Just a Breath Away

By Colleen

 

This is an alternate uber story. The physical descriptions of the two lead characters may remind you of two others we all know and love, but all characters in the story are from my own imagination. This story is an original work and is copyrighted by the author. It cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copyright July 2009-2010

This story depicts a loving relationship between two consenting, adult women and contains scenes of intimacy, but nothing too explicit. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something else.

Feedback will be welcomed at coleen30@webtv.net

I have also created a group for discussions of this, past and future stories. Join us at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/colleens_corner

 

Chapter 11

Drew was sitting in her office at work, updating patient files. It had been raining on and off all day. Lightning had streaked to the ground in crackling formations, followed by thunder that rattled windows and nerves. With the arrival of these severe storms came cancellation of appointments, so Drew was preparing to head home early. She put away the last file, checked with her partners and grabbed her personal things. She had not been paying particular attention to the weather, expecting it to pass as many have. But Drew was brought to an immediate halt as soon as she set foot outside her building. “Oh God,” she exhaled fearfully. Drew's gaze was locked onto the western sky, an ugly and terrifying sight. In sickening hues of green and black, it looked like death was rolling across the sky in angry waves, waiting to descend on innocent victims. The ominous clouds were hanging low enough to reach up and touch…or maybe they were low enough to reach down and grab. Being a lifelong native to that part of the country, Drew knew what was coming. The litter and dust that were beginning to fly through the air was barely a whisper of the coming wind. Drew reached for her phone as she ran for her car, dodging the fat raindrops that were beginning to fall. Safely inside, she read the small screen. “Damn!” she spat. Phone service was out. With a single destination in mind, Drew raced from the parking lot and back to her neighborhood. Not thinking of her own safety, Drew did her best to outrun the storm. Looking in her rearview mirror, she saw the debris behind her begin to swirl. “Hold off,” she pleaded desperately. “Just hold off a few more minutes.” The warning sirens were blaring. But she didn't need a weather report; she knew there was a tornado coming up on her tail. Other cars were pulling off to the side of the road, trying to seek protection from the fury, but Drew continued on. Pulling into the drive, she jumped from the car and pulled a key from her pocket. The roar began just as she reached the basement door. Drew thundered down the steps, loudly announcing her arrival. “It's me Carson! Where are you?”

“Drew!? Here, we're here!” A hand reached out from beneath a heavy bench in the corner. The frightened doctor took three giant strides across the room and dove under cover with Carson and Logan. “What are you doing out in this storm?” Carson asked as they huddled together. The baby was fussy, no doubt picking up on the anxiety of the situation. But he had his heroes to protect him. Drew gave him a kiss on the head as the twister raged overhead with driving rain and hail lashing at the windows. Daylight had all but disappeared under the black clouds, cloaking the basement in darkness. The electricity was out, but a large, powerful, battery operated light was hanging from a hook under the bench, allowing the small family some comfort.

Drew touched Carson's cheek, needing that physical connection. “I didn't realize how bad the weather was until I left the office,” Drew explained. “I couldn't get you on the phone; I didn't know where you were. I just had to know that you were safe.” Even though she was frightened with the situation going on outside, Carson smiled at her friend and took her hand. Drew continued. “I know you can take care of yourself, but I…”

“I understand Drew,” Carson said. “Thank you for caring.”

Drew pulled them closer and they held on tight as things shook around them. The atmosphere was thick and humid without the central air, but Carson shivered anyway. Drew rubbed the blonde's arm and back as they embraced, careful of the baby between them. The terrifying minutes dragged slowly on beneath the noise and destruction. But then everything outside began to calm and they could finally breathe a little easier. The rain continued to fall, but with less intensity and now the wind barely made a sound.

Carson peeked out as the room began to lighten. “Do you think it's safe to leave yet?” she wondered.

“Let's give it another minute,” Drew said as she played with the baby's hand. “Are you okay buddy? This is one first you could have done without huh?” He babbled at her in his playful tone, the unpleasantness already forgotten.

Carson hugged her son. “No matter what we may find upstairs,” she said, “we're all fine. That's all that really matters.”

Drew agreed with a silent, but sincere nod. The thought of anything bad happening to Carson or Logan left her with an intense pain in her chest. “Let me go up first and check things out,” she said a few seconds later.

Carson waited…almost patiently, until she got the all clear from Drew. She climbed the stairs to find that everything inside her house was as she had last seen it. But a look out the back window was another thing. Two chairs from the patio set were on there sides near the back fence, and the gate, which had been left unlocked was twisted half off its hinges. A few hours worth of firewood was strewn across the lawn and golf ball sized hail had cracked the glass on the outdoor table. But it was all replaceable. The rain had stopped, but the clouds were still gray and heavy with moisture. Undoubtedly, it was not over just yet.

“We'll check on the outside of the house in the morning,” Drew said. “You two should stay inside until we're sure the storms are over.”

Carson put Logan in his highchair and began inspecting and opening windows to cool things down. “We will.” Even though she agreed, Carson appeared fidgety, rattling dishes at the sink and failing to suppress the quivers that traveled across her muscles. Two hands gently landed on her shoulders and a soothing presence platonically snuggled against her back. “Take it easy okay,” Drew said softly. “Everything is fine.”

Carson took a deep breath. “You're right. I'm fine.” She reached for the phone and heard a dial tone. “I'd better call my mom and dad. I'm surprised she hasn't already called.”

Drew nodded. “While you're doing that, I think I'm going to go check on my house. I'll be back in a few.”

Carson turned sharply, the phone in her hand. “Be careful!” she advised anxiously.

Drew smiled and waved before stepping out the door.

 

* * *

 

After the call to her parents, which yielded good news, Carson debated calling Drew, who had been gone for almost twenty minutes. After a quick peek out the window over the kitchen sink, and seeing that the weather hadn't worsened yet, she finally decided she could wait. But the clouds were again becoming a shade or two darker. The phone rang. “Hello.”

“How would you like to loan me your guest room for the night?”

Carson was momentarily stunned by the question. “Well, sure Drew. But why do you need it?” She asked fearfully, but had more than a sneaking suspicion of the answer.

“My bedroom has a tree in it.”

“Oh my God! You're not joking are you.” It was a statement of fact, not a question.

Drew answered it anyway. “No I'm not. I always wanted a tree house, but this is ridiculous.” Her joke didn't receive the laugh she had anticipated. “Well, I'll be there in about a minute.” Drew stopped to look around the neighborhood one more time before walking up the drive to Carson's house. Leafy branches and limbs as thick as her arm littered the streets and lawns. Three mailboxes were knocked off their stands. A few hundred roofing shingles had been torn from their structures and were scattered about the neighborhood. And unless Mary Poppins had made an unexpected visit, the winds had caused someone's yard umbrella to take flight, depositing it upon a rooftop. Of course that was just the damage Drew could see. She made a few friendly waves as other residents were beginning to survey the destruction to their properties. Off in the distance she heard the siren of some emergency vehicle. “Summertime in the Midwest,” she acknowledged humorlessly.

Drew barely got one knock to the front door before it was forcefully pulled open. “Ooof.” The breath was audibly expelled from her lungs as one hundred and twenty two pounds of anxious blonde collided with her. Drew could feel the body shivering. “Hey, hey, what's wrong Sweetheart?”

“I'm so glad you didn't go home,” Carson blubbered. “You could have been…” She couldn't even say the words, couldn't even fathom the possibility of losing her best friend.

Drew hugged her tight, so Carson could indeed feel the heart beating in her chest. And at the time, Drew's heart was beating just a little faster…with joy. Of course Drew didn't like Carson being scared, but her actions were encouraging. Drew's house was in shambles, but she couldn't have been happier. Maybe, just maybe, the display of love proved that Carson was moving closer to trusting her…and loving her completely. Drew cupped the back of the blonde head buried in her chest, and kissed its crown. “I'm fine,” she said. She pulled away and looked into Carson's face, which still bore a bit of fear. “I was where I had to be Sweetheart, with the people I…care about. Two of the most important people in my life.”

Carson wasn't quite ready to let go of her friend just yet. With an arm firmly tucked around Drew's waist, she escorted her to a seat on the sofa. “We care about you too Drew. I don't think I tell you that enough.”

Drew smiled in her special way. “I do know. But it is nice to hear.”

Carson took just a few more minutes to calm herself. The hand held tightly in hers helped with that. They both watched as Logan played on the rug below them. But he soon tired of his pile of toys and he crawled over to his mother and his favorite playmate. With a grunt and a fair amount of baby might, Logan grasped one pant leg and then another, pulling himself to his feet.

“Proud of yourself, huh little man?” Drew said with a smile.

Logan slapped her leg, while not relinquishing his hold on mommy. “Aaaaaa. do, do, do.” This was his designation for Drew. His mommy was ‘Mum, mum'. He slapped Drew's leg again, a request…or demand to be picked up. Drew obeyed and put the little guy between them. He was satisfied there.

“Are you hungry?” Carson asked Drew.

“Don't worry about that right now; you just relax.”

“But I feel like I need to be doing something.”

“That's a normal reaction,” Drew said comfortingly. “But just let this beautiful baby remind you that you're here and you're both fine.”

Carson rubbed his head and smiled softly. But her eyes were on the doctor. “I wasn't worried about us,” Carson told her. “We had our protector.”

Drew smiled back and nodded her understanding. “You can't dwell on what might have happened.”

After a long pause, Carson finally agreed. “You're right.” She gathered Logan onto her lap and hugged him, but addressed the doctor. “Well, let's discuss these living arrangements. We want you to stay here until your house is rebuilt.”

Drew was thrilled with that, but she still hesitated. “Oh, are you sure you want me around that much?” she finally asked.

Carson tickled her son's stomach. “Are we sure baby boy?” Logan laughed his answer as Carson looked deeply into Drew's eyes. “We're positive.”

Drew smiled at her family. Her family. It wasn't an official arrangement. But it was certainly certified by her heart. “Then I accept your generous offer,” she said.

“Good. So what steps do you need to take tonight?”

“I already called my insurance rep. He wouldn't be able to get here before dark, so he's coming first thing in the morning. I probably can't get someone to remove the tree until the weekend. Right now, I need to make a trip to the mall and get some things to tide me over until I can get to my closet…or dresser…or bathroom, although there's probably isn't much left.”

Carson suddenly regressed to the panic. “What if there's another storm? You could get caught in it?”

“Well, let's check.” Drew grabbed the remote and turned on the TV. The electricity had returned while Drew was at her house. Carson had started to do that earlier, to check storm damage across the city, but the call from Drew had sidetracked her. After a couple more buttons were pushed, a very colorful radar appeared on the screen. “It looks like there are more storms headed this way, but it will probably be at least another hour. I'll be back by then if I go now.”

“Just please be careful.”

 

* * *

When she arrived at the mall, after dodging limbs, downed power lines and damaged traffic lights, Drew literally ran into the department store. She wanted to keep her word to Carson for a quick return. The one stop shopping hub would provide everything she would need for a few days. A few basic items of clothing and toiletries made up the bulk of her purchases, and in record time Drew was moving through the check out line.

Quickly stuffing the bags into her car, Drew started the engine as the dark sky opened up once again. Making the drive as swiftly, but as safely as possible, Drew headed back. She turned the corner to Carson's house and took the opened garage door as an invitation to enter. Carson opened the inner door and stood there with a towel. The dry headed doctor got out of her car, not even flustered by the loud clap of thunder or the lightening that flashed before the automatic door shut out the storm. Drew gathered her purchases and rushed into the house. “Made it to the car before the rain,” she informed.

“Good,” Carson said as she headed back to the linen closet. “I'm just glad you're home.”

As she stepped into the guest room, Drew bit back a grin at Carson's choice of words. “So am I,” she agreed.

 

* * *

 

The rain continued for the rest of the evening, but nothing had been severe. Although the possibility still existed. Carson had fixed them a light supper earlier, and after a little playtime with the baby, she had put him down for the night. After that, she and Drew sat on the sofa and watched a movie. They shared a big bowl of chocolate ice cream, but not much conversation. They were comfortable without it.

As the credits began rolling, at about ten o'clock, Carson claimed she was ready for bed. There wasn't a television in the guest room and Drew wasn't sleepy yet. “If you don't mind,” she said, “I'll stay out here for a while. I'll also keep an eye on the weather. You don't have to worry about anything.”

“Stay here as long as you like,” Carson said. “Goodnight Drew.” She smiled easily. “And I'm not worried about anything.” She placed an affectionate peck on the doctor's cheek.

 

* * *

 

A particularly loud thunderstorm started just after midnight. Drew heard the baby cry and thought about going to him, but stopped, reminding herself that he had a wonderful mother who would see to his late night needs.

Just a few minutes later, Carson came shuffling into the family room, carrying Logan. “We can't sleep with all that noise,” she said. “Can we join you?”

Drew smiled and patted the spot next to her. “Do you like Sister Act?” she asked.

“Oh yeah, that's a good one.”

“It just started a few minutes ago.” Another loud boom startled the baby. He reached out and latched onto Drew's shirt and whimpered. “It's okay Logan,” she soothed. “It's just noise. Come here.” Drew pulled them both closer and they all snuggled into a cozy little nest.

 

* * *

Over the next few days, Drew took care of the insurance claim, tree removal and re-construction plans. With Carson's help, she salvaged what she could from her bedroom, which after the heavy rain wasn't much. Luckily, all of her most treasured items were in other rooms and had remained unscathed. She wouldn't be able to move back in for at least three or four weeks, so she carried her small television back to Carson's, so she could watch it in bed.

On the weekend, the three made another trip to the mall to buy more clothes for Drew. Carson took the opportunity to do some shopping for herself, asking the doctor's opinion on some pretty summer dresses. Drew was glad to oblige, but she always thought that Carson was beautiful whatever she wore. And she knew that Carson was absolutely gorgeous when she wore nothing.

While shopping, Drew couldn't resist buying a plastic wading pool for Logan. And along with that she had to get him some water toys. And a tiny pair of swim trunks.

 

* * *

Drew returned to work the next Monday, which was her late night. It was almost nine thirty by the time she got home, and pulling into the drive she wondered what she could grab to eat. She was pleasantly surprised when Carson greeted her with a hug and a plate of hot, homemade food. Drew knew she was a very lucky woman to have such a considerate friend. And that, above all else was something she never wanted to lose.

That was the habit for the remainder of Drew's stay. When she was home early enough, the doctor would share cooking duties. Every morning, Carson would prepare her friend a healthy breakfast, often with fresh baked muffins or biscuits and always with fresh fruit. She cared greatly for the doctor's health. And she would send Drew off to work with a kiss on the cheek.

They went out to dinner a few times, taking turns treating the other. On nice evenings, the three of them would take long, leisurely walks around the community, chatting with neighbors and exploring the playground. They shared meals, household chores, conversations full of hopes and dreams for the future, and care of Logan.

They were sharing everything, except a bed.

 

* * *

In the summer, Drew liked to wear her comfortable, satin, women's boxers and a sleeveless, cropped t-shirt to bed. Since staying at Carson's, she had been wearing a knee length, satin robe over them. Although she knew that particular ensemble wouldn't land her on the pages of a Victoria's Secret catalog, she didn't want Carson to think that she was trying to tempt her. It was no secret to either one of them of the mutual physical attraction; their one night together was proof of that. But Drew wanted Carson to be crazy in love with her, not crazy in lust. Drew found herself completely torn. She was very happy staying at Carson's, but at the same time her soul was very sad, not being able to express her deepest feelings. And the signals she had been getting from Carson had her head spinning in circles. She had to make some move. Either she was going to have to re-establish herself as Carson's forever platonic friend and try to move on with her love life, but that thought repulsed her, or she was going to have to prod Carson gently toward a commitment of love.

Drew finally decided to approach her friend one evening. Logan had gone to sleep hours before and Drew knew Carson was going to be headed that way soon. But maybe she could give the blonde something to sleep on. Drew walked into the kitchen, where Carson was clearing the dishwasher. “Can we talk?” Drew asked.

“Sure.” Carson followed Drew's lead and had a seat at the small table. She read the conflict on the doctor's face. “What's wrong Drew?” she asked with concern.

Drew gave a small smile. “Nothing's wrong,” she confirmed. “I just…I need to tell you something. But I would like it if you would hear me out. And then I won't mention it again…unless you want to.” Drew took a deep breath and blinked a couple of times before she had her say. “I'm still in love with you.” She caught sight of the panic in Carson's eyes. But Drew also saw that her friend was trying to fight it, that she wanted to listen. “I told you I'd try to stop,” Drew said, “but I couldn't. And now I don't want to stop.” She cautiously took Carson's hand. “I know we were never exactly dating. But all that time we spent together as friends…I just couldn't help falling for you. Loving you brings me unending joy, it's warm and exciting, and it makes everything I do seem much more meaningful. If it's holding your hand, seeing your smile or rocking Logan to sleep, I feel more alive than I ever have.” Drew took another deep breath and searched out the intense depths of Carson's eyes. “I not only love you,” she continued, “but I respect you. So I will never push you for anything more than you can give. I do understand that you have certain reservations. But if my words aren't enough to convince you, then I'll let my actions speak for me. And I'll wait for as long as it may take. But if, at some point in the future, you tell me that it will never happen, I will accept that.” She waited patiently for Carson's response, sensing the woman's emotional turmoil, and seeing the physical changes in her expression and posture. But thankfully she didn't see any further indications of panic.

Carson's face held a combination of guilt and sorrow. There were times, when she was all alone, sometimes at night when she couldn't sleep, that she thought about her tentative relationship with Drew. They were friends. They were best friends. Carson was extremely attracted to Drew, physically and emotionally. And the one night they had spent together proved to her that they were physically compatible. Oh boy, were they ever! The doctor was beautiful, smart, kind and generous. She was everything that just about any other woman could want. But unfortunately, due to her past, Carson was not like any other woman. There was still that one mile high barrier that she couldn't scale to free herself. It had a few tiny holes here and there. In fact there were times that Carson could actually peer through the haze beyond and envision a romantic future with Drew. But then her fears would stir up the fog and the happy picture would sadly dissipate. And Carson feared that she would never have the courage to topple that wall. But a part of her wouldn't stop trying. She pinned Drew with her soft green eyes. The words came from her heart. “I really hope that I can give you what you want someday. What I would like too,” she admitted sincerely.

Drew leaned closer. “You can,” she said gently. “You just have to believe.”

Carson looked away slowly. “You don't know how hard that is.”

Drew guided the forlorn face back toward her. Her eyes spoke gently, but her words were staunch. “I have faith in you.” Drew stood and moved next to her friend, softly kissing her cheek. “Goodnight Carson. Sweet dreams. I think I'm going to get a glass of milk before I turn in.”

Carson remained at the table. A sudden rumble of determination built inside as she listened to the other woman's voice again in her head. “Drew?” she called out before the woman left the room.

The doctor stopped just before turning down the hall. “Yeah?”

“I thought…maybe…maybe we could watch some TV in my room.”

Drew nodded warily. “Okay.” It was a bright ray of hope. But Drew restrained her expectations. It was only a small step.

“And afterward,” Carson added, “I'd like you to hold…me.”

Drew smiled sweetly. “I'd love to hold you before you sleep, while you sleep and for the rest of my life. But I'll take one night at a time.” She held out her hand. “Come here.”

About two hours later, Carson had nodded off, tucked under Drew's arm. It was late and they both needed some proper sleep. Drew carefully and quietly tried to wake her companion. “Carson.” The blonde merely nodded, but slept on. “Carson, Honey lay down now. I'm going back to my room.” Drew finally maneuvered the sleeping blonde under the covers, and with another kiss to Carson's cheek, she started to leave. But a hand clasped her wrist.

“No,” Carson mumbled. “Stay here.”

Drew hesitated. She knew that Carson was still half asleep. If she agreed and stayed all night, would Carson, later be offended…or worse, scared?

“Please,” Carson said.

That one word erased any doubts. “I'll stay.” Drew climbed back into bed and Carson settled comfortably into her side, an arm curling around the doctor's stomach. Drew smiled a contented sigh.

That became the routine for the duration of her stay. When Carson asked Drew to watch television in her room, it was a silent invitation for her to stay the night and sleep next to her.

But it never went beyond that.

Drew accepted it though. But every night, whether she was in Carson's bed or not, she would pray for Carson to find the courage she needed to keep moving forward in their relationship.

To be continued...

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