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 can be sent to 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 8

Two days later, just the day before Thanksgiving, Jamie sat on the front porch of the farmhouse, anxiously waiting for the new arrivals. The day had dawned with a very strong, chilly wind blowing down from the north. A mug of hot coffee was held tightly in her right hand as she thought about it all. She had gone to Texas in hopes of returning with just one nice horse to add to her growing herd and here she was waiting for the arrival of four new animals. The two stallions and the mare and her foal were more than welcomed additions and even though the latter two were technically Erin's, it was still Jamie's job to manage them. The rancher smiled as she thought about an added benefit to come. She knew her wife would be visiting the barn more often to watch her new baby grow. Another sip of the strong brew slid down Jamie's throat as she distractedly watched the tall, wild grasses at the edge of the woods shimmy in the wind. A heavy sigh left her coffee warmed lips as a picture of her parents suddenly flashed across her mind. She'd been thinking about them a lot more than usual lately. She assumed it was because of the photo albums and other childhood mementos that she had been enjoying looking at since Erin arranged their return. Jamie's mother Amelia, always called Amy by her husband was a beautiful brunette with amber eyes. Warm eyes that always held love when ever she looked upon her daughters. Blessed with a lovely singing voice, Amy would cradle her young daughters and serenade them with lilting songs from her own childhood as a father strong and tall loomed nearby, watching over his beloved family. The melody of one of those cherished tunes unconsciously began to drift between Jamie's grinning lips. But the humming stopped suddenly when the visual changed faces. A heavy pressure in her chest expanded and tightened around her heart. No. No. He doesn't belong there. He's not…

Crash!

Jamie's head whipped around when the wind knocked over a large plant stand at the far end of the porch. Thankful for the diversion, she trudged on long legs to clean up the dirty mess. Two of the three plants were salvageable and Jamie gingerly scooped up the fallen dirt and repacked it around the exposed roots inside the sturdy container. The rancher repositioned the stand and its greenery to protect it from the current display of nature's temperament. Just as she reached for her coffee again, the screen door behind her squeaked slightly. Jamie turned and a smile graced her face when the petite blonde stepped from the house.

"Whoa," Erin said, wrapping her arms around herself. "That wind is really something."

Jamie set her cup on the small table beside her and crossed the porch, stepping in front of her wife. "Let me help with that," she said. The tall woman opened her jacket and wrapped it around Erin. Nestled closely within the confines of the coat, Erin took the opportunity to thank her spouse with a kiss. Jamie raised a finger and wiped away a smudge of flour from a blonde brow. This year Thanksgiving was being held at their house and Erin had been in the kitchen baking since eight am. One cake was already in the oven and a perfectly formed deep-dish pie shell was waiting on the counter to cradle a host of apples and brown sugar within. "Can't wait to taste the finished product," said Jamie.

A cute retort was on the tip of Erin's tongue, but it was pre-empted by the long trailer that came rolling up the rocky drive. Both women smiled and eagerly hopped down the steps to greet it.

The tall driver removed his hat so he wouldn't lose it in the wind before climbing out and walking to the back of the vehicle. Pulling back the handle with one hand, he handed Jamie a clipboard with the other. "If you're Miss Sheridan, I need your signature here," he said. "Got four fine looking animals in here. Congratulations."

"Thank you," Jamie said as he pulled open the back door and pulled out the wide, rubber covered ramp.

Erin jumped up inside the trailer first and went straight for the youngest horse. "Hello cutie," she said, nuzzling his white nose. "Welcome home." Attaching a lead rope to his small halter, Erin stood and addressed his mama. "Hi Mystic. We got the best stall in the barn all ready for you two." The previous owner had left the foal unnamed and Erin would get the pleasure of bestowing him with a title…as soon as she thought of something appropriate. With a rope in each hand, she slowly led them out of the vehicle and over into the yard to wait for the others to be unloaded.

Jamie carefully brought out the first big horse and after a quick examination handed his lead to the driver, asking his help. He took it with a smile and proceeded to make small talk with Erin as Jamie disappeared back inside the big, white and gray trailer. A few minutes later she appeared with the caramel colored stallion. The proud animal trotted down the ramp and Jamie ran him around the yard once. When they stopped, Cooper reared up, kicking his hooves high and whinnying loudly. It wasn't defiance, just a gesture relishing the freedom from the small stall he had been in on the long drive from Texas.

The four legged and two legged creatures stretched their respective limbs as the delivery vehicle departed. Taking the long way around the house, the couple led their equine friends out to their new homes. Dropping Erin and her charges off at the front barn, Jamie proceeded on to the new stallion barn she had had built over the summer. She easily settled them in with fresh hay and water, removing the halters and draping them over a couple of convenient hooks on the wall. Grabbing a brush from the tack box she entered Dusty Moon's stall and game him a good brush down, removing some tiny knots from the white hair attached to his head. He snorted and munched on a mouthful of sweet hay, obviously enjoying his new surroundings. Once the task was finished, she fished out a big, juicy apple from her jacket pocket and gave the well-behaved animal a deserved treat. She whispered in his fuzzy ear. "Don't tell my wife I snatched this from the sack in the kitchen. Maybe she won't miss'em."

"You better not tell her then either, she might just give you a spanking."

Jamie dropped her forehead against the animal's gray one as she heard heals shuffle across the cement floor. She finally looked down at the pursed lips and gave Erin a toothy grin. "Hi honey. It was just two. Missing two tiny little apples won't hurt, will it?"

Erin had her arms firmly crossed over her chest and her green eyes squinted sternly. She hesitated, staring down the puppy dog eyed woman. Her lips parted slightly and she made one false start before confessing with a grin, "Three apples."

Jamie laughed and pulled her into a hug. "Maybe we should spank each other," she suggested.

Erin pulled back with a leer. "We'll discuss punishments later," she said. The author scratched Dusty Moon's nose and stepped over to the next stall. "How are the boys faring?"

Jamie puffed out her chest and unlatched the half door. "How could they not love this state of the art barn?" she asked, running the soft brush over Cooper's deep tanned coat. "Cool in the summer, warm in the winter. Hi tech insect control. It's a five star hotel."

"I'm glad you like it," teased Erin. "The next time we have a fight, you can bunk out here."

Jamie snickered. They had yet to have a serious argument that wasn't settled by bedtime. She tossed her wife another brush. "Help me out here and I'll go back in the house and cut up those apples for you."

"I'll hold you to that." Erin was only slightly intimidated standing beside the large horse until he stomped a heavy foot as she neared his hind end.

"Stop that!" Jamie admonished the horse with a very small thump on his muscular rump. She certainly didn't believe in inflicting pain as a form of punishment, but this spirited beast had to learn some manners while being attended to. The dark head turned and he spotted her with a glassy eye. "Yes, I'm talking to you," she said, running the brush over his leg. "Those scare tactics aren't going to work on me. This relationship is going to be built on mutual respect."

Erin smiled. "Like ours?"

Jamie's head popped up over the horse's back. "Yes darlin, but that's where the similarities end. Our relationship is also based on devoted love and…" Jamie leaned forward to meet the waiting lips. "…unbridled passion."

* * * *

Erin begrudgingly pulled herself out of bed at six am on Thursday. She asked her tired self, this was my idea, wasn't it? Forgoing a shower for now, she threw on some sloppy, gray sweats and dragged herself to the kitchen to stuff the twenty-eight pound turkey sitting in the refrigerator. She tried unsuccessfully to stifle a yawn as she retrieved the big bird. Her night's sleep had once again been disrupted by Jamie's nightmare and on this day she wouldn't even have a chance for an afternoon nap. But that was fine if she could provide at least some small amount of comfort to her troubled partner. The tall woman had tossed and turned, yelling out in the darkness for her parents until Erin covered the writhing body with her own and whispered soothing words. After Jamie had finally settled down, Erin had stayed awake for another hour trying desperately to think of something she could do to end her wife's inner torment.

Sleep arrived before a solution however.

Jamie soon found her way into the kitchen, looking somewhat disheveled with her wayward, raven locks and dark circles under her eyes. Erin was nearly up to her elbow in turkey flesh when Jamie planted a chaste kiss to her cheek. "Mornin honey," the rancher said. After pouring herself a cup of coffee, she pulled the toaster from its spot under the cabinet and proceeded to add four pieces of thick bread. Resting her backside against the counter, she waited for it to acquire a deep tan. "I'm going out to the barn first thing," she said. "Then I'll be back in to help you with the rest of the cooking. When is everyone supposed to start arriving?" she asked as the crusty slices popped up behind her.

Erin pushed back an errant strand of hair from her eyes with the back of her wrist. "Officially I said two o'clock, but I know Mom and Bridget will be here earlier." They were expecting nine guests for Thanksgiving dinner. Besides Erin's family, they had invited Anne, Leah and Chad to join them because it was a day to embrace family and friends. Erin wondered sadly what Jeremy was doing on this day, since his mother was still in St. Louis. But for all she knew he had already gone back to his hometown after having been rejected by his sister. If that were true, then her job to settle Jamie's turmoil would only be more difficult. Deep in her heart Erin knew that the stubborn rancher really wanted to know her only living blood relative, but with every day that passed, the higher those bricks of fear and anger were erected around the tall woman's heart. Erin was confident that she would always have access, but she feared for her lover's peace of mind. Until Jamie accepted Jeremy as her brother and began a relationship with him, that was in jeopardy.

Jamie slathered a piece of the toasted bread with strawberry jam and proceeded to feed Erin, whose hands were still busy. After one slice had been consumed, Erin lifted the heavy pan and walked over to the hot oven, sliding the stuffed main course inside. Once her hands were washed she accepted the offered cup of coffee and then a solid kiss.

The tall woman pulled away and licked her lips. "Sweet." After another quick peck, Jamie headed back up the stairs to dress. Returning just five minutes later she hurried to the back door with Artemis on her heels. "I'll be back in about an hour and a half," she said before ducking onto the back porch.

* * * *

Despite the persistent wind, Jamie was down to her tank top within twenty minutes of mucking the stalls. The job was hers alone since it was a holiday. Filling one wheelbarrow, she pushed it out to the compost pile near the edge of the trees, grunting at its weight. Boy could I use some help, she thought. There just had to be a holiday this month didn't there. She dumped the load and stopped, chuckling to herself. It's not even Christmas and you're sounding like a scrooge. The hands deserve the day off to spend with their families. She had in fact given her newest ranch hand, Brittany two days off so she could fly home to visit her family. The woman had a sister and a brother that she was very close to and whom she hadn't seen in two years. Brittany had gushed with pride over her siblings. Recently Jamie had indulged the young woman for over half an hour, listening to the tales of her mid-west upbringing, much of it remarkably similar to Jamie's own early years. When Brittany had started in about her younger brother and how great he was, Jamie had politely ended the conversation with the excuse of work. The rancher remembered the bright smile the girl had had when talking about her sibling. A mask of anguish fell over Jamie's face as she suddenly thought about the stranger and his incredible story, but with a brisk shake of her head, Jamie hefted the empty wheelbarrow and trudged back inside the barn to finish the job.

* * * *

The table was piled with Thanksgiving dinner, including a juicy, golden bird stuffed with bread, cranberries, nuts and a secret mixture of herbs and spices. About a dozen other steamy, delicious looking dishes, some prepared by the hostess and others by guests set inside a circle of fine china on the linen covered long, pine table. Nine adults and two children each stood behind a chair holding hands and offering a grace to God for the wonderful bounty. When the group prayer was finished each individual spoke of their own personal blessings. Jamie felt a comforting squeeze on her hand as each person mentioned family in their speeches. The tall woman took a quick glance at her wife and winked. When the last person had finished speaking, Jamie bent to whisper in Erin's ear. She said simply, "Next year."

Erin grinned and nodded.

* * * *

Once everyone was delightfully stuffed, Jamie was sent off to entertain the guests while Erin, with the help of her sister cleared the table, packing away enough leftovers for a week. The rancher soon found the children heavily involved in a game of Go Fish and all the other adults having a spirited discussion. Notably absent though was the tall veterinarian. It wasn't like Chad to avoid her friends and family; he was one of the most outgoing people she knew. After waiting five minutes she went in search of her friend. A quick check of all the first floor rooms turned up nothing and a peek out the window confirmed that his car was still in the driveway. Maybe he went out to the barn, she thought. Jamie crossed through the kitchen catching just a little snippet of Erin and Bridget's chat, which brought a cocky smirk to her face. She flashed a quick wink at her blonde partner before reaching for the handle. Letting the back door close gently behind her, Jamie spotted her quarry at the far end of the enclosed porch. Chad was turned away from her, staring into the gray sky.

"Hey buddy, what are you doing out here all by yourself? Something wrong?"

The handsome, smiling face turned up to her as she took the seat next to him. "No," he said with a little headshake. "I…just feel kind of out of place. Everyone in there has a significant other."

"Yeah, Erin told me that Katie declined dinner with her family to have a beach picnic with some of her new friends. I don't think she quite has her priorities straight. Are you two still seeing each other?" Jamie asked.

Erin's cousin Katie had moved to the states from Ireland just a couple of months earlier. She was a huge flirt and had latched onto Chad the minute she had laid eyes on him at Erin and Jamie's pre-wedding party. The Irish lass was now attending school in L.A.

The vet leaned forward resting his arms on his knees. "We've seen each other a few times," he said, "but I know she's dating other guys. She's very nice and fun to be around, but Katie is a long way from wanting a committed relationship." He paused and met Jamie's concerned eyes. "But I'm not. I'm lonely. A lot of guys probably wouldn't admit that and maybe it isn't very manly, but I want someone to love." His shaggy, yellow head hug low at the admission.

"Chad. I think you are one of the nicest and most caring men I have ever known. You deserve that love and you will find it, probably when you least expect it. I can attest to that. Let's go back inside. I hear a slice of pie calling my name."

Chad got to his feet and followed her to the door. "Yeah, dessert sounds good," he said. "Wallow time is over." He smiled as he gallantly reached for the handle. "Speaking of wallow, do you think I'll look like a pig if I have two pieces?"

Jamie chuckled. "No more than me."

Pies of all varieties from traditional pumpkin to deep-dish apple along with a big chocolate cake were sliced and laid out with various toppings. Thanks to a loaner from Bridget, two pots of rich, dark coffee finished brewing right on time.

"Anything I can do to help hon?" Jamie asked after escorting Chad back into the animated living room.

Erin pulled a handful of silver forks from a drawer as she answered her spouse. "Yeah. Put the cream and sugar on the dining room table and get nine cups out of the cupboard."

Putting them on a tray along with two trivets, Jamie carried them from the kitchen. Erin liberated one of the cups before the tall woman left the room and filled it with boiling water. Once all the necessary items were delivered, everyone set about helping themselves to dessert and coffee.

The tall, Asian woman picked up a slice of apple pie, but bypassed the dark brew. Erin followed Jamie's friend back to her place on the love seat next to Anne. Leah's brown eyes widened when a steaming cup on a china saucer was placed before her. She immediately recognized the delicious aroma of chamomile and her finely sculpted brows crinkled. "How did…?"

Erin nodded to her old friend. "Anne brought it. She wanted to be sure you had your favorite, since you don't drink coffee."

Leah met the doctor's smiling eyes and took her hand, touched at the small, but special gesture. "Thank you," she said to both her girlfriend and her hostess.

Once everybody was promptly stuffed for the second time that day, Erin rinsed and slipped the small plates and cups into the nearly full dishwasher. The machine was quietly humming along when she heard footsteps behind her. Erin turned to find the one person she didn't expect. The author smiled. "Leah. Can I get you something else?"

"Oh no thank you, but everything was delicious. Actually, I was hoping we could have a few minutes alone to talk."

Erin nodded, wiping her hands on a yellow striped towel. "I was going to ask you the same thing. Shall we go on the back porch?"

The sun had broken through the clouds just in time for a short light show before setting on another Thanksgiving. The tall grasses danced in the evening breeze, their tips aglow like candlelight. The uneasiness carried on both sets of shoulders made for some soft footsteps on the proverbial eggshells littering the floor. The two women took chairs on opposite sides of a small wooden table.

"I need…."

"I just want…"

They both laughed at the simultaneous statements and the action helped to lesson the tension between them.

Erin leaned forward, her features soft and apologetic. "Leah, I need to say I'm sorry again. My behavior on the day we met and since then, even though unintentional has been rude. I'm not usually that way. I could say my actions were due to the stress of the time and while that is true, it's no excuse. You are a special friend to Jamie and I have no right to be jealous. So please accept my apology."

The nearly onyx eyes regarded Erin with warm sincerity. "I do accept," Leah said. "Although it was understandable, seeing as you walked in to find me hugging your fiancé and her shirt was half unbuttoned."

Looking back now, they both saw the humor of the situation and giggled soundlessly.

Erin took a breath. "I just want you to know that I respect your friendship with Jamie and with Anne and you are welcome into my home and to my life."

Leah took the offered hand. "Thank you. I'd like you to understand what happened between Jamie and I when she was recovering. I'm sure she has explained it to you, but I want you to hear it from my prospective." After Erin nodded, she continued. "She was, above all my friend and my only motive for deepening that friendship was out of compassion. She was so alone and I couldn't help her with those lost memories, but I thought perhaps I could let her regain a part of her true self. I had picked up on some subtle hints, things that only another lesbian would probably notice. But I certainly didn't set out to seduce her. We came together out of compassion and caring. I won't lie and say I didn't or still don't think she is a beautiful woman. But I do not lust after her. I never intended to have a long lasting, romantic relationship with her. I don't regret that it happened and it is a sweet memory…but that's all it is."

"I do understand that now," Erin confessed. "You know, when Jamie first told me about you and what you shared I wasn't the least bit jealous. In fact I told her I should thank you. So thank you for being there for her when I couldn't."

Leah smiled and nodded. "I'd like to be here for you both if there is ever anything I can do for you in the future."

* * * *

Erin decided to take her niece and nephew out to the barn to see her new baby before the evening became too dark.

"Can I ride the pony, Aunt Erin?" asked four-year-old Caitlin.

Erin was holding the youngster in her arms so she could see over the stall door and she brushed aside some curls that had fallen in front of the small face. "Sweetie, that's not a pony, that's a baby horse. And he is still to young to ride."

"What's the difference?" asked Conner. He stood by her side with his hands in the pockets of his dress slacks as he peered through a small opening at the little equine. He had loosened the tie around his neck just as soon as the family photos had been taken, but now he had to be careful of his best dress shoes so he had to watch where he put his feet.

Erin thought about how to answer him. "Well, a pony is a pony," she said, but realized that it was pretty lame. You'd better brush up on all these questions. You'll be answering all kinds of them in a few years. "Ponies come in all sorts of sizes," she explained further, "but they will always be ponies no matter how old they get. This little foal will grow up to be a big horse." This is harder than I thought. She chuckled to herself.

He still didn't really understand what she said, but decided to accept her explanation…at least for now. "Can we have a pony out here for us to ride then?" he asked, looking up at her with expectant eyes.

"We'll see sweetheart. I'll have to ask your Mom and Dad." I think Bridget will go for it. After all it will be staying here and she won't have to worry about taking care of it. Erin had spent an hour on the phone, the week before, convincing her sister to take one of the puppies that were staying at the veterinarian's office. With Erin and Anne each taking a puppy and Bridget agreeing to take the third that only left one little dog to find a good home for. Chad was keeping the mother and Erin wanted to find a home with someone they knew so the family of dogs could at least see each other from time to time. She felt they deserved it after all the trauma they had already been through.

Long after sundown the group bid each other goodnight with several rounds of loving hugs and kisses. One by one, Erin and Jamie watched as the cars pulled away from the house, some having long drives ahead and others just a few minutes. With the last wave, the tired couple trudged back inside their cozy home, bypassing the messy kitchen all together and heading up the stairs to their even cozier bed.

Erin flipped on only one bedside lamp as Jamie pulled two, almost identical sets of pajamas from the oak dresser. Fumbling, unsuccessfully with the zipper on the back of her dress for almost a full minute, Erin breathed a sigh as her fingers were replaced and the dark material separated, soon baring her shoulders to the warm room air and to a pair of soft lips. "Oh, that feels sooo good, but I am sooo…ti…red." The last word was delivered beneath a prolonged yawn.

"Me too," Jamie mumbled, resting her chin on one of those shoulders. As the dress dropped to the carpet, she proceeded to unhook Erin's lacy bra and rub away the slight marks left behind that marred the satiny skin. Slipping one of the long sleeved pajama tops over the blonde head, she then left her wife to take care of the rest while she discarded her own rumpled clothing. "We have to do this all again on Christmas Eve, don't we?" the rancher asked, after redressing and climbing into bed.

"Umm, hum," Erin mumbled, snuggling into her pillows, the one under her head and the very long one beside her. "With one more too. I told Katie I wouldn't scold her for missing today if she showed up for Christmas. That should make Chad happy."

"Maybe, maybe not."

"I'll have to ask you…about that…again…tomorrow." That was the last muttered word of the night.

* * * *

The little yellow car pulled into the lot of the bed and breakfast and stopped next to a sleek, black automobile that nearly dwarfed it. Leah had driven up from Los Angeles early that morning so the two could spend some time alone together. They had talked about the clinic and other important things in their respective lives, but most of all they had just wanted to be together. Although the little inn was lovely and the older couple that owned it was extremely friendly and considerate, Anne looked at the building with slight disdain. "I'll sure be glad when I find my own house," she said. "I don't know how many times I've gone to look for something and then remember that it's still stored away back in L.A."

Leah covered the hand that was still resting on the gearshift. She brought the appendage to her lips and kissed away the tension. "Hopefully by the beginning of the year we'll both be settled here for good. It's hard to be so far away from you."

Anne smiled at her girlfriend and moved the short distance for a kiss of her own. Neither had ever felt the kind of passion that ignited between them and even though they stilled vowed to build their relationship slowly there were some things that were nearly impossible to deny. "You are staying the night, aren't you?" she asked, slightly breathlessly. Anne adored the moonlit smile that greeted her question. I wish I didn't even have to ask.

Leah ran her hand through the chestnut waves atop the doctor's head and stared into the similarly hued eyes. "I thought you would never ask." Maybe some day neither one of us will have to ask, she thought as the driver's side door was shut. After her eyes lingered on the trim figure passing in front of the small auto, the Asian beauty finally unfolded her long legs from the small sports car and took the offered hand. It was the end to a perfect day and the beginning of what would definitely be the perfect night.

* * * *

"So what do you think of this one?"

Anne flashed a cringed expression then a totally goofy one in Erin's direction before she answered the real estate agent's question. The author, not so smoothly, giggled behind a hand. "I really didn't want to have to make that many repairs," Anne said rather diplomatically of the too small and too dilapidated shack like structure.

"But the price is a steal," he countered. He had been trying to unload the property for two years and always showed it to a new customer first. His favorite adage, one man's trash is another man's treasure.

"Yes, but I think I'll let someone else commit that crime. Besides, like I told you I would like a minimum of three bedrooms and much more space. It may be just me, but I like to think ahead. Who knows what might be in my future," she mumbled with a soft smile.

"Okay," he said stepping over to his car. "There's still some of those others I think are good possibilities." Anne waved the stack of printouts, he had given her, in the air. "I'm sure you will find something to fit your needs. You can follow me to the next one."

The doctor cleared her throat nervously as her mind raced for an excuse to escape. Her manners stopped her from telling him what he could do with the sheets of useless paper. "Umm, yeah."

Erin tugged on her friends arm as they headed for the author's car. "Anne, I'm not really feeling very well," she said loud enough for the real estate agent to hear. "Could we continue this later?"

"Of course. I'm sorry Mr. Silverman I need to see my friend home. I'll give you a call later." They climbed into Erin's SUV, waiting until his old, green car was well down the road. The duo finally burst out laughing. "Thank you," Anne stated emphatically. "I can't believe I got his name as a recommendation."

"Well, even then you can't be certain. I know someone who may be able to help." Erin grabbed her cell and dialed the number she knew by heart.

Later that afternoon, Anne and Erin were standing in the middle of a three bedroom, 1800 square foot, impeccable ranch style home. "This is perfect," Anne said as she took in a 360-degree view of the sunny, yellow kitchen. "This whole house is perfect. I can't believe it. I want it," she said before slipping out onto the covered, flagstone patio.

Erin grinned at her friend then turned to the middle-aged lady standing unobtrusively in the kitchen doorway. "Thanks Mrs. Frasier."

"You're welcome dear. I've known your mother for fifteen years and when she called me earlier, I promised her nothing but my best."

"I would say this is definitely it." Erin chuckled as she watched her friend through the large, kitchen window. Anne was checking out the built in wooden benches lining the patio for the best views of the mountain range far off behind the incredible house. "I think Dr. Carson might come back to earth sometime tomorrow evening."

After all the proper paperwork was signed, they bid the agent goodbye and climbed back into Erin's car. "I can't believe how easy this was, especially after this morning's fiasco," said Anne, the smile never leaving her face. She was having a hard time peeling her eyes from the brick covered structure.

"Shall we go visit the puppies?" Erin asked, as she pulled away from the curb.

"Huh…oh yeah. Sounds like a good idea. I think I'll finally have a home to bring one to now."

"You're not too happy, are you?" the author asked.

Anne rubbed her hands together then tapped out a little tune on the dashboard. "Very," she said. "Why shouldn't I be? I'll have a great new job in the near future, I just bought my first house…"

"And?"

"And what?"

Erin kept her eyes glued to the road ahead and the knowing smirk on her face.

"What?"

"Isn't there something else making you happy…or is it someone? You just seem to have a certain glow today. Somehow I don't think a new house put it there."

"Okay, okay. Leah and I took our relationship another step last night."

"And?"

Anne slapped her friend's arm. "I am not going to give you details. We are not in high school."

Erin's cheeks pinked up a bit as she admonished her friend. "That's not what I meant and you know it. What is with you? I've never seen you in such a playful mood."

Anne sighed joyously and the chestnut waves around her head danced as she could hardly keep still. "Well, I guess that's what being in love does to you."

Erin grinned as she spared glances between the road and the silly doctor. "Really! That's great Anne. I'm so happy for you. I assume Leah feels the same."

The smiling woman nodded quickly. "Yeah, she does." The giddiness suddenly settled and Anne became serious while still happy. "I'll tell you Erin, we both still want to go slowly, but I had such a hard time letting her leave this morning. I've honestly never felt anything like this before. It actually hurt watching her drive away."

"I've been there and I do understand," Erin said. "But when you think about the possibility of having the rest of your life with them, the temporary pain is all worth it."

More to come soon.

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