For those of you that are left, please enjoy.
Sorry that this part has taken so long to get out but life has a way of demanding attention from time to time. I hope that while it has taken a bit of time, you will deem it worth the wait!
Grief hung over the entire town like a thick blanket of fog. The death of the three volleyball team members was an unbelievable blow to everyone who knew them. The sadness reached every corner of the school leaving no one unaffected.
The night that Kate had appeared on her doorstep overwrought with emotions, Kris had tried to comfort Kate. The smaller woman had turned cold and snapped, “I don’t need you to hold my hand Kris. I’m not some client of yours, I just thought you should know.” With that announcement, she had turned to leave, a stunned Kris staring blankly after her.
As it turned out, Kris had her hands more than full over the next few weeks. Her load had almost tripled and now included teachers whom also felt they needed someone to discuss their feelings with. The days began at 6:00 a.m. and would go on until 9:00 p.m. on some nights. By the end of the second week she was exhausted both mentally and physically and not at all in the mood to be confronted by an obviously angry Kate.
The door to her darkened office slammed open with such a force that it startled the lightly dozing Kris into falling off her chair and onto the floor. Looking up with a quickly building anger, she took in the appearance of her unexpected guest. Not in the mood to pull any punches after being all but ignored by the blonde teacher for the past two weeks, Kris snapped, “Kate, did anyone ever tell you that manners are not your strong suit?”
“Bite me Kris. What in God’s name gave you the right to call a volleyball practice so soon? How in the hell can you expect those girls to want to ever play the damn sport again? Have you no compassion in your body at all?” It was apparent even in the darkness of the room that Kate was on the edge. Kris knew that Kate had to be feeling a tremendous amount of guilt about the events that led to the accident and for that reason tried to reign in her quickly mounting ire.
As Kris stood, she said in a soft and soothing voice, “The girls need to get back to some kind of normalcy and the quicker the better. If they get stuck in this grieving, guilt-ridden mindset that most of them are trapped in right now, they may never get out. They need to see that while we will all miss Tina, Diane and Lake tremendously, the accident was just that; an accident. As hard and unfair as it may all seem, life goes on; it has to go on.” All Kris could do was hope that the other coach would be willing to move past her own guilt and anguish in order to help the surviving girls move past theirs.
For a very tense moment, Kris thought that Kate was going to continue the argument but then all at once, the wind seemed to escape from her sails and she all but collapsed under the pain of the last two weeks. “Oh God Kris, I don’t think I can do this!” Kate wailed in agony, “It’s all my fault and I don’t know if I can ever make up for this!”
The anguish in Kate’s voice rocked Kris to her core. The feeling was so intense that it knocked the air from her lungs and she had to grab the back of her chair in order to steady herself. Trying to gather herself quickly, she reached out and grasped Kate’s hand. “It’s not your fault Kate. I was there too; remember? I could have insisted we leave but like you, I thought the weather would hold out. It was an accident!”
Kate said nothing but looked so deeply into Kris’s eyes that the tall brunette could swear that she could see straight into her soul. Losing the battle to remain impartial, Kris quickly pulled Kate into her arms and the blonde finally let loose her tears.
An hour later, neither woman was sure how they had made it to the small couch that occupied one part of Kris’s tiny office. Kris was pushed into the corner of the vinyl seat and Kate was tucked tightly into her side. Neither woman spoke much but both were aware of the calmness that seemed to envelop them and both were reluctant to pull away and lose the sensation.
After another half an hour of serenity, Kate finally whispered in a voice hoarse from crying, “Can I come home with you? I can’t stand the thought of being alone tonight.”
Even though Kris’s brain was screaming at her ‘too close…she’s getting too close!’ she couldn’t deny the blonde the comfort she so desperately needed herself but wasn’t sure how to ask for. Burying her face in the golden locks, she nodded her head and whispered back, “Come on, let’s go home.”
Kris unlocked the door to her apartment and led an overtired Kate in by the hand. Flipping on a light switch as they moved into the living room, Kris reached over and helped Kate off with her down-filled winter coat.
“I’m just going to go and make some tea.” Kris whispered to the smaller woman as she exited the illuminated room.
Kate looked at the couch and was about to go and sit down on it when a shelf with pictures on it caught her attention. Moving instead towards the tall unit, Kate picked up a 5x7-framed photo of a smiling Kris with her arms wrapped around an unknown beautiful redhead. Staring at the photo, Kate couldn’t help but acknowledge a pang of longing deep in her soul.
Kris re-entered the living room carrying a tray with two mugs and a pot of tea. Wondering what it was that had Kate so completely engrossed, she put the tray down on the heavy oak coffee table and moved to look over the shorter woman’s shoulder.
Kate felt the warm presence behind her and it was all she could do to stop herself from leaning back fully. It was almost as if Kris’s body was calling to hers and the blonde teacher knew that she most definitely wanted to answer that call.
“That picture was taken a long time ago.” Kris’s voice was soft and filled with part wistfulness and part sadness. When Kate turned slightly to look at Kris questioningly, Kris sighed and continued. “Deanna and I met when I was a freshman in college and she was a first year grad student. She had taken her degree in English Lit but then went on to get a Masters. We met in a coffee shop one night during midterms, both of us trying to get re-caffeinated before an all night cram session. We hit it off right away but I wasn’t looking for a commitment at the time. I had other crap I had to deal with and just couldn’t imagine putting that much effort into a relationship.” The brunette hoped that that was enough of an explanation but when Kate looked at her, then down at the picture and quietly said, “You look very happy,” the tall woman knew she would have to explain further.
“It was much easier for me to keep Deanna as a friend and then just have the occasional one-night-stand to…ease the tension. I guess by the time my senior year had rolled around, Deanna had finally had enough of me pushing her away. She confronted me, we had a fight, and we made up about two weeks later. Somehow we ended up together, moving in together after only a few short weeks of dating. Deanna was teaching high school and I was getting ready to graduate. I had decided I wanted to continue with school, which didn’t make Deanna overly happy. We started to argue about it quite a bit. I felt bad about how much time school had been taking and decided to come home early one night. I found Deanna and the coach from her school in a fairly friendly lip-lock when I walked into the living room. Deanna tried to explain and apologize but I just wasn’t interested. When I wouldn’t submit, she promptly advised me that it wasn’t so much me she was interested in as the challenge of breaking me. We made much better friends than lovers and I never should have crossed that line. The picture was taken my junior year of college; before we started dating.”
Kate was trying hard to concentrate on what the taller woman was saying but when the pair of long arms that were resting around her waist shifted, Kate though for sure her knees were going to buckle. One slender hand rested gently on her stomach while the other took the picture from her now trembling hand placing it face down on the shelf. The soft breath that whispered near her ear made her draw a sharp breath and her stomach drop.
Kris noticed the affect she was having on the petite woman in front of her and felt her body respond immediately. She hadn’t meant to get this close but the entire time she had been talking, the smell of Kate’s skin, the way the smaller woman fit perfectly against her body and the tremble of abdominal muscles under her hand all conspired to make Kris lose her resolve completely. When she heard Kate’s intake of air, Kris felt the crack in her armor widen and she couldn’t stop herself from leaning her forehead into the back of the blonde head.
Kate was quickly losing the ability to stand so she reached her hand back and gripped a well-muscled thigh to steady herself. Feeling the muscles clench under her touch only served to make Kate want to push further. Turning in the arms that encircled her waist, she grasped the front of Kris’s shirt tightly in her hands and pulled the strong woman in closer.
Kate looked up into blue eyes that were darkened by need, hunger and desire. Any last bit of apprehension fled her body as she saw the dark head duck down towards her and then gently, almost chastely, felt the warm lips that she had so desired, brush against her own.
For Kris, the kiss was the sweetest form of pain she had ever endured. Even as she moved in for another taste of her newly formed addiction, Kris knew that she could take this no further. When she felt small delicate hands weave their way into her long dark hair, she knew that she had to end this now or risk becoming swept up in the tide of hunger that was starting to consume her.
Unable to make her lips obey her brain, she deepened the kiss and pulled Kate’s compact body in impossibly tighter. When the women had to pull back enough to draw some much needed air, Kris made the choice to look into Kate’s verdant eyes. When green captured blue and the tall woman felt a caress as gentle as a springtime breeze across her jaw, she was finally lost. Unable to deny it any longer, she moved in again and seized upon the lips that she had only been able to dream of over the last few months.
Kate wanted to cry at this second contact, much more sure and solid as though some type of battle in her partner’s mind had been fought and won. Not able to keep her hands still any longer, the smaller woman began to slide her hands down over broad shoulders, reveling at the feeling of strength that emanated from the solid frame in front of her.
Kris’s hands too began to wander on their own path of discovery. While her left hand gently cupped the side of Kate’s face, her right slid along the small woman’s tiny waist. After only a moment’s hesitation, her hand slipped under the un-tucked shirt and Kris groaned at the feeling of soft warm skin trembling under her hand.
“Kris baby -,” Kate gasped pulling her mouth from the taller woman’s questing tongue. The feelings assaulting her body were like nothing Kate had ever felt and she was overwhelmed with the need to melt completely into Kris.
“Shhh, easy now.” Kris could barely contain her emotions and knew that they needed to slow things down. “Come sit with me,” she whispered the words softly and Kate could hear the uncertainty creeping back into her voice.
The tall woman led Kate to the couch and pulled her down in her arms. Kate instantly turned her head in order to burry her face in the warm skin of Kris’s neck and try to regain some semblance of control over her hyper-sensitive emotions. Her hand slid around a taught waist and she couldn’t help but feel the physical reaction Kris’s body was having to her close proximity.
For a few minutes, the two women sat there holding each other, neither willing to say a word, afraid that they would wake from this dream. As the moments passed, Kris’s hand began to trace insignificant patterns across Kate’s shoulders and back. When her hand once again slipped under the light top that Kate was wearing, she felt the heat building in the smaller woman’s body.
Kris couldn’t fight the craving she was feeling. She needed to feel Kate’s lips under hers once again. Long fingers gently lifted Kate’s chin and then caressed the side of her face. Staring deeply into green eyes, Kris tried not for the first time to understand what it was about this woman that always evoked such strong emotion in her when no one else had ever been able to come close.
Kate almost stopped breathing at the look that Kris was giving her. There was no question in her mind as to what she wanted but she didn’t want just one night with this woman. Afraid of stopping for fear of never having another chance at this but also afraid to go forward and be written off as a one night stand, Kate simply waited for Kris to make some type of move.
The emotions that flashed through the eyes in front of her made Kris hesitate. As hard as she tried, she knew that Kate wouldn’t be like the other women in her life had been. If they crossed this boundary, there would be no going back. They would never be ‘just friends’ and that made it unsafe for Kris to proceed.
The tension between the two women was reaching an unbearable level. As Kate felt Kris begin to pull away, panic began to set in. In a strangled voice, the small woman whispered, “Kris, please don’t!”
The plea from Kate succeeded in disintegrating the rest of the armor that Kris had worn for so many years. Unable to hold back the damn of feelings, she quickly moved in and took Kate’s lips in a fierce, emotion-filled kiss that left both women breathless. The long moan that escaped from Kate’s throat fueled the fire in Kris and the tall woman deepened the kiss while her long, nimble fingers began to unbutton the front of Kate’s shirt.
Kate felt the cool night air hit her skin even as she was being pulled on to Kris’s lap. As she straddled her soon to be lover, her own hands began to work on the buttons of Kris’s shirt. In her hurry, the buttons became an obstacle that she didn’t have the patience to deal with. Damn buttons! Whoever invented them is an idiot! Finally succeeding in getting the soft cotton shirt open, she slid her hands inside and gasped at the feeling of warm quivering skin. Feeling a sudden urge to view the expanse of skin under her touch, Kate pushed Kris away enough so that she could straddle her waist.
Both women were breathing heavily and as Kate pushed Kris’s shirt open fully, her eyes reflected the appreciation she felt for the beauty of the taller woman’s body. “Good God your beautiful,” Kate whispered gently as her hands traced down the well-defined abs of the woman under her.
Kris tried to sit still and allow the exploration of her body. Hunger for the woman sitting on her lap warred with a fear of being so vulnerable. Knowing that Kate had never been with another woman only made the fear worse. As Kate’s hands slid around her back to reach the clasp on her bra, Kris drew in a deep breath and tried to calm herself down.
Kris’s heart began to beat faster and faster. As Kate’s hands unhooked her bra slowly, seductively, Kris struggled to maintain her breathing. The fear was beginning to make her head pound louder than her heart. Kate moved in closer and tasted the skin along Kris’s collarbone. Working her way up a beautifully slender neck, Kate could feel Kris’s pulse racing. Stilling her hands and pulling away enough so that she could see into the blue eyes that she had come to love, she noted with a start that they no longer held the dark color of desire but instead had a look of shear terror.
“I can’t do this Kate. I thought I could but I can’t.” Kris gently lifted the smaller woman off of her lap and stood up. Pushing her fingers through her hair, she turned back to Kate who was readjusting her clothing as quickly as possible. “Please understand,” she requested softly, silently begging Kate to look at her.
Kate didn’t look at the tall woman though. She simply buttoned her shirt, stood and moved to the front door. Throwing her jacket on, she paused for a moment at the door. Without turning around she whispered, “I’m sorry I’m not what you need.” With that simple statement, she slipped out the door in to the cold night air.
Kate sat in her cold car for a few moments trying to gather her badly shaking nerves into some semblance of sanity before driving home. Mistakenly thinking that Kris was still battling the past she chastised herself My God how stupid am I to think that she’d gotten over everything that has happened. What the hell is wrong with me?
As she sat there mentally berating herself, Kate couldn’t help but notice the large SUV that pulled into the parking spot next to her. The feeling of dread that hit the pit of her stomach intensified when she spotted the tall blonde woman step down from the large vehicle. Hoping to get away unseen, Kate started the engine to her car but unfortunately only succeeded in drawing the other woman’s attention to her.
Great you idiot, now she’s seen you and you don’t have any reason to be rude so you’re going to have to be nice! Rolling down her window with great trepidation, Kate tried to smile as best as she could.
“Well hello there Kate. I didn’t expect to see you here at this time of the night. I just came over to check on my girl and make sure she gets some proper food in her. I know how hard she’s been working with everything that happened.” Sam’s tone of voice was pleasant enough but indicated very clearly that she was marking her territory over the tall brunette.
“Kris and I just had some things to discuss and it’s been so hectic, we haven’t had a chance to talk. I was just leaving so I hope you have a good night.” Kate’s voice didn’t sound convincing to her own ears and she could feel the disbelief coming from Sam.
For a moment, Kate thought that Sam was going to warn her off, as the look that came over her face was almost predatory. Instead the tall woman put a cocky mask on her face and said in a lecherous voice, “I’m sure we’ll have a very good evening. See ya!”
Without another word spoken, Sam turned and took the steps up to Kris’s front door. With jealousy eating her up, Kate quickly backed out of the driveway and sped off down the road.
The loud banging on the front door startled Kris but didn’t surprise her. She had been surprised when Kate had left with so little to say and assumed that she was now back and ready to yell. Upon opening the front door, she attempted to preempt the little fireball with her words, “I know I’m an ass Kate-“ she stopped talking as the woman standing at her front door was not whom she had expected.
“Really Kris, if this is how you greet all of your guests, I’m not surprised you don’t have very many!” Sam’s tone was light but something in her eyes told Kris that the tall blonde woman wasn’t any happier with her at this moment that the short blonde that had left only moments ago.
“Hi Sam, come on in. I guess as you can tell I was kind of expecting you to be Kate. We had a, uh, disagreement and I thought…well never mind.” Kris felt at a loss as to how to explain what had just happened between her and Kate. She knew that there was no commitment between her and Sam but it still made her uncomfortable to talk about the woman she wanted with the woman she had.
“Well woman, it must have been one hell of an argument. She said she doesn’t want to see you and that you should just stay the hell away from her. What the hell did you do to her sport? She peeled outta the driveway faster than Mario Andretti off the start line!” Sam knew that there was something going on between the two women and couldn’t resist the opportunity to drive a wedge between them. Although she knew in her heart of hearts that Kris would never be hers, she certainly wasn’t going to let some stuck-up bitch like Kate have her. Kate was, after all, one of the people that made Kris leave home all of those years ago.
Suddenly Kris felt too tired to deal with anything. Too tired to deal with the students who were hurting, too tired to deal with the teachers who needed help guiding the younger generation through these tough times, too tired to deal with an angry father who blamed her for all that was wrong in the world and most of all too tired to deal with a woman who confused her as much as Kate Crawford confused her.
Sam saw the defeat and weariness cross Kris’s normally strong face. Seizing the chance to get closer to the brunette, she slipped her hand into Kris’s and led her to through the living room to the bedroom. Slowly and gently, she removed Kris’s clothes, pulled back the comforter and sheets and helped Kris get settled. Lying down on the other side of the bed, Sam slowly ran her fingers through Kris’s ebony locks. A little surprised that the tall woman didn’t pull away, Sam’s touch was light at first but then became bolder when it went unchallenged.
Kris couldn’t think straight. All she knew was that she was lying in her bed being comforted by the only person in the world that she felt she could trust at that moment. There was nothing sexual about it, just one friend leaning on another friend. This is what I need. I need friendship from Kate but I can’t give her more. At least with Sam, we both know and understand where things are. For both Sam and I, we can keep our emotions out of it. Kris’s thoughts turned around her brain for a few more moments until she finally managed to still them. Just before she drifted off to sleep she whispered softly, “Thanks Sam, you are a great friend to have.” With that, Kris finally gave into exhaustion and slipped into sleep.
She knew that she shouldn’t do it. She didn’t really want to know. She’d told herself this a million times this morning over breakfast, while getting dressed and definitely when she got in her car yet somehow neither her body nor her car listened to her and Kate found herself steering towards Kris’s place before heading to school. Something deep inside of her needed to see whether the tall blonde woman’s words the night before were correct. She needed to know if Kris had allowed another woman to share her bed only moments after their aborted lovemaking.
Taking a deep breath, Kate turned onto the brunette’s street and pulled up in front of the driveway where both Kris’s and Sam’s vehicles sat. Feeling absolutely sick and more than a little stunned, Kate simply sat staring at the two vehicles as though they were mocking her. Sucking in a deep breath to steady herself, Kate thought well I guess that answers that now doesn’t it? Better to find out now than if we had slept together. That would have been even harder. Now I can put this out of my mind and we can go on. Surprisingly, Kate was able to calm herself down and drive away and although she was hurt, she was also feeling somewhat relieved to finally know where she stood with Kris. Driving on to the school, Kate never saw the small smile that graced Sam’s face as she looked out the window and saw Kate’s departing car.
Kris had slept fitfully through the night. She had tried several times to pretend that nothing had happened the previous evening and thought that she could lose herself in the woman that was lying next to her. She had only tried for a moment before confessing to herself and to Sam that it was no use.
Sam had listened silently as Kris finally confessed that she had fallen for the small blonde woman. Outwardly, she was the picture of a supportive friend while inside she was seething with anger. The anger she felt was directed at both Kris, whom she felt was making a huge mistake, and at Kate, who was taking away the one woman that Sam had always dreamed of. She swore silently that she would do whatever it took to keep the two women apart. As Kris spoke of her concerns regarding pursuing a relationship with the teacher, Sam patted her friend on the back with one hand while planning to stab her in the back with the other.
When Kris appeared from the bedroom in the morning, she looked like she hadn’t slept all night. Gratefully, she accepted a cup of coffee from her tall friend and sat down to tie her running shoes. With no more than a quick hug goodbye, she headed down the front stairs and began her morning run.
Once again Kris used her morning workout as a time to gather her thoughts and prepare herself for the coming day. She knew that she had made a huge mistake the previous evening in sending Kate away. As of yet, she hadn’t figured out how to rectify the situation but she knew that she needed to.
When Kris got back after her run, Sam had already left so Kris stripped quickly and hopped into the shower. Showered and dressed, she headed into the kitchen and grabbed some breakfast before heading out the door to school.
Although her intention was to drop her things in her office and then head out to find Kate, the fates seemed to conspire against her as she was inundated with problems the minute she walked through the door. A list of students waiting to talk to her was on her desk and her time seemed to be completely filled up once again.
As the day wore on, Kris found her concentration lacking as she could think of nothing but the way that Kate had felt when she touched her, the way she had tasted when they kissed. When she finally had a break in her day due to a sick student, she decided to take a trip down to the history department and see if she could find the woman that was occupying her thoughts so completely.
Kate continued talking to the class but looked up when she sensed a presence at her door. A little surprised to see Kris standing there, the small teacher hesitated for a moment and then continued on. Once she had the class settled to their task, she moved over to the doorway and looked questioningly at the counselor.
“What can I do for you?” Kate asked in a cool and calm professional manner. Even she was impressed at how controlled her voice sounded considering she was shaking like a leaf inside.
“I know that you probably don’t want to see me,” Kris whispered softly so that none of the students who were pretending not to listen could hear them. “I need to talk to you, I need to explain.”
“There is nothing to discuss and even if there were, this is hardly the time or the place.” Kate said looking over her shoulder nervously.
“I know that this isn’t the place but I wanted to ask you to have dinner with me tonight. I have to tell you some things.” Kris knew that she sounded desperate but she sensed that Kate was about to refuse.
For her part, Kate did think about Kris’s invitation for a moment before a mask of indifference slipped into place. “I don’t think so Kris. Why don’t you go and talk to Sam.” With that said, the teacher turned back to her class.
Kris paused momentarily outside the classroom letting the fact that she had blown her chance sink into her head. Not knowing what else to do, she finally turned and headed back to her office.
When she reached her office, the tall brunette slumped heavily into her chair. As intense as the fear the previous night had been, the feeling of utter despair that was coursing through her body now was worse.
Knowing that she had no one to blame but herself, Kris buried her head in work and tried to drive all extracurricular thoughts from her mind. After an hour of trying to concentrate on students and reports she found that she could not keeps the thoughts of the small blonde teacher at bay any longer. Taking a deep breath, she leaned back in her chair and thought over the last few months.
The weeks began to blur one into the next. Both Kris and Kate kept their distance from each other except for those times when they had no choice but to work together. Volleyball practice had started the week after the two women had parted ways but other than that and the times that they worked with Jen, they had no contact. As much as Kate tried to stay away, there were times when she couldn’t help but stare at the tall brunette and remember the feeling of their lips moving together. While not the most sexually experienced woman around, Kate had had her share of relationships. Never in her life had anyone gotten inside her the way that Kris had, making her want to throw herself on the ground at Kris’s feet and beg the tall woman for a chance.
Although Kate repeatedly had these thoughts, it was also very hard to ignore the amount of time that Sam seemed to be around. Whenever the taller blonde had the opportunity, she made it very clear to Kate that her and Kris were quite cozy with each other and getting cozier by the day. Knowing that she could not hope to compete with what Sam could offer, Kate managed to convince herself to stay away.
The evening after the quick conversation outside of Kate’s classroom, Kris had gone to her mother and poured her heart out. Her mother’s advice had been quite simply to wait it out. The elder woman knew that even in the few times that she had seen her daughter and the quick-tempered history teacher together, it was quite obvious that there was something strong bonding the two women together. She assured her daughter that in time the blonde would calm down and give her a chance to explain. All of this was said before her mother gently smacked her on the top of the head and told her not to be such an idiot next time.
Trying to be as patience as possible, Kris attempted to give Kate the space she had requested. She had to admit; her patience was about to run out. She was getting tired of the coldness emanating from the smaller woman. She so badly wanted to just blurt out, ‘I’m in love with you!’ but she knew that given their history it wouldn’t go over to well.
Kate was, for the most part, a mess. Although she managed to get through each day without any major incidents, she just barely existed. Seeing Kris only made the situation worse so it was with great trepidation that she agreed to accompany an overly excited Jen and an equally uncomfortable looking Kris to a Christmas party at the community center in Pritchard. Just the idea of seeing Kris anywhere near Sam made her stomach role. Unable to come up with a believable excuse to avoid the noxious situation, Kate readied herself on the Saturday after school let out for Christmas vacation.
When Kris’s rugged-looking truck pulled up to a stop outside of her house, Kate gave herself a final pep talk and headed out the door. The warmth of the cab was a welcome sensation after the biting cold gust that had nearly stolen her breath the minute she stepped from the house.
Kris was quiet while Kate settled into her seat and once the blonde woman had her seatbelt firmly buckled, she eased the truck away from the curb. Not wanting the silence to continue every time they found themselves alone, Kris broached the subject as gently as she could. “I’m glad you agreed to come today. I know that you’re upset with me but I really would like the opportunity to explain.”
The tall woman’s voice had been so soft that if Kate hadn’t been so aware of the other woman’s presence, she probably would have missed it. Swallowing the lump that had formed in her throat at the first sight of Kris, Kate said just as softly, “I really don’t want to discuss it Kris. You made your feelings very clear. I’d rather just leave it in the past and chalk it up to another lesson learned. Let’s just pick Jen up and get this day over with.”
Kris blew out an exaggerated sigh and said, “I know that you don’t owe me anything Kate but I really need to explain. Please, just think about giving me a chance.”
As the pair pulled up to the teen’s house, Kate couldn’t help but wonder at the possible double meaning behind Kris’s urgently whispered words. Knowing that she likely wouldn’t have an opportunity to continue the discussion, she smiled her hello to the exuberant teen and they were off.
The first thing that Kate noticed when the threesome entered the tiny community center was the tall blonde in the middle of the large common area. When the commanding woman looked up and saw Kris and Jen, she immediately threw a dazzling smile that dimmed only slightly when she saw Kate follow the pair.
Kate’s internal voice was going a million miles a minute and at that moment she would have given anything for a mute button. As the group came to the center of the room, she couldn’t help but notice how incredible looking Sam was. ‘Let’s face it Kate, she is much younger, much taller, and much more interesting than you! Of course Kris would be attracted to her! Add to the that the fact that you treated Kris appallingly when she needed you the most and what do you expect?’
It took all of the small blonde woman’s self control to stand rooted to the spot she was in and plaster what she hoped was a believable smile on her face. As Jen moved off to visit with her friends, the three women were left standing together.
After a few moments of unbearably trivial conversation and niceties, Sam finally headed off to greet some of the other volunteers and parents. Kris gently grasped at Kate’s elbow and led her off to the side of the room. Kate immediately felt the now familiar heat that always seemed to accompany any of Kris’s touches and was unable to deny that the pull was there even after weeks of trying to purge the younger woman from her soul.
As they reached the table that held the punch bowl and other refreshments, Kris motioned to Kate in question and then poured her a drink at the soft nod the other woman gave her. The simple task done, the pair began to maneuver to one of the few quiet spots that they could find.
Kate leaned against the concrete wall and Kris, under the guise of being heard over the newly turned up music, moved in close. Only a minute passed at the most but the uncomfortable air between the two women made it feel like an eternity. Finally Kris said, “Well, you didn’t dump the punch bowl over my head so I guess that’s an improvement.”
Kate couldn’t help but chuckle knowingly at the gentle chide of her tall companion. Acknowledging her tendency to be quick tempered when it came to her past dealings with Kris Kate replied, “Well I thought about it but didn’t want to waist all of the evenings refreshment on your dumb ass!”
Kris was relieved to see some of the sparkle return to Kate’s beautiful eyes. The pair could almost feel the tension easing between them and Kate’s posture relaxed slightly.
The pair once again fell into silence, albeit this time a much more comfortable one. Kate’s eyes roamed the room until they landed on a happily socializing Jen. Realizing that she was finally now seeing a girl that was much more like the confidant girl of years past, Kate turned to Kris slightly and said, “You know, you probably saved that girl in more ways than you know.”
Kris was startled out of her quiet contemplation by Kate’s soft voice. Turning to the smaller woman Kris replied, “I didn’t do anything that you weren’t apart of. You’ve been unbelievable with her. It’s good for her to know that not everyone who has been a part of her life will view her differently now. Whether or not Jenny is gay, straight or bi-sexual, she needs people to count on.”
Kate’s admiration for Kris grew in leaps as she listened to the tall woman speak about the emotional turmoil that most if not all teen’s go through when they begin to question their own sexuality. She could feel how important it was to Kris to make a difference in these young people’s lives and to not allow them to feel the isolation that she had so keenly felt.
So intent was Kate on her own musings that she almost didn’t hear Kris’s next statement. When Kris looked at her expectantly, she asked the younger woman to repeat herself.
“I asked if you would please have dinner with me tonight. I know that you don’t owe me anything but I owe you an explanation.” Kris’s words trailed of and she became very quiet. “And,” she continued, “I’ve missed you.”
The simplicity of the statement hung in the air and Kate only needed to look into the electric eyes of the taller woman to know their truth. Wanting to shield herself from the pain, she knew that she should decline but the gaze that captured her drew her in so completely that all she could do was nod her head yes. Her reward was a brilliant smile that almost took her breath away.
Sam had been watching the quiet interaction between the two women from across the room. Inside, she was seething with anger so intense she could barely contain it. Looking at the young man who was droning on and on about the statistics of suicide among gay teens, she just managed to avoid telling where to stick his statistics.
When Sam finally managed to free herself from her pesky friend, she made her way across the room to where the pair of women stood. Pasting a very friendly smile on her face, she attempted to greet Kris in a far friendlier manner than the tall woman was comfortable with.
Sam shrugged Kris’s actions off and leaned in closely. Whispering in a voice that was intended to carry over to the smaller blonde woman, she suggested, “How about you, me and a bottle of wine get together tonight and celebrate the holidays?”
Kris looked at Sam like she was nuts. Glancing over nervously at Kate, she replied to Sam in a hushed tone, “I thought we talked about this? I can’t go down that road with you again Sam. I value your friendship but the physical aspect is over for us. I’m sorry, I thought you understood that.”
Annoyed but not surprised at the rebuff, Sam backed up slightly and looked at Kris with outrage in her eyes. “I can’t believe that you would rather pursue that bitch than have some fun with me. What’s wrong Kris? We connect on a very primal level. I thought that that was what you wanted. No strings attached, just some good old-fashioned fun. You want to throw that away for her? This is the woman you spent countless nights cursing for being a stuck-up cow when we were kids? She judged you without knowing all of the facts and in the end, she made you leave. Sure when I first met her, I thought you were together. Once you told me who she was though, I thought that you had the good sense to stay the hell away from her. Jesus Kris, you aren’t even staying here! As soon as your mom dies, you’re going to run off once again!”
Sam’s voice was steadily rising and Kris felt Kate’s movement to push herself off of the wall. Grabbing the smaller woman around the waist, Kris restrained her while she directed her comments to Sam. “Back off Sam, you won’t win this argument. People change as they grow up, at least most of us do. You and I discussed this all weeks ago. You told me that you understood and that I needed to be true to myself. You told me that if Kate was what I wanted, what I needed then I should go for it and stop being afraid. Was that all some kind of line?”
The anger was evident in the tall brunette’s voice but Kate also heard the hurt. Oh Kris, yet another person who has betrayed you. My God, is there no end to this for you? Her need was overwhelming to shake the life out of the tall blonde. Not for the comments that Sam had made about her, hell, most of it was true. The fact that she had so easily hurt Kris, who had already been through so much, drove Kate to the brink. Her mind was reeling from the newly revealed information. They’re not together? Sam has been intentionally misleading me for weeks! I’ve been such an idiot…again!
Freeing herself from Kris’s grasp, Kate marched up to Sam who towered over her. Staring her straight in the eye, the small blonde voiced her disdain. “I may not have always been there for Kris and yes, I’ll admit that I have caused her pain in the passed. Despite all of that, I have never intentionally hurt her nor will I ever willingly do so again. You however, have taken her friendship and stomped it into the mud. All of these weeks you have gone out of your way to make sure I believed the two of you were a couple. Jesus, what are you, two?”
Having said her piece, the small blonde stormed off with a stunned and very angry Kris watching on. “What did she mean that you have gone out of your way to make sure she thought you and I were a couple? I specifically told you the night that you showed up when she left my place that I was in love with her. My God Sam, what have you been trying to do?”
Not waiting for an answer, Kris pushed away from the tall woman to go in search of Kate. Slipping outside of the small community center, Kris found Kate leaning against the wall at the side of the building. As she approached, Kate held up her hand to halt her progress.
“Stop Kris,” she choked out through an emotion-filled voice. “I can’t keep doing this with you. I’ve been back and forth so many times since you’ve been back that I feel like a damn ping-pong ball. Maybe Sam is right, maybe there is just to much in our past for us to move forward.”
The pain and sadness were visibly written on Kate’s face. The thought that the smaller woman was about to give up on any hope for a future between the two of them sent a physical pain through Kris.
Slowing her approach, she pleaded with Kate. “I know that we’ve gotten off to a pretty rocky start here Kate but I desperately want the chance to make this up to you. I don’t know what Sam told you but I haven’t touched her since before the accident. That night that you left after everything and Sam showed up, I hoped against hope that it was you coming back to yell at me, tell me I was being an idiot, anything. When I opened the door and found Sam, I thought for sure I had lost you for good.”
There was no need for Kris to clarify which night she was referring to as both women had that evening burned into their memories. When Kris saw that there was no response to be forthcoming from Kate, she whispered softly, “Please baby, give me a chance.”
The softness with which Kris spoke coupled with the intensity in her eyes sent a shiver down Kate’s spine. Knowing that she couldn’t ignore the pull of one soul to another, she sighed and said, “Dinner tonight. We’ll talk then.” Quickly wiping at her face, she walked passed a relieved Kris and made her way back into the building.
Kate made sure that she mingled for the remainder of the party. It was hard enough to keep her mind off of the impending conversation without being near the tall brunette. Except for the daggers that Sam was throwing her way whenever she was in the vicinity, Kate managed to enjoy herself and was once again thankful that Jenny had a place to come and relax among other teens.
As the party wound down, Kate excused herself from the group of parents that she was talking with and headed to the ladies room. While using the facilities, she heard the door to the restroom open and shut but nothing else. Finishing her business, she opened the door and to the tiny stall and was greeted with a still seething Sam.
Not in the mood for anymore drama, Kate pushed passed the larger woman and said hotly, “What do you want Sam? I’m very tired of this game you insist on playing.”
Sam said nothing but continued to glare at the smaller woman in the mirror. Reigning in her anger, she finally said in a low but deadly voice, “If you know what’s good for Kris, you will stay away from her. It wouldn’t look very good if the police received a tip or two from a young girl claiming that Kris had been…inappropriate with them not would it.”
Kate was flabbergasted and couldn’t even think of a response before Sam turned and exited the washroom as quickly and quietly as she had entered. Leaning against the counter to gather her strength, she sucked in a couple of quick breaths and then pushed out the door to track down the tall blonde. With each step she took, her anger grew, as did her disbelief in the situation.
Green eyes scanned the room until they landed on Sam who apparently had backed Kris into a corner, literally. Fire lit in the eyes as she stomped up to the much larger woman and grabbed her by the arm. Only the knowledge that there were impressionable kids in the room helped Kate to not physically strike out at the smug looking woman. Instead, with her voice shaking from hatred, she intoned quietly, “If you ever threaten Kris or I again, I will personally kick your ass from here to the North Pole. I’ve never met anyone so pathetic in my entire life until you. I’m sorry if you thought you had some sort of future with Kris. The fact is that you don’t, so get over it!”
Kris was amazed as she watched the little spit-fire-blonde walk off, compose herself, and then manage to cordially bid various people good-bye and happy holidays. She turned to Sam in disgust and said through a voice strained with anger, “Sam, I meant what I said about valuing your friendship. I did but you’ve taken that away now. Kate is right, back off, you don’t stand a chance.”
Sam’s anger had gotten the better of her and she couldn’t keep her voice down when she retorted, “So I’m good enough fuck but not good enough to date?”
A few of the people within close proximity couldn’t help but overhear the now heated argument. Kris, trying to maintain an iota of dignity left to her looked at her pathetic ex-lover and ex-friend and said, “That about sums it up.” With this said, she too turned and walked away.
The drive back to town was a quiet one. Kris felt exposed in the face of one of the students and wasn’t sure how to get back the professional distance that she had lost over the course of the afternoon. Kate was contemplating the coming evening and whether or not she had the strength or energy to pursue what was sure to be yet another emotion-filled session with Kris. The only one who seemed to be relatively unaffected by the days events was Jenny who sat happily squished in the extended cab of the pick-up truck.
Finally unable to take the silence any longer, Jenny piped up in an amused voice, “So you and Sam eh?” This was followed by a chuckle that turned into a barely contained laugh. When the young girl noticed that neither of her mentors were laughing, she joked, “Come on Kris, it’s not like a big surprise or anything. I’ve had a feeling about you for a while now. And anyways, it’s not like Sam was overly discrete in her uh…display of affection. I just wouldn’t have figured you for the Amazon type!”
At this last comment, even Kate couldn’t help but chuckle. She herself had a hard time picturing Sam and Kris in any type of long-term relationship now. After stewing over the tall blonde woman’s actions through the day, Kate had to laugh at the immaturity the other woman still possessed.
For Kris’s part, she let off a half-smirk and then said in a voice heavy with sarcasm, “Oh sure, yuck it up you two!”
Once the teenager had been dropped off safely at home, Kris turned in her seat to face Kate. “I know that it has been one hell of a day but I hope that you’ll still have dinner with me.”
Kate had been debating this issue with herself on the entire drive home. The look on Kris’s face and the hope in her voice made it impossible to say no and Kate knew at that moment that there wasn’t anything that she would deny the beautiful woman in front of her. She smiled and said simply, “I wouldn’t miss it.”
Kris smiled gently at Kate and backed out of Jenny’s driveway.
To be continued - Part 11
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