Just a Breath Away

By Colleen

 

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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 17

 

Carol showed up on the doorstep, just after eight on Thursday morning. She had a smile on her face and a package in her lap. She rolled into the house to find Logan sitting on the family room floor, surrounded by a variety of toys. “Is it too early?” she asked cautiously.

“No,” Carson answered in an easy manner. “The little man usually wakes up about 6:30. Can I get you some coffee?”

“Yes, thanks.” Carol tucked her chair under the kitchen table, and then doctored her hot brew with both cream and sweetener. Carson joined her with her own cup, choosing a chair on the opposite side of the square table.

After a bit of uncomfortable silence, Carol handed the gift box to her ex. “I brought something for Logan,” she announced. “It's a toy,” she added with a pleasant chuckle.

Carson smiled. “Well, I'm sure he'll like it. Logan, come here baby.” Hearing his name, the boy toddled over, still wearing his footie pajamas. Circumstances prevented him from getting a bath the night before, so Carson had left his night clothes until that could be remedied. Carson lifted Logan onto her lap and opened the box. “Let's see what you have here. This is a present from…the nice lady.” Carson glanced up to catch Carol's slightly stunned expression, which quickly morphed into a soft, humble smile. Carson handed the baby, a green and blue, stuffed dragon, showing the appropriate elation. “Wow! Look at this, how cute. Can you say thank you?” Logan mumbled something that sounded like ‘tank a', and then grabbed the creature, hugging it with vigor, adding a little growl. Both women laughed aloud at his endearing antics.

With a sigh, Drew shrank back into the shadow of the hallway. She hated herself for spying, but couldn't pry herself away. Her first appointment of the day wasn't until ten, so she hadn't yet left for work. Just seconds after hearing the doorbell, Drew had tiptoed from her office, stopping just before the doorway into the dining room, where she had a clear view of the kitchen table. The shared laughter gave her a little punch in the gut. This was her first experience with this kind of jealousy. She didn't like it…but couldn't seem to help it, despite all the reassurances from her lover.

More giggles. More fun. More torment.

Drew snuck back to the doorway, peeking one blue eye around the corner, surveying the joyful scene. She listened to the free flowing small talk. Once Logan had broken the ice with his adorable nature, both Carson and Carol immediately seemed more at ease and comfortable with each other.

Carson had caught the, not so stealthy, retreat and return from the corner of her eye. She took a calm sip of her coffee, knowing she needed to do some damage control. Logan was still exploring his new toy from his place on mama's lap, jabbering at it in soft, baby tones. Carson smoothed down some of his wispy, light colored hair. “Would you mind looking after him for a few minutes, while I take care of something?” she asked Carol.

“Absolutely!” the woman beamed. They both knew that Logan accepted Carol's attention, so she quickly settled him onto her lap, beginning a little tale about the multicolored dragon in his grasp.

Even knowing that she'd been caught, Drew waited to take her punishment, not moving from her spot in the hall. Carson marched across the room, turning the corner with care. The doctor's face, comically twisted with guilt as she was gently grabbed by the arm and led to the bedroom. Drew, dejectedly, plopped down on the unmade bed, as another heavy sigh blew past her lips. “Go ahead,” she muttered, as Carson stood patiently in front of her.

“Go ahead and what?” the blonde asked patiently.

“Yell at me for spying.”

Carson ran her hand through Drew's short hair, giving the scalp a little scratch. “You live here honey,” she spoke gently, “you don't have to hide from anyone who comes into this house. Why were you spying?” Drew shrugged her shoulders, giving her the appearance a despondent little kid. But Carson wasn't buying it. Of course she knew the answer, but it was important for Drew to face her feelings, so they could deal with the situation together. “Oh, I think you can do better than that,” Carson urged lightly.

Drew wouldn't look into her lover's eyes. The churning in her stomach wasn't helping her mood, but she finally made her confession. “I guess I'm…still jealous.” The word was bitter on her tongue, but she didn't want to swallow the truth.

Carson continued with her reassuring touches, running her thumb across Drew‘s cheek. “I've never known you to be so insecure,“ she said. “I thought we cleared all this up the other night.”

“I thought so too,” the doctor mumbled. Carson took a step closer and Drew wrapped both arms around her waist, snuggling into her lover's toned mid-section. “I don't like feeling this way,” she admitted. “I shouldn't feel this way. I know you love me. But…” She finally looked up into the sensitive, green eyes, those beautiful green eyes that spoke louder than any words in any language. Those eyes were the same eyes that had peered into Carol Chasen's soul, once upon a time. “She's thoughtful, gentle, funny. That is the woman you fell in love with, isn't it?”

Carson considered her words carefully. She wasn‘t going to lie, Drew knew the facts anyway. But Carson had to convince her lover of the truth. “Yes, that is the woman I fell in love with, six years ago. But that's also the person I fell out of love with some time ago. Just because I can be nice to her, or laugh with her…or share our child with her, doesn't mean I love her. I love you now. Only you. Forever you.” Carson traced Drew's beautiful face, and leaned down to touch her lips. The smoldering kiss boldly expressed their exquisite and unique passions . But more than just the extraordinary physical sensation, the touch validated their soul's connection. Carson pulled back and let Drew have a much needed breath. “I promise you,” Carson said, a bit breathless herself, “I will never kiss the woman out there like that. I don't want to. I have no desire to touch her in any way. I guess, mostly I feel sorry for her. Truth is, if she had shown up without that wheelchair, I probably never would have let her in the house. Would you like me to ask her to leave?”

The doctor indicated the answer with a slight move of her head. “That's not necessary,” she confirmed with words. “My jealousy has been quelled. I think maybe part of what I'm feeling is distrust,” Drew acknowledged. “…in her,” she added quickly with a reassuring smile. “I have no doubts about your commitment to us.”

“Good.” Carson matched the brilliant smile as she sat beside Drew, linking their hands. With even the simplest of touches or glances, her heart soared to the heavens, allowing her to feel strong and whole again. This was a love unlike anything she had truly never experienced before. The words weren't always imperative; it was understood. But it was so sweet to say and to hear. This situation with Carol Chasen was just a tiny bump on their path to the future. “Sweetheart,” Carson said, “I can't say that I totally trust her either. She made that almost impossible. But I do recognize the changes in her. I do think she's sincere with the apologies. But no matter what she came for, what she wants, whatever hidden agendas she may have, she can't have anything I don't want her to have.”

Drew grinned and kissed Carson's cheek. “I'm almost glad to hear you say that you don't trust her. I just know you have such a generous heart. You're letting her spend time with…Logan!” They both jumped up and ran back to the kitchen. Two hearts raced with panic when the wheelchair was gone. Drew scrambled for her phone to call the police.

“Show me your red car Logan . ”

Hearing Carol's voice, Drew and Carson clung to each other, sharing the relief…and the chagrin from their misguided assumption. They moved further into the kitchen and turned the corner into the family room, where they found Carol seriously inspecting each toy that the tot was showing her. The brunette looked up at the silent couple. “This smart little guy is giving me a tour of his toy box,” she said happily. “He knows the names of so many of these things.” She waggled his newest plaything in the air. “I'm trying to teach him dragon.”

Carson grinned shyly, feeling Drew shuffle nervously beside her. Carol cheerfully returned her attention back to the baby, unaware of the couple's suspicions. The doctor leaned down and whispered, “I'm going to head to work now.” She kissed her lover goodbye, as she did every morning. Still a bit wary, she added, “Call me if you need anything.”

“I will,” Carson said. “But try not to worry. I love you.”

Drew gave her a relaxed smile and a wink. “I know. I love you.”

Not wanting to interrupt their fun, but needing to get the day started, Carson walked into the family room. “Hey buddy,” she addressed Logan. “You need a bath.” She picked up the baby, placing his new present on the table as they moved back through the kitchen. “We'll play with this later huh.” He turned in her grasp and threw his tiny arms around her neck, bestowing one of his spontaneous, loving hugs. She tickled the side of his neck with her lips, sending him into a fit of giggles.

Carol watched with great fondness…and regret. Just seeing the bond between mother and child was overwhelmingly heartwarming. And heartbreaking. She knew it could have been her too. “May I…umm…,“ she began uneasily. “I know I can't really help, but…maybe I could…”

“Come on,” Carson said. “You can watch from the door. He loves his bath.”

“He always did,” Carol mumbled wistfully.

“You remember that?”

“Yeah, he giggled and splashed. And you gave a funny voice to that blue, rubber duck with the football helmet.”

Carson was astonished. She never would have expected her former lover to have recalled such a detail. “He still likes that thing,” she confirmed.

“Do you still do the voice?” Carol teased.

“Sometimes,” Carson divulged, coyly.

* * *

 

After Logan's bath, mommy dressed him in shorts and a t-shirt, and then the three of them went into the backyard to let Logan play in the fresh air and the sun. Even though the yard was heavily covered with a canopy of leaves, Carson carefully applied sun block to his exposed skin, protecting him from the August solar rays. When his feet hit the ground, Logan ran immediately to his play set. “Okay, I guess it's swing time.“ Carson placed him in the safety seat and buckled him in securely. She tucked his new toy in with him. “Here, take Mr. Dragon for a ride.” With a nod, she indicated to the other woman to come closer. Anxious for the opportunity to play more with her son, Carol was able to maneuver her chair into a position to be able to push him in his swing. She loved his little laugh, and at the moment her ears were very happy.

Carson had a seat in a nearby chair and observed, in particular her ex. Gone was the designer, silk blouse and matching skirt, Carol usually donned. She now wore a simple, but attractive tunic style top with a pair of black jeans. Drifting further down, Carson's eyes noticed the casual athletic shoes, instead of the usual expensive, high heels. Upon further, but stealthy inspection, she noted that the shoes were fairly new, and completely unmarked…because they adorned feet that may never touch the ground or move on their own again. That fact ignited Carson's compassion, but not her pity. She knew that Carol could still have a full and happy life. And with Carol's ingrained determination, she was sure to. The simple make up on Carol's face, merely enhanced her true beauty, instead of shouting to the world, ‘here I am and I'm gorgeous'. Carol's smile was once again relaxed and natural, exuding genuine joy. The windows to her soul reflected the lightness within, but also the melancholy. She was still adjusting to her altered lifestyle and limitations. Carson realized that, aside from the sadness, it was all there, as it had been before, six years earlier.

Carson's observations were born of a familiarity, and a history with this woman. But even all of that did not regenerate Carson's attraction to Carol in any way. It really had surprised Carson at just how easy it had been to forgive the woman who brought down all of the hurt and disappointment. But maybe it wasn't so surprising, because she no longer held any feelings of love for this woman, other than in memories. Her head had forgiven, but her heart didn't need to.

Logan was happy to swing for quite a while longer, but then he wanted something new. “Mama! Mama!” the tot suddenly called out, bouncing in his seat. Carol brought the swing to a gentle stop as Carson stepped forward. Logan reached out his arms and continued chanting her name loudly.

“Okay sweetie, I get the idea,” Carson said, while extricating the spirited tot. “What do you do want to do now?”

Carol moved over to the patio table as she watched Logan running around the fenced in yard, exploring, picking up sticks or studying the little daisy that he had just plucked from the ground. “Is he always this rambunctious?” she asked with a chuckle.

Carson smiled as she was presented with the tiny yellow flower. “Thank you, baby.” He ran off again and she addressed her ex. “He loves to move, that's for sure. But there are plenty of times when he'll play quietly by himself. He's very curious about the world around him. We can tell that he's really listening when we try to explain things to him.”

Logan toddled toward them, carrying a large, inflatable beach ball. The multicolored sphere was almost bigger than he could handle, but the determined tyke never missed a step. Both women were mildly shocked when he tossed it onto Carol's lap, then stood in front of her in expectation. Carol was thrilled that he initiated play with her. She smiled and tried to hand it back to him, but he just shoved it right back.

Carson chuckled, and finally let her in on the secret. “Toss it over his head.” Carol did and Logan laughed, then retrieved the ball, putting it back in her lap. She repeated her action and so did he. Carson explained. “He doesn't understand the concept of tossing back and forth just yet. He'd rather play fetch.”

“That's cute,” Carol said, smoothing out his hair. “He'll figure it out soon. I know he's very smart.”

“He is,” his mama agreed. Watching the two interact, Carson began to ponder. Does Logan really remember her in some way. Or is it the biological connection. Carson had been just the tiniest bit envious after Logan had been born. While she couldn't have loved him more, she always wondered what it felt like to actually share DNA with a child. Maybe it's just his friendly nature. She's new to him and he's curious about her. He is having fun. Children usually are a good judge of character. He won't become attached and miss her when she leaves. After all, it's just one day.

The game continued on for awhile, but then Logan quickly moved on to the next thing. Carol and Carson tried to concentrate on their son, but their attentions were also drawn to one another. They both still felt a connection. But in very different ways. Carol would shyly glance at Carson, her memories of the blonde playing loud and clear inside her head. Her heart tried to push the pain and regret beneath the happy feelings, but that didn't work for long. She tried a verbal drive down memory lane. And Carson went along for the trip.

“Do you remember when we went to the county fair on our third date? That was one of the happiest days I can ever remember in my entire life.”

Carson nodded. “I remember that you entered that hot dog eating contest. How many did you eat?”

“Nine in five minutes.” Carol grimaced, remembering the heartburn after. “But I came in second,” she reminded, “first among women. Although that might have contributed to why I went vegan. And as I recall you then entered a pie eating contest because you were so competitive.”

“Hey, I won.”

Carol grinned. “My point exactly.”

The time slipped away easily beneath the pleasant conversation and playtime with Logan. At noon, Carson moved the group indoors for lunch. She served two chicken fingers and some cut up grapes to Logan, and a cold pasta salad for herself and now vegetarian Carol. The two women continued their reminiscing about the past, but only the early years, the happy times. The rest was unimportant. Carol knew their day was coming to an end and that made her angry…at herself.

After lunch, Logan soon began to tire and he plopped down on the ground by Carol's chair, kicked out his feet and yawned. “I think it's about time for a nap,” Carson announced. Logan's droopy head popped up. “Yeah, you know what that means, huh?” The baby got up and climbed into his mama's lap where he got a nice warm hug.

“He really looks like you,” Carol said, after studying the two faces side by side. “I'm glad it worked out like that. You're beautiful and he is going to be a very handsome man.”

“Well, he is going to be a handsome man,” Carson agreed in her humble manner.

Their two way chatter, soon involved three, as Logan began a serious series of remarks, involving the new toy he had in his hand. The ladies laughed as the charming tot told his incomprehensible little tale. He kept them amused for almost half an hour.

During the last part of his ramblings, Carol watched her former lover, actively feeling the love she still held for the blonde beauty. The string of remorseful ‘if onlys' played across her mind. That recording had been a constant companion while she had been in the hospital, recuperating from her injuries. “I broke your heart.” Carol wasn't sure she had said the words out loud until she heard the heavy sigh. “I'm sorry,” Carol added sadly. “It just still hurts. Because I realized those months ago, that I also broke mine, by not fighting to keep you.”

“We can't change the past,” Carson responded simply.

Carol moved her chair closer, and played with the exhausted baby's fingers, needing a connection with him. “I'd pay every cent I have if I could. But…you're right, it doesn‘t work that way.”

Logan finally nodded off, and Carol took the dragon from his grasp, draping it over the arm of her chair. Carson stepped into the family room and placed him on a blanket on the floor. She felt more comfortable with him nearby. The air remained heavy with the spoken sadness and regret. Carson had preferred the lighter moments of the previous conversation. But this was inevitable, it was really all that was left between them…except for their son. She returned to her seat, noticing that Carol hadn't moved her chair, she just continued to watch her sleeping boy. All was quiet as Carson sipped the rest of her iced tea. She sensed that Carol was deep in thought and didn't want to disturb her. Carol finally turned from Logan and their eyes met just for a second, before the stuffed toy suddenly slipped from the arm of the wheelchair. Both women reached for it, bringing their heads very close. Two pairs of eyes connected again. The attractions, remembered and active sparked quietly. Carol shifted forward, wanting nothing more in that moment than to kiss the woman she loved.

Carson sensed the passion. She saw the deliberate movement. It was an unexpected moment. And although Carson never, for even a second, intended to let the kiss happen, she didn't want to overreact either. “No Carol,” she whispered firmly. “I can't do this.”

Carol dejectedly retreated back into her own space. “But I've changed,” she pleaded softly. “I can be the person you've always needed me to be.”

Carson had never really expected it to come to this, whatever this really was. And she needed to know. “Did you come here to see Logan or to try and get me back?” she asked without accusation.

Carol contemplated the question. She had had no conscious plans of trying to rekindle their relationship. Apology had been her only conscious motivation. “I don't know,” she mumbled lamely. “I just feel so lost. I've never in my entire life felt this way. I was always sure of the future. Always knew what I wanted. But now, all I know is that I don‘t want to be who I was when I lost you. But I'm not sure how to avoid that.”

“I can't be the one to help you with this Carol. I'm with Drew,” Carson told her, leaving no room for doubt. “I love her more than I ever thought it was possible to love anyone. We share everything. I'm not saying this to hurt you. We had our chance, but we didn't make it. The only thing we can have now is closure.”

Carol nodded the bitter truth. “We didn't make it because of me.”

Carson had had a few of her own insights in the past few days. “No,” she claimed truthfully. “Looking back, I wasn't totally blameless. I could have handled things differently. But it just didn't work out.” She watched the brown eyes carefully. “Carol, I am so sorry that you suffered this accident. But I am really happy that it has allowed you to finally realize the things that are really important in life, to see the value of the world beyond the money you have. And I certainly hope that you will find someone who will love you completely, someone you can love completely.” She paused, wanting the sincerity of her words to ease Carol's pain. But she did need to reiterate the facts of her life. “I have a new family now. Drew loves me and I love her. And Drew loves Logan, and he is crazy about her. I've asked her to adopt him.”

This news stabbed at Carol's heart in such a painful moment it nearly stole her breath. “But I gave birth to him. I'm still Logan's mother.” The words were spoken with a soft, but vigilant tone.

“Yes,” Carson agreed. “Nothing will ever change that. But you signed away your legal right to be his parent. I'm sorry if that decision is so painful now. Logan has a wonderful life here. He has two extended families that love him very much. I know you have changed for the better Carol, so I know you wouldn't want to take him away from any of that.”

Carol's saddened eyes suddenly expanded with life, she was disturbed that Carson would think that. “I would never take him away from you,” she promised intently.

“Like I took him away from you,” Carson muttered sorrowfully.

“I know now that you made the right choice. I was too selfish then. But Carson, there is only one thing I want to be selfish about now, and that's my son. Is that wrong?” Carson made a couple of false starts to her rebuttal. It was a tricky subject. “No.” Carol stopped her. “Don't answer. It is.” Carol took in a deep breath. “I need to be selfless, for the first time in a long time.” She turned her gaze to the slumbering baby, her vulnerable humanity bared to the world. Her love for the child born from her body was evident in the tears now streaming down her face. “I love him. How can I just forget about him?” she asked miserably. “Forget that he exists.”

Carson blinked back her own tears. She could only imagine the pain she would be feeling if their places were reversed. “No,” she said, “you don't have to forget about him. I'll send you pictures. I'll let you know how he's doing, and what's happening in his life.”

 

But it's not enough. Carol's jaw trembled as she watched her son, vowing to memorize his laugh, his touch, his smell…his hug. All the things she could never get from a photograph or a letter. But there had to be something more she could do for him. Something she would have done if only… “I'm going to set up a trust fund for him,” she promised, meeting Carson's questioning gaze. “Because I want to,” she assured, “not because I feel obligated. If I can't be with him, then I want to do whatever I can to help provide for him.” Carol sniffed and tried to dry her eyes, but the tears continued. She excused herself and went to the guest bath to try and pull herself together.

Carson watched, heartbroken. She had rarely witnessed that kind of despair, and certainly never from her former lover. Carson had to make a decision. She could give this woman something to hold onto. This person had caused her so much pain, but Carson was not a spiteful person. Carol had caused her to distrust. But Drew had healed that wound and released her heart from its self imposed exile. She got a second chance at happiness.

Carol Chasen was seeking redemption. Could Caron Galloway grant it.

Carol returned many minutes later, her face dry, but eyes still reddened. All was quiet, but Logan shifted on his blanket, his eyes blinking open. Sensing the tense emotions, he sat up, his eyes shifting between the two ladies. He gave a yawn, but stubbornly refused to go back to sleep. Instead he snatched up a nearby toy and studied it.

“Come here Logan,” Carson called to the waking baby. He slowly shuffled across the floor with the toy in his hand, mumbling mama along the way. “Yes sweetie,” she acknowledged. “I'm mama.” Carson pulled him onto her lap. She watched Carol watching him, the brunette trying to muster up a smile. The baby settled in mutely, snuggling against Carson's chest. “Carol,” she began with a sensitive tone. “I've been thinking about the situation…and if you want to be a part of Logan's life…maybe we can agree to certain arrangements. I will have discuss it with Drew, but I think it will be all right.” Carol's brown eyes flashed with hope as Carson continued. “You could visit him here, maybe once a month if you can make it. You would, of course have to give us some notice.” Carol agreed with a vigorous nod. “But you will be visiting as a friend only,” Carson made clear. “Drew and I are his parents. And when Logan is old enough to understand, the three of us will come together and explain to him, the circumstances of his birth.” She waited until she had the executive's full attention. “You will always hold a special place in my heart for giving me my son. Thank you.”

Carol accepted the sentiment with a silent smile. “Thank you for allowing me into his life.” She reached out to take Logan's hand. “I'm sorry baby boy. I should have been a mother to you from your first breath. I do love you. And I always will.” Carol's heart was suddenly lighter, and her smile once again bright, knowing she had been given a precious gift…one that maybe she didn‘t deserve, but was going to cherish. “Tell me more about him,” she asked. “I want to know everything, so I can take that with me.”

“Well, he likes animals, music and stories.” Over the next two hours, Carson relayed everything she could think of about little Logan. She showed his other mother photographs and told her his first word and the circumstances of his first steps. They viewed the video of his first birthday party. Carol watched with rapt attention. The regret at missing these months of his life still existed, but they no longer took precedence. There were no more tears, just gratitude at the second chance. She certainly wasn't going to let this opportunity escape.

Carson felt so very blessed. She had Drew, a beautiful woman and a beautiful soul, who loved her completely. She had her son Logan, a sweet and loving baby boy. She had a wonderful extended family, whose support has always been her strength in bad times. And now she had closure with her former lover. Carson no longer felt the shame of that failure, of her judgments in people. All was good in Carson's world. And she intended to keep it that way…at least with the things she had control over.

To be continued

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