Seeing You Again for the First Time

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 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.

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.

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Chapter 19

 

Erin picked up the silver brush and worked it through her short hair one more time. She caught a glimpse of the face looking back at her and was startled at the huge grin painted there. A pink tongue poked out and the author laughed at the silliness of her own image in the mirror. She grabbed a little black case from the dressing table and dusted her cheeks with just a small amount of pink powder.

There was total silence in the room around her, giving her the time to reflect on her past and more importantly her future. It had been an emotionally hectic nine months and it was easy to say that the six months before that were not exactly perfect either. And while there were some things that Erin would go back and change if she could, it was certainly a glorious place that the journey had led to. Jamie was waiting for her just a few feet away; waiting to start, hand in hand, down a fresh path. Waiting to begin an exciting new adventure that they would shape together.

The smile had returned. She just couldn’t stop it and certainly didn’t want to.

As Erin sat there preparing for her wedding her nerves began to twitch. To occupy her mind and dispel the nervous energy she thought back to the very recent past, the turmoil, tears and utter joy that had filled the previous two days.

* * * *

Thursday morning had brought a cool rain shower to the area and a similar forecast for Saturday’s weather. Although that thought did float around the back of Erin’s mind, she kept hope alive and figured a few prayers wouldn’t hurt either.

The day had started out on another bad note as well.

After a breakfast on the run, Jamie was off to the barn even earlier than usual. She was doing double duty since she had yet to find a temporary replacement for her injured ranch hand and the work had to be done by ten o’clock. Erin’s grandmother was arriving from Ireland for the wedding and they both wanted to be there to meet her plane. On top of all that, Erin’s parents were throwing them an informal engagement party that evening at the ranch and there were some things to prepare for that as well.

The author stepped from the shower and wrapped the towel around her well-toned body. Moving barefoot across the tiled floor, Erin passed by the small window and noticed the car pulling up the drive. "Oh great!" Erin huffed, water droplets running down the side of her face. "Who could that be?" They definitely weren’t expecting anyone that early. She stood there for just a few seconds more to see who would emerge from the sporty, black car. A pair of long legs slid out the door first followed some time later by a barely legal blue skirt. Just as the sight of dark hair appeared the author mumbled, "Who in the…?" The question was quickly answered, but hesitantly accepted when the face, obviously belonging to someone of Asian decent, came into view. "Oh no. I thought Jamie was going to stop her." Erin grudgingly stuffed her arms into her robe, quickly wrapped a small towel around her dripping head and ran for the stairs.

The visitor was about to knock for the third time when the door was flung open. She jumped back slightly and her brown eyes popped when the small, damp blonde appeared. "I’m sorry," she said. "Do I have the right address? I’m looking for Jane…Jamie Sheridan."

The author gave a tight little smile. Here she was, staring at a woman who rivaled her lover’s height and while not coming close to Jamie’s beauty, the statuesque lady was undeniably attractive. Her silky, midnight hair flowed down most of her back, nearly skimming her tiny waist. The dark eyes topped perfect, china doll features and her golden toned skin was flawless. Continuing the curious tour, Erin took note of the well-endowed bosom. Did Jamie say that this woman was a nurse or a model? On the whole, Erin was very confident with her looks, but there were times, when standing beside certain women of exceptional height, that she just felt short and dumpy. Not Jamie though. Jamie always made her feel petite, but very beautiful. Taking another quick gander at the newcomer on her porch Erin thought, dumpy days are here again. The author finally found her manors and her voice. "No…I mean, yes Jamie does live here. You must be Leah. Come in." She stepped aside and allowed her visitor entry. "Please excuse me, I was in the shower."

"That’s quite alright," said Leah. "Perhaps I’m here too early, but I am very anxious to see…Jamie." The nurse tipped her head. "I’m not used to calling her by that name."

Erin did her best to raise a defining eyebrow. Yes, but that is her name. Jamie. My Jamie. "I…umm…Jamie is working out in the field. And if she didn’t take her phone, I can’t reach her. But have a seat and I’ll give her a call." She stepped into the hall and took a deep breath.

Leah could feel the tension aimed in her direction. "I could come back this afternoon," she suggested.

Erin gave her hair a good scrub and lowered the towel to her neck. "Ah no," she said, dialing the phone. "Jamie and I will be leaving later today. She wasn’t really expecting you." The phone rang once and then two more times. Erin punched a button and walked back into the living room. "Sorry, she’s not answering."

"Oh. I can wait in the car then," said Leah. "There was a mix up over at the inn and my room won’t be ready until one, but…"

The author’s upbringing sprang up and tapped her on the shoulder. While a stranger to her, this woman was a friend of her partner. Erin was trying very hard not to see this woman as a threat and she was determined to be a good hostess. "I don’t know exactly when Jamie will be back, but you are welcomed to wait here. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll get changed."

"Why of all days?" Erin mumbled as she discarded her robe and rooted around in the dresser for some clothes. "We have way to much to do today. We can’t play hostess. Jamie said she would stop Leah from coming. Why would she lie to me?" The blonde head shook fervently. "No. She wouldn’t. There has to be some other explanation." Erin gave her hair a quick blow dry and took the time to try and quell the stampede pounding in her stomach.

Fifteen minutes and a swallow of antacid calmed Erin’s trembling body to something a kin to a peaceful state. As the author prepared to return to her guest, the phone rang. Hoping it was her partner Erin hastily grabbed the receiver from the nightstand.

Ten minutes later she hung up after a confidence building conversation with her mother. Erin apprehension’s had all but disappeared…until she reached the bottom of the stairs and turned the corner. There she found her lover in the arms of their guest. Erin loudly and not at all subtly cleared her throat. Jamie immediately pulled from the embrace and Erin’s jaw fell open as she saw the rancher’s shirt hanging open revealing her white bra and a good amount of cleavage.

* * * *

A few hours later Erin was on her way to the L.A. airport…alone. I am not jealous. I am not jealous. I am not jealous…as long as she keeps her hands off my girl. Erin released a large puff of air that tousled her golden bangs. She glimpsed herself in the rear view mirror and wasn’t thrilled with what she saw there. A little jealousy is fine, isn’t that what you told Jamie? "Yeah, but I knew Jamie had nothing to worry about. It feels pretty lousy from this side." Her fingers tapped on the steering wheel as she drove distractedly down the freeway replaying the morning scene in her mind.

"Erin! I…just…" Jamie took in the hard scowl and quickly moved away from the tall nurse. She crossed the room and pulled her partner into a hug…which was not returned. "Leah would you excuse us for a moment?" she asked.

After a short nod, the couple hurried into the kitchen where Jamie began the frantic explanation. "I didn’t know she was here Honey. Why didn’t you call me?"

"No phone," was all Erin said.

"Oh, right. I’m sorry. I didn’t know she coming today either. I tried three times to get a hold of her, but she was traveling and couldn’t be reached. I left a message for her to postpone, but obviously she didn’t get it."

"Obviously?"

"Well, I don’t think she would have blatantly disregarded my request."

The blonde crossed her arms over her chest. "Of course not."

" Erin, I thought you said you weren’t jealous of Leah."

"That was before I saw her." Erin turned away and let lose with a low growl. "I don’t want to be jealous, but…"

Jamie gently grasped Erin’s shoulders and pulled her back around. "Then don’t…because you have absolutely no reason to be." She planted a kiss that she hoped would leave no room for doubt. Jamie pulled back and cupped Erin’s cheek. "Understand?"

The author shyly dipped her head and gave it a ghostly nod. "I understand you," she whispered. The green eyes landed on the bare skin near her chin. "Want to tell me what this is all about?"

Jamie chuckled. "Bad timing," she explained. "I fell out in the corral." She presented her mud covered back to Erin’s view. "I was taking this off when I walked into the living room…imagine my surprise. Leah just jumped up and hugged me. I’m sure she didn’t even notice."

Erin looked again and softly grinned. "Not unless she’s extremely nearsighted."

Jamie leaned over and whispered. "If it helps, Leah got two dirty hands when she hugged me…and I’m pretty sure there was more than just mud on my shirt."

Erin audibly laughed and buried her face in Jamie’s chest. She kissed the valley between her favorite breasts and looked up at twinkling sapphire eyes. "Should I feel guilty to say it helps?"

Jamie’s response…a devilish smile.

 

As the morning had progressed and Erin spent more time with Jamie’s friend, her fears and feelings of jealousy eased off a bit. The nurse was friendly and extremely caring. It quickly became clear to Erin that this woman had chosen the right profession. The time had gone on smoothly until it was time for them to leave for the airport. Jamie had discovered her friend’s accommodations dilemma and had insisted that she remain at the ranch until her room was ready. And of course it wouldn’t have been right to leave her there all alone. So at Jamie’s suggestion she stayed behind to play hostess and Erin hesitantly traveled to the city by herself.

* * * *

Erin searched the bustling crowd for her cherished grandmother and finally saw the white head bobbing between several towering strangers in dark suits. The diminutive woman clutched her single bag a little tighter and dodged the walking oaks, a smile cracking her face when she saw Erin.

"Grandma!" The author waved wildly even though she knew she’d already been spotted. The two women soon met and embraced for a very long second. Erin then pulled back and assessed her beloved relative. "Grandma you look great. I really missed you."

"Oh my Dear, I’ve missed ya too. And I’m so happy ta be here for such a wonderful occasion." Kathleen studied the author’s face for just a moment then put a hand against her granddaughter’s cheek. "What’s wrong Dear?"

The blonde brows wrinkled as she answered. "Nothing."

"Ya can’t hide anything from me Dear. Tell me about it."

Before Erin could say a word, another voice called out to them. The author looked up to find her cousin running down the hall. "Katie," mumbled Erin.

"I hope ya don’t mind me taggin along cousin Erin," said the little red head, "but I’ve just been dyin to come here ta the states. And this was the perfect opportunity."

Erin returned the hug given to her by her exuberant cousin. "Of course I don’t mind," she said. "Family is always welcomed." The author led them toward the other end of the terminal. "Let’s go get your bags."

Kathleen cleared her throat as they walked along. "So young lady," she said, addressing her younger granddaughter, "just where did ya disappear to back there, as if I didn’t know."

Katie giggled as only a twenty two year old can. "I was sayin goodbye ta that cute guy who was sittin in front of us on the plane. While you were takin a nap, he and I had a nice little talk."

The elderly, white head shook with disdain and she pointed a hand toward the sky. "Saints be praised. I promised yer parents ya wouldn’t get into ta trouble over here Katie, so try and hold the boyfriends to a minimum please."

"I’ll try Grandma, but a girl’s gotta have some fun."

"Uh huh. So what about you Erin, what’s the problem?"

Erin put her hand around the hefty waist and squeezed. "Grandma it really is nothing; just a tiny bit of insecurity. I’m sure it will be alright when we get back home."

* * * *

Jamie was in the kitchen cleaning some wine glasses when Erin snuck in behind her and slid her arms around the slim waist. "Grandma’s here," she informed her partner. "My cousin Katie came with her."

"Well, the more the merrier," said Jamie as she turned and welcomed Erin back with a kiss.

"I saw Anne’s car outside. Where is she?"

Jamie grinned wildly like a child just bursting to tell a secret. "She is with Leah. They went for a walk." The rancher checked her watch. "About an hour ago."

The green eyes popped. "You’re kidding!"

"Erin, I swear I literally saw sparks fly when they first laid eyes on each other. I thought they could use some more time together so I asked Leah to stay for the party. Was that alright?" she asked quietly.

Erin hesitated, almost distracted. "What? Oh yeah it’s fine. I just never would have thought Leah was Anne’s type."

Jamie tapped the button nose. "But you don’t really know Leah. I think she sensed you were uncomfortable with her and she was a little more reserved than usual when you were visiting this morning. She really is a very sweet and sensitive person. You don’t have to worry about Anne getting hurt."

Erin looked around Jamie’s shoulder and glanced out the window where she saw the two women heading for the house. Even from a distance Erin could tell the more relaxed posture and the smile on her old friend’s face. Anne’s brown head suddenly flew back with genuine laughter at something the nurse had said. "I see what you mean," Erin muttered. She looked back to Jamie and smiled. "If Leah is the one for her, then I will be very happy for them both. Because I wish this kind of happiness for everyone in the world." A lengthy kiss sealed the sentiment.

* * * *

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to tonight’s edition of ‘Know Your Spouse’ or maybe it’s ‘Do You Know Your Spouse?’" Dr. Anne Carson did her best game show host impression and was greeted with the warm applause of her audience, which consisted of Leah, Chad, Katie, Kathleen, Caitlin and Conner.

The small group was spread out around the room on various chairs and stools. Chad chose to play it macho and took a seat on the carpeted floor. Young, cousin Katie had practically swooned when she was first introduced to the handsome, blonde haired vet. And of course she stuck to him like the proverbial flypaper all evening. Subtlety, nor shyness, were traits of this Irish lass.

Anne went to on to introduce the contestants. "To play our game this evening we have three couples, count’em three couples who have been together for a various number of years." She pointed to the two people on the sofa. "First off I am pleased to introduce Timothy and Danielle Casey who have been married…how many years Tim?" Before he could even open his mouth Anne made an annoying buzzing sound and said, "Sorry time is up, but I have it on good authority that the answer is thirty-six years." Her funny antics drew smiles from the older couple as well as the rest of the room’s occupants. "Our next couple is Bridgett and Brad Nelson who have been married…"

"Ten years," blurted Brad, who didn’t want to be caught in the same trap as his father-in-law. The small crowd laughed again.

"Glad to know someone is paying attention," said Anne. She next addressed the two snuggled closely on the love seat. "And finally we have tonight’s guests of honor, Erin and Jamie, who we know will be together for many, many years." The doctor spared a just a second’s glance at her knew friend Leah and gave an inner sigh before going on. "Each correct answer is worth twenty-five points so on with the game. The Casey women will answer the first two questions. Number one, what is your favorite color?"

Tim sat a little straighter in his chair not at all worried about this one. ‘Purple’, his wife stated and he lifted the card in his lap to reveal the correct answer.

Applause from the audience.

"Well," said the next contestant Bridgett, "mine’s green."

Brad felt the need to comment further as he revealed he had also chosen the right answer. "That was easy, it’s the color of money." He received a small glare from his spouse, but a quick kiss saved the day.

Erin smiled dreamily. "Blue."

Jamie, knowing why Erin reacted the way she did, blushed slightly, having gotten it correct as well.

After the next round there was still a three-way tie and all three couples felt pretty proud of themselves. The host continued on with the third question. "These answers are for Tim, Brad and Jamie. What animal did your partner say you are most like?"

The sandy haired lawyer racked his brain as he went through a list of possible choices, dismissing one after the other for various reasons.

"Anytime this year," Erin chimed in.

"I’ll ignore that and say dolphin."

Bridgett gasped at her husband. "Dolphin! Where did you come up with that one?"

He shrugged. "Because I like to swim. What did you say?"

"Gorilla."

"Do I look like an ape?" he asked wide-eyed and insulted.

"No, I said gorilla because they are strong and intelligent which is what I thought you were…until now that is." She grinned to let him know she was teasing.

Tim opened his mustached mouth to answer and was greeted with the echoes of his family’s voices correctly matching him. "Bear!" they all shouted. Conner stood and did his best bear growl to the amusement of everyone in the room.

Once the laughter had died down Jamie made a show of stretching out her neck and her long legs, which she crossed at the ankle. "I won’t tell you how the subject came up," she said with a tiny grin, "but Erin once told me that I reminded her of a giraffe." She paused before adding, "And it was definitely a compliment." Jamie got a poke in the ribs for her risqué innuendo, even though it was lost on at least half of those present. She, of course was right.

"And now to our final question," said Anne. "What is your favorite thing to eat for a late night snack?" She flashed a look to the tall rancher who batted her eyes in total innocence. "And please keep your answers rated G, there are innocent ears present?"

Those in the know chuckled lowly. Two dark, bushy eyebrows curved downward over Tim’s confused eyes. Still not understanding, he shrugged and his thoughts switched to deciding on an answer. Danielle’s mouth twitched slightly after about two seconds shock at Anne’s comment. Mrs. Casey was a bit worldlier than her husband, but she didn’t necessarily want her family to realize that little fact.

Bridgett and Brad both answered crackers and cheese. They did differ slightly on the exact flavor of cheese, but a unanimous vote granted them the points anyway.

The big executive cleared his throat. "I like to have a good glass of Brandy late at night."

Danielle grimaced and lifted her card, with which she slapped her husband in the arm. "She said eat, not drink! You like to eat Oreo’s before bed."

"Yes my Dear, but I have them with the Brandy."

Danielle merely rolled her eyes to more laughter.

Anne turned to the couple on the loveseat. "Jamie if you get this question right you will have one hundred points and the two of you will win the game. And for that tremendous feat you will be treated, at no expense to us, to absolutely nothing…but the knowledge that you do indeed know your spouse."

The rancher gave her partner a sidelong glance and her mouth twisted comically. The innocent ears had stepped out of the room with their great grandmother for more refreshments and Jamie decided to have a little more fun. "Well, Erin and I have identical tastes, especially when it comes to late night snacks. We like to share in that particular pleasure and we mutually indulge in this fluffy treat. I really like to dive right in to the…" Her lips drew together in a thin line as she started to form the word. "P…opcorn, buttered and salty."

Erin knew where Jamie was going with the answer, but that didn’t stop her ears from pinking up. She showed the matching answer and lifted the card higher to conceal their faces as she gave her fiancée’ a congratulatory kiss.

The guests cheered and clapped for the winners. The evening had been a rousing success, leaving Jamie and Erin to hope that this circle of family and friends would always surround them.

* * * *

On Friday night, the eve of the wedding, Timothy Casey had every member of his family chauffeured to the best restaurant in Los Angeles. They were shown to a private area where they dined on the juiciest lobster, the finest champagne and imported chocolate delicacies.

Stories, some wild, some heartwarming were shared.

Laughter rang off the walls.

Danielle shed just a tear or two when her husband toasted the happy couple.

Conner tugged at the tie that was too constricting around his neck and his little sister gave an impromptu fashion show, so proud of her new dress.

Katie flirted with the waiter.

Grandma, being the head of the family and quite outspoken in her own right, kept everyone in line.

And Erin and Jamie had eyes only for each other.

But at the end of the evening, Erin did take a moment to gaze at each and every smiling face around the large table. Thankful for every family member there and those far away, her heart swelled. She took special notice of the cigar smoking man seated at the head of the table. Family meant the world to her and her father’s presence made the night extra special. A year ago she never would have believed he would be celebrating with them, much less having initiated the event. The wounds he had caused with his intolerance had now completely healed and his love was truly felt.

There was only one problem keeping the evening from being perfect. And it was something that no matter how Erin tried she could never have remedied. At one point after dinner, Erin glanced over to her partner and saw the sadness in the blue eyes. Jamie was missing her family. The Casey’s had totally adopted her as their own, but even they could not fill that missing place.

Erin had taken her partner’s hand at that moment and smiled compassionately. She knew Jamie understood the silent message when a kiss was placed upon her cheek.

With hugs and kisses, everyone bid goodnight and returned to their respective cars.

After seeing Grandma and Katie to their rooms at the nearby inn, Bridgett continued on to the ranch with the Erin and Jamie. She claimed that her presence was required first thing in the morning to help Erin prepare for the ceremony. The twitch in the dark eyebrow told Erin that Jamie had felt something more sinister in the red head’s motives. The author snickered when Jamie’s suspicions were proven right.

The tall rancher had balked at Bridgett’s unyielding attitude on the evening’s sleeping arrangements. "Erin and I have slept together for months," she loudly told her soon to be sister in law.

"Exactly!" Bridgett exclaimed. "You’ve slept together for months so it won’t hurt you to be apart for just this one night."

Jamie grumbled under breath as she shuffled slowly to the guest room. Erin covered the smile on her face as she followed her pouting lover. They stopped at the open doorway and Jamie turned to face Erin. She spotted her partner’s bodyguard and glared.

"Could we at least have a few minutes in private to say goodnight?" asked Jamie.

Bridgett chuckled and turned back down the hall.

Erin wrapped her arms around the lanky body and squeezed. "You’re not really mad are you?" she asked timidly.

Jamie gave half a smile. "Nah. I just like to mess with her."

Erin laughed softly. "Well, after tonight no one can ever keep us apart."

"Damn right." Jamie studied her lover’s face, noticing the faint shifting of muscles and skin around the deep green eyes. That signaled that Erin was feeling some intense emotions. Jamie ran a thumb over the wrinkled brow to ease the tensions she also read there. "I love you," she said as her hand slid down the soft skin. "I’ll see you tomorrow at the alter…gazebo…whatever we’re calling it I’ll be there."

Erin kissed her once. "So will I. I love you too." She kissed her again, longer this time. "Guess it’s time to say goodnight huh?"

Guess so, Jamie thought, but her lips were much to involved to speak the words.

* * * *

Jamie had been confined to her temporary quarters, which did include its own outside access, but the rest of the house was deemed off limits. Bridgett did her best maid impression and delivered the morning meal to the confined rancher, where she was drilled with a version of twenty questions, every one of them about Erin.

Once the rancher was convinced that her lover was indeed well and happy, Jamie hopped into the shower and quickly scrubbed herself clean, her whistles complimenting the rushing water jets.

* * * *

Erin placed the brush back on the dressing table for the second time and reached for her jewelry box. While she was deliriously happy, her perfect day already had one dark spot. The weather did seem to be defying all the previous reports as the sun broke through right on schedule, chasing away all the gray clouds that had threatened rain.

At nine that morning Erin stood at the front door waiting for the approaching helicopter to land on the side lawn. The smile the author had worn since the minute her eyes had opened, waned as she saw only one parent leave the chopper. With garment bag in hand, Danielle Casey entered the house sympathizing with the look on her daughter’s face.

"Where is he?" Erin asked simply.

"He’ll be here Sweetheart, he promised. The helicopter is going back for him right now. There is still plenty of time."

The author turned back into the house and strode across the carpet. "What was his excuse, as if I didn’t know?"

Danielle couldn’t keep her daughter’s eye. She looked away in shame. "He had an emergency, business phone call."

Erin’s hands perched angrily on her hips. "Well, that’s one thing that will never change will it? Business always has been more important than us. He missed the first play I was ever in at school. He missed my sixteenth birthday, my college graduation and now the single most important day of my life and for what…more money?" Erin’s eyes fell shut and she took several very deep breaths. She looked back to her mother. "You know it doesn’t even matter. I will not let him get me upset. This is my day, mine and Jamie’s and if he has more important things to do than so be it."

The ceremony was now just a few minutes away. Through the open window, Erin could hear the serenading music as the guests took their seats. She took a gold locket from its red, velvet bag and rubbed a thumb over the intricately carved Celtic design. She flipped open the case and peered closely at the pictures inside. Though small, Jamie’s grin radiated from the paper photo and a matching one sprang to the author’s mouth. All of Erin’s dreams were about to come true. A single fingertip traced the third and still empty frame attached to the two others. She still had one or two dreams floating around inside, but this day would bring those well within her grasp.

She settled the chain around her neck and a soft knock on the door broke Erin from her thoughts. "Come on in Mom," she called out. The door opened slowly and Erin’s merry expression melted to one of mixed emotion when she saw the person’s reflection in the mirror.

"Can I come in too?" the visitor asked.

"Daddy."

The burly man approached and a smile twitched under his graying mustache. His dark eyes held hers through the mirror.

Erin turned and stood on slightly trembling legs. "You came."

He reached out solid arms and she slipped into them, a tear sliding down her cheek. "I promised," he said. Tim pulled back and gently brushed away the glistening sign of emotion. "I know I have broken promises before, but there was no way I was going to break this one." Still holding her hand he took a step back and a full smile lit his face. "You are beautiful. And it will be my honor and pleasure to walk you down that aisle and into the arms of the woman you love." He reached a hand into the pocket of his black tux. "But first I have a little gift for you." He placed the present in her hand.

Erin opened the small black box and a creamy oval with specks of pink and green greeted her. She lifted the single, unset Opal from its nest as he explained. "I bought this on the day you were born Princess. And though I wanted it to be a very long time to come, I also thought about this event on that October day." Timothy kissed her on the cheek. "I am as proud of you now as I was on that day and as I always will be. I love you Erin."

"I love you too Daddy."

* * * *

Once all the guests had been seated the introductory music began. A harpist played variations on the bridal theme as Jamie strode down the aisle alone. The sadness she had felt over missing her family the prior night had suddenly vanished. Now she felt the spirit of her father at her side as she walked on and that of her mother and sister close by. And that sensation filled the only part of her heart that was left empty on this day.

In her hand, Jamie carried a single orchid; the first of the many gifts she would bestow on her bride this day. The melody continued as Conner and Caitlin, performing their respective duties as ring barer and flower girl, followed. Once Bridgett had made her short trek and had taken her place as matron of honor, the guests stood and all eyes looked to the back.

Erin took a deep breath. Tim placed a comforting hand over his daughter’s as they began their journey. As the gazebo came into view, Erin’s footsteps faltered and she stopped in her tracks. There at the end of the short aisle, waiting for her, was her own personal ideal of beauty. Jamie was a resplendent vision in black and white from head to toe. The only points of true color were the outstanding crystal blue eyes, one of which winked at her. Erin had yet to figure out how something so pale could be so vibrant…and perhaps she was the only one who saw it that way, but she really didn’t care why. She was just glad it was. For perhaps the hundredth time she thanked her God for allowing her to see this day and those eyes so full of love.

"Are you okay Sweetheart?" the voice beside her asked.

Erin answered without shifting her gaze. "Yes, Daddy. I’m fine." As they slowly began to move forward again, Erin continued her appraisal of her soon to be wife. On Jamie’s feet were black dress shoes…flats. She didn’t need the extra height, as she already stood tall and commanding. Dark linen slacks adorned the long, slim legs, but was only partially visible. From her neck to the top of her knees Jamie was encased in a tailored, satin, ivory jacket trimmed in a black, hand embroidered design. Held closed by a single button at the waist, the jacket showcased Jamie’s trim, but solid physique. A soft, raven hued camisole caressed her bronzed skin and peeked tantalizingly between the light colored lapels. Jamie’s shoulder length hair shone like silk beneath the sun’s golden rays. The midnight stands fell naturally straight on the right side of her head, but to the left, the locks were held back over her ear by a barely visible, black hair comb. The piece had been hand carved by Erin’s grandfather and was a cherished gift the author had lovingly passed on to her love one recent summer’s night.

Jamie’s smile widened as her eyes followed her partner down the red carpet. Her earthly angel was a heavenly sight, wearing a strapless, satin gown with which flared into a slight hint of a train. Jamie recognized the golden locket that sat above the sweetheart neckline of the dress and her heart fluttered a few extra beats. The white, matte finished bodice of Erin’s dress was covered in a fine layer of genuine Irish lace, softening the look to beautiful perfection. The skirt was accentuated with random, individual, floral patterns of more lace and hand chosen beads and pearls.

When Erin finally reached her side, Jamie handed her the orchid, which Erin sniffed and set aside on a small nearby table. The author mouthed a thank you and the dark haired woman took her hand and led her up the two wooden steps into the airy gazebo.

Reverend Lawrence held the bible in her open palms and smiled. She was a long time friend of the Casey family and was honored when asked to perform the ceremony. "Marriage is what brings us here today," she said. "Marriage is a constant. It is every hour, of every day, of every year. It’s a joining of lives and a bonding of souls. Love is the foundation, but honesty, trust, compassion and dedication form the frame upon which each day is built. Marriage is not what’s written on a piece of paper, but what’s written in your heart. Erin and Jamie would now like to tell each other and those present just what is written in their hearts. But I see that Jamie also has it written on that piece of paper in her hand."

The crowd chuckled good heartedly and Jamie addressed them with a little shrug of her shoulder. "I didn’t want to forget," she said sheepishly. Her eyes met Erin’s again and she confidently slipped the note back into her pocket. "But that’s not going to happen. Although you do tend to make me lose all train of thought when I fall into your eyes." She gave her love’s hand a squeeze then continued. "Erin," she spoke then paused slightly. "I love the sound of your name," she said. "It’s the loveliest sound in the world to my ears when I hear it and it leaves the sweetest taste on my tongue when I speak it. But just to say I love you isn’t nearly enough to describe exactly how I feel about you. You bring the breath to my lungs. You bring the sun to my day. And you bring the peace to my nights, which used to be filled with only nightmares. But now I have only sweet dreams of you and our future together. You saved my life twice and gave me reason to hope when there was none. I want to live every day of the rest of my life with you. I want to raise a family with you. I want to grow old with you and watch as you become more beautiful with each passing year. I do love you."

Erin swallowed the lump in her throat and blinked away the teary curtain in her eyes. "Jamie. The first day we met my eyes couldn’t see you, but my heart always did. It saw a lost and vulnerable soul that I needed…wanted to protect. My heart saw the love that you were afraid to express. It saw my home. You were my eyes and you are my heart…and the other half of my soul. We were led to each other not just once, but twice through a miracle. I cherish you and I thank God that you love me. I want to live every day of the rest of my life with you. I want to raise a family with you. I want to grow old with you and watch as you become more beautiful with each passing year. I do love you."

With a little nudge from his father, Conner climbed the stairs, stepped between his aunts and presented the satin pillow to the Reverend.

The spiritual leader retrieved the items, placed them upon the bible’s pages and waited for the child to make his exit before saying, "Let the exchanging of rings show each other and the world your commitment."

Erin picked up the larger of the two matching rings. She slipped the pierced band of white and rose gold onto Jamie’s finger as she spoke. "This ring is a perfect circle with no beginning and no end, just as I have loved you…forever. Let my love encircle your heart as this ring encircles your finger."

The rancher repeated the action and the words, adding a little kiss to the ring at the end. The couple remained hand in hand as the ceremony was completed.

Reverend Lawrence closed the book in her hands. "What God has joined together let no one tear apart. Ladies you may now seal this union with a kiss."

And that they did as the crowd bound to their feet and gave the newlyweds a round of loving applause. Once they brought the kiss to an end, the happy couple made their way back down the aisle amidst cheers and well wishes from all the guests.

Erin and Jamie disappeared into the house for just a few moments alone while the crowd was led over to the reception area.

The rancher pulled her bride into an embrace and whispered I love you. Erin’s only response was a tiny squeak. Jamie pulled away and was not surprised to find tears slipping from beneath Erin’s glasses. "I hope those are happy tears?" she asked, wiping away the droplets of water.

"They are," Erin finally said. "This is just everything I have ever wanted. You are all I have ever wanted."

"You have me forever," said Jamie. "You are everything that I have ever needed to make my life complete. And I hope I never give you cause to shed anything but happy tears."

Erin brushed another tender kiss against Jamie’s lips. She brightened suddenly and led her bride away by the hand. They hurried up the stairs and into their room. "I have a present for you," said Erin heading for her closet.

Jamie grinned. "Funny that, I happen to have one for you too." She pulled open her dresser drawer and pushed aside a couple of shirts and a few pairs of socks to retrieve the small box hidden back in the corner. She heard a bustle of movement behind her. Jamie turned and her jaw fell when she spied the huge wrapped package sitting at Erin’s feet. She quickly questioned with her eyes, but said, "I’d like you to go first."

Erin gathered her skirts in her hand and joined Jamie on the small sofa in the corner of the room. The author took her gift and slowly removed the pink and white wrapping. She opened the hinged lid on the blue, velvet box and her gaze fell upon the sliver bracelet nestled inside. The engraved words jumped into her heart as she removed the precious gift. The single diamond attached to its surface twinkled at her.

Jamie gently took the piece and fastened it around Erin’s slim wrist. The dark haired woman pointed to the Celtic words Anam Cara. "I know that you know what this says, but what you don’t know is that I bought this while we were still in Dublin. Even then I knew you were my soul friend. When we got back here and I found out who I was I knew this day would come and I decided to save it. I had the stone added a few weeks ago. I want to add a new one every ten years."

Erin looked deeply into the blue eyes. "I think this bracelet will look very smart, encrusted with seven gems. Thank you." She claimed Jamie’s lips with her own. "We might even try for eight," she whispered against the soft flesh.

Jamie smiled into the kiss. "I’ll try if you will."

"Deal. Now your turn."

The rancher tore the paper and ripped off the packaging tape holding down the lid on the plain cardboard box. She lifted the four flaps and peered inside, not knowing what to expect. Erin watched her spouse’s face as Jamie’s brain slowly processed the various contents. Very slowly the dark haired woman reached for the first item and then quickly hugged the tiny, toy horse to her chest. "How…what…Erin where did you get these?" Her voice, thick with emotion, stuttered the question.

Erin ran a hand down Jamie’s arm. "I hired a detective to track down your foster parents. I know it was a long shot that they would have kept anything from your childhood…but they did." The dark haired woman sifted through the other toys and pieces of paper with a shaky hand as Erin continued. "I had a long talk with Mrs. Matthews about three weeks ago and I told her all about the fine woman you are. She says she’s proud of you Jamie and that she always loved you."

Jamie couldn’t hold back any longer and the tears of mixed emotions fell onto the items she rummaged through.

"Mrs. Matthews would like to see you Honey," said Erin. "I can arrange for her to come out here in a few weeks when things settle down a little."

Jamie was still stunned that all of those cherished childhood mementos had survived all those years. "I’d like that," she said and raised her head to meet Erin’s gaze. "I don’t know how to thank you for doing this for me."

"I know it doesn’t replace your family, but I hoped it would help to have a part of them here with you."

Jamie hugged Erin and held onto her for the longest time, still trying to take in all the incredible love. She pulled back and kissed Erin’s cheek. Then she reached for a blue album, whose edges were slightly worn and placed it in her lap. "It does help Sweetheart. You’ll never know how much. But if I look at these pictures now, I might not be good for anything the rest of the day." She gently replaced the book and stood. "I believe we have a yard full of guests waiting for us." Jamie reached for her hand. "And we have the honor of the first dance."

 

The couple soon returned to more applause and well wishes. Danielle Casey signaled the instrumental quartet and the crowd parted for the spotlight dance. The notes of one of their favorite songs floated through the air. Erin and Jamie made their way to the middle of the floor and for the next three and a half minutes they were lost in their own little world; a world that floated three feet above the ground and consisted solely of eyes of emerald and azure.

As the next song began, the guests began to pair up and join the newlyweds for more dancing. Katie asked a rather reserved Chad Benson. Anne and Leah took the opportunity to share some quality time. And of course Erin’s parents and Bridgett and Brad indulged themselves in the romantic movements. But soon Kathleen decided to shake things up a bit. She whispered to the musicians, who quickly changed their choice of instruments. The music that came next was decidedly more chipper and loud. Within minutes, Grandma had the group, including her stoic son, dancing a rousing jig.

Catching her breath after the energetic round of dancing, Anne had made her way over to congratulate her friends. Leah had chosen to remain lost in the crowd, feeling slightly out of place.

"After all you two have been through," said Anne, "you both deserve nothing but happiness for the rest of your long lives. And I expect to be invited to your fiftieth anniversary party."

"You’ll be the first on the list," said Jamie. "Thank you Anne. You’ve been a great friend to Erin and now to me as well." Jamie gave her new friend a hug then kissed her bride on the cheek and excused herself to check in with some of the other guests, namely all of her elderly friends from her old apartment building.

Erin watched Jamie walk away then pinned the doctor with a sly grin. "And who might your date be for that party?" she asked. When Anne only responded with a slight blush Erin asked another question. "So what is going on with you and Leah?"

Anne’s brown eyes tracked the object under discussion and a smile flew unbidden to her mouth. "We, umm…we seem to be getting along very well."

"And?"

"And for the first time in a very long time I don’t feel so alone. She is very wonderful and unique. She makes me laugh. I think I could fall for her very easily."

"Why does it sound like there is a but at the end of that sentence?"

The brown head hesitantly shook. "It’s not that, it’s just… We’ve only known each other a few days." She took a deep breath and her eyes met Erin’s again. "The physical attraction was there immediately, but there was something else too, something I’ve never felt before. It was like I already knew her."

Erin nodded and flashed a knowing grin. She placed a hand on her friend’s arm. "I don’t want to scare you Anne, but that is exactly how I felt with Jamie."

The rancher chose that moment to make her re-appearance. She noticed the rather surprised expression on the doctor’s face. "I’m sorry," she said. "I don’t want to interrupt, but I just can’t stand to spend more then a few minutes away from my beautiful wife."

Erin wrapped an arm around Jamie. "Well, I feel the same about my gorgeous wife." They tenderly kissed, which led to another and another and so on. When the couple finally parted they were once again alone.

"Was that rude of us?" asked Jamie.

"No. Not on a day like this anyway. Come on, there is someone I want you to meet."

They approached one of the back tables under the open tent. There sat two women, one of which was bouncing a very happy baby on her lap. Once Erin was spotted, the red headed one stood, smiled brightly and held out her arms. "Erin, what a lovely bride you are," she said. The two college friends hugged.

"Megan O’Donnell I’d like you to meet Jamie Sheridan, the love of my life."

The small woman extended a hand. "It’s very nice to meet you Jamie. Congratulations."

"Nice to meet you too. Erin has told me all about you. Thank you for coming."

Megan took the drooling baby into her arms and swiftly wiped his mouth with a napkin making him much more presentable. "Erin, Jamie this is my wife of two years, Laura." Nods were exchanged and Megan continued with the proud introductions. "And this little one is our son Michael."

Erin reached out to take a chubby hand and the baby leaned her way wanting to greet his mommy’s friend a little more personally. She reached for the blue-eyed child. "Do you mind?" The question was addressed to Megan’s partner who happily agreed. Erin settled the baby into her arms and kissed his fuzzy head. "Well, what a little cutie you are Michael." He giggled when some fingers tickled his belly.

"How old is he?" Jamie asked as she watched Erin interact with the child.

Michael’s eyes went wide and he quickly turned toward the sound of the new voice, craning his neck up to see the tall woman. Jamie stepped closer and cradled the back of his head as his mother informed them that he was eleven months old.

"Hello little man," said the rancher.

He gurgled back at her and flashed a very flirtatious, semi-toothless grin, which sent the adults into a bout of laughter.

 

Sometime later, Doctor Carson took her new friend by the hand and led her over to congratulate the newlyweds. Leah approached timidly. She reached Jamie and automatically started to hug her, but changed it to a handshake in mid motion. "Congratulations, both of you. It was a beautifully romantic ceremony and I wish you nothing but the best."

"Thank you Leah," said Jamie, who took back the nurse’s hand in a much more informal and friendlier gesture.

Erin noticed the movement and accepted it for what it really meant. She shuffled her feet in embarrassment. "I thank you as well Leah," she said holding the dark, but warm eyes. "I also have to apologize for my earlier behavior. I know what you mean to Jamie and I thank you for being there for her when I couldn’t."

The two women smiled, acknowledging the peaceful, but tentative friendship they might someday form.

The three-tired cake was soon rolled out, but before it was cut, Grandma offered her granddaughters a traditional Irish toast. She raised a glass of sparkling champagne. "I have chosen a different blessing for each of my grandchildren’s weddings. This is the sixth one and I hope not the last." She flashed a look to her youngest grandchild Katie who had the good manors to acknowledge the words with a sly smile. Kathleen turned back to the newlyweds. "Erin, Jamie may God go with and bless you. May you see your children’s children. May you be poor in misfortune and rich in blessings. May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward."

Erin and Jamie thanked her with a simultaneous kiss to each of the old woman’s rosy cheeks then together they held the ribbon bound server and cut the first slice of the rich, chocolate confection. The author held the small plate in front of Jamie’s face and smiled, her eyes twinkling.

"Be nice," the rancher growled.

"I always show you just how nice I am," said Erin as she broke off a small piece with her fingers and slipped it cleanly into Jamie’s mouth. But she did just happen to swipe her icing covered index finger against her partner’s nose before pulling away.

Jamie clucked her tongue as she cleaned away the mess. As she fed Erin a bite she leaned down and whispered something in her ear. "I’m going to save a piece of cake for later and then we’ll see how really messy we can get."

Erin tried valiantly to hold off the blush she felt rising to her cheeks as she spied the very attentive audience watching their every move.

 

After opening a treasure trove of gifts, Erin and Jamie were watching Caitlin and Conner run around playing with Artemis. When Conner became interested in something else, the little girl suddenly dropped to her knees and began what looked like a very deep conversation with the big dog. At one point, Arte shook her and then snorted as if answering a question. Erin laughed silently and turned where she was greeted with another adorable sight. Little Michael O’Donnell was practicing his newfound skill of walking. His comical, heavy-footed steps were taken between his two mothers, who held onto each of his tiny hands as they slowly crossed the yard. Erin stroked her partner’s arm and nodded in the family’s direction. Jamie smiled at the sight.

* * * *

As they had been doing all afternoon, Jamie and Erin took a few private moments to indulge in their favorite activity, kissing. Jamie was lost in the luscious lips when she suddenly felt a tug on her jacket. She pulled back, her lips slightly tinted with pink, and looked down to find a curly headed blonde peering up with a questioning face. Jamie picked Caitlin up and settled her between them. "What is it Honey?" the rancher asked.

The girl absently played with the dark hair as her eyes bounced back and forth between her two aunts. "When are you gonna have a kid for me to play with?"

Blue and green eyes twinkled as they met. Jamie thought back to earlier when Erin was holding baby Michael. That was a picture she was eager to see re-played with a baby of their own. She patted the small leg under her hand. "We’re going to work on that real soon Caitlin. Real soon."

The child threw an arm around each adult neck and hugged them tightly. "Yeah!" She cheered then her thoughts quickly changed to another matter entirely. "Can I have some more cake?"

"Ask your Mom first," Erin said as Caitlin was set to the ground and ran back toward the food. The author stepped into the circle of her wife’s arms and grinned. "Real soon huh?"

Jamie slightly hesitated as she took Erin’s left hand in hers and rubbed her thumb over the shiny band of silver and pink colored gold. "Yeah," she said. "I assume that you still want…"

"Oh yes! Absolutely."

Jamie relaxed and giggled at Erin’s enthusiastic answer then her expression molded into something more serious. "I think we have both learned some very hard lessons this year. One of which is don’t delay the things that are important; you just never know what will happen."

Erin nodded solemnly and brushed a stray hair from Jamie’s eye. Then the smile returned. "I can’t wait to see you holding our baby in your arms."

Jamie leaned forward, her lips heading for their counterpart. "I was just thinking the same thing."

* * * *

The five-hour reception was drawing to a close, at least for the newlyweds who desperately wanted some quiet time together. Jamie took Erin’s hand and drew the crowd’s attention. "Before we leave," she said, "Erin and I would like to thank you for sharing this very special day with us and for the gifts you brought…and I’m not just talking about the beautiful things on the table over there. When you arrived here today, you brought your smiles and your love and you gave us your time. We thank you very much for those very special gifts."

Bridgett gathered up the single women, which totaled only five and herded them near the gazebo where Erin stood on the stairs. The author winked quickly at one certain woman and turned her back, throwing the small bouquet of white and purple flowers into the small group. Katie watched as the floral bundle sailed through the air and she suddenly backed off, not really believing in the superstition, but not wanting to take any chances. The colorful flowers then landed right into Doctor Carson’s skilled hands. Her momentary shock quickly gave way to a happy smile and her eyes locked with the tall, Asian beauty at her side.

Erin clapped as she turned and saw that her aim was perfect.

Jamie stepped to her side and leaned down. "I think I’ll go for that garter later in private."

"How do you know I’m wearing one?" asked Erin. She looked up to find two intense eyes burning into hers and two raised eyebrows atop them.

Hand in hand they ran down the red-carpeted aisle under a shower of birdseed and flower petals.

* * * *

It was still early evening, but the fall sun had bid its farewell an hour earlier. The caterers had loaded every chair, dismantled the dance floor and every tent and were long gone. The ranch was once again silent and barren except for the newlyweds who were just preparing for their evening of romance. Their suitcases were packed and sitting by the front door for the early morning trip to the airport and their honeymoon. A beautiful peace had settled over the land.

Jamie had changed into her new, royal blue, satin pajamas and was in the process of lighting several candles across the room when she heard the slight rustle of fabric. She turned and smiled brightly. "You look incredible," she told the blonde goddess standing a few feet away dressed in a sheer, emerald colored gown. "But then you are always beautiful no matter what you wear…or don’t wear."

Erin stepped forward and ran her fingers over the thin, blue strap across her wife’s shoulder. "I’m really glad you like these," she said of the soft attire she had purchased. "I packed two other pairs similar to these in your suitcase. And speaking of clothes, I think I forgot to tell you what an absolutely wonderful choice you made for your wedding suit. You were very sexy." She slipped her arms around Jamie’s neck and nuzzled the soft skin. "It was a perfect day wasn’t it?"

"Perfect." No other words were needed at that moment. They just stood there in each other’s arms soaking in the love.

Jamie had snagged the last bottle of champagne for their private celebration and using the crystal flutes that Erin’s parents had given them, poured two bubbling glasses. They silently toasted each other and sipped the golden beverage sharing a kiss afterward. The tall woman spied her wedding gift in the corner and sighed happily. She retrieved the photo album from the top of the pile and joined Erin on the bed, where she took the smaller hand in hers. "I know I said it earlier and I will probably say it many more times; thank you for bringing this back to me."

Erin smiled. "You are very much welcome." She tapped the blue book. "Introduce me to my new family."

Jamie propped the book on her raised knees and opened the fading cover. A smile replaced the earlier tears, but her throat still tightened up when she saw the first picture of her parents. Her fingers traced the photograph’s white border.

Erin gave her a moment before commenting. "You look just like your mother, Sweetheart. She was beautiful. But you definitely got those eyes from your very handsome father."

"Yeah. Mom always teased him about that. You know one thing I remember most about them is they always looked so happy when they were together." Jamie looked down and kissed her attentive wife. "I know exactly how they felt." She turned to a two-page spread of baby photos with her name clearly written across the top. This, of course, elicited a very loud exclamation from her partner.

"Ohhhh! You were absolutely adorable," said Erin.

"Were?"

The author looked up from the pictures and her eyes sparkled. "Oh you still are, this is just different."

"I love you."

"I love you too," said Erin.

Page after page, Erin got acquainted with her second family and gained even more insight to her spouse. The hours of reminiscing soon turned into hours of loving and they finally drifted into a happily exhausted sleep where dreams of their new life together played out the night.

 

The end.

 

 

 

Coming Soon! Blindsided, the third installment in the lives of Erin Casey And Jamie Sheridan.