Seeing You Again for the First Time

By Colleen

 

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

 

Chapter 12

 

A face twitched as the sun’s rays reached through the sheer curtain, disturbing sleeping eyes. The body turned away from the intruder, but the other senses teamed up to awaken the slumbering woman. A songbird serenaded from the tree just outside the window and goose bumps were raised along the uncovered arm as the air conditioning popped on. But by far the strongest sensation was the heavenly smell of coffee.

Hands reached up to rub tired blue eyes. The long body stretched, feeling no pain for once. That brought a little smile to the face that bore sheet marks across the right cheek. Jamie tested her muscles again, with a slight twist and was still pleased with the results. That movement brought her around to face the clock where she jerked in surprise. Ten thirty blinked at her and she blinked back making a quick mental calculation. "Eleven hours," she said to the empty room as her head fell back into the pillow. She had slept for eleven peaceful hours.

The space next to her was cold, she realized when her hand drifted over. Erin must have gotten up a long time ago. Jamie knew the long flight, coupled with the emotional turmoil of the previous day had led to her extended sleep time. But it was a new day and a new life other than the one, which just two days ago, she had expected to be living. But just the thought of that beautiful, green-eyed face brought a smile to hers. I guess it’s time to go down there and find out who Jamie Sheridan is…was. Whatever I find out, I know who I will be.

Erin flipped the last fluffy pancake over onto the stack already nine cakes tall. She turned off the griddle and reached for another plate for the perfect slices of crispy bacon. She whistled happily as she finished at the stove and set the plates onto the table

Jamie came down the back stairs just as Erin was pouring the orange juice.

"Perfect timing. Good morning Sweetheart," said Erin, giving Jamie a quick kiss. "I hope you’re hungry. It’s the first time in a long time that I felt like cooking and my skills might be a little rusty."

Jamie silently took a seat at the round table, but made no move toward the food. She watched as the stream of hot, dark liquid was poured into her cup.

Erin poured her own coffee and sat down with a slight hesitation. "What’s wrong?" she asked. "Don’t you like pancakes?"

Jamie met the concerned green eyes. "No…I mean yes. It smells wonderful." She confirmed it with a smile. "It’s true isn’t it?" she asked wondrously. "I woke up feeling great, but then as I was getting dressed, I had this horrible sensation that it was all a dream. But it wasn’t?" She asked for one last confirmation.

Erin grabbed the long fingered hand. "No Sweetheart, it’s not a dream. You are here Jamie, with me."

After a few giddy giggles they dove into the delicious breakfast. Halfway through the meal, Jamie’s curiosity had reached its peak; she just couldn’t wait any longer. "Erin, I’m going to be asking you a lot of questions about…me. I know you won’t be able to answer a lot of them, but I do need to ask."

"I understand, Honey. What do you want to know first?"

"Okay." Jamie nervously twirled the fork between her fingers. "Where are my parents?" When she saw Erin look away, a sinking feeling hit her gut.

Erin looked back with a compassionate expression. "I’m sorry, Sweetheart. Your parents died when you were ten."

No tears fell from the blue eyes. She couldn’t exactly mourn what she didn’t know. A blank look just fell across her features. "I guess that explains why no one came looking for me," she said quietly.

Now it was Erin’s turn to be hit. She swallowed the food around the lump that had suddenly formed in her throat. She just sat there for a long time, staring at the almost empty plate, unable to meet her partner’s gaze. "You’re hurt because I didn’t come after you, aren’t you?" Without even waiting for an answer, Erin threw her napkin down in disgust and jumped up from the table.

Not sure just what had occurred, Jamie jumped up and followed her to the back porch. She could tell Erin was crying and she pulled her into her arms. "Don’t cry please. I’m not mad at you. I didn’t mean it that way."

The smaller woman sobbed. "I should have. I should have found you, been by your side to help you through all that pain."

"But you thought…"

"No!" Erin pulled away. "No, I didn’t want to believe it. And I didn’t. When they said they couldn’t find your body...a part of me just knew you were still alive. But then when I lost touch with reality and I was afraid for my sanity and…I finally had to accept it." She sighed and closed her eyes. "But even then I just couldn’t let go of that last bare thread. In Ireland, I should have known…I should have, especially after we kissed. How could I not have known?" She finally opened tearful eyes. "I’m sorry."

"There is no need for you to be sorry." Jamie drew Erin back into her arms again and soothed her trembles. "I am just so glad that we found each other again. Everything has turned out okay. And I’m so sorry that you had to go through that pain. But I’m also glad that you were willing to go on with your life." She took Erin’s face between her hands. "Because that is what I would want."

They kissed through salty tears.

"I don’t want to talk about that now," said Erin. "Because we will be together." Another kiss. "…until we are very old." Kiss. "…very gray." Kiss. "And very wrinkled." A final kiss. "Nothing would ever dare separate us again."

Jamie smiled down hoping to illicit a similar response. She got her wish. They went back into the house still holding onto one another. "I guess I was an only child then huh?" she asked absently. The body beside her sighed heavily. "Okay, I think that’s all the questions I’ll ask for today," Jamie said with just a touch of humor. A hand softly landed on her stomach.

"No Jamie, you have to know. I just…it just hurts to be the one to have tell you these painful things."

The dark head nodded.

"You had an identical twin sister. Her name was Jordan. But she died when she was five."

Jamie silently absorbed that fact as they finished the meal. Once done, she took the breakfast dishes and began putting the left over food into the disposal. Erin gathered the other utensils and brought them to the sink. They stood elbow to elbow performing the morning chore as Erin continued.

"You were born in Missouri. Your birthday is April the eleventh. That makes you thirty now. Your parents were Michael and Amy. You loved them very much and had a very happy and normal childhood. You fell in love with horses when…"

* * * *

Erin knew it would be a few days before Jamie could even begin to feel like she belonged there. She thought that Jamie should learn about herself just a little at a time so she wouldn’t become overwhelmed. And the tall woman agreed. That included meeting Erin’s family. The blonde had asked her sister not to say anything to anyone except to her husband Brad, about Jamie’s return. That was her responsibility. That topic came up the next day as they were riding around the property, trying as always to find any little thing to jog Jamie’s memory.

"I agree that I should take it slow," said Jamie. "But I really think we should get together with your family, soon."

"They’re your family too Jamie."

The blue eyes scanned the landscape ahead as she thought about that. "Yeah, I guess they are."

Erin smiled. "But I want you to be sure. Who knows, maybe you will remember something about them when you see them."

"I know I don’t want to hide away. Besides, if the rest of your family is anything like your grandmother…" Jamie smiled fondly. "…I think it’ll be just fine."

"Well, nobody is like her, but Mom is great. But you’ll find that out for yourself. Okay, how about we do this? You made your doctor’s appointment for Friday morning right?"

"Yeah."

"So while you are there, I’ll go and tell my parents in person. Then I’ll have everyone come over to Mom and Dad’s house and you and I can go back there Friday afternoon." Erin also had a very special plan for the weekend that involved their beach house. But she was going to keep that part a secret.

* * * *

Over the next couple of days Jamie spent the time getting to know the ranch hands and just coming to terms with the idea that she owned everything within sight. Well, Erin actually owned it, but she had promised that she would add Jamie’s name to the deed just as soon as the legal aspects were cleared. Their lawyer advised them that they would need at least three notarized affidavits attesting to Jamie’s true identity before any other legal documents could be signed. Those would be taken care of as soon as the rest of the family was informed of her return.

* * * *

Jamie reached into the box, sitting on her desk, and pulled out another stack of notes written in her own handwriting. Erin had saved the small pieces of paper, the charts, the graphs and the pages that Jamie had printed from the Internet. Even though the counselor had encouraged Erin to do so, she couldn’t throw out any of Jamie’s possessions.

As Jamie read over the written notes, everything made logical sense, but there was still nothing familiar about the specific ideas. They were thoughts and plans she had had for the ranch and things she had wanted to accomplish. Well, at least I know what to work on now, she thought.

She took a sip of the lukewarm coffee, promising herself to go and get more just as soon as she looked at the next piece of paper, but then it became the next one…and then the next…and then…

She hadn’t wanted to bother Erin, because she knew the blonde was in her upstairs office working on her book. Erin had been spending every minute with Jamie, trying to bring back what was lost. But Jamie was glad that her companion had finally taken some time for herself. She wanted to be supportive. And she was proud of Erin’s accomplishments.

The tall woman got up and stretched her stiff muscles. She had learned that even small movements during times of inactivity would lessen the pain in her back. She had also realized that the tension she had been feeling about her lost identity had added a lot to her discomfort. Since she had been home with Erin though, she had been able to cut back on the amount of medication she had been taking. Jamie smiled as she stood at the window thinking. And Erin’s massages certainly have been helping too. The insistent blonde had been administering her healing touches several times a day. Between Erin’s hands and her lips, Jamie was being well taken care of.

But the frequent and sometimes sensual touches hadn’t gone any farther. Erin always eased off when she heard Jamie’s breathing increase and felt her skin warming up. Jamie knew there was no lack of desire for either of them and she had come to the conclusion that Erin was waiting for her to initiate more intimate contact.

And why hadn’t she?

Back in Ireland, the desire had almost overtaken her on several occasions. And now that she knew she was Erin’s lost lover there shouldn’t be anything standing in their way. But maybe that was it. Lost was the operative word. Erin had memories of the two of them making love, of all those very special times they had shared in passion. Jamie didn’t. Maybe she was afraid of disappointing Erin. Except for the one night Jamie had stayed with Lia, for all intents and purposes she had no other sexual experience. And even then she had mostly been on the receiving end.

Jamie went back to the desk and stood over the box of notes, her heart and her mind still wrestling over the apprehension of making love with Erin. She shuffled through the stack of papers and her hand brushed against a piece of satiny material tied around a cylindrical object. She pulled it out and her brow furrowed. "What in the world?" She gave a small tug on the red ribbon and it tumbled to the desk. The rolled up papers opened in her hand. Each of the four tan colored sheets had several lines of unevenly spaced printing on their textured surfaces. Since they were among her possessions, Jamie assumed that they belonged to her so she proceeded to read them. The first one was untitled.

There was a time, my whole life in fact

When a voice whispered in my ear

Not a name or a place or any words

But the feeling was very clear

Someone waited to fill my heart with love

My spirit with joy

To set my passions aflame

I bided my time, existing just well

Until the moment you came

In a burst of time, an explosion of light

I knew it had arrived

My time to be complete again

My time to be alive

You are my love

You are my heart

My joy, my very soul

Together we are

Together we move

Together we will be

I once was half, but now am whole

Since you, I became we

And the simple word everything

That’s what you are to me

She moved on to the next one entitled, ‘I See’.

I see, not with eyes, the smile upon your face,

The visions blue

Skin so bronze

And hair of silky night

Your hand in mine illuminates my darkened way

And banishes the fright

You give me hope

Fulfill my dreams

Bring the rainbows to my eyes

I see the world within your voice

That whispers in my ear

Jamie paused in her reading. "Erin must have written these…to me," she said, easing her body down into the black leather chair. After another moment to let that thought sink in, she read on.

I see your love

I see your strength lying beneath a tear

I close my eyes the day is through

And in a beautiful, magical dream

That’s where I see you

Jamie smiled as she traced the slightly crooked letters. "I wish I could hear you read these out loud. You are a romantic Erin Casey. But that’s always been obvious from the first time we met." She slipped that sheet of paper to the back of the stack and started one called Summer Night.

A summer’s night

Dreams on wings

A laugh, a butterfly

A song of love

A lilac breeze

Together you and I

A sunset shared, one from the heart, the other from sight

That’s how it was one summer’s night

When first we met, but then again no

We have been since long ago

The twilight saw you leave

From my side you did depart

A gentle touch, a soothing voice was imprinted on my heart

The beginning of forever

I knew that it was true

My longtime prayer was answered

In the beautiful form of you

Step by step on a rocky path

We stumbled, but never fell

Love was there to guide us

Hand in hand

Heart to heart

Leading us to a future bright

And it all began on a simple summer night

Jamie could feel the true love, the pure emotion that had been pored into each and every word. She had no doubt that Erin loved her. But the poems, the carefully chosen words written by an unseeing hand spoke to her in glaring tones as to the depth their love had reached and in a heartbeat quelled her lingering fears.

 

The blue eyes drifted down to the last one of the bundle. They widened a little bit more as she scanned each new part. She reached up to feel suddenly dry lips as the internal heat ruddied her face. Those words, while still written with the greatest of love, dripped with sheer sensuality and the erotic syllables painted an all to vivid picture. Her tongue snaked out to lick those parched lips as she whispered the last few sentences, which seemed to be the tamest.

Touching you is

Brazen

A sultry spark of skin on skin

And nerves alight with fire

Kissing you is

Spicy

A taste of lips leads deeper still

The dewy heat of a panting breath sends the fire higher

Loving you is

Ecstasy

A rhythm found by thrusting hearts

Probes the deepest recesses of the soul

You carry me on gentle wings

To heights otherwise unknown

Then cradle me with whispered words

And I know that I’ve found home

 

* * * *

That evening Jamie walked into the bedroom to find Erin standing at the corner window. The blonde had one hand flat against the glass pane, her index finger absently rubbing against the smooth surface. Her head was leaning against the window frame and her gaze gently flicked from one twinkling star to the next.

Her profiled expression seemed content to the dark haired woman, who stayed just inside the doorway studying the quiet author. She watched as the breeze, from another opened window, ruffled the sheer, aqua colored robe Erin had draped around her shoulders. The flowing material revealed the shapely, moonlit silhouette of the petite woman to interested eyes. Jamie’s heartbeat increased as she stood their admiring and her thoughts murmured the words of the poems she had found earlier.

A small sigh from across the room nearly broke her heart. Jamie quickly pushed away from the door casing and her bare feet shuffled across the tan carpeting. She slipped her arms around the smaller woman, grinning as she felt the body snuggle back into her. Jamie rooted through the shaggy blonde hair until she found a delicate ear. "I love you," she whispered. Jamie felt the smile that appeared on her lover’s face.

Her thumbs began to rub over the soft, flat surface under her hands. The fluttering she felt mirrored her own. Her long fingers moved down and around to caress the slightly flared hips as her lips found purchase on the strong tendon of the neck that was suddenly exposed to her attentions. When Jamie’s teeth joined the fray, she heard a sharp gasp of air pulled in through clenched teeth.

Erin suddenly turned to face her tall lover. One look at the adoring features and the eyes glowing with desire was all it took. She reached up and pulled Jamie’s face to hers. The firey kiss that ensued singed sweetly as they drew air from one another’s lungs and quickly passed it back. Their bodies were crushed so closely that not a drop of water could have slipped between them. But the steam created by their passion settled in a dewy harvest in spots yet uncovered.

Jamie slipped the wispy material from Erin’s shoulders as her swollen lips kept finding new and interesting tastes and textures. She pulled back just a touch, only to breathe and to make a husky request. "Show me how to love you. Tell me what you like. Where do like to be t…"

"Shhh. Your body knows." Erin panted, sending her warm breath against her own fingers and the lips she hushed. "Don’t think, just feel."

The silk that had covered Erin’s body was soon gone and immediately joined by jeans and a denim shirt in a pile on the floor. The soft sheets felt cool against damp, heated skin as two bodies, lost in time, began moving in the night.

"You are so beautiful," Jamie whispered. After many soft, languishing kisses, Jamie’s long digits began dancing in the field of gold, testing the waters, while her lips and tongue slowly savored every inch of skin that she could reach. The enjoyable sounds she coaxed from her lover did strike a cord in the hidden part of her memory. Her nerve endings did somehow recall the textures of velvet and satin, the mounds and valleys that liked to be lightly stroked or heavily teased. It all worked together bringing her partner the greatest physical joy any human could know. When Jamie heard her name screamed at the pinnacle of Erin’s excitement, she knew that her body had finally joined her heart in coming home.

Erin flipped their entwined bodies and wasted no time in getting re-acquainted with the length of muscle and skin beneath her. Jamie’s unique scent of arousal wafted into her senses urging deeper caresses and many, many more kisses to spots long missed. The green eyes watched, with rapt attention, every twitch and flutter that came from the beautiful body she touched. Even though they had made love many times, she never had the absolute pleasure of watching Jamie, as she loved her. The sight was utterly incredible and it brought tears to those eyes as she whispered, "I love you."

The sounds of love harmonized as the impassioned souls climbed again together, each second of touches pushing them closer to the edge. They wore each other’s skin, their hearts beat in the other’s chest and they crawled inside the other’s soul. Then with one more breath and a final touch, an explosive instant sent them both falling into each other’s arms; the safest place on earth.

For Jamie it was their first time. And for Erin, the first time all over again.

* * * *

 

The dark haired woman waved Erin down as the blue SUV turned the corner in front of the professional building in downtown LA.

"Hi Sweetheart," said the blonde as Jamie got in the car. She received a kiss to her cheek. "What did the doctor say?" she asked, easing back into the heavy traffic. "Did you like him? I know this was your first appointment with him, but I want you to have the best, so if he’s not competent or if he’s rude we’ll find someone better." When she didn’t get a response by the next red light, Erin turned to see a huge grin staring at her. "What?"

"It feels so good to have someone care about me this much. I love you."

Erin had to put her attention back to the road when the car behind them honked. "I love you too. And I care more than I could ever put into words. So what did he say?"

"He said that I’m doing better then I should be. But that’s what Doctor Kim said too. That’s the only reason he released me when he did."

"I’m certainly glad to hear that. But," Erin said with a half hidden smile. "...that’s not the only reason. He had a little help from…someone in that decision." Erin once again thanked whatever force had brought them together. "Is there any other physical therapy that you can take to strengthen your back?"

Jamie let out a slightly disappointed breath. "It will never be a hundred percent. And right now it’s just about as good as it’s going to get. But he did say that I could start a light exercise program at home. I just need to get some equipment."

Erin pulled onto the highway, heading for her parents house in Brentwood. "You’ve already got the equipment. It’s back home in the garage. You were very much into physical fitness when we met and of course you brought it with you when you moved in. I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them either."

Jamie squeezed Erin’s leg in acknowledgement. "Guess I’m all set then. How did it go with your family this morning?"

 

* * * *

At Erin’s childhood home, Danielle bandied about the kitchen helping the cook prepare the welcome home dinner for Jamie. Her joyful tears had flowed for hours at the news of her other daughter’s return and at the utter joy she had witnessed on Erin’s face.

This was indeed a very special occasion and she was determined to make it happy and peaceful. That task had brought her to the large study and to the only person who could ruin the evening’s celebration.

She walked in to find him at his usual place, behind the big cluttered desk. He hardly heard her approach as he clattered away at his keyboard. Casey’s reaction to his daughter’s news had been one of silent shock, but the look in his gray eyes did not escape his wife’s attention. Nor their daughter’s, Danielle had suspected.

"Timothy."

"Yes Dear," he responded without looking up from the computer screen.

"I would like to talk with you about tonight."

His typing stopped mid-word. "What about it?" he asked with a clenched jaw.

"Would you please look at me?"

His bearded face turned to her and he sat back, drumming his fingers on the armrest of his chair.

"Tim, I know you still aren’t accepting of this. But everyone else in this family is. I love Jamie and I am very happy that she has come back to us. I do want you to be there, to support your daughter if nothing else, but I am asking you to keep your expression neutral and your comments to yourself. Or you will lose Erin for good. I suspect this is your last chance."

His response was to turn his chair to the wall. Her response was to walk out the door, hoping she had made him understand.

Within the hour Bridgett arrived with her family. The children clamored all around their grandparents, whom they loved immensely. Caitlin had to show grandma her new doll and Conner was so proud of his new baseball glove. He had saved up his allowance and had paid for it all by himself, he boasted.

They soon asked grandpa to take them to the back yard to see the fish in the koi pond. And when Tim had seen his daughter’s car pulling up the long drive, he was more then happy to do so.

 

Erin turned off the motor and looked over to see Jamie staring in awe at the huge mansion.

"You grew up here?" asked the dark haired woman.

The blonde leaned against the steering wheel and peered out to share Jamie’s view. "Yeah. But this is so not my style. It’s just so pretentious. It was always like living in a museum. You okay with this?" she asked after a pause.

Jamie finally pulled her gaze from the window and smiled nervously. "Yeah."

Erin walked right in through the front door, knowing that it was going to be unlocked. She took Jamie by the hand and led her down the long, quiet corridor and then down a shorter hall. The big double doors to the family room were standing open and they could hear the chatter going on inside. She felt the hand begin to tremble and pulled Jamie aside before going in. "I know this is a little difficult for you," she said. "But I promise you that everyone in that room loves you." She cocked her head with a little frown. "Well except my father. But that has nothing to do with you," she was quick to assure. "His problem is with me. He can’t get passed the idea that I’m gay. But just ignore him. Everyone else in there loves you. But not as much as me." Erin reached up and kissed Jamie, passing on her strength. "I’ll be right by your side all night. If you need a break just let me know." After receiving an affirmative nod, she continued on.

Erin stepped in first, knocking lightly on the door to announce their presence. Her eyes quickly scanned the room and she breathed a sigh of relief when her father was nowhere in sight. "We’re here."

Jamie stepped in behind her sporting a timid, but brave smile.

Bridgett was the closest to them so she came up first. Erin let go of her hand so the dark haired woman could return the hug.

"I really am glad you’re back Jamie," said the red head. "And I’m sorry for how I acted the other day. I was just…worried about Erin. She’s just so important to me and I didn’t want to see her hurt again."

"I understand. She’s really lucky to have a sister like you."

"And I am really lucky to have two sisters." Bridgett pulled both of them into a hug.

"You know," Erin said to Jamie. "Bridgett introduced us to each other last June. And I’m not sure if we ever properly thanked her."

Bridgett put on her teasing face. "Well if you insist. I’m sure I can think of some way for you to thank me. Say maybe two karats set in white gold. I’m not all that hard to please."

"I could beg to differ," said the tall, brown haired man who stepped up behind Bridgett. "But I won’t if I know what’s good for me."

Erin introduced the handsome man to Jamie. "This is Bridgett’s husband, Brad."

He smiled charmingly. "It’s good to see you again Jamie. Welcome back"

She nodded slightly. "Thank you."

The couple moved aside to allow Danielle her turn. She silently walked up to the dark haired woman and cautiously caressed the side of her face. The other shaking hand went to her own mouth.

Jamie was a little confused by the reaction, but a reassuring hand on her arm let her know everything was all right.

"I’m almost afraid to say anything," Danielle whispered. "I’m afraid I’ll start crying again."

Erin cleared her tightened throat. "It’s okay Mom. Go on and cry. God knows we have."

Danielle opened the floodgates and then had everyone in the room shedding a tear as she hugged Jamie to her. "I thank God that you have come home to us Dear. I love you. My family is once again complete," she said, now including Erin in the embrace.

The highly emotional scene was allowed to ease off as Danielle went to check on dinner and the Nelsons slipped away to check on their children.

Jamie took a deep breath and moved across the room to stand by the window. They really do love me. It’s so odd to hear that from people you’ve just met. But I don’t love them…yet. I care about them because they are Erin’s family, but that’s all. She paused to watch a ladybug crawling up the outside of the window glass. I’m sure…no I know that I will come to love them, even if I never remember them. She felt two familiar arms ease around her from behind. She genuinely smiled as the hands rubbed across her stomach and the soft cheek pressed into her back. "I love you Erin. Thank you for giving me a family." Through her thin shirt, she sensed the warm exhaled breath and could just picture the smile she knew was there. Jamie pulled her lover around to face her and there it was. She didn’t need to hear the words. The message was loud and clear in those spring green eyes. But when those perfect lips formed the words, her heart nearly burst with happiness.

Arm in arm they walked over toward the couch. The doors leading to the patio suddenly burst open and in trotted the little curly headed four year old. She spotted Jamie and ran up to her, stopping about a foot in front of her. She waited for only a few seconds, hours to a child, before she thrust her tiny arms out to the side and exclaimed. "Aren’t you going to pick me up and spin me around like you always do, Aunt Jamie?"

Erin knelt down to the child’s level. "Caitlin. Sweetie, Aunt Jamie has a very big owie on her back and it would really hurt her to pick you up right now. You don’t want to hurt her do you?" The little blonde head shook from side to side. "You’re a good girl," praised Erin.

Jamie quickly took a seat on the sofa. "Come here…Caitlin." She was thankful that Erin had inconspicuously reminded her of the child’s name.

The little girl obeyed and she was carefully lifted onto Jamie’s lap. "How’s that," the adult asked.

The child scooted around a tiny bit, making herself comfortable. "Good," she replied.

Jamie was momentarily surprised when two small arms, not so gently, flew around her neck and squeezed.

Erin hid a laugh behind her hand at the wide-eyed expression on her lover’s face.

"I missed you Aunt Jamie."

"I missed you too Sweetheart." Jamie had to tell the adorable little girl a fib. Amnesia was too difficult to explain to a four-year-old mind.

"Mommy said that you went to heaven. Why did Mommy lie to me?"

Jamie’s eyes flashed to Erin for just a second before trying to explain. "Your mommy didn’t lie, Honey. She thought that was the truth."

Erin jumped in to help and took a small hand in hers. "Honey, Aunt Jamie got hurt and was very lost. She couldn’t find her way back home."

"I even forgot my phone number. But Aunt Erin found me and brought me back home."

Caitlin hugged her, more gently this time. "You’re not going to go away again are you?" she asked.

Jamie rubbed the little girl’s back. "No Sweetheart, I’m not."

More bodies soon came in from the patio and Conner went to join the reunion on the sofa. Bridgett and Brad went to poor themselves lemonade. And Timothy Casey went to a chair in the far corner of the room.

Jamie took notice of the slim, sandy haired boy standing in front of her. "Hey there slugger, how are you?"

Her choice of nicknames brought a bright smile to his slightly freckled face. "Fine," he announced clearly.

Erin scooted over and patted the seat in between her and Jamie. "Sit down here, Conner."

"How old are you now?" Jamie asked as he settled in between them.

"Eight," he stated proudly. "I’m still doing karate Aunt Jamie. Will you come and watch me again?"

"You bet. Just let me know when."

"I also played baseball and I hit a homerun," he said, punching his new leather glove.

Jamie ruffled his hair. "Of course you did. Next year I bet you hit a whole bunch of them."

Erin smiled openly and her eyes twinkled, watching the interaction between her lover and her niece and nephew. That was something that hadn’t changed, even if Jamie didn’t remember them. At first, she had been leery and a little fearful about being around the children, but it didn’t take long for her to become their tallest playmate. Two small, little fingers had six feet of adult wrapped tightly around them. And they were not above, unwittingly exploiting that fact from time to time.

The joyful atmosphere in the room was hampered by one gray cloud that hung over the corner. The dark eyes would look up from the newspaper from time to time and the salt and pepper moustache would bristle above pursed, unhappy lips.

"I thought you promised Mom."

Tim looked up at his oldest daughter as he stood and went to the hidden bar near the window. "Would you like a drink Bridgett?"

"No Dad. I don’t need alcohol to get me through this evening."

"Neither do I," he insisted gruffly. "I just want it."

Caitlin said something to send Erin and Jamie into a bout of loud laughter. Then Conner added his two cents, increasing the hilarity.

Bridgett smiled at the happy group. Tim didn’t. But Bridgett was surprised to see an almost sad look in his gray eyes. But then his jaw tightened again.

"Don’t say it Dad."

He turned to whisper to her. "Don’t you realize what kind of trouble that can cause, what kind of anger that can lead to? What if your children were…I just don’t see how you can let them be exposed to that?"

She tried very hard to keep her voice calm and low. "To what Dad? All I see is two people who love each other. What is so wrong with that?"

"It’s dangerous."

"What?" Bridgett shook her head in frustration. "Look Dad, I want Conner and Caitlin to learn unconditional love and tolerance. Those are qualities I happen to admire and want to instill in my children. And I think Erin and Jamie are wonderful examples of that. Unlike the example you have been setting for them."

Timothy set his glass back on the bar. "Well, I can see my presence is no longer needed."

"That’s your choice Dad," Bridgett said as he walked away.

His heart ached and felt like it was being ripped in two different directions, as he got closer to the door. I suspect this is your last chance. His wife’s words echoed through his head and he stopped in the doorway. His barreled chest expanded as he sucked in a deep breath.

Bridgett saw him stop and she called her children over, leaving Jamie and Erin alone on the sofa. They smiled at one another and scooted closer. Erin had just taken Jamie’s hand when she heard him softly clear his throat. Her hand stayed put.

The absence of words was ended when he stepped forward. "Jamie…I’m glad you survived. Welcome to my home."

The words were certainly not overflowing with elated emotion, but Erin really couldn’t have hoped for more after everything else that had transpired. Just the acknowledgement was enough for now.

Jamie looked at her lover, not knowing quite what to make of his declaration. Erin gave a slight nod and only then did she let go of the hand so Jamie could accept the one being offered in peace. "Thank you, Sir."

Erin stood and hugged him. She whispered in his ear, "I do love you Daddy."

"I love you too," was all he could say.

More to come soon.


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