanor, coaxed the native Californian into showing her some real surfing. Alex put up a convincing front of not wanting to be the center of attention, but eventually did Samantha's bidding and demonstrated some of the skills that immediately returned to her the minute she mounted the board. The small blonde sat on her own board and watched in awe as her partner illustrated how to surf with both knees on the board and then did an exhibition consisting of a variety of drop knee positions with graceful agility. Alex encouraged Sam to follow along, full body on her own board, and ride the waves along with her to their breaking point near the shoreline.

Surfing always fascinated the Washingtonian but the ocean was never in close enough proximity to warrant proficiency in saltwater sports. As a teenager she water skied and had even been pulled behind a boat on a boogie board, but actually riding the waves was an entirely new experience. On the other hand, Alex never ceased to amaze her with the dark woman's expertise in everything she ever seemed to undertake. Sam loved watching the tall, tanned, muscular body of her lover as she choreographed a performance with the small board, on top of the water, riding the crest of the waves to shore.

While the two women were busy playing in the surf, one of the other guests came running out of the apartment, Frisbee in hand and began tossing it at the swimmers. Alex and Sam put the boards on shore and swam back into the water to join in the ocean to shore Frisbee competition that was soon underway as the Labor Day weekend party continued.

Pleasantly worn out from swimming, surfing, and competing, the duo came out of the salt water and plopped down on the towels Alex had spread out on the beach earlier, while waiting for Samantha to change clothes and join her.

"I have to admit I'm having a good time." The small blonde confessed as they positioned themselves side-by-side on the warm towels. "Do you realize that this is my first honest to goodness lesbian party?"

"And, does it pass with your approval?" Alex smiled, putting a strong, wet arm around the waist of her lover.

"Most definitely. I feel safe here and there aren't the ego battles of the males, so that part's really nice."

Alex laughed and drew Samantha closer, whispering in her ear, "Oh, Honey, you are an innocent; just wait until some of these dykes get a few too many beers and shots under their belts. I guarantee you'll hear the shit hit the fan more than once before we leave. Also, never let yourself feel too safe -- these aren't angels, just women and those who are not attached, may very well be looking to pick a rose, even if it's from someone else's garden."

"Alex . . ."

"Seriously, Samantha, these gals are no different than the guys. When drinking gets the best of them and they've absorbed more than they can handle, mark my word they may even be worse. And always remember that people are people when it comes to looking for love."

"Speaking of inexcusable behavior . . ."

Alex sat up laughing. "Did I say that the behavior was inexcusable? Human maybe, but inexcusable?"

"Alex, get serious . . . I want to thank you for squelching my temper tantrum this morning; I'm more than a little ashamed of the way I acted."

"Consider it forgotten."

"No, seriously, I shouldn't have . . ."

"I said it was forgotten, we're at a party remember?" Alex leaned over and kissed Samantha on the cheek.

The small blonde's nostrils flared as she caught the odor of a flaming barbecue and decided it was a good time for subject changing. "You must be starving after all the physical energy you've expended today. You want something to eat?"

"Is that a loaded question?" Sparkling azure eyes looked deeply into her lover's face, she arched an inquisitive brow, a slight smile forming as she licked her lips.

"You're impossible," Samantha gently swatted at the still damp body next to her.

"You wouldn't have me any other way," Alex continued to smile as she shook her dense ebony hair, spraying salt water everywhere.

"You're right, I wouldn't, but do you want to eat some real food or not?"

"Sure, if that's the only choice I have. Then I want to just lay here next to you, enjoy the scenery and relax for a while."

"Or dance?" the blonde prompted.

"Relax for a while."

"Join a sing-along." Sam tried to teasingly coerce.

"I do believe I said Relax for a while." She reclined her long body back onto the towel, closing her eyes.

"I'll be right back, Alex."

"I'll be right here, Samantha."

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

Music blared on the semi-private beach and there seemed to be an inexhaustible supply of liquor and food as the group of women ate, drank, danced, talked, and played well into the evening.

True to Alex's words, as the evening continued Samantha began hearing snippets of arguments. Tempers began to flare and jealousy reared her ugly head, as some of the party participants started to show signs of having had a little too much of the nectar of the Gods.

Marcy and Von left a little after nine, begging away because of the ride home, but promising to come back for a more personal visit to the warehouse in the not too distant future. The remainder of the crowd seemed to be die-hard party animals.

It was close to midnight when Alex turned and requested they call it an evening. "I'm getting a little old for these all nighters. Samantha, what do you say we call it quits and retire to the cliff?"

"One slow dance and then we can leave, okay?"

"Ah, Samantha, I'm really rather tired, can't we skip the dancing?"

"Sure, we can skip the dancing after all we did so much together today. Let me think: you played volleyball and I played cheerleader; you threw the Frisbee and I watched; you tried your strength with arm wrestling while I cheered you on; then there was the tug of war that your team won, me I was encouraging you. Of course we did swim, drink, eat, and relax together as I was quite exhausted after all my efforts. Gee, ya know, I hadn't realized just how much I'd done today . . . on second thought . . ." sarcasm landed on astonished ears, "about the dancing . . . never mind." She turned and began to walk back up toward the apartment.

A powerful grip enveloped her arm and spun her back around. "I think they're playing our song." Alex tilted her head toward the music as the first song they ever danced to began playing over the speakers. "Must be an omen."

Samantha looked up into penetrating blue velvet eyes. In an instant her anger melted and she found herself gliding in the warm sand, swept up in the arms of love.

The spell was broken halfway through the song when Samantha felt an irritating tap on her shoulder. Looking around she came face-to-face with their hostess.

"May I cut in?" Angel asked with a smile.

"I don't believe so," came the reply, also with a smile, as Samantha continued her dance.

The tapping resumed, "I think the polite thing to do would be to let me cut in."

"I think not, Angel. I've shared Alex all I intend to today, this is my dance and I plan to finish it, if you don't mind."

Angel glared at the small blonde and stomped off in the direction of the apartment, mumbling something under her breath.

Alex pulled Samantha ever closer, "I do believe you handled that very nicely," she whispered into the small ear, concluding the sentence with a nibble.

Sam grinned in spite of her vexation. "I can hold the Irish in tow, when I want to." She tilted her head to receive a soft kiss. "I love you Alex."

"I love you too, Samantha. The song's over, now can we go?"

"Sure can."

After the dancing incident with Angel, Samantha was more than ready to leave. She didn't want the small confrontation to get escalated into something more than it was, but she also didn't want to be rude, so they walked back through the apartment to say goodbye to all the new women they'd been introduced to during the day.

Alex's intuition would have faired better for them when she suggested that they simply walk from the beach to the car and drive home, but Samantha insisted on the formal farewells. The small studio apartment was filled to overflowing with women. Samantha couldn't believe that so many traveled over an hour just to attend a party. The small Italian must have been known for her parties for the crowd continued to grow, even after the sun disappeared into the ocean.

"Alex, is it customary for these parties to turn into sleep-overs?" Sam looked around to see that some of the women had already made themselves quite comfortable on the beach with blankets, while others curled up on the porch.

"Most of them don't work tomorrow and are really in no shape to be driving all the way back to San Diego. The safest thing would be to camp on the beach, the porch or the back deck," Alex concluded. More than a few of the guests already showed signs of fun, sun, beach and booze exhaustion, but the party was still going strong.

They continued to slowly work their way toward the front door, stopping along the way for goodbye hugs and kisses from new friends who offered phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Samantha was quickly learning the social customs of the American lesbian. She whispered to Alex that she had never seen a more kissy-face group of people, to which Alex laughed and replied, "Yeah, I grew up with kisses and hugs all the way around for every welcome and every goodbye. I guess it makes us feel more like family and close to each other. It's a ritual."

It seemed as though they were going to escape without having to say goodbye to Angel. They made it to the front porch and were just beginning to descend the stairs leading to the sidewalk when the slightly slurred voice of their hostess came ringing through the partially open front door.

"You're not leaving without saying goodbye are you, Alex?" Angel was standing, swaying precariously, seemingly holding up the door entrance.

"We wouldn't think of it," Alex lied. "We asked about you inside but someone mentioned you went back down to the beach so . . ."

"Noooo. I was in the . . . little girl's room. But . . . I'm out now!" She slowly approached the couple, never taking her eyes off the tall brunette.

"Samantha and I had a great time, Angel, thanks. We'll see you bright and early Tuesday morning." Alex placed her hand on Sam's shoulder in an attempt to continue moving toward the car.

"Hey! You're not getting away that easily."

Alex turned back to face the inebriated hostess just as Angel stumbled, tripping close to the top of the stairs. It was more than obvious that the small Italian had consumed more than her fair share of liquid entertainment. She was losing her balance and beginning to fall when Alex, being on the second step down, reached up and caught her at the waist. Angel's arms flew around Alex's neck.

"I just wanted to say Happy Labor Day." The small woman slurred, looking directly at Alex, while totally ignoring the chill in the deep blue eyes and the arrows being discharged from the green eyes of the woman standing next to her. Suddenly and without hesitation, Angel's mouth collided with unsuspecting lips as she planted a kiss that was not meant as a simple goodbye between friends.

Out of the corner of her eye Alex could see the blood rushing to Samantha's face while the blonde blushed in anger. Caught totally unaware Samantha stared into clear blue eyes, formulating a verbal response to what she had just viewed. She opened her mouth to speak when Alex shook her head no. With a questioning look to her lover Samantha reluctantly closed her mouth and watched as the scene played out.

Trying her best not to injure the intoxicated woman, Alex pulled away from the kiss and began to pry loose the arms still in a vice-like grip around her neck. Suddenly, a better solution came to mind. "Don't say anything, Samantha," she pleaded. "Stay put. I'll be right back, Honey, I promise."

Allowing Angel to keep her strangle hold on her neck, Alex proceeded to put an arm on the back of the wobbling knees as she picked the small woman up. Long, muscular legs took the stairs two at a time, carrying a befuddled Angel in her arms. At the end of the steps she turned to the right and headed back toward the beach, never uttering a word to the woman in her arms. Within minutes she was standing at the ocean's edge.

"Alex," Angel mumbled, ignoring the situation she was in, and in her drunken grog she could have cared less where the final destination of the jaunt would be. "I think I'm in love with you."

The intense glare was lost on incoherent eyes. "I'm not even going to acknowledge that Angel, but I sincerely hope you remember some of this in the morning."

Still holding Angel in her arms, Alex kicked off her sandals and walked into the ocean until the water was lapping at her knees.

"I don't Ever expect to have this sort of confrontation with you again, Angel. And if you don't intend apologize to Samantha for this poor display of behavior the next time you see her, then my advice to you is to start looking for another job."

Dark eyes widened as Angel took in her surroundings and began to realize what her boss had in mind. "Um, Alex . . . what the fuck . . ."

"Shut up Angel! I don't want to be bothered with nonsense like this ever again, do you understand?" Not waiting for an answer she continued, "You and Samantha will get along or you will be gone. You need to sober up Angel and grow up while you're at it." With one arm still under the smaller woman's legs, Alex used her free hand to pry loose Angel's grip on her neck, she then casually dropped the intoxicated woman into the ocean and stood there long enough to make sure she was okay.

Women began coming out of the apartment to see what all the commotion was about, yet no one was foolish enough to try to intervene or confront the obviously angry Alex. The gathering crowd kept a safe distance behind the two figures silhouetted in the midnight moon glow. Not until Angel began thrashing and cursing in the cool surf did a few of her friends venture closer. Alex turned and looked first toward the street until she spotted Samantha's golden hair shimmering in the moonlight, only after she spotted her love did she then address the small group assembled on the beach.

"I suggest that someone make This One a pot of black coffee," she pointed down to the sputtering woman, "and keep her away from the alcohol. She's going to feel like a piece of shit in the morning as it is." Heads shook and mumbles resonated through the air but no one stepped forward. Alex was becoming impatient and anxious to get back to Samantha. "Will someone make sure she gets back to the house okay?"

Receiving their cue that it was okay to participate, a couple of the women simultaneously agreed to take care of the wet drunk and began walking into the cool surf to retrieve their friend.

Alex gave an affirmative nod, mumbled a goodbye, and without looking back began running toward the Porsche, ignoring a ranting Angel who was still flailing in the chilly water.

"I'm so sorry that happened tonight Samantha," Alex vocalized before she was even within touching distance.

"Like it was your fault she got sloppy drunk." Samantha quickly closed the gap between the two of them and put a finger up to the apologizing lips. "Don't be ridiculous, Alex. Your only misdeed is being beautiful. Guess I am going to have to live with the fact that there are people, who would go to any length to seduce you. People who would, as you said, try to pick someone else's flowers." She tried her best to make light of a situation that was tearing her apart inside.

"I wasn't talking about me when I said that, Samantha, I was talking about . . ."

"I know, I know, but as it turned out you were the desired target." Samantha countered.

"I'm not that easily seduced," came the indignant reply.

"Oh, but my darling, I beg to differ with you." A mischievous smile played on the lips of the small blonde as she wrapped her arms around her lover's waist.

"Maybe I should reword that, I'm not that easily seduced by just anybody, especially not by a drunk." Alex nodded back toward the ocean.

"And I'm very happy about that. So, what do you say we get your desirable butt home where it belongs?"

"Yeah, let's go home." She opened the car door and waited for Samantha to get in, then closed it tightly and walked around to her own side, shaking her head at the thought of the scenario that just finished playing out.

Quiet thoughts shared the ride back to the cliff-house with the lovers. Alex kept mulling the incident over in her mind, wondering if she had given the slightest indication that she was the least bit interested in Angel as anything other than a friend and co-worker. Reaching the conclusion that she hadn't, the next question was whether or not a working relationship was going to be feasible after tonight's fiasco. She glanced over at her lover whose flaxen hair glistened as the moon showered her in night beams; she would never do anything to jeopardize the love they shared. Angel was a great assistant, but if it became necessary, she could still be replaced.

Samantha was lost in a world of her own. Try as she might to have contempt for the small Italian who just ruined the ending to a beautiful day, she felt nothing for her but pity. There was no doubt that Angel was not in Alex's favor and Sam no longer felt the fear of losing her lover to the small dark woman. Somehow between this morning's tantrum and watching the way Alex interacted with all the women throughout the day, Samantha's feelings of insecurity turned topsy-turvy.

The woman who had stolen her heart was beyond beautiful, she was also intelligent, fun, and athletic. Sam knew she would be a fool to think that heads would not turn when Alex walked down the street or into a room. What she needed to believe in her own heart was that just because someone might have a 'crush' on Alex, that did not mean the feelings were going to be reciprocated, and she now believed she believed it. The nipping green-eyed monster receded to a place so deep within her heart that she could no longer feel its presence. She smiled inwardly and patted her chest, promising to keep the little troublemaker at bay as much as humanly possible. Her Irish at times was more likely to control her, than she it, but she would surely try.

"Alex . . ."

"Saman . . ."

"You go ahead."

"No, you first Samantha."

The blonde smiled and placed a hand on her lover's knee. "Okay, I wanted to let you know that I'm not mad about what happened tonight. It wasn't your fault Angel got drunk and made a fool of herself. She's impulsive and bit of a jerk, but I don't want you to fire her. Okay, your turn."

"Well, you practically negated anything I had to say." Her hand gently covered Samantha's. "Angel really is a good employee; it's just that I think I was wrong about being able to mix pleasure with business with her. Maybe we shouldn't socialize with her for a while until she finds someone else to obsess on." Clicking the garage door opener, she pulled the Porsche in next to the now seldom used VW. "I don't know about you, but I've had one Helluva day and I'm exhausted."

"I didn't have to spend it being Ms. all-around sport but mentally, I'm right up there with ya."

"I'm sorry, Samantha, I didn't mean to neglect you today? I was just trying to be sociable."

"Don't be silly, it's just that I like to hang on you on our days off and it's a little difficult to do with a moving target." Samantha intertwined her fingers with the long sinewy ones of her lover. Actually I was quite proud of you today, Alex. You should have heard what the other 'spectators' were saying about you." She laughed as they were exiting the car, "You were even being compared to their prospective mates." Throwing out her chest in a gesture of mock pride she continued, "I was the envy of my little group."

"Samantha, get real!"

"No, I'm telling the truth! Alex you can't, after what . . . 30 years . . . still be ignorant to the effect you have on people. Your height, your physique, your thick dark hair, your piercing blue eyes . . ." Samantha could swear she almost saw a blush on the beautiful tanned face before Alex turned to get on the elevator.

"Maybe I'll start to stoop, let my hair get all ratty, wear ugly contacts and . . ."

"And be without a mate," Samantha concluded as she walked into the lift next to Alex and encircled the tall woman's waist with two loving arms. "I guess it just came to my attention today what a noteworthy catch you are Alexis Dorian." She placed her head on her lover's chest.

"I feel the same about you," Alex confided, stroking the soft golden hair.

"Nah, I'm just the drink getter," Samantha looked up and giggled.

"Why don't you run the bath and let me be the 'drink getter'," Alex suggested as the elevator stopped at the penthouse floor. "I need to get rid of this salt and gritty feeling."

"Sounds like a deal to me, if you include putting some music on before you come join me."

"You got it."

Once inside the apartment they separated, blonde to the bathroom, brunette to the kitchen.

Constant romantic that she was, Samantha never passed up a chance to elaborate on the obvious. She added the bubble bath and then proceeded to douse the water with sweet smelling oil, completing the mood by surrounding the outer rim of the tub with candles. After turning the lights out she stripped and entered the tub, enjoying the warm water as it caressed her body. Sounds of a soft sax drifting in from the living room told her Alex was not far away. Samantha closed her eyes and placed her head on the water pillow, awaiting the arrival of her lover. Warm breath tickling her face apprised her of Alex's presence a millisecond before she received a tender kiss.

"Hi there, mermaid, want some company?" Alex purred.

"I certainly do." Sam sat up and took the offered goblet from her lover's hand, taking a sip and then placing it beside her on the Jacuzzi's rim. "I was just reminiscing."

"About?"

"About the first time I ever saw you."

"Oh, and . . ."

"I remember being struck by the fact that you looked so melancholy . . . you broke my heart."

"So you felt sorry for me?"

"Not exactly, I remember thinking how beautiful you were and what a shame it was that you seemed so lost and alone. I had a hard time keeping from staring at you," Samantha confessed with a small giggle.

"That's my Samantha, champion to the lost and forgotten."

"Don't be mean."

"I wasn't being mean Samantha you have the softest heart I've ever encountered. That's why I was so confused when you responded to Angel the way you did. It seemed so out of character, until I realized that even Irish Angels can have a streak of jealously unwarranted though it might be."

"Unwarranted! That streak turned out to be anything but unwarranted. Check your short-term memory. That little episode tonight definitely put validation to my not liking the woman."

"Do you really want to start down that road at this hour?"

"No, I don't want to mention Angel again tonight. Right now it's just you and me time." Candlelight flickered as variegated green eyes searched the face of her beloved. "Since we're reliving 'old' memories what did you think when you first saw me?"

"Actually, I think I may have heard you before I actually saw you . . ."

"What!?"

"Yeah, I remember I was sitting there lost in thought when I think you must have found your first clam. You yelled something and your voice carried on the wind like that of an excited child. I was jealous of you and your friend digging in the sand having such a good time. I can remember how the sun played on your hair making it sparkle like gold. I even thought about coming down and introducing myself but quickly decided against it."

"I remember looking back down at you when Suz and I were climbing the stairs."

"Did you really? I thought it looked like you might have just turned around . . ."

"You were looking up at us?"

"At you Samantha, I was looking up at you."

"Oh Alex, I don't even want to think about the road I might have taken had I not accepted Suz' invitation to move to Laguna."

"It was destiny, remember? There was no choice." The dark woman smiled as she realized that she was honestly beginning to believe that it must have been destiny that brought the two of them together. She lathered up a bath sponge and began sudsing away the residue of sunscreen, salt, and sand from her lover's body.

Conversation dwindled as the two women bathed, dried each other off and headed toward the bedroom. The long, deliciously exhausting day was winding down. Although the beginning was a little choppy, the middle had been quite entertaining, and the ending peaceful. The upset that took place as they left the party had not been under their control and, therefore, was discounted as not worth messing up the entire day.

Purposely neglecting to don pajamas, Samantha originally intended to finalize the evening differently, but she could tell by the lack of conversation near the end of their bath that Alex was fatigued. The small blonde crawled into bed next to her naked lover and wrapped herself around the long muscular torso.

"I had a great day, Alex."

"I did, too, Samantha I'm glad you had fun. They seemed like a pretty decent group of women. I think we might even have made some new friends." One tenderly caressing hand gently traced circles on the small blonde's back. "Just relax, and I'll rub your back for a little while."

"That feels wonderful, but stay within that area unless you intend to do more than sleep."

"You feel great, Samantha, but rather than a before bed snack, I think I'll wait for breakfast if it's okay with you." Alex kissed the top of her lover's head, breathing in the sweet residue from the oil Samantha poured into the tub. She continued to play her fingers delicately across the satiny smooth skin, sensing Samantha's body relaxing into the closeness of the moment.

"That's fine with me, I don't think I realized until my head hit your chest just how tired I really am. Sweet dreams Alex."

"Sweet dreams, Samantha."

As she had done every night since meeting Sam, Alex silently thanked the Goddess for bringing a little glimpse of heaven into her life. She didn't want to imagine ever again being without the soft body cuddled up next to her. The person snuggled into the contour of her body fit there more securely than anyone else ever had, and she was exceedingly grateful that the two of them found their way back to each other. That they 'found their way back' was exactly how she felt about the connection she shared with this small female she held so protectively in her arms.

Because of her inability to make a relationship last and because of all the hurt inflicted both by and upon her, Alex did her damnedest to renounce her mother's beliefs in reincarnation and soul mates. She convinced herself that if she denied that soul mates existed then she would not feel so terrible at each new loss, and that maybe some day she would simply stop continuing to look. She had pretty much relegated herself to a life of short sordid affairs when Samantha made her appearance on the small private beach.

Lying in bed, holding Samantha, Alex thought back to every personal commitment she ever launched. There was always an initial nervousness, newness, and exuberance of discovery, and all of these factors were similarly evoked when she and Samantha began, but the equivalency between this relationship and all her prior ones stopped there. Feelings of comfort, familiarity, trust, and a sense of coming home, unlike any she had ever before experienced were there from the onset of her intimacy with her Irish Angel.

Maybe I'll take Mom up on the offer to schedule us appointments for regressions when we get back from Sedona. Maybe I'll even let Samantha think she talked me into it.

A crooked smile spread slowly across the dark woman's face, melting her angular Greek features. She could feel Samantha's grip loosen from around her waist as steady rhythmic sounds flowed from the petite woman. Sleep easily claimed the body nestled safely in the arms of love.

"I intend to make you the happiest woman in the world, my Destiny," Alex whispered to the sleeping form. You came to the right place to satisfy your heart's desire, Samantha Renee Riley I'm just the woman who can give you the world.

Sunday melted into yesterday as Monday became today the final day of the long weekend. Alex had no intention of sharing this day with anyone. She would even sit through the two remaining movies in order to insure that today would be spent in the solitude of the penthouse the only occupants being Samantha and herself, along with the small bundle of fluff who adored them both. Alex closed her weary eyes and joined her lover in slumber.

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

Filtering rays of sunshine danced around the quiet room, compelling the light sleeper to awaken and glance at the clock. It never seemed to matter what time she closed her eyes to sleep, the inner alarm would not be stifled it was 7:30. Alex concentrated and closed her eyes, trying to return to the land of nod where her companion would be for at least another 2-3 hours. She didn't want to get up and be alone in the apartment this morning, but having opened her eyes once, her bodily functions strongly suggested she use the bathroom before attempting to return to sleep.

Minutes later when Alex walked back into the bedroom she found that Samantha had already changed positions and was on her side with her knees pulled tightly up, her arms wrapped around Alex's pillow. The fair-haired beauty never seemed to have any trouble continuing an interrupted sleep; she simply rolled over and recaptured her dream. Determined to do exactly that this morning, Alex slowly crawled back into bed and spooned up next to her lover, Samantha's back to her front. She quietly placed one strong arm around the smaller woman's body, her hand coming to rest on a soft, firm breast. Involuntarily her body responded with a pleasurable ache from the area between her thighs. She closed her eyes and kissed the nape of neck covered with silken, fairy-fine hair. Concentrate on sleep Alex, not on Samantha, she willed herself.

Samantha moaned and shifted, but only enough to further close the remaining gap between their two bodies, her buttocks finding the contour of her lover's front, legs intertwining and her hand releasing its hold on the pillow to cover the larger hand that rested gently on her breast.

"By the Gods you feel good," she muttered, not opening her eyes and with absolutely no intention of waking up. "Let's stay like this forever."

"Forever, my Destiny," Alex answered as she closed her eyes and bid Samantha's God of sleep, Hypnos, to return her to the realm of his son Morpheus.

Perhaps through sheer desire the dark-haired beauty got her wish and fell back into a deep sleep. But even the God of Dreams could not keep the beautiful Greek in dreamland forever. Two hours later she stirred to awakening, as the entire room was now bathed in sunlight. How the Hell can she sleep with the room so bright?

She marveled at Samantha's ability to continue slumbering while the world around her bustled with excitement. Suddenly the decision was made it was time for the sleeping beauty to awaken this day was much too beautiful to waste.

Long, slender fingers, still positioned over the soft breast playfully traced circles around smooth nipples, causing them to pucker and stand at attention. A crooked smile appeared on the classical face when the elicited response motivated Samantha to wiggle closer. Without lifting her hand Alex trailed it down the length of the small frame, tactilely teasing the luscious body in front of her. She felt the smooth skin ripple as her hand touched each new area. Unable to control her desire, she continued sliding her hand down the body she loved to touch, sighing when the apex of her final destination was reached. Her fingers played in the soft curly mound of gold, which hid the treasure she sought just below it. Pushing her own body closer Alex covered the back of Samantha's neck with kisses, while her fingers were otherwise occupied slowly opening her lover's nether lips, and allowing themselves passage to the already moist region between.

"Is this a wake up call?" a soft voice mumbled.

"You bet your sweet ass it is," came the throaty reply. "Good morning, Samantha. I'm famished."

"Isn't that my line?" the smaller woman questioned.

"Depends on who you ask and what you mean. I do believe it's my line this morning." Alex continued as she gently assisted her lover onto her back and quickly covered the naked body with her own.

Looking down into sleepy sea-green eyes Alex could not keep from leaning into a kiss. As their lips were about to touch a small hand shot quickly up "Don't Alex, let me brush my tee. . ."

"No time for that," Alex grabbed the offending hand and placed it down on her own passion. "Just push, Samantha."

She shuttered as she felt the small woman do as she was bid, intensifying Alex's escalating desire to return her own hand to it's former position. She kissed the blonde below her harder than she anticipated as her craving grew and her fingers danced in between the soft folds of the nether lips. Her thumb toyed with the small growing bud and two stray fingers entered the depths of her lover.

"Oh, Alex . . ."

"What, my love, what do you want."

"Anything Alex . . ."

"Ah Anything that's my specialty. But you confuse me a little. Would that be Anything like . . . this?" She slowly moved her long, slender vehicles of arousal in and out of the abyss of love their bodies began to rock together with the rhythmic motion.

Incomprehensible moans of pleasure escaped Samantha's throat.

"Or more like . . . this?" the dark-haired tease queried as she bent down and filled her mouth with a firm breast. She released the nipple and blew hotly on the moist area, watching as it hardened before her watchful eye.

Another moan, as Samantha gyrated under the orchestration of her dark hero.

"Actually what I had in mind . . ." Alex continued, repositioning herself between Samantha's legs and beginning to concentrate on the warm, wet region at the heart of her lover's fire.

"Was something . . ." Her next statement was muffled as she pressed her lips against the heated flesh, opening the folds with her tongue and allowing herself full rein.

A guttery response from the head of the bed informed Alex that her attentions were being favorably received.

Samantha's legs had been resting, one over each of the taller woman's strong, muscular shoulders. Alex shifted her position to kneeling, causing the waterbed to sway slightly. With this new arrangement Samantha found she no longer had a voice in the choreography of the dance in motion. Alex placed one hand on each of her lover's buttock and lifted the object of her desire closer. When she opened her eyes the view was reminiscent of Georgia O'Keeffee's Red Canna, a profusion of desire waiting to explode into gratification.

Alex immersed her face in the soft golden locks, drowning in the fragrance that made her blood pulse faster through her veins. This was definitely Paradise; she closed her azure eyes and drank in the sweet milk of desire, slowly allowing her lingua to reach into the area deep within the recesses of her soul mate from whence the liquid of love flowed freely. With a cadence equal to that of a love song Alex's tongue plunged in and out of the small moist tunnel as Samantha's hips undulated in unison with the metrical motions of lover.

Alex opened her eyes and stared at the vision below her. She smiled without moving her mouth then suddenly stopped all movement, and waited with bated breath for a response an inarticulate plea. She was not disappointed.

The intensity in Samantha's voice caused the dark woman's heart to beat faster.

"What . . . why . . . don't . . ." Half-thoughts emerged in the form of non-sentences with significantly clear questions.

"Problem articulating your thoughts Samantha? I'm sorry did I do something wrong."

"Alex, Don't tease!"

"Tease?" Her soft tongue slowly ran the gambit of the area before her.

"Alex."

She reinitiated the movement. "You taste marvelous," was punctuated by a soft groan from Samantha as she grasped the pillow under her head, one hand on either side and pulled it toward her face.

A muffled, "I can't take it any longer Alex," reached the ears of the fair-haired damsel's tormenter.

"Oh, but I so wanted this morning to last."

"Please, Alex . . ."

"If you insist, Samantha."

Still holding the slight woman in a position of vulnerability and with experience as her guide, Alex resumed her melodious implementation of the act of love. Samantha lost sight of inhibition as her body began to uncontrollably tense and release, her muscles constricting with heightened sensation. Between gasps of air, as rapture captured her passion, she reached for her lover's shock of ebony hair.

"Enough Alex . . . oh . . . Alex . . . I can't take . . . "

With an unseen smile and a fluidity of movement, the ever adept lover carefully place her beloved down onto the bed as she removed her mouth from the hot moist area, and allowed expertly agile fingers to re-enter the erotic domain of her Destiny.

During the celebration of love that followed and in an amorous frenzy, Alex changed positions. She brought herself up to full length beside her lover and placed one long leg between Samantha's, straddling her lover's thigh. Unable to contain her movements, she pressed hard against the leg below her and moved in unison with her fingers. She could feel Samantha beginning to peak and increased the pressure on her own sizzling center.

Samantha smiled as she felt her lover's wetness on her leg, and tightened her thigh muscles to add stability for Alex's enjoyment. The blonde took veracious satisfaction in ascertaining that the dark-haired beauty was not only pleasuring her, but was extremely close to climaxing as well. Together the two continued the dance; Samantha's nails biting into the flesh on Alex's back encouraged the consummation. From deep within the smaller woman's core came a surge, followed by throbbing. Alex entered fully one last time and held steady as the pulsating continued. Almost simultaneously, the more experienced woman let out a cry of triumph, reaching orgasm with her lover.

A pleasantly exhausted Alex relaxed as she positioned herself next to Sam and cradled the petite woman, not wanting to break physical contact. The only words that made it from thought to voice were repeated by both women, "I love you."

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

Moments later as she lay in her soul mate's arms, her head damp from exertion, her depths still involuntarily producing an occasional spasm, Samantha whispered, "I could get used to Holiday Mondays how many are there in a year?

"As many as you desire," was the unexpected answer. "But, you know, as satisfying as that was, I'm still surprisingly hungry."

"Yeah, that's what you get for eating a vegetarian," Samantha chuckled, embarrassed at slight of tongue. "Wait, wait!" She put her hands up in protest. "I meant for eating vegetarian . . . you know . . . vegetarian food . . ."

"Sure you did," Alex sarcastically responded.

"No . . . Really . . . I was going to say, 'That's what you get for eating vegetarian food you could almost eat again within the hour.' You know like they always tease about Chinese food."

"Uh, huh," Alex smiled over at the now blushing blonde. "So, is the cook prepared to offer the meal again?"

"No this cook is pleasantly exhausted only one morning feast per person . . ."

"Excuse me . . . just how many people do you cook for?"

"Um, privileged patronage actually this restaurant caters exclusively to one client."

"That's more like it . . ." the conversation was interrupted by the buzzing of the intercom. "Who the fuck could that be at this hour on a holiday?" Alex rolled off the bed and raced toward the front door.

"Yes?"

"I have a flower delivery for a Ms. Samantha Riley," a strong tenor voice announced over the intercom.

Samantha joined Alex and was standing beside her. Two similarly perplexed faces stared at each other.

"Guess it's safe to say you weren't the one who ordered the flowers." Samantha grinned at the thought of her Alex, who was always so in control, not having any inkling as to who had sent her lover an unexpected gift.

"Safe guess but who did?" There was a note of discontent in the contralto voice.

"Hello anyone there?" the voice of the deliveryman interjected.

"We'll never know if you don't answer the man, Alex."

"Oh, yeah." Alex pushed the button again. "Just a minute, I'll be right . . . wait . . . can you just leave them?"

"Sure."

"Great . . . why don't you just do that and I'll get them in a few minutes. Thanks."

"You're welcome enjoy your day."

"Thanks you, too." She turned back to Samantha. "Maybe Sonny sent them, he has a habit of doing the unusual."

"Do you really think so?"

"No . . . but he's the only one . . ." A thought ran through her mind, but she didn't want to give it voice until she was positive.

"What is it Alex?"

"Nothing . . . why?"

Nothing . . . why?

The look on your face you know who sent them dont you?

No. No!

Yes, you do-tell me.

"Samantha this is getting us nowhere." Damn, no one has ever been able to read me this quickly before! "Look, let me throw on a robe and I'll go down and settle this little mystery once and for all."

"Okay," Samantha reluctantly agreed. "I'll start breakfast."

"Done deal." Alex jogged back to the bedroom and grabbed two robes. "Here," she said as she threw the smaller robe in the direction of the unclad blonde, "Put this on temptation does not seem to be my strong suit today." She smiled at the seductress watching her from the kitchen as she darted out the door. "I'll be right back."

"I'll be here waiting!"

All the way down in the elevator there was the guise of only one face before her inner eye. She was positive she knew who had sent flowers on this lovely holiday morning . . . what's more she knew exactly why. Relief flowed over her when in her mind the benefactor was pinpointed. But, in no way was she comfortable with the emotion that spontaneously leapt into her heart the minute the delivery guy announced a gift for Samantha. Just yesterday she had been the one giving Samantha lectures on jealously and in that instant the tables were turned.

Opening the front door she bent down to retrieve a small plant wrapped in rainbow paper and topped with a beautiful lavender bow. She recognized the small neat script on the outside of the envelope before reaching down to pick up the offering. Gotta give her credit, she knows how to kiss ass on the morning after. Alex cradled the ceramic pot in one hand studying the small petals. Guilt certainly got her out of bed bright and early this morning. The fragrance of the graceful purple spikes reached her nostrils. So is this is the voice of guilt or fear. Wanting to be more than sure, she fingered the small envelope and found that it was not sealed. During the ride back up to the apartment she carefully opened the card and read:

Dear Samantha:

Please accept this Hyacinth the flower of forgiveness in the light of the indiscretion I subjected you to last night. I would say it was the fruit of the vine of Dionysus that took over my personality, but in actuality, I was drunk on beer and shooters. If it's any consolation I am sporting one helluva hangover.

I know Alex will take me for the idiot that I am and forgive the stupidity of the moment. After all, the embarrassing ordeal she put me through by dropping me into the ocean will not be lived down for years to come my 'friends' have all assured me of that.

Anyhow I'm truly sorry and will reiterate this sentiment in person tomorrow morning.

Have a Great Labor Day ~~ Angel

She slipped the card back into the envelope, They must have talked somewhere along the line -- she knows of Samantha's love of the mythic, the prose and lavender. There may still be hope for the salvation of employee and friend.

The smell of breakfast permeated the air as she stepped off the elevator and into the hall.

"Got yourself a Forgiveness plant," she stated, putting the newly acquired vegetation on the kitchen counter.

"A what?" Samantha finished buttering the muffins and stepped over to take a look at the flowering plant. Embedded in the dark dirt was a flag reading: Hyacinth "please forgive me". She laughed to herself and gave Alex a questioning look as she reached for the envelope with her name on it.

"I would think with the rainbow colors that it's from a friend."

Alex shrugged as Samantha opened and read the envelope.

"By the Gods it's from Angel," she looked up at her lover in disbelief. "I've got to admit I'm shocked!"

"Why?" Alex queried. "She knew she was wrong last night, and she couldn't have been much drunker."

"Yeah, but Alex this is . . . so . . . well . . . so thoughtful look at these flowers they're purple." She stretched over to smell them. "And they're fragrant."

"Guess she knows how to get her point across."

"Well . . . after yesterday, I do believe she has a knack for doing that drunk or sober," the small blonde laughed. "But, look at the time, it's not even noon. I wouldn't have thought she'd even be up yet, much less have called a florist."

"Another thing you might be able to say for her is that she isn't stupid. This was quick thinking on her part. What I am surprised at is that she found a florist who would deliver today."

"Here wanna read the card?"

"Sure," she shrugged as she nonchalantly took it from Samantha.

"When you were trying to figure out who sent the flowers, did you have any idea it might have been Angel?"

"I thought as much," Alex admitted. What she didn't own up to was the feeling of relief when her thought was actualized.

"I don't have much of a green thumb, but this might look nice down in my office. You know, Tuesday morning should be very interesting."

"Nice sentiments," Alex vocalized, handing the card back to its owner. "Being willing to apologize once with a gift and the second time in person could be taken to mean that she's really sorry."

She glanced over at the blonde who was sporting a lost look. "Earth to Samantha."

"Oh I was just thinking if I were Angel, I'd find it very embarrassing to have to face me tomorrow morning. At least this beautiful plant has broken the ice and will make the situation a little less strained."

"What adds to the lack of antagonism is the fact that you're such a forgiving person. I think Angel knows that from the way you interact with all the people in the Center, even with her."

"I don't know," a slight rush of red began to color the blonde's cheeks, "but I do know that we need to stop standing around talking and get back to important things food. All I have left to cook are the eggs. I'm glad I hadn't started them or they'd be cold by now."

She turned back toward the stove.

"So . . . what do you want me to do?" Alex asked feeling helpless.

"You can put the strips, muffins, juice, and silverware out."

"Got it." Hands large enough to juggle two glasses of orange juice, 'meat', and bread reached out and did so. Alex went to pick up the silverware at the same time but found it a little awkward.

"You don't have to take it all at one time, you know?" Samantha chided playfully.

"Of course I know I was just stretching my limits."

Warmth from the late morning sun was beginning to make its way to the western side of the building. Alex opened the louvered windows and turned on the ceiling fans to imitate a small ocean breeze.

During breakfast they discussed plans for the afternoon and evening, both agreeing that secluding themselves in the penthouse sounded like a marvelous way to pass the day. The upcoming week was going to be a busy one, especially if they were planning on taking the vacation Alex talked about within the month, and they would only get to spend bits and pieces of time together throughout the days to come.

After eating more than she probably should have, Samantha didn't feel like doing dishes; she suggested leaving them for later and starting the entertainment. Alex disagreed, she had plans for the evening and they didn't include doing dirty dishes. She offered to clean up and tried to shoo Samantha into the living to set up the movies.

The blonde refused to put the VCR on until the both of them were snuggled into comfortable positions on the couch; so together they ended up back in the kitchen, cleaning up the breakfast mess. With the two of them helping they were watching the movies in no time.

Alex actually managed to stay awake during both the videos and surprisingly enough enjoyed them. She didn't want Samantha to have another cook and clean up chore on the holiday so she suggested ordering from one of her favorite restaurants. It had a particularly unique take-out and she wanted to lavish a little elegance on her lover this evening.

Samantha sat beside her lover on the couch listening to Alex order. She started with a bottle of Blackberry Merlot and then requested to be filled in on the daily specials. From appetizer-to-dessert the Dorian menu began:

"Okay, I'll have the Calamari Fritti appetizer, a double order of Minestrone soup and a double Caesar salad. Um, let's see, how about an order of Fusilli Primavera and one of the Penne Arrabiata." She glanced over at the blonde who was listening with interest.

"Just a second," she informed the person on the other end of the line.

She knew of Sam's predisposition for sweets and thought a little light teasing might be fun.

"Um, Samantha you wouldn't want a bit of divine Italian decadence for dessert now would you?"

"Is that a real question?"

"Well, after a meal like that you might be too full."

"I think not there's always room for dessert!"

"I figured that would be your answer." Alex smiled and put the phone back to her ear. "Send two portions of the Tiramisu. That should do it. About how long before it arrives. Great. Thanks."

She hung up the phone and . . .

"That's sounds like a pretty expensive 'take-out', Alex."

"Nah, not much more than if we had dined in the restaurant."

"Yeah, I believe that!"

"Listen, they said it would be here around 8 o'clock. That gives us a fair amount of time to dress if you want. So, do we go formal or informal with the dinner? It's your call."

Samantha thought for a minute then suggested, "Hey let's take it down to the beach."

The look on her lover's face was priceless she had just ordered an elegant dinner and Samantha wanted to take it down into the sand.

"If that's what you want, Samantha," Alex answered, astonished at the suggestion.

"Oh, Alex the look on your face." Samantha couldn't help but laugh. "I'm only kidding, Honey. Honest."

"Very funny. I'm trying to be romantic and you want a picnic."

"Honestly Alex, there's no way I would want take that meal out onto the sand. I'm not fond of grit in my pasta and Certainly not in Tiramisu. You want to dress for the occasion?"

"Sure. Do you think you can manage to be ready to dine in an hour and a half?"

"Oh, I think I might manage that small feat, if one tall, dark, beautiful person I know can keep her hands and other body parts to herself while we're bathing." Samantha grinned.

"I think she can behave until after dessert," Alex replied. "After the Tiramisu I mean." She laughingly corrected herself.

They set about getting ready and true to her word Alex behaved. Of course to do so, she hurried through the shower and exited the bathroom while Samantha was still drying.

Samantha also lived up to her end of the bargain and was completely dressed and ready to sup by the time the buzzer rang announcing that the meal had arrived. She stepped out of the bedroom into the living room just as Alex was about to answer the door.

A long slow whistle greeted her as she walked across the living room floor toward her lover.

"By the Goddess you are exquisite," Alex breathed, as she released the door locks and instructed the delivery people on how to get up to the penthouse.

Samantha chose to wear a metallic silver, above the knee cocktail dress, accented with the lavender jade necklace and earrings Alex bought and gave to her in San Francisco. She smiled coyly at the response she received from her lover and walked over to join her by the door. The heels she wore placed her closer to Alex's height than ever before, and she found it strange to almost be able to look the tall dark beauty in the eyes without having to look up.

"You look pretty refined yourself," Samantha commented, running her hand down the lapel of the white silk-linen suit and over the obviously bra-less nipples that stood erect at her tantalizing touch. She stepped even closer, drinking in the classical features of the woman standing before her. "White is an excellent choice for that tan you're sporting," she whispered seductively, tracing the back of her hand softly over Alex's cheek.

A larger hand engulfed the smaller, bringing it to her lips to be kissed, while dazzling sapphire eyes caught those of emerald. "If you want to eat dinner when it gets up here, I suggest you go sit yourself down at the table. If not I'll have them put everything in the oven, and you can Be the main course."

The small blonde laughed as she kissed Alex on the cheek and did a dainty pirouette before walking over and seating herself at the table.

Alex opened the apartment door and awaited the arrival of the elevator. She motioned to the waiters as they exited the lift, wheeling a silver cart laden with various thermal containers. They followed the tall woman's lead into the kitchen area and went about starting to unload the cart. After acquainting the restaurant employees with the kitchen, Alex went and sat across from Samantha at the table. The older looking waiter set a small glass holder with a burning candle on the table, then opened the wine, poured them each a glass and sat the Calamari appetizer on the table with a split ramekin containing dipping sauces.

The second waiter was busy putting the entrees into the oven, ladling soup into bowls and preparing the salad. As the soup was being served, Samantha noticed that the dishes were not ones from the kitchen. At that time the younger man was explaining that the salad was on the counter, the entrees were still in thermal containers, and that he had placed the dessert into the refrigerator. She was about to ask about the dishes when it was obvious they were getting ready to leave.

Getting up from the table Alex thanked them and walked with them to the door. On the way out of the apartment, the younger of the two men turned and wished Samantha a 'buona sera'.

She smiled sweetly then watched as the older man handed Alex what was probably an invoice. Sam could make out only a few words as Alex continued to walk with them to the elevator.

"Alex . . ." Samantha began as her partner re-entered the room.

"Sorry it took so long, Honey. I wanted to lock up before I came back in, that way I don't have to bother with it after we eat.

"But Alex," the blonde continued, "they didn't only bring the food, they brought everything!"

"That's the idea you don't have to cook or clean up." Alex smiled at the astonished look on the blonde's face.

"This must have cost a small fortune! I don't know that I'm comfortable about . . ."

"Whoa slow down. Don't worry about the money, okay?"

"Listen, I know the business is doing really well, but you know we never talk about money and you always pay for everything . . ." There was a whine in the young woman's voice.

"Samantha . . . not tonight, okay? Not now, not with your dinner about to get cold."

"But Alex . . ."

"Samantha, hush."

"Okay, but the time is very close at hand when we are going to have to discuss financial arrangements. You can't always be the one footing the bill."

"We'll, see . . ."

"No! No, 'we'll see' . . . we need to talk."

"Okay, Samantha, we'll talk but later, like tomorrow, or next week, or after your birthday. But we will talk, I promise. For now can we please have a nice dinner?"

"Absolutely." She would allow the subject to be dropped after all she didn't want to spoil the mood that had been so expertly set into motion. But she vowed, to herself, that soon they would discuss the money.

Green eyes sparkled as they looked across a candlelit table into her lover's face. "You are such a romantic, Alex, don't ever try to tell me you're not."

"I wouldn't think of arguing with you, my love." She lifted her glass to toast. "Happy Day without Labor, my Destiny."

"The same to you, Alex."

Glasses clinked and Sam commented on the excellent bouquet of the Merlot. The remainder of the meal went just as Alex anticipated. The food was superb, the atmosphere idyllic and the company heavenly. Conversation was kept to a minimum, focusing on dreams and aspirations, sparking Samantha's imagination to kick into overdrive and allowing Alex to mentally make a list of the places they would be traveling to in the near and distance future.

At the end of the meal Samantha couldn't get over the fact that the people from the restaurant even left plastic lined boxes to store the dirty dishes in until the morning crew returned to pick them up. Alex told her they would have stayed throughout the entire meal but she requested that they didn't. She hadn't wanted Samantha to feel like she needed to rush.

As she knew it would be, dessert topped Samantha's list of favorites. Alex teased that if the small woman continued to eat at the same rate, she might some day find it difficult to fit into the dress she was so elegantly modeling tonight.

They continued to talk long after the food was put away. Alex took off her jacket and the two of them kicked off shoes and got comfortable on the couch. Before calling the evening a success they finished off the wine, sitting and watching the surf break on the shoreline far below the cliff.

"That was the most romantic, or rather 'rotic' dinner I think I've ever had. Thank you, Alex."

"My pleasure, Samantha, anytime."

"I think not . . . but the thank you still stands."

Alex sighed, knowing that Samantha was right and that someday soon they would have to have a discussion about financial matters. She pulled her lover close and suggested they call it a night. After all, tomorrow was a workday.

"Damn," Samantha grinned, "Did you have to spoil the evening with the 'four letter word'?"

"'Fraid so on top of that you get to deal with Angel."

"Oh, now you've really done it!"

"Okay," Alex suggested, "Pretend I didn't mention those last two nasty statements."

"I can do that."

"Good but I still think it's time we got to bed, how about you?" Alex got off the couch, and held out her hand for Samantha to take.

"Agreed. I guess I've been wined, dined, and seduced . . ."

"Oh, my darling, you may have been wined and dined, but you've yet to be seduced."

Even in the soft candlelight, Samantha could see the sparkle in the azure eyes that could make her knees weak with a mere glance.

"But I can rectify that in a heartbeat." Alex winked at the smaller woman and drew her into loving arms. She leaned down and placed a hungry kiss on eagerly awaiting lips, while skillful fingers unzipped the shimmering dress, dropping it to the floor at their feet.

One slight tug on the drawstring and the linen pants loosened, presenting plenty of room for small hands to slide comfortably down to the perfectly shaped buttocks; squeezing gently and without a word, Samantha coaxed her lover closer.

"I would like nothing more than to add seduction to this perfect day," Alex confessed, picking Samantha up and carrying her to the bedroom.

"I think it might be my turn to seduce you."

"We'll see. Right now it doesn't seem to me that you have the upper hand." Alex chuckled. "No. Come to think of it, you mentioned not more than a minute ago that you had been wined, dined, and seduced.' I'm simply trying to make your statement become one of fact instead of fantasy.

With her final destination reached Alex put her precious bundle down at the foot of the bed. Sans heels, Samantha found herself, once again, dwarfed by the woman in whose shadow she was now standing.

Nimble fingers reached around the body in front of her as Alex unhooked Samantha's bra and then helped the smaller woman out of her half-slip and panties.

The now naked blonde reached up and began unbuttoning the soft, flowing blouse her beloved was wearing. Moist lips kissed the first area of exposed skin, breathing in the scent that caused her heart to beat faster. Sam placed her head on the inviting chest, her arms wrapped around her lover's waist, allowing Alex's fingers the opportunity to travel a geometric path across the smaller woman's back.

Not changing her position Samantha whispered, "I can't put into words how much I've enjoyed being with you today, Alex."

"My bard is at a loss for words? That's incredible."

"Don't make fun, I'm being serious." She looked up into tender eyes. "From the moment you woke me up until this very minute, this day has been filled with your devotion, even when we were just sitting around watching movies. Did you ever think how wonderful it would be if everyone could share just a portion of the love we have for each other?"

"To be honest with you, no. I guess I'm selfish that way. When I'm thinking of you, no one else in the world enters my thoughts."

"Oh Alex, I don't think about other people during intimate moments . . ."

"Samantha this Is an intimate moment."

The small blonde began to blush.

"I'm not saying anything is wrong with that ... it's just that I don't think like you do, but then I'm not the artistic soul, you are."

"I was just trying to explain to you . . ."

"I know what you're saying, Honey, and I guess I shouldn't be making it so difficult. I agree with you. It would be fantastic if the entire world was in love, then maybe humanity wouldn't have so many problems. But, until that time arrives, I'm grateful that my little corner of the universe is filled with you."

She got into bed and patted the area next to her for Samantha to join her.

"For now, let's go back to being selfish and end this holiday on the same note it started."

"Sounds like a deal to me," Samantha smiled as she snuggled close to Alex.

Surely putting the day to rest was of no less importance than greeting it. Two eager participants lay side-by-side in the bedroom, the glow of the Indian Summer moon shining down upon them, adding a touch of enchantment to the already magical atmosphere that surrounded the lovers.

If seduction was to be the climax to a day full of synchronism that was as it should be. The day was coming full circle and the seducer would, sometime during the remainder of the evening, most definitely become the seduced.


End of Chapter 2


Chapter 3

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