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 7

 

Because Drew had been sick the entire previous weekend, she was itching to get out of the house on Saturday. It was a beautiful April day with barely a breeze, and the trio decided to visit an outdoor flea market. Carson pushed the stroller down the line of booths, stopping here and there to peruse the offered wares. Drew was by her side, checking out the interesting stuff herself. Vendor's things and Carson 's things had her equal attention. Carson stopped at a both selling sunglasses. She summoned her friend and began trying different designs on the tall doctor's face. Drew was a patient model and stood still as her friend continued making interesting comments along the way. “Oh yeah!” Carson finally said with a certain lilt. “That's the ticket.” She had settled on a pair of medium sized, oval shaped glasses with dark, but not black lenses. Brushed silver frames completed the glasses nicely. Holding up a mirror, Carson asked, “What do you think?”

Appraising her reflection, Drew nodded quite modestly. “Not bad, not bad.” Carson gave her a mock slap on the arm. “Oh you. Those are fantastic on you my friend. And they're my treat.” Pulling some cash from her pocket, she paid for the dark shades.

Drew smiled at her friend. “Thanks Carson .”

They started on their way again and Carson made a few more small purchases before the group stopped at a food vendor for a snack. The duo shared a hot pretzel, while Logan chewed on a baby biscuit with his new teeth.

About half an hour later, Drew spotted something on a shelf at a booth selling toys. The orange and black stuffed creature soon found a new home in Logan 's hands. Drew knelt down in front of the stroller and bounced the toy in front of the happy baby. She leaned in close, whispering something in his ear.

“What's with this little conspiratorial huddle?” Carson asked as she returned from making a secret purchase. She noticed the toy in her son's grasp. “And what have you got there?”

Drew continued playing as she explained. “This is our mascot. We've formed our own Tigger fan club.”

Carson smiled. “And just how did this come about?”

Drew stood and approached the curious mom. She slid her new sunglasses down on her nose, and peeking over the top, trapped Carson with a powerful gaze. “Well, now that's a secret. But perhaps we'll initiate you someday,” she teased. Drew winked one blue eye flirtatiously. “If you can pass the entrance exam.”

* * *

 

Drew tossed her empty, bio-degradable salad container in the trash. She had decided to have her lunch outdoors on this Wednesday afternoon. She only had two more appointments, later in the day, so she was is no hurry to get back to the office. It was almost a crime not to spend at least a few minutes outdoors on an absolutely gorgeous day. She stopped at the little park right next to her building and had a seat across from the swings and slides. She knew that some of her patients were treated to a little playtime after their doctor time, because she could see this area from her office window. As she watched the small children having fun, her thoughts turned to her favorite little guy…and his mother. Carson and Logan were now permanent fixtures in her life. She had expectations of seeing them as often as possible. And Drew's heart and soul exploded with happiness every time she thought of them. It was a tenuous situation at best though, since Carson still hadn't moved beyond calling her best friend. While Drew knew that was true, she definitely wanted more. She wanted a family. She wanted romance and passion. She wanted crazy love and all it entailed. Motherhood was a whole separate issue...but a wonderful one. While very important, it had always been far on the back burner of her immediate priorities. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes… But the old adage wasn't always right. Knowing Logan , had ignited that small spark into a burning need. Being his other mother would be perfect. Everything she desired was within her reach…but wasn't easy to grasp. She and Carson went places together, but never called it a date. They hugged, but never kissed. They touched…but it was never enough. Drew's only hope was the small glimpses she caught in the emerald eyes. It was love for sure, but sometimes it read as passion. But then in an instant it would disappear. It seemed to Drew like Carson was fighting it…or hiding from it. It was a puzzling question. She hoped time would provide the answer.

Drew's phone played its familiar tune and she pulled it from the pocket of her slacks, recognizing the number. “Let me guess,” the doctor said, “your ears were burning.”

“Ahh, no. But I could…use your help.”

“What's wrong?” Drew asked. “Your voice sounds funny.”

Carson winced. “Well, I've had a tiny accident.”

Drew shot to her feet. “What happened?” she asked, running to her car.

“I…kinda fell down the basement…stairs.”

“Oh God! Did you call an ambulance?”

“No. I didn't want them to have to break in. And I couldn't leave Logan alone. He's upstairs asleep.”

Drew was already well on her way to Carson's, but she kept her friend talking. “Okay, just don't move. I'm on my way. Are you in a lot of pain?”

“Well, it's not comfortable,” Carson groaned, “but it's not excru…ciating. And I had to move my arm to get to my phone, so I guess that's good.”

“Yeah, well don't do it again.” Drew was terrified and had to get what information she could. “Is there any sharp pain in your neck or pins and needles feeling in your arms or legs?” She heard Carson exhale in obvious pain. “Hang on Hon, I'm almost there.”

“Okay. And no to both questions.”

“That's good. Did you lose consciousness at all?”

“No. I basically just bounced down on my butt and landed on my side.” A small muffled chuckle followed.

Carson tried to laugh it off, but Drew knew from the sound of her voice that it had to be a little more complicated than that. She pulled into the drive a few minutes later. “I'm here; I'll see you in a minute.” After a quick call to 911, Drew let herself into the house with the key Carson had given her for just such an emergency.

Carson heard the footsteps coming through the laundry room, feeling much better now that her friend had arrived. “ Logan ?” He was always her first thought.

Drew was nearly annoyed that Carson wasn't considering herself first just this once. “ Logan is fine; he's probably still asleep. I'll check him in a minute.” Carson was on her side and Drew slipped into her doctor mode, checking for pupil reaction and for possible broken bones. She had to pull away some clothing from atop Carson 's legs, wondering why they were there. The laundry room was upstairs. “What were you doing that made you fall?” she asked lightly.

“I was bringing some winter clothes down here to…pack them away. But I had just come in from outside. It's so nice out; I was looking at the new flowers and I guess my shoes had some mud on them from the rain last night. I slipped about half…way down.”

Drew was more at ease now that she had seen Carson and had evaluated her condition. Although she knew there could still be some hidden injuries. “Well, I'll come back later and put these away,” she said as she heard the medics arrive. She called out to them, so they could find their way.

As they efficiently carried Carson up the steep stairs on the stretcher a few minutes later, Drew promised to collect Logan and meet her at the hospital.

* * *

 

“Do you want me to call your parents?” Drew asked, as she sat beside Carson 's bed. They were in the emergency room, waiting for the doctor's analysis. Logan was in Drew's lap, sucking on a bottle of baby juice. He had been a little crabby when Drew took him from the crib and put him in Carson 's car. But that bout was over now and he was calm, for the moment anyway. Carson still wore the hard plastic collar around her neck, until she was cleared by x-rays. She couldn't turn to see her baby, but knew he was in good hands. Sensing her anxiety, Drew stood up and moved closer so Carson could see her son. It made all three of them happier.

“No,” Carson answered. “There's no need to worry them. I'll call when I get home.” She suddenly looked panicked. “You do think I'll be able to go home today, don't you?”

Drew nodded and rubbed her shoulder, consolingly. “I'm sure you will.”

The doctor who was attending to Carson stepped around the privacy curtain. “We can take this off now,” he said, removing the uncomfortable brace.

Carson carefully stretched out her stiff neck. “Wow, does that feel better.”

“There are no fractures or internal injuries,” he said. “You are suffering from…” He proceeded to rattle off some extensive medical terminology that left Carson , figuratively scratching her noggin. Carson looked to her friend for some clarification.

“You sprained the heck out of your back,” Drew translated.

The ER professional chuckled lightly and asked, “Are you a doctor Ms. Dixon?”

Drew nodded. “A pediatrician.” If she had been wearing her scrubs, he might have suspected her profession. But Drew had a business meeting first thing that morning and she was wearing tailored, gray dress slacks with subtle dark blue stripes. Topping off the outfit was a silk blouse in navy. She looked every bit the business woman.

“Well, Ms. Galloway,” Doctor Oliver said. “I'm going to release you now. I'll give you some medication and a list of instructions. I hope you have someone to stay with you because you will be somewhat immobile for a few days.”

Drew lifted the baby higher in her arms and assured. “We'll take good care of her.”

Carson didn't realize just how incapacitated she was until she tried to stand up from the wheelchair and get into the car. Even with Drew's help, Carson could barely move. The ride home was quiet. Carson was experiencing increased pain. Drew knew this and concentrated on trying to avoid the dips and holes in the streets that the local DOT had yet to repair. Pulling into the drive after the fifteen minute ride, Drew finally spoke. “Let me take Logan inside first, then I'll be back to help you, okay?” The blonde didn't answer. “ Carson , as soon as we get you inside I'll get you an ice pack.” Drew pulled the prescription out of her shirt pocket. “I've got some of these at home; I'll go get you one until we can get this filled.” She gently rubbed her friend's arm, because there was still no reaction.

Carson finally, but painfully turned to look at her. Tears sat in her eyes. “I don't think I can move,” she confessed. Her voice was frail and trembled with fear. “What if they missed something on the x-ray? When it happened, I didn't think it was that bad, but now...”

Drew leaned closer, wanting so much to take the woman that she loved into her arms, to provide comfort. “Oh Honey no. You are going to be fine,” she assured. “Your muscles have just stiffened up.” She looked to the back seat. “ Logan is fine for the moment. I'm gonna run home and get you some medicine now. It has a muscle relaxant and it will work pretty fast. Then I'll help you inside. But I promise you that you can move.” She picked up Carson 's hand and softly kissed the back. She felt the squeeze and smiled. “Be right back.”

After Drew returned and Carson took her pain medication, the doctor kissed her blonde head, trying to convey her love. Every time Drew saw her friend grimace, she felt the pain. If Carson shed a tear, Drew mirrored it somewhere inside. Her love for Carson was growing each day. But since their first meeting, Drew could always sense the fragility of Carson 's spirit. And not knowing the reason for it, she couldn't really help, except to offer her devoted friendship. But Drew always had hope for a future between them.

With Logan inside, safely playing in his playpen, the slow task of helping Carson into the house began. A few dozen tiny steps finally got her indoors. Drew's strong arm was tucked firmly around her waist with every move. They both silently thanked the architect for designing the one story structure. Between the pain pill and the moving around, Carson was feeling a bit better by the time they reached her bed. She only hoped it continued. Carson was wearing sweat pants and a t-shirt, so there was no need to try and maneuver her into something more comfortable.

Drew did suggest that Carson lie down on her stomach. “I also brought a couple of ice packs,” the doctor said. “It'll help bring down the inflammation.” Drew safely applied the chilly treatment and then settled into a chair beside the bed. “How does that feel?” she asked.

Carson took a fairly deep breath, testing out the muscles. “It's a lot better actually.” She cautiously reached out to take Drew's nearby hand. “Thank you for taking such good care of me.”

Drew loved holding that hand and didn't relinquish it any time soon. “That's what friends do,” she said with a loving smile. “And this friend is going to stay here and continue to take care of you and your son…until you are back on your feet.”

Carson started to protest, but the words stalled somewhere between her brain and her mouth. She liked the idea of having Drew around so much. “That sounds wonderful.” The words that spilled from her lips sounded strange to her ears. But that didn't stop her smile. For once the words were spoken from her heart. The medication was really coursing through her veins now, relaxing everything. Her brain was free forming thoughts…stress free thoughts. Thoughts that made her giggle…and sleepy. “I bet a soak in a nice hot tub would feel grrreat,” she slurred.

Drew adjusted the ice packs, which needed to be removed in another ten minutes. “Well, we can't apply any heat to this injury for a couple of days.” Carson giggled again. “What is it?” Drew asked.

“Then you'd better not stand so close,” Carson murmured as her eyes slipped shut. “I didn't get the chance to tell you, but you look veeerrry nice. And hot.”

Drew had a huge, silly grin plastered across her face. The compliment was nice, but she just wished that it wasn't drug induced.

* * *

 

With Carson sleeping for the moment, Drew set about reorganizing her work schedule and preparing to move in for a few days. After a couple of calls, she checked on Carson again, and wrote her a note just in case she woke up within the next half an hour or so. Drew put Logan in his stroller and went down to her house to pack some clothes. In her bedroom, Drew took a bag from beneath the bed and stuffed a few items inside. Logan looked on in a curious manner. “I'm gonna be in staying in your house for a few days,” she told the baby. “Is that okay with you? Mommy needs my help.” Drew retrieved a few more things from the bathroom and added them to the bag. She knelt down to Logan 's level and he studied her with interest. “Can I tell you a secret buddy?” Without waiting for an answer, Drew let the cat out of the bag. “I'm in love with your mommy.” Although having admitted it to herself, it was the first time she had said it out loud. While it felt good, it was also a little sad because she couldn't take the chance of telling Carson unless she was sure that Carson felt the same. “What do you think of that, huh? Would I have your approval?” Drew tickled his belly and he laughed. She lifted him into her arms and stood. “I love you too you know.” A kiss landed on his cheek. Tossing the bag into the stroller, she decided to carry her favorite little man home.

Over the next three days, Drew administered her expert care to her patient. She prepared meals, did laundry and fed, changed and played with Logan . Carson was allowed to sit on the sofa in the living room after the second day, and she watched as her friend performed every task with pleasure.

* * *

 

After helping Carson to bed one evening, Drew sat in a bedside chair and they watched an interesting science fiction movie. It ended at ten o'clock , but Carson was still not sleepy, she had taken a long nap earlier in the day. She asked her friend to stay and talk for awhile. Drew told a story from her childhood.

“That's the last family vacation we took. Dad died the next winter.”

“I'm sorry to hear that,” Carson said. “I'm sure he'd be very proud of the person you are. You must miss him.”

“I do. He was a good man and father. I learned a lot from him.”

Carson smiled lightly. “That's good. You can pass on those nice memories to your children.”

Drew nodded slowly. She caught Carson 's eyes and saw one of those rare moments when Carson exposed her inner freedom. “I hope so,” the doctor said softly.

Then in a flash it was gone again. Carson looked away, her gaze falling on the stack of photos on her night stand. Drew had brought out some pictures from her past that she had promised earlier. There were baby pictures, one of Drew and her sister and the slightly embarrassing ones of her stint as Inferno the Fire God. The red haired, pseudo deity was the one on top of the pile. “Did you do anything else interesting during this butch period?” Carson asked with a tilt of her head.

Drew's eyes drifted up to the ceiling as she thought about it. Did she really want to tell her friend the rest? Oh well, why not. “Interesting huh?” Drew squirmed in her chair and she cleared her throat. “Well, before my God complex, I had entered a…um…a Drag King contest. That's actually when I cut my hair this short. I've kept it that way ever since.”

Carson 's eyes grew with curiosity. She smiled slyly. “And how did you do?”

Drew shrugged. “I won.”

Drew was so modest it was like trying to make a snowman in the Sahara for Carson to get information out of her. “And your talent was?”

“Well, I figured a lot of the other contestants would perform Elvis songs; he just seems to fit. And I did that too, but I also figured they would do the usual, Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock, Burning Love. So I chose a little differently.”

“Oooo, which one?” Carson asked. “I love Elvis songs.”

“If I Can Dream and A Little Less Conversation.”

Carson swooned comically and fanned herself with a hand. Then she turned to her companion more sincerely. “No kidding Drew, you are gonna have to recreate that for me sometime.”

Now the blue eyes expanded with shock. “Oh, I don't think so! I didn't have any inhibitions back then,” Drew clarified emphatically.

Carson lifted a golden brow. “And you do now?”

Drew turned her head coyly and batted her lashes. “Maybe a few.”

* * *

 

The next morning, Carson was sitting in the back yard. She had a cup of coffee next to her and a sketch pad on her lap. The late April day was warm and sunny and it felt wonderful on her battered body. Drew had taken Logan with her to the grocery store, and even with her discomfort, Carson was enjoying the few minutes of quiet solitude. Drew had made them delicious omelets for breakfast and had scrambled an egg for the baby. He had smacked his lips with every bite until it was all gone. He was growing everyday and in every way. Carson realized that she liked having someone to talk to over the morning meal. Someone who could talk back, that is. Carson savored a sip of her coffee and then took a pencil in her right hand. She began sketching, not really having anything particular in mind. A line here, a line there. Some shading, and almost absently, the image began taking shape. It was a human figure. A man or a woman? The dark clothes seemed more masculine, but the body beneath them appeared lean. As the face began to form beneath her fingers, Carson added a bit of a mustache and then a well trimmed goatee. So it was a man. The pencil stopped. Carson briefly wondered what was inspiring this image. It wasn't either of her brothers or any other man she knew personally. Curious. The pencil tip returned to the page, adding dark hair, short and trendy. The final anatomical feature was a pair of piercing eyes. The artist studied the finished rendering, approving of her work. But something was missing. Her hand reached to the table for a different pencil. To the page, Carson added just two tiny points of color. But it brought the figure to life in an instant. “Oh my,” Carson exhaled. The blue eyes said it all. The picture was Drew…or to be more precise, Drag King Drew, the way Carson saw him in her mind's eye.

“We're back,” a voice called out as the front door opened.

Carson quickly flipped the cover over her surprising sketch. Drew stepped through the back door just seconds later. Logan bounced in the doctor's arms and reached down. “Mum, mum, mum, mum,” he chanted loudly.

Carson accepted the energetic bundle and settled him onto her lap. “Did you have a good time?” she asked. He showed her the toy car he had in his hand. “Oh, this is new. And just how many other things did you sneak into the cart?”

Drew was standing in the doorway, watching her fam…friends. She chuckled. “Oh, just a bag of pretzels, a roast chicken, a twenty pound bag of dog food, a case of beer and a gallon of chocolate chip ice cream.” Drew snapped her fingers. “Ooops, sorry, that one was mine.”

Carson addressed her offspring. “Well, accept for the dog food, you've got good taste.”

“He is your son,” Drew mumbled with a grin. “I'll get these things put away,” she said louder.

With Drew out of eyesight, Carson slipped her sketch book under the stack of magazines that she had also brought outside with her. She wasn't sure exactly why she was so desperate for Drew not to see the drawing. It was perfectly innocent, even complimentary.

The three of them spent the rest of the day together. They walked, at a snail's pace, around the neighborhood to allow Carson some exercise. Then Drew took them for an afternoon sweet treat. After some playtime in the park, Drew decided to barbeque steaks for their dinner.

That evening, Carson sat at the same table as she had that morning. A tall glass of iced tea quenched her thirst as she watched the expert chef performing her duties. Grandma Del had come over to take her grandson for another overnight stay, so it was just dinner for two. They chatted as the meat sizzled.

“I had an idea for later,” Drew said as she turned the steaks on the grill.

“Lay it on me,” Carson said cheerfully.

The tall doctor took a seat beside the blonde and explained. “I have a whirpool tub in my bathroom at home. How would you like to take a nice long, hot bath, with those jets softly massaging your sore muscles?”

Carson 's face melted into a dreamy expression. “Oh, sign me up.”

Drew patted her leg. “Will do.” She had a quick look around, peeking into the sunny sky outside of their nicely shaded area. “Should we eat out here?” she asked.

“Sounds good to me. I wish I could do something to help you.”

“I've got it covered. You just relax.” Drew gathered up the stack of magazines, which was still hiding Carson 's sketch book. The blonde gave a little squeak as she saw this. “What's wrong?” Drew asked. “Are in pain?”

Now Carson was embarrassed at her overreaction. “Ah…no, no. I just thought of something.” She kept her eyes on the paper in Drew's hands. “It's nothing. Just put those inside on the coffee table. I'll take care of them later.” What's the big deal Carson ; it's just a picture. Get over it.

 

After the good meal was finished, the satisfied pair continued to laze about on the patio, enjoying the dusky end to the daylight. They were sharing stories, as they often did during these quiet times. Carson had relayed a particularly funny tale from her childhood. She noticed once again, the captivating way that Drew's eyes sparkled whenever she laughed. Carson knew, but she asked anyway. “Your eyes are so vibrant, but they aren't contacts are they?

“Nope,” the doctor answered immediately. “Although, I do wear vision correction lenses. But I got the color from my mother. She was a model up until a few years ago.” Drew had a fond memory. “She used to take us up to Chicago with her on her weekend shoots.”

“She must be as beautiful as you are,” Carson commented innocently.

“Well, she is beautiful.” Before Carson could say anything else, Drew changed the subject. “I picked up a lemon pie from the bakery. How about I slice it up and get us some coffee.”

Carson stealthily chuckled at her humble friend. But at the same time she greatly admired Drew's timid quality. The doctor was a natural charmer, without even trying.

 

* * *

 

Hours later, Carson was soaking in that soothing tub of hot water, the forceful spray turning her to jelly. Drew had provided her with a tub pillow and Carson took full advantage of the comfort. Her eyes slipped shut and she sighed. There was nothing troubling to plague her mind, and she thought of only pleasant things.

A few minutes later, there was a knock on the door. The green eyes fluttered open. “Yes,” she called out.

The door opened and there stood the statuesque doctor. Carson admired the long, bare legs that reached out beneath the short robe that scarcely covered, what she could tell was an equally nude body. Carson 's mouth went dry. “Drew?” She barely got the word out.

The dark haired woman said nothing. She just continued to stare passionately at the woman in the tub. Her blue eyes were dusky and deep with raw lust. The sexual tension flowing between them was unmistakable. It jumped a few notches as Drew slowly dropped the robe, exposing her nudity to Carson 's similarly wanton gaze. Without a sound, Drew seductively crossed the small space, towering over the reclining woman. Carson slowly raised her eyes and her vision was filled with skin. Nothing, but luscious skin. Bronzed skin wrapped around the perfect blending of female and muscles. Carson swallowed hard as her heartbeat pounded in her ears. She reached out with a trembling hand, skimming her fingertips down Drew's outer thigh. “You're absolutely gorgeous,” Carson managed. Drew winked a blue eye and climbed into the huge tub, filling the opposite end with her powerful essence. She still hadn't made a sound, but crooked a beckoning finger at Carson , leaning forward as she did. Carson mirrored the move and they met in the middle. She briefly studied the lips she was about to kiss. They were wet, full, and at the moment smiling beautifully. Carson expected they would be soft and delicious. And in the next instant that became fact, as the kiss happened. But she didn't know those lips would be so sweet. A hand slid beneath the churning water and softly landed between her legs.

“ Carson ?”

“Yes Drew,” she whispered.

“ Carson ?”

Her name was spoken louder this time, accompanied by a noise. The green eyes popped open. There was no Drew in front of her. The hand between her legs was her own. She pulled it away frantically. “Damn,” she spat.

“ Carson , are you all right?” Drew asked from the other side of the closed bathroom door. “Do you need my help?”

Carson struggled to pull herself together after that erotic dream. “Um, just a minute,” she answered. “I'm fine. I just fell asleep.”

“Okay. Just call when you're ready to get out. I'll be nearby. Do not try it by yourself. And that's not a doctor speaking, that's your friend, who can't stand the thought of you being in more pain.”

The blonde head fell back and Carson expelled a disgusted breath. She silently scolded herself. What the hell was that? I can't have those kinds of thoughts about her. You are not going to lust after your best friend, Carson Galloway . I can take care of those urges without picturing Drew as a sex object.

* * *

 

Drew had returned to her own home and work on Monday, so Duncan 's wife, Dana had taken over helping Carson . The blonde was moving around much better on her own and the pain was manageable without the strong drugs. But Drew suggested that she still shouldn't lift Logan for a few more days. So she and Dana had some sisterly time. Drew spent the evenings, catching up on chores and personal business. But she still found time every day to call and talk to her best friend.

* * *

Carson was putting away the dishes after a Saturday morning breakfast. Logan was playing contentedly and Carson was thinking about what she was going to do for the rest of the day. She first decided on a second cup of coffee as the phone rang. She grinned as the info on the small screen informed her who was calling. “Hello Drew.”

 

“Hi. How are you feeling?”

“Drew, you've asked me that every day for more than two weeks,” Carson said with a light hearted giggle.

“Well, I'm always interested in how you are feeling…with or without an injury.”

“Oh…well that's nice to hear. But as far as my injury, it's much, much better today, just a twinge now and then.”

“Wonderful. How would you like to get out tonight?”

“Oh yes please,” Carson begged. “I haven't been much farther than the front yard in so long. Where are we going?”

“Do you like bowling?” Drew asked, happy to hear the excitement in her friend's voice.

“Normally, yes. But do you think I should go bowling after a back injury?”

“Weeelll, no. I do think you'd have to be a spectator only. But I'll see to it that you have fun. I'm playing for charity tonight.”

“Oh, that's nice. I'll bring my checkbook. And my son, no babysitter.”

“Of course bring the little guy. It's at Southland Bowl.”

“Sure, I know where that is. Say Drew, can anybody play for charity?”

“Yeah. They just have to sign up before six o'clock and get matched with a sponsor.”

“Would you mind if I invite my brother and his family; they love bowling?”

“Of course. I look forward to meeting them. See you later.”

That evening at the bowling alley, Carson came in pushing Logan in his stroller. She felt as though she had entered a wild jungle. The lobby was full of plants, small trees, decorative, African wall art, stuffed animals and live ones. The money raised at this event was going toward the preservation of wildlife. Volunteers from the nearest zoo were in attendance to educate participants on the plight of the world's endangered animals. Carson took a real interest in the subject, getting brochures and other literature to read later. She made her sizable donation and in return Logan received a small plastic elephant.

Drew appeared from inside and welcomed Carson with a big hug. “I'm so glad you're better,” she whispered in Carson 's ear.

Carson whispered back. “Thank you.”

Drew pulled away after giving her a final pat on the back. She turned her attention to the baby. “Hey buddy. How are you doing?” He held out his new toy. “What have you got there?” She studied the figure seriously. “What a great elephant,” she praised. Drew couldn't wait to take Logan to the zoo sometime in the summer. But she was about to get a head start. Drew lifted him into her arms and addressed his mother. “Come on mommy, let's go visit some animals.” A colorful parrot announced its presence with a loud squawk, as the trio approached. The cage less bird was perched on a branch in a small tree. A zoo volunteer told the group all the interesting facts about her, including that her name was Rainbow. Logan was fascinated as the bird fluttered its wings. Another young man then stepped forward. He had an intricately patterned, three foot snake draped over his hands. The petite python was very still, content to let people stare and feel his leather like body. Carson, Drew and even Logan took their turns touching the calm reptile. They were not repulsed in the least, which was always good for the animal care takers to see. After viewing one more small creature, an African hedgehog to be precise, they moved inside to wait for Carson 's brother.

Duncan and his wife and daughter arrived minutes later, and introductions were made. After the game had started, there was an almost instant, but friendly personal match between Drew and Duncan. Roll for roll they each tried to better the other, although they were pretty evenly matched in skill level.

Carson sat behind the players with Logan on her lap. He was still engrossed in his new toy animal and the juice his mother was offering. She had bought a round of beers and sipped hers slowly as she watched the game progress. Her niece was a few lanes over, bowling with some other children and Carson split her time watching them and her own group. As the evening went on and the third round of ale was well on its way to disappearing, Carson 's observant eyes strayed more often to the firm behind being magnificently displayed in front of her. And she definitely wasn't eyeing her brother. Carson gave herself permission to admire a fine physique. And Drew's was about as fine as she had ever seen. In a previous conversation, Carson had discovered that Drew's exercise regimen consisted solely of running a few miles, four or five times a week. She had refused to become a slave to exercise, only doing enough to maintain good health. Drew was the same way with her diet, eating a good healthy balance during the week, but allowing some indulgences on the weekend, like sweets and beer.

Drew finished her turn and returned to sit next to Carson , taking a drink from her bottle. Logan jabbered at her and reached for the beer. “Oh no little man,” she said, pulling it out of his reach. “It's gonna be a long, long time before you better even think about having one of these.” Damn! She thought suddenly. Did that sound too parental? You're not his mother. And Carson 's not your partner. That thought made her very unhappy and her face rapidly reflected that emotion.

Carson leaned close and whispered, “What's wrong Drew?”

The doctor pulled up a smile…but it still seemed a bit distressed. “I'm fine,” she said, patting Carson 's leg. “I just remembered something.”

“I don't like seeing you sad.” Carson placed a tiny kiss on her friend's cheek. She didn't realize that gestures like that only made things worse for Drew.

But being a tiny bit of a masochist when it came to the beautiful blonde, Drew closed her eyes and enjoyed the brief touch.

Dana had watched the tender interaction, feeling sorrow for Drew, even though they had just met. But she had immediately noticed that whenever Carson was near, a light that only love can generate illuminated the doctor's face. Yet, from Carson 's words, Dana knew there was just friendship between the two. She assumed that Carson was holding back emotionally, because of her recent breakup. But Dana was almost shocked a few minutes before when she had spotted an intense look of lust on her sister-in-law's face while Drew was bowling. The pair was a conundrum. But Dana wouldn't interfere in their business…unless she was asked for her opinion. She liked the doctor and thought they would make a nice couple. Dana sent them silent good wishes.

“I believe you're up Doctor Drew,” Duncan said as he finished his turn. He peeked at the score. “And you're down by…well, I won't say that out loud.”

Drew accepted his verbal chide with ease, simply giving him a raised brow in response. Carson wanted Drew to beat her brother, and she hurried over to the score panel to see for herself. She slapped her brother on the arm. “You dope. Math was never your strong suit was it?” Carson returned to Drew's side at the ball return, casually patting her side. “You're ahead. Don't let Mr. Neanderthal intimidate you.”

“Hey!” Duncan said. “I thought blood was thicker than water.” Carson shot him a playful shrug. “Oh I get it,” he mumbled. “Blood isn't thicker than…ouch.” His wife punched him in the ribs with an elbow, because he was about to say something crude. Dana whispered another reprimand in his ear, adding the truth about his sister's relationship with Drew. Duncan expressed his disbelief with a contorted facial expression. “Really?” Carson had totally missed the exchange, because she was engrossed in watching her friend. Duncan and Dana studied Carson as she studied Drew. “Are you sure?” he asked his wife.

Dana nodded yes and then shrugged. She didn't understand it either.

 

To be continued...

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