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.  Copyright 2003-2004

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. Sneak previews as well.  Join us at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/colleens_corner

 

 

 

     Chapter 13

 

 

     Erin stepped from the shower, gave her wet body a quick rub and went to stand in front of the full length mirror on the back of the door. Standing sideways, Erin ran her hand down over her protruding belly. “This is definitely not how I had envisioned looking being almost six months pregnant,” she said to her reflection. “Not bad, just different. I think I look pretty good actually…and Jamie always tells me I’m sexy.” She paused just a second then added, “I don’t know if I’d go that far, but if she insists.” Erin giggled at herself and reached for the stack of clothing on the shelf next to her. Pulling up the large, unglamorous pair of panties, she finally turned from the mirror and finished dressing in her soft sweats and oversized t-shirt. Before throwing a towel over her damp head, she caught one last glimpse of her herself. “Yeah,” she muttered, “that’s a sexy look.” But Erin didn’t really care how she appeared and she knew the dogs didn’t mind. And they would be her only companions for the day. She was comfortable and that was what was most important.

 

     Leaving the bathroom, Erin briskly rubbed her short hair with the towel, stopping short when she heard a low moan from somewhere in the room. She knew the house wasn’t haunted so she lowered the towel to her shoulders, surprised to see her wife still in bed with the covers pulled up over her head. “Honey, are you all right?” she asked.  Not understanding the mumbled answer, Erin sat beside her on the edge of the bed and lifted the covers. Jamie’s eyes were squinted in obvious pain and her nearly six foot body was curled up to nearly half that length. Erin automatically felt for a fever, even though she suspected the cause of Jamie’s discomfort. She continued to comb through the raven strands as their eyes met. Quietly, they held the moment and Jamie found comfort in Erin’s touch.

 

     “Not going out there today,” Jamie finally muttered.

 

     Erin glanced out the window and it was rainy and gloomy, but that never stopped Jamie before. Erin believed that her partner secretly loved to play in the mud as much as any ten year old. The rancher groaned again and Erin needed no further explanation, even though Jamie very rarely complained about cramps and had never taken to bed. She figured that her wife, subconsciously just needed a little extra TLC since everyone’s attention was currently focused on Erin and the pregnancy. “I’ll get you some medicine,” she told her suffering wife.

 

     “Took some while you were in the shower.”  Jamie scooted closer, ignoring her pain for the moment and lifted Erin’s shirt to whisper a morning greeting to her offspring. The ritual had begun shortly after the baby bump had appeared and was strictly performed every morning and night since. Erin thought it was a very sweet gesture and couldn’t help but smile every time. “You’re lucky that you don’t have to worry about this for a few more months,” Jamie said as she constricted back into her fetal position. Her eyes slipped shut once again, but unfortunately not in sleep.

 

     Erin bent down to kiss her and offer a teasing suggestion. “You could always get pregnant next time.”

 

     Jamie shuddered just a bit from another wave of pain and gave a small shake of her head. “No can do…doctor said my back wouldn’t take it very well.” Not hearing a response after a few minutes, she looked up to find herself pinned with an adoring expression.

 

     The green eyes were just a bit teary. “You asked?”

 

     “Yeah.”

 

     “I had no idea that you thought about having a baby.”

 

     Jamie reached for Erin’s hand.  “It’s not that I physically desire to give birth,” she said, “but I thought if we wanted to expand our family in the future that you shouldn’t have to do all the work. I know it’s not easy.”

 

     Erin clutched their joined hands to her chest. “I love you.”

 

     Jamie smiled. “Enough to climb in here with me and cuddle until I feel better?”

 

     And that they did, staying long after the pain had disappeared.

 

*    *    *

 

     Jamie cracked the seal on a bottle of water and took a long swallow, letting the cool liquid coat the inside of her mouth before it slid down her throat and settled soothingly into her stomach. “Now that was some lunch,” she said, replacing the screw top and wiping an errant drop from her chin. A delightful shiver went down her spine as a few fingers skimmed across the bare skin of her back, writing a racy message. Jamie released a longing sigh. She threw a glance over her shoulder before bending out of reach to pull on her boots. She had come back to the house a little after noon when Erin called and said something special was waiting. Erin was quite the cook and having assumed it was lunch, Jamie’s mouth watered at the possibilities. She was slightly shocked, but pleasantly so when she was greeted by her wife wearing a kitchen apron…and nothing more. The meaning was clear and no words were spoken as Erin had taken her by the hand and led her up the stairs. An hour later the rancher reluctantly began the process of redressing; unfortunately she had more work to do back at the barn. Erin had no such concerns, however and she lazed about in the rumpled bed, currently perusing the ceiling, avoiding further tempting glances at her lover’s tantalizing body. A satisfied smile was firmly planted on her face and the aqua colored sheet was draped haphazardly across her lower half. One leg was bent at the knee preventing anything vital from actually being hidden. Jamie finished dressing, leaving her shirt and jeans unbuttoned for the moment. She leaned across the bed and nibbled her favorite pair of lips. “As delicious as you are sweetie, I really need something more food like to help me through the rest of the day. I’ll grab something on the way out.”

 

     Erin tried her best to look ashamed, but the proper expression never totally formed on her glowing cheeks. “Sorry, but you are the main focus of nearly all the horny little hormones racing around in my body right now.” Many things were surprising to her about this pregnancy, not that she had anything but her imagination to compare it to. Erin was smart enough to know that no two pregnancies are exactly alike, even in the same woman, but after three, Bridget had mentioned nothing about a sex drive which seemed stuck in high gear, but leaving the wheels spinning

    

     Jamie took another taste of her inclined lover’s lips. “Lucky me,” she whispered.  Then suddenly she pulled back with narrowed eyes. “What do you mean nearly all? Who else has have you been focusing on?”

 

     Erin’s brows drew together in confusion. Finally realizing how that must have sounded, a beautiful, rosy blush spread across her face. “No one honey, I promise. It’s just that there have been times in the last few weeks…well you know how I’ve been. And I knew you were really busy, I couldn’t just call up and say come home and take care of my needs.” She shrugged a shoulder and her right hand slowly drifted to the apex of her legs where she was about to give a vivid demonstration. “Soooo, I had to take care of it myself.” A soft moan slipped from her parted lips. “But believe me, your sexy face and body filled every one of those fantasies.”

 

     “No, no.” Jamie grabbed the busy hand, lifted it to her mouth and gave it a quick sniff and a tiny lick. “I can’t witness that and go back to work…which I have to do.” She gave Erin a wicked grin and another kiss before strolling out the door.

 

     “I love you,” Erin called out.

 

     Jamie stopped in the doorway and looked back, her expression soft and easy. “I love you too.” She gave a final wave and took off.

 

     “Jamie.” When the dark head reappeared with questioning features, Erin suggested, “Have an extra sandwich…and come home early.”

 

     A touch of exhaustion slightly stooped the rancher’s barely visible shoulders. “You’re kidding?”

 

     Erin grinned.

 

     Jamie winked.

 

     Erin kept grinning and thinking of her soon to be tuckered spouse until a well placed kick rattled her back to reality.  She rubbed her belly. “Whoa! Did your mommies make too much noise and wake you up?” she asked. “And no, that was not your first earthquake...in case you were wondering.” She took a deep, relaxing breath. “Sorry, but you are just going to have to get used to that…for a little while longer anyway. Then I’m sure…well I’ll probably take a drastic turn in a month or so. But I’m certainly going to enjoy it while I can.” She continued the soothing caresses and after another pleasant tumble or two, everything settled back down. Contentment was hers once again. Erin glanced over to the window, her eyes landing on the shelf above the window seat and in particular on a picture of the two of them on their honeymoon. They were bundled up in their heavy coats, snuggled together in a horse drawn sleigh. Jamie’s arm was wrapped around Erin, pulling her as close as possible, cheek to cheek. She could see Jamie’s crystal eyes twinkling, even from half way across the room. Next to it was one of their wedding photographs. It was a classic black and white photo and still those eyes flew off the paper and pierced Erin’s soul, not with the color, but with the blissfulness of the moment. So many times had Erin caught sight of those eyes and cherished what she saw there, excitement over a new horse, a mischievousness glint when Jamie got into her best teasing mode with one of their friends or their niece or nephew, laughter at their playing canines….passion for her. But none had grabbed Erin’s heart and stole her breath as much the moment that she witnessed recently. She drifted off to sleep remembering.

 

     They had gone to the doctor for a regular visit and they learned that it was time for the first ultrasound, the very first picture of their baby. This was always an incredible moment in the lives of parents, but for first timers especially. All was quiet in the soothing room as the doctor maneuvered the necessary equipment into place. Erin reacted to the inevitable chill that spread across her belly, but the sensation was quickly forgotten as the image came into focus on the screen. The doctor explained a few things and then spoke of normal progression, strong heartbeats and perfect formation of limbs and everything else vital. Erin heard every word, relieved at the positive report, but her attention was riveted to the screen as she strived to put the pieces together. Once the initial shock had passed she did register the gentle squeeze of her hand and she returned the gesture. “Is that a foot? Look how tiny,” she marveled. “And there, a nose and look at the fingers.” She continued to stare at the miracle as her heart fluttered with excitement. Erin soon realized that she hadn’t heard a word from her wife and turned to look at the woman by her side. A tiny gasp escaped her lips when she saw the tears streaming unhindered down Jamie’s face. But Erin had never in her life seen such happy tears, tears that fell from eyes full of an amazing combination of pure joy and astonishment. Erin raised their joined hands and kissed the back of Jamie’s knuckles as Jamie done to her at the conception of their miracle. Their gazes finally met and the look in the blue orbs transformed to one so simple and yet so complete…with love.  Jamie sniffed and her jaw clenched as she tried to speak, but the words couldn’t navigate around the lump in her throat. She mouthed the sentiment that was so clear in her eyes. It was another perfect moment.

 

*    *    *

 

     Erin finished sorting through the half dozen shopping bags, removing one extra special gift for their upcoming first anniversary. She promptly hid it in a closet, away from her curious partner. Erin had gone to LA to go shopping with her mother and sister, a quick trip by way of her father’s helicopter. With two very pregnant women and a doting grandmother, most of the stops and subsequent purchases had been for baby paraphernalia. While Bridget was using a few sentimental items passed down from her first two babies, this tot was treated to all new clothes and all the other infant necessities. She was only a couple of weeks away from delivering her third child, which they already knew was a boy. Erin, of course, needed everything new and even though she expected to have a baby shower she knew everything would be used well. After a nice lunch, the three had said goodbye and Erin was whisked back to the ranch. She would show Jamie all the cute baby things that night and would later pack them away in boxes for transport to the new house and nursery, which she couldn’t wait to decorate. The nesting syndrome had taken a strong hold, but for now Erin had to settle for packing and unpacking the tiny clothing, blankets and essentials.

    

     Both dogs came running up the stairs and into the bedroom. “Hello ladies,” Erin greeted. “I guess you want to go back outside now huh?” As two tails wagged excitedly, she glanced at the clock. “Want to go with me out to the mailbox first? Let’s go.”

    

     Out in the barn, Jamie had just finished a meeting and was seeing the client off when she saw her wife and canine children heading down the drive in front of the house. The dogs were trotting along side as Erin maneuvered the electric golf cart along the nearly quarter mile distance to the main road and the mailbox. Erin didn’t notice her, so Jamie just smiled, as she seemed to be doing quite a bit these days. Returning to the office, Jamie made a quick phone call and finished updating a few files. After the tasks were finished her stomach loudly reminded her that she had worked through lunch. Grabbing a candy bar from her desk drawer, she contemplated dinner. Figuring that Erin would be tired from her day of shopping, Jamie quickly decided to take her out to eat. Unfortunately that would be at least an hour or more away, so she slipped her cell phone into the pouch on her belt and headed out into the barn. She took in a deep breath, the smell of fresh hay always pleasant. Most of the horses were out in the field enjoying the early fall day. Only one stall was occupied at the moment by a pregnant mare, due long before Erin. She stopped to plant some affection on the horse’s white forehead and offer some words of encouragement about the impending birth. She pulled a small apple from her pocket and treated the mother to be before heading outside.

 

     Propping a boot onto the lower rung of the fence, Jamie watched as her prized stallion, Cooper strutted around the small coral, his large nose sniffing the air and the nearby females.  Yeah buddy, you and Erin, she thought and then chuckled. Her musings were interrupted by one of the ranch hands who joined Jamie at the fence.

 

     “Do you still intend to put Teaberry in with him tomorrow?” he asked.

 

     “That’s still the plan,” she said. “I might not be here till mid-morning, so we’ll wait till then. As usual I want them monitored.”

 

     The ranch hand nodded and went back to his work.

 

     Jamie let out a sharp whistle and called out the horse’s name. The shrill was noticed, but arrogantly ignored. Not that it was unexpected. She retrieved another apple and tossed it between her hands, teasing the stubborn animal.  The dark, glossy eyes caught sight of the shiny fruit and a mighty snort left his snout. He took two steps forward, caught her eye and then looked away. Jamie laughed at his princely pretense and snatched a bite of the crisp Granny Smith for herself. It was Jamie’s turn to look away casually as she savored the juicy morsel. A few more leisurely steps brought the large steed close enough that Jamie could touch him if she just reached out. But she didn’t. One demanding hoof stomped the ground. “No,” she said nonchalantly. “You know what I want.” One more pause and he drifted even closer. One final shuffle and he gently nuzzled her shoulder, his breath ruffling a few strands of her hair. “Good boy,” Jamie praised as he gobbled the treat from the palm of her hand. Both human and beast enjoyed this game they played several times a week. She wrapped her other arm around his neck and spoke into his dark ear. “Now I want you to be good to Teaberry tomorrow. Treat her like a lady. No biting. She’ll give you another good looking son or daughter.”  Jamie had worked hard over the previous year developing a relationship with this very independent animal. Cooper would let just about anyone see to his grooming, but it was only Jamie  he would show any kind of interest in and only Jamie he would allow to climb aboard his back. She gave him a final brisk rub and headed back in to the barn. Suddenly, Jamie flinched and her eyes snapped shut. She reached out to steady herself against a support post.

 

     “Are you all right Miss Sheridan?” the ranch hand asked from his place inside the tack room.

    

     A strange sensation flooded her stomach, but she knew it wasn’t another hunger pang. This was more like nausea, the kind that comes with dread or fear. The intense feeling abated, leaving behind a nagging tightness. “Uh…yeah,” she finally answered. “I think so. But something…” She looked back toward the house. Everything looked normal. But somehow she knew something, somewhere was wrong. Jamie pulled out her cell, hitting a single button and she paced back and forth as the annoying ring played in her ear, unanswered. Snapping it shut, Jamie took off toward the house once again. Both dogs were playing in the back yard and spying the golf cart, she knew Erin was in the house. Jamie called for her wife as she marched through the kitchen, but hers was the only voice sounding out. The fear was starting to rise and as she came to the living room it surged into full blown terror. Erin was unconscious on the floor, a scattering of mail beside her and a single piece of paper still clutched in her hand. “Oh God!” Jamie ran to her side. “Erin, honey, can you hear me?” Stuffing the paper into her pocket, Jamie made a quick check for a pulse and then for any sign of blood. Not seeing any, she had to make a split second decision that could mean life or death.

 

     She couldn’t wait for an ambulance.

 

     As a surge of adrenaline coursed through her blood, Jamie achieved a nearly impossible task. With a deep breath, she hefted her five and a half months pregnant wife up into her arms, hustled out to the car and headed to the clinic. One hand on the wheel and one on her cell, Jamie alerted Dr. Carson, who promised to have a gurney waiting out front.

 

*    *    *

 

     Jamie paced the small waiting room as her lover was being treated, for what she didn’t know. Luckily, the clinic was empty and Erin was receiving their exclusive attention, allowing Jamie to feel bit…a tiny bit better about the situation.  Jamie strode to the door once more and slammed a frustrated fist against the wall, rattling the two paintings that hung there. A huff of breath forcefully left her mouth followed by a strained, “Damn.” A pain shot up her back, but a deep breath, a growl and a strong will pushed it away. There was no time for that. Jamie flexed her sore knuckles and stared back to the area where they had taken her wife.

 

     Still no sign of Anne or Leah.

 

     Turning back into the annoyingly quiet room, Jamie rubbed her itchy, tired eyes and a memory flashed. She pulled the crumpled paper from her pocket, merely glancing at the letterhead, barely registering the address of a legal office.

 

     “Jamie.” The letter went unread for the moment as Anne stepped through the door. “Come with me.”

 

*    *    *

 

     Jeremy came through the door of his apartment, trailing behind his panting pup. A bit winded himself, Jeremy cracked open a large bottle of water and poured a good splash into the dog’s bowl then chugged the rest himself. They had been for an evening jog through the park, which was something they did at least four times a week. Giving JJ a quick rub down, Jeremy then sent him off to rest as he headed for the shower. Ten minutes later, dried and dressed, Jeremy was heading into the kitchen to fix himself some dinner. A demanding knock caused him to detour and quickly ponder the reason behind the pounding fist. He opened the door and only caught a glimpse of a dark head before his visitor spun around.  Jeremy didn’t see the fist headed toward him, but he damn sure felt the impact on the bone right beneath his left eye. Instinctively covering the injury, he stumbled back, but kept his footing.

 

     “You son of a bitch!”  Jamie yelled. Grabbing two handfuls of his shirt, she shoved him onto the sofa where he backed away as her tirade continued. “I knew I couldn’t trust you! I won’t let you do this, you bastard! No one gets away with trying to hurt my family. No one!” Her graveled voice snapped off every word with a bitter vengeance as the muscles in her forearms bunched to strike out again at anything that might venture near. Her restraint was powerful, but sorely tested.

 

     The eyes that matched his in color, flashed with an intensity of anger that Jeremy had had never before witnessed. Even though the rage was directed at him, Jeremy could sense the pain that was causing the outburst. He wasn’t afraid of her, but for her. “Jamie, please calm down and tell me what’s going on. What is it you think I’ve done?”

 

     She fished inside her pocket and came out with the letter. “My wife is in a hospital bed because she fainted after reading that.” She tossed the crumpled up trash onto his chest and turned away. She knew she had to cool the raging ire burning in her belly before she did something she could never forgive herself for. She hadn’t even meant to hit him, but when the door opened she imagined the fear that Erin must have felt when she read those words and she just lashed out.

 

     It took a couple of seconds for Jeremy’s still rattled brain to realize what Jamie had said. Extreme concern shaped the tone of his voice as he asked, “Erin, the baby…”

 

     Jamie turned back to him and took one deep breath. “They’re…okay. She just has to take it easy till the birth, stay off her feet. No thanks to you,” she accused.

 

     “I still don’t…I haven’t done anything to Erin or you. I haven’t even seen you in weeks.”

 

     “Don’t give me that crap,” she spat. “Read the damn letter and then look me in the eye and say you haven’t done anything to hurt us.”

 

     Jeremy shook the last of the fuzziness away and began to read, his throbbing and swelling eye not aiding the situation. He didn’t recognize the name of the law office in the letterhead, but he read on. Basically it was a letter informing Erin Casey of Jeremy McIntyre’s intent to sue for full custody of his biological child at the time of its birth. Jeremy was totally shocked, but he met her challenge and eye to eye he confessed. “I don’t know what this is all about.  I don’t know who this lawyer is. I have never been to see him or any other lawyer. I wouldn’t betray you; you’re my family. I love you and I love Erin.” He paused as the tension clung to the air around them like a dense, morning fog. His one eyed gaze filled with pain, both physical and emotional. “Jamie,” he continued, “I do love that baby…but only as an uncle and that’s all I will ever be. I will never seek custody of that child. That baby is Erin’s and yours. And I could never hurt any of you.” A tear fell from the corner of his eye as he looked down. Jamie watched its progression down his bruising cheek and onto his shirt. It was no pretense.

 

     His battered face sent a ripple of guilt across her equally battered spirit. Jamie’s heavy lids fell shut. She had to think, push aside the hurt and anger. Think with her head…and then with her heart. I want to believe him. Why would he lie about it now, what purpose would it serve? In all these months he has never been anything but honest about what he wanted, never given me any real reason to doubt him. All the problems were mine. What is going on here?

 

     All evidence was carefully considered.

 

     Finally, a unanimous decision.

 

     Stepping into his small kitchen, she opened the freezer and retrieved a few items. Moving back toward the sofa with slow, heavy steps, Jamie tossed her brother a cold pack. “Put that on your eye.” She flopped down into a nearby chair as the feel of the lead weight in her stomach hit bottom. Their eyes locked again. “I believe you,” she said softly. “And I’m sorry I hit you.”

 

     He nodded painfully then stared at the letter with disgust. “I understand. I would have been furious too.”

 

     Jamie winced as she put a makeshift ice pack on her knuckles. Her hand was already sore from punching the wall at the clinic, now discolored and swollen, the pain traveled up into her wrist. Her pains were many indeed, but inconsequential at the moment. Jamie’s head fell back. “I am so tired,” she muttered. “But I still have to find out who did this, if this somebody’s idea of a sick joke. How many people know about the situation anyway? Maybe somebody at the fertility clinic…maybe they want to blackmail me.” She sighed long and low. Thinking she had had it all figured out, now her brain was torn between relief, concern and solving the insensitive mystery that still threatened her family and their happiness. “Did you tell anyone else about this besides your mother…and your fiancé?”

 

     The question was momentarily unanswered. The dim light of an autumn evening that had strained to identify objects in Jeremy’s apartment now drown the space and faces in soft darkness.

 

     A stinging black eye, the end of a workday and his own distress sent Jeremy’s drained body sinking into the soft sofa cushion behind his back. His voice was as haggard as his muscles when he finally answered. “No of course not; we agreed…” Suddenly he sat up ramrod straight. “Oh my God!”

 

     The exclamation got Jamie’s attention. “What? Did you think of something? I need your help Jeremy, Erin needs…”

 

     “It was me,” he said in truth, but with an undercurrent of disbelief.

 

     Jamie suddenly tensed. “What do you mean it was you? You said…”

 

     “Jamie, wait. Let me explain.” Jeremy knew their young relationship was on very shaky ground; the details of his explanation would be critical to its continuation. He quickly flipped on a lamp, looked her squarely in the face and shook the letter. “I didn’t do this…but I think I am responsible.”

 

     Jamie waited, his cryptic answer beginning to stir her anger her again.

 

     “A few weeks ago, Rachel told me that she had been to see a doctor. He told her that it would be just about impossible for her to conceive a child. I tried to hide it and be positive, I told her it was okay and there were other ways for us to have a family. But I was disappointed and she knew it. Seeing you and Jamie reveling in this pregnancy, the joy on both of your faces… I did begin to get excited about becoming a father, having a family…”

 

     Not with my family, Jamie subconsciously thought.

 

     “…with the woman I love. Watching our baby grow would have been…”  Jeremy tossed aside the cold pack; his pain was now bolder and deeper than any amount of ice would sooth. He walked over to the window and looked out into the empty night. “Anyway, I accepted it and it was fine.” His pause and strangled body language told Jamie that the worst part was about to be revealed. “The next Friday she was here when I got home. It had been a bitch of a day at work and I had a hell of a headache. All I had wanted was a handful of aspirin and some sleep. But she was all excited about something and was going on and on about our future. I listened without much response, not that she gave me much of a chance. You know what she suggested. I told her no immediately, but she argued on about how the baby would be better off with us. My head was about to explode and then she threw in her ace. She reminded me that I grew up without a father and how could I subject my child to that fate. Only when I couldn’t take it anymore did I say I would think about it.” He turned and pinned his sister with his one good eye. “I never for a second was serious. I just knew that would get her to stop. And it did. Obviously, she went behind my back. I never would have thought she would do something like this, but I guess I don’t really know her as well as I thought I did. Tell Erin not to worry, I will straighten this out Jamie. As I said before, I am not now nor ever going to take any legal action.” His last words left upon an exhausted breath. “I’m sorry.”

 

     Mystery solved.

 

     Jamie’s stony expression remained as she stood. Her back popped, but barely a twitch showed on her face. She was just about at the end, her body being drained by the roller coaster ride of the past hours. She just couldn’t muster up much more emotion of any kind. “I’m sorry all of this happened too,” she said. “But it’s not your fault. I don’t blame you.” He gave a small nod of understanding. Their relationship had been salvaged it seemed, but not totally unscathed. He was hopeful that given time and a little work it would mend. Jamie moved toward the door. “I need to get back to Erin before she wakes up.” Her hand twisted the knob and she looked at her brother again. “You’ll always be welcomed in my home Jeremy, but Rachel won’t.” He had no reaction. Jamie hesitated another moment before suggesting, “Maybe you should come back to the clinic with me and have Ann take a look at your eye.”

 

     “No, it’ll be okay; it’s just a black eye. You’ve got a hell of a punch…for a girl.”

 

     Jamie cracked a tiny, weary smile, which Jeremy matched. Another sign that they were going to be all right.

 

*    *    *

 

     Rain splashed softly against the smooth pane of glass. The streaks, trailing down the window, reminded Jamie of all the tears that had been shed on this evening. The drops had begun to fall just as she was leaving Jeremy’s apartment building and had followed her all the way back to the clinic. And they still continued three hours later. It was now after ten and Jamie was exhausted, but too much so to even sleep. She sat in the dark, watching the water patterns painting the glass with colorless, but shimmering patterns. Every so often her eyes would drift to the precious figure in the bed, watching for any twitch of discomfort. But Erin slept on peacefully, thanks to the sedative Dr. Carson had administered. Erin had been nearly hysterical when Ann had called Jamie back to the exam room. That’s when Jamie had learned what caused the dangerous fainting episode. But no words, no matter how reassuring, was going to calm Erin’s panic attack. Ann had assured Jamie that a single dose of the tranquilizer was safe for Erin’s condition, but Jamie was determined to finally be able to quell Erin’s fears when the drugs would finally wear off.

 

     A single finger trailed down the cool glass, mindlessly chasing the wind blown rain. After five and a half trips, Jamie stopped and some serious thoughts settled in. The situation could have been so much worse, Jamie realized. She could have lost her entire family. But even though things were working out positively, it didn’t diminish the pain that they all had felt and the damage that had been done. 

 

     But they would move forward.

 

     Still, Jamie could have even lost her brother, lost his presence in her life. His possible betrayal had hurt almost as much as the threat to her immediate family. Now, she realized there was only one reason for that…she loved him. Her cautious self had taken the big risk and had let him in all the way. He now shared that place in her heart that before was reserved exclusively for her deceased twin sibling. But now it has expanded to accept both equally. Jeremy was the only other person in the world that shared her blood and heritage. And that was important to her. And thanks to her brother’s generosity, soon he would no longer be her only blood relative.

 

     With that thought she glanced to the bed and specifically to the bulge under the blanket. She gave a prayer of thanks that the life inside still thrived. She also repeated her promise of lifelong protection and devotion. Her love was something that needed no specific declaration; it was there with every breath from the first second and would be there until her last moment on earth. Erin once said that a mother doesn’t need time to fall in love with their child. That kind of love is born in an instant, no matter how the child comes into your life.

    

     From time to time Jamie still gave herself a little mental slap that she almost didn’t get to experience all of this love. She had resisted anyone’s love, due to the events that had shaped her early life. But Erin’s patience, gentle persistence and courage had literally changed her life, had given her a life. With Erin, came a built in family: mother in law, father in law, sister in law, niece and nephew. And Jamie had come to love them all. But without Erin’s guidance, Jamie wouldn’t have a brother, she wouldn’t have allowed it. A night like this only made her appreciate everything she had all the more and to anticipate an even better future.

 

     A barely discernable whimper slipped from Erin’s lips. But to Jamie it was a shout in the silence. She leapt the short distance to the bedside and soothed her wife’s increasing distress with caresses and soft words. The green eyes fluttered open and for a few seconds all was calm, but then just as quickly the fright flew into those eyes and distorted her features. Erin clutched her middle, not in pain, but just to make sure it was still there.

 

     Jamie quickly eased the desperate grip. “It’s all right!” she said. “It’s all right! Everything’s okay.”

 

     “But Jeremy…” 

 

     “Honey, please calm down,” Jamie besieged. “I promise you everything is going to be all right.” The fear still lingered. “You trust me, don’t you? Don’t you?” she asked again, hoping the hesitation was just an after effect of the sedative.

 

     “Of course,” Erin said sluggishly. The rancher was softly ruffling the golden bangs on Erin’s forehead, quickly chasing away the stark panic. “Of course I do Jamie,” she said stronger as she studied her wife’s face. Those compassionate eyes. That reassuring smile. The incredible love. Her hero. “I do trust you…with our lives. But how…”

 

     “This whole situation with Jeremy has been a misunderstanding. He is not going to sue for custody.”

 

     Erin sighed and smiled. “He’s not?”

 

     The dark head supplemented the answer with a firm shake. “No. I’ll explain it all tomorrow, but right now I want you to sleep. I’m not going to leave your side.” Jamie kissed her tenderly.

 

     Erin fought the lethargy and watched Jamie a while longer. “You’re in pain,” she stated with concern. “What’s wrong?”

 

     Jamie, of course tried to brush it off. “I’m fine, sweetheart.”

 

     “I can see the muscles in your jaw clenching. It’s your back, isn’t it? What happened, and please tell me the truth?”

 

     Jamie wouldn’t lie. She finally relented, not wanting to cause Erin any further worry. “I had to carry you to the car when I found you passed out.” Jamie shrugged and averted her eyes in embarrassment at the next admission. “I…ah also got into a little fight with Jeremy.” She looked back into the tired eyes, but there was no disappointment, just an odd understanding and near numbness. “I hit first and asked questions later,” Jamie finished.

 

     The blonde head bobbed. “But you’ll explain it all tomorrow.”

 

     Jamie gave a faint chuckle. “Yeah, I will. Just sleep now. It’ll all be better in the morning. I’ll be right here all night. I’ll always be right here, because I love you.”

 

     Erin’s eyes finally fell closed as she mumbled, “Love you too.”

 

     Jamie held her place as sentry of the night. And of the life that made hers worth living.

 

 

To be continued

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