To Hold Forever

By Carrie Carr

Disclaimers – See Part One.

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Part 11

Chapter Twenty One

Freedom. Lex reveled in it. A month after her accident, things were finally getting back to normal for her. Her shoulder hadn’t given her any trouble for well over a week. She still wore a brace on her right knee, but that was more for Amanda’s benefit than her own. She was glad to be on her own again. It was nice, spending extra time with her partner and their daughter, but she couldn’t stop the happiness that bounced inside of her as she walked into the old feed store.

A hearty voice hailed her from the back of the store. “Hey there, young ‘un. Haven’t seen you around.” Claude picked the old coffee can off the floor beside him and spit into it. “We heard you had a little trouble, a while back.”

His brother Ted grabbed another chair for Lex. “You’re looking pretty good, considering we heard you was half dead.”

“Where did you hear something like that?” Lex took the offered seat. “Thanks.”

Ted took off his sweat-stained Stetson and scratched his head. “You know how things are around here. Get a hangnail, and suddenly folks got you at death’s door.”

“Ain’t that the damned truth.” Jesse noticed the brace on her leg. “Heard tell it was more than a hangnail, though.”

Lex stretched her right leg out slowly. Her knee did bother her a little, but she decided to keep that information to herself. Amanda worried enough as it was. “Yeah, I messed my knee and shoulder up a little, but nothing too serious. What exactly did y’all hear?”

“Roy came in the same week it happened, and he talked to Tom at the front counter. Tom told us that you were practically crushed under a horse, and spent days out in the weather.”

Good grief. Now she understood how little stories got so quickly out of hand. Tom was a worse gossip than the ladies at the Auxiliary Hall. She’d have to warn Roy about him. “Actually, we stumbled into a damned sinkhole. I spent the night out there, but it certainly wasn’t as horrible as you heard.” She released a heavy sigh. “Damned Tom.”

Claude slapped her on the back. “Glad to see you in one piece, girl.” He gave her a sly look. “Oh, and congratulations, by the way.”


“That new young ‘un that’s on the way. We heard that gal of yours is having a baby.” Claude winked at her. “Keep it up, and you’re going to have to build a bigger house.”

Lex couldn’t help but laugh. “Thanks. We’re pretty excited about it.” Nothing surprised her about these old men. She had grown up around them, and, although she never really told them about her lifestyle, they didn’t blink an eye about her and Amanda. She wished that the people her own age were as accepting. “You guys are better than the Somerville Times-Dispatch. Who needs to read the paper, as long as you’re around?”

They were interrupted when a young man came up to Lex. “I’ve got all that stuff loaded for you, Lex. Dad says he put it on your bill.”

“Thanks, Bobby.” As much as she enjoyed the men’s company, she also wanted to get the supplies back to Roy. She rose from her chair. “Guess that’s my cue to leave, guys. Try to stay out of trouble.”

Jesse swatted her leg with his hat. “We’re not the ones who are always getting into things, kid. Keep yourself in one piece.”

She tipped her hat. “Easier said than done, friend. But I’ll do my best.” With a quick wave, Lex left the comfort of the feed store. She decided on one more stop before going back to the ranch.


The squalling boy was beginning to get on his nerves. Michael was thankful that he was almost finished with this particular portrait. The child, nearly two years old, was spoiled and demanding. He wore a cute Dalmatian puppy costume, which was completely out of character for his temperament. The worst thing was how the mother acted. She whined and begged the child to behave.

“Snookums, just be a good widdle boy for mommy-kins. Daddy-waddy wants your picture for his office. You’re such a handsome boy.” She rubbed her hand over the child’s head, causing the cotton hood, complete with cloth ears, to slide. “That’s right. Mommy will give you a new toy if you’ll just sit still for the nice man.” She batted her eyes at Michael. “Have you ever seen such a beautiful child?”

Fighting back the urge to gag, Michael pasted a smile on his face. He thought the boy would be better served by wearing some sort of mask, but kept his opinion to himself. “He is something, all right.” He took several more shots, hoping that his lens would stay intact from the view. “All done.” The boy grabbed a plastic pumpkin and began to chew on it. As far as Michael was concerned, the prop would be tossed in the trash the moment his client left.

“Mr. Cauble, thank you for working with us on such short notice. My little Andrew is so precious, and we really wanted a nice picture to commemorate Halloween this year.”

Michael handed her his card. He had gotten all of her information down before the shoot. It was a lesson learned a long time ago. Anytime a child was involved in the photograph, taking the time to fill out the paperwork before getting started made things much easier. “I’ll give you a call when the proofs are ready, Mrs. Davis.” He did his best to ignore the child racing around the room, barking like a dog.

“Thank you. Come along, precious. It’s time for din-din.” Mrs. Davis reached for the door. Her son growled and barked, and ran into the woman who held the door open for them.

Lex looked down at the child. He had his hands wrapped around her leg, and continued to bark. “Have I come at a bad time?”

Mrs. Davis took in Lex’s appearance. Her jeans, cowboy boots, and a blue and white flannel shirt were well worn, and the black western hat sat low over her eyes. Everything about her screamed cowhand, and Mrs. Davis wanted no part of her. “We were just leaving. Let’s go, darling.” She took her son by the arm and pulled him from the office.

“I thought there was a leash law inside the city limits.” Lex removed her hat. “Didn’t know you were into pet shots.”

“Ha, ha. Very funny.” Michael took an antibacterial wipe and proceeded to clean his hands. “Not that I’m not happy to see you, but what brings you into town today?”

She took a seat and stretched her legs out in front of her. “Had a few errands to run, and thought I’d drop by and see if you were free for lunch.”

“I’d love to. Just give me a second to clean up.” Michael went into the adjacent bathroom and washed his hands thoroughly. He didn’t think he’d ever get the feel of Andrew’s slobber from his skin.

The walk to the restaurant was pleasant for both of them. Lex related Lorrie’s latest antics. Her daughter had recently discovered the joys of climbing. Unfortunately, her favorite place was the kitchen. The drawers were perfect for pulling out and making a ladder, and Lorrie caused Martha to lose her composure when she caught her sitting on the counter.

“I imagine poor Martha almost had a heart attack.” Michael held the door open for Lex, ignoring the wry look his action brought. “Where was Amanda during all of this?”

Lex nodded to the hostess, who led them to a table near the window. She took off her hat and placed it in an empty chair. “She was, um, helping me in the hay barn.” They didn’t get much hay stacked, but both of them returned, hours later, covered with straw.

Michael loved the blush that had worked its way across Lex’s face. “I bet I don’t want to know what kind of help you’re talking about, do I?”

“Ahem.” Lex opened her menu. “I think I’ll have the chicken fried steak. What about you?”

The rest of the meal was spent sharing stories. Lex filled Michael in on how Amanda’s pregnancy was progressing. “I’m not even allowed to mention food before noon. God help me if she smells breakfast on my breath.” She took a sip of her iced tea. “Hell, the other day, I had been in the kitchen while Martha cooked. When I went upstairs, Amanda made me change clothes and shower.”

He commiserated, having been through it twice, himself. “At least she’s talking to you. Elizabeth was so mad at me when she found out she was pregnant with Jeannie, she relegated me to the guest room for nine months. That was a blessing in disguise.”

“Yeah.” Lex remembered all too well what a monster her mother-in-law was. She used her fork to stack individual kernels of corn around her mashed potatoes. “I just wish there was something more I could do for Amanda. I hate seeing her so miserable.”

Michael placed his hand on her arm. “She’s going to be fine. The morning sickness will leave as quickly as it came, trust me. Now, to change the subject a little, Lorrie’s birthday is coming up. Do you have any plans?”

“Nothing definite, yet. Although Amanda and I have talked about having a party and inviting all her friends from the daycare.”

“That sounds like a lot of work. Why would you want to subject yourselves to that?”

Lex continued to play with her food. The mashed potatoes were now mountains, and had a gravy river going through them. “I want Lorrie to have all the opportunities that I didn’t, growing up. I was so isolated at the ranch, and never had a chance to make friends my own age.” She looked him in the eyes. “I’ll be damned if I let that happen to her. I’ll sell the ranch and move into town, if that’s what it takes.”

The vehemence in her tone surprised Michael. He knew Lex was dedicated to her family, but to hear her discount the one thing that defined her, shocked him to his core. To think of Lex not living on the ranch was incomprehensible. “I don’t think you’ll have to go to that extreme, Lex. You and Amanda are doing everything possible to give Lorrie everything she needs. And I think living on the ranch is a big part of that.”

“Why? Wouldn’t she be better off in town, so she could make friends easier?”

“Not necessarily.” He wiped his mouth on his napkin. “There are so many ways kids can get into trouble these days.”

“Are you talking about drugs?”

He waved her off. “No. Well, that too. But I meant inactivity. They have their video games, movies, and generally hundreds of things that cause them to plant their butts on the couch. Kids get bored so easily. Living out on the ranch is a great deterrent to being lazy.”

Lex couldn’t agree more. She couldn’t think of a time, as a kid, that she was ever bored. There was always something to do. “I never thought about it that way.” She took out her wallet and placed cash on the table. “Thanks.”

“Anytime. Now,” he stood and stretched, “tell me what I can get my granddaughter for her birthday.” He followed Lex out of the restaurant, while they discussed the appropriate gifts for a certain three-year old.


“Gramma, please. Do you really think we can get her to wear that?” Amanda vetoed the cute yellow dress. She had spent the entire morning shopping with her grandmother, while Lorrie was at the daycare. “Every time I try to put her in a dress, she strips it off within five minutes and races around the house in her underwear.”

Anna Leigh put the frock on the rack. “That’s a shame. She’d look so adorable in ruffles. Although I shouldn’t be too surprised. You were just like that at her age.” She smiled at the woman who had been assisting them. They had found out, quite accidentally, that the she had gone to school with Lex. Her insight into Lex’s early years made their shopping experience much more interesting.

The saleswoman held up a pair of denim overalls. “What about this? If she’s anything like Lex, I think something along these lines would be more her style.”

Amanda wasn’t paying attention to the selection, but focused on what the clerk said. “What do you mean by that?”

“Don’t get me wrong. I think the world of Lex. But she is a bit, shall we say, rough and tumble? She was the biggest tomboy in school. She was never in anything but boots and jeans. And those god-awful tee shirts. She’d always hide under that ugly cowboy hat, too. I didn’t know until our senior year that she had blue eyes. I’d hazard to guess that her attitude influences your daughter.”

“Excuse me?” Amanda brushed off Anna Leigh’s hand, which touched her shoulder in an attempt to calm her. “There’s not a damned thing wrong with how Lex dresses.” She tossed the clothes she held on a nearby chair. “Let’s go, Gramma. There are better places than this to shop.”

Anna Leigh raised her eyebrows at the surprised clerk. “I would advise you to learn a little tact in the future, young woman. Next time I won’t be so forgiving.” She hurried to catch up with Amanda, who paced outside the door to the shop.

“I can’t believe the nerve of that woman! I ought to go back in there and—” Amanda threw her hands up in the air. “Maybe a good whack in the mouth would teach her.”

“Dearest, violence never solved anything.” Anna Leigh led the furious woman to their car.

“Maybe not, but it would sure make me feel a hell of a lot better.” Tossing her purse in the floorboard, Amanda got in on the passenger side and slammed the door. “Obnoxious bitch.”

Using a bit more decorum, Anna Leigh slid behind the wheel and started the car. She wasn’t used to hearing Amanda use that kind of language, and for a moment, was startled into speechlessness. She wasn’t sure how to handle her volatile granddaughter.

As the silence lengthened, Amanda realized how she must have sounded. She felt ashamed of her actions, if only because it embarrassed Anna Leigh. “I’m sorry.” She cut her eyes over to her grandmother. “I don’t know why I went off like that.”

Anna Leigh relaxed. She patted Amanda’s leg. “I think I do. It’s called hormones. I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse, the further along you are.”

Great. It was the last thing Amanda wanted to hear. Her short temper had always gotten her into trouble, and she certainly didn’t any help in that area. She leaned her head against the back of the seat and closed her eyes. “Poor Lex.”

“She’ll survive,” Anna Leigh assured her. “But I’ll make up the guest room, just in case.” Her joke had the desired effect, as Amanda burst out in laughter. She expected her granddaughter’s pregnancy was going to be quite enlightening, for all involved.

Chapter Twenty Two

It was after dinner the next evening, when Lex and Amanda had a chance to talk about Lorrie’s birthday. Through mutual agreement, they decided to have a family get-together for her, instead of a party with a bunch of children. There would be plenty of opportunities in the following years to forsake their sanity in such a matter.

That accomplished, they were upstairs in her room, while Lex attempted to assemble their daughter’s first gift. The toddler bed was small and low to the ground, and the headboard was a heavy duty plastic, covered with cartoon characters. Since it was to be a surprise, Martha had volunteered to keep Lorrie at her house for the night.

Lex tightened another bolt. “I can’t believe she’s going to be three already. It doesn’t seem possible.” The wrench slipped, and she banged her knuckles on the floor. “Ow! Dammit!” She glared at Amanda, who stood nearby with her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing out loud. “Gee, thanks.” Lex sucked on the injured joint. “Tell me again why we’re doing this?”

“Because you promised she could have her own bed when she turned three. Just be thankful she wanted the ‘princess’ bed, instead of the one that came in about a hundred pieces. You’d probably still be putting it together when she graduates from high school.”

“Please, don’t mention high school. It’s going to be hard enough to let her go to kindergarten.” Lex checked the instruction page again. “How the hell do they expect anyone to understand this gibberish? And just how many different sizes of damned nuts and bolts does a kid’s bed have to have?”

Amanda knelt beside her and turned the paper right side up. “I think it would be easier to read if you had it going the right direction.” She handed it back to her partner.

“Smart ass.” Lex picked up the wrench again. She was tempted to throw it across the room, but looked closely at the bolt, instead. “Would you mind handing me the box of sockets? I think I’m using the wrong size.”

“Sure.” Amanda used her foot to scoot the container. “Is there anything, besides handing you tools, you’d like me to do?”

Lex gave her the instruction sheet. “I think I’m on step eight, but I’m not sure. Maybe you can make sense out of this damned thing.”

“I’ll try.” She read the first few steps before checking Lex’s progress. “Is that piece upside down?”

“What?” Lex took the paper back and looked at it. “Dammit.” She’d have to disassemble half her work in order to fix her mistake. “Looks like I screwed the pooch on that one.” She exhaled heavily and started to take it apart.

Two hours and several more scraped knuckles later, the bed stood proudly in place. Beside it was a child-sized dresser, compliments of Jacob, where Lorrie could pick out her own clothes. Her closet was already equipped with short rods, an easy reach for someone of her stature.

Lex put the final tool away. “Next time, if something says, ‘some assembly required’, shoot me if I even think about buying it.”

“Oh, I don’t know. You did a great job, honey.” Amanda placed her arm around Lex’s waist. “I’m looking forward to seeing you put together her first bicycle.” She was unable to hold back her laughter when her lover groaned. “Maybe a swing set?”

“Uh, no. If we do that, you’ll have to get me one of those pretty white jackets that tie in the back. There’s no way in hell I’m going through this again.” Lex flinched as a sharp elbow jabbed her in the ribs. “At least until next year.”

Amanda patted her on the stomach. “Good girl. I knew you’d see it my way.” She kissed Lex’s jaw. “It’s nice and quiet, and we have the house to ourselves for the night. Know what I’d like to do?” She punctuated her question by nibbling on her lover’s throat.

“Mmm?” Lex tilted her head back and closed her eyes. “I know what *I’d* like to do.” She started walking backward while insistent hands unbuttoned her shirt. “Guess you have the same idea.”

“Uh-huh.” Amanda steered her across the hall and into the master bedroom. She slid the shirt off Lex’s shoulders and quickly relieved her of her bra. Before they reached the bed, she found herself losing her top. Lex’s hands covered her exposed breasts and she leaned into the contact.

Lex covered Amanda’s lips with her own as they divested each other of their clothes. When the back of her knees hit the bed, she toppled over, bringing Amanda down on top of her. Blanketed by warm skin, Lex moaned. “You feel so good.”

“So do you.” Taking her time, Amanda kissed her way down her lover’s throat, stopping in various places to leave soft bites behind. “I love you.” She took a tender spot of flesh into her mouth and sucked gently.

“I love you, too.” With pleasure soon taking all cognizant thought from her mind, Lex laid back and enjoyed Amanda’s touch.


Two days later, brightly colored wrapping paper was strewn across the den floor. New toys, momentarily abandoned, lay sentinel to their owner, stretched out in the midst of the paper. Lorrie lay on her stomach, sound asleep. A small baby doll, already missing its clothes was clutched in her hands.

Amanda and Lex were snuggled together on the sofa. Once everyone left it had turned into a quiet evening. The birthday party had been a complete success, even if their guests had bent the “one present per couple” rule. Amanda’s grandparents each brought a gift, which caused Lex to complain they cheated. When her grandfather and cousin showed up similarly laden, she shook her head and grumbled under her breath that she should have known better. Michael and Lois did the same.

Amanda thought it was all rather funny, especially since she and her partner did the same thing. They got Lorrie her new bed, and so that she’d have something to “unwrap”, Lex had searched the Internet for over a month until she found the perfect rocking horse. The Radio Flyer plastic spring horse came complete with colored rope mane and tail and a leather saddle. Lex made certain the wide base was safe, and only had a slight difficulty putting it together the previous week. It took all her considerable control not to give it to Lorrie the minute it was finished. Instead, Amanda coerced her into hiding it in the storage room until the day of the party.

Not too far away from the “ossie”, was Michael’s gift. The sturdy double easel was made of durable plastic. One side was a chalkboard, while the other held a large blank pad of paper. His daughter almost threatened his life when she saw the paint set he bought to go with it, until he volunteered to supervise Lorrie’s artistic endeavors. By the end of the evening, both were well-covered in watercolors.

Lois gave Lorrie a painter’s smock that had her name embroidered on the front. She admitted it had taken her the better part of a month to complete the project, but everyone was duly impressed with the attention to detail.

Although Jacob had already given a gift of a handmade dresser, he didn’t want to show up empty handed. The matching rocking chair was just Lorrie’s size, and she spent over fifteen minutes showing everyone how fast it “rockded”.

The baby doll Anna Leigh brought was an instant hit. Lorrie wasted no time in undressing the life-like doll. She was even more thrilled by the extra clothes the doll had, and allowed her grandmother to help her dress the baby. It wasn’t long before Lorrie quickly had the doll undressed, again.

Travis had to enlist Lex’s help in bringing in his gift. The kitchen play set now took up an entire corner of the den. Lorrie had wanted to place it in the real kitchen, but Martha vetoed that suggestion quickly. Ellie gave a set of play dishes, and spent the better part of an hour having “dinner” with the new little chef.

Martha and Charlie were more sedate in their selection, but their gift was well received by the birthday girl. The set of rhyming books had Lorrie climbing up in everyone’s lap, each person getting to read her a story.

Before she and Charlie left, Martha had dimmed the lights, with a promise to return later and help with the cleanup. Lex waved her off. Now, looking around the room, she was having second thoughts. “This place looks like a tornado tore through here.”

“True.” Amanda snuggled closer and rested her head against Lex’s shoulder. “Once we get the birthday girl to bed, it won’t take us any time at all to get it cleared away.”

Lex tightened her hold on Amanda. “If I knew it would still be here in the morning, I’d say leave it. But knowing Martha, she’d get here bright and early and take care of everything. It’s bad enough I can’t get her to stop picking up after me.”

“Well, honey, you are a full-time job.” Amanda gestured to the sleeping child. “And she’s growing up to be just like you.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

“Nah. But it does keep both Martha and me busy.” Amanda squirmed when Lex unbuttoned her blouse and edged her hand beneath her bra. “Your fingers are cold.” She jerked slightly. “Ow.”

Lex quickly removed her hand. “What’s the matter? Did I hurt you?”

Amanda caught Lex’s hand and held it close to her body. “It’s nothing serious. I’m a little tender, there.”

“Oh.” At first she was hesitant to go any further. The last thing Lex wanted to do was cause Amanda any discomfort, but when Amanda placed her hand back inside her shirt, Lex carefully placed her fingers near the top of her bra. “How’s this?”

“Not good enough.” Once she was certain Lorrie was still sleeping soundly, Amanda removed her shirt completely and took off her bra. She held her lover’s hands and used them to cup her breasts, enjoying the touch. “That’s much better.” She was about to suggest something even more enjoyable when it hit. “Damn.” Amanda slipped the shirt back on, but left it unbuttoned. This constant rushing to the bathroom was already getting on her nerves, and it was only the beginning.

“Did I—”

Amanda quickly stood. “Sorry. I’ve got to,” she tipped her head to the door. “Be back in a minute.”

Lex watched her leave. “That’s definitely a mood killer.” She got up also, and decided she might as well get Lorrie ready for bed. She knelt next to the dozing child and scooped her up into her arms. The little girl was so sound asleep she stayed completely limp. It was very easy for Lex to carry her out of the den and up the stairs to her room.

Lorrie was already undressed and tucked into bed when Amanda came into her bedroom. Lex was nowhere to be found. Amanda came in and kissed Lorrie goodnight and went in search of her missing mate. She found her where she had left her – in the den. The discarded wrapping paper and empty boxes had been wadded up and piled in trash bags. Lex was wiping down the tabletops with a dishtowel when Amanda came into the room. “Someone’s been busy.”

Lex raised her head at the sound of Amanda’s voice. “Yep.” She took in her wife’s attire. Amanda had taken the time to get ready for bed, and the shimmering navy blue satin nightgown hugged her curves in all the right places. “You look beautiful.”

“Thank you.” Brushing her hand across the material, Amanda gave Lex a sexy smile. “I’m hoping not to be wearing it for very long.” She turned and left, knowing she’d be followed.

“Good guess.” Lex crossed the room after her. She decided her “mood” hadn’t been killed in the least. In fact, things were progressing quite nicely. She turned out the light in the den and hurried after Amanda.


Steam escaped from the bathroom as Lex stepped out. Her wet hair was slicked back and dripped on the towel that hung around her neck. She was barefoot, and her jeans melded against her damp skin. She was completely unaware of her appreciative audience, until a wolf whistle caught her attention.

Amanda was still in bed, lying on her side so she could watch her partner get ready for the day. She crooked a finger in Lex’s direction. “Come here.” They had the morning to themselves, since Martha had taken Lorrie into town to visit Charlie at work. He loved showing his granddaughter off to the rest of the department, and they all enjoyed a chance to spoil the precocious little girl.

Never one to turn down an invitation, Lex walked over to the bed and sat. She leaned over to get a kiss, when Amanda’s hand blocked her. “What?”

The nausea came without warning. “No. The smell. I can’t—” Amanda quickly climbed out of the bed and raced for the bathroom.

Concerned, Lex followed. Seeing her wife kneeling in front of the toilet and retching was like a cold slap in the face. Uncertain what to do, she dampened a washcloth and moved Amanda’s hair away from her face. “I’m sorry, sweetheart.” She placed the cloth across the back of Amanda’s neck, doing her best to keep from joining her.

After what seemed like hours to Amanda, she was able to scoot away from her new morning spot. She propped up against the wall listlessly while Lex fussed over her. “Honey, please. I’m okay.” She took the damp cloth from Lex’s hands. “Really.”

“I’m so sorry. What made you feel bad? I’ll fix it, whatever it is.” Lex backed away, afraid of causing another bout of sickness. She didn’t even realize she was standing in the bathroom topless.

Amanda closed her eyes. It was going to be a very long pregnancy if Lex panicked every time she got nauseous. “It’s nothing you did. The weirdest things can trigger it.”

“Is it my soap, or my shampoo? I can change,” Lex continued to babble. She felt a chill and crossed her arms over her body. “I know that sometimes I come in from the barn, and I have to shower. Between the usual horse smell and then when I clean out the stalls, I—” she stopped when she saw Amanda cover her mouth and pale. “Oh. Um, sorry.”

“Why don’t you go finish getting dressed? I’ll be out in a few minutes.”

Lex nodded almost frantically. “Sure.” She backed out of the bathroom. “Just holler if you need anything. I’ll be right outside the door.”

After she left, Amanda took a deep breath and released it slowly. The sick feeling had subsided for the moment, but she was leery of moving too quickly. She slowly got to her feet and washed her face in the sink. Eyeing herself in the mirror, Amanda noticed the redness in her eyes and her pale skin. “I thought you were supposed to be beautiful when you’re pregnant. Not look like death warmed over.”

“You are beautiful, love.” Lex stood at the door, afraid her presence would set Amanda off again. “And you get more beautiful every day.”

“I certainly don’t feel like it.” Amanda was pleased to see her partner now wearing a denim shirt. A cold front had moved through during the night, and she didn’t want her to become chilled and catch cold. She took several steps toward Lex until she was close enough to touch her, and held out her hands. “Come here.”

Lex worried that being near her would make Amanda ill again. “Are you sure?” At her lover’s nod, she moved forward and pulled Amanda into her arms.

There was no better feeling in the world. Amanda took a cautious breath, hoping against hope that whatever caused her to be sick in the first place was gone. Another, deeper breath brought no ill effects, for which she was eternally grateful. She buried her nose against Lex’s throat, inhaling deeply. “Perfect.”

“Thank god.” Lex helped her back to the bedroom. After Amanda crawled back into bed, she started to step back when a hand grabbed her shirt.

“Come snuggle for a while?” Amanda patted the spot beside her. “And lose the clothes.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Lex broke a speed record for getting undressed, and quickly slipped beneath the covers. She’d call Roy later, to have someone else take care of the horses. She had much more important things to do. Snuggling being on the top of the list.

To be continued in part 12

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