Blindsided

By Colleen

 

General Disclaimer: 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.

Love/Sex Disclaimer: 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 other than this story.

Author’s Note: This is the third story in the Jamie and Erin series. You might want to start at the beginning with At First Sight and Seeing You Again for the First Time to get the full impact of this story.

Feedback will be welcomed at coleen30@webtv.net

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

Or if you only want updates and special announcements please join http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Colleens_Corner_Announcements/

 

Chapter 12

"So."

"So?" Jeremy echoed his painfully nervous sister's statement.

The stalemate continued as one set of blue eyes waited anxiously while the other looked everywhere, but into the matching pair. Erin and Jamie had arrived, unannounced at Jeremy's apartment on Saturday afternoon. The young man had been working on his hobby. The reason for their visit was momentarily forgotten as the couple marveled over the small woodcarvings. None more than six inches tall, but all were finely detailed versions of forest creatures. Squirrels, rabbits, a raccoon and a deer family filled the shelf over the gray sofa in his living room. The sunlight, streaming through the large window, bathed the unpainted art works, adding to their natural beauty. Jeremy's small dining table currently held a pile of wood chips, a few knives of different sizes, all with delicate but sturdy blades, and an electronic tool with a tiny grinding wheel. Atop the mound of woody bits sat a half completed figure, which was obviously going to be a mighty steed rearing on its hind legs with its mane blowing in the wind. Jeremy had adopted a coy smile when they had noticed his work in progress. The humbleness continued as he played down his talent upon hearing their glowing compliments, but he secretly beamed hearing his sister's high praise. He had welcomed them into his modest apartment, where the couple spent a few more minutes playing with his nearly full-grown pup, JJ and making small talk. But Jeremy suspected an underlying reason for the surprise visit. They politely declined his offer of refreshments and now the trio sat, two opposite one.

Jamie opened her mouth to speak again, but without much more success than the first time. She sucked in another deep breath as her hands continued to twist in and around each other. "Jeremy, I…we…well it's a… we're here…"

Erin couldn't stand seeing the palpable pressure her spouse was under. She tucked her arm around Jamie's bent elbow and leaned in to whisper in her ear. "Sweetheart, it's okay. We don't have to do this. I'm sorry for…"

"No," Jamie spoke softly, turning her head to meet Erin's gaze. "I want this for you…for us. I really do. I just didn't think I would freeze like this."

Erin rubbed her back and instructed Jamie to take another deep, soothing breath. In that instant a picture flashed into the rancher's mind and the tension began to fade. When Jamie opened her eyes again, she took one look into the twin pools of emerald and her nerves steadied to a slight tremble. She gave her a tiny grin and a peck on the nose.

"You're really starting to scare me here," Jeremy said, his own nerves tingling a bit. "I get the feeling that you want to tell me something."

Erin turned and flashed him a reassuring smile. "No Jeremy, it's nothing bad, I promise. But there is something we'd like to ask you."

The way was opened and Jamie finally got the words formed into a good sense of order. "Jeremy, Erin and I…we want to start a family."

Jeremy's brows drew together in a confused manner. "Well, that's great you two. You'll be great parents. But what else did you want to say? I know there was something."

"Thanks," Jamie said, a little bit of her giddy anticipation showing through in the twinkle of her eyes. "We do have a very big favor to ask of you." She took Erin's hand. "We would very much like for the baby to be blood related to both of us. So that's why we would…like you to help us. Would you be the donor so Erin can carry our baby?"

Jeremy was struck mute. He definitely didn't see that coming. His mouth went dry and the thoughts ran rampant inside his head.

The vacant, unreadable expression didn't bode well and Jamie's heart dropped at her brother's reaction. Even though she expected it, it was still disappointing and she knew how much it would hurt Erin. The little blonde, however, wasn't ready to give up so easily. "Jeremy, we understand how big of a decision this is. We realize it may impact your relationship and your future. Of course you wouldn't have any legal responsibilities for the baby, but we definitely want uncle Jeremy to be a very important part of our child's life. So please consider this," she beseeched. "We think you are the best choice and we both really want you to be a part of this." All returned to quiet in the room as they waited for an answer.

After a few more anxious seconds Jeremy rose to his feet, his face still not giving anything away. He crossed the small space and stopped in front of them. "I'm really flattered that you think enough of me to ask," he said then paused. "I would be honored to be a part of this miracle."

Erin was the first to jump up and hug him. Jeremy was touched at her emotional words. He cared for Erin almost as much as he cared for his sister. But Jamie's embrace and simple thank you meant the world to him. His decision wasn't meant to ingratiate himself to his sister, even though he still felt her emotional distance. Very grateful for his mother's courageous choice, Jeremy had always intended to be a donor so someday some woman who longed to be a parent could achieve that dream. A tiny bit of ego had allowed him to anticipate the benevolent act to be something just a little special. And this was it. His sisters would be proud parents and he would be around to contribute, even in some small way to the child's upbringing.

It would indeed be a blessed child.

The trio visited a while longer to explain the plans and timetable for the procedure. Jamie was much more relaxed at this point and even managed to laugh a few times as Jeremy passed along a slightly embarrassing story of his infancy that his mother was very fond of telling. As the hour was approaching, Jeremy accepted their invitation to dinner. Erin went on ahead to answer her phone, leaving the siblings to follow. Jeremy quickly cleared away the mess and put away his tools. Jamie watched, thinking about everything she had learned about his childhood, knowing his mother had done a good job raising him. Since meeting him, Jeremy had exhibited his intelligence, kindness, creativity and generosity. He had a clear and ambitious outlook for a successful future. He was a fine young man. Why can't I find that connection with him, Jamie questioned? I guess if I had grown up with him it would be different. With only a second's pause Jamie realized, Dad wouldn't have needed that though. They would have bonded right away.

Jeremy said goodbye to his dog and joined her at the door, but just before they stepped into the hallway Jamie stopped him with a gentle touch. "Jeremy, there's something I should have told you a long time ago. Dad would be proud of you."

A comforting feeling of warmth spun unexpectedly around Jeremy's heart. Just a few words. But those particular few words spoken by that particular person, suddenly connected him to a man he would never meet in this life. But Jeremy finally had a Dad. He gave his sister a curt nod and a strangled thank you.

And Jamie felt as if, just maybe she had taken a step toward that sibling bond.

* * *

Life continued on in a normal fashion in the Sheridan-Casey household over the next few weeks. While they still remained anxious over a possible pregnancy, they didn't spend every minute of the day ruminating over it.

Erin had plenty of diversions to fill her days. She was just one chapter away from finishing the first draft of her latest book. She had also spent a few hours helping Ann and Leah organize the new clinic and prepare for its grand opening. She and Jamie also had dinner twice with the medical couple and they all decided it should be a biweekly event. Third on Erin's busy schedule was arranging plans for her riding program for physically challenged children. That was coming together, but with all of the permits and insurance issues that were involved, it was still a few months away. All of Erin's nights were pleasantly occupied with loving Jamie, whether with acts of intense physical intimacies or just sleeping next to her, smelling her freshly shampooed hair and listening to her breathe.

Jamie had the ranch running smoothly even with the busy season now upon them. She hired a local high school boy to help out. He was devastated when his family had fallen into some financial difficulties and they could no longer afford to board his horse at Sheridan Stables, so Jamie was letting him work in exchange for keeping the animal there. She also paid him a fair wage because he was such a dedicated worker. There were two mares ready to foal within the month and she was working with three new horses, determining their suitability for Erin's program. Still, Jamie found the time, determinately so, to spend more than a few hours watching and sometimes participating in the construction of the new house.

It was one of those days in June, a Friday to be exact, that Jamie came home that evening with dirt smudges all over her jeans where she had wiped her sweaty hands. She also had sawdust all in her ebony hair, a few bloodied nicks on her hands and a bruised thumb. She stopped at the back porch to pull off her boots and dislodge as much of the topical dirt as possible, which wasn't much. Jamie then washed from fingertips to elbows in the kitchen sink, careful of the sore, discolored digit. She grabbed a bottle of cool water from the fridge and guzzled down at least half before two enthusiastic canines welcomed her home. Laughing as they vied for her attention, Jamie said, "I love you girls too. We'll go out and play after dinner." She looked around the kitchen and saw no sign or detected any aroma of cooking food. "Where is your Mommy anyway? Maybe we'll run down to the inn for dinner. Give her a break form cooking huh?" After a quick woof in agreement, the dogs slipped out onto the back porch while Jamie headed on into the house. She literally ran into her wife as they turned a corner, one coming down the stairs and one going up. "Funny meeting you here," the tall one said, adding a kiss.

Erin ran a hand through the dark strands and came away with a palm full of dust. "What have you been into, as if I didn't know?"

Jamie grabbed the offended hand and gave it a good brushing and then a kiss to prove its cleanliness. Sheepishly, she explained, "I went over to the new house…"

"Again."

"Again." Jamie hitched up the drooping tool belt around her waist, a few loose screws jangling in one of the large pockets. "They let me use the power saw." She quickly waved the back and blue thumb. "And unfortunately a hammer. But it was still fun."

Erin couldn't help but grin at Jamie's childlike glee. She gave the dirty woman a long perusal from head to toe and back again. "More like you wallowed in sawdust," she said. "Go take a shower and I'll start dinner."

"I thought we could go out to eat, maybe the inn."

Erin bit back a secret smile and pretended to consider. "I really feel like staying home tonight. Do you mind?"

"Absolutely not." Jamie gave Erin another peck on the cheek before heading up the stairs. She stopped on about the seventh step, feeling the eyes glued to her body. Looking back over her shoulder she asked, "Like the belt huh?"

The blonde puckered pink lips, still staring at the caramel colored, leather tool holder and the surrounding area. "Well it does accentuate your perfect…" Erin finished the saucy statement by letting her hands do the talking.

A single blue eye winked and Jamie slowly finished her climb.

* * *

Forty-five minutes later, they were finishing up a light, but tasty meal. Jamie had been filling Erin in on the progress of the new house.

"I suppose Carly was there?" Erin asked with an edge of distaste.

But the sarcasm was lost on the tall rancher. She just smiled and answered, "Yeah. I actually get to do a lot more when she's there."

"No doubt," Erin grumbled as she grabbed the empty plates.

"What do you mean?"

Erin turned back to the seated woman and wagged a finger in her direction. "If I catch her undressing you with her eyes one more time, I'm gonna stick her hammer…"

"She doesn't do that!" Jamie protested

"She most certainly does."

The rancher took a moment to consider the possibility as her spouse finished putting the dishes in the washer. She still didn't think it was a serious matter, but she always trusted Erin's observations. "You were the one who wanted to hire a female contractor," she reminded Erin. "The one who always wants to help out women who own their own business, especially ones in the more male oriented areas."

"I know," the blonde said as she brushed a towel across the kitchen table. "And I still believe in that. But I didn't realize you were going to be so…hands on with the contractor. Especially one who is a lesbian."

Jamie adopted a soft expression and stood, taking her troubled spouse into her arms. "You are only one who gets to feel these hands on her body." She did some tactical maneuvers to prove her point. The moves drew some very interesting sounds from the woman in her arms and put a crafty smile on her own face. Jamie placed a tender kiss on Erin's lips, but didn't give up the topic of conversation just yet. "No to be stereotypical," she said, "but didn't you think it might be a strong possibility that she would be gay?"

"No, because I don't think of people that way."

Jamie pulled her in even closer. "Well, she can look all she wants, but you are the only one who gets to touch and get touched by me."

Erin conceded the point with a sensual hum as talented lips sprinkled kisses all along the side of her neck. "And touching is so much better," she finally decided. Erin wrapped her arms around the tall woman's neck and grinned. "Actually I was just joking…mostly."

Jamie laughed.

After finishing in the kitchen, the couple went into the back yard to keep Jamie's promise. The late spring day had been full of sun and the season's typical heat. From peak afternoon the temperature had dropped ten degrees, now making for a pleasantly warm and comfortable evening. A breeze lazily whistled through the tall greenery that bordered the open field, adding a soothing sound and stirring the aromas of newly budded flowers and freshly cut grass.

The dogs chased down two tennis balls over a dozen times as the humans shared a piece of refreshing lemon pie.

"So the house is coming along?" Erin asked easily.

"Yeah, but there's still a long way to go; it's a big house."

"Do you think it will be done in, oh about seven months?"

The dark head shook vigorously. "No, I seriously doubt it. It might be close but…"

"Is there anything we can do to push it up to seven months?" Erin asked

Jamie gave it some quick consideration. "Maybe, if we had double crews to work from sunup to sundown, seven days a week."

Erin licked the tangy tines of her fork as her lips twitched, fighting the urge to giggle. "Well, I don't mind paying the extra money," she said. "So I think that's what we should do."

Jamie was caught off guard just for a second. As generous as Erin was, she was always very careful about wasting money and she hadn't worried about the building schedule before. "Okay," she conceded. "I'll talk to Carly on Monday."

Erin nodded exuberantly and threw the ball one last time. Lifting her eyes, the orange glow of the setting sun once again reminded her of the day they met just two years before. It was also an early June day. It was the day her future had begun. With a slight turn of her blonde head, her beautiful wife graced her vision. There was peace, hope and happiness in the smiling profile. It was a nearly perfect moment. And it was the perfect moment. Erin moved over to sit on Jamie's lap. "Good," she said, "cause I'm really on a strict time table and I really want to be able to move in at least seven months, since it will take us a few weeks to settle in and do a little decorating. So seven months is good."

"What is it with you and seven months anyway?" the perplexed rancher asked. "I guess you'd like to be in by Christmas huh?"

"Yes, but that's not the main reason." Erin stared into her eyes, challenging her wife.

"Okay, you want me to guess huh? December, January. Not our anniversary, not a birthday. Seven months." Jamie thought harder. "Seven…" A flicker. "Eight…nine." Full ignition and the brilliant light of realization illuminated the crystal blue eyes. "You're…are you…?" The ear-to-ear smile told all. "My God, you are pregnant." Jamie pulled Erin to her in a crushing embrace. "You were right," she whispered. "Thank you. Thank you."

Erin pulled back, but remained well within the circle of loving arms. She cupped Jamie's face, watching as a tiny tear slid from her eye. "You don't have to thank me Sweetheart."

Jamie gave her a soft kiss and joined in the smile. "I do thank you, but I was praying to someone else."

Erin agreed, resting her forehead against Jamie's. "Yeah, I did a lot of that this morning when that test was positive."

* * *

The old farmhouse was dark except for a single nightlight in the kitchen and half a dozen low burning candles in the master bedroom. All was silent within the walls at half past ten. The two canine members of the household, exhausted from the late evening play, slept in their comfy side by side doggie beds, dreaming of forest creatures to chase and old bones to chew.

The two humans, sharing the same big bed were still wide-awake, but quiet for the moment. They had held onto one another, basking in the glow of love and the setting sun as dusk had slowly drifted down around them. Their silent communication spoke joyously through the stroking of an arm and a head perched on a shoulder. The couple finally came indoors when the pitch of darkness finally locked down the night. They went straight to bed where a long celebration of lovemaking brought them to where they were now.

Skin to skin, Jamie rested with her head against Erin's middle. Their racing hearts calmed with a few languid caresses as the flames flickered all around them. Erin quietly giggled as she noticed the head on her stomach shifting, an inch to the left and seconds later a few inches to the right, slightly up and then down. "I don't think you can hear anything yet," she said.

"I know, but it's never to soon to start listening." Jamie placed a tiny kiss to the soft skin below Erin's belly button and then trailed a line of more kisses up over her breastbone, around her throat and neck, over her face and finally landing on her lips. She stared intently into Erin's eyes, seeing everything in the world that was important to her and never wanting to see them hollow with disappointment. "Honey, you know how happy I am about this baby, but we…"

"I know…I know."

"It's not that I expect anything to happen, but I think we need to be prepared. Last time it never even crossed my mind that we could lose…"

"Mine either. Now we both now it's a possibility."

"A slight possibility," Jamie added.

Erin smiled. "Right." She turned suddenly pensive as she combed through Jamie's soft hair. "You know, I've done a lot of thinking recently," she said. "In hindsight, I realize that something felt off, wrong inside, even before I knew for sure I was pregnant. I ignored it, but there was something."

Jamie's hand drifted down to rub Erin's still flat belly. "And you don't feel that now?" she asked with a slight tremor.

"No. Honestly."

"But you would tell if you do?"

"If anything feels out of the ordinary I will tell you. Right now I feel nothing but joy, here." Erin touched the spot over her heart. "And peacefulness here." She entwined her fingers with Jamie's and they both sheltered the tiny life inside. Just as sleep was about to overtake, I love you was mumbled sleepily and returned just the same.

* * *

With the exception of Jeremy, they had agreed not to tell anyone else the baby news until after Erin's first trimester. Erin continued to feel pretty good, more tired than usual, and the bathroom visits were a bit of a nuisance, but then she knew that was normal. And with everything normal about this pregnancy, she relaxed just a little more each day. The other bodily changes taking place were...interesting. Morning sickness finally arrived very early on a Wednesday. Unfortunately it hit the nonpregnant partner first. After the second morning, and realizing that Jamie wasn't really ill, Erin met the situation with a loving touch, knowing just how deeply they were connected. She also gave it just a bit of a compassionate giggle. That is until it was her turn. Thankfully, it punched with a surprisingly delicate blow. One slightly unpleasant bout each morning and she was fine for the rest of the day. Food soon became her very best late night friend, nearly edging Jamie out of the coveted spot on a couple of occasions…until one night when Jamie earned her gold medal in friendship.

Erin's eyes shot open from a deep sleep. It was 2:43 AM. She knew what had happened. It was there. That unending yearning, gnawing at her like a starving being. She wanted it, needed it. But what could she do about it? Not much. Erin tried to will herself back to sleep. Nothing. She needed a diversion, so she tried reading, using a very small book light as not to disturb her slumbering partner. It was an intriguing storyline and mildly distracting. But then the characters started in with gusto and the urge returned. And this time it just wouldn't leave. Erin finally tossed aside the book and sighed heavily.

"What is it Honey, what's wrong?"

Erin smiled, hearing the slurred speech from somewhere under the blanket beside her. "I'm sorry Sweetie, go back to sleep."

The bedclothes rustled and the mattress shifted as the tall rancher twisted around. Blue eyes blinked several times before the owner could get the heavy lids to stay up. "No, I'm awake. What's wrong?" Jamie asked again.

Erin sighed again, a little softer this time. "I'm fine. I just want something I can't have."

Now a little more alert, Jamie took Erin's hand and kissed the back. "What do you want?"

"It's nothing, just one of those silly cravings. But it's something that it totally out of the question."

"Rin, please tell me. I'll do whatever I can to help."

Erin smiled softly. "You need a haircut," She said, smoothing down some unruly black locks that had fallen down over the sleepy eyes. "I know you would help Honey, but I seriously doubt that what I want is within fifty miles of here. Maybe I can find a substitute downstairs."

"You never know," Jamie said. "I can work magic sometimes."

"Okay, whip me up some butterscotch coated pretzels. That's what I'm craving." Jamie threw off the covers and headed for the door. "I was kidding!" Erin cried.

The rancher turned back, gesturing the pregnant woman to stay put. Jamie returned in just a few seconds with a silver coated box with a painted on red ribbon. Erin took the box and saw the label. "Ellison Sweets." Well, it fit, but how? Looking inside, her eyes popped. She grabbed one of the orange colored knots and munched happily. "How could you possibly have known?" she asked around a mouth full of sweet and salty bits.

"Last week, I came in one afternoon and you were taking a nap and mumbling in your sleep. This is one of the things you mentioned. I found these on the Internet. They came yesterday morning." Jamie smiled at the obvious joy and satisfaction the candy was bringing to her partner, but she declined one when offered.

Erin had scoffed down four pretzels, but before she bit into another she stopped to say, "Thank you Sweetheart. I love you so much and not just because you got me this, but because you are everything I need." She leaned in and kissed Jamie for several heartbeats…then popped another pretzel.

Jamie snickered and licked her lips. Butterscotch was never a favorite flavor for her, but this new delivery method might just wet her appetite for the new treat.

* * *

As with many first time parents to be, their life quickly came to revolve around babies or to be more precise, baby things. An ordinary trip to the grocery store became an education in baby food…and more.

Erin pushed the shopping cart down the aisle, needing just a little more effort then normal. The basket was almost overflowing with most of a month's worth of groceries. Meats, fresh vegetables and fruits, food staples, breakfast items and household supplies stacked up in an orderly fashion to fill the cart. There was only one thing she had forgotten and she had sent Jamie back to the other end of the store for laundry detergent. Almost ten minutes had passed and Jamie had yet to return. Erin went in search, checking each aisle she passed, looking for the familiar dark head among the other shoppers. There, on aisle eight Erin spotted her elusive spouse. As she approached, calling out quietly, Jamie just stood there staring at the display, a large blue bottle dangling from her right hand.

"Jamie, what are you looking for?" Erin asked, not yet noticing the items on the shelves.

"Look at this," Jamie mumbled.

Erin turned and smiled, always enchanted by the picture of the cute infant on the jars.

Jamie pointed to the foods. "Ten different kinds of cereals, half a dozen fruit juices, all these vegetables, creamed spinach, squash, sweet potatoes and corn. And those peas just look horrible."

"They usually aren't a favorite," Erin added.

"I never knew all this existed for babies. Applesauce, peaches, pears…prunes." Jamie grimaced at the last one. She reached for a small jar. "They've got to be kidding, mango," she pointed to more, "papaya, guava. I've never even had guava."

Erin saw a couple she didn't even recognize. "Turkey and rice dinner, spaghetti with tomato sauce and beef." Plus there was a very mushy looking macaroni and cheese. "Babies deserve as much variety as adults," she decided.

"I guess," the rancher agreed. "They even have desserts. Blueberry Buckle, Hawaiian Delight, Peach Cobbler, Vanilla Custard."

"That one's pretty good actually," Erin said. Jamie gave her a raised brow. "I tried some once or twice when I used to feed Conner," the blonde explained. "There was one called Cherry Vanilla that was really good, but I don't think they make it anymore." Erin gave a quick mental count to all the different foods. "I think the baby is going to need its own pantry. Good thing we'll have a big enough kitchen." She pointed to the aisle behind them. "Wait until we get into the diapers, shampoos, lotions..." She took the large bottle from Jamie and placed it on the bottom rack of the cart. "Let's go home, I'm starved."

Jamie followed, quietly.

And she remained that way the rest of the day.

* * *

After dinner Jamie had gone out to the barn, giving no particular reason why. But now it was well past dark and Erin was worried about the sullen woman. If Jamie was still in the barn, she wasn't answering the phone. Erin knew from experience that sometimes Jamie just needed a little solitude to work out things that were on her mind, but she never stayed out long after dark without calling. At almost ten, Erin wasn't going to wait any longer, so she headed out to the barn to check for herself. Sensing her distress, the dogs followed along, flanking their human. The night was always just a little spooky with the black forest looming all around and you hoped that the movements in the shadows were just the normal nocturnal inhabitants. Hurrying her steps, Erin headed to the far building, where Jamie's office was. She was even more concerned upon seeing every window darkened. Flipping on a low light so she wouldn't scare the horses, Erin softly called out. "Jamie, are you in here?"

"I'm back here Rin."

The dogs nosed around, chasing some scent or another as Erin followed the voice and found her partner sitting atop several bales of hay. The author leaned against a wooden support beam and studied her thoughtfully. Not noticing her presence yet, Jamie absently braided several dry pieces of golden hay and tensely scuffed her booted feet against their tightly compressed companions. Erin knew Jamie's moods very well. When the tall woman was angry about something she paced from room to room, doing a lot of stiff lipped muttering. When she was sad, Jamie wanted to sit and cuddle quietly. It was when Jamie was pondering a personal decision or doubting herself that she retreated to a dark corner somewhere. But almost always, when she was given the time, Jamie would eventually talk to Erin and work out the problem. "What are you doing?" Erin asked as she climbed the small mountain and perched next to the rancher. "I was waiting for you and getting worried."

Jamie looked at her watch for the first time in over two hours. She gave herself a mental slap. "I'm sorry Rin. I really am. I just lost track of time."

"It happens. I'm just a worrywart I guess. Just like I've been worried about you all afternoon, every since we got back from the store." She playfully nudged the tall woman's shoulder. "Wanna tell me about what's bothering you?"

Jamie was silent, staring unfocused at the twisted piece in her hands. "I'm sorry," she finally said.

"Honey, you all ready said that."

The dark head shook slowly. "No. I'm sorry because I'm a terrible partner and I'm going to be a worse parent."

Erin threw an arm around Jamie's waist. "Sweetie, what are talking about?"

Jamie couldn't look her in the eye. She continued to stare at the blades of hay, which she was now stripping apart with her fingers. "I realized today that I don't know anything about taking care of a baby. I'm pathetic. How can I be a good partner and leave everything up to you, not do my share? I wanted a child, but I just didn't consider the realities of taking care of an infant. I don't know how or what to feed a baby, I don't how to bathe, dress, diaper or even hold a baby."

"Oh Honey," Erin sighed. "First of all, you are not pathetic and you are a wonderful partner, the best." Jamie still wouldn't meet her eyes so Erin went for logic. "When you wanted to start taking care of horses or when you wanted to start your own business, what did you do?"

Jamie shrugged. "I read books and did research." The prolonged pause begged the question. "But I'm a woman, shouldn't this stuff be instinctual…it just isn't for me."

Erin pulled Jamie's hand to her belly. "Loving this child comes naturally to you." She lifted the drooping chin and smiled into the sad blues. "I know that. No woman in the world, including me, was born knowing how to take care of a baby. We all have to learn. I don't know everything. What I do know is only because my sister had two."

Jamie let the words soak in and finally cracked a tiny, half grin. "I'm being silly huh?"

"No. You are being a good parent because you are so concerned." Erin put her head on Jamie's shoulder and her hand came to rest along the tall woman's thigh. They sat in silence for just a few minutes, each with their own thoughts. "Do you know how sexy I think that is?" Erin asked.

Jamie snorted. "What, my insecurities?"

Erin jokingly slapped the leg under her hand. "No, that you love us so much."

"I do. And you know what I find so sexy about you?" They came face to face as she explained. "I love how beautiful you are. I love how smart you are. I love how you smell and how you taste." Jamie nipped at Erin's mouth. "I love that you're carrying our baby. I just love you."

Erin kissed her soundly and kept kissing her. One hand wrapped around the back of Jamie's neck, giving it a slow, sensual massage. The other hand drifted to the buttons on Jamie's brown shirt and it soon fell apart under her ministrations. She slid inside the loose garment, trailing over the warm, bare skin with her fingertips. Jamie eased her lover down onto the surface beneath them, careful not to put pressure on Erin's mid-section. She sunk her fingers into Erin's muscled behind as the kisses became deeper and the passion escalated. They were both so in love with kissing that they spent many long moments doing just that, getting lost in the softness and the warmth. Jamie was savoring the sweet hint of the peach tea Erin had sipped after her meal. Aside from some happily placed hands, their attention was tunneled to the enjoyment of lips and an occasional tongue. Lusty moans bubbled from deep in Erin's throat…but a desperate yawn suddenly beat their release. Jamie tumbled onto her back and they both fell into fits of laughter.

"Off to bed with you," Jamie said between the giggles as she hopped down to the barn floor. She helped her spouse down and arm in arm they headed for the house. All the self- doubt in her spirit had been chased away by the encouragement of the special woman by her side. "I need some sleep too," she said. "Tomorrow I'm hitting the Internet…or the library. Hmmm…both."

* * *

A couple of nights later, Jamie walked into the kitchen to quite a sight. Erin was standing at the counter cutting vegetables for dinner. She had flipped on the radio and was enthusiastically shaking her hips to an upbeat tune. Jamie crossed her arms and stood there watching the exciting show, her eyes dancing to the movements. But her self-control quickly waned. She stealthy crossed the room and grasped the twitching hips, hugging her tall form tightly against the more compact one. Erin gave just a tiny gasp, instantly recognizing the hands on her body. She slowed her movements to a much more sensual pace and they moved together as teeth nipped her earlobe and words were whispered.

"Look at you, wearing my favorite outfit and shaking this ass like you know how to use it." It was simple enough attire. A pair of close fitting faded jeans and a tucked in plain white, long sleeved shirt. But Jamie thought the combo was hot…as long as it was wrapped around her wife's equally torrid body. Jamie had gotten the garments for Erin for Christmas. Buying clothing for one another was a favorite thing for them, but not just on special occasions.

Erin looked back over her shoulder and flashed a saucy wink. "Check back with me after our friends leave and I'll show you just how well." Erin put down the sharp utensil and turned, slinking her arms up and around Jamie's neck. "And this time I promise no yawning. I took a long nap this afternoon. As far as the outfit, this will probably be the last time I'll be able to wear it for quite a while." Jamie stuck out her bottom lip in a mock pout. Erin kissed it and its twin in a promise of things to come.

Anne and Leah had come over for dinner and the four friends laughed and told stories over a meal of spicy baked chicken and freshly sautéed vegetables. They had opened the clinic to a rousing success on the previous weekend, hosting a four-hour preview with refreshments and behind the scenes tours. The turnout was astounding, attesting to the need, a need that had been satisfied above and beyond with the creation of the Evergreen Clinic.

When Erin and Jamie had returned with after dinner coffee and tea, they spied their friends in a conspiratorial huddle, whispering and grinning, obviously sharing a secret…and ending with a sweet kiss.

"Still in the honeymoon phase, I see," Jamie said as she placed the serving tray on the coffee table. Erin soon joined them and snuggled in next to Jamie on the love seat.

Anne giggled. "Now that you mentioned it." She glanced toward the woman tucked into her side. "We have a favor to ask." She nodded for Leah to continue.

The nurse nearly laughed at the anxious expressions on their friend's faces before she asked, "Would the two of you stand up for us at our commitment ceremony?"

There was a squeal of surprised delight and all four jumped to their feet for hugs and kisses. "Of course we will!" Erin said.

"We would be honored," the rancher added. "We're so happy for both of you."

Anne explained, "We were thinking about three weeks from Saturday. We want it to be very simple. Just the four of us and a minister in our back yard at sunset."

Erin took her wife's hand and gave it a little squeeze, knowing they both had the same thought. Neither Anne nor Leah had parents or siblings close by. They were both fairly reserved people and this was the right choice for them. "It sounds perfect," she said. "And it will be beautiful."

* * *

The big day finally arrived. Both Erin and Jamie woke up in a fabulous mood on the morning of the first day of Erin's second trimester. They had a big day planned, telling family and friends the good news.

Surprised, but very thrilled was the general reaction.

Danielle cried.

Seven months pregnant Bridget, laughed joyously.

Then she cried.

Then she laughed again. Then she warned Erin of the great hormone war that was waiting down the road.

Tim, needless to say was absolutely shocked. He had written off the notion of his youngest ever giving him a grandchild, due to her choice of a spouse. He didn't quite understand how it had happened and they didn't offer any explanation at the time. But after a bit of pondering he happily accepted the fact and had a celebratory cigar, teasing Jamie that he would pass out the stogies after the birth since it really didn't seem like her thing.

* * *

As Erin's belly began to grow round with life, they really started to think of the baby as a real person. And real people need names.

Early one evening, Jamie found Erin reading in the family room. She took a seat on the ottoman in front of her, noticing the title of the book. It was one on child rearing that Jamie had ordered over the Internet and had already finished reading herself. She chuckled silently, removing the blonde's uncomfortable looking footwear and adding a little massage. Erin wiggled her toes. "Thanks hon." Jamie smiled and moved over to the window, which looked out into the dense woods where the night was already invading. Erin peeked over the top of her glasses and noticed that her spouse seemed to be waiting for something. "Just let me finish the last two pages of this chapter and I'll stop for the night," she said cheerfully.

Normally, Jamie wouldn't disturb her spouse's leisure activity, but there was something she wanted to discuss. Erin kept her promise, gave a stretch and a little rub of what they affectionately referred to as the baby bump.

Even though it was only eight thirty Jamie asked, "You're not tired are you?"

Erin smiled. "Nope. I'm into that smooth sailing phase."

"Good." Jamie closed the curtains and started to move back toward the big chair Erin was using. "I know we've got a few months to go," she said, "but do you think we could start discussing names?"

"Oh, I all ready know, without a doubt what name I want," Erin stated emphatically.

Jamie stopped in her tracks and with a jerky movement, altered her path. She ended up by the unlit fireplace, her hands stuffed into the pockets of her jeans and her shoulders drooping with disappointment. Her attention got lost in the painting hanging above the mantle, but the mountain scene faded to blurred, colored swirls as her vision shifted inward.

"It's a unisex name so it will fit for a boy or a girl."

Erin prattled on, but Jamie didn't really hear any of the words. Okay, she thought. I guess it is technically her baby and she has probably had a name chosen for years. Maybe we'll have another one someday and I'll get to have a say in the decision then.

"Jamie. Jamie?" Erin spoke louder.

The rancher blinked and turned from the wall. "Yeah."

"Don't you want to know what name I want?" the author asked as she moved over to the larger the sofa and gestured for Jamie to join her.

Jamie mustered up a smile, hoping the quiver of distress wouldn't show. "Sure." After Erin held out her hand and wiggled her fingers, Jamie took the appendage and a seat next to her.

"There really was no other choice," Erin explained. "Our baby's name will be…" she took a dramatic pause, "Jordan."

Jamie's mouth fell open slightly and her unfocused eyes blinked in rapid succession. It was a nearly overwhelming moment for her. She would never have suggested it, even though it had crossed her mind when they first started to discuss getting pregnant. She had once overheard Erin telling her sister that she believed that babies needed their own identity and shouldn't be named after anyone else. But something had obviously changed her mind.

Erin continued grinning at her, waiting for a response, but when none was forthcoming she cupped Jamie's cheek. "Honey?"

The clear blues finally sharpened and settled deeply into her spouse's eyes. "You want to name the baby Jordan, after my sister?"

"Of course. I can't imagine anyone I would want to honor more. Our son or daughter will be proud of its namesake. You do agree, don't you?"

The dark head nodded and Jamie pulled Erin into a gentle, but solid embrace. "Yes, she whispered. "Thank you." She pulled back with slightly teary eyes. "From both of us."

 

To be continued.

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