Reflections of Passion, Part II
Chariots of Fire
This is a work of alternative uber fiction. The physical descriptions may remind you of two familiar characters, but the story is all mine.
If you have not read the first "Reflections of Passion," you may want to do so...otherwise some comments may not make sense.
As that this is an alternative story, there are scenes of graphic sexual content between two women. As I said in Part I, if you cant deal with it, then you need to build a bridge and get the hell over it. If you CAN deal with it and would like to continue, please do.
There are also scenes of violence and a reference to violence, consider yourself warned.
Thank you to my "editor-in-chief," Frances....Are you sure you want to spend your retirement doing this? I am proud to have you as my friend.
Thank you to all who gave me feedback after the first part was posted, I hope you like this also. Comments are welcome at email@example.com. Nasty ones you may as well keep to yourself.
Continuing thanks to Yanni, whose music has kept me from going over the edge throughout the years ( well, almost...*eg*) If you have never listened to his music, try it, especially the albums, Tribute and If I Could Tell You.
Additional musical thanks to Creed and Marc Anthony, whose lyrics were used without permission.
Randi woke slowly the next morning, hearing the birds singing outside. Feeling very happy, she was reminded of the previous day when the slight weight on top of her shifted. She felt a stirring deep within her loins as the warmth covered her body. Faiths head was pillowed on her breast, her nipple hardened as Faiths breath caressed it. Randi stroked Faiths back, content to lie quietly, savoring the morning sounds and the feeling of Faiths silky skin against hers.
The phone rang and she snatched it up quickly, hoping that it had not disturbed Faith. "This had better be good," she thought.
"Hello?" She said at an almost whisper.
"`Allo, hon, how are you?" Randi recognized the voice immediately and smiled.
"Hi, Guy. Im fine." She continued to speak in a low voice.
"Are you okay? You sound sick or do we have a bad connection?"
"Im fine, really, just - ."
Finally, from across the ocean, Guy had an idea why Randi was whispering. "Randi, youre not alone, are you?"
Randi heard the smile in his voice, "Thats great!" Guy was one of the few people she considered a best friend. Even though thousands of miles separated them, they could always pick up as though theyd just been together.
"Well, I wont keep you long, I felt a need to call you, and I guess I now know why. Has this been going on long?"
"Oh, so its going to be this kind of conversation, is it? She must be awfully close."
"Yes." Randi smiled as she continued to answer with monosyllables.
"I am so happy for you, Randi. Im going to let you go, but we will talk again."
"Love you, hon."
"Love you, too. Bye." Randi turned the phone off and set it back on the bedside table. She felt Faiths body shift again. Her leg had worked its way between Randis, trapping her thigh between Faiths legs. This created a pressure on Faiths clitoris that caused her to shift again. Her lips found a nipple and her tongue lazily stroked it. Randi gasped and looked down, seeing blazing green eyes staring at her.
She smiled, "Hello there."
"Hi." Faith stroked the nipple again with her tongue. "So who was that?"
Randi slightly arched her back before she said, "A very dear friend."
Faith smiled and moved her thigh against Randi and felt her body arch more. As her lips captured Randis nipple fully, she said, "Something wrong?"
Randi quickly rolled them over so she was now on top of Faith. "Not now." She moved her thigh firmly against Faiths clitoris, feeling her wetness begin. Faith arched her body at the pressure and wrapped her arms around Randis back, trying to pull her closer. With a mischievous gleam in her eye, Randi said, "Something wrong, Faith?"
Faiths breaths began to shorten as Randi continued the pressure with her thigh and then began to kiss the pulse at the base of Faiths throat. "Oh, Randi, you are bad."
Randi brought her face up to eye level with Faiths. "To the bone," she said. Her eyes danced over Faiths face. "Gods, Faith, you are lovely."
Faith lowered her eyes and barely shook her head. "If I am, its because you bring it out."
Randis hand caressed Faiths cheek, "Oh, if you could see through my eyes, dearheart...."
Faith tightened her hold on Randis body, planted her heels and rolled them back over, pinning Randis body with her own. "I like the view through my eyes just fine." Faith softly kissed Randis cheek, trailing her kiss across to an earlobe. She nipped the lobe with her teeth and moved down Randis neck to her collarbone.
Randis hands stroked Faiths back, she felt a shiver when she moved her hands to encompass Faiths rear. Faith continued her path down to Randis chest. Her tongue stroked Randis left nipple while her fingers teased the right one into an aching hardness.
Faith replaced her lips with her other hand and sat up, straddling Randis waist. Randi gasped when she felt Faiths wetness on her stomach. Faith felt the hardened nubs of Randis nipples in the palms of her hands and squeezed them gently. She brought Randis breasts together and ran her tongue between the tight valley created by the warm mounds of flesh in her hands. A sigh came from Randi when she felt Faiths soft tongue tickle both her breasts at once. The sigh turned into a moan as Faith began to move her hips up and down Randis stomach, spreading the nectar of her body across Randis toned abs.
An inferno was blazing through Randis body as she was subjected to this unique form of torture. Her breathing was ragged as she gasped, "Faith, I cant take much more of this." Faith felt her begin to struggle as she tried to reverse their positions. She leaned down so their breasts touched and whispered in Randis ear, "Sh-h, Randi, trust me."
Randi took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I do trust you."
Faith kissed Randis earlobe and again started to kiss a wet trail down her body. Her hands returned to Randis breasts as her lips trailed between them and down across her stomach. She felt the muscles twitch at her caress and tasted her own scent on Randis skin. Her fingers circled Randis aureoles and began a descent also, following the trail of Faiths kiss. Faith slid her body down until she was lying between Randis legs. Her caress remained unhurried though Randis breathing had shortened again and her back began to arch.
Randi cried out when she felt Faiths tongue stroke her outer lips. Faith stroked Randi languidly, enjoying the enticing flavor greeting her tongue as she began to suck the lips into her mouth.
Randi began to tremble, "Please...."
Faiths fingers parted Randis lips as her tongue stroked up firmly and then entered. Randi came off the bed, "God, yes!" Faith matched the rhythm of her tongue to Randis hip movements. When she felt that Randi was close to the edge, she withdrew her tongue, which earned her a disappointed groan from Randi. The groan turned into another cry of pleasure as Faith replaced her tongue with a finger. As Faith felt Randis muscles tighten on her finger, she added another and wrapped her lips around the hub of nerves at Randis center.
Randis hands grabbed the sheet beneath her as a most glorious explosion of light coursed through her body. Faith continued to draw on Randis nerve center as the spasms rocking her body abated. She bit down softly on the nub and then drew it farther into her mouth to caress it with her tongue.
"My God, Faith, what are you doing?" Randi gasped as Faith continued to lavish attention on her nerve center. Her thighs tightened as she brought her hips up against Faiths lips. Randi felt herself go higher than she had ever been taken before.
"Come on, Randi, let go...." Faith said as again she entered Randi with her fingers. She touched a soft spot on her wall of muscle when she curved her fingers. Randi exploded against Faiths lips. Faith finally released Randi and tenderly lapped up the love juices that were still flowing.
Randi was finally able to move and raised her head to look at Faith. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw glittering emeralds gazing at her as Faith ran her tongue over her own lips, cleaning off the last drops of Randi from them.
Faith saw the sweat glistening on Randi's body and the rapid movement of her chest. She crawled up Randi's form until she reached her lips. Softly brushing her lips, she asked, "Are you all right? I didn't hurt you, did I?" Concern showed in Faith's eyes when she accidentally brushed the apex of Randis legs with her own and felt her jerk away.
Randi brought her hands to the sides of Faith's face. "I'm fine, you didn't hurt me. I'm just a little tender." She smiled and pulled Faith back to where she'd started the morning. "You've made me feel wonderful, Faith."
"I'm glad. You should feel that way all the time, Randi." Faith moved up and kissed her gently.
Randi enjoyed the softness of Faith's body and lips as they touched hers. She moved her leg between Faiths thighs, feeling the heat and moisture begin to flow. Faith moaned and began to drown in the eyes that were the color of the deepest part of the ocean. They had darkened with desire as she massaged Faiths body, sensing the passion growing inside her. Randi slowly turned them over and began to cover Faiths body with caresses.
"Oh, yes....that feels so good," Faith murmured.
Randi smiled, brought her lips firmly to Faiths and let the desire and passion be felt through her mouth and tongue. Randi pulled Faith up until she was straddling her hips. Her hands roamed up and down Faiths back before settling beneath her buttocks. The tips of her fingers felt warmth and moisture at the center of Faiths body. She wiggled her fingers and Faith quivered, pulling herself farther up Randis body. Faith put her arms around Randis neck, pressing their bodies tightly together. Randi gently sucked on the pulse point of Faiths neck.
A red mark was evident when she moved her lips to Faiths breasts. Her fingers had continued to tease and tantalize Faiths center until Faith was on the verge of climax. "Oh, Randi...dont tease...take me now." Randi brought her left hand up to her mouth. It was glistening with the moisture of Faiths body. She made eye contact with Faith and slid a finger into her mouth, moaning as she licked the finger clean. "Lovely and sweet...so sweet." She said as she withdrew her finger and slowly licked another. Faith moaned and closed her eyes at the highly erotic sight.
Randi gently laid Faith back on the bed and ran her tongue down Faiths body. She felt Faiths trembling increase as she kissed the hair at the top of her legs and ran her fingers lightly over her lips. As Faith started to speak, she sucked in the nub and entered her quickly. Faith came off the bed and screamed Randis name. She couldnt believe the power that was running through her body. Randi stilled the fingers inside Faith, waiting as she felt the tremors settle. Suddenly, she sucked on Faiths nub hard and drove her fingers deeper into Faith. Faith sat up as she screamed again and grabbed Randis head.
Her voice sounded ragged as she said, "What have you done? Oh, God! RANDI! Yes! More!"
Randi added another finger inside Faith and continued to stroke in and out. Her rhythm didnt change as she balanced Faith on the edge of bliss. Faith moved her hips faster, trying to force Randi to change the pace. Randi gave a final tease to the nub and moved her lips across Faiths stomach. Her lips softly covered a breast on her way back to Faiths neck.
At the moment her lips attached themselves to the opposite side of Faiths neck, her right hand gripped a nipple firmly, she stroked out slowly, and quickly pushed deeply into Faith. The simultaneous contact put Faith into sensory overload and her already tense and tender body became taut as a bowstring. Faith tried to speak, but when she opened her mouth, no sound was heard. She drew a deep breath, trying to loosen her cramping muscles. Faith found her voice after drawing another deep breath and feeling Randi begin to withdraw her hand from between her legs.
"PLEASE!!" Randi froze at the sound of Faiths voice. "Dont move, please, dont....I...."
"Sh-h...Faith...ok. Im right here - not moving, OK?" Randi brushed her lips across Faiths and put her free arm around her waist, holding her tight. Faith continued to tremble as her body began to relax. She nuzzled against Randis shoulder and both continued to remain quiet, their breathing the only sound heard in the room.
They awoke a few hours later, still in the positions theyd been in after their torrid lovemaking. Faith stretched against Randi and kissed her cheek.
"Well, hello again. What was that for?" Randis smiling blue eyes gazed at Faith.
"Nothing special, just because I felt like it."
"Thanks. It was...." Randis eyes widened, "Oh, my God."
"I sure did a number on your neck."
"Really?" Faith glanced around and began to roll off the bed to go to the mirror. She stopped as she felt Randis fingers still inside her. Randi removed her hand, Faith took it in hers and kissed the fingers, smelling the scent of her body on Randis hand. She grinned at Randi as she got off the bed and moved across the room to the mirror.
Her grin faded as she looked in the mirror. "Holy shit!" She stared at the large reddish-purple welt at the juncture of her neck and shoulder. Faith shifted her glance in the mirror and saw that Randi had moved to the foot of the bed. Randi was resting her head on the hand of her bent elbow. "Im sorry, Faith. I guess I got carried away."
A wicked grin began to grow on Faiths face. "Its okay, Randi. I really dont mind, but Id say you werent the only one that got carried away."
"What do you mean?"
Faith turned to face Randi, blocking her view of the mirror. The wicked grin was still in place as Faith tapped the hollow of her throat with her fingertip. Randis eyebrows came up and she went flying off the bed to the mirror.
"Son of a bitch!" She murmured when she also saw a large red mark at the base of her throat. She turned to Faith with an evil look, "Yes, Id say we both go very carried away."
Faith looked at the floor, "Sorry, Randi."
"Hey," she put a finger under Faiths chin and brought her face up to meet her eyes, "dont say youre sorry, Faith. Im not angry. We were enjoying each other - these things happen. I enjoyed the chills that covered my body when I felt you teeth against my skin. I enjoyed everything." The evil look returned to her face along with an arched eyebrow. "But I think as we get carried away we should go for areas that clothes will cover." Randi stroked Faiths cheek with her fingers.
Faith met Randis evil look with her wicked grin, "Really? So you think well get carried away again?"
Randis fingers moved to the back of Faiths head as she took a step closer to her naked lover. "Oh-h, I can practically guarantee it, dearheart."
Just before their lips met, a loud rumble interrupted them. Faith felt a warmth in her cheeks as Randi laughed and pulled her into her arms. "Come on, grab your robe and well take care of your stomach."
"Do you mind if I use your phone? Id like to check my messages."
"Not at all. Dont you think you ought to call Laine or Richard? They were both extremely worried about you."
Faith nodded and after a quick kiss they grabbed the robes from the floor and went downstairs. Randi pointed to a phone on the desk as she went to the tower of stereo equipment. She quickly pushed controls and switches; suddenly, the house was filled with the soft sound of rain, but rain with a difference.
Faith paused with her hand on the phone, "What is that? It sounds like rain."
"Its the sound of Chesil Beach in England. Do you like it?"
"Yes, I do. Its soothing, yet powerful; but its also unusual."
"I know. Its a rock beach along the English Channel. As the water recedes over the rocks it makes the most amazing sound. I asked a friend to tape it for me. Hes an electronics whiz and made a series of tapes and CDs for me."
"It really is beautiful." Faith dialed her apartment, punched in an access code, and listened to her messages. She chuckled at the last message and momentarily forgot about calling Laine. She sat down in the desk chair, grinning. Randi noticed she didnt hear Faith talking and turned to see Faith grinning across the room at her.
"Nothing really, but you are not going to believe this -"
Randis phone rang, interrupting Faith. "Hello?"
"Miranda? This is Loredith Lowe."
"Yes, Loredith, what can I do for you?"
Faith felt a shudder run through her body as she listened to the musical quality of Randis accent. During the time theyd spent together the day and night before, her accent would come and go. Faith remembered it got stronger the more aroused Randi became.
As Randi listened to Mrs. Lowe, she pinned Faith with a piercing blue-eyed stare. Faith looked at her questioningly and then saw Randi begin to smile. "Thank you, Mrs. Lowe. Yes, Ill see you tomorrow."
Randi crossed her arms and looked at Faith, "Youre not going to believe this either."
"You mean that Ive been assigned to Dr. Miranda Suzanne as a grad assistant?"
"Howd you know?"
"Thats what I was about to tell you, there was a message from Mrs. Lowe on my machine."
"She certainly likes you."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because she was singing your praises to me just now. Did I say something amusing?" Faith had begun to smile brightly as Randi spoke.
"No, but Id say she thinks highly of you, too." Seeing the question on Randis face, Faith answered. "The majority of her message to me was about you -- how great you are, the honor of working with you, how much Ill learn....should I continue?"
"No, I get the picture."
Faith noticed the flush that had darkened Randis bronze complexion, "Miranda, I do believe youre blushing!"
Randi glanced at Faith quickly and then looked at the floor. She spoke softly, "Youve never called me that before."
Faith had quickly crossed the room and laid her land on Randis arm. Randi jumped a little when she felt the touch since she hadnt seen Faith move. "Would you rather I not call you Miranda? I didnt mean to upset you."
"I dont mind at all, Faith. I like the way you say my name."
"Good. May I ask you a question?"
Randi headed back to the kitchen; Faith couldnt help but marvel at Randis body as she followed her. A warmth flowed through her body and settled in the pit of her stomach.
"Why the different accents? I heard both while we were - uh - together."
"I initially did it to create a major difference between my lives. Although I dont tend bar that much once classes begin. Most of the time, I dont think about it....it comes naturally. Does it bother you?"
"Not at all. I feel honored to have been allowed to see both sides."
Randi set a cup of coffee by Faith and stroked her cheek. "Faith, you neednt feel honored. This has never happened to me before, I dont know that I allowed anything, I just went with what I felt."
Faith tenderly brushed Randis lips with her own, "Im glad....Miranda....very glad."
Laine continued to pace her living room, listening to Faiths phone ring, unanswered until her machine kicked in. "Come on, Faith! Damn it! Where the hell are you?" Richard had called her after class and told her of his conversation with Dr. Suzanne. Neither Faith nor Dr. Suzanne had been seen since. Laine tried to keep good thoughts in her mind as she paced. She was startled when her phone rang. Snatching it quickly from the base, she practically shouted, "Hello?!"
"So, do you think you left enough messages on my machine?"
"Faith! Where the hell are you? Are you safe? Did she find you? Have you seen -."
"Hey, hey, Laine, slow down! Im ok, I just wanted to touch base with you and let you know that Ill talk to you tomorrow."
"Yep, you can do your twenty questions then."
"Nope. Ill talk to you tomorrow. Bye, Laine." Faith grinned as she hung up the phone and shook her head in amazement.
Miranda was scrambling eggs when she felt two hands settle at her hips and gently squeeze. A husky voice drifted to her ears, "Now, where were we?"
"Actually, we were talking....remember?"
"Ah-h, that we were - your accents, your blushing, how youve allowed me into your lives...."
"Now, Faith, I said I didnt -"
"I know, you didnt allow anything....and I told you I was very glad. I cant express just how really glad I am that I came into The Rock that night."
Miranda turned in Faiths arms and took her hands in her own. "Ill not soon forget that night or anything that has followed it, but we need to talk about you."
"About me? Why?"
"Were going to be working together and you are in one of my classes. I dont want to change that, but I still need to keep my lives separate, Im not ready for everyone to know both sides. Can you handle that?"
Faith glanced at their intertwined fingers and then stared into translucent blue pools as Randi held her gaze. "I can handle anything that will make you feel comfortable and still allow me time with you."
"Im sure if we continue to communicate, we can work out any problems, but if at any time you begin to be uncomfortable, I want to know about it."
"Damn! Youre serious." Seeing the intense look on Randis face, she acquiesced, "OK, I promise, Miranda. Are there any ground rules I should know about?"
"I dont think there are any rules per se. Just to try to make sure our relationship stays private and off-campus."
Randi saw Faiths eyes begin to sparkle as she said, "So-o-o-o, I shouldnt do this when were together on campus?" She slowly stroked a finger over Randis breast, feeling the nipple harden and a sigh escape from Randis throat.
"Um -," Randi licked her suddenly dry lips, "no, that would not be a good thing."
"Oh, so it would be bad. Hm-m, would this be a bad thing?" The sparkle in Faiths eye became a blazing glint of desire as she ran her hand up Mirandas inner thigh.
"God....no, I mean yes...."
Faiths voice became a low sexy whisper, "Come on, Miranda, which is it? Good or bad?" Faiths fingers lightly stroked through her mound; she felt heat, wetness, and the shudder that ran through Mirandas body.
Miranda closed her eyes and tried to calm herself, but felt her control slip as she responded to Faiths erotic seduction. Her hips thrust forward as Faith continued to make soft contact, "Miranda, you havent answered the question."
"Question? What - ok, yeah....um, I cant think when you do that...."
"Then Ill stop so you can think." Faith began to withdraw her hand, but was stopped by Mirandas hand on hers.
"No, dont...please." A low guttural sound came from Mirandas throat as she pushed Faiths fingers into her mound. "That feels so good, Faith."
Faith pinned Miranda against the counter and whispered into her ear. "It feels more than good....Miranda."
"Oh, God, yes!" Miranda lost it when Faith slid her tongue along the curve of her ear. Miranda pulled Faiths head forward, crushing her lips in a passionate, soul searching kiss.
They slid to the kitchen floor, pulling off robes and melding their bodies as lips, teeth, and hands roamed freely.
Hours later, they lay panting in one anothers arms, sated from frenzied lovemaking. "Faith, babe, we have to move."
Faith smirked, "We were moving or didnt you notice?"
"Of course I noticed! Come on, you know what I meant."
Faith lightly nuzzled her neck saying, "I know, Miranda, come on, I guess its time to start the day."
Miranda chuckled and thought, "Oh, weve already started the day in fine form. Id like every day to start this way....but could I survive it?" She smiled to herself as she thought, "Itd be a helluva way to go!"
Her attention was drawn to Faiths gaze out the window. She followed her gaze and found her studying the pool. "Would you like to take a swim while I shower?"
"Id love to. You wouldnt mind?"
"Of course not, but -"
"No swimming laps to exhaustion, OK?" Miranda stroked Faiths cheek, remembering the struggle she witnessed the other day.
Faith smiled brightly, "Oh no problem there, sweet. Ive had my release." She kissed Miranda quickly and went to retrieve her suit.
The bronze skin of Mirandas cheeks darkened slightly as she thought of Faiths "release."
As Miranda was towel drying her hair, she glanced out a window overlooking the pool and stopped in awe. Faith was completing a movement in the water shed seen performed in the Olympics, but had never witnessed in person. Faith had broken the surface of the water with her feet, her head was underwater and her body was perfectly straight. Miranda felt rooted to the spot as she watched Faiths pointed toes rise out of the water followed by her toned legs to hip level and slowly swirl down into the water, disappearing.
Faith gave a push off the floor of the pool and as she broke the surface, she heard, "You have many talents, dont you?"
Miranda touched the volume control of the sound system for the pool, lowering the music of "Excalibur" and repeating her question so Faith could hear her.
"What do you mean many talents?"
"Yes, that. I saw you from my bedroom, it was quite impressive."
"Thanks. I got into it in high school and I like to test myself every now and again to see if I can still do it."
"It looked to me as though you still can." Miranda admired Faiths body as she strong-armed her way out of the pool. The water ran down the muscles of Faiths shoulders and arms, taking Mirandas breath away as drops trickled down the inside of Faiths breasts.
"Im a little rusty, but when I found the music, I couldnt help myself."
"Im sorry I only saw part of your show." Miranda smiled as Faith brushed her lips against her cheek.
"You didnt miss anything, Randi, but thanks for the compliment. Ill go shower now and we can take off, okay?"
As they sat at an intersection on the way out of town, they were aware of the curious glances from the drivers next to them. It was promising to be a beautiful day, so they had taken Randis Harley.
"Youd think theyd never seen a Harley before."
"I dont think its the bike, Randi. I think its you."
"Me? Why on earth - ?" Randi stopped speaking when Faith stroked her finger around her neck and touched the mark Faith had put on her.
"Oh, Id forgotten about that."
"Just dont forget about it tomorrow when you come to class."
"That would be a bad thing, huh?"
Faith chuckled deeply in Randis ear and squeezed her waist as they crossed the intersection. "Yep, it would certainly cause some questions."
Randi laughed, too, and accelerated faster. They were soon leaving the small city settled centuries ago by the Gauls, entering farm filled country. Traffic thinned and then became non-existent when Randi turned into a dusty lane. A hidden trail led them to a large pond with an old, stately oak tree sheltering one end. Randi parked the bike beneath the tree, turned to Faith and smiled.
Faith smiled widely and said, "Always! But -."
"Um," Faith looked at the back of the bike, "we didnt bring anything to eat."
"Didnt have to, its already here."
Smiling at the quizzical look on Faiths face, Randi got off the bike and walked around the tree. When she appeared from the other side, she held a large lunch hamper.
"Where the hell did that come from?"
"A friend. Ready to eat?"
"What friend? There isnt anything around here for miles."
"Ten miles to be exact, but he owed me a favor." Randi spread a large blanket, set the hamper on it and sat down. "Come on, lets see what we have in here."
Faith sat and watched as Randi pulled out roast chicken, fried chicken, salad, French bread, strawberries, peaches and melon. "What a feast!" Faith exclaimed as her mouth began to water at the aroma of all the food.
Randi brought out a thermos and two flute glasses. "I hope you like iced tea, I dont drink and drive."
"I love tea, hot or cold. This is some friend youve got! How did he drive ten miles, keeping all this warm and not cross our path?"
Faith took the leg of chicken Randi offered to her and was biting into it when she heard, "He didnt drive." She almost choked and saw a twinkle in Randis eye.
"What!? What do you mean he didnt drive? How else would that basket have gotten here?"
Randi laid back on the blanket with a husk of bread. Faith leaned over her and used her chicken leg to accentuate her words. "What do you mean he didnt drive, Randi?"
The twinkle was back in Randis eyes as she looked at Faith. She slowly pointed to the sky. Faiths eyes followed Randis finger, her gaze encompassing a wide open blue sky.
"Youre kidding, right?" When no answer was forthcoming, Faith continued, "He FLEW? What is he, a bird?"
Randi chuckled, "Hes a pilot. Like I said, he owed me; and when I told him what I wanted, he was more than happy to oblige."
They talked quietly as Faith continued to pelt Randi with questions about her friend. Randi laughed lightly throughout the interrogation, holding back just enough to keep Faith going. She finally took Faiths face in her hands, looked deeply into her eyes and said, "Enough questions." She touched Faiths lips and felt her shudder. Faith increased the pressure of her lips and caressed Randis bottom lip with her tongue. It was Randis turn to shudder.
Randi pulled away to catch her breath. After looking at the pond, an idea popped into her head. "Hey, want to take a swim?"
"That would be lovely, but we didnt bring any suits."
"And thats a problem?" Randi laughed when she saw Faith swallow hard.
Looking in the bottom of the hamper, Randi spotted some thick towels. "David planned for everything," she thought. She handed one to Faith and began to undress. Faith found it extremely difficult to draw her eyes from Randis strong body as she watched her disrobe. Feeling a familiar heat blossom throughout her body, Faiths eyes followed Randis form as she approached a small dock and dove in. "My God, Ive got to get a grip or shes going to think Im some kind of nympho!" she thought.
Randi surfaced, smiling, "Come on, it feels great!"
Faith finished undressing and did a perfect running dive with little splash and surfaced next to Randi. "This feels wonderful."
They both consciously restrained themselves from touching the other too intimately as they raced, dunked, and generally relaxed in the warm water. Randi had just come up sputtering from a dunking by Faith when she cocked her head, listening.
Faith heard her mutter, "Nosy little shit."
"Whos a - ." Her words were stopped when the pond was buzzed by a helicopter. Randi waved it away, but the helicopter buzzed again and then hovered above the edge of the pond.
"Whos that?" Faith asked.
"A nosy little shit whos going to get a piece of my mind if hes not careful." Randi swam to the dock and pulled herself out of the water. Ignoring her nakedness, she fixed the pilot with an icy gaze and pointed towards the hills. "Go home, David," she mouthed. The helicopter bobbed up and down, Randi chuckled and made a sweeping bowing motion towards his home. The chopper bobbed once and took off.
Randi turned when she felt the dock move down and saw Faith pulling herself out of the water, too. "So what was that all about, Randi?" Faith reached for a towel, but Randi pulled it from her reach, wrapped it around Faiths body and pulled her close. Feeling unbalanced, Faith instinctively put her hands up to balance, but they landed smack on top of Randis breasts. Blushing deeply, Faith stammered, "I...um, I didnt...I mean I...oh, the hell with it." She shrugged and leaned forward to capture a dusky nipple with her lips. Randis knees buckled a little at the unexpected sensation; a gasp escaped her lips just before they were covered passionately by Faiths. She attempted to pull Faith closer to her, but found her hands trapped by the towel and Faiths fingers. Randi was unable to do anything but feel every sensation Faiths mouth was causing to course through her body.
Faith relinquished control to her passion and growing emotion for Randi as she laid the woman down. Feeling the electrical current charging through their two bodies, all breath escaped Randis lungs in a long gasping moan. An answering sigh was heard from Faith when she felt Randis body trembling and she let the last vestiges of her control dissolve as she consumed Randi in a blinding blaze of passion.
Mrs. Brown was just entering her garden when she heard the approach of Randis motorcycle. She smiled, seeing Faith on the back with her hands resting on Randis thighs as they pulled into the drive. "Im so glad she found her," she thought. She felt protective of the young woman and had been concerned about her since Randis visit days earlier. The bond she saw growing between the two women warmed her heart.
"Are you sure you dont want me to run you up to the sports building to get your car?" Randi asked. "It wouldnt be a problem."
"No, thanks for the offer. Ill run up later and get it." Faith took hold of Randis left hand and rubbed her thumb over the knuckles.
Randi sensed a change in her posture and looked up to find tear dampened emeralds gazing at her. She brought Faiths knuckles to her lips. "What is it, Faith?"
"Nothing, really. I just....Thank you so much, Miranda."
The emotion was heavy in Faiths voice. "What for, Faith?"
"For finding me, holding me, telling me about your mother - for everything, Miranda."
Randi got off the bike and stepped close to Faith. She brushed her lips across Faiths knuckles and stroked her cheek with her free hand. "There is no reason to thank me, Faith. I had to find you, I wanted to tell you about my mother, and I needed to hold you. Dearheart, I cant begin to tell you all thats going on inside of me, Im not sure I know myself, but you are important to me. Please dont ever question that."
A smile brightened Faiths face as she gazed up into Randis eyes. I really enjoyed the time we spent together, babe." Randis eyes widened slightly at the endearment. "Dont look now, but were being watched."
Randi didnt have to look behind her to know Mrs. Brown was there. Faith leaned around Randis body and smiled at the older woman. "Hi, Mrs. Brown. Id like you to meet my friend, Randi."
Randi smiled as she shook Mrs. Browns hand, "Its a pleasure to meet you, maam."
"Yes, it is, my dear. Im glad its finally official." Mrs. Brown had a merry twinkle in her eye as she said, "Steak, my dear."
Randi raised and eyebrow, "Maam?"
Mrs. Brown leaned closer to Randi and tapped the mark on her neck, "Next time, feed her steak, Randi."
Faith blushed deeply and Randi laughed, "Yes, maam, Ill try to remember that."
Randi untied Faiths bag and handed it to her. "I really enjoyed myself the last couple of days, Faith."
"I did, too, Randi. Ill see you tomorrow." Faith kissed her and then held her tight.
Randi smoothed her hair and stepped back, kissing Faiths forehead. "See you tomorrow." Randi looked over her shoulder before she got on her bike. Seeing Faith still looking at her, she blew her a kiss.
After retrieving her car, Faith spent the evening cleaning up her apartment and catching up on work that shed ignored since the incident at the Rathskellar and her descent into hard memories. Her phone rang at 11:00 as she was getting ready to go to bed.
"Did I wake you, dearheart?" Randi asked.
"No, not at all. I was just getting ready to climb into bed."
"I just wanted to tell you again, I enjoyed our time and hope you have sweet dreams." Noticing the silence on the other end of the phone, Randi asked, "Faith, you there?"
"Hm-m? Yeah, Im here. I just -" Faith stopped.
"What is it, Faith?" Randi was beginning to worry that Faith didnt want to see her anymore.
"I dont want you to take this the wrong way."
"I miss you. I know it hasnt been that long, but I enjoy sleeping in your arms."
"I enjoy having you there, dearheart. Why would you think I might take that the wrong way?"
"Randi, I dont want you to think Im pushing for permanence or commitment."
"I didnt take it that way, Faith, it never even crossed my mind. Its nice to be missed, babe...and its mutual."
"Thats nice to hear."
"Well, Id better let you get some sleep. See you in the morning Faith."
Faith held the phone to her ear long after shed heard the click, not wanting to break the connection. Eventually she did, pulled an extra pillow close and fell asleep to dream of long legs, sparkling blue eyes and passionate love.
Richard was waiting in front of Anniversary Hall the next morning, anxiously looking for Faith. A smile broke across his face when he recognized the strawberry-blonde head bobbing towards him.
"Faith! How ya doin?" Richard kissed her cheek. "Laine said shed heard from you and that you were okay, but that was all. You look radiant, girl." Richards statement was apt, Faith was positively glowing, just as she had the night theyd all met at The Rock. Her hair had been brushed till it shone in the sun and a white tube top was covered by an emerald green shirt with metallic threads running through it, accenting her eyes and burgeoning tan.
"Im doing great, Richard. Sorry if I worried you."
"Just concerned, hon. Glad youre feeling better. Now, since you wouldnt tell Laine anything, I want all the dirt about your days off."
Faith laughed deeply, "Laine made me promise to meet her for lunch, so why dont you come along?"
"That sounds great. Well eat and you can talk." They both laughed and headed into the building.
As everyone waited for Dr. Suzanne to appear, Richard tried to get Faith to talk about her disappearance, but she would just smile and shake her head.
The room quieted when Dr. Suzanne entered. She smiled at everyone and noticed the beaming smile from the back row. Unconsciously, her hand came to the buttoned parsons collar of her white silk blouse. She had experimented in the mirror that morning to make sure the collar concealed the love bite that was on her neck. Satisfied that it could not be seen, shed headed to the college.
"I apologize for my absence so soon after class started, people, but I had some important business to attend to." Richard glanced at Faith, who merely raised an eyebrow at him. "I hope all of you had a chance to start on your research. Id like to see a rough outline of your intentions by the end of next week."
Noting the nods and notetaking, she approached Faith. "Miss Epling, Ive been notified that you are to be my grad assistant. Would you mind staying after class a bit so we can arrange a meeting time to discuss your duties?"
Knowing Richard was watching her closely, Faith answered, "Sure, Doc; Mrs. Lowe contacted me the other day. Im sure Im going to enjoy working with you." Faith couldnt resist the double entendre and knew it would drive Richard even crazier.
"See you after class then." Randi felt Faiths eyes on her body as she walked back to the front of the class. It caused a tingle from her thighs up to her shoulders. She resisted the impulse to sway her hips as she walked.
Just before class was ending with some one-on-one questioning of the professor, Faith turned to Richard. "I may be a little late for lunch - save me a seat."
Faith almost physically groaned as she saw the shit-eating grin split Richards face. He practically purred with honey dripping from his words. "Oh-h-h, honey, you better believe well save you a seat!" Richard could tell Faith knew it would be a "hot" seat theyd save for her. "This is going to be fun," he thought as the shit-eating grin came to his face again.
Once she was certain everyone was gone, Randi turned to Faith and suddenly felt a little shy. "Hi."
"Hi yourself." Faith felt a little smirk begin to grow on her face.
"How are you?"
"Fine...you?" "Nervous ?" she thought to herself.
"Good, good, thanks. Uh-h..."
Deciding to put Miranda out of her misery, Faith smiled, "Its okay to be nervous. I am, too."
Faith chuckled, "Really."
"This is new to me." When Faith quirked an eyebrow, Miranda explained, "Ive never...um...uh...dated one of my students before."
"Dating ? I like that." Faith thought. Misunderstanding her silence, Miranda continued, "I suppose, in a way, until I saw you in class today, the reality hadnt quite hit me."
"Is this going to be problem, Miranda?" Faith looked at Miranda, glad to be separated by three rows of chairs, "God, dont let her see how scared I am by that possibility." she thought to herself.
"How deep into the growing feelings you have for her do you want to go right now ?" flashed through Mirandas head before she answered, "No, Faith, I wont let it be a problem."
Faith sighed with relief, "OK, so when would like to meet?"
"To discuss my duties, Doc. Ive got a lunch date and then class, but Im free around four."
Sensing the change of direction, and a little glad of it, Miranda said, "Four would be good. Ill meet you at my office."
Randis diamond-like eyes locked with Faiths as she got out of her chair to leave. Neither broke the stare as Faith got close enough to smell Randis perfume....and something else? "Oh, God, this is going to be harder than I thought." Both groaned in their minds. Randi turned her head to follow Faiths form out the door. As she watched her walk down the hall, Randi thought, "How do I tell you how I feel?" She was unaware that the exact same thought was going through Faiths mind.
Faith found Richard and Laine at a back booth in the Rathskellar. She put her drink on the table and mentally groaned when she saw they wore matching grins.
"Nothing, we were just waiting patiently. So-o, did you and the good doctor discuss your duties?" Richard teased.
"No, and you know it! Were meeting later to do it." Immediately regretting her choice of words, Faith flushed.
Laine chuckled, "Do it, huh?"
"Oh, get your mind out of the gutter, Laine!"
"Why? Thats where you and I met!" Slowly controlling her laughter, Laine asked, "OK, seriously, are you all right? Where did you disappear to the other day?"
Faith turned to face Laine to answer her, when Richard interrupted, "Whoa!"
"Now what?" Faith tensed as Richards hand headed for the collar of her shirt. He pulled it aside to reveal the mark on her to Laine.
Laines jaw hit the table, "Holy shit! What the hell is that?"
Both Faith and Richard looked at her as though she were crazy. "I mean, I know what it is, but...holy shit!"
"You already said that."
"Thats true, well, I suppose we know what you were doing part of the time," she teased.
Faith took a deep breath, "OK, you two, heres the story in a nutshell...yes, Randi and the Doc are the same people - its a long story, Im not explaining, so dont ask. No one else has made the connection, so please keep it to yourselves."
Seeing she was quite serious, Laine and Richard agreed without any further explanation. Faith continued, "We are seeing each other, but its going to take some work because Im her student and GA. Does that cover everything?"
Faith looked at Laine. "What do you mean almost?"
"How do you feel about her? Id say thats going to have some bearing on how hard you work on the problem of being her GA and student."
Faith looked at the table and then faced them, "Boy, you ask the hard questions, dont you? I cant answer as fully as Id like to because I simply dont know."
Looking at their friend tenderly, Richard softened his voice, "What do you know about your feelings?"
Again, Faith was quiet as she appeared to think, "I know I enjoy her company, I dont like being away from her. She stirs things deep inside me that I didnt even know I was capable of feeling. As exciting as it is, its also confusing as hell."
They were all quiet as Laine and Richard digested what they had heard. "Shes got it bad." thought Laine.
"OK, enough of the serious stuff. Wheres the dirt and details?" Richard attempted to lighten the mood with the wicked grin that accompanied his request. The chuckling he heard from his friends let him know he had accomplished his goal.
"Forget it Ive already said more than I intended."
"Do you know how dangerous that is, Faith?" Richard teased, "That means Ill have to use my imagination and considering that mark youre hiding, my imagination is going to have a blast!"
As she got up to gather her things for class, she leaned over with a seductive grin on her face, "Richard, nothing you could imagine could even come close to how good it really was." She swung her backpack onto her shoulder. "Bye, guys."
They sat in stunned silence as Faiths statement sunk in. Richard looked at Laine, seeing the color in her cheeks that he could feel in his own. "Damn," he muttered.
"Yeah," Laine agreed.
Faiths last class dismissed early and she found herself at Dr. Suzannes door early for their appointment. She sat on the floor of the corridor outside the office, pulled out one of her notebooks and began to review her notes.
Her study was interrupted by a pair of black pumps stopping by her folded legs. Faiths eyes left her notes and swept up, taking in well-formed calves leading to silk covered thighs. Blue eyes twinkled as they met hers when she finished her perusal of the body in front of her.
"Hi. Been waiting long?"
"Not really. My last class let out early, so I headed over. I figured if you werent here, Id wait."
"There were a few stragglers in my final class and it took longer to answer their questions than I figured. Im sorry."
"Dont worry about it, Doc, it gave me a chance to go over my notes."
"Well, come on in, and well talk about your job."
Faith glanced around as she entered, but besides her diplomas on the wall, Dr. Suzannes office was rather spartan. She motioned Faith to a seat and settled herself behind her desk.
"I feel its only fair to warn you that you may hear some horror stories about me from previous GAs."
Miranda tried to suppress a grimace, but Faith still saw it. "My GA is my right arm and few have been able to keep up. I suspect you will be different."
"I feel up to the challenge, Doc. Im anxious to get started."
Miranda smiled at Faiths enthusiasm. "I am glad you feel that way. Let me go over some of my expectations and then Id like you to tell me some of yours, all right?"
"OK, shoot." Faith found herself drowning in the blue eyes that had captured hers. The strong, melodious voice washed over her in waves. She tried to focus on all that Miranda was saying, but only half succeeded.
Half an hour later, they had covered expectations, explanations, and questions. Faith had participated fully and had found she was able to concentrate only when she shared her own expectations.
"I think weve covered everything, Faith, is there anything else?"
Faith took a deep breath to steady her nerves. "Maybe...were finished with my GA duties?" When Miranda nodded, Faith got up and leaned across Mirandas desk. She tentatively stretched out her arm towards Miranda.
Mirandas eyes followed the path of Faiths hand as it got closer. "What are you doing?"
"Something Ive been wanting to do since you stopped in front of me in the hallway."
Miranda froze at the storm darkening Faiths green eyes. Faiths fingers reached Mirandas neck; her index finger pushed the collar of the blouse down and stroked the mark hidden beneath it. Mirandas eyes closed at the gentle touch. Seeing this, Faith became bolder, slipping her hand to the back of Mirandas neck, tickling the tendrils of hair that had escaped from the chignon. Sensing chill bumps beneath her fingertips, Faith drew Miranda closer and lightly brushed her lips over Mirandas .
She was sitting back in her seat when Miranda opened her eyes. Miranda saw a small satisfied smile cross Faiths face.
"Why did you do that?"
"I told you why."
"No, actually, you didnt. You said youd wanted to do it, Im asking why you did."
Answering in the same calm tone that was questioning her, Faith said, "Because I wanted to, and we were finished with the GA duties. Youre upset, arent you?"
"Upset isnt really the correct word."
Faith heard a tinge of anger enter her voice, "Dont nit-pick, Miranda. You said if we communicated, we could work out any problems."
"Yes, I did, I also spoke of keeping our relationship separate from our dealings on campus."
Faint knew her growing anger was unwarranted, but she couldnt help it. She didnt think shed done anything wrong. No one could see into Mirandas office, and shed felt the response from the older woman.
"Our dealings ?! Look, Miranda, Im to be your GA, and Ill be a damned good one; but I will not allow you to keep me in a box until youre ready to play with me! I have feelings for you that have my brain going in three directions at once, I can be discreet, but I will not cauterize them while Im with you on campus."
"Are you done now?" Mirandas continuing calm dampened Faiths anger a little.
"No, I have one question...."
"And that is?"
"What wrong did I do?" There was an almost plaintive note in Faiths voice.
Miranda had no answer for her, so she dropped her gaze to the desk.
"I thought as much." Faiths eyes narrowed with glints of steel as she looked at Miranda. "Ill see you in class tomorrow, Dr. Suzanne."
Miranda put her head in her hands when she heard her office door close.
Faith was still fuming when she got home. She threw her backpack across the living room. "Dammit!" She went to her bedroom, changed into some running clothes and charged out of her apartment.
Mrs. Brown was sitting on her back deck when she heard the doorbell. She nodded after she opened the door, "Ive been expecting you, my dear."
"Come to the deck, Miranda. Ive just made some iced tea."
Miranda started at the use of her proper name, but followed the old woman obediently. Once they were settled on the back deck, Mrs. Brown began. "I know you are surprised that I said I was expecting you, Miranda, but when I saw Faith go running by I thought something mustve happened between you two."
"Why would you have thought that, Mrs. Brown?"
"Faith has lived next to me for five months and Ive had the occasion to get to know her. Im used to seeing her run, but the look on her face this time told me something was wrong and you were the obvious choice." Miranda winced and Mrs. Brown patted her hand. "Im sorry if that seemed uncaring, Miranda, but as I said Ive come to know Faith rather well. Shed never admit it -- she may not even realize it -- but she cares for you very much. I saw her heart hurting today."
Tears welled in Mirandas eyes, "I caused that. I didnt mean to hurt her."
"Sometimes its hard balancing lives, my dear. You should know that. In more ways than one, Miranda."
This statement, along with the continued use of her proper name, raised red flags to Miranda. "Mrs. Brown, I must ask, how do you know my given name? Faith introduced me to you as Randi."
A tender smile crossed Mrs. Browns face, "I knew your mother, my dear. A long, long time ago. The moment I saw you, I knew who you were. Your mother would be very proud of you."
Unexpected tears welled in Mirandas eyes. "Im sorry, I didnt know."
"Theres no reason you would. We didnt keep in contact once theyd moved to England, there was an occasional letter, usually with news of their adventures and then you. Im so sorry for your loss, they were wonderful, loving women."
Miranda smiled, but did not trust herself to speak. The hurt was just below that surface of her heart, coupled with the pain of what she felt shed done to Faith.
"Now, tell me whats happened with you and Faith. I can see that youre hurting as much as she is."
Faith hadnt done a road run since she had trained for a mini-marathon, but found herself following an old route after leaving her apartment. As she ran, her blow-up at Randi ran through her mind. She kicked herself mentally, for loosing control and leaving without giving Randi a chance to discuss the problem.
She heard a car behind her when she reached the turn-off that would take her around the college through the woods. The car made no attempt to go around her; she glanced over her shoulder, not recognizing the car, she stopped. Being seen in the open she felt was better than allowing whoever was in the car to follow her to the edge of the woods.
"Hello again!" Faith struggled to place the face of the young man that got out of the car. "I havent seen you for a while, Faith. I had thought Id have run into you on campus."
"Im sorry, I dont remember your name although the face --."
"We met at The Rock. You were there to have lunch."
"Thats right. Forgive me, but I just cant recall your name."
"Of course, Im sure youd have remembered it if that bartender hadnt interfered later that day. Im James."
Faiths heart plummeted at the mention of Randi, but she remembered that night, Randis earlier warning, and the anger shed seen him display when she hadnt accepted the drink hed sent her. "Actually, James, the bartender didnt have anything to do with it, I told her to send the drink back."
His eyes narrowed, "You did, huh?"
"Yes, now if youll excuse me, I have to finish my run."
"Uh-h, sure, maybe Ill see you around."
Faith didnt answer him, he was beginning to give her a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach and she wanted to put even more distance between them. "Bye." She was almost to the woods when she heard his car peel out. He had watched her as she ran, staring at her athletic body, "Theres still time," he thought.
Miranda let a sigh escape her once shed finished telling Mrs. Brown what had taken place with Faith. During the story, Mrs. Brown had placed her hand on Mirandas forearm and she left it there now.
"I understand that this has happened quickly for both of you and it appears to be of a magnitude neither of you have ever experienced before."
Miranda glanced at the woman and gave her a shaky smile, "You can say that again."
Mrs. Brown chuckled, "Of course, my dear, now comes the hard part -- deciding what you hope to have, if anything, in the future and really identifying your feelings."
"I dont think --."
"Oh, no, Miranda, I didnt mean right now! Its too soon to put a name to the emotions playing in your mind, there are too many variables to contend with. When things calm down, youll know what to do -- everything will seem crystal clear and youll wonder how you didnt recognize it before."
Miranda heard the tone of experience and let what the older woman sink firmly into her mind. She was also thinking about Faith so only caught the last part of Mrs. Browns question.
"Could anyone have seen what happened in your office?"
"No, the windows have blinds and I have a solid door." Miranda saw the question on Mrs. Browns face before she voiced it. "Then why was my reaction so strident?"
"Well, it would seem to be a little over the top, dont you think?"
"I honestly dont know why I reacted the way I did. We had spoken of keeping things off campus..."
"Did you discuss it or was it your mandate?"
"Well, I wouldnt call it a mandate, but it was my wish."
"And did you ask Faith how she felt about it?"
"Not exactly, but she didnt argue -- she seemed to understand the need for it."
"But you didnt ask her, did you?"
"No, I -- damn, that was so dumb! I know better than that, why didnt I think?!"
"Miranda, please, take a breath and calm down. Now is not the time to beat yourself up over it. You need to talk with Faith, explain yourself and ask her how she feels about it. When do you expect to see her again?"
"I dont expect shell be home any time soon, so it will probably be in class tomorrow. Shes working for me in the afternoon."
"I would suggest you gather your thoughts tonight and talk to her at the earliest opportunity."
Miranda nodded her head, realizing the wisdom of the older womans words.
Faith was also receiving advice at the time Miranda was having her conversation with Mrs. Brown.
"Make her crazy."
"Make it impossible to ignore you, drive her crazy with wanting you."
After shed run the trail in the woods, she found herself on the street to Laines apartment. Laine recognized the look in Faiths eyes when she answered her door. Pulling her to the couch, shed sat quietly and let Faith fill her in. Once Faith had finished, Laine suggested her plan.
"What do you expect me to do? Throw her down and ravish her?"
"Id say youve already done that," Laine teased. "I mean make her crazy, make it plainly obvious that youre there and you want her. Come on, Faith, think! You know...flirt, the innocent touches, be sexy, innuendoes - whatever is necessary to drive her to distraction, but..."
"Dont act on anything. Thats going to be the really hard part."
"You mean tease her unmercifully?"
Laines face broke into a broad smile, "Exactly."
"Well, that could be interesting."
Laine saw the wheels turning in Faiths head and recognized the determination on her face. After Faith left, Laine said, "Shell never know what hit her. Damn, Id love to be a fly on the wall." She laughed as she fell onto her couch.
Faith timed her entrance to class to coincide with everyone finding their seats. She knew she could get lost in the crowd and be unseen by Miranda. Richards mouth dropped open as Faith sat down next to him.
She smiled innocently at him. "Something wrong?"
He eyed her carefully, "What are you planning? I can see somethings going on."
"I guess youll just have to watch then, huh?"
Richard watched closely as she took a deep breath, threw her shoulders back and got up to approach the front of the room and Miranda.
Miranda had her hands full of papers to return when she looked up and saw Faith stalking towards her. Her eyes were immediately drawn to the mark on her neck, exposed for all to see by the low neckline of the red lifeguard swimsuit she wore.
Faith felt proud of herself as she continued to stalk towards Miranda. She was indeed "stalking" her as a predator would its prey; she wanted to have this woman heart and soul. Faith watched Mirandas eyes stare at the exposed mark and then run down her body. When Faith "innocently" ran her finger across Mirandas hand to get her attention, the papers in her hands cascaded to the floor.
"Here, Doc, let me help." Faith knelt to the floor and began scooping papers together. Leaning forward to collect some others, she gave Miranda a clear view down her suit that barely covered her cleavage. Mirandas sharp intake of air and gaze down her body wasnt lost on Faith.
"Um - Doc?"
Mirandas crystal blue eyes were pinned by sea green when she looked up. "See something you like?" A small grin quirked the edges of Faiths mouth when she saw Mirandas cheeks darken. Miranda swallowed, trying to find her voice, but failed when Faith handed her the papers she had collected and got up to return to her desk. Richard had an incredulous look on his face and stared open-mouthed at her.
"You are bad...why does it look like she has a target painted on her?"
"Because she does." Faiths flat tone raised Richards eyebrows. He saw a feral glitter in Faiths eyes as she stared at Miranda. "And shes al-l-l mine."
Faith continued the unrelenting pressure throughout class, taking every opportunity to remind Miranda she was there. After the gazed, animalistic stares, ubiquitous touches, and different views of Faiths hardened body, Miranda was more than ready for class to end so she could catch her breath. She wasnt sure what Faith was trying to accomplish, but knew her nerves were being overworked trying to keep control.
Miranda had hoped to speak with Faith when they worked in her office that afternoon, but it was not to be. Faith brushed off any attempt to bring up the discussion from the day before. She was business-like, entering grades in the computer and double-checking some special book orders that had arrived. Faith concentrated on her work, but also kept aware of where Miranda was and what she was doing. Faith counted on Miranda having a false sense of security and relaxing her guard.
With her work finished, Faith rounded Mirandas desk to lay the completed inventory before her. "Here ya go, Doc." Faith noticed that slight movement of Mirandas body towards her voice. Keeping a smile under wraps, Faith began to straighten and as her mouth passed Mirandas ear, she whispered, "Beautiful."
Miranda straightened, "What did you say?"
"Who? Me? Nothing."
A lone raised eyebrow let her know Miranda didnt believe her. "Uh-huh...could you give me the print out of those grades you entered, please?"
"Sure." Faith grabbed the print out and quickly returned to Mirandas side. Miranda was looking at the inventory and absently held her hand out. Faith gently grasped Mirandas wrist and softly drug her nails across the palm of Mirandas open hand.
Chills of electricity ran up Mirandas arm and settled in her breasts. She jerked her hand back and turned her chair to look at Faith, unable to speak.
Faith put the print out on the desk and allowed a slight smirk to cross her lips as she tenderly touched the rise of Mirandas upper lip. "Unless you need me for something else, Ill be going."
Miranda licked her very dry lips and tried to not let her voice crack when she said, "Uh, no...Faith, we need to talk about the other day."
Mirandas eyes half-closed when Faith laid her fingers against Mirandas lips, "No, Miranda, we dont. It happened, its over, nothing to talk about." Her fingers drifted from Mirandas lips to her chin, she tilted Mirandas face up and gazed at her with desire, "Ill see you tomorrow."
Miranda sat in her office after Faith left trying to get a grip on her emotions. She wanted desperately to explain to Faith, but wasnt sure how to get her to listen. Tying her to a chair crossed her mind with a smirk, but was quickly discarded. Miranda knew that Faith was driving her to distraction with her clothes and actions; a part of her wanted to give up the fight, but another part was scared as hell to let go.
Cody smiled when he saw Randi enter The Rock. "Thanks for covering, Randi. Im sorry I had to call you, but this appointment is important. I shouldnt be too long."
Randi grabbed a bar towel and slipped it through a belt loop. "Its not a problem, Cody. You jumped in without question when I needed it. I really appreciate it."
"Thats what friends are for."
Randi graced him with a sparkling smile and sent him on his way.
The night was running smoothly with little problem when Randi heard raised voices coming from the back room. She caught one of the waiters eye and motioned to the pool room. "Its been such a calm night, I shouldve expected this....dammit," she thought. She repeated the profanity when the waiter came out, waved for her help and went back in. She arrived, slowing her jog to the room and recognized a familiar voice.
"I told you to take your hand off me!"
"Whats your problem?"
"Right now, YOU are! I tried being nice and you didnt get the hint."
Randi caught James raised hand by the wrist and wrenched it behind his back. Her breathe was heated against his ear. "Now, just what do you think youre doing?"
James struggled, but Randi held firm. "Let me go! This is your fault!"
This declaration startled Randi a bit and she loosened her grip. James turned quickly and tried to grab her by the throat. Randi dodged, but he caught the neck of her T-shirt; the momentum of her dodge and his grip ripped the neck of her shirt, exposing the mark on her neck. "See? It is your fault!"
Another voice joined the fracas, the body being held slightly by the waiter, "Now, wait just a minute, you overbearing, egotistical son of a bitch! I dont know what fault youre talking about, but what I may or may not do in my personal like is just that - personal!"
James made another lunge at Faith but found himself spun around and facing ice blue eyes. Randi had him by the front of the shirt before he knew it and glared at him through narrowed eyes, "You know, you have the innate ability to piss me off, James. You come into my place and accost one of my customers - who is also a dear friend of mine - and then try to blame me for your problems. Im about to add to your problems, because your evening is over and you are no longer welcome here - EVER."
Randi escorted him to the door and watched him walk away angrily. Something told her they hadnt seen the last of him.
When she returned to the back room, Faith was leaning against one of the pool tables. Randi grew concerned when she saw tears in Faiths eyes. She tenderly touched her chin, "Are you all right?"
"No, Im not! Im damned mad!" Randi took a slight step back and Faith softened her tone. "Not at you, Randi. Im sorry to have yelled, but he just made me crazy! He started this shit about you and then he grabbed me..."
Randi gathered her into her arms, soothing Faith merely with her presence. "Come with me, ok?" Keeping one arm around her shoulder, she led Faith to her office and seated her on the couch. "Ill be right back." Faith nodded, but was silent, contemplating the carpet.
When Randi returned, she found Faith pacing the office, clenching and unclenching her fists. She handed her a highball glass of amber liquid, "Here, sip this."
"What is it?"
"Dont worry about that, just drink it."
Faith took a sip, the warmth of the brandy smoothed her nerves and began to warm her body. "This is good."
"Im glad you like it. Of course, its purely medicinal."
Seeing a small smile cross Faiths face, Randi knew she was starting to feel better. "Feel up to telling me what happened?"
Faiths shoulders tensed unconsciously as she began to recount the incident. Randi sat on the edge of her desk and patiently waited. Her own hands clenched into fists as Faith described the way James had tried to take possession of her.
"I tried to be nice, but he just didnt get it! I told him I belonged to no one, but I may belong with some one." Randi looked into Faiths eyes as she said this and Faith did not break off the gaze when she continued, "Then he started saying some flat-out crazy shit - how he knew from the first day we were meant for each other, he owned me, I belonged to him. When I couldnt listen to it anymore, I raised my voice, he was about to hit me and thats when your guy showed up...and then you came in."
"Im glad I was here."
"That reminds me, why are you here?"
"Cody was here when I arrived, what are you doing here?"
"He had an appointment and asked me to cover for a while."
"R-e-a-l-l-y? I suppose it was one of those spur of the moment ones, huh?"
"I dont know, he said it was very important."
"Yeah, I just bet it was." There was a spark in Faiths eye and she muttered to herself, "Paybacks are a bitch, Cody."
"Sorry, I missed that."
"Hm-m? Oh, no, I was just thinking out loud."
"Was that all that James said?"
"Of course." Faith answered too quickly as she sat on the couch and rolled the glass between her hands.
"What else did he say?"
"What do you mean?"
"I know he said more than what youre telling me. He brought me into it when I came into the room. He said it was my fault, so tell me the rest."
"It wasnt anything new, he just repeated the same accusations hed made a few days ago."
"You saw him before this? When?"
"When I was out on a run."
"When, Faith?" Randi didnt know why it was important for her to know specifics, but was worried about Faith.
Faith took a deep breath, "The day we had our discussion in your office."
"I see...so what did he say?"
"It was stupid, Randi."
"Faith - tell me - please."
"He said you had returned the drink, that you were trying to keep us apart so you could have me to yourself. I told you it was stupid."
"Not to him, obviously." Randi sat next to Faith and put her hand on her shoulder. "Can we talk now?"
"About us. Please, youve been preventing me from saying anything, but I need to try to explain it to you."
"You dont have to explain, Randi."
"Yes, I do. And you know I do, or else you wouldnt have been making it so hard on me."
"What are you talking about?"
"Youve been playing with me for days."
Faith looked into the cool blue of Randis eyes, wishing she could hide in Randis embrace. "I dont play."
"Sorry, wrong word, but you know what I mean. Youve been seriously trying to drive me crazy - ."
"And?" A smirk turned up the corners of Faiths lips.
Randi hesitated for a long time, considering whether or not to tell her the truth in light of all that had gone on this evening.
As if reading her mind, Faith said, "Im fine, Randi. James rattled me, but Im ok. Now, its you and I - just you and I. So, you say Ive been trying to drive you crazy, and - ?"
"Youre driving me to distraction." Randi took a deep breath and slowly let it out as she took a frightening step. "I cant get you out of my mind, I miss you, I want to touch you again, I cant seem to wait to see you - whenever I can see you."
"I didnt think youd tell me all that. Its how Ive been feeling for a while. Now what do we do?"
"What would you like to do?"
Faith smiled, but it quickly faded. "Whats wrong, Faith?"
With a heavy sigh, Faith said, "Its all circumstances, Randi. Here, were just Randi and Faith. On campus, its Faith and Dr. Suzanne. Id like us to be Miranda and Faith. I dont mean I want to cross campus holding your hand, but Id like to be able to touch each other without one of us freezing up or ending up in an argument."
Randi knew who Faith meant when she said " one of us" and also knew deep in her heart, she wanted the same thing. She turned to face Faith and gently cupped her palm to Faiths cheek. "Id like that, too, dearheart. I have kept the distance between my different lives for so long that it will take some work, but I promise you that I will try."
"Thats all I could ask, Randi."
Their lips met once, then twice; caressing softly with unspoken passion. Faith pulled away and smiled shyly at Randi. "I think its time for me to go."
"OK, Ill walk you out."
Faith raised an eyebrow at Cody, who was behind the bar. He simply smiled and nodded to her slightly. Faith felt a soft, yet strong hand slip into hers as they crossed the bar to the door. She glanced down and her spine straightened as she proudly let this beautiful woman escort her out.
"Careful, youre beginning to strut." Randi whispered out the corner of her mouth. She was dazzled by the brilliant smile shining from Faiths face.
"Believe me, Randi, I have a damn fine reason to be strutting." She flipped her strawberry-blond tresses over her shoulder, haughtily.
They both began to chuckle as they walked out the door.
Both Faith and Miranda noticed a welcome change in their relationship in the following days. They had relaxed and found an ease to their life on campus. Neither went out of their way to touch or be alone with the other; they let opportunities arise and went with them. Faith had had proof that Miranda was truly going to try to adjust to their relationship a week after the incident with James at The Rock.
For once, Dr. Suzanne was running late. Her students had seated themselves in class and were waiting patiently the thirty minutes required for a Ph.D.. Fifteen minutes into the time line, Dr. Suzanne flew into the room, making apologies as she entered.
"Sorry, folks, you know those last minute meetings." She reached the desk, dropped her briefcase, flung off her jacket and turned to her class as she put the jacket on the chairback. "OK, continuing our discussion from yesterday - ." She stopped as she focused on her students - every last one of them had their jaws on the floor, including Faith and Richard.
Having no idea what was going on, her eyes pinned the fellow that had told Richard how hard her class was, to his seat. She was vaguely aware of Faith trying to get her attention, "Mr. Phillips, would you mind explaining just what has your and everyone elses attention?" Her voice was thin and icy, she glanced at Faith and saw her throw up her hands in surrender at a lost cause. Miranda quirked her eyebrow and returned her gaze to the squirming student.
He swallowed loudly, "Um - Dr. Suzanne..."
"Yes?" The tone was even icier.
"It seems," he cleared his throat and risked a glance at his neighbor who at that moment was eternally glad Dr. Suzanne had not chosen him. "It seems you have a love bite."
Mirandas eyebrows arched, "Excuse me?!"
Faith hooted in rib-cracking laughter as she called out, "Doc, youve got a hickey!"
A deep flush colored Mirandas face as her hand came to the open V-neck of her blouse. A few more students began to chuckle, but swallowed the sound when pinned by the ice chips in her eyes. Faith tried not to roll out of her desk. She froze when she heard Mirandas voice.
"Well, I guess that explains all those curious glances at the staff meeting," she deadpanned.
It started as a snicker and gradually changed to a rolling deep laugh erupting from Miranda. She leaned back on the wall and the rest of the class joined in with laughter, hooting, and a few catcalls. Of course, the catcalls were led by Richard, then followed up by some from Faith.
Ten minutes later everyone was trying to catch their breath and Miranda had moved to lean against the front of the desk. "OK, back to the discussion - ."
"Aw-w, Doc, youre not going to leave us hanging, are you?" Richard called out from the back.
The ice chips had melted, but their spark was still deep in the back of her eyes. The spark of ice melted to drops as a student in front said, "Yeah, come on; you can tell us; we wont say anything!"
A chuckle rambled in Mirandas throat, "Who are you trying to kid? This is a college campus!"
A few students chuckled and also nodded their heads. Slowly, a shy hand was raised near the back of the room. The one international student of the class was finally coming out of her shell. Miranda pointed at her.
"Considering that you have just come from a staff meeting, Dr. Suzanne, I would say its already all over campus."
Faith couldnt help the newest round of laughter shaking its way out of her. Richard was holding his sides and in a gasping breath, said, "Did you both at least have fun?"
Miranda glanced from face to face, seeing their curiosity at discovering how "real" a professor could actually be. She saw the burgeoning realization that even teachers were human, "I havent seen this reaction since my sixth graders found out I actually went home at the end of the day!"
This amusing thought crossed her mind as she continued to look from face to face. She hesitated a little longer on Faiths shining face than everyone elses and then settled on Richard.
"I think the best answer to that, Richard, would be a resounding most definitely!" The smile that graced her face sent tingles down the spines of everyone present. Faith felt those tingles to the tips of her fingers and toes. She worked hard to control the smile that wanted to break across her own face.
Miranda knew there was no point in trying to continue with class. "OK, people, this is going to give you more time to prepare your outlines that are due in a couple of days. Class dismissed."
No one was going to look a gift horse in the mouth and the room quickly emptied.
Three days later, Faith stopped in Mirandas office. Miranda was kicked back in her chair, legs crossed on the corner of her desk, going over the outlines. Faiths tongue wet her upper lip as she followed the curve of Mirandas leg up to the hem of her skirt. Miranda felt a chill run through her body as Faiths eyes continued up her body and settled on her lips.
"Hi, Faith, whats up?"
"I was wondering if youd like to go to lunch with me."
"That would be great. In the Student Center?"
"No, I thought wed run into town to The Rock."
Miranda hesitated just a moment, "OK, lets go." She swung her legs down and grabbed her jacket.
Before they reached the door, Miranda took Faiths hand in hers and brushed her lips across the knuckles. Faiths eyes blinked a couple of times, "What was that for?"
"No particular reason, just felt like it. Is it all right with you?"
Faiths face brightened, "Oh, definitely!" She quickly kissed her on the cheek and they headed to Faiths car.
Sounds of saws and hammers assailed their ears before they reached the doors of The Rock.
"What the hell is all that noise?"
"Sounds like saws and hammers."
Faith caught the smirk on Randis face, "You know, Miranda, everyone likes a piece of ass, but nobody likes a smart ass."
Miranda chuckled as she opened the door for Faith, "Come on Ill buy you lunch."
Miranda led her to a quiet table, but Faiths eyes were riveted to the workmen bracing out a hole in the wall separating the bar and back room.
After they were seated, Faith looked at Miranda and asked, "Whats going on?"
"Just having some improvements made."
Faith had a suspicion of why the improvements were "just being made," but didnt think Miranda would admit it. "Why a window to the back room?"
"To prevent any further problems. That way, the bartender can have a straight shot and know whats going on."
"Youre doing this because of me, arent you?"
"I have to think of my customers."
"Dont hand me that shit, Miranda. You and I both know theres more to it than that. Dont stroke me."
"I thought you liked it when I stroked you."
A flush rose unbidden to Faiths cheeks, "Dont try to distract me. Why are you doing this?"
Miranda knew she was cornered. "OK, Faith. I contacted them after the incident between you and James. The thought of you back there unprotected sent a chill through me. Im glad I didnt get the full story of what happened until after he was gone. I may have killed him...or made him wish for me to kill him. With a window, something like that cannot happen again. If it starts, one of us can get there more quickly."
"I appreciate your concern, Miranda, but Im not helpless."
"I am aware of that, but everyone needs help now and then."
"Granted. Although, my previous experience back there was very, very pleasant."
"Oh, that it was. Thats why the window has a darkening agent running through it that I can access with a remote control."
"Always planning, huh?"
"Not really." Miranda looked at Faith and she saw an answering desire in the sea-green eyes. "Just like to be prepared...in case an opportunity arises." She smiled warmly at Faith and then turned to order from the waiter who had remained quiet and unobtrusive during their conversation. He walked back to the kitchen with their order and a wide smile. The Rock had as much of a grapevine as the college, but Randi had never been the topic of the rumor mill and those that worked there were happy for her.
"So how bout filling in some blanks?"
"Blanks about what?"
A wistful smile crossed Mirandas face, "I named it after my favorite pub in England. Its proper name is the Rockingham Arms, but everyone calls it The Rock. Its in a village in the south of England. Nice people, good food, great atmosphere. I hoped to duplicate it here."
"Id say youve succeeded."
"How does a college professor come to own a bar?"
"Natural progression from tending bar. Id wanted my own place for a while, and when the opportunity presented itself, I went for it."
"Youve certainly been successful in your life. Im sure your mother would be proud."
"Yes, I believe she would be, although, Im sure shed remind me that theres more to life than success in work."
"She would, huh?"
"Oh, yes. She believed in hard work, but she also believed in having a full life - love, adventure, all of it making you a well-rounded individual."
Faith took a moment to look at her own life and what she hoped to accomplish. She nodded, saying, "Sounds like she was a wise woman."
"Yes, she was."
They continued to talk as The Rock filled with lunch customers. After glancing at her watch, Faith knew it was time to go.
"As much as Im enjoying this, Miranda, I have class in half an hour."
"Damn, I didnt know it was so late. Ive got to get back, also."
"Another faculty meeting?" Faith grinned at the blush that rose up Mirandas neck.
"No, just the outlines I got from your class."
On their way out the door, Faith brushed Mirandas hand. "Thank you, Miranda."
"For coming to lunch with me, for wanting to protect me, for not freaking in class the other day with the hickey incident...but, most of all, for trying."
Miranda casually put her arm around Faiths shoulders and pulled her tight against her as they reached the car. "My pleasure, dearheart."
When Miranda entered her office, her phone was ringing. Before her answering machine had a chance to kick in, she crossed the room and grabbed the receiver.
"Miranda, this is Loredith, do you have a minute?"
"Yes, Loredith, what can I do for you?"
"If you have the time, Id like you to come over to my office, Id rather not have this conversation on the phone."
Not liking the ominous tone of the other womans voice, Miranda asked, "Whats wrong, Loredith?"
"As I said, this isnt something I want to discuss on the phone, but its about Faith Epling."
"Im on my way."
Loredith ushered Miranda in and shut her office door. Once settled behind her desk, her fingers nervously stroked the desk blotter. Since she didnt know where to start, Miranda jumped in.
"You said this was about Faith?"
Noticing the deep concern in Mirandas voice and the lack of the use of Faiths surname, some questions formed in the registrars head. Putting them aside for the moment, she began. "Ive had some disturbing questions come to me about Faith."
"Concerning what?" The concern in Mirandas voice was being replaced with rising anger.
"Mainly concerning her welfare." Seeing Mirandas body stiffen, the older woman continued. "Faith has many friends on this campus, many she has no idea of. Although shes been here less than eight months, she has made quite an impression on us and that is why were worried about her."
Taking a calming breath and keeping her voice even, Miranda said, "Loredith, youre not really telling me a lot. What is going on?"
"Theres been a young man asking about Faith all over campus. Hes not only asking questions, but also making some disturbing statements."
Instinctively knowing who must be the young man in question, a blazing rage filled Mirandas body. Her eyes became chips of ice as she muttered, "James Train."
Shocked by her knowledge, the registrar openly stared at the younger woman across the desk from her. Loredith felt she knew why she could feel the heat of fury emanating from her. "How did you know?"
"Ive made his acquaintance." There was a note of dead, flat calm to her voice that was frightening.
"Just exactly what has he been saying?"
"Hes asked about her schedule, her major, her advisor. Hes even asked about her finances!"
"Yes, then his statements have bordered on the realm of fantasy."
"They range from her being secretly engaged to him to the statement that shes being kept by a female bar owner."
Miranda was now a barely concealed volcano. Loredith was a long trusted member of staff, one of whom was aware of Mirandas "other" life. Her unspoken questions from the beginning of their conversation were answered as she watched Miranda. She saw pain, concern, anger, and rage boiling just beneath the surface of Mirandas body.
"Miranda - ." Loredith saw she was unheard. The strength of steel replaced the softness in her tone. "MIRANDA."
Miranda was startled from her thoughts. "Yes?"
"We will be notifying the security office and the city police."
"Of course...and I think Ill call in a few favors."
"Mr. Train is going to find himself having a difficult time on campus."
"I dont think your favors will be necessary."
"Because Ive gotten calls from all corners of campus. As I said, Faith has friends here she knows nothing about. Word has spread about what Mr. Train has been doing and saying, and to put it mildly, the whole campus is pissed."
The normally reserved, genteel womans last word shocked Miranda, but at the same time warmed her to hear and see evidence of the affection she had for Faith. The color in Lorediths cheeks made Miranda smile.
"I understand, Loredith. We all want to protect Faith."
Clear grey eyes found Mirandas, "Some more than others I would say."
A playful sparkle was in Mirandas eye as she said, "Do you have anyone specific in mind?"
"Oh, I think we both do."
Miranda chuckled softly and then had a sobering thought, "How do we stop these rumors about Faith and her being kept by the female bar owner?"
"Theres nothing to stop. As the questions and concerns were brought to me, I quelled them. Now, we have a tougher question."
"Who will we tell Faith, and how?"
"That is definitely a tough question. Shes not the type to run from a problem."
"When shes on campus, she can be protected without it being noticeable, but off campus is a problem. So, will you tell her?"
"What? What do you mean, will I tell her?"
"Well, I assumed you would want to be the one to see her off-campus."
"I see. No, Id rather not tell her. She wont like it if she thinks Im keeping an eye on her, as though she cant take care of herself."
"I agree she would not like it, and shed let you know it."
Miranda laughed out loud, knowing Loredith was right on the money.
Mirandas anger had reasserted itself as she walked back to her office. She wished she had something to throw, but was able to calm herself with thoughts of a long workout at home.
Miranda was dripping sweat as she finished her last set of reps. The muscles in her arms had finished twitching from the torment of heavy weights and her legs trembled when she walked across the room for the phone. She felt fatigued as well as energized from the workout and was glad her anger had also dissipated.
She waited with growing concern as Faiths phone rang unanswered. Finally, after eight rings, it was picked up.
"Faith? Are you there?"
A panting voice answered, "Yeah, Im here."
"Are you ok?"
"Im fine. Sorry it took so long, Miranda. I just got back from running. I heard the phone as I unlocked the door."
"Thats ok, no need to apologize. I was wondering if youd like to go to dinner and a movie."
"Sounds like fun, what time?"
"Ive just finished my workout and need to shower and change first."
"Why?" The playful tone in Faiths voice caught Miranda off guard.
"I know why you want to shower, but why change? Im sure your workout clothes are presentable...what do you workout in?"
Miranda thought, "So she wants to play, huh?" She began to smile, "Well, right now, Im wearing a white halter sports bra thats soaked with sweat, which is making it see through." Miranda heard an audible gulp from Faith. "The shorts are ..."
Faith could take no more; her mind whirled with thoughts of Mirandas sweat covered body. "OK, ok, you can stop now."
Mirandas voice purred in Faiths ear, "Are you sure you want me to stop?"
There was a moment of hesitation, then Faith was able to say, as her voice broke, "No...I mean yes. I never shouldve started that, I bow to the master."
A light laugh came from Miranda. "Ill pick you up in an hour."
"Ill be ready."
"Id say you already are." There was a thump in Mirandas ear as Faith dropped the phone when the effect of the husky tone shot a bolt of electricity through her.
"Sorry, I dropped the phone. See you in an hour."
Miranda was still chuckling as she hung up and headed for the shower.
Faith stood in front of her closet clad in only a towel. A look of intense concentration was on her face as she thought, "What the hell am I going to wear?" She didnt know where they were going to dinner, so she decided on a light blue raw silk shirt and off-white slacks. Faith was reaching for her slacks when the doorbell rang.
"Shit!" She quickly glanced at the clock on her bedside table, wondering where the time had gone. The slacks were still in her hand when she answered the door. Faith saw the momentary smirk on Mirandas face before it was replaced with a warm smile.
Miranda was a few minutes early, but was more than willing to wait if Faith wasnt ready. She was about to speak when the door opened until she saw Faith standing before her clad only in a long sleeved shirt. The sight of Faiths bare, tan, muscular legs took her breath away. A smirk gave way easily to a smile as she appreciated the beauty of the young woman who was growing more dear to her heart with every moment.
Faith returned the smile, saying, "Did you ever have one of those moments when you stand in front of the closet and nothing seems right?"
"Many of them, dearheart. Then, of course, time flies and youre caught in varying stages of being undressed."
"Exactly!" Then Faith remembered she was still half dressed and standing in the doorway of an open door. "Please, come in. Sorry, Ill go finish dressing."
Miranda stepped inside and once Faith had shut the door, Miranda gathered Faith into her arms. The low, throaty purr that came from Miranda surprised them both. "Im not complaining. Youre sure you need to finish dressing?" She nuzzled Faiths neck and ran her hands down Faiths back to the top of her hips. Faith stepped in closer, pressing her body tighter against Mirandas. They both reveled at the exquisite feeling - neither moving - simply drinking in the togetherness that had been rare since their days together.
Faith leaned her head back and was captured by the desire burning in Mirandas eyes. She felt a matching desire radiating throughout her own body. Going with the emotion, Faith brought her hands around to Mirandas chest and rested the palms atop Mirandas breasts. She tipped her head forward and softly sucked on Mirandas quivering bottom lip.
Miranda felt herself melting as Faith softly nibbled on her lip and occasionally nipped it with her teeth. Reluctantly, she pulled back and with a desire induced huskiness said, "What about dinner?"
"Fuck dinner." Faith grabbed the zipper of Mirandas fleece pullover and brought her lips to the exposed skin. Her tongue slipped between Mirandas breasts and as she dragged her tongue upwards, she felt Miranda shudder.
Miranda had been a little surprised at Faiths response, but found herself responding fully to her forceful actions. This was a new experience for Miranda, usually she was the one in control. Previously, she and Faith had shared equally in the initiation of making love, but this felt totally different. With a gentle force, Faith pushed Miranda against the door. Her hands found their way under Mirandas pullover, skimming the waistband of her slacks and enjoying the quivering of stomach muscles. One set of fingers expertly unbuttoned the waistband and dealt with the zipper while the other set of fingers traced the lacy covering of Mirandas bra.
Faith smiled to herself when she heard Mirandas breath catch and then become labored. She felt Mirandas hands float up her sides and come to rest on her shoulders. Then Mirandas grip tightened as she moved her hands inside the back of Mirandas pants to cup her buttocks. Faith spread her hands, beginning to draw Mirandas slacks down over her hips. Once Mirandas slacks and underwear fell to the floor, Faith lifted the sweater over her head and grasped Mirandas breasts through her bra.
Faiths eyes bore into Mirandas, "Do you have any idea how you affect me? I may have been teasing you, but it took all my control to walk away from you. No more walking away, Miranda." Faith attacked Mirandas lips hungrily while slipping the straps of Mirandas bra from her shoulders.
Miranda moved her hands to begin to unbutton Faiths shirt. Faith stopped her hands, pinning them against the door. "No, dont. I want you, I want to touch you, taste you...I want to consume you, Miranda." The deep tone of Faiths voice, her words, and the determined look in her eye touched Miranda to the very core of her being.
Mirandas voice failed her. She wasnt sure what she wouldve said if it hadnt. The emotions flowing throughout her were deep and strong, stronger than shed ever felt before. It terrified her.
Faiths hands and lips took possession of Mirandas body. Stroking, suckling, nipping and grasping until Miranda was a ball of trembling, rolling passion. Faith felt Mirandas knees buckle and gently lowered her to the floor, grabbing a pillow and afghan off the couch to make her more comfortable on the hardwood floor. She resumed her command of Mirandas body as soon as she was settled.
Miranda felt fire raging through her body; the mere touch of Faiths hands or lips made her arch into the touch. The moans of pleasure that escaped her only served to drive Faith further in her ownership of Mirandas body, and possibly her soul.
Faith had reached the soles of Mirandas feet and began to bring her erotic massage back up Mirandas body. The scent of arousal overwhelmed her as she massaged Mirandas muscular thighs. As Faith neared the apex of Mirandas legs, her hips thrust upward to quicken the much desired contact.
The all-encompassing desire to totally possess Miranda had a strangle hold on Faith. She knew she could not stop now if shed wanted to or if Miranda had asked her to stop. Mirandas moan became a scream of ecstasy as Faith devoured her. Her muscles convulsed with the strength of her orgasm. Her body had lifted off the afghan, but Faith did not stop. She continued to stimulate and stroke Mirandas outer lips as her tongue dipped into a well of pleasure.
Before Faith was done with her, Miranda lost track of her orgasms. She could only concentrate on the brilliant feeling of Faiths touch. Faith finally released her, knowing Miranda was weak and on the verge of unconsciousness. She took Miranda in her arms, holding her close, sharing the glow of satiation they both had experienced.
Sunlight beaming through blinds wakened Miranda. Somehow she had ended up in Faiths bed. She stretched, wincing slightly from being ravished throughout the night. Her hand moved to seek out Faiths body and she discovered she was alone. Miranda glanced about the room and saw a single white rose in a bud vase on the nightstand by the bed. A note had been propped against it.
Ran out for breakfast. Back soon. Dont move...please.
Miranda read the note a second time, her eyes settling on the word "love." She wasnt sure if it was meant simply as a closing or expressed what Faith was feeling. Miranda recognized that it was love she felt for the young woman, yet wasnt ready to admit it. These emotions seemed to have taken her by storm, creating a whirlwind in her mind. The strength was one shed never felt before, and it actually scared her to think about taking their relationship to the next level and putting a voice to her feelings. Both she and Faith had had the common experiences of hurt and loss that made them naturally cautious.
Thirty minutes later, Miranda was wakened by sleek fingertips stroking through her hair and across her neck. She blinked, rubbed her eyes, and smiled sleepily at Faith.
"Morning," she said.
"What took you out so early this morning? Hopefully, not just to get breakfast for me."
"I usually wake early and run, I didnt want to disturb you since you seemed to be sleeping so soundly."
"That was very thoughtful of you," A sly smirk began to play across Mirandas face, "since youre responsible for it."
"Responsible for what?"
"For causing me to sleep so soundly, Im normally a very light sleeper. You wore me out."
Faith beamed with pride, and Miranda laughed aloud. Faith quickly kissed her, "Be right back."
Miranda heard bags rustling and dishes being brought out of the cupboard. Faith returned momentarily with a bed tray that she put over Mirandas lap.
"Wow! This looks great. Wheres yours?"
"Dig in, Ill be right back to join you."
Faith returned shortly with her own plate and sat cross-legged facing Miranda.
They chatted easily as they ate, enjoying the leisurely start to their morning. Sooner than either liked, Miranda mentioned that she needed to go so she could shower and change.
They embraced at the door and Miranda asked Faith out to dinner again that evening.
Faith grinned wickedly, "Want to try it again, huh?"
As she brushed Faiths lips with her own, Miranda said, "Of course. Ive got to go, but Ill see you in class later, right?"
"Sure. Wouldnt miss it."
They kissed once more and Miranda was gone. Faith leaned against the closed front door, in the same spot she had pinned Miranda the previous night, as the realization of her true feelings nearly overwhelmed her.
"Aw-w, man, what am I going to do?"
Miranda was happy and disconcerted; her classes had begun to come together and many were showing great promise, but she was puzzled by her growing feelings for Faith. She knew what they were, how she felt when she was with Faith, but was unsure of how to let Faith know or even if she dared to let her know. "Is it too soon? Weve not known each other that long...but I want that chance," she thought as she watched her Analysis of Brit Lit class working. Faith was in her usual seat in the back and a small smile would cross her face whenever she caught Miranda looking at her.
Faith was fully dressed this time when Miranda arrived at her door. They both laughed nervously as they remembered the previous evening.
"Where are we going?" Faith asked.
"Have you ever been to the Down Under?"
"No, but Ive heard its very nice. Good food, too, if my sources can be trusted."
"Your sources can definitely be trusted. If The Rock had a bigger menu, Id try to steal their chef."
"That good, huh?"
"Ive always been very pleased when there. Ready to go?"
Faith grabbed her jacket, double checked her ID and nodded. "Ready."
Later, after dinner, they decided to go to The Rock for a drink instead of a movie. The Rock was quiet, but there were plenty of customers to keep everyone going at a steady pace. Happy smiles from workers and customers greeted them when they entered. Everyone seemed to know what they were feeling even though they had just recognized it themselves and had yet to voice the feelings.
Cody watched them pick a table in a quiet corner, then had one of the waiters take over their drinks. Faith was surprised that he remembered what she drank, and Miranda was impressed. They were speaking quietly, holding hands, when a cleared throat interrupted.
"Excuse me, Randi?"
"Hey, Cody, good job with the drinks."
"Thanks. Good enough that I can ask a favor?"
Randi laughed, "I knew there was a catch! Whats the favor?"
"Could we have a show this year for the festival? Its a celebration, wed have more business than we could handle, Im sure wed - ."
He stopped mid-sentence when Randi held up her hand. "OK, I get it. The festival is important and a show might be fun, but on one condition."
"You organize and emcee it that night."
"Uh-h...me? Usually its the owner - ." He halted when he saw the determined look on Randis face. "OK, ok, Ill do it."
"I thought you would."
Faith felt totally lost. "What festival?"
Cody smiled with enthusiasm, "Oh, thats right, youre new here. Its called the Harvest Festival, but its evolved into so much more! There are block parties, shows, parades, concerts - you name it!"
"Cool! How long does it last?" Faith found Codys enthusiasm infectious.
"Just a long weekend, but its a great one! Youll help, wont you, Faith?"
That stopped Faith in her tracks, Miranda raised her eyebrows because she knew Faith was caught. Cody could be very persuasive when he wanted to be.
"Sure, but Cody, understand this - its now two paybacks I owe you."
Miranda looked back and forth at them. Faiths eyes had narrowed half-seriously and Cody was turning a faint shade of red.
Bluffing, he knew, was futile, but decided to give it a try anyway. "Two? Granted, you walked into the show, but whats the - oh,that."
"Yes, that. You know exactly what Im thinking about, dont you?"
Miranda was befuddled, "But I dont. Care to fill me in?"
Cody gulped loudly and turned a brighter shade of red. As he began to stammer, Faith jumped in, "Oh, his last minute appointment that just happened to bring you in while I was in the pool room."
Miranda remembered that night with no problem, "So-o, playing matchmaker, Cody?"
He took a deep breath and decided to go for broke. "Well, hell, Randi, you were mopin around and she didnt look much happier. You two belong together; we all see it. I cant help it if you two are so blind not to see it...or maybe dont want to admit it." That said, he walked back behind the bar.
Faith and Mirandas eyes locked after Cody walked away. "Well," Faith deadpanned, "I guess he told us."
"Why do I feel like my mother just gave me a dressing down?"
"My feelings exactly."
They spent the rest of the evening avoiding the subject Cody had dropped in their laps.
Cody had given last call and the crowd had thinned out considerably. The waiters had begun to clean up when Randi and Faith decided to leave. They waved at Cody and, holding hands, left the bar.
As they approached Randis car, Faith heard a noise in the alley. Before she could react, rough hands grabbed her from Randis gentle hold.
"Bitch! I knew you were messing around on me!" James backhanded her and Faith tasted blood.
She retaliated with an uppercut to his jaw that stunned him. "Are you fuckin nuts? I dont even know you!"
As she spoke, James recovered, grabbed her upper arm and threw her to the ground. Faith landed on the concrete hard, knocking the breath out of her. He had drawn his foot back to kick her when he was grabbed by the shoulder and spun backwards.
The attack had happened so fast, Randi had little time to process what was happening. When she saw Faith hit the ground, her simmering anger at James erupted with volcanic ferocity and she grabbed him away from Faith. Her fist connected with his jaw and she felt a satisfying crunch.
James screamed in pain and backed away, his eyes scanning the area for anything he could use against the woman stalking towards him with a murderous look in her eye. He saw the end of a board protruding from the alley he had hidden in. James rushed for the board, grabbed it and turned on Randi.
"You are a mother fucking bitch! Do you think you can take her from me?"
"You are truly an ass, James." Randi saw Faith getting groggily to her feet out the corner of her eye. "Come on, youre going to take me on by yourself? Oh, thats right, you have no friends, do you?" Randi tried to keep his attention on her so he wouldnt notice Faith had risen. Its not really a surprise, is it, James? Youve alienated everyone on campus because of your words and actions towards Faith. Ive got a news flash for you, James." Randis voice raised to a shout, "Shes doesnt want you! So stay the fuck away from her!"
"No-o-o!" James howled and ran towards Randi swinging the board.
Randi ducked as she spun and caught him squarely in the chest with a powerful roundhouse kick. James backpedaled as he was knocked off balance and slammed into one of the plate glass windows of The Rock. Randi watched him slide to the ground and then turned to Faith.
Cody had been drying glasses when he heard the impact on the glass. He looked up in time to see James slide down the window and Randi turn to Faith.
Cody vaulted over the bar and ran for the door.
Randi had smoothed Faiths hair and had cupped Faiths face with her hands when she heard Cody yell a warning.
"Randi! Look out!"
She had begun to turn, which saved her neck - literally. James had gotten up and swung the board at Randis head like a bat. Because she had turned, the board contacted the broad part of her back and shoulders. Randi screamed as she felt one shoulder pop and fell against Faith, taking them both to the ground.
Cody tackled James, pinning him to the sidewalk as he began to pummel James face. Each fall of his fists was punctuated with a short statement.
"What the fuck...do you think...youre doing? She doesnt...love you! You...sick...son of a...bitch!"
James face was beginning to resemble ground beef when Faiths words finally reached Codys ears. "Cody! Stop before you kill him!"
Cody shook his head, attempting to clear it, as he rose from the inert body. "Crazy bastard," he muttered. He looked at the small crowd of workers that lined the doors and windows, drawn there by Codys flight out of the door. He saw anger in many of the faces directed at James. He nodded to two of the waiters, and they wordlessly moved to guard James.
"Call 911 - tell them to send an ambulance and the cops."
One of the faces disappeared from the window and grabbed the phone.
Faith held Randi close to her. She was afraid to move due to the cry of pain she heard the first time she had attempted to get out from under Randi.
Randis back was spasming in pain. She concentrated on calming her breathing and began to take stock of her injuries. Her right arm was useless and she felt blood running down her back. As the pain began to ebb, she turned her head carefully to look at Faith. Tears glistened at the edges of frantic sea green eyes.
Randis voice was soft, "Faith, are you all right?"
Faith did not loosen her hold, but breathed a sigh of relief, "Im fine, Randi. Be still, the police and paramedics are on the way."
Randi used her left arm to lift herself off Faith. When Faith tried to restrain her, Randi reassured her, "Its ok; Im going slowly, Faith. Besides, I dont want help to get here and find me on top of you." She chuckled lightly, but stopped quickly when a stab of pain shot through her back.
"Help is already here." From the corner of her eye, she saw Cody kneeling beside her. "Maybe you should stay right where you are. Everything is taken care of."
Randi eased back down, "James?"
"Hes not going anywhere until the cops get here."
Randi turned her head again and saw James sitting against the wall of The Rock with four of the biggest and meanest looking waiters surrounding him. She could tell that if he so much as twitched, he would regret it. Randi knew she had hurt him, but wasnt responsible for the blood pouring from his nose, mouth, and various cuts on his face. She felt her head begin to spin when she looked up at Cody. "You?"
"Thanks," she passed out with her head on Faiths shoulder.
Miranda came to with a throbbing headache and a soft weight on her arm. She slowly opened her eyes to a dimly lit room. Glancing around, she discovered that weight on her arm was Faiths head, who had fallen asleep on Mirandas bicep. Miranda went to touch Faiths hair and discovered her right arm strapped down. She tried to flex it and was rewarded with a throbbing pain radiating through her shoulder. Her gasp of pain woke Faith.
"Wha - ? Randi, youre awake. Thank God." Again, there was a glistening moisture at the edges of her eyes. She buried her face in Randis shoulder with a sob.
"Hey, hey...Faith, whats wrong?"
Faith shook her head, unable to answer. Miranda softened her voice to a loving whisper, "Faith, Im ok. Come on, dearheart, please dont cry."
Faith raised her head and Miranda wiped away the tears left on Faiths face with her good hand. Mirandas attention was drawn away from Faith by a nurse bustling through her door.
"So, youve finally decided to rejoin the world, Dr. Suzanne?"
"What do you mean - finally?"
"Youve been unconscious for two days and this one," she motioned toward Faith, "put up quite a vocal battle when the doctor tried to get her to leave."
Miranda arched an eyebrow and looked at Faith, who dropped her eyes to the blanket of Mirandas bed. "She did, did she?"
"Oh, yes, it was the talk of the hospital for quite a while."
Miranda heard Faith groan and a small smile crossed her face. "She does have a temper. Ive found shes not one to be backed into a corner."
Faith finally interrupted, "OK, you two, stop talking like Im not even in the room. You passed out before the squad arrived, and I wasnt leaving until I knew you were going to be all right."
The nurse quickly checked Mirandas vital signs, made her notes in a chart and assured her the doctor would see her during rounds. She suspected the couple needed some privacy now that Dr. Suzanne was conscious; shed heard the circumstances of her injuries and had seen the worry in Faiths eyes.
Miranda took hold of Faiths hand and pulled her forward. "Come up here."
"Miranda, youre hurt."
"Im hurting more not being able to touch you. Come up here...please."
Faith couldnt resist such a heartfelt plea and honestly, she wanted to be closer to Miranda, too. She carefully climbed onto the bed beside Miranda, laying on her side to prevent striking Mirandas injured shoulder.
Miranda put her left arm around Faith and pulled her close. "Now, tell me, how are you?" She softly kissed Faiths temple.
"Im fine, a little sore, but nothing compared to what you went through."
Miranda ran her fingertip over Faiths split lip. "Im so sorry, Faith. He got hold of you before I knew it."
Faith kissed the fingertip at her lips, "Miranda, you have nothing to be sorry for. Its not your fault; James had serious problems, but he cant hurt us now."
"Where is he?"
"They moved him to jail yesterday. He was in the prison ward while they wired his jaw shut and set his nose. You and Cody messed him up pretty badly. That reminds me, the police seemed to know about him already. Have any idea how that was possible?"
"Uh, Faith, Im feeling a little tired."
As much as Faith didnt want to tire Miranda any further, she felt Miranda wasnt telling her everything.
"OK, but we will talk later. Let me up so you can get some rest."
"No." The finality of Mirandas tone surprised Faith and brought a chuckling smile to her face.
"No. I want you right where you are."
"You do, huh?"
"Yes, I do. Ive lost two days with you; I dont intend to lose any more."
This was the closest Miranda had ever gotten to sharing her true feelings, and Faith felt her throat constrict. All the worry, terror, and fright shed felt since the attack flooded her system.
"God, Miranda, I thought I had lost you. I wish it had been me."
"Dont say that, Faith."
"Its true, Miranda. I would die for - ." Faith stopped as Miranda put her fingers on Faiths lips.
"No, Faith, listen to me carefully. Dont ever say that, I dont want you to die for me, Faith, I want you to live for me. Thats all I could ever hope for; just live for me."
Faith laid her head on Mirandas shoulder and nuzzled her neck. Though it was said into the skin of her neck, Miranda heard, "I love you, Miranda."
Miranda was released from the hospital early the next day. The doctor had said she could return to class Monday. This meant that she only missed the two days she was unconscious because she had enlisted Faiths role as grad assistant for Fridays class. Faith wasnt happy to leave, but realized it was necessary.
"Ill be fine, Faith; stop worrying."
"You may as well tell me to stop breathing."
Miranda cupped Faiths cheek tenderly. "Dearheart, I am truly touched, but Im okay...really."
"Miranda, you had a concussion, and that shoulder is still healing."
"Thats why they kept me here, hon, and my clipped wing is showing progress. I need you to do this, Faith."
Faith let out a heavy sigh, "I know, and its my job. How are you getting home?"
"Codys going to get my car, and one of the other waiters will follow and take Cody back."
"OK, as long as all the bases are covered."
"Will you call me tonight and let me know how class goes?"
"Ill do better than that, Ill come over."
A brilliant smile crossed Mirandas face, "That would be great. Ill see you tonight."
Faith kissed Mirandas cheek and headed to campus.
Faith got to Mirandas house later than expected and found her pacing the driveway. Before Faith was fully out of the car, Miranda had grabbed her in a tight one-armed hug.
"Hey, whats all this?" Faith finished pulling her leg out the door and wrapped her arms around Miranda.
"I got worried."
"Im sorry, hon, I shouldve called. I got called to Mrs. Lowes office after class. The police were waiting for me."
"About the attack?"
"Yep. They asked me to describe my side of it and then questioned me. They had already talked to Cody and hes in the clear; theyre calling it self-defense even though he was defending us."
"Im glad theyre not going to charge him. They contacted me at the hospital, but the doctor ran interference for me."
"They also told me the college had already informed them about James and the actions he was taking on campus."
"Yeah, and apparently the college had initiated a plan to protect me."
"Really...wow." Miranda began to move towards the house.
"Hold it right there, Miranda Suzanne."
Miranda froze, but didnt turn around. She knew the jig was up and she was going to hear about it.
Miranda turned and saw a combination of happiness and anger on Faiths face. She swallowed, but would not break eye contact.
"Are you going to fill me in or shall I fill you in?" Faith watched as Miranda began to squirm and stopped the smirk that was trying to break across her face. Faith waited a minute and when Miranda said nothing, she proceeded, "OK, so Ill bring you up to date. You and Mrs. Lowe put your heads together and decided I needed protection, but didnt want to tell me. Doing all this on the QT, sneaking around - ."
"We didnt sneak," Miranda said softly.
"Fine, no sneaking, but I was watched on campus by God knows how many people, and then you take it upon yourself to be my bodyguard off campus! Due to this, you end up in the damned hospital with a concussion, a dislocated shoulder, and a very serious puncture wound in your back! Now, would you like to explain to me why you felt the need to not tell me?"
Faith had been touched when shed found out what had been done for her, but shed also been angry that she hadnt been told. Now, as she recounted the facts and the results of the attack, her anger was outweighing everything else. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself and unconsciously took a step away from Miranda as she reached out to touch Faiths hand.
A small tear in Mirandas heart opened when Faith pulled back. "Faith, Im sorry we didnt tell you what was going on. We were only trying to protect and do what we felt was best."
"Dont you see, Miranda? You made those decisions without asking me!" A new fire lit Faiths eyes when another realization hit her, "That night before the attack, when I...."
"No, Faith, dont even think it! What happened that night had nothing to do with James or my wanting to protect you. What we shared that night was real and special. You have to know it wouldnt have happened if both of us hadnt wanted it . Please dont cheapen it."
There was a palpable strength in Faiths voice, "There was nothing cheap about it, Miranda, I do know that. Not only was it real - it was love. Look, I need some time to deal with all this, so Im going to go home. Class was fine, everyone asked how you were and the students are looking forward to seeing you Monday."
"Wont you come in and we can continue to talk about this? I dont want you to leave upset with me."
"I dont really know what Im feeling now, Miranda, but I do know I need some down time to figure this out. Please, this is hard enough as it is...Ive got to go."
Miranda grabbed Faiths hand before she could reach her car. Faith had tears in her eyes and the tear in Mirandas heart opened wider.
Faiths heart was hurting, also. She grasped Mirandas hand and gently kissed her cheek, "Bye."
Miranda didnt want to let her go, but knew she could not force Faith to stay. "Bye."
The tears ran down Faiths cheeks as she drove back to her apartment. Every time she thought she was cried out, a thought of Miranda would start the tears again. She had purposely taken the long way home so she could stop at her favorite quiet spot and think.
She had discovered the old water wheel bridge during one of her longer runs. Seeing a little traveled road, she had decided to explore it and had been brought to a dead stop by the quiet beauty of the old abandoned mill. The gurgling water of the slow moving river had been soothing to her.
This evening, she pulled her car to the side of the road and got out to sit on the hood. From the back seat, she had brought out her boom box and set it next to her on the hood. Faith knew she was making a poor choice of music, but pressed the play button anyway. She let herself drift away into her thoughts as the first instrumental strains of "Hooked on Romance" began to play.
Faith was replaying the last few days in her mind when her attention was drawn away by the appearance of two nightingales. They seemed to swoop, soar, and circle in time to the music. Faith was captivated. She wasnt sure she was seeing what she thought she was seeing, so she reached over and hit the stop button. Faiths mouth dropped open as the couple flew away under the bridge and out of sight.
She shook her head, "No damn way." She still couldnt believe it, so she hit the play button again. The music started, she cranked the volume and kept an eye on the bridge. "Holy shit," she muttered when she saw the birds returning. They continued to fly in tandem, like lovers. A lump formed in Faiths throat as she watched them, and new tears sprang to her eyes.
Faith watched them throughout the song and as the music began to fade away, they again flew away. She noticed the sun had begun to set and decided to go home.
The car she saw parked in front of Mrs. Browns house didnt register with her until she was getting out of her car and heard, "Well, this will teach me to make unannounced visits!"
Faith chuckled slightly as she turned and watched the approaching brunette. Her heart warmed at the sight of her best friend, "Well, damn, Nat, I thought youd fallen off the face of the earth!"
"Youre one to talk, Faith, I havent heard anything from you since you told me youd seen this bartender that made you drool. So how - hey, whats up?" Natalie recognized the pain that crossed Faiths face and touched her shoulder.
Faith trembled and new tears glistened in her eyes. Natalie put her arm around Faith, "Come on, lets go inside. You can show me your new place and bring me up to date with whats been going on."
Faith was quiet after shed shown Natalie her apartment and they were both settled on the couch with their feet up and mugs of coffee in their hands.
"So hows the new job, Nat?"
"Oh, every day is a holiday," she said, laughing. "Its a challenge and it certainly keeps me on my toes."
"Im glad youre happy. Its about time and you deserve it."
"What about you?"
"Oh, shit, Nat. Right now it seems so damn complicated."
Faith took a deep breath and began to tell Nat the story of her and Miranda. Natalie interrupted occasionally, mostly for clarification, but also once with a gasp at the duality of Miranda/Randi. When Faith repeated what Miranda had said in the hospital about living for her, Natalie nodded her head and said, "Smart woman."
"Think about it, Faith. To give up your life for someone is the ultimate sacrifice, but to choose to live for someone, regardless of any adversity, is the ultimate act of courage...and love."
"Id say Randi isnt the only smart woman I know."
"Now youre just stroking me."
Faith smiled, "Oh, you know I love to stroke you, Nat."
Natalie rolled her eyes, "After all these years, you still havent changed, youre still a flirt!"
They both laughed as they remembered the flirtatious exchanges that had colored their conversations since theyd met. Natalie had never had a gay friend before and both enjoyed the openness they shared. Faith had known Natalie was straight, but both had acknowledged the attraction and admiration they had for the other; it had seemed to deepen their friendship.
"Did you really think Id change?"
"Oh, hell, no! You wouldnt be you if you did! So whats the rest of the story?"
Tears sprang to the corners of Faiths eyes when she remembered the conversation with Randi. "It hurts like a son of a bitch, Nat."
Natalie put her mug down and touched Faiths hand, "Tell me what happened, Faith."
The tears silently trailed Faiths face as she recounted the last twenty-four hours of her life. Natalie saw the emotions crossing her friends face...heartbreak, fear, love, joy and lastly, hopelessness. Once Faith had finished, Natalie reached for a box of tissues on the end table and placed them in front of her.
"She doesnt know your background, does she?"
"What? She knows about my brother and my mothers reaction to my life."
Nat rolled her eyes, "You didnt tell her the rest? Why the hell not? Its obvious what you feel for this woman, Faith. She needs to understand, but she cant do that if she doesnt know the whole story."
A small chuckle came from Faith, "See? I told you that you were a smart woman."
"Yeah, right, whatever. You know youve got to tell her."
"Ill think about it." There was a finality in Faiths voice that Natalie knew not to challenge. She "hmphed" and muttered, "Fine." To herself, she said, "God, I hope you think long and hard about it."
Two days later, Randi paced her house quietly, with a cup of coffee in her hand. "What the hell did I do?" she asked the walls. Even the rhythmic sounds of Chesil Beach failed to soothe her. "Did I just throw away what has become most precious to me?"
She continued to wonder as she paced the house. Memories of her time with Faith there running through her minds eye as she looked at the pool, the deck, and almost every part of her home. Her "retreat" felt very empty right now.
Randi knew if she didnt get her mind off Faith shed go crazy. Figuring to occupy her mind, she booted up her computer and checked her e-mail. She had been expecting a notification from her insurance company about her hospital stay and hoped quietly in her mind that she might have one from Faith.
She sighed heavily when she saw the one from the insurance company but none from Faith. She carefully read it and noticed they had attached a copy of her billing and the arrest report. Wanting to know just what had happened after shed lost consciousness, she opened the arrest report. She grimaced as she read the accounting of the whole attack as though reliving it.
Her eyebrows raised when she saw the box marked "Previous contact with GPD" checked "yes" by Faiths name. Not sure what was making her do it, she began to search, trying to find out what Faiths "Previous contact with GPD" had been.
Her head spoke to her, "What in the name of hell are you doing?"
"Oh, shut up," her heart shot back; "Im looking for answers."
"Maybe this will tell me what I did that made Faith withdraw like that."
"Thats quite a leap of faith...and logic."
"Right now, Ill grasp any straw that might help me."
"Just dont pick the short one." Her head warned.
"What the hell does that mean?"
"There may be something there you dont want to find out."
"I honestly dont believe anything I read here could make me feel differently towards Faith."
"Lets hope so."
Randi was becoming annoyed with this voice, so she switched her music from soothing to rock and roll, "Now, shut up so I can concentrate."
She accessed Faiths records at the college; under achievements was a letter of commendation from the GPD. She attempted to access it, but was told it was a locked document. This really piqued her curiosity. Shed never known a letter of commendation to be locked. When she queried who had initiated the lock, she was surprised that it listed the Director of Registration.
"Well, Loredith, looks like you and I will definitely have to talk tomorrow."
Miranda walked with a purpose. Students moved quickly out of her way, sensing that if they didnt, shed walk over them.
She walked past Lorediths assistant; the look she gave her daring her to try and stop her, "Dont even think about it, T." The assistant, also sensing her survival may be in danger, sat down slowly.
Loredith looked up and was surprised to see Miranda standing in her doorway. "Miranda, what can I do for you?" she said, rising. Upon giving Miranda a quick hug, she felt her tremble. "Darlin, whats wrong?"
"Loredith, I have just had one of the most uncomfortable and unnerving mornings of my life."
"Come here and sit down. Tell me what I can do."
After both were settled in seats, Miranda locked eyes with the older woman, a plea written in her own. "Tell me why you locked Faiths letter of commendation from the GPD."
"Because she asked me to." Loredith knew what was coming, "No, I cant unlock it for you."
"Again, because Faith asked me not to let anyone else see it."
"Can you tell me what it was about?"
Seeing the older woman hesitate, Miranda lost control and cried out, "Please, Loredith, its important."
The Registrar looked at Miranda carefully, "Why?"
"Why is it important?"
Noticing the woman straddling the fence of indecision, Miranda hoped the truth would push her to Mirandas side.
"Because somehow I hurt her and I may be grasping at straws, but I think that letter could help me understand what I did. Loredith, please, I care for her...deeply."
A light with bells and whistles went off in Lorediths head, "Oh my Lord, how could I have been so stupid?"
Miranda was confused, "What are you talking about?"
"Have you seen Faith today?"
"Why do you think my morning was so uncomfortable and unnerving?" She trembled again as she remembered how business-like Faith had been, there was a distance being imposed and Miranda did not like it.
Then after class ended, while exiting Anniversary Hall, Miranda had been unnerved seeing Faith arm in arm with a good-looking brunette. She saw them smile and Faith motioned for Richard, to introduce him. Miranda had seen Faith make the introductions, Richard shake the brunettes hand, and kiss her cheek as Miranda descended the steps. The thought that she may be an old lover of Faiths had also crossed her mind.
"Faith was not herself with me this morning when I saw her in the parking lot. You are not the only one that hurt her, we both did."
"What do you mean we both did?"
"Miranda, Im sorry, but I cant unlock Faiths letter of commendation...."
"No, I cant...but also because I care for her, I will tell you to do some newspaper research."
"Find the State Dispatcher and go back about five years. Specifically, the summer months."
Miranda slowly rose, "Thank you, Loredith."
Loredith spoke as she reached the doorway, "Miranda," she watched the tall woman look over her shoulder, "its about control...hers...and yours."
Miranda wasnt exactly sure what Loredith had meant by that last remark, but she had a feeling it was a warning.
Miranda had been searching on her office computer for an hour before she found the archives for the State Dispatcher. She was quickly scanning the first weeks of the summer eight years ago when she saw a headline that caught her eye:
GREAT LAKES RAPE VICTIM IN COMA AFTER BRUTAL ATTACK
She knew Faith had gotten her undergrad degree from Great Lakes University, so she quickly read the article, but no name was given for the victim. It only stated that the young woman had been found in her home with massive injuries and had slipped into a coma. The article also said the police had opened an investigation and had a couple of suspects.
Miranda continued to scan the headlines for the following weeks. The next week, after the original article, she found another stating that the victim had come out of her coma and had been able to name her attacker. The following articles were mostly about the trial and jury selection. "Come on, give me a name!!" she thought.
Having become dissatisfied with the articles, Miranda went to the court records. She had a driving desire to disprove the feeling in the pit of her stomach. She found a listing of the court docket for the week coinciding with the newspaper article and one for the week after. The latter one made all the blood drain from her face.
GLPD/Epling, F. v. Smalls, M.L.
Accessing the archives of the court records, Miranda discovered details of a most brutal attack. Faith had survived multiple broken and cracked ribs, strained ligaments, massive bruising, internal bleeding and bite marks accompanied by bruises over the more sensitive part of her body.
Tears filled her eyes and the print on the screen began to blur, "Gods! How did she ever survive that?" This thought ran through her head again when she completed reading the testimony. The rape had taken several hours, Faith being beaten throughout it.
She flinched as she read Faiths own testimony. She had described, in graphic detail, all that had been done to her in between bouts of unconsciousness. The tears rolled down Mirandas face at the strength that came through in Faiths words of her testimony. Miranda found her answer in Faiths recounting of the rapists words before he began. "I have control...of you, the time, the place...everything."
All the puzzle pieces finally clicked into place. She and Loredith had taken control away from her when they didnt tell her about James and their plans.
"Damn! Now, how do I make things right without letting her know I know about this?"
Mirandas control was put to the test minutes later when someone knocked on her door. She quickly ran her hands over her face, removing any last traces of tears. "Come in."
Faith poked her head in the door and Mirandas heart began to pound. She quickly minimized the court document and faced Faith.
"You said you had some work for me, Doc?"
Miranda didnt think she could handle having Faith in the office with her right now. Her thoughts were all jumbled, she fought the urge to take Faith in her arms and tell her she knew about the attack...and how much she loved her.
"Uh, no, Im sorry I didnt let you know sooner. It wasnt very important; it can wait."
Miranda gave her a small smile, "Yes, Im sure."
Faith hesitated, but then nodded. "OK, see you in class." She quickly left and flew down the stairs, breathing a sigh of relief until she met Natalie at the door of the building.
"What are you doing back so soon?"
"She said shed changed her mind."
"You had a chance to talk to her and you didnt take it?"
"Quit pushing, Nat."
"Whos pushing? Just because I think you should tell her the rest of it."
"Yes, Nat, I know what you think."
"Just making sure."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Come on, Ill treat you to dinner."
Miranda watched them walk over campus from the window of her office. She had been looking out the window since Faith had left. When she saw Faiths head, she stood and looked out at her, but then noticed her companion. A wave of jealousy washed over her as she recognized what a good couple they seemed to make.
Richard looked up, as did everyone else, when the door to the Rathskellar opened. Seeing no one he knew. he went back to studying. Suddenly, his light was blocked, "Hey, do you mind?" He said as he looked up into intense blue crystal eyes. "Oh, hey, Doc, sorry bout that."
"Do you mind if I sit down?"
"No, go right ahead."
As soon as she sat, Miranda took a deep breath and asked, "Whos the woman Faith is seeing?"
Richard frowned, "What? I thought she was seeing you."
"No, I mean the woman I saw her introduce you to today."
"Oh! Thats Natalie Marks, an old friend of hers."
"Is she an ex of Faiths?"
"Whoa, why the hell are you asking that?" Slowly, Richard grinned, "Youre jealous, arent you? And you wouldnt be jealous if there wasnt something deeper between you two than either of you are telling."
"You find this amusing?"
Richards grin quickly faded to a smirk, "You have to admit, its juicy gossip, Doc. Remember the hickey class?"
Miranda smiled despite her annoyance at him, "So is she an ex?"
"I dont honestly know. Faith introduced her as her friend, nothing else. Its not like its part of a polite introduction, ya know."
"What do you think?"
"Meaning what does my gaydar say?"
"Good question, Im not really sure. What do you think?"
"I havent met the woman; how would I know?"
"Come on, Doc; takes one to know one, doesnt it? Youve seen her, what do you think?"
"I think I want to meet this woman."
"She has a name."
"Fine. I want to meet this Natalie."
Mirandas chance came the next morning as she began to climb the ramp from the parking lot for Anniversary Hall. She looked up and saw the woman - Natalie - walking towards her. Natalie smiled at her and said "Good morning," as she passed.
Miranda nodded to her and then turned back, "Excuse me."
"Arent you Faiths friend?"
"Yes, I am. You are - ?"
"Im Miranda Suzanne."
Natalies eyes glanced over the stylish woman standing before her and knew immediately why Faith had described her the way she had. Miranda Suzanne was a stunning woman; she was someone you could not miss. Her spirit seemed to glow from within and radiated around her.
"Hm-m, so youre Miranda." Natalie extended her hand, seeing the other woman hesitate before taking it in her own. "Nice to finally meet you." She met the firm grip with her own. "Ive heard a lot about you."
"I havent heard anything about you." Miranda was concealing her jealousy badly and she knew it.
Natalies protectiveness of Faith came to the forefront of her mind and she wasnt certain she appreciated what Miranda was implying. "Dont you just hate that? Nice talking to you, Dr. Suzanne." Nat raised her eyebrows a couple of times before turning and walking away.
Miranda was as cool as a cucumber during class though her heart beat wildly upon seeing Faith. The short conversation shed had with Natalie replayed in her mind, and she kicked herself mentally for her lapse of control. Miranda realized when it came to Faith and her feeling for her, she had practically no control whatsoever any more. This was unsettling for a woman to whom control was paramount. With a start, she realized Faith was the same, and her heart hurt as she understood what it must have meant to have had that control taken from her so long ago.
Faith dealt with it well; Miranda had to commend her for that. She had it very together for someone whod undergone such a brutal attack. "Then I go and fuck it up," Miranda said angrily to herself. "Why did I not tell her about James and what we were going to do? That triggered all this."
A bitter voice of her heart joined the other voice in her head, "And w-h-y did you do that? Because one: you like control, two: you wanted to protect her and three: because you love her."
Miranda hung her head and wanted to cry.
Faith noticed Mirandas car still parked in front of her office and wondered what she was doing still at the college at so late an hour. She had just finished a planning session with Cody at The Rock. Natalie and Cody had hit it off, but he did look at Faith quizzically when she introduced Natalie to him. Cody had already approached Randi about recording the show and she said shed contact a friend of hers to recommend someone good. "His contacts are extraordinary, even across an ocean," shed told him. Natalie had jumped into the session with both feet; Cody had said he wanted a blowout show since it was the first. She had made some very original suggestions for mix, lighting, and props.
Faith smiled as she also remembered some of the banter associated with college football. Natalie was an avid LSU fan and Cody a devoted OSU fan. "Hes such a sweetie; I never expected him to like football. Guess you just dont know someone in and out. It takes time." This thought led her right back to Miranda; her smile turned into a frown.
Natalie had been watching the emotions play over her friends face. "Give ya a penny." She saw surprise on Faiths face.
"I didnt know you were watching me. Sorry I lost contact there for a minute."
"Ah, Epling, I watch you just as much as you watch me. Remember our connection."
Faith smiled and nodded. "Another spooky moment?" She and Nat had discovered a deep connection with each other shortly after meeting. Whenever theyd discovered similarities in their past experiences and feelings and quite a few present ones, they called it a "spooky moment" for it felt that they were actually connected with a silken tie.
"Noticed her car didnt you, Epling?"
"Yeah." Faith heaved a huge sigh.
"So tell me why youve been so damned stubborn about this?"
"It takes time to know someone, Nat. I think we rushed it, then hit a brick wall."
"So knock the fucking thing down!" Natalie couldnt understand her reluctance.
"Im scared, ok! Im scared shitless, Nat. Ive never felt like this. The way I feel when Im with her is stronger than anything Ive ever felt. She completes me. What would I do if I began to lose control? I dont want to fuckin freak on her!"
"Have you ever thought about losing control with anyone else?"
"NO!" Thankfully, Faith saw her driveway.
"And if you freak, what is she gonna think, right?"
Faith gave Natalie a frustrated look as she stopped her car in the drive. "Exactly."
In equal frustration, Natalie shut her door a little harder than necessary. "Bullshit."
"What the hell does that mean?"
Natalie laughed, relieving the tension while remembering other arguments of the two highly passionate women. "That means we need to sit down and talk."
Faith started the coffee pot while Natalie used her bedroom to change. Faith yelled, "OK, coffees going! Now what the hell did bullshit mean?"
"You dont have to yell." Faith jumped a little at the sound of Natalies voice so close. She turned and saw her friend at the table, a Cheshire cat grin on her face. "Gotcha!"
Faiths eyes narrowed evilly, "Oh, youre gonna get it."
Natalie waved her hand, "Promises, promises, yeah, yeah."
Normally, their banter warmed Faith. This time it made her warm...very warm. Shed always found Nat attractive, but had tried not to dwell on it too much. It had made her crazy after theyd first met and shed learned to deal with it until it was just burning embers. Now it felt as though someone had thrown gasoline on them. Her eyes followed the line of Nats well defined calf up to where she had the other leg tucked under her. She quickly brought her eyes to Natalies face, hoping she hadnt noticed. Faith tried to ignore the curve of Natalies breasts through the T-shirt she wore.
An angry voice screamed in her head, "My God, what in the living hell do you think youre doing? Youre reacting like a man!! Thinking with your body instead of your heart! Damn, will you get a grip?! You never liked one night stands; its got to mean something!"
"What did you say, Faith?"
"Oh, shit," Faith thought fearfully.
"Its got to mean something. What has to mean something?"
Breathing a sigh of relief, Faith said, "Uh-h, give me a minute, will you?" She hurriedly ran through her bedroom to the bathroom. Faith blasted the cold water and dunked her face into the sink. Just as she was wiping her face, a motorcycle tore up her street. She could tell from the sound it wasnt a Harley, but it was enough for her heart to break the bands around it and beat wildly as her thoughts went to Miranda. "Its got to mean something," she whispered to her reflection.
Feeling more in control, Faith returned to the kitchen area. Natalie had filled mugs and had them on the table when Faith returned.
"Yep. OK, so tell me, I know youre dying to."
Natalie looked at her seriously, "If youve never thought about losing control before, this must be pretty serious. Sounds like you want it to happen."
"Are you nuts!? Losing control started all this!"
"No, Faith, youre wrong. Losing control didnt start this, having it forcefully taken started it. If youre worried about losing it, it may mean losing as in freely giving it up."
Natalie couldve knocked Faith over with a feather. Her face was pale and her eyes were almost glassy, "God, that terrifies me even more."
"Yeah, talk about an experience, to finally lay it all on the line. Kinda like Russian Roulette, huh? Either you win it all, or you shatter."
The two friends talked long into the night until they were both yawning.
"OK," Natalie said, "thats it. Im going to bed."
"Did I tire you out already? Thought you said you could go as long as I can?"
"In some ways."
"Really? Care to find out for sure?" Faith spoke without thinking, but realized the fire had died and was edging back to embers. They did have a deep connection, but Faith wasnt willing to risk their relationship along with the one she wanted to have with Randi.
Natalie had never lied to Faith before and she didnt feel as though she had this time. "I just didnt tell her what Id be doing while she was in class." It had been two days since Faith had mentioned Miranda and Natalie had had enough. "She can kill me later," she thought as she booted the computer. It didnt take her long to find the colleges web page and find out Mirandas schedule. She hoped Miranda went to her office after her first class because she thought it past time for her stubborn friend to be happy and time for Miranda Suzanne to be a part of it.
She was planning what to say in her head when she came to a dead stop outside Mirandas open door. Miranda was stepping away from a very handsome looking man. Natalie noticed luggage inside the door.
"Running?" she asked icily.
Miranda whirled at the sound of a voice and her eyes narrowed when she saw Faiths friend. The man had also turned and fixed a friendly deep blue gaze at Natalie. He seemed surprised at the venom he heard in Mirandas voice, "Ms. Marks, what do you want?"
"Just a moment of your time, Dr. Suzanne, but I can see youre busy."
Mirandas visitor could feel the tension escalate in the room. Stepping forward with his hand extended, he said, "Hi, Im Guy. Im a friend of Mirandas."
The smooth British accent and smile disarmed Natalie as she reached out her hand. "Hi, Im Natalie. Sorry to have disturbed you."
"No, please," Guy wasnt sure what was going on, but he felt it needed to be completed now, "Dont leave. Actually, I was just going. Miranda, I would like to check out the sound system."
Miranda momentarily forgot her anger at Natalie as she tossed her car keys to Guy. He had come in person to help with the show since he couldnt find someone he trusted who wasnt busy this weekend. One look at Mirandas face when shed picked him up had told him that things were not going well. "Guess I was meant to be here," he thought. He easily caught the keys, grabbed his bags and was almost at the door when Miranda spoke.
"Remember, we drive on the other side of the road."
Guy shot her a mock glare, "I havent been gone that long, have I?"
Miranda chuckled, but it choked her as she again noticed Natalie taking everything in. "See you later." She looked at the woman standing in her office.
"Now, Ms. Marks, as I said, what the hell do you want?"
Natalie closed the door, took a deep breath and released it slowly as she turned to face Miranda. "Threatens the hell out of you, doesnt it?" She put her hands in her pockets to prevent the trembling she felt.
A sharp edge came to Mirandas voice, "Nothing threatens me, Ms. Marks."
"I do, Miranda."
"Dont be ridiculous."
"You obviously have a problem with me since youve taken the time to find out who I am and I dont remember Faith introducing us."
Natalie knew shed scored a direct hit as she saw the flash of fire in Mirandas eyes.
"Fine. So care to tell me what I wasnt able to find out?"
"You know it all."
Miranda crossed her arms in front of herself, "All I know is that youre Faiths friend."
"Thats all there is."
"Is it? Or is it all youre going to tell me?"
"No, Im going to make you ask."
"Ask the question you really want answered." Fire was making Natalies dark brown eyes glisten. This woman was really starting to piss her off and that meant no holds barred.
Miranda wasnt one to back down from a challenge, "All right, if you insist...are you her lover?"
"No, Im not."
Miranda studied the young woman, taking in the strength of her character and obvious high emotion, "But you do love her, dont you?"
"You heard me perfectly well, Ms. Marks. You dont appear to be a stupid woman; so please dont think it of me."
"Oh, I know you are far from stupid, Miranda, but when it comes to Faith, you dont have any idea of the depth youre dealing with. There are things in her background you dont know."
"Yes, I do."
"No, you dont."
Miranda fixed Natalie with a look that was unable to conceal the pain she felt from her discovery of Faiths past. "Yes...I do."
"Five years ago."
"How? I know she hasnt told you."
"I knew something was going on and I found a locked letter of commendation from the police department here, so I searched. I probably had no business doing it, but I felt I had to know how what Id done had hurt her so much."
"She almost didnt make it back. Thats why I was doubly proud when she told me about the commendation."
"Would you tell me about it? The letter of commendation, I mean."
"Faith saved a young girls life. She was a rape victim also, whose parents didnt believe her...until she climbed onto an apartment building roof and was ready to jump. The police tried to get to her, but she would freak and step closer to the edge."
"How did they know to call Faith?"
"She was working with a People Against Rape group and had done some seminars with the police. One of them remembered her and made the call. Faith went up and talked her down."
Miranda was stunned by the tale. This showed her a whole other facet to Faith. Natalie brought the quiet woman out of her thoughts with her next words.
"Shes scared out of her mind."
"Shes scared of you....and herself."
Miranda sank slowly atop her desk, "Shes scared of me?"
"Shes more scared of herself, but your possible reaction scares her, too."
Natalie could tell Miranda didnt understand totally. She took a deep breath, leaned against a bookcase and looked at Miranda. "Might as well go for broke...shes going to kill me anyway," she thought.
"Faith survived the attack by herself, she had no family support - ."
"What?! Why not?"
"Shed already begun to distance herself from her family due to her lifestyle and keeping her brothers secret. Shes never told her family."
Miranda shook her head slightly, "My God, how did she ever survive without anyone?"
"She climbed inside herself and rebuilt herself from a very strong core. She also made a vow...."
"Faith swore shed die before someone would ever have that much or that kind of control over her again."
Natalie watched the play of emotions on Mirandas face. Revulsion, horror, fear, concern, and finally, pride and love replaced the others. "That explains a lot."
"Yep, I thought it would, Dr. Suzanne."
"Except - ."
"Where do you fall into this equation?"
"Ive already told you, Im her friend."
"Theres more to it than that, isnt there? Dont try to deny it, please. As I said, Im not stupid. Natalie, I can see that you love her; its written all over you and comes out in your words and especially, your eyes."
"Im not here to talk about my feelings for Faith, Im here to talk about Faiths feelings for you. Shes stubborn, sometimes so stubborn she cant see whats right in front of her face, whats so right for her."
"Which is what?"
Natalies vote of confidence surprised Miranda. She could almost feel the love Natalie had for Faith. It was so strong it emanated from her pores. Natalie noticed the surprise on Mirandas face and hoped the professor would not continue with her questioning about her feelings for Faith. They were something she had buried long ago and still kept a tight rein on. Although she and Faith had acknowledged their feelings, she felt it wouldnt have required much for either of them to have taken action. She wasnt normally attracted to women, though she believed in being open to all experiences; but Faith made her feel and think of things she had never considered before. She cared deeply for Faith, but knew Faith needed something more in her life. The previous night she had sat and watched Faith with Cody, wondering if she had made the wrong choice. Yet seeing the flame of love in Mirandas eye for Faith, she knew she had been right. Faith needed someone like Miranda, and they would set the world on fire...together.
"Think about what Ive said, Miranda. Faith is so scared right now, but dont give up on her. She cares for you more deeply than she ever has anyone...dont let something that right get away."
Miranda recognized the love in Natalies eyes and knew that she would always be a part of Faiths life. She was surprised to think that she looked forward to knowing her.
"Thank you, Natalie. To let go of someone you care about is hard, but to let them go for something you feel is right for them is truly unselfish. Faith is truly lucky to have you as a friend."
"Thank you, Miranda. Ill see you tomorrow night at the show, wont I?"
"Cody would kill me if I didnt show, so Ill be there."
"Good. Its time this came to an end."
Natalie smiled and her eyes glistened with happiness and a hint of tears, "Nothing, really. Just be sure to be there."
Miranda nodded as Natalie left.
The following day was a blur for all parties involved in the show. The campus and town were papered with posters announcing the first annual show at The Rock. They promised food, drink, music, and fun. The campus was buzzing about it and Miranda was pleased with the comments she overheard from students and faculty.
Cody was clearing last minute details with Faith, still wondering what had happened between her and Miranda. He got the feeling Faith didnt want to talk about it, so he didnt approach the topic.
Natalie found him later and told him her plan. He was more than happy to help out and said hed do his part. Cody brought Guy up to speed and he said hed make sure the recording was flawless. Now, all they had to do was make sure Faith and Miranda were in attendance.
The night approached quickly and The Rock filled rapidly. Townspeople, students, and members of faculty were anxious for the opening show of the festival.
Cody smiled as he looked over the crowd. Natalie had made sure Faith was there and hed convinced Randi to help behind the bar. Guy had wired the stage and had three recorders going to ensure hed get the entire show on tape. He planned to make Miranda a special recording of it and had a single recorder just for that purpose.
Cody emceed the show and opened with the introductions of the band members that would be accompanying the different acts. He told the audience to hold onto their chairs because tonight would be a night to remember. The capacity crowd whooped and hollered as The Rock began to jam with rock and roll, comedy acts, and dance music.
In between acts, Guy played selections from Yanni, which he knew were favorites of Miranda. He also knew this would keep the crowd manageable. The waiters and bar staff were running their legs off, but everyone was having a great time.
A hush fell over the crowd as Cody took the stage for the last time. "OK, everyone, were coming down to the end of the show. Have you had a good time?" The Rock was filled with thunderous applause and Cody beamed. "Im glad youve enjoyed yourselves. The staff of The Rock have been happy to serve you. Weve got a special guest from out of town who asked to be a last minute entry, so who was I to refuse? Ladies and gentlemen, may I present...Natalie."
Faiths head swiveled quickly from looking at Randi behind the bar to seeing Natalie take the stage. She knew Natalie didnt like being the center of attention, so her curiosity was piqued.
After the applause receded, Natalie spoke, "You know, sometimes we make mistakes, who doesnt, right? Well, folks, Im here to tell you, sometimes were lucky enough to get a second chance. This song is about not wasting that chance, Id like to dedicate it to the best friend Ive ever had. Hope you like it."
As Natalie began to sing in a clear soprano, she found Faiths eyes and then moved to Randis.
All the while you were in front of me I never realized
I just cant believe I didnt see it in your eyes
I didnt see it, I cant believe it
Oh, but I feel it
When you sing to me
How I long to hear you sing beneath the clear blue skies
And I promise you this time Ill see it in your eyes
I didnt see it, I cant believe it
Oh, but I feel it
When you sing to me
Just to think you live inside of me
I had no idea how this could be
Now Im crazy for your love
Cant believe Im crazy for your love
The words you said just sang to me
And you showed me where I wanna be
You sang to me, oh you sang to me.
She scanned the crowd as she sang and saw tears in Faiths eyes. "Hope she understands," she thought. Miranda had a lock on Natalies eyes; Natalie believed Miranda understood also. When the song ended, The Rock erupted again in applause and cheers. Natalie blushed and walked away.
Cody had a hard time calming the crowd after Natalies exit. Finally, after Natalie returned to the stage and sang the chorus and final verse again, the crowd cheered wildly, but allowed her to leave. Natalie had made her way over to Faith, thanking those that complemented her song as Faith hugged her.
"That was beautiful, Nat."
"Hope you listened closely." "Well, Ill be damned," she said to herself when she saw Randi move from behind the bar.
Cody had begun to close the show when he saw members of the local orchestra taking the stage. The crowed laughed lightly as strings and woodwinds joined the band. "OK, I think - ." He stopped again as he saw Randi walking towards him through the crowd.
A hush fell over the crowd. As Randi took the stage, she whispered under her breath to Cody, "Youre not the only one who can plan."
He left the stage as she faced the crowd. "Im very pleased that youve enjoyed the show. To those who dont know me, allow me to introduce myself; to my regulars Im known as Randi, to some of you Im Miranda, and to still a few others, Im known as Doc." Miranda looked at Faith and some of her other students who had come to the show. All seemed shocked to find out who Randi really was, Faith was shocked by the announcement itself most of all.
Miranda saw Faith grip Natalies arm and say, "Oh, my God." Natalie patted Faiths hand and then put her arm around her.
"Since this is my place and our first show, I thought I would close it. Thank you for coming."
The orchestra began to play first, the strings light and building. Once the woodwinds had joined, so did the band. Mirandas voice was melodic as she sang strongly and with love in her voice. As she began to finish her song, she stared at Faith.
With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
Ill show you everything
With arms wide open
Now everything has changed
Ill show you love
Ill show you everything
With arms wide open
When Randi sang the last five lines, she opened her arms and stood waiting. Faith slowly made her way through the crowd that had come to their feet for Randi. The Rock exploded in applause, whistles and cheers when Faith stepped into Randis arms. Faiths tears wet the collar of Randis blouse as she held her close.
"I love you, Miranda."
"Oh, Faith, I love you so much." Randi pressed her lips to Faiths neck and felt her shudder. Randi held her tighter as the ruckus of the crowd continued. It warmed all hearts in the room, especially those of their friends as they witnessed the love in them both about to be shared...forever.
They were oblivious to the crowed as it parted for them as they left the stage hand in hand. Faith stopped in front of Natalie, who also had tears in her eyes. She gently touched Nats cheek.
Thank you, Natalie."
Natalie hugged her, "What are friends for?"
Guy walked up and handed Randi a CD, "Be happy, my friend."
Randi hugged him as she took the CD, "Thanks, Guy, but whats this?"
"The show...the special parts." He smiled and kissed her on the cheek.
She took Faiths hand after smiling at Natalie and dipping her head. Natalie nodded in acknowledgment. As they passed a widely smiling staff, Randi looked at Cody and said, "Lock up when you leave."
"You got it, boss."
Squeezing Faiths hand, she led her to the office. "We need to talk."
Faith looked around the office, obviously uncomfortable. Randi held out her hand, "Trust me?"
"With my life." Faith looked earnestly into Randis eyes and watched them fill with tears. She put her hand in Randis. Randi squeezed her hand again and walked to a door built into the paneling. It opened on a short flight of stairs.
As they reached the top of the landing, Faith gasped. Three quarters of The Rock was a spacious loft with skylights in the center of each quarter of the building. "Gods...its stunning."
"Thank you, Guy did it. He is amazing. I love him dearly."
"I know. He seemed very special when I spoke with him yesterday and today. I feel the same about Natalie."
"I know, she cares about you a lot."
"You didnt actually meet her."
Miranda chuckled as she moved across the loft and started some coffee after she put Guys CD into an elaborate sound system. Clear music from the show, with no background noise, began to surround the spacious living area. "Oh, Natalie and I know each other well." She wanted to rip my throat out, Miranda thought, but didnt say.
"Lets just say it takes one to know one."
Faiths eyebrows rose, but she didnt comment. She seemed to be building her strength and Miranda was still. Faith walked to the couch and sat. "Miranda, I have to tell you something about my past. Something that few close to me know about."
Miranda remained where she was and looked at Faith, "No...you dont."
Miranda could stand the distance no longer and moved to the couch. She brought Faith to her feet and cradled Faiths face in her hands.
"No...you dont." Shades of her previous conversation with Natalie brought a soft smile to her face. Her eyes shone with all the love from her very soul. "Faith, I love you, and I will try never to hurt you again."
"Randi, you dont understand..."
Hesitant, yet needing Faith to understand, Miranda put a fingertip on Faiths lips. "Faith...please understand me...you are in control of your life," Miranda saw Faiths eyes widen, "And I am truly sorry I didnt tell you about James."
"You do know."
"Yes, dearheart, and - ," Miranda half heard the closing strains of "Arms Wide Open;" she quieted momentarily, and then began to sing directly to Faith,
Ill show you love
Ill show you everything
With arms wide open
Again, she opened her arms and looked at Faith. "I love you, Faith. Please believe it."
Faith fell into Randi s arms, her lips gently brushing Randis lips, and cheek, and ending at her neck. Electricity sparked through Randis skin at the loving touch. A small moan escaped her as her head tipped to the side, to give Faith more access. Faith brought her caresses back to Randis lips. She moaned as Randis tongue stroked her top lip.
Breathing heavily, Faith stepped back, "I do believe it and I know it."
The music of the show, a special mix Guy knew shed like, surrounded and pillowed them as they renewed their knowledge of each others body. Mirandas hands moved down Faiths sides and up her back. She felt goosebumps on the skin under the electric blue tank that Faith wore. Mirandas kisses- light as butterfly wings - touched Faiths shoulders. At every touch to her skin, Faith trembled. Miranda scooped Faith into her arms and looked into Faiths eyes with an unspoken question.
"Yes," Faith said. Her lips found Mirandas neck again, she nuzzled it until Miranda shifted to lay her upon the bed. She held on, forcing Miranda to lie down beside her. Faith looked up, seeing the stars and part of the full moon through a skylight in the ceiling above the bed. Their light was matched only by the light shining through Randis eyes as she looked at Faith with unfathomable love. "Im yours, Randi."
Randi paused, looking at her carefully, wanting to know what she meant.
Faith repeated, "Im yours, Randi. I love you, I want to be with you, and I belong with you."
Randis lips met Faiths with a sweetness that was spread over her body as Randi journeyed around it. Her kisses traveled down Faiths right arm, down to the fingertips and back across her upper chest, then down her left arm. Randi left no piece of Faiths body uncaressed. She went up and down Faiths chest and abdomen, then did it again side to side. Faith moaned softly as the dark beautys lips traveled her body.
Faith could feel the warmth of Randis lips through her light linen slacks as she traveled down Faiths legs. Miranda slipped off Faiths heels and covered her feet with kisses, too.
Miranda gently rolled Faith over and started the same caress to her back. Once shed made a circuit of Faiths body Miranda lifted the back of Faiths shirt and began stroking her skin with her lips. Miranda heard a gasp from Faith when she kissed the base of her neck. Faith brought her hand back and stroked Randis thigh. Faith felt Mirandas thigh tense at the touch of her hand. She gripped the muscle, feeling the connection she had for the other woman strengthen.
Faith felt a shiver run up her spine when Mirandas slow stroking moved to her waist. Randis hands began to follow the path of her lips, smoothing the muscles of Faiths back, creating goosebumps with her nails on Faiths bare skin.
Faith rolled over onto her back and her hands went to the bottom of her tank. She pulled it over her head and dropped it to the floor.
Miranda looked at Faith, drinking in the tan torso of the woman that had claimed her heart. Faith reached for Randis face, burying her hand in the silken hair at the back of her head. Drawing Miranda down on top of her, she met the lips that had caused tremors to wrack her body with sensitive nips and sensual strokes of her tongue. Miranda parted her lips, allowing Faith entrance. Faith re-explored the moist cavern, her tongue touching every inch of Mirandas mouth. Both gasped as their tongues danced a slow, intimate dance of love.
Sitting up, Faith pulled Mirandas blouse from where it was tucked into the waistband of her jeans. She began to slowly unbutton it from the bottom as soon as Miranda pulled away, breathless, to give her room. As soon as Mirandas skin began to be revealed, Faith raised her head to caress her stomach. A shudder, followed by goosebumps rewarded her ministrations. Faith followed the opening of buttons with continuously soft caresses. Her tongue delved into Mirandas cleavage briefly as she finished with the buttons and slid the blouse from Mirandas shoulders.
It was Faiths turn to look at Miranda with an unspoken question. Miranda leaned forward to kiss Faith tenderly as she unhooked the front-clasp bra and removed it. Faith wrapped her arms around Miranda and gently lay back, creating a wondrous meeting of nipple and breast. Both women relished their closeness as their hearts beat together as one. There was no sound throughout the room save for the music and the beating of their hearts.
Faiths fingertips lightly cascaded down Mirandas back and over her ass. She pulled Mirandas hips down against her, sending bolts of electricity through them both as more of their bodies met in synchronized harmony. Faith arched her hips, pushing gently against Mirandas mound with her own, a heavy sigh escaping her as she did.
"Dont ever let me go, Miranda." Faith breathed into Mirandas ear.
"Never again, Faith." Miranda lifted her body onto her hands, moving her lips down Faiths neck to her chest. Faiths nipples pebbled from the warm breath of Mirandas mouth as she circled them with her tongue. Miranda again covered Faiths chest with soft caresses until she was arching her back, begging for more contact. Randi slowly took the nipple of Faiths right breast into her mouth, nipping it sensuously with her teeth as she soothed it with her tongue. Randi felt the younger womans breathing increase and realized to an even deeper level that she was exactly where she needed to be.
When she could take the attention to her breasts no more, Faith quickly shifted to roll over on top of Randi. She bit Randis neck first and then began to lick upwards to her earlobe. Faiths voice sounded raspy with passion as she whispered to Miranda, "Do you want me, Miranda?"
Miranda, whose own breathing was becoming labored, pulled Faith tight against her body, "Yes."
Faith stroked the outer curve of Mirandas ear with her tongue and softened her voice, "Then take me, my darling."
Miranda turned her head to study her face, "Are you sure, Faith? I dont think Id be able to stop dearheart."
"I dont want you to stop, Miranda. Love me as only you can."
Faith lifted her hips when Miranda moved her hand to the waistband of Faiths slacks. She easily unbuttoned them and wrenched them down to the mid-point of Faiths buttocks. Miranda hesitated again, "Are you really sure about this, Faith?"
"Yes, Miranda, Im sure." Faith had never been more sure of anything in her life; the missing part of her soul was finally home. Randi had filled her to the rim with love, passion and understanding. To be right where she was, right now, was all she wanted. She kissed Randi with fiery passion.
An animalistic rumble vibrated in Randis throat. She returned Faiths hungry kiss with equal fire. Her hands gripped Faiths buttocks as she pushed her slacks over her hips; Faith worked them the rest of the way off and kicked them to the floor. With a firm grip on Faiths silk-clad buttocks, Miranda brought their bodies together in unmitigated passion. Their hips began to brush and grind together as the heat roared through both of them.
Miranda had always kept a damper on her passion, even with Faith. She didnt trust herself to lose control, either. The few partners shed had before Faith had never known her total passion, and even scarier to Miranda was the fact that she had never experienced a total loss of control either. The fire she had raging within her was quickly burning through the steel bands of control that Randi kept. It was that hot.
Miranda rolled over so she was on top as her lips found Faiths neck and she kissed it before nipping it lightly with her teeth. Her lips moved to Faiths shoulder and she nipped again, this time a little harder. Faith moaned deeply in her throat. Her kisses moved down Faiths body as she moved to sit up. She locked eyes with Faiths as she got off the bed and stood beside it.
Miranda slowly unsnapped her jeans, while she pushed them sensuously over her hips and to the floor. Faith caught her breath when she saw the small piece of silk covering Mirandas mound. She wet her lips with her tongue as Miranda hooked her thumbs on each side of the thong and slid it to the floor also. Miranda trembled when she saw the burning in Faiths eyes. The love she felt for Faith and wanted to express to her made her tremble again, this time with an uncontrollable desire.
Miranda then knelt at Faiths knee while she bent down and kissed her toes, her feet, and slowly worked her way up Faiths leg until she came to silk. She allowed her kisses to linger on the silk and she felt Faith shudder as she moaned. Miranda was captivated by Faiths body; the scent of her arousal was almost driving her to distraction. Her desire to have Faith totally was tempered with her desire to make this an experience Faith would not forget.
Mirandas tongue ran along the elastic on Faiths thigh, leaving a hot trail upon Faiths skin. As she continued across Faiths belly and down her other thigh, Miranda balanced herself over Faith, not touching her anywhere else. Part of Faiths body concentrated on the tongues trail while the other part screamed for more contact.
Once she reached Faiths stomach again, Miranda grabbed the lacy silk in her teeth and pulled. She continued to work across the panties, pulling them down in the most nerve-wracking segments. Faith reached out to touch Randi, but felt her wrists captured and pinned to the bed beneath Randis hands.
Miranda didnt say anything, she just continued her pain-staking devotion to removing the panties with her teeth. Faith thought she would pass out from desire when she felt her panties finally clear the mound of warm blond curls. Faith shuddered as the cool air met the heat of her dripping apex. Miranda smiled wickedly when she felt the tremble run through Faiths body. She finished pulling the panties off Faiths body and ran her tongue back up Faiths leg. She blew softly on the wet curls and Faith trembled again.
Miranda moved both their hands to the pillow on either side of Faiths head. She lowered her body just enough to tickle Faiths nipples with the briefest of touch of her own. Faith arched her back, but Randi drew back slightly, preventing the added contact. Faith struggled a little, not from fear, but from the overwhelming desire to touch Randi.
Miranda released Faith when she moved backward and sat straddling Faiths ankles. Grasping Faiths hips, she turned her over and began the slow torture of kisses upward from the soles of her feet. She thoroughly covered the backside of Faiths body and began drawing hot, moist designs with her tongue.
Faith purred at the touch, her body had reached hyperdrive and all she could do was feel. Every one of her nerve endings were singing with the electrical shocks they were receiving. She gasped when she felt Miranda touch a place shed never touched before.
Miranda had dipped her tongue into the deep cleavage of Faiths buttocks and Faith came up on her knees slightly. Miranda drew her tongue down, lightly caressing the second opening of Faiths body before moving even farther to catch just the back edge of her sex with the tip of her tongue. She brought her tongue back the same way as both of them trembled.
Again, Miranda tickled Faith with her breasts, but increasing the area covered as she moved from Faiths shoulder down to her buttocks. She breathed hotly on the cleavage of Faiths buttocks and watched them clench. Mirandas teeth found Faiths left buttock and bit down gently; it was quickly followed by Mirandas lips caressing the mark.
Her lips trailed down over the curve of Faiths ass and again she trailed her tongue down the cleavage, deeper and heavier this time. Faiths hips rose slightly, allowing Miranda more access to the moisture accumulating there. Miranda dangled her tongue on Faiths lips, gathering drops of Faiths passion on her tongue.
Miranda had just about reached the end of her rope. Her desire for Faith was the all-consuming thought in her head. She dragged her tongue heavily against Faiths lips and moaned at the taste. She brought her hands onto the sides of Faiths hips and pulled her closer. The last band of steel melted as Mirandas breathing increased and she dipped her tongue deeper into Faiths sex.
Faith came to her knees, "Yes, Miranda...Gods...yes."
The throaty quality of Faiths voice spurred Miranda on in her exploration. She trailed a fingertip lightly down Faiths stomach and into the hair of her mound. Faiths arched back allowed Mirandas fingertip to graze over her clit; her body spasmed.
Miranda panted as she greedily licked the moisture that had begun to flow which, in turn, created more. Her fingertip lightly rubbed the nodes of nerves at Faiths center and she spasmed again.
Miranda wanted more; she wanted all of Faith and in return was offering all she was made of; those parts that were still pure as well as those that had been sullied through the years. She quickly flipped Faith onto her back and leaned above her.
Faith looked up into an inferno of blue flame, "I will never hurt you, dearheart. I just want to love you with every fiber of my being."
"I know, my darling...I love you with all that I am." Faith felt her heart soar as she gave up control and went with her heart and soul, freely and completely.
The words of Natalies song were drifting around the room when Miranda lowered first her lips and then her body onto Faiths preparing to join their hearts and souls....forever.
I didnt see it, I cant believe it
Oh, but I feel it
When you sing to me
How I long to hear you sing beneath the clear blue skies
And I promise you this time Ill see it in your eyes
I didnt see it, I cant believe it
Oh, but I feel it
When you sing to me
finished 11/16/00 6:30 PM
revised 11/30/00 and 1/27/01
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