Connecting Hearts by Cephalgia and MJ
Part VI (Conclusion)
Disclaimers: See Part I
Feedback to: Cephalgia@hotmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
The distant sound of the carriage clock upon the mantel echoed throughout the silent house. Suddenly it seemed every noise, not just within the house but the whole neighbourhood increased tenfold, breaking the cold stillness in the Jennings household.
The air hummed with a ghostly chill and Denise thought that if she listened hard enough she could almost hear a whispering wind rustle through the empty rooms of the house. She sat in her study, resting upon the floor with her back against the closed door. Whether DJ was keeping the rest of the house out or herself in, she was unsure and only knew she needed to distance herself from the stark realities of the coming new day.
Randa was asleep in bed and although the blonde had asked DJ to accompany her for some much needed rest, Denise had stayed only until she was sure Randa had drifted into an exhausted sleep. Upon that moment she had kissed the blonde softly before retreating from the bedroom. Now sitting alone in the confines of her study, DJs tired, red-rimmed eyes stared blankly into space thinking.
The four days that had passed since Saras death had been, from Denises point of view, a complete haze of constant preparations. Having never before faced the feat of having to deal with the events after a loved ones death, the poet had no idea where to begin. It was Randa who had taken effective control. Together, and with much guidance from the blonde, the women were able to undertake the arrangements for Saras funeral.
Stretching out her long, red pyjama clad legs, Denise let her head fall back against the door as she looked up at the ceiling. The poet frowned as she studied the curious patterns formed by the artex designing. She had found that as long as she kept her mind occupied and away from thoughts of Sara, she could control her emotions. Every time DJ closed her eyes she could see her aunts final days. The fear in her conscious eyes and her paralysed body, unable to utilize even her most basic communication skills. Not being able to do anything to ease Saras suffering tormented her like a pressurised weight of guilt.
Blue eyes turned toward the window and Denise saw the full moon shining high in the sky. Rising to her feet, the poet approached the window and looked up into the glittering sprinkle of stars. Suddenly she remembered a scene from her childhood and the first week after her parents death. It was a night very similar to the one she was looking out upon now, and as she lay in her unfamiliar room, in her unfamiliar bed, she looked out through the open curtains. To her left she remembered hearing the door open and her aunt enter her new bedroom. Sara approached the window and looked out into the sky.
"The moon is shining full tonight," she had said softly, her glittering eyes turning toward her niece.
Denise nodded mutely.
Sara smiled instinctively as she continued. "Did you know that the moon is magic?"
The young brunette shook her head and pulled the covers up above her shoulders until they covered half of her face. Blue teary eyes shone in the moonlight.
"Oh yes," Sara said, "the moon is like a big magic telescope that hangs down from heaven. Whenever the moon shines full the angels in heaven can look down upon their loved ones and see how they are. Make sure they are happy and healthy and all looking after each other."
Denise was quiet as she processed her aunts information. After a while her timid voice asked, "Really?"
Sara smiled, glad to finally receive some response from her withdrawn niece. "I do believe so," she replied.
Cautiously the young girl pulled the covers down and rose to her knees as she shuffled across the surface of the bed. Holding onto the windowsill Denise looked up into the sky. "Do you think that mummy and daddy are watching me right now?"
"I think they will always be with you, watching over us both and making sure we are looking after one another, Denise."
"DJ?" Sara asked.
The brunette edged a little closer to her aunt. "Daddy always called me DJ."
Sara nodded her approval. "Okay, DJ it is." She held out her arms and smiled in relief as her niece accepted her embrace.
The poet smiled in memory as a single tear escaped her eye. Wiping her face she turned away from the window and looked back at the closed door. In another room across the landing she knew Randa was sleeping alone. The poet felt a strong desire to go to the blonde and simply take comfort in her presence, but something forced her to stay away. An overpowering urge had nestled deep within her and one she felt helpless to deny. Her new book, the novel she had been compiling notes on for many days, suddenly became of high importance to her. A task that would keep her mind occupied for a long period of time.
It suddenly became apparent that if she wanted to keep her mind focused on something other than Saras death, she should focus on her life. Not so much her own life than a fictionalised and hopefully humorous world in which Sara, the younger woman she remembered, would play a pivotal and lead role.
Taking a seat at her desk, DJ turned on her computer and waited patiently for her machine to boot up. Retrieving her glasses from on top of the CPU, Denise placed them upon her nose and began to type.
Hours passed seamlessly without any acknowledgment from Denise as she sat at her computer, oblivious to all around her. It was only when the door to her study slowly opened that Denise became aware of her surroundings. Looking over her shoulder the poet watched as Randa ambled into the room.
"You left me," the blonde said quietly. Obviously she had just woken up.
DJ looked away guiltily, turning her eyes back to the glare of the computer screen. Behind her she heard Randa continue her approach until she stood in back of her. Uncertain hands landed upon her shoulders.
"You havent slept all night?"
With a light shake, Denise turned back around to look up at Randa. "I couldnt."
"You havent slept right for days." The concern was evident in the blondes voice. "You need some rest, Denise, the funeral is tomorrow."
"I know," Denise snapped, then softened her voice, "Im sorry." Closing her eyes she rested her forehead against Randas chest. "I just dont want to think about things too much. Every time I lie down and close my eyes I just remember it hurts too much, Randa. I need to keep my mind busy."
Denise felt a kiss placed upon the crown of her head. She looked up at Randa as she said, "Im sorry I didnt stay with you but I just needed to do something to keep active."
Randa looked over to the computer screen. "Youve been writing all this time?"
Raising her hand Randa brushed her fingers through DJs thick locks. She tilted her head up until they were both staring directly into each others eyes. "Its okay to feel, Denise. To think about Sara to mourn to cry."
"Id rather work." DJ replied.
"To exhaustion?" Randa studied the poet, tracing her fingertips around tired shaded eyes. "Please, Denise, you need some rest."
Denise shook her head. "No I dont need to rest, I need to work. I need to do something anything as long as I dont have to think."
"But you havent stopped," Randa insisted, "you dont rest, you dont sleep, you wont even eat properly. Denise you need to take time out before you burn out."
Dropping her gaze the poet let her vision fall to Randas covered stomach. The blonde had taken to wearing the poets thermal shirts what she used to wear while gardening outside with Sara for bed. Denise loved the look of her larger shirts swamping the smaller woman. Running her hands down the back of the red and black checked top, DJ buried her nose into the blonde, breathing in her scent.
"I cant stop."
"Of course you can." Randa grasped Denises head and dragged the penetrating blue gaze back to look up at her. "Denise you really do need some rest; tomorrow will be a long day for both of us."
DJ rose to her feet forcing Randa to take a step backwards. "Rest later work now."
"No," the poet interrupted, "please, Randa I cant at the moment."
With a sigh, Randa smiled as she caressed DJs cheek and said, "Ill be back later you know that right?"
The poet nodded and turned back to her computer. She sat down, facing the visual display unit, her mind already focusing on the words upon the screen. Without another thought she commenced her typing, concentrating only on the tale she was weaving.
After several short moments of silence, Randa turned and left the room. She didnt return until four hours later and when she did she found Denise slumped down over her desk, collapsed in an exhausted sleep. The sound of deep somnolent breaths filled the air.
The poet came around to the sound of a gentle voice calling her. Opening bleary eyes she found Randa leaning over her slumped form. "Is it time to get up?" She asked, confused.
Randa smiled. "No, its time you went to bed to get some proper sleep come on."
DJ didnt argue as Randa helped her to her feet and gently led her out of the study and into the bedroom. The bed was still unmade and the curtains were wide open. With a foggy mind and exhausted body, Denise crawled into bed as Randa re-closed the curtains.
"Randa?" Denise asked, looking at the dusky form by the window.
"Dont leave me yet."
Without a word, Randa moved towards the bed and slipped under the covers, lying behind Denise. She spooned her body around DJ and wrapped her arm over the long body, pulling her closer. "Get some sleep now."
Denise nodded as she closed her eyes. Though she felt mentally drained, the memories resurfaced, forcing the poet to re-open her eyes with a heavy sigh. "Randa?"
"Tell me a story of your life. What is your oldest memory? What were you like at school? Tell me about your friend Derek. Tell me anything."
Randa paused as she thought of something trivial that she hoped would lull the poet into a deep and much needed sleep.
Softly she began.
Denise closed her eyes, concentrating fully on the sound of Randas voice. Within minutes she fell into a much-needed slumber.
The reflection in the mirror stared back at her with an impassive visage. With her emotions buried deep within the recesses of her consciousness, Denise continued to dress with an air of forced indifference.
She had awoken that morning to find the spring sun shining brightly through her windows. As the days had passed the temperature began to rise and a flawless blue sky stretched out over the land. The happy singing of nesting birds greeted her ears as she stared out over the countryside. Unfortunately Denise was unconvinced; the forecast had predicted rain today and she knew it would soon be on its way.
Lifting the fitted black jacket from its hanger, Denise slipped her arms through the sleeves and settled the garment over her shoulders. Once finished she ran her hands over the dark two-piece trouser suit with a critical gaze. Should I wear this white top or the blue one? With a shrug DJ leaned down and slipped into black boots. From outside her bedroom she heard Randa ascend the stairs and she opened the door to see how the blonde was faring. Denise greeted the nurse on the landing. Randa was wearing a black two-piece skirt suit, sans shoes.
"The cars are here," said Randa as she entered the bedroom and slipped on her shoes. "Diane has just arrived and is waiting outside."
DJ let her eyes flutter shut, taking one more moment to steel away her tears. She was determined to keep her composure. The poet didnt want to lose control, especially in front of their friends. When she re-opened her eyes, Denise saw Randa standing with her back to her as she stared silently out of the bedroom window.
DJ softly approached Randa as she asked, "Are you ready?" Randa turned and misty green eyes greeted Denise. "Come here," she said and pulled the blonde into her arms.
Randa choked back a sob as she clung to Denise. "I dont think I can do it."
"You can do it," Denise assured.
Drawing in a shuddering breath, the nurse pulled back and looked up at Denise.
"Ill be here for you and youll be here for me."
Randa looked up with an expression of almost disbelief. "Youre so I dont know youre so composed."
"Im just trying to keep my head above the water," She answered. Leaning forward, DJ pressed her lips against Randas, instigating a kiss of reassurance. She ran her hands over the blondes body and cupped her face with a gentle touch. Softening her caressing lips she pulled away and looked down into Randas closed eyes. "Ready to go?"
Green eyes re-appeared and Randa nodded. "Ready."
Denise reached down and took the nurses hand, entwining their fingers together. "Lets go."
With a smile of support, Denise and Randa left the house confident that they could face what lay ahead of them as long as they faced it together.
Saint Bartholomews Church was a ninth century building that was both very old and very cold. Its grey cobbled stonewalls spanned all the way up to a slatted roof that bore a network of thick wooden beams. The church was small with two rows of long wooden pews that were all filling to capacity as mourning friends entered the church. Along the walls on either side were six small stained glass windows, their colourful depictions often standing as focal points for much discussion. Running down the centre of the church laid a well-worn green carpet and in front of the dark wooden altar was a solitary gold trimmed coffin.
Denise sat between Randa and Diane, listening to the footsteps behind her as the last of Saras friends filtered into the church. The building was filled with a hushed simple organ tune that she didnt recognise and was unsure that she had ever heard before. Against her will she turned her head and instantly spotted Carl sitting on the opposite side of the pews. The blonde man wore an obviously expensive single-breasted black suit and black trench coat, similar to the dress of many others in the church. DJ forced a smile as her friend nodded in acknowledgement and support; she then faced the altar again.
Waiting silently in front of Saras coffin stood an elderly grey haired priest who was both small in stature and general appearance. In his hands he held a large black bible that DJ was sure seemed out of proportion to the rest of his diminutive frame.
As the doors to the church shut and Father Brian began to announce the first hymn, Denise turned her attention to Randa. Looking to her right she was greeted by shimmering green eyes. The poet smiled reassuringly and entwined her fingers with Randas before lifting their hands and kissing the blondes smaller appendage.
"Are you alright?" DJ asked.
Randa nodded with a weak smile but Denise spotted the tears shining brightly in her eyes. Clutching the hand within her own in a reassuring squeeze she resisted the urge to wrap her arms around the nurse. Instead she turned back and rose to her feet as the first notes of one of Saras favourite hymns filtered into the air. DJs eyes turned to the coffin in front of the altar and the sudden realisation of just who was inside the small cramped box hit her like a bolt of electricity. She hates small spaces. With a hitched breath, DJ closed her eyes, squeezing them tight, wanting to shut out the view in front of her and concentrate only upon the sounds. She swallowed hard and took a deep breath. Control the poet said to herself, got to keep control.
Unexpectedly, Denise felt a reassuring hand move over her back in a soothing circle. She looked down to see understanding brown eyes behind small oval spectacles, glistening back at her. DJ smiled at Diane and turned her attention to the small hymnbook in the older womans hands. She stared at the song upon the page unable to distinguish the words in front of her. Got to keep control, Denise thought again, the words becoming a short mantra within her mind.
As the priest once again started speaking, DJ pulled her attention away from the tiny man and moved her eyes around the old church. She looked up and studied a large crucifix upon the wall and then to her left where a small group of boys and girls sat beside the organ. Their choir robes were a contrast of maroon and white and the poet decided that each child must have been no more than fifteen years old.
Denise hated funerals, she would freely admit it and did so to Father Brian when she met with him days before. She was sure the feeling was the same for most people. The poet had only ever been to one other funeral and that was her parents. She had vowed never to attend another after that. Being so young she didnt truly understand what was happening and soon became a little horrified when she discovered that her parents bodies lay in the two long boxes at the front of the church. Sara, as always, had managed to ease her fears with a gentle explanation and a loving hug. DJ knew there was no question as to why her aunt was so popular with the children she taught; Sara had a very unique, understanding approach with them.
" niece DJ is going to say a few words."
At the sound of her name, Denise blinked and focused her attention back on the proceedings. Father Brian was now looking towards her as she felt a gentle coaxing hand squeeze her thigh. Denise looked down at Randa.
"Thats you," the nurse whispered softly.
With understanding and a slight feeling of dread, Denise nodded and rose to her feet. Repeating the mantra under her breath the poet made her way towards the pulpit. As she stepped up and looked out upon the sea of faces, DJ realised it was the first time she had not only stood in front of a large group of people but read something out that she had herself written. Shutting off the nerves that threatened to consume her she looked momentarily at Randa, gaining comfort in her supportive gaze.
DJ cleared her throat. "I would like to read something." Her eyes drifted briefly to Carl and she knew that he and Randa were the only people who would know the truth behind what she was about to read out.
"I would like to read something written by one of Saras favourite authors. Its something that I think portrays ones feelings in this situation."
Blinking, DJ looked down at the sheet of paper she had just pulled out of her pocket. Unfolding its edges she stared down at her precise hand written script. Shakily she began:
I fight the tears that accept your loss
Ignoring the void in my heart
I face the destruction that overwhelms my life
And the pain that tears me apart
For when you passed you left behind
A world full of laughter and fun
That no longer welcomes me with open arms
And I fight the impulse to run
You were my crutch, my solid ground
You rescued my childlike soul
That had wanted to fade so long ago
But you saved me you made me whole
So with my heart now shattered to infinity
And my soul facing eternal night
I pray for your wisdom to gain my stride
And for love to fill me with light
As the final words were spoken, blue eyes glanced briefly into ocean green. A silence once again flowed over the church and not knowing what else to say, DJ forced a weak smile before stepping down from the pulpit and making her way back toward Randa and Diane. The rest of the service progressed smoothly and was over before Denise did even realise.
Rain that had started out as a light sheen had progressed during the church service into a steady downpour. Standing in the open air of the graveyard, Denise observed as Saras coffin was lowered carefully into the ground. Around her the gentle flow of raindrops splashed against the cold ornamental gravestones. The small marble structures stretched out across the span of broken green fields, covering the once flawless countryside.
With an indifferent heart that took every ounce of will to maintain, DJ stood silently beside Randa, the blondes hand firmly within her own. Within the other hand she held a fully blossomed red rose, Saras favourite flower. As in the church she stood between Randa and Diane. Both other women stood under black umbrellas but DJ refused to do so, preferring instead to remain in the streaking rain as the droplets slowly soaked her through.
A light thud traveled up through the grave as Saras coffin hit its bottom. Denise looked down at Randa to see the blonde engulfed in tears. Releasing Randas hand DJ reached up and wiped one of the many tears that trailed the blondes face. She smiled tenderly as Randa looked up and without warning pulled the blonde into her arms. Randa wrapped her arms around Denises back as her head rested under the taller womans chin. The nurse cried softly.
"Di?" Denise said as she looked down at the older women by her side.
Diane looked up at the poet as she whispered, "Yes?"
Without a word, DJ held out the rose, presenting it to Diane. The older woman looked at her in slight confusion.
"For Sara," DJ said, "I know what you meant to her."
An expression of relief flooded Dianes face. "I loved her," she confessed, "I still do." The older woman seemed almost liberated to finally be able to acknowledge that fact.
"I know," DJ replied and held out the beautifully bloomed flower once again.
Diane accepted the rose and stepped forward, looking down into the grave. Randa turned her head and watched along with DJ as the elder woman dropped the rose on top of the coffin.
Turning back, Randa caught Denises attention. She ran her fingers through the poets soaked hair, both women no longer aware of the others present.
"Why wont you cry?" Randa asked.
Denise shook her head as an expression of confusion furrowed her brow. "I dont know," she answered, "I cant." She looked over Randas head and into the deep grave. "Im afraid."
Drawing Denises head back, Randa looked deep into anguished blue eyes. "Why?" She questioned in a light whisper.
"Im afraid to accept that I am now alone."
"Do you really think that?" The hurt was clearly evident in Randas voice.
Do I? Denise thought as she gazed searchingly into crystal green eyes that shone back at her with so much devotion. I dont want to but what if I lose her too? DJ smiled slightly. "I dont want to," she replied, not voicing the rest of her fears.
A sudden determination shone in Randas expression. "You wont and youre not ever. Please believe that."
Around them they slowly sensed that people were beginning to move away from the graveside. DJ looked up into the sky as the light rain began to ease.
"Everybodys leaving," Randa said.
"Are they all coming back to the house?"
"Quite a few of them I think."
Denise sighed. "God I cant handle that many people. I dont think there has ever been that many people in the house, Randa."
"Well be fine," Randa assured, rubbing DJs arm, "Are you ready?"
"I guess so." Denise looked back over to Diane who was still standing forward, looking down into the grave. "You go on, Ill be over in a moment." She inclined her head towards the elder women.
Randa nodded in understanding. "Okay, Ill see you in a minute."
As Randa headed back toward the black Rolls Royce, Denise stepped forward beside Diane. She looked down into teary brown eyes.
"Sara always said that if she was to go first then I was to make sure you never withdrew further into yourself. She was quite adamant you never do that."
"She didnt want you to play the reclusive writer part all your life. You have so much going for you, DJ."
"You know?" Denise asked. She wasnt aware Diane knew who she really was. Most people who knew DJ were all under the impression that the poet was actually a web designer.
"How could I not know?" Diane said. "Sara was always so proud of you. She had the entire collection of works by D Jennings beside her bed. It was hard not to gain a hunch with the surname. I guessed and she never actually denied my suspicion."
"She would never lie," Denise stated and Di nodded.
"So," DJ put her arm around the older womans back, "Are you coming back to the house?"
Diane nodded assertively.
Behind her the poet heard wet slushy footsteps approach and she looked around to see Randa; an expression of need shone in the nurses sea green eyes. The blonde stopped by DJs right side and the poet once again found herself standing between the two women.
The rain had completely stopped and silently the three remaining women stood by Saras graveside. Denise looked down at the light wood coffin and the single rose lying upon its rain-spoiled surface. She didnt even try to stop the lone tear that escaped her eye. "Ill miss you," she whispered softly before the three women turned and slowly walked away.
Randa walked slowly down the street toward the Jennings home. Her eyes stung from the fierce March winds and her exhaustion was magnified by the emotional stress of the past few days. The loss of Sara had been difficult and tears still came easily at the thought of the older Jennings woman.
Randa had decided to take a weeklong bereavement leave from the Brightwood Information Network. Up until Saras death she had been able to maintain the three shifts a week she had promised but this week was unlike any of the previous ones she had spent in England.
The day after Saras funeral, the nurse sat in the living room with Denise and Saras lawyer for the reading of the will. As expected, except for a small bequest to Diane in the form of jewelry, Saras estate passed to DJ in its entirety. The next day Randa had the medical equipment removed and Saras bed returned to the room from the storage shed. In accordance with her wishes, Saras clothes had been donated to a local charity run by her church. That left only her personal things that, in the last three days, Denise had refused to deal with.
Since shedding a tear at Saras graveside, Denise had continued with her life wrapped in a cocoon of numbness. Outwardly she appeared to be functioning normally, but Randa knew the poet was dazed and avoiding dealing with the reality of her loss.
Ill bet shes up in that damn study again, working herself ragged just like every other day. Denise, I love you and I hope you know that because this is about to become unpleasant for you. Randa arrived at the house and glanced up to see a soft glow was indeed coming from the poets study. Giving herself a mental shake, Randa steeled herself for the upcoming confrontation. That she too would hurt while causing hurt to DJ was something she wouldnt think about.
Entering the house, Randa hung up her coat and scarf then headed with determination up the stairs. Entering the study, the nurse saw the beautiful profile silhouetted against the light from the computer screen and for a moment she hesitated in her mission. When Denise turned pained and tired eyes toward her though, the nurse knew what had to be done.
"Denise, are you still working? Before I left you promised me you would only be another 10 minutes or so and then you would quit and get something to eat. Ive been at Dianes house for almost two hours and youre still at the computer."
The poet looked a little guilty but made no move to leave her project. "I was just involved in the work and I guess I lost track of time. I only need a few more minutes to finish up."
Randa had only intended to pretend to be mad at Denise, but now her temper rose in earnest. "Thats what you said yesterday and the day before. You do nothing but sit up here and work all day. You wont eat and you only sleep when youve driven yourself to exhaustion. There are three boxes of Saras things in the living room downstairs waiting for you to go through them. Theyve been there for days and you havent given them a glance. You havent given anything a glance but that computer!"
DJ sat stunned, hurt claiming the once brilliant blue eyes. "Its only been a few days, Randa. I just need time to "
"To what?" interrupted the nurse, "To make yourself sick? To push away everybody who cares about you? To convince yourself that youll be better off without me because that way you wont have to risk losing another person in your life?"
Denises mouth dropped open. She looked at Randa with an unbelieving expression on her face. Randa ignored the sudden urge to throw her arms around the brunette, opting instead to press on with what DJ didnt want to, but needed to hear.
"God, Denise, look at yourself! Youre haggard and losing weight. You wont allow anyone to come near you or comfort you. You wont let me touch you at all!"
"Do you think youre the only one hurting, that youre the only one whos lost someone precious? I sat with Diane this afternoon and I can tell you shes hurting! Shes hurting but shes going on with her life because thats what Sara would have wanted. She isnt wallowing in self-pity or ignoring her own life because someone elses has ended. I didnt know Sara anywhere near as long as you did, but I think she had a real reverence and love for life that youre not showing. You said she taught you so much, its a pity you didnt learn that." Randa felt her anger begin to get the best of her and she stalked to the door of the study. Denise had still not said a word since the nurse started on her rampage.
Pausing at the door, Randa turned to deliver the cruelest blow. "Denise, I love you with my whole heart. I love you with everything I am and everything I hope to be but damn it all to hell, if you wanted to die with Sara you should have thrown yourself in on top of her coffin days ago." With that she left the study, slamming the door in the process.
Closing her eyes, she murmured, "Forgive me, Denise. Forgive me and follow me, please." She started down the stairs and had just reached the bottom step when the study door flung open and an enraged poet burst forth onto the landing.
"Just a damn minute there, Randa!" DJ came down the stairs and followed the nurse into the living room.
You wanted this Randa, now you have to take it thought the nurse. Lets see how tough you are.
Denises eyes blazed with anger. "You come here for a few months and you think you know me and everything about me? You dont know the first thing about me or Sara or how I feel! You didnt lose the last living relative you have, I did! You didnt stand by helplessly while the only person to give a damn about me since my parents were taken died, I did! You dont have to know what its like to lose the person who made you what you are and gave you love unconditionally, I do!"
Tears filled Denises eyes and slipped un-noticed down her cheeks as she continued. "You said you love me, now there is a laugh. How can you love me and then proceed to kick me when Im down at my lowest point? Whats the matter? Is my grief interfering with your plans for me? You said I never let you touch me, is that the problem here? Youve not been getting enough attention? Let me rectify that situation then!"
Denise pulled the nurse to her roughly and lowered her head to place a crushing, bruising kiss upon Randas mouth. The blonde was momentarily stunned by the hostility she felt in the kiss but willed herself to remain passive and still. Tears from Randas eyes joined those of the poet when a moment later she felt the tone of the kiss change. The anger seeped away and was replaced with something else. Denise lifted her lips from Randas for a moment before returning them in a kiss filled with longing, longing for reassurance and comfort and love. The nurse gave those things and more back in the kiss she was now partaking in.
Denise broke the kiss and with a ragged sob, hugged the blonde to her as she cried.
"Oh God, Randa, it should have been me! She was so strong and I could do nothing but stand by and let her die. It should have been me."
The nurse let Denise release the feelings of guilt and anger that had been like a poison in her soul for days. She led the poet to the couch and held her as Denise finally gave vent to the emotions that had paralyzed her as surely as the disease had paralyzed Sara.
Eventually Denise quieted and calmed. With her head on Randas chest she said "Thank you for loving me enough to do this. I know it couldnt have been easy for you"
When Randa would have protested, Denise lifted her head, looked into the green eyes and smiled a little. "Im not dense, just a little blind sometimes. Forgive me?"
Randa nodded. "As long as you forgive yourself. Denise, as much life and death as Ive seen, I still dont have a clue about it. I only know the living have to go on. Well be given the answer to the mystery soon enough."
"I suppose so," the poet replied. "Lord, I feel like Ive been struck by a train. Im really tired, Randa. I think I could sleep a little now." Rising to her feet, she held out a hand to the nurse. "Join me?"
The weight of the world dropped from Randa as she took Denises hand.
Maybe the hurting can recede now and the healing can start the nurse thought hopefully. The pair made their way toward the bedroom turning off lights as they went. Randa heard the phone ring in the study but by unspoken mutual consent they let it go unanswered.
Whatever it is, it can wait until morning. Randa snuggled closer to the poet and they headed off together for much needed rest.
The familiar creaks and groans of an old house as its joists and well-trodden floorboards rest against each other were the sounds that had finally awoken Denise. Lying in the darkness of her bedroom with Randas back laying flush against her chest she came around to the recognizable sounds the old house often made. During the day these noises were almost indistinguishable, but at night in the still silence every creak sounded hauntingly like ghostly footsteps wandering through the darkened abode.
DJ lifted her head from the pillow and looked over to the illuminated read-out of the digital alarm clock.
"Seventeen minutes past three?" she whispered, confused as memories of the day before invaded her mind. She remembered Randa coming home after visiting Diane and she did very much remember the way in which the nurse had shouted at her. The hurt she had felt at Randas words had quickly turned to anger as the blonde stormed back out of the room. It was an anger that she had expressed with just as much force as she released days if not months of bottled up hurt and frustration.
Afterward, when she had exhausted all emotions, Randa had accompanied her to bed for some much needed sleep. Neither woman had done anything more than remove their shoes as they crawled beneath the covers and settled into the cool sheets of the once lonely bed. Denise was surprised to discover that they had both slept undisturbed for over ten hours straight. I guess we really did need it, she thought.
Loosening her hold on the smaller frame in front, DJ moved away allowing Randa to slide backward until she was lying upon her back. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness of the room the poet gazed down at the relaxed slumbering features of the woman beside her. She reached out, trailing her fingertips up and over Randas sweatshirt covered torso and on toward her lips. Denise never failed to be amazed by the silky softness of the smaller womans lips. She found the texture positively addictive and only refrained from claiming them with her own for fear of waking the nurse.
"You have no idea, do you?" she whispered softly, "No idea of just what you do to me." Denise gently brushed stray blonde tresses across Randas forehead. "How could I have treated you the way I have? You were right, you know " she continued in a light murmur, "Sara would have wanted to do nothing more than kick my behind into reason for the way I was behaving!"
Her hand moved down to Randas and she smiled in affection as she noted the way in which Randas fingers instinctively grasped her own. Leaning forward she gingerly placed her lips upon the blondes and kissed her softly, still not wanting to wake her. After a blissful moment she pulled back and once again rested her gaze upon Randa who was still very much unconscious to the world. Smiling, DJ backed out of the bed and readjusted the covers around Randas form. The air was remarkably cold and she didnt want Randa to awake through a penetrating chill.
Still dressed in her old worn jeans and sweater, Denise padded out of the bedroom and onto the landing. She looked at the open doorway to her study, gazing at the blank screen of the computer but the desire that had consumed her the past few days seemed to have vanished. Surprised by the weight that had removed itself from her mind and knowing just who was responsible for that, DJ bypassed her study and moved instead down the stairs.
The cold chill of the still air enveloped her flesh causing goose bumps to rise upon its surface. Denise headed straight for the living room and began to build a roaring fire that in minutes had started to consume the frigidity of the houses atmosphere, replacing it instead with soothing warmth. The crackling sound of the flames as they bounced over the coal in the hearth was a comforting presence and DJ settled herself close to the amber blaze, luxuriating in its relaxing glow. She sighed in deep contentment a contentment that she had not felt for a very long time.
In her left peripheral vision Denise spotted a small cluster of boxes. She knew instinctively that they were containers of Saras belongings that had been stored away for a long period of time. These boxes were not Saras personal effects, which for the most part still littered the house; these were her collection of bits and bobs, nicks and knacks that she had hoarded throughout the years. Rising to her knees, DJ shuffled over to the first box that lay upon the other two and pulled it forward, dragging it back toward the fire. Biting the inside of her cheek she lifted the flaps and looked inside. An assortment of objects greeted her vision.
"Wow!" DJ muttered as one hand moved into the box and she began to pull the most original objects out.
A neatly folded silk embroidered scarf, a wooden carved figurine of a distorted form lying upon its side, a small mirror surrounded by a metallic bronze finish that had peculiar etched scrapings around it. Denise had never seen the figures before but was sure they must have been letters of some kind. Her eyes grew wide as she pulled the next item out of the box. Wow, a Ouija board? Oh well I am sorry, Sara, but there is no way this is staying in the house! Denise looked down at the surface, recognising its details from many films she had seen and shuddered in memory. I sure as hell am not keeping this thing!
Shaking her head, Denise placed the board warily beside the growing pile of goodies she was pulling out of the box as her other hand descended back inside the container. Out came an assortment of more objects. She pulled out a large pile of pages bound by a thick twine and covered by hard leather. Dark brows drew together as she opened the pages and looked inside. Wow! Blue eyes moved over the pages with bemused interest, I had no idea you were once or at all interested in all of this, Sara! She read over the inscriptions upon the pages, Druid tree magic, tarot cards, spells and potions, runes? DJ closed the book with a smile.
"What else is in these boxes?" she wondered.
An hour later Denise sat amongst a wide variety of objects ranging from the obscure to normal every day possessions. She had also discovered a bag of rune stones and a box of tarot cards mixed in with a collection of old teaching handbooks, spare reading glasses, a single pink babys sock and an old china tea cup wrapped up in newspaper that dated from the nineteen seventies.
Rising to her feet, DJ placed her hands upon her hips as she studied the assortment of stash! Suddenly the poets head quirked to the side as she heard the unmistakable sound of creaking floorboards. Knowing Randa had just risen she moved into the kitchen and switched on the kettle deciding to make the nurse a cup of tea along with the coffee she had intended on making for over half an hour. Unfortunately the collection of goodies she was finding kept her glued to the floor.
While in the kitchen she was aware of Randa descending the stairs and she knew the moment the blonde entered the living room when she heard the muted gasp. With a smirk she wandered back into the front room to gauge Randas expression. The blonde was looking around the mass of objects with bewilderment.
"Quite a little booty huh?"
"What is all this stuff?" Randa asked as her eyes moved over the floor.
"This is Saras stash! Can you believe some of this stuff?" Denise knelt down onto the floor and started rifling through the items. She picked up a tiny box and held it out. "You may not want to look in here but this seems to be a collection of baby teeth; mine if I am not mistaken. I mean when I was younger I did believe in the tooth fairy. My teeth always disappeared from under my pillow at night and instead I would wake to find a ten pence piece then a twenty pence piece, but when I got older and knew the truth I did wonder as to where my teeth actually went. Seems now I know!" DJ placed the box back upon the floor and picked up another item. "This is a deck of tarot cards " she placed the box back upon the floor and picked up an old card, "And this is an old ration book from the Second World War! Amazing huh? I am thinking it must have belonged to my grandmother."
Randa knelt down upon the floor and surveyed their surroundings. "Wow, its a regular little treasure trove isnt it?"
"Yeah!" Denise placed down the ration book and looked back at the nurse who was kneeling no more than three feet away from her. Memories from the earlier events returned to mind. "Im sorry, Randa."
Seeming to know instinctively what Denise was talking about Randa shook her head. "It doesnt matter, Denise. Youre back now and thats all that matters."
"Thank you for giving me a little or not so little," she smirked, "shove in the right direction."
With a gentle smile, Randa moved forward and caressed DJs cheek. "You look a lot better now. The darkness around your eyes has faded considerably. We were out for quite a while. What time is it anyway?"
Denise looked around to the clock on the videocassette recorder. "Its almost five oclock. We were asleep for just over ten hours I think. It seems we both needed the rest. How do you feel now?"
"Do you want a drink? I put the kettle on for coffee so maybe you would like something too?"
"Maybe in a minute." Randa lifted her hand and pushed it through the poets long dark hair.
DJ clearly noted Randas intent and instinctively closed her eyes as she moved closer to the blonde. Their lips met cautiously at first as though they needed a moment to feel out the precarious ground they had both treaded for many days now. As their comfort grew so did the kiss and Denise pushed forward, moving down toward the floor as she reached out and moved some of the items out of the way before laying Randa down upon the carpeted ground.
Resting herself above the nurse, DJ released Randas lips and looked down upon her with an open expression of affection. "Is it alright for us just to be with each other for a while? I can make the drinks in a moment but right now I just need to " not bothering to finish her words, Denise re-captured Randas lips, sinking into the taste and texture of the woman that she so craved. This is what I need, DJ thought as one hand combed through light blonde hair and the other moved down the supple body.
As she pulled away and re-captured Randas gaze, words died on her lips as the sound of the ringing telephone echoed through the small home. Damn it
"Dont answer it," Randa said and reached up to bring Denises mouth down to hers again.
Denise paused as lips moved to within a fraction of an inch from each other. "Maybe I should answer it. It might be important."
"Right now theres nothing more important than this. I need you, Denise. I need you and I want you. The phone be damned." As if on cue the ringing stopped and the women grinned at one another. "Now, where were we?" questioned the nurse. "Oh, yes, I remember now. You were just about to do this."
Randa reached up again to Denise but this time took hold of her shirt with both hands and pulled until the poet was settled on top of her and snuggled deeply between her now spread legs. Grins vanished from the womens faces, replaced with looks of open hunger.
"Make love to me, Denise," the nurse pleaded.
"Your wish is definitely my command," replied the poet as she lowered her head to place heated kisses along Randas neck. Receiving an appreciative moan in response to her actions, Denise brought her right hand up and caressed the nurses breast through the fabric of her shirt. Moving her hand down and back up, Denise slipped the questing appendage under Randas shirt and resumed her sensuous touches skin to skin. The poet was lowering her mouth to follow the path blazed by her hand when the phone began to ring again.
"Oh cripes!" Randa groaned. "What does a girl have to do in order to have a little peace and quiet to get ravished in?"
Denise chuckled at that and raised her head to look at her partner. "Ill answer it and get rid of whoever it is. If I dont, well never have any peace."
Realizing DJ was just as frustrated as she was, Randa released the poet who rose and moved quickly over to the phone.
Eyes never leaving the nurses body, Denise snatched up the phone and growled an irritated "Yes?"
The poet listened a moment then her demeanour changed completely. "No, this is the correct number. Please hold just a minute." Covering the mouthpiece, Denise whispered, "Its a woman claiming to be your Aunt Joann."
"What?" Randa rose from the floor and moved to take the phone from Denise. "Jo, whats up? How did you get this number?" The nurse listened intently and Denise moved to the couch, not wanting to eavesdrop but curious nonetheless.
The conversation lasted no longer than five minutes with Randa occasionally interjecting questions and ended with the nurse saying, "Okay, Ill let you know when. Thanks for calling me. Give her my love Bye." Replacing the phone back on its base, Randa turned to Denise with a forlorn look.
"Randa? What is it? Is something wrong?" The nurse swallowed hard and instinctively moved to the warmth and safety of Denise who stood and took the blonde into her arms.
"Its Mom. She was driving home from the community center last night. The fog was pretty thick, the way it gets all winter in northern California. Some idiot blew through a stop sign and crashed into Moms car."
"Oh my God, is she all right?" asked Denise.
"Pretty much. Shes got a lot of scrapes and bruises and a couple of nasty fractures of her left tib-fib." At the poets confused look, Randa clarified, "The tibia and fibula, the bones of the lower leg. Shes having surgery in the morning to have hardware put in to stabilize the breaks and then shell have to be casted."
"She wont have any permanent damage will she?" Denise questioned.
"No, she should be fine eventually but my Aunt Joann is leaving in a couple of days for a few weeks of meetings on the east coast for her job. She wont be able to stay with my mom."
Randa felt a lump form in her throat and she clung tighter to the poet. "Denise, I have to go home." For the first time in her life, the word "home" didnt have the same meaning and she quickly added, "Back to the States."
Both women were silent, contemplating the news and the impact on their lives and recently tested relationship. Randas thoughts were a jumble of medical questions, schedules and worries about Denise.
Pulling back, the nurse looked at DJ. "This changes nothing between us, you know. I love you very, very much. Im not leaving you, okay? This separation is only going to be temporary. Well be together again soon and then nothing will keep me away from you again," Randa said with a confidence she didnt quite feel.
"I better go upstairs and start my packing." Looking around the room, Randas eyes came to rest on the portrait of Sara and Denise. "You and Sara made this house a home for me, Denise. Im not going to forget that while were apart, Im not going to forget that ever." The blonde reached up and placed a soft kiss on the poets lips. She broke away reluctantly and headed for the doorway.
On an impulse she turned and looked at DJ. "Come with me, Denise. Please, I really want you to come back to the States with me."
Denise hesitated for a moment, enough time for Randa to put her own interpretation on the reason behind it. Mustering a weak smile she said, "Man, will you listen to me? All needy and selfish sounding. Im sorry I asked you, Denise, it wasnt fair. I know you have obligations here what with the book about Sara and the new volume of poetry coming out and everything. Forget I mentioned it okay?"
Denise looked like she wanted to say something but instead nodded. The two continued to look at each other and Randa silently berated herself for pressing the poet too much. She hasnt even said she loves me. What was I thinking, pushing her like that? Dummy! Idiot!
Maintaining an outward calm Randa said, "I guess Ill have to dig out that return ticket after all. Could you call British Airways for me and check on a flight back?"
"Of course," Denise assured her. Randa waited only the merest part of a second before she walked over to the poet and wrapped her arms around the taller womans waist. Laying her head on Denises chest, she allowed herself to be comforted by the steady heartbeat she heard there.
Moving back, the nurse took the poets hands in her own. Mirroring Denises actions of what was only a few minutes before, she lowered both of them to the floor. Bringing her face close to the brunettes, she gazed deeply into the impossibly blue eyes and whispered, "Love me, Denise. Love me."
The poet erased the distance between them and the lovemaking designed to temporarily banish all thoughts of a painful separation, did exactly that.
Pacing back and forth in the living room, Denise continuously stepped over the assorted hoard of treasures that once belonged to Sara. Re-dressed in her jeans but wearing a clean shirt the poet swung her car keys around her index finger in anxious thought. She had done as Randa requested and had enquired about the next flight back to Randas destination and was a little disappointed to discover that a seat was available for the nurse on the next outbound flight in five hours.
Shes really going! Thats it shes going! DJ stopped in the middle of the floor and studied the white and navy training shoes adorning her feet. Above her she could hear Randa move around the upper level of the house as she packed her bags and although she knew she should at least help her, the brooding woman just couldnt bring herself to participate. I dont want her to leave, Denise shook her head, "But am I going to tell her how I feel? No!"
With a frustrated sigh Denise resumed her pacing. "You are a coward, Denise Jennings, that is what you are." She kicked one of the empty boxes lying on the floor as she muttered, "What the hell is wrong with me?"
It wasnt the fact that Randa was going home to care for her mother, for she completely understood and respected that. It was who Randa was and indeed what she had done when she travelled all the way over to England to care for Sara in the first place. She would have expected nothing less from the woman. It was the mere point that when Randa had asked her to accompany her, a small part of the poet had desperately wanted to think of a reason to say yes. Then why didnt I? Unresolved issues stampeded her mind and DJ knew that until she was able to work through them she would never be able to give herself fully to Randa. And that was something she knew the blonde woman wanted. She could see it every time she looked into longing green eyes and saw a glimmer of sadness shining back at her. Randa was the most open person she had ever met, the woman wore her heart on her sleeve and if DJ was to admit it, she was a little overwhelmed by that.
There was no doubt in the poets mind that she saw a future for Randa and herself, but the mere speed in which their affections had escalated and Randas confession of love was something she wasnt ready for. Quite simply, having spent the best part of her adult life up to that point steering clear of all emotional involvement, DJ was unprepared for the sheer roller coaster of feelings, both physical and emotional that would besiege her.
Taking a steady breath and releasing it slowly through pursed lips, DJ looked down at the bunch of keys within her hand. She briefly studied the black moulding around the Lexus ignition key before ramming the entire bunch back into her pocket.
"I cant just leave her up there to pack alone," she mumbled as she exited the living room, heading for the stairs. As she reached the landing Denise stopped short of entering her bedroom as she stood face to face with Randa. The blonde stood before her, a large duffel bag in each hand containing the majority of her clothes. An uneasy silence passed between them as they faced each other and the fast approaching inevitable.
Randa looked down at the hefty carriers, "Yeah it didnt take too long."
"So " Averting her eyes, Denise looked desperately around the landing as she searched her mind for words that refused to grace her.
"So," Randa continued, "I guess we better get to the station?"
DJ shook her head. "Airport."
"Im taking you to the airport. Im not letting you travel down to London on a train besides you must know by now how unreliable they are at the moment. Ill take you."
"All the way down to London? Denise you dont have to do that." Randa insisted.
"Of course I do I want to. Anyway it is a long drive so we better get moving." Denise stepped forward intending to relieve Randa of her luggage but froze. "Randa?"
"Yes?" the nurse whispered.
Denise looked down into hopeful eyes and her face contorted with frustration. "We better get going."
Sighing, DJ reached out and took possession of Randas bags. Without making eye contact she turned on her heels and headed for the stairs. Randa followed solemnly behind.
The silence in the car was palpable, so thick and heavy that you could not only cut it with a knife but was suffocating in its density. Cruising at a steady speed down the motorway, Denise kept her eyes forward, both hands gripping the steering wheel. The mounting dread that curdled her insides caused her stomach to twist with anger. All she had to do was open her mouth and speak. To say something, anything that would ease the uncertainty in Randas eyes. Reaching forward she turned on the radio and instantly the car was filed with the monotonous drone of a local newscaster. Nervously she looked to her left and caught the jade penetration of Randas beseeching gaze.
"How long will your flight take?" DJ asked and looked back to the road as she changed lanes.
"About 11 hours I guess. Around the same time it took to come here."
Denise nodded. "Ive never flown myself," she said needing to say something in order to ease the tension between them.
"Never." Denises eyes left the road briefly as she gazed at Randa. "Ive always wondered what it would be like, but I have never had the opportunity," she paused, "well that and I never quite had the guts! Im more of a boat person. When I was in my early twenties I took a few boat trips to places like Amsterdam with some friends and I took Sara to France about two years ago. She had this dream about visiting the Eiffel Tower, so I thought what the hell!" Denise realized she was beginning to ramble. "Do you like flying?"
Randa shrugged her shoulders as her eyes veered to the view of the countryside around them. "It gets you from A to B. I have no qualms about it really," she replied.
Apart from the low drone of the radio, the uneasy silence between Randa and DJ returned. Words they were something that she presumably had a gift with, a belief of almost every critic and literary lover alike. It was ironic, DJ thought, that if they were to ever know this side of her they sure as hell would not believe Denise and D Jennings were indeed one and the same person. Maybe that was the reason she preferred to keep her identity a secret, because she truly believed people would be disappointed in the real DJ. Even now, as she looked at Randa, she could see that disappointment and although she knew she had the power to erase Randas fears, in the face of reality, DJ froze. Maybe Ive just spent too long in my own little creative world that I can no longer deal with real life? Denise would admit that it was a terrifying thought if true.
The airport restaurant was large and split into two sections, smoking and non-smoking. Unfortunately, as it so often was with the busiest airport in London, the eatery was full and it was only by chance as an elderly couple were leaving that Randa had managed to locate a small corner table. Pushing the empty teacups to one side, Denise placed down their tray and took a seat facing the blonde nurse. They had forty minutes until Randa had to leave for the departure lounge.
Lifting her large cardboard cup, Denise looked down into the clear bubbling liquid of her carbonated mineral water. She watched intently as the bubbles exploded upon the waters surface.
"Do you ever think back to the moment you woke up on any particular morning and wonder how you would have reacted if you knew what events were to unfold that day?"
Randa looked up at Denise slightly surprised by her question.
"If I had known what was going to happen today I dont think I would have wanted to wake up this morning. I would never have believed I would be sitting here with you now, waiting with you until you caught your plane to fly back to the states."
Reaching out to Denise, Randa took the poets free hand resting upon the table. "This is only temporary, Denise. I love you and I dont want to leave you like this especially at this moment in time. With everything thats happened."
Sensing the uncertainty hidden behind Randas words, DJ looked down at the blondes hand as she threaded their fingers together. For what DJ was sure was the hundredth time that hour a disembodied female voice echoed throughout the airport warning all passengers not to leave unattended luggage lying around. Looking back up at Randa, Denise spoke softly. "Let me know when you get there so I know you arrived safely, okay?"
"And tell your mum hi from me and send her my best wishes."
"Are you sure you dont want to stock pile chocolate so you dont have to suffer the inferior stuff when you get back home?"
Randa rolled her eyes with a grin. "Im sure Ill survive, Denise."
Smiling, DJ shook her head. "You know, you are the only person who has ever gotten away with that. I even made my teachers call me DJ."
"How come I can get away with it then?" the blonde asked.
Denise pursed her lips in thought. "I think I just like the way it sounds coming from your lips." She winked.
That seemed to delight the nurse; maybe occasionally I can say something right! Denise thought. "Absolutely!" Lifting their entwined hands, DJ kissed the smaller fingers as the call for Randas flight echoed through the speakers. Already? An instant wave of sadness overcame her. "I think that maybe we should get a move on!"
With a nod the nurse released their fingers. Reaching inside her pocket she pulled out her boarding pass and looked down at the printed card, seeming to study the flimsy object. "I wish " She started then paused
"What?" Denise asked as she looked down at Randas lowered head.
The nurse shook her head, as she said, "Nothing."
With a frown DJ reached over the table placing two fingers under Randas chin as she lifted the blondes gaze. "What do you wish, Randa?" Please tell me, I need to hear you say it.
The blonde remained quiet as she looked into DJs eyes. She obviously hesitated and seemed to change her intended statement. "I was just going to say that I wished this hadnt happened so soon you know?"
Nodding, DJ knew that wasnt what Randa really wanted to say but accepted her statement nonetheless. After all she had hidden much of her own feelings, but she wondered whether Randa did indeed feel as terrible as she did?
Raising from their seats together, the women moved away from the table and ventured on through the airport.
Her steps were slow and as every second passed that they moved closer to the entrance of the departure lounge, Denise felt a little more of herself fade into nothingness. When Randa passed through the doors and disappeared from her sight, DJ wondered whether and if she would ever see her again.
Standing by the threshold to the departure lounge, which only passengers could enter, DJ looked down at Randa, needing to memorize every nuance of the smaller womans features. Neither woman seemed aware of the mass of travellers that passed them as they ventured on toward passport control.
"So this is it?" Denise asked.
Randa took a step closer, their bodies almost touching. "I guess it is."
"Ill miss you, Randa really miss you."
The nurse reached out, taking DJs hand and pulling her close until their bodies touched perfectly. "You make it sound like this is forever, Denise." Lifting up onto her toes, Randa pressed her lips upon Denises and the poet responded in kind. Caressing the blondes lips with her own, she soaked in Randas essence and implanted every detail of her touch and scent into her mind.
A long moment later DJ moved away and wrapped her arms around Randa, pulling her in close. She closed her eyes, squeezing them tight against the tears that lay just beneath her surface.
"I love you," Randa whispered.
"Goodbye, Randa." Stepping backwards she looked into confused green eyes.
Randa attempted to speak but the call for passengers taking her flight once again sounded through the airport speakers.
A chilled silence passed between them, one that words could no longer ease. Denise stepped backwards, distancing herself from the desire to join Randa on the plane and go back with her to America.
Why do I feel that Ill never see her again? "Dont forget to give your mother my best wishes for a speedy recovery."
Randa nodded, saying nothing as she backed her way into the corridor. Denise watched her closely, easily spotting the tears shining brightly in her eyes. She lifted her hand and waved, moving her fingers in a slow movement.
"Ill miss you." She mouthed and watched as Randa was engulfed into a crowd of departing passengers and disappeared from sight.
The hollow sounds of the front door slamming shut ricocheted throughout the empty house. Then a lonely silence followed, settling over every vacant, soulless room. Denise stood by the door, keys swinging limply in her left hand. They hung precariously from her middle finger and in one small movement, fell un-noticed to the floor. The poet moved forward, taking reluctant steps until she entered the living room.
Still scattered across the floor lay Saras possessions but DJs eyes moved instead to the rug by the fire, the last place she and Randa had made love. Taking a seat facing the rug, Denise stared into the cold grey cinders within the hearth. The fire had long since burned out and only flimsy ashes remained.
Mind wandering, Denise thought back to Randas words after the phone call from her aunt Jo. For a moment it seemed like Randa had wanted Denise to go with her but she appeared to have a change of heart. The poet didnt know what had caused such a speedy u-turn in her request but she hadnt even had time to consider the possibilities before Randa changed her mind. There was however one fact that DJ was sure of, that having known Randa for the length of time that she had, she knew the blonde nurse always expressed her desires openly. Unlike her own self-conscious self, Randa wasnt usually afraid to speak her mind.
Leaning back into the comfortable settee, Denises eyes moved up to the mantle, studying the carriage clock upon its shelf. The clock was a gift to Sara when she retired from teaching and her aunt had always given it pride of place as a centre focal point in the living room.
Denise closed her eyes, remembering the expression on Randas face as she entered the corridor that led to passport control. Her confusion was clearly evident and DJ could almost sense Randas fear and insecurity. The dejection Randa felt was unmistakably visible and DJ realised that Randa did want her to go with her and it was only the nurses own insecurities about how Denise really felt that had caused her to withdraw her request.
DJ leaned forward as a bolt of stark clarity rumbled through her. And now my own stupid, unfounded apprehensiveness has ruined it all! I was so afraid to lose her that I went ahead and did it anyway!
"Oh god," Denise exclaimed. "What have I done?"
Randa replaced the phone on its base and wondered for at least the hundredth time that week why Alexander Graham Bells invention wasnt working for her. After the tedious and long flight from England followed by the 2-hour drive from San Francisco, Randas first thought on arriving home was to call Denise. She could admit to herself that the reason wasnt just to comply with DJs request that she let her know of the nurses safe arrival. Randa needed to hear the poets voice, needed to hear the low timbered tones that raised her spirits and libido every time she heard them.
Thats what Randa wanted. But like Grandma used to say, people in hell want ice water and theyre just as likely to get it thought the blonde. Denise had never answered. In the beginning Randa assumed she had merely missed the poet, that maybe she was out working in the garden or walking. When Randa called at a time when she knew Denise should be inside, she thought possibly the poet was working on her book with the phone turned off so as not to be disturbed. Those thoughts sufficed for the first ten or so phone calls. After that, excuses were harder and harder to come by.
In an attempt to assure herself of the poets physical well being, Randa placed another international call. After finding out that "Information" was called "Directory Inquiries" in England, the nurse was able to come up with Dianes number. Saras friend answered on the third ring.
"Diane? Diane, its Randa."
"Oh, Randa, how are you dear? How is your mother? DJ told me she had been injured and you had to return to America. I was so sorry to hear it."
"Youve seen Denise then? I was trying to reach her, but I guess I keep missing her when I call."
"Thats odd, I know she has been home. She told me she hadnt been out much when I saw her two days ago at the cemetery. She was making arrangements for Saras headstone and asked me to meet her and help her pick one out."
"Was she did she look okay?"
"She looked a little tired, dear. I guess thats understandable what with losing Sara and all. She certainly has been through quite a bit in the last few months."
For a moment Randa thought that perhaps Diane had hit upon the problem, that Denise had withdrawn for a while trying to recover from the blow of Saras death. It didnt explain why she wasnt answering the phone though.
"Well, thank you then, Diane. I was just a little worried I suppose. How are you doing?"
"As well as can be expected. Sara being gone is still a bit unbelievable. Ill be watching something on one of the soaps we fancied and Ill think to myself, I have to talk to Sara about that and then the realization strikes me again."
"Oh, Diane, Im so sorry. Listen, if you ever need anything, please let me know. I would love to hear from you anytime." Randa gave the woman her address in the States.
"So you arent coming back anytime soon? Thats a shame; I thought you and DJ had become close while you were here. I could tell in her voice that she misses you."
A small flicker of hope sparked within the nurse. "Well, my plans are a little uncertain at the moment."
"I understand." There was a short silence on the line. "I hope things work out for you, Randa. DJ needs you in her life, Sara said that to me more than once."
Randa smiled at that. "Thank you for telling me, that means a great deal to me."
"You meant a great deal to Sara, my dear, and she was rarely wrong about people." After a few more minutes exchanging news of the small town, Randa and Diane said good-bye. Relieved as she was about Denises physical health, Randa couldnt shake the feeling she was being avoided and she didnt know why.
After the phone call, Randa found herself gazing out the window of her living room. She was so lost in thought she almost missed the thump-thump of her mother entering the room on her crutches. The nurse turned to see the older woman settle herself a little awkwardly on the couch.
"Mom, do you need a hand with anything?"
"No, Im okay. Did you notice how much better Im doing with the standing and sitting thing? Those hours working with the physical therapist are paying off."
"Yeah, I see that. Its still a little rough around the edges, but youre doing good." It was true, Janice Martin was doing better. The bruises were turning an ugly yellow from their original purple and the many small cuts from flying glass were healing. Soon an occasional headache from the concussion and the cast on her left leg would be the only reminders of the accident on that foggy night.
"I think Im doing better than you are, Randa." The nurse looked at her with surprise and her mother laughed. "You may be grown up, Randa, but youre still the child I raised. I know every one of your looks and this is one you picked up from your father." At the mention of Leonard Martin, a brief shadow crossed her mothers features but passed quickly. "It was the look that said, I have a problem that no one can help me with. Do you know something though? Talking about it usually did help."
The blonde thought about it for a moment and moved to take a seat beside her mother on the couch, careful not to put pressure against any injured areas.
"I guess I do have something I need to talk to you about, Mom. Its about what happened when I went to England." At her mothers nod, Randa continued, "You know about Denise and how we met and what happened to her aunt. It was horrible to watch her dying slowly and in the manner that she did. But in spite of the sadness all around us, Denise and I well maybe just I I "
"You fell in love with her," Janice finished for her daughter.
The nurses jaw dropped and her mother laughed once again. "Every look, remember? Your dad had that same look and I thank God he never lost it in the nearly 30 years we were married. I noticed the look the first moment I saw you in the hospital. Oh, you had that nurses face on too but there are some things you cant hide from a mother. I just wondered when you would get around to telling me who it was."
"You arent shocked?"
"Ill tell you the truth, Randa. When you first told your father and I that you were dating women as well as men, I was shocked. You said you wanted us to know first before any ugly comments could be made to us. There were a few by narrow minded fools, but the toughest things to deal with were in my own mind," her mother confessed.
"I worried that you would be hurt by thoughtless remarks. No one wants to see her child hurt. Then I was a little selfish and I thought I might never have grandchildren to love and spoil, but Randa my biggest worry was the same one all mothers have. It was the worry that you would never find that someone special to spend the rest of your life with. Have you found that person now?"
"I hope so, Mom. I mean, I know so for me but Im not sure what shes feeling. I only know for me that this is the person Ive waited my whole life for. Shes warm, sensitive and deeply caring. Shes passionate, talented and modest enough that she would never let you know any of those things. I think shes so used to being a private and introspective person that she doesnt know how to let what shes feeling show."
Randa looked her mother. "I told her I love her and I feel that she loves me but shes never said that. Now that Im back here I feel a gulf has grown between us that has nothing to do with miles. Ive tried to talk to her but she doesnt answer the phone. I cant let this be over, Mom. I know what I feel and this feels like forever to me."
Janice Martins eyes glittered with unshed tears as she brought her daughter close for a comforting hug. "Thats all I wanted to know, Randa. If shes the one then Im happy for you. If you love her then Im sure I will too. What are you going to do about the distance youre feeling now?"
"I dont know yet. Maybe I have to let her be sure about things and make the next move, but thats going to be hard. Ive done everything I know how to show her how I feel. I just dont know." Randa pulled back from her mother.
"I do know I need to take a short nap before my shift tonight on the network. Working fulltime again feels strange. Thank God Derek could give me the hours. My bank account is totally deflated. I couldnt go to Sacramento, much less to England now."
Janice laughed and let her daughter go. "Im going to answer my e-mail while you sleep. I havent kept up very well since my accident Im afraid."
Neither have I thought the nurse as an idea popped into her mind.
Randa logged off from the Brightwood network for her lunch break. Instead of wandering out to the kitchen for food she booted up her own e-mail account on the computer. Taking a deep breath she began to type.
Its been a while since we connected this way but I seem to be having some difficulty reaching you on the phone so I guess this way will have to do. Ive been home for a little over a week now, as you know. Mom is doing better and moving with less pain. Im working fulltime again and Im trying to catch up on all the chores that were neglected while I was gone. You would think with all this to keep me busy that I wouldnt miss you so much. I do miss you though, every second of every day.
I miss talking to you and laughing with you. I miss walking into your study and seeing you at work with those little silver glasses perched on your nose. I miss the way your incredible blue eyes darken when we make love and the way you hold me afterward. I go about my business in this world but nothing is the same without you.
Do you want to hear something funny? I meant it when I asked you to come to the States with me. When you hesitated in your answer I took it to mean you werent sure about us, so I took it back. The funny part is, I am sure about us so I want you to know the invitation still stands and always will.
Please talk to me. I love you very, very much.
Randa hit the send button and the e-mail headed on its way.
Its up to you now, Denise
The air was cold, dank and the atmosphere held a chill that had nothing to do with the temperature. It was dark and although a small light hung from the robustly constructed wooden beams it didnt seem to penetrate every nook and cranny of the wide attic space. In far corners, large spiders were barely distinguishable in the dimly lit loft space though their presence did add to the general spookiness as Denise had often called it, of the storage room.
Hardly being able to stand upright due to the low slant of the houses roof, DJ stooped forward as she moved carefully through the attic. She had just placed down the final box containing Saras stash after having decided not to sort through the abundance of items until she felt more emotionally inclined to do so. Other matters were waging a veritable war inside her head.
Stepping carefully over the mismatched boards that she had laid herself years before, and was now dubious of the workmanship, DJ stopped by the first box near the roof hatch. Beside the box was Saras old typewriter. It was a Royal desktop and was over sixty years old, but Denise remembered how she had used it to learn to type many years ago. It was also the first typewriter she had used when she started writing and she now wondered how she ever survived without her computer! Crouching down the poet ran her fingers over the small circular keys delighting in the memories the action triggered. She remembered the time spent with Sara as the older Jennings woman had taught the younger how to touch type. She smiled as she recalled the wonderful feeling of pride she felt when she realised she was able to shut her eyes while typing her name. Denise was no more than fourteen years old at the time.
Casting her vision away from the typewriter, DJ looked into the box beside her. Just under the containers lid she spotted the wooden box containing Saras pack of Tarot cards. The poet pulled the deck out and placed their wooden box upon the floorboards. Lifting the small containers lid she pulled out the deck of rectangular cards. Denise twisted her body, turning around until she was facing the light, providing her with enough brightness to be able to study the pictures upon the cards in the shadowy attic.
Suddenly from down in the main part of the house she heard the sound of the telephone ringing. DJ froze, wondering again just who it could be and hoping that it wasnt Randa. She literally hated the thought that it was the blonde and that she was ignoring her. Even though she needed, more than anything, to talk to her and hear her voice, she couldnt. The poet realised she was standing at a vital crossroad in her life and knew that until she made a series of important decisions she felt she could never give Randa what she needed. What they both wanted.
Eventually the ringing stopped and the house was once again bathed in silence. The trouble was that it was the silence that the poet hated the most. Denise acknowledged that the past few months had been the most turbulent in a long, long time, probably since her parents horrific death, but the lonely silence that now accompanied her was something she was unable to get accustomed to. DJ had always been under the misconception that she enjoyed her solitude but when faced with absolute seclusion she realised it really wasnt what she expected or wanted. What she wanted now was Randa.
Looking down at the pack of cards the tall woman crossed her legs as she began to shuffle the deck. Recalling in her mind the many times she had watched Sara use the cards, Denise mimicked her aunts actions. Closing her eyes she held them and thought of a question just like Sara did, what part in my life will Randa play? Then when she was ready she lay out three cards, the past, present and future. Her brow crinkled in confusion as she looked at the layout in front of her.
"Well if I had any idea what these meant I might have my answer idiot!"
Shaking her head Denise scooped up the cards and placed them back in their box before putting them into the larger container. If I have time maybe I will go and find out. I bet the net will have some information about it!
Bracing her hands carefully upon the sides of the loft hatch, Denise swung her legs around until she sat with the back of her calves against the attics ladder. Moving forward she stepped quickly down the silver ladder and hopped down from the fourth rung. Landing just outside her study the poets eyes naturally moved to her computer. The screensaver was playing as an assortment of dancing snowmen paraded around the screen. Randa had downloaded the program over the Christmas period and she had been loath to remove it. Deciding she would find out what her cards meant, DJ walked into her study and sat down in the comfortable leather chair. Activating the screen she quickly connected to the net and was surprise to find she had yet more mail in her inbox. She had only just deleted the large amount of SPAM she had discovered before she ventured into the attic.
With a curious frown and a slight hope and inkling as to just whose name she would find, Denise accessed her inbox. Instantly she recognised Randas name and the fluttering of nervousness inside her stomach turned into, as Sara had called it, "a stampede of fairy elephants!"
Without a second thought and driven by the need to make the only contact she felt able to do so at that moment, Denise opened the mail. With bated breath the nervous poet carefully read through Randas words and when she had finished she did it again.
Randas need to reach out was clear and the sentiment expressed was more than enough to embed the nurse even further inside the poets heart. Unfortunately it didnt dissolve the rampant insecurities that plagued DJs mind. With caution she replied:
Sorry you were unable to get through to me but I have been very busy. Ive had a lot to sort out in my mind; work has dominated much of my time and a couple of days ago Diane and I went to choose a headstone for Sara.
Glad to hear your mum is doing better though; I hope she continues with a speedy recovery.
Well I am sorry I cant talk with you longer but like I said, I am really busy at the moment.
Look after yourself Randa, and I will hopefully talk to you soon,
Not even giving herself time to read over the words she knew were about as cold and detached as she did indeed feel at that moment, Denise sent her reply and quickly shut down the computer.
With a heavy heart and a feeling of utter resentment toward herself and her own cowardliness, DJ left her study, jogged down the stairs, grabbed her coat and left the house.
She didnt know how it happened, but her aimless walk around the outskirts of the village had brought her to the local park. Standing at the wrought iron gates Denise looked into her sparsely populated surroundings and decided to enter. Walking through the black iron archway, DJ made her way to one of the side footpaths and followed the winding trail until she reached the back of the park. Ahead of her she spotted her bench. It seemed like a lifetime since she had been to her place of solitude and contemplation. To be exact it was the day she had first taken Sara to the doctor.
Reaching the edge of the woodland area, Denise stepped under the shade of the trees and walked toward the bench. It seemed just as abandoned as it always had. The weeds were a little higher around the sides and the paint seemed a little more faded than before. Unfastening the buttons of her black denim jacket, the poet took a seat on the left hand side of the bench and looked out across the grass. Brightly coloured flowers were very much in bloom portraying an exuberance of life before her. In the gentle spring breeze long stemmed yellow flowers swayed gently against each other.
To her right and in the far distance, Denise could just make out the childrens play area, a large square shaped section of the park covered by wood chipping for safety. DJ was just able to see the small forms of boys and girls as they spun around on the roundabout and climbed up a large structure only to glide down the silver tinted slide. The sheen of the metal captured the glare of the mid afternoon sun.
Leaning against the triple rungs of the benchs backrest, Denise stretched out her legs, crossing them at the ankles. She took a deep breath, capturing the scent of the fresh blossoming flowers. The sweet aroma filled her lungs.
Closing her eyes she thought back over the past few months. She would have never thought the events in her life would have taken such a drastic turn. So much had changed, and yet within her mind some things remained very much the same.
"I had always heard that this was one of your favourite hiding places!"
Surprised by the familiar voice, DJ opened her eyes with a start. Beside her sat Diane wearing an amused smile. The poet was amazed that she hadnt even heard her approach.
"Di, what are you doing here?" she asked.
"Looking for you," the old woman replied. "You werent answering your phone and I recall Sara often stating that this place was one of your little hideaways so I thought I would chance a guess."
The poet smiled. "Good guess," she nodded, "So how are you?"
"Im doing okay, thank you." Diane moved a fraction closer to the poet. "Ive spoken to Randa," she said and noticed DJs slight jump at the mention of the nurses name.
"You you have?"
With an affirmative nod, Diane looked out across the park. "She is worried about you and to be perfectly honest so am I."
DJ shrugged. "Im fine. No need to worry."
Diane levelled DJ with an even stare. "If your aunt hadnt pre-warned me of what just might happen after she passed then I might well believe you. As it turns out I was forewarned of this possibility and therefore I have a message from Sara that she made me memorise."
"Really?" Denise asked in surprise.
"Really!" Diane pulled a piece of paper from her brown leather purse. "Unfortunately my memory is not what it used to be these days so I decided to write it down." She unfolded the paper. "Do you want me to read it?"
DJ nodded readily.
Slipping on a pair of small round spectacles Diane began.
"Though a small part of me does hope you will never have to hear this and you will have already realised the facts I am about to bestow upon you I actually like the idea of still being able to pass on my little pearls of wisdom from beyond the grave."
The poet had to smile at that; it was so much Saras sense of humour.
Diane continued. "I think it is about time I enlightened you with a few cold hard facts, DJ. You may be my niece but what I tell you is in no way my biased opinion. Ive watched you grow. Ive seen you blossom into the stunning woman you are today, yet you never grew out of your desire to stay out of the social eye. DJ, you are a beautiful, intelligent and caring woman who has so much more to offer this world.
"It was Nelson Mandela who said that, Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. Who are you not to be Brilliant, Gorgeous, Talented and Fabulous? Because my niece, you are all of these things and it is about time you stood up against yourself and took what it is out of this life that you want. And most importantly, DJ, most importantly of all you must follow your heart always."
Re-folding the slip of paper, Diane placed it within DJs hand and pulled the spectacles from her nose. She looked expectantly up at Denise to find teary blue eyes gazing out across the horizon. "DJ?"
Blinking, Denise looked back at Diane. "Follow my heart?"
The old woman smiled and nodded. "What is it that you truly want, DJ?"
There was no delay in her answer. "I want Randa."
"Why?" the poet asked, "Because she is the most amazing person I have ever met. I love the way we laughed together. The way she would walk into a room and my insides would quiver. I adore her smile and reassuring touch. I loved the way she spoke my name and how I could feel her eyes upon me when I was working. I love her," she said simply feeling glowing warmth at her admission.
"Then tell her."
"Its not that easy."
"Isnt it"? Diane asked. "Why?"
DJ searched her mind for her answer but for the first time ever she was unable to reply. What is stopping me?
"Remember Saras words, DJ, and remember what she always told you Your auntie is always right!"
Both women chuckled.
"Dont ever be afraid to be who you are. You have the power to obtain whatever it is in this life that you want." The old woman paused for effect. "Take It."
DJ looked down at the slip of paper Diane had placed into her hand and a beautiful smile graced her features. She placed the paper into her pocket as she said, "And if I want Randa then I should ?"
"Go get her!"
Looking back out over the greenery of the park, Denise felt a new confidence swell within her. "Youre right!"
Rising to her feet, she held out her hand and helped the other woman to stand beside her. "So would you like me to walk you back home?" she asked.
"Well yes that would be nice, thank you." Diane hooked her arm around DJs offered elbow and they started a slow gait along the path. "Why the sudden rush to leave? Somewhere you have to be?" she asked with an intuitive sparkle in her light brown eyes.
"Yes," DJ replied with assurance, "Im going to America."
Randa reached over to the remote control and turned off both the VCR and the TV. She had finally finished the last taped episode of "ER" and was caught up on the series again.
Its the only show that has a fairly accurate portrayal of nurses she thought. We arent doctor-chasing bimbos that cling like barnacles to the nurses station while gossiping about the latest hospital fund raiser and we arent saints with hearts of gold who can miraculously heal with a comforting touch either. Were just human beings like everyone else trying to earn a living under some pretty trying circumstances.
Climbing down from the mental soapbox, Randa cast about for something to do. Like always, after her shift on the Brightwood Network, she had slept for a while during the day. Now, at close to one a.m., she was wide-awake with nothing to do. Her mom had turned in around eleven oclock, reminding Randa she had promised to stop by her condo in the morning and check on things while Janice had her physical therapy session at the house. Both women knew it wouldnt be long before those sessions would be completed and the older woman could return to her home as the doctor had promised a walking cast and a cane within the next week or so.
Randa thought back to her conversation with her mother that very afternoon. The nurse had just gotten out of bed and stumbled to the kitchen for a cup of tea. She squinted as she looked out the kitchen window into the bright early April sunshine.
Noting the buds on the peach and apricot trees, she thought to herself, I guess spring has sprung. Whoopee. Unable to muster much enthusiasm for the greening of the world, she ran a hand through her unruly blonde locks and made her way into the living room with a mug of English Afternoon tea. Her mother was sitting on the couch reading a book with her leg propped up on a pillow. Spying her daughters sleepy eyes, she gave a little laugh.
"I see you still arent a morning person, no matter how late in the day it comes."
Randa gave a small grin and took a sip of the hot, sweet liquid in her cup. "I probably wouldnt be up at all except I hate to waste a day off, even if I cant see it yet." She took a seat on the opposite end of the couch and noted the book in her mothers lap.
"What are you reading? Get something new off the web?" Randas mother had become quite adept with the computer and now shopped more online than at the mall. Her skill came in handy now that her mobility was limited.
"Nope, just something I pulled off your bookshelf. Im kind of surprised because Im not usually one for poetry too much but this isnt half bad. It could use a few more rhymes though. I guess Ill always be a Roses are red kind of person, but I can admit Derbyshire Dreams is pretty good. A little racy in spots, too." Janice stopped here as she saw her daughter staring at the book with skin paler than it had been a few seconds before.
"Randa? Is something wrong? What is it, honey?"
Randa debated within herself for a moment but knew instinctively her mother could be trusted. Looking up into her moms worried face, she told the only part of the tale about Denise that her mother didnt know.
Do you remember when I told you Denise was self employed and did work on her computer?" Janice nodded. "Well, thats not quite the whole story. The truth is Denise does use the computer, but she uses it to write. She wrote the book of poetry youre holding. She wrote that one and two other books of poetry as well. It was how I first came to know about her. Well, know about D Jennings, not Denise even though D Jennings and Denise are the same person except I didnt know it at the time. Does that sound as confused to you as it does to me?"
Randas mom said nothing for a moment, seemingly trying to untangle the strings of the nurses explanation. Finally she picked up the book and turned it over to the back cover to study the fuzzy picture of the poets back.
"Not very photogenic is she?" was her mothers only comment. This made Randa laugh and snapped her from the melancholy caused by looking at the only connection she seemed to have with Denise at the moment. Setting her teacup on the end table, the nurse made her way to her desk. Opening a drawer, she pulled out Denises portfolio of unpublished poems. She opened it and removed a photograph. It was one of the pictures she had taken of Denise and Sara in the living room of their home at Christmas.
Walking back to the couch, Randa handed the photo to her mother. "Oh, I dont know, I think shes pretty damn cute."
"Holy cow!" Janice exclaimed getting her first look at the poet. "Wow, what lovely blue eyes. Shes gorgeous, but you didnt tell me she had gray hair." Randa laughed again at her mothers teasing.
"Thats Sara with her. At least thats Sara the way I want to remember her. I dont want to remember her as she was at the end, thats not what she would have wanted either. She was an amazing woman, Mom, you would have liked her."
"Im sure I would have, Randa. From what you told me, it seems like she was a very special lady. I think you were lucky to get to know her."
The nurse nodded her agreement. "I was, Mom. Im even luckier to know her niece. She has a lot of Saras character in her."
"Maybe thats your answer then. Maybe the character Sara instilled in her over the years will let her overcome the hurting and loss and let her see the love she has for you."
"I hope so, Mom. God, how I hope so."
Randa broke from her recollection and stood up from the couch. Stretching her petite frame to her utmost, she let her eyes be drawn to the computer sitting like a beacon on the top of her desk.
Youve been avoiding it all day. Get a little backbone now and go check the e-mail. How bad can it be? If there isnt a reply there then its no change from the hundred phone calls you tried. Youre just back at square one again, thats not so horrible.
Mustering her courage she walked slowly to the desk and booted up the computer. Hooking up quickly to the net she accessed her e-mail account. Crossing her fingers as the inbox popped up she scanned the list quickly. A wave of relief washed over her as she recognized Denises e-mail address. Clicking on the poets name, the message was displayed.
As Randa read down the brief message, the wave of relief became a cold slap of reality. She couldnt believe the same person who had written the poems that touched the nurses soul could write something so distant and unfeeling. Randa examined the e-mail again, looking for any signs of hope. Finally, she spotted something.
Ive had a lot to sort out in my mind. What does that mean? If shes still thinking about us then maybe she hasnt decided against pursuing this relationship. And here she says Ill be talking to you. Maybe she does want to talk this over with me and maybe she has been really busy like she says. Even to a mind grasping at straws those arguments sounded flimsy.
With a sigh, Randa hit the reply button.
That was as far as Randa got before her heart broke and she put her face into her hands and sobbed.
It was sometime later that Randa managed to bring her ravaged emotions back under control. She shut her computer down, not finishing or sending Denise a reply to her message. She retrieved the photo of Denise and Sara she had left out earlier after showing her mother. Looking at the picture and the happiness in the poets eyes, Randa wondered if she would ever see that look again. As she replaced the photo in the binder, a small scrap of yellow paper showed from behind the last page in the portfolio. The last page had only been an index of the poems and the nurse hadnt noticed the folded piece of yellow tablet paper before. Obviously, the page had been torn from the tablet, thrust into the portfolio and forgotten. Taking the paper out she carefully opened it up to reveal Denises writing. Well, not writing so much as doodling, all styles of script with little pictures of hearts and flowers. Over and over the same word was repeated, covering the page almost completely. The word was "Randa".
It was true to state that from the moment Denise had come to her subtle yet life-changing decision her confidence had grown immensely. Along with that confidence came the absolute clarity that the poet would do whatever it took to be with Randa and keep the nurse in her life. That decision in itself brought up a whole new set of issues and one point in particular in which DJ had made a life changing resolution.
Sitting in the lounge with a small writing pad resting upon her thigh, Denise jotted down a series of imperative notes. Choices had been made and all that was left for her to do was put her plans into action. It was going to be a new experience that was for sure. For a start she wondered how other people would take her news and decided she might as well start to find out.
Moving from the armchair, Denise walked out into the hallway and picked up the cordless telephone. With a surging confidence and assertion in her actions the poet dialled the familiar number, waiting patiently for the line to be answered.
"Hello, this is Carl "
The poet interrupted quickly, "Hey, Carl its DJ listen "
"Whoa, whoa," Carl stated, cutting Denise off suddenly, "Where the hell have you been? I have been trying to get a hold of you for days now, woman."
DJ sighed and moved into the living room, holding the phone in the crook of her neck as she re-took her seat in the armchair and picked up the note pad. "Sorry, Ive been a little out of sorts. Anyway Im ringing you because I have a proposition." She dangled the pad from the tip of her fingers and swung it unsteadily side to side.
"Uh huh!" Carls voice sounded suspicious. "I have told you before, DJ, Im a married man! I dont think Chris would be too happy if "
"Carl!" Denise shook her head, "I am serious here."
The editors voice turned just as serious. "Okay."
Leaning back into the armchair, Denise looked down at her notepad. "First of all I was wondering how things were progressing with the book going to print and what would be the possibility of you being able to get me an advance copy?"
"No more than a week from now?"
"Are you kidding?" Carl screeched.
Denise rolled her eyes as she said, "I know its kind of a push "
" Kind of!"
" And," DJ continued unperturbed, "I know I am asking a lot, but everything has been sorted, the cover chosen, blurb, introduction and what have you is all written so with a push it could be done!"
"This is a lot you are asking, DJ," Carl said. "Why on earth are you asking by the way?"
"Its a lot to explain right now, Carl." Denise leaned forward in her chair as a flutter of nervousness made its presence known in her stomach, "But what if I make it worth your while?"
Denise took a deep breath as she said, "What if I give you the one thing you have been striving for the one thing you seem to think would cause a sensation?"
After a pregnant pause Carl asked, "You mean you want to reveal your identity?"
"In a way. I mean I want to include a personal dedication in the book that will leave no doubt as to whom I am. I think venturing into the public eye would come part and parcel with that."
"Oh my god!"
"Are you serious?"
"Am I ever not serious, Carl?"
"Why I mean, why now? Whats happened to drive you to this decision? What kind of dedication?"
DJ removed herself from the chair and made her way into the kitchen. Picking up the kettle she checked the amount of water inside and after deeming it enough she placed it back upon its base and switched it on. "Ive made a few decisions in my life, Carl. I realised that I cant go on the way I have and I need to make some changes. And the kind of dedication I want will be a thank you to two very important people in my life."
The editor was silent for a moment as he processed the information. "I am presuming one of these people would be Sara?"
"And the other person?"
"That would be Randa."
"Randa? Whos Randa? I dont think I " Carl paused as he quickly searched his mind. "Hold on, you mean Randa the nurse? The American woman who took care of Sara and was with you at the funeral? The cute blonde?"
DJ had to smile. "That would be her."
"If you dont mind me saying so, DJ, I couldnt help but notice you both looked very close. Is there something going on between the two of you?"
"Yes? What thats it? Yes? So you are an item?"
"We were maybe still are hopefully its complicated. That is why I need you to do this huge favour for me." Denise opened a wall cupboard and pulled a yellow mug from the lower shelf. "Its important, Carl. It will probably affect the rest of my life and I want to do this right. So, what do you think?"
A considerable silence was her reply.
"Carl, are you there?"
"Yes I was just sitting down."
The poet frowned as she said, "I presumed you already were."
"I was," Carl replied, "But I just had to get up and do it again!"
"So let me get this straight. D Jennings is not only going to come out into the open and reveal her identity but she is also going to out herself literally?" The excitement was clear in the editors voice.
Denise nodded. "Thats about the size of it."
"Oh my god!" Carl exclaimed, "Oh my GOD! This is great this is going to be huge. Wait until Chris hears about this, she will be astounded. You will have to do a lot of publicity, interviews in magazines and on the TV. You know they have discussed you a lot on that program The Open Book! You will venture into a whole new market too "
"Whoa, calm down, Carl. Im glad you like the idea but right now I need to know whether you can grant my request?"
"Without a doubt yes! DJ, are you really sure about this I mean not that I want you to change your mind but really are you sure?"
"I am very sure, Carl. Some things in life are more important and I intend to show one very special person just how important she is to me." The kettle boiled and Denise placed a fruit teabag into her cup before filling it with boiling water. She placed the kettle back down and added a spoonful of sugar. "There is one more thing though."
"What is that?"
"When the advanced copy of the book is done I will be going to America hopefully for a little while "
"I will of course return for the books release and hopefully announce my first novel under my own name."
Denise wondered whether Carl was losing his comprehensive vocabulary. "I have just about finished it and you can have it when I collect the book. Damn thing practically wrote itself. I dont think I have ever written anything so fast before but I think you will like it. Its a comedy." Lifting her mug, tea bag still inside, Denise carried it back out into the living room and sat down in the armchair. She looked down at the notepad.
Again silence reigned down the phone line.
"Just tell me now whether you have any more surprises up your sleeve, DJ." The editor sighed dramatically as he said, "and here was me thinking it was going to be a typical boring day!"
"Nope, that just about does it for now. I will be in to see you tomorrow, Carl."
The man sighed. "Okay oh and what about the dedication?"
Holding her cup with one hand, Denise prodded the teabag still floating inside. She looked down briefly at her pad. "I have it written down and I will bring it in tomorrow. I would like it printed in my own handwriting."
"Well being as though you have very legible handwriting I think that will be okay."
"Great." Denise smiled in relief, "See you tomorrow then, Carl."
"Always a pleasure and revelation, DJ, see you later."
The poet pulled the phone from the crook of her neck and disconnected the line. She grinned to herself, pleased with her decision and hoped she could get her hands on the advanced copy of the book as quick as possible. As soon as she had that, she intended to call Randa.
It had taken six days for DJ to receive her advanced copy. Six long, impatience filled days in which she had done nothing more than make arrangements for the house and its bills while she intended to be away, all being well that was. She had still to ring Randa and was more than a little unsure about what exactly she was to say to the blonde. Still, she was adamant that nothing was to get in the way of what she wanted. That was of course if Randa still wanted her. A small part of the poet hoped Randa hadnt bothered to check her e-mails but reality stated that was very unlikely.
Whenever uncertainty would rear its devious head Denise would just sit back and read the message Sara had left her. She carried the slip of paper around in her back pocket like a crutch that helped her whenever she doubted herself. The poet found a certain comfort and reassurance in the words that she had never experienced before and it gave her the courage to make the decisions that loomed ahead.
Sitting in her bedroom near the edge of her bed, DJ looked down at the two objects in front of her, the cordless phone that she had taken from the base down stairs and the advanced copy of her new book. It wasnt a soft back copy like she hoped; instead it was the hardback leather bound edition as that was easier for Carl to obtain. Running her fingers over the gold writing upon the black leather, Denise felt the difference in this volume of work. She opened the first page and instantly sought out her dedication, recognising her handwriting and signature at the bottom that revealed her full name. The poet took a deep breath with the feeling that she was approaching the end of an era.
Just before Denise had ventured upstairs with the book and phone shed had a call from Carl. The editor has just finished reading her new novel and seemed extremely excited about its prospects. He felt he needed to call and let her know just what he thought of the manuscript before he showed it to his wife who, he was sure, would love it too.
That had pleased DJ immensely. She was more than relieved that her friend liked it; after all she had spent all of her free time, and not so free time, writing it. Dedicating so much time to the book and neglecting her own needs had caused a disagreement between her and Randa. She was thankful Randa had the ability to make her see sense in the way she had, even if it had meant provoking their first argument.
DJ smiled as she recalled how those feelings of anger had more or less dissipated from the first moment their lips had touched. What is it about her that makes me forget just where or even who I am? Determined that even if it took her the rest of her life, she was going to find out, DJ picked up the cordless telephone and dialed the international number. Her stomach quivered with apprehensiveness as she waited for the line to answer.
Denise frowned at the unknown voice. "Um hi hello, could I speak to Randa please?"
"Im sorry but shes at the gym this morning." There was a short pause. "Would I be right in guessing that by the English accent I must be talking to the infamous Denise Jennings?"
She wasnt sure why but DJ didnt like the sound of the word infamous. "Yes it is," she replied cautiously. "Is that Mrs Martin?"
"It is," replied the friendly voice.
"Oh." DJ looked around her bedroom as if needing guidance. "Could you tell me when she might get back?"
A moment of silence ensued before Janice Martin next spoke. "I think shell be back in about an hour but I must warn you, Denise, shes still very upset. She read your last e-mail and although I have no idea what it was that you said to her she seems so deflated at the moment. I love my daughter, Denise, and I know for a fact that she loves you but "
" And I love her." Denise interrupted. "I can understand why she feels the way she does after that but it really wasnt me. I was going through a rough patch and needed time to work things out. The truth is that I love your daughter, Mrs Martin, and "
"Thats wonderful, Denise, but I really think you need to tell her that. Oh and just for the record call me Janice."
DJ smiled. "Okay but only if you call me DJ!"
"DJ it is."
"Great." Denise sighed. A plot started to formulate in her mind as she gazed down at the leather bound anthology. "Listen, Mrs I mean Janice. I have an idea. I would really like to surprise Randa and I have a plan I would like to carry out if you would be willing to help me."
"If it means my daughters happiness I would be more than willing to help." Janice replied.
"I hope it will." DJ said as she and Janice Martin began their scheming.
Randas mother wasnt all that old so she didnt think it could be Alzheimers. She had stopped taking any pain medication a week ago so she didnt think it was the Codeine. Something was definitely strange though; Randa could feel it. Janice Martin hummed a lot and hugged her daughter a lot, for no apparent reason.
Maybe she found a boyfriend on the Internet Randa mused then felt a twinge of pain at the thought. Wouldnt that be ironic? Mom finds someone just as I seem to be losing someone.
Her mother didnt seem to change her routine though so Randa just decided to watch and say nothing. Saying nothing was something the nurse was becoming quite good at. As the days passed she seemed to withdraw from people a little more. She turned down invitations from friends and resisted her mothers attempts to get her out of the house and back into her usual routine. Randa resumed going to the gym but just couldnt bring herself to start socializing again. There was only one person she really wanted to socialize with but that person didnt seem to want to be with her.
After four days of her mothers odd behavior, Randas curiosity got the better of her. It was the nurses day off and she had decided to ask her mom why she seemed to be so giddy.
Yep, giddy is the only word for it. She just seems so happy. As down as Randa was, her mothers mood was infectious. It wasnt in the nurses nature to mope and when she found her mother in the living room singing along with Tony Bennett on the stereo, she had to smile.
"The great love story has never been told before but now now it can be told," Janice Martin warbled. Randa recognized the tune her parents had called "our song" for as long as she could remember. In the time since her father had died, she didnt remember her mother playing it. Randa didnt know what had made the difference but was glad for whatever it was.
"Hey, Mom, youre in a good mood these days. Come on, what gives?"
Her mother was the picture of innocence. "Im sure I dont know what you mean. I didnt think you were noticing anything anyway. I thought you were a little too busy being the eighth dwarf Sulky."
The nurse chuckled. "Ive got no comeback for that one. Youre right, I know. I need to accept what will never be and move on." She gave her mother a smile that didnt quite reach her eyes. "Good try though on changing the subject. Almost worked, too. Come on, tell me whats got you so happy. Maybe I can borrow a cup of it?"
"Randa, youre my favorite daughter." She paused here as Randa rolled her eyes. "Okay, my only daughter but you have the most active imagination of anybody I ever met. Its spring, Im healing and Im finally off those blasted crutches. Whats not to be happy about? You young people and your fascination with angst! Ill never understand it. In my day, being happy just to be happy was good enough. Its a lesson some would do well to learn."
Randa had to laugh at her mother then. "Message received, General Martin! Commencing attempt to be happier!"
"Very good soldier, I wouldnt want to have to have you flogged," her mother returned playfully as she made her way to the couch. Settling herself back into the cushions she picked up a book and started to read as Randa went to the desk to look at the days mail. Shuffling through the envelopes quickly her heart sank a little when no evidence of Denises precise script showed itself.
No phone call, no e-mail, no letter thought the blonde as she kept her back to her mother, not wanting her to see the crestfallen look she was sure was once again on her features.
From behind her, her mother suddenly said, "Thats awfully nice." Randa turned in her chair and asked her mother, "Whats nice?"
"The poem I just read. Your friend sure has a way with words."
Randa furrowed her brows in confusion. "You mean Denise? She looked at the book her mother held. "Thats not one of Denises books. Believe me, I know what her three books look like and that isnt one of them. Where did you get that one anyway? I dont recognize the cover."
"It was just something I came across. Listen to this poem, its sort of sweet," her mother said.
"I didnt know I loved you
Until you left me
Stealing away the sunshine
That shone so unexpectedly in my life
Alone once more I was gripped again
By the cold clutches of loneliness
Its icy fingers tight around my heart
Without you there was no warmth
And no reason to smile
My world filled with only darkness
An eternal night
A lonesome torture
That only you can tame
Overwhelm me until I am blind
I seek only you
The light that can free me
And I beg for your forgiveness
I claim no self worth
But I offer you my one possession
My eternal love
Yours to control
I place my fate in your hands
And offer you my lasting devotion
Randa listened and her eyes glistened at the beauty of the sentiment. It had been a while since someone had touched her heart that way with poetry. In fact, there had only been one person who had been able to touch her heart like that. The nurses face was the very picture of bewilderment.
"Youre sure your friend didnt write that, huh? Okay, if you say so," her mother commented. "I just thought that from the dedication that it was her." Janice held the book open to page she referred to.
Randa leapt up from the chair and went across the room to her mother. "Let me take a look at that." She took the book from her mothers hands and scanned the words on the page.
For the first time ever I would like to dedicate this anthology to two very special people. To Sara Jennings, my aunt who passed away quite recently. She encouraged and supported me throughout my life and I will never forget her.
And to Miranda Martin, who stole my heart as she so freely entrusted me with hers. I love you Randa and I pray that you will allow me to spend the rest of my life proving to you just how much.
Randas mouth dropped open as she read Denises heartfelt words. Closing the book, she scanned the cover. " Connecting Hearts: a collection of poems by D Jennings. I dont understand. I "
Looking at her mother in puzzlement, she said, "Mom, you "
"Are going to be late if I dont get moving," her mother said. As if on cue, a car horn outside honked somewhat impatiently. "That will be your aunt Joann, Im going to spend the weekend with her."
Randas mother took a small bag from behind the couch and moved toward the door. As she pulled the front door open she paused a moment to smile back at her daughter. "Have a lovely time, Randa." Randa could only stand there stunned.
Her mother passed through the door and said, "Hello, DJ."
The velvet tones Randa knew so well replied, "Hello, Janice. Tell Joann thanks so much for the ride."
"I will, DJ. See you in a few days."
Then the tall, beautiful poet stood in the doorway. She dropped her suitcase on first spying Randa who was still rooted to the same spot in the living room. Searching blue eyes locked onto overwhelmed green ones
"Randa " the poet began, but then her voice faltered as she waited for a reaction from the silent nurse.
"Randa, Im so " Denise tried again, but was interrupted by a petite blonde launching herself into the poets arms and placing a searing kiss on her lips. The book of poetry lay forgotten on the living room floor as two souls erased the hurt, loneliness and searching of a lifetime through that kiss.
Breaking the kiss, Randa felt her knees buckle a little at the intensity of the emotion running through her. Immediately, Denise increased her hold on the love of her life.
"Easy there, I have you." The poet smiled down at Randa.
"And you always will," was the reply as Randa brought her lips to Denises once again.
The measure of uncertainty DJ felt as she approached Randas door had been tantamount to the sensations one would experience while facing a military firing squad. Unsure of how Randa would feel about the way she had acted and responded to her, Denise had rehearsed countless speeches in her mind knowing she would do anything to win the blonde. Unfortunately after deeming each of them unworthy she had focused her mind instead on the scenery around her. Randa had told the poet about her home many times and it was nice to be able to see the landscape in person, even if her mind was occupied with another more important issue.
Now, standing in the doorway to Randas home with the blondes body literally moulded around her own DJ knew that whatever she had done must have been right. The overwhelming sensation of relief that flooded through her body was only just outweighed by the absolute completeness she felt in holding Randa once again.
With one hand firmly supporting Randas back and the other moving up to cup the blondes face, Denise softened the kiss. Moving away from tempting lips, she looked down into Randas misty gaze and smiled as she wiped a tear from the nurses cheek.
"Sorry it took me so long to get here."
The poet looked to her left as a slight breeze wrapped itself around them. "Do you want to shut and move away from the door?"
Without saying a word Randa nodded and reached out, pushing the door closed. Taking the poets hand in a reassuring grip they made their way further into the living room. Denise took in her surroundings before her eyes turned solely upon Randa. The nurse still held her hand firmly.
Not knowing how else to begin the many words that were floating around her mind, DJ blurted out, "Surprise!"
"You have no idea." Randa replied as she gazed at the poet. "I feel like I should pinch "
The nurse looked away and DJ noticed fresh tears shining in Randas eyes. Her heart lurched as she realised the hurt she must have caused her. Squeezing her hand she reached out and placed her fingertips on the side of Randas chin, drawing her attention and watery gaze back upon her.
"Im sorry," she whispered.
The nurse shook her head. "Its okay"
"NO it isnt, Randa. Its not hard to tell that I hurt you and just the thought that I caused you any pain its " Denise looked away, studying the floor beneath them in thought. "Im sorry."
A long stretch of silence passed between them before Randa spoke. "Denise?"
Returning her gaze DJ stepped forward and cupped Randas face in both hands. "Randa I love you. I love you so much that I cant imagine one more minute of my life without you in it."
"Oh god," Randa whispered as she released a choked sob and her head fell upon DJs shoulder. "You dont know how much Ive wanted to hear you say those words, Denise."
"Well thats good," DJ, replied as she stepped backward and ducked her head to capture the nurses gaze, "because Im never going to get tired of telling you." She watched Randa closely as she noticed a mischievous gleam in the nurses eyes.
"Tell me what?" Randa asked and DJ smiled.
"Hmm? Oh um I cant remember now."
Randa laughed and swatted the poets stomach with the back of her hand. DJ chucked as she pulled the blonde in close and wrapped her arms around the smaller frame. "Now I discover she has a violent streak," she exclaimed. "It doesnt matter though, I still love you." Leaning forward DJ took Randa in a long kiss. Lips parted as searching tongues reconnected and caressed each other lovingly.
Suddenly, DJ felt Randa tense slightly and the poet pulled away looking into confused green eyes. "What is it?" she asked, fearing the worst.
"Denise the dedication."
"Did you like it?"
Randa pulled away as a serious expression crossed her features. "Well yeah but " taking the poet by the arm, Randa led her over to the sofa. She sat down and DJ followed suit. "Denise, what you said I mean Denise you revealed yourself; I dont understand why I thought that " Randa studied the poet intently. "Why?"
"Why?" The poet echoed.
Nodding, Randa looked into DJs eyes. "You its like you gave up your world. That balance and anonymity that you worked so hard to maintain."
"My world." Denise shook her head with a wry smile. "Randa, if I stayed in that world I knew I could never truly be with you; not the way I wanted and not the way you wanted me to."
"So you did this for me? I was your reason?"
"You were my main reason. I did have a long talk with Diane also but apart from that there was one slightly, maybe selfish reason for me doing what I did."
Randa frowned in question and so DJ continued.
"I thought and hoped that maybe a famous writer might have a little more clout. Say for instance if I decided that I might want to live over here I think I might have more of a chance if I was somebody with a name, so to speak."
"To be over here?"
"To be with you," DJ said. "If you do still want me that is. I mean I know we do have a lot to discuss and there is a lot to consider. You have a house here and I have one back in England but Umpf"
DJ suddenly found herself pushed back against the sofa as one ecstatic nurse climbed into her lap, lips firmly attached to her own. DJ sunk into the kiss, pushing her hands up Randas back as she caressed the flesh under the blondes top.
"Does that mean yes?" She asked, pulling away breathlessly.
"What do you think?" Randa replied.
"Well " Sliding forward with the blonde still sitting on her lap, DJ rose to her feet and Randa wrapped short legs around her waist. "Im not sure. I may need to do a little more delving."
"Oh?" Randa wrapped her legs tighter around DJ. "What did you have in mind?"
"You," stepping forward DJ held Randa against the wall. Their movement caused a framed picture to sway precariously from its hook, "and the many different ways I plan on making love to you."
Without waiting for a reply DJ leaned forward, pressing her lips upon Randas neck as she planted a trail of small kisses along the soft, inviting flesh. Randa groaned as she felt the poet sucking on her pulse point and instinctively she pushed herself harder into DJs body.
Ensuring that Randa was safe, DJ moved back slightly and Randa dropped her feet back onto the floor as their lips reunited for a searing kiss, mounting in passion and intensity. Randas hands started to move searchingly over the poets body, reaching her shoulders where she pushed DJs fleecy red jacket from her back and it fell discarded upon her floor. Once done she pushed her hands under DJs white tank top, desperate to search out the soft warm flesh.
As she pulled away, DJs hands fell to Randas shirt where she quickly started to pull upon the small buttons. As each fastener was released she pressed a kiss upon the revealed flesh until she reached the valley of the blondes breasts.
"Randa?" she mumbled.
"Wheres your bedroom?"
"Sod the bedroom." Randa replied she pulled the short white top from the brunettes body.
With a small chuckle DJ pulled away from Randas chest. "Either you have been in the UK for too long " releasing the last button she pushed Randas shirt from her shoulders and looked down at the firm breasts encased in a lacy black bra, "or I am beginning to rub off on you." Leaning forward she pressed her lips upon the rise of Randas breasts.
The blonde closed her eyes as her head fell back against the wall with a slight thump. "Maybe to the first one " she breathed, "but as for the second I really like the idea of that!" DJ unhooked the bra and Randa moved her arms, assisting in its removal.
With an arched brow and a small smirk, DJ unhooked and removed her own bra before pressing their bodys together. The feel of hot flesh connecting as aroused nipples pressed into each other caused both women to groan wantonly. DJ braced one hand upon the wall as she held Randa close with the other; their lips met and parted in unison as their tongues fought to taste and memorise every nuance of their lover. Thighs parted and slipped between each other as a slow grind commenced.
"God Ive missed you so much!" DJ breathed as she reluctantly pulled away. The feel of her desire mounting caused the seam of her jeans to rub agonisingly over her swollen centre.
"Missed you too " Randa mumbled as her lips sought out and tasted the poets flesh. Travelling across broad shoulders she then moved down toward full breasts. DJ moaned as she felt one nipple then the other encased in a blaze of wet heat and a talented tongue. She held Randas head close, looking down at the blonde locks among her fingers as she urged Randa to continue. She felt eager hands move down her stomach and slip into the waist of her jeans where Randa pulled at the metal buttons, releasing each one with a swift tug.
As she felt Randas hand move into her loosened jeans, DJ pulled away gently from Randas insistent mouth as her own lips descended upon the blondes body. Cupping a breast in each hand she hovered over Randas left breast before taking the rigid nipple into her mouth. The sensation of the swollen nub against her tongue forced a passion filled groan deep from within the poets chest and her other hand increased its massaging of the right nipple as she rolled the distended bud around her thumb and forefinger. As she continued, Randas grinding movements against her thigh increased, urging DJ to amplify her attentions.
After long moments she pulled away and straightened her stance, looking down into Randas hazy gaze. DJ could feel her heart hammering in her chest as her body pulsed with swelling desire.
"Denise please," Randa groaned.
"Tell me," DJ stated as her hand moved to cup the nurses behind and pull her close, pressing herself against Randas heated centre. Even through the material of Randas sweats and her jeans she could still feel the incredible heat the blonde emitted.
"I need more."
As they kissed again, DJ pushed her hands into the waistband of the nurses trousers and slowly began to push them down her body, moving away from Randas lips as she followed the direction of her hands. With a light thud she fell to her knees, face to face with Randas glistening folds and the scent of her desire.
"Oh God," she whispered as her head fell against the pit of Randas stomach and she helped the nurse step out of her trousers.
Randa gripped DJs shoulders. "Please, Denise."
Gently nudging Randas legs further apart DJ moved her head toward Randas centre, unable to resist the desire or her lovers pleas. Looking up the now naked body and into darkened green eyes she speared her tongue forwards and teasingly moved it along Randas swollen centre. The nurse groaned breathlessly as her head once again fell against the wall. Unable to keep eye contact she clasped her hands around the back of DJs head, ensuring the contact.
DJ whimpered, unable to hold back her own desire at the sheer feeling and taste of Randa. Having the blonde hold her in a vice like grip against her mound only served to fuel her own passion and she squeezed her thighs together in an attempt at relief. Unfortunately her restricting jeans provided little respite in her current position.
Avoiding the place Randa wanted her most, DJs tongue slid around her folds at a tormenting slow pace until Randa grasped her head and started moving against her.
"Denise please I want you inside me."
Not wasting any time and urged on by Randas desperate movements, the poet entered Randa as she took her swollen bud into her mouth, teasing it with agonising strokes.
She pumped her fingers inside Randa, moving in a twisting motion that she hoped would increase the blondes pleasure. As she felt her nearing the edge she changed the gentle movement of her mouth to a hard suction, pulling on the swollen bud until the blonde cried out in a much-needed release, calling the brunettes name over and over. She thrust against the poet as DJ moved with her, increasing her sensations.
As the waves eased, DJ slowed her movements in time to catch the blonde as she slid weakly down the wall and landed softly upon DJs lap.
The sound of harsh breathing filled the heated air. Denise pulled Randa tight against her, the blondes head resting upon her shoulder as she moved her hand reassuringly over her sweat soaked back. After a long moment Randa pulled away, her breathing less erratic.
"I think I like this new you!" She stated with a dreamy smile.
"I like this new me too!" DJ replied. She looked seriously into heavy lidded green eyes. "So I guess I am forgiven for my behaviour?" She pouted hopefully with wide blue eyes.
"I forgave you as soon as I saw you standing on my doorstep."
"Ah." DJ smiled winningly as moved her hand seductively over Randas chest. "So being as how you like this new me so much how about exploring me a little further!" she waggled her brows mischievously.
"Hmm." Randa slid backward and moved from DJs lap. Rising to a standing position she held out her hand and pulled the poet up beside her. "Depends what you have in mind."
"Preferably something that involves me wearing even less clothes?" She looked down at her loosened jeans.
Randa grinned as she stepped forward and took DJ into her arms. "Sounds good to me but I think theres something I need to tell your first." She lifted up onto her toes and kissed Denise softly. "I love you too!"
Stepping back she slapped the poet playfully on her backside. "Last one to the bedroom has to make the other breakfast tomorrow morning," she yelled and took off through the house.
"Oh that is so not fair!" DJ groused as she followed Randa in hot pursuit, "You know where you are going."
"Then you can win tomorrows race." Randa stated over her shoulder as she burst into her bedroom.
DJ followed close behind and grabbed Randa just short of reaching the bed. Lifting the blonde into her arms they landed on the large double bed in a collapsed heap. DJ moved to swiftly straddle the nurse. "I like that."
"What?" Randa asked breathlessly.
"The thought of you and me and tomorrow lots of tomorrows."
"I like it too."
"So " DJ pressed a gentle kiss upon Randas lips. "Does that mean you and me are now a we?"
Randa responded in kind as her lips caressed the poets. "Yeah!" she said, "Its always been forever for me."
"Me too," the poet replied with a grin.
Randa arched her eyebrows as she delivered a look of complete disbelief. Denise fluttered her eyelashes innocently before both women collapsed with laughter and Randa rolled the taller woman onto her back.
"So thats what all of your dramatic moping was about, huh?" she said as she prodded DJs chest.
The poet caught the offending finger with her left hand. "Well I admit that I may have acted a little " she pursed her lips in thought, "uncertain self conscious scared maybe a little dramatic "
" A little?" Randa asked
DJ glared but continued. "But I always knew you were the only one for me!"
DJ grinned. "Thanks it took me thirty two years to get this good!"
"Well " Randa started, "How about you show me how good you are in other areas?"
The brunette grinned as she reached out to pull Randa closer. "My pleasure!" she replied as she yielded to her lover, safe in the knowledge that no matter what tomorrow held they would always face it together.
After a short time off, the authors wanted you to know that, yes, a sequel has just been started.
We really want to thank those of you who have taken the time, and will take the time, to write to us with your feedback. Especially we want to thank those who wrote as the story went along giving us your thoughts and encouragement. We wont list you here, but you know who you are. You made a labor of love an even more wonderful experience.
With gratitude, Cephalgia and MJ