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 Khall828@earthlink.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
The Shafer apartment was one of ten in the building on the outskirts of town. It consisted of five rooms: a small living room, a small eat-in kitchen, two small bedrooms and a small bathroom. Taylor however refused to think of their place as small. She preferred to think of it as compact. Mother and son had just about everything they needed, just not a lot of extras. She had managed to acquire a few, so called luxuries like a VCR and a microwave over the years. Traviss room had a full toy box in one corner and a stacked bookshelf in the other. As often as she could, when she was home before bedtime, Taylor and Travis sat on his bed and read a story. She cherished those times in particular because it was a tradition she carried over from her own childhood.
There were only two signs of the coming holiday in the four-room apartment. A lopsided wreath that Travis had made in preschool, hung on the inside of the door, bringing a smile to Taylors face every time she left. Near the window, in the living room sat a sm petite Christmas tree decorated in blue and white. A golden-garbed angel sat atop the green branches holding out welcoming arms.
Taylor set the bowl of Rice Krispies down in front of her son, who proceeded to dive in with both feet, so to speak. The little blonde woke up cheery and smiling, his nightmares of the night before banished by his six-foot hero. The teakettle whistled as Taylor dropped a scoop of instant coffee into her favorite blue mug. She took the hot drink and turned back toward the table to share a bowl of cereal with her son, but at the last second she made a detour into the next room and flipped on the small television. She kept one ear to the morning news as she chatted with Travis about the hot topics of a three year old, which consisted of the latest adventures of Tommy Pickles and friends to reviewing his latest accomplishment, being able to recite the first half of the alphabet.
With breakfast done, Taylor gathered up the dirty dishes and set them in the sink. "Go get your toys together Babe." She told her son. "Mrs. Archer is waiting on us."
The nearly monotone voice of the television reporter began another of the days top stories. "An accident late last night has left two people dead and one hospitalized."
Taylor felt a little tingle on the back of her neck as she washed the last bowl and spoon. But she brushed it off as a chill when she heard the furnace come on.
The news report continued. "The three car accident happened around eleven thirty p.m. at the corner of Grant Avenue and Berlinger Street. Alcohol is the suspected cause. No names have been released pending notification of relatives."
Travis came running from his bedroom with his backpack in hand as there was a knock on the door. Taylor was just about to grab her coat from a nearby chair when she changed routes to answer the knock. "Hello, Mrs. Archer. We were just on the way down."
The little boy ran to his babysitter, hoping she was going to make more of his favorite cookies today. "Hi Ms. Archer," he said with a small wave.
The older woman smiled down at him. "Good morning Dear." She then raised her gaze to his mother. "Taylor, I was just about to go down to the basement to bring up some packages and I thought maybe this strong young man would like to give me a hand In exchange for some yummy treats later today."
The little blonde head tilted and he asked enthusiastically, "Can I Mama?"
"Sure Honey." Taylor bent over to give her son a hug. "You have a good day. I love you." She kissed his cheek then addressed the sitter. "I should be home at the regular time tonight." Taylor stood at the door until they reached the elevator, where Travis looked back and said love you Mama. She shut the door and went for her coat again when the phone rang. "Hello."
"Taylor, its Barbara Sterling. Im afraid I have some bad news Dear."
The dark haired woman didnt hear most of the next words spoken as her mind flashed back to the news report she had heard earlier. The timing and address now registered in her thoughts and so did the chill she had felt earlier. She hung up the phone without a good-bye and ran out the door leaving her coat behind.
The sixteen-degree temperature didnt matter to Taylor as she hopped out of the car and dashed across the parking lot of the small suburban hospital. Her tennis shoes sank into the three-inch snow piles where the ground had not been cleared and she nearly ran into the automatic doors, before they had the chance to slide open. With squeaking shoes, she walked up to the desk and asked her desperate questions. Taylor then frantically searched the maze of halls looking the right room number. She stopped to take a much-needed breath before slowly opening the door. Quietly, Taylor stepped inside, her heart still pounding and her eyes misting over at the sight of the petite woman she loved, lying so still in the sterile, metal bed. Even in the dim, early morning light, Taylor could see the blue and purple bruise that spread out from under the blonde bangs and spread over half of Coris forehead. Under her left eye was a square patch of white gauze, taped to the pale skin. Under that bandage was an uneven row of seven tiny black stitches. A stark white blanket was pulled up to the sleeping womans chin, obstructing Taylors assessment of any further injuries. The tall woman tiptoed over to the side of the bed and eased herself into the cushioned chair, never taking her eyes off her injured friend. The sadness and feeling of helplessness was almost overwhelming. Taylor took a few more deep breaths trying to loosen the tightness in her chest. Nothing had ever affected her so strongly as this near tragedy and she said a long prayer that nothing ever would again.
The clock on the wall was the only sound in the room and it ticked away twenty minutes as she watched the slow, easy breathing. Between the cold and the tension, her neck had begun to stiffen up. Taylor leaned forward in the chair and dropped her head to her chest rubbing the muscles in question with one hand. She pulled the tie from her ponytail and the long, dark curtain of hair fell across her face, obscuring her view of everything except her soaking wet footwear with their now dingy laces. Only then did she feel the slush that had seeped into her shoes and socks. Taylor wiggled her squishy toes, paying no attention to the nurse who came in and opened the blinds, letting in the winters morning light. The heater in the corner quietly hissed as it popped on, re-warming the air in the tiny room and the tall womans cold, wet body. Her red cheeks were starting to tingle from the winds harsh slap in the face and she reached up to rub her earlobes, drawing the circulation back to the abused flesh. Then a small, scratchy voice barely broke the silence, but was loud and clear to the worried woman.
The dark head popped up as she moved closer to the bed. "Im here Sweetheart." Taylor wanted so badly to touch Cori, but didnt want to cause any more pain than she could clearly see etched on the pale face.
The blonde licked her parched lips. "Is there any water?"
"Sure." With hands just a little shaky, Taylor helped her take a few sips of the cool liquid.
"Thank you." Cori smiled softly and her green eyes blinked open again, looking over at her beautiful partner. "What time is it?"
Taylor hadnt bothered to check until now. She turned to the timepiece on the wall. "Its just after nine," she said. Taylor finally gave in to her need and gently ran the backs of her fingers along the uninjured area of Coris cheek.
Her body roared with pain, but Cori soaked in the warm contact. "Shouldnt you be at work?" she asked lazily.
"To hell with work. Im right where I want to be where I need to be."
Cori slowly pulled her right arm out from under the blanket and reached for Taylor. The tall woman took the hand in both of hers and bent to kiss it.
"Tay, thats very sweet, but I dont want you to lose your job because of me. Ill be okay."
"You are the most important thing to me. Besides, I still have a couple of sick days. Dont worry about it." Taylor held her gaze as she paused. Her face then contorted with guilt. "Im sorry," she whispered thickly.
The blond brows drew together over the backdrop of blue and purple. "What for?"
A tear escaped the sad eyes. "I shouldnt have let you leave last night. You were upset and the roads were too bad. You could have stayed in Traviss room. I should have insisted."
"No Tay, dont do that to yourself. I wasnt upset." Cori tried her best to give the other woman a silly grin to alleviate the tension. "I was a little frustrated." She wiggled painful eyebrows and Taylor snorted a small laugh. "I didnt cause the accident," said Cori.
"Oh, I know you didnt Sweetheart. I never thought that." Fury suddenly filled the slim face. "That accident was caused by a fucking drunk driver." Taylor took in the surprised features. "I heard it on the news report. Can you tell me what happened?"
Cori inhaled deeply, remembering the terrifying moment. "The truck in front of me crossed the intersection on the green light and was hit by another car that turned into him. They hit me and I spun and hit a post." She turned back to Taylor. "You see it was actually very good timing. A few seconds earlier and "
The dark head shook harshly, not wanting her to finish the sentence. "How are you?" she asked after a pause. "Im afraid I was kind of rude to your mother on the phone. I didnt give her a chance to explain. I just rushed over here."
"Shell understand. As for me, its just what you see." Cori pulled at the blanket. "A few more bumps and bruises under here. And a fractured wrist."
Taylor was slightly relieved, but not totally convinced. "Cori, they dont keep you in the hospital for bumps and bruises. Please tell me the truth."
The blonde gave a properly chagrined look. "Okay. I also have a concussion. But its no big deal."
Taylor kissed the hand again and brought it to her chest. "Its a very big deal to me. I cant explain how I can love you so much so fast but God knows I do. When I thought " The tears came again. "I couldnt stand losing you."
"You havent and you wont. Now I think you can do better than that," Cori said, indicating the kiss.
Taylor stood and bent over, pouring all of her love into a proper, but very gentle kiss.
For the remainder of Coris short hospital stay, Taylor sat by her side even through the patients frequent naps, leaving only to grab a quick lunch. Later in the afternoon Coris mother came to visit. Grandpa had stayed home to watch baby Kylie. The older woman was very surprised, but pleasantly so, to find out that Taylor had been there the entire day. She watched as the tall woman saw to every one of her daughters needs, including helping to feed Cori because it was hard for the injured woman to raise her sore arms to the dinner tray. Barbara Sterling knew at that moment that there was something very special developing between her daughter and Taylor. Happiness filled Mrs. Sterling as she continued to watch Taylor being so attentive to Cori. She couldnt have wished for a better partner for her daughter.
Cori was released around six thirty that evening after a final, negative x-ray. Taylor drove her home and stayed until she finally had to leave to pick up her son. Before leaving, the tall woman overheard a conversation between Cori and her mother. The Sterlings had pledged some time to a local childrens home to help them with a Christmas program. This was taking place the next day and Cori was adamant that they keep their plans and not cancel for her. The sitter would be there for Kylie and she insisted that she could care for herself. The dark-haired woman made one quick phone call setting her own plans in motion.
Taylor came into the darkened bedroom and adjusted the pillows and blankets one last time. "I have to go now Hon," she said. "I wish I didnt." Taylor could tell that Cori was just about to fall asleep.
"I know Tay. Tell Travis I said hi. Ill talk to you tomorrow."
"You bet. I love you."
"Love you too." Cori slurred the words just before her eyes fell shut for the night.
Taylor kissed her unscathed cheek and stepped out of the room, quietly closing the door. She stopped to tell Mrs. Sterling her plans for the next day, once again re-enforcing the older womans opinion of Taylor Shafer.
* * * *
Cori felt the soft lips against her skin and the warm, sweet breath on her cheek. Her head turned slightly and she enveloped those lips in a way that she so desired. She moaned. "Mmmm, Taylor."
The sexy timber of that voice alone did things to her that should be illegal. Cori faintly heard footsteps nearby as she drifted from deep sleep and the incredible dream. She forced her tired eyes to open, expecting to see the babysitter...but she didnt. The sitter was nowhere near that good looking. "Tay? Is that really you?" A beautiful grin flashed before her.
"In the flesh," said the tall woman standing beside the bed.
"Did you just kiss me?" asked Cori.
"No, but that can be arranged." And arrange she did.
The green eyes blinked. "Thats much better than a dream."
"You were dreaming about me?" asked Taylor.
"Since the night we met." Cori reached out a stiff arm and cupped the smiling face. "You should see the ones that arent drug induced. Now, what time is it and what are you doing here?"
The tall woman took a seat next to the blonde in the queen size bed. "It is just after ten," she replied, "and I am here to take care of you and your daughter. And before you protest, like I said yesterday, I am right where I want to be. Dont worry about my job. I know what Im doing. Now, how are you feeling?"
Cori groaned as she scooted up in the bed. "As well as can be expected I guess." Her lips turned up at the corner watching the other woman fussing to fluff her pillows. "Youre taking care of Kylie?" she asked.
"Yep. I asked your mother to give the sitter the day off. I even brought Travis over. He is at this minute, availing himself of your cable television. I think Bugs was once again outwitting Elmer Fudd the last time I passed through the living room. Miss Kylie was up at seven and has been changed, dressed, fed and is now enjoying her first nap of the day."
Cori just laid there, her pain forgotten as she listened to her friend talk. "You do know Im falling in love with you again, dont you?"
Taylor smiled brilliantly. "Well, thats always nice to hear. I love you too." They just gazed into one anothers eyes until the blonde twitched. "What can I get you?" the tall woman asked.
Cori moved under the covers and pulled them away from her body.
"What are you doing?" asked Taylor. "Whatever it is Ill get it for you."
Cori grunted as her feet hit the carpeting. "Honey Im afraid you cant get this for me." She gave another moan as she lifted her stiff body. "I need the bathroom."
"Oh right." The tall woman scooted in beside her and lent some much needed support as they walked slowly across the room.
"I really want to wash up too," said Cori, "but that better wait until later. Maybe my muscles will loosen up some as the day goes on."
"I can help you with that." Taylor said it without realizing the implications of her words until the blond head tilted and raised the wheat colored eyebrows. The tall woman blushed. "I mean ahhh "
After moving at a snails pace across the room, they finally reached the door to the bathroom. "Thank you," said Cori. She kissed the rose colored cheek and stepped inside.
Taylor waited patiently as Cori attended to her business, glancing absently at her watch. "Cor," she said through the closed door. "I need to take care of something. Ill be right back. Wait for me, so I can help you back to bed." After receiving a one word answer, Taylor slipped down the hall and down the stairs, heading for the laundry room.
* * * *
The morning had started out early. Mrs. Sterling was just finishing her coffee when Taylor had shown up just before seven. After a quick conversation Coris mother headed home to prepare for her day. Taylors first order of business was breakfast for her son. A nearly full pot of freshly brewed coffee called to her and she quickly answered, removing a cup from the wooden rack hanging on the wall. As Travis ate his bowl of hot, honey drizzled oatmeal, she perused the rest of the large, well-stocked kitchen. Several bottles of breast milk sat in reserve on the second shelf of the refrigerator. Taylor knew that Cori wouldnt be able to nurse while she was on medication, so they were sure to come in handy. A few tiny squeaks came form the baby monitor on the table and she took one out and set in on the cabinet, anticipating that the babys slumber would very soon be coming to an end.
At her sons polite request, the television was soon tuned to the early morning cartoons. Taylor left him sitting on a huge floor pillow, laughing at the antics on the screen as she went to check on the homes other occupants. Taylor quietly opened a door to find the twenty five year old blonde still sound asleep. She smiled and eased herself back out into the hall. Moving on to the next door, Taylor opened it just as quietly and tiptoed inside. Unlike her mother, the four-month old blonde was already wide awake, just waiting for someone to come in. The baby was lying quietly on her back, sucking on her tiny fist. Once she caught sight of the dark haired woman the fist flew from her mouth and her pudgy, little legs began kicking joyously.
Taylor couldnt help but laugh at her actions as she reached in and picked up the thirteen-pound infant. "Well look at you Miss Kylie, all wide eyed and gummy smiles. Do you always wake up in such a good mood?" She softly bounced the baby in her arms, remembering how nice it felt. She kissed the side of the fuzzy, fair head as she walked over to the dressing table and laid down the precious bundle. She snapped the safety belt across the plump tummy and searched the shelves underneath for the necessary provisions. "Wow," she commented aloud. "Your Mommy has everything imaginable under here." She started grabbing items. "Lets see, diaper, baby wipes, cornstarch clothes?" Taylor spied the tall dresser in the corner of the room. "Clothes must be in there," she mumbled. Bringing the chosen garments back to the table, Taylor removed the belt and began undressing the still smiling, but wiggling baby. She tossed the damp sleeper in the direction of the white hamper near the door. The wet, but otherwise clean diaper soon followed. The tender bottom was cleaned, dried and powdered as Taylor remembered performing the same tasks on her own son just a few years before. She reached out and tickled the bare tummy, eliciting a burst of high-pitched giggles. "Guess I dont have to worry about you nailing me in the eye, do I?" Instead she got kicked in the chest as she bent over to blow bubbles on the baby belly. But it didnt faze her a bit. Taylor propped her elbows on either side of the little body and just studied the button nose and blue green eyes. "You are a cutie, arent you? But then you do look just like your Mommy." The rhetorical question was answered by a yank on her long, dark locks. "Okay, okay I get the point," said Taylor. She quickly released the imprisoned follicles that were headed straight for a slobbery, little mouth. "Lets get you dressed and then well get you some yummy milk." A naughty thought flashed through Taylors mind. The source of that milk would be a yummy treat for me. She laughed aloud at herself as she wrangled the baby into a white turtleneck shirt and then into a pair of red overalls. A pair of ruffled socks completed the ensemble and the pair headed off to the kitchen.
Taylor took the warm bottle and her small charge into the living room and sat on the sofa behind her captivated son. When the next commercial came on, Travis looked around, suddenly noticing that his mother had joined him. He climbed up next to her and asked, "Whatcha doin Mama?"
"Feeding the baby," she replied.
Travis got up on his knees for a better look. With one hand on his mothers shoulder, he carefully leaned closer to the crimson clad infant and waved. "Hi baby," he said in his small voice. Kylie stopped sucking and smiled around the nipple in her mouth. She was obviously smitten with this person who was much closer to her own size. "Can she watch cartoons with me Mama?" he asked as she quickly resumed her morning meal.
"Sweetie, little babies dont like cartoons. Maybe in a few months, shell be more interested."
Travis shrugged, always believing whatever his mother said and hopped back down onto the floor.
Burped and placed into her swing, Kylie seemed content, allowing Taylor to gather a load of baby laundry. With that done and Cori still asleep, Taylor then rounded up the ingredients for a hearty breakfast for the injured woman.
For the next hour and a half, Taylor divided her time between Travis and Kylie, until the baby started to yawn. After putting the tired infant in her crib, Taylor couldnt resist and went into her friends room, where she found the woman moaning but definitely not in pain.
* * * *
The tall woman dashed back into the rose colored bedroom just as Cori was coming from the bathroom. "Good timing," croaked the injured woman as she held out a hand. "I really need some help."
"You got it."
Once tucked back into bed, Cori remarked, "It almost hurts more today than it did yesterday."
Taylor chuckled sympathetically. "Thats probably because you were pretty doped up yesterday, not to mention that you slept most of the day. Speaking of that, do you have any medicine to take?"
"Yeah, some muscle relaxants. I just took one. But I dont want to have to take any at all after today, so I can go back to nursing. Speaking of which " Cori pointed to the closet. "I need a little relief in that area. Could you please hand me the pump and a bottle from the top shelf."
Taylor retrieved the odd, but necessary device and laid it on the bed next to Cori. Of course, having adopted she had never had to attend to such matters, but being a woman she certainly understood. She wanted to give Cori some privacy. "I think Ill go and get you some breakfast," said Taylor, retreating toward the door. "Unless you need some help," she asked at the last moment.
Cori smiled. "Thats okay. I think I can get it."
The dark haired woman returned twenty minutes later with a full breakfast tray.
"Oh that looks good," said Cori when the food was placed over her lap.
Taylor reached for the knife and fork. "Ill cut it up for you, since youre kind of short a hand."
When the other woman was done, Cori grabbed the fork and momentarily pointed at the milk bottle sitting on the nightstand. "Could you pour that out for me, so we dont get it mixed up with the good stuff?" Cori stabbed a piece of the golden fried bread and stirred it around in the extra syrup on the side of the plate. She chased that down with a piece of crisply browned bacon. "Tay," she said as the tall woman re-appeared. "This French toast is delicious."
Taylor sat on the edge of the bed and accepted the slice of bacon offered by the generous blonde. "Thanks. I like to cook, but with just the two of us and me usually working so late, I dont get to do it very often. How about you, do you like to cook?"
Their conversation lasted several more minutes until the last sip of orange juice was downed.
Travis chose that moment to come and see what his mother was up to. "Mama?" He called out from the hallway, confused by the many doors.
Taylor stepped to the open doorway. "In here Baby."
The sullen three-year old brightened up when he saw the blond woman. "Cori!" He yelled and ran into the room. Taylor caught him just as he was about to pounce upon the bed.
"Hold on there tiger." She lifted him into her arms so he could see. "Cori doesnt feel good. You have to be careful."
The photographer smiled lazily at the adorable child and his adorable mother. "Come here Sweetie." She was talking to the child, although sometime in the future it would definitely apply to the taller one as well. "Sit by me and tell me what youve been doing."
Taylor gently deposited Travis onto the big bed and he crawled up to the offered space. He snuggled in when a loving arm was placed around his little shoulder. She left the two to talk as she took the dishes back to the kitchen.
* * * *
Later that evening, after dinner, Taylor brought the children into the bedroom to spend time with Cori. Taylor stretched out her tall, tired frame on the far side of the bed with Kylie between the two adults. Travis sat near the footboard playing with half a dozen small cars that he pushed up and over his mothers jean clad legs and over the blanket covering Coris feet. Every once in a while she would wiggle the roadway and make him giggle. The television in the corner was on and showing some movie that was suitable for the entire family. However, none of the quartet was really paying attention. They were too busy enjoying each others company.
"I know this sounds funny," said Cori, at one point in their conversation, "but I actually like going shopping the day before Christmas, even if I dont have anything to buy." She paused and held up her casted arm. "But I think I will skip it this year."
Taylor was busy playing with the pudgy, little toes beside her. "Boy not me," she said. The blue eyes drifted down to the child paying by her feet. "There is only one thing that could get me out there on Monday." She did anticipate having to trudge out into the last day stampede. Rumors at work said there would be a Christmas bonus and she would be able to buy Travis the train he wanted. Taylor changed the subject and tipped her head to the baby next to her. "She has some powerful legs."
"I know." Cori smiled. "Thats why I " She caught her verbal slip, suddenly spying the older child. "Thats why I asked Santa to bring her that toy where babies make music by kicking their feet."
Taylor tickled the
babys belly. "Oh boy! Thatll be fun."
Cori reached out and entwined her fingers with Taylors above the babys head. "This is nice isnt it; the four of us here like this?"
That drew a big smile from Taylor and a big coo from Kylie. "Yeah," she said. "It feels so natural too."
"But I dont think this is what you had in mind when you suggested we spend some family time together today."
"No. But the important thing is that we are here together."
Cori agreed with a sluggish nod.
Together they watched the animated Grinch steal Christmas from the Whos. Taylor had let her son stay up just a little past his bedtime because of the special circumstances.
"Could I give Travis a bath?" she asked when the program was over. "He didnt get one last night because I got home so late."
"Of course you can. I want you to feel free to do anything you need to when youre here."
The tall woman tickled her son in the side with wool-covered toes. "Come on little man, bath time."
Taylor rose up to her elbow. "What was that?" she asked in a slightly stern voice.
He finally looked up from his toys. "Do I have to?" he whined.
"Im not even going to answer that." Taylor got up from the bed and headed for the door. She returned just seconds later with a black gym bag. She tossed the bag in a nearby chair and rummaged through it, coming out with a rolled up bundle of green flannel clothing dotted all over with brown dinosaurs. "Besides," she said returning to the previous topic. "No bath, no story."
The little body twisted around and hopped off the tall bed with a thump. "Okay." He agreed. Travis loved his stories. But truth be told, his mother loved their story time even more then he did. Those quiet moments at the end of the day, when mother and son where in their own little world. A place where everything was perfect and peaceful.
While Travis was getting clean, Cori sat with her daughter, studying the rounded cheeks and dimpled hands, marveling at the daily changes taking place in the growing infant. Born at a respectable seven pounds eight ounces, Kylie quickly began adding on the ounces and filling out, a pattern that Barbara Sterling swore baby Corridan followed to the letter, right down the weight. The blonde ran her fingertips across the babys light hair, marveling at its softness. Cori was sure that it was just the new mother thing, but she performed the same routine every night, falling deeper in love with her daughter every time.
Kylie spit out the pacifier and a tiny pink tongue made its first appearance along with a grunt of dissatisfaction. "Careful with the comments on my mothering skills there little girl." Cori replaced the neon pink implement and waited just a few seconds later for it to be propelled away again. And it was. This little game re-played no less then three times. The tasteless, rubber implement would no longer pacify little Kylie Marie. But Cori also knew that the wide-eyed little wiggler was far from ready to visit the sandman.
The two bed ridden blondes were soon interrupted as the now clean Travis made his grand entrance from the bathroom dressed in his warm, flannel pjs.
"That didnt take long," said Taylor, taking a cursory glance at her watch.
Without being told, Travis began gathering his cars and dumping them back into the plastic carrying case.
Cori suspected it was bedtime for three-year olds. "There are sheets and blankets in the hall closet for the futon in the guest room."
Taylor just nodded and ducked out the door. She quietly returned minutes later to find both children listening with rapt attention to Coris lilting voice as she read from the book in her lap. Travis was snuggled up close under one arm and Kylie grabbed for her mothers hand each time the page was turned.
Cori sensed the new presence and lifted her gaze from the colorful images and black print. She caught the tall womans smile and the blue-eyed wink as she finished the last few words on the page.
Travis finally noticed his mother standing in the doorway. "Your turn Mama," he said as he took the book from Coris grasp and climbed down from the bed.
The dark haired woman tucked the book under her arm. "Say goodnight to Cori and well finish the story in when you are in bed." Feeling a tug on her shirttail, Taylor bent down to her knee. A question was whispered in her ear and she pulled back with a big smile. She gave him a quick hug and a nod.
The slippered feet trotted across the carpet to the far side of the bed. He pulled himself up with a little help and threw his arms around her neck. "Goodnight Cori."
"Goodnight Honey. Sweet dreams."
"I love you Cori," he said sweetly.
The green eyes misted over as they met with Taylors and her throat constricted. But she quickly swallowed the emotional lump and squeaked the heart felt words. "I love you too Travis."
He scurried away from the bed, adding as an afterthought, "Night Kylie."
Cori wiped the tears from her face as the pair disappeared into the hallway. With a smile on her face and a chubby hand in hers, she dropped her head back into the pile of pillows behind her, loving her life.
Taylor returned once again and sat on the edge of the soft bed. "You okay?" She asked when Cori didnt open her eyes right away.
"Yeah. I think my concussion is wreaking havoc with my emotions." Cori dried a last tear.
Taylor rapidly blinked away her own teary curtain. "Then whats my excuse?" She took the hand that reached for her.
"I dont think we really need an excuse," said Cori. "I think we are just two big old mushballs, feeling lucky to be alive and reveling in the pleasures that God has given us."
"I think youre right."
"I hope you dont mind that I was reading to Travis," said Cori. "He wanted me to read him half and you the other half. But I know thats your special time together."
Taylor leaned in and kissed the bruised forehead. "Im glad that youre bonding with him. After all you did say we were a family." She hopped over the covered legs to the other side of the bed and began tickling a small tummy. "Miss Kylie and I did some bonding of our own today." The baby giggled and awkwardly slapped at the hands on her middle. "We had a very interesting conversation while I was making dinner."
"Yeah but its confidential." Taylor spoke with a teasing smile. "So, does she get a bath too?"
"If you could. I think shes a little wound up with her new friends around. She loves it, but if you pour a little of the night time bath liquid in the water it will help settle her down. Her baby tub is in the nursery. Like I said, she gets excited and likes to splash, so I usually put it inside the big bathtub so theres less mess to clean up."
"Gotcha." Taylor grabbed the baby, rolled off the big bed and headed out the door.
Just minutes later, Cori lay there listening to the activities in the bathroom.
Taylors voice drifted in loud and clear. "Wow, you do need a little soap and water dont cha. I forgot you spit up all over yourself this afternoon. Come on ya little stink bug, lets get you clean."
A little splash.
More coos and squeals.
Big girl giggles. "That was a good one, Punkin. Now Im all wet. Guess Ill have to take this off."
Soon the tall woman exited the bathroom with a big, striped towel draped over her shoulders, mostly hiding her bra-clad torso. In her arms she carried a content bundle wrapped in a thick, yellow, terry cloth towel with an orange duck embroidered in the corner. The attached hood drooped down over the babys face, obscuring her view as she turned at the sound of her mothers voice.
"Sounds like you had a good time," said the injured photographer.
Taylor smiled and placed her squirming package on the bed near Cori. "You were right, she sure likes her bath." She gently rubbed the remaining moisture off the chubby body then squirted a dollop of pink lotion onto her palm.
The dancing green eyes looked directly at her tall friend who was now kneeling beside the bed. "Actually, I was talking about you."
Taylor returned the smile and shrugged. "I guess I forgot how much fun it is taking care of a baby." She proceeded to fasten on the disposable diaper covered in teddy bears.
Cori reached out and let her daughter grab a finger while Taylor dressed Kylie in a heavy, mint green, one piece sleep suit. "Well, youre a natural," said the blonde.
With just a hint of a blush gracing her cheeks, Taylor propped the infant against Coris body and handed the blonde a tiny hairbrush. The photographer smoothed down a few strands of unruly golden hair atop the delicate head.
"I hope you brought something else to sleep in besides your shirt?" Cori asked when her friend returned from cleaning the bathroom.
Taylor poked into the big bag she had brought in earlier and brought out two pieces made of soft, red and black cloth. She shook the bundle in Coris direction. "Yeah I brought pajamas. Ill be right back." She ducked into the adjoining room.
Taylor flipped off the light switch as she left the bathroom. The only illumination left in the room came from the bedside lamp. Coris tired eyes perked up when she got a good gander at the tall woman as she approached the bed. She wished, just for a fleeting second, that Taylor was coming to her for a much different reason. But that would happen in time. "Will you be insulted if I tell you that you look completely adorable in those?"
The tall woman looked down at her attire as she rounded the bed and took a seat next to Cori. "No, and thank you." She leaned over and gave the photographer a light kiss. "But I might be if thats what you say about my appearance when I come to spend the night in this bed."
Cori traced the side of the angular face. "No chance of that Honey. Im sure my words will be something like, absolutely stunning, totally sexy and incredibly beautiful. I love you."
"I love you too."
A loud, hungry baby suddenly interrupted their mutual admiration banter.
The long leg unconsciously pushed off the heavy blanket as the furnace released a long hiss of freshly heated air. The attached foot hung over the side of the bed as the dreamer slept peacefully on. Raven hair spread out behind as the face sank deeper into the plush pillow. Visions of a fair haired, earthly angel danced in her head, bringing a smile to the relaxed face. Hand in hand they stood on a snow-covered hill, encircled by a ring of brilliant red roses that rested on the fluffy blanket of white. They smiled, looking out upon the faces of the ones they loved. The small gathering of smartly dressed people began to applaud and cheer the happy couple. Taylor felt a tug on her hand and she gazed down upon the woman she loved with all her heart. Coris beautiful lips parted to speak.
"You really made a mess for me to clean up this morning, didnt you stinky?"
One blue eye popped open and the brow above it furrowed at the unexpected comment. Still drowsy, Taylor heard the disembodied voice again.
"We certainly dont want that cute little butt to get sore now, do we?"
This time the dark head came completely off the pillow and both eyes snapped wide open.
There was a kissing sound and the voice said, "Ohhh, I could just eat you up."
Taylor shook the last vestiges of sleep and her gaze drifted to the small white box on the table next to her head. She smiled and dropped her head back to the pillow as she listened to Cori and Kylie on the nursery monitor.
"There you are Sweetie. Thats much better huh? Did you miss me yesterday? I really doubt it since you seem to have fallen in love with Taylor too. But you cant have her, shes mine. She is wonderful, isnt she? I love her so much." There was a long pause. "I just hope I dont do something to ruin what we have and could have."
Taylors forehead wrinkled with concern at the last comment. Cori was always so confident. Where was the self-doubt coming from? She didnt have long to ponder the thought because a little body pounced on her from behind.
Taylor turned on her back under the slight weight, cradled her son and kissed the crown of his head. "Mornin little man."
"Is it Christmas yet Mama?" he asked, excitedly.
"Not yet. Two more days." She held up that many of his small fingers to help him understand. She expected him to ask about his presents next.
"Mama, can I get Cori a Christmas pwesent?"
Taylor smiled, exceptionally pleased with her three year old sons unselfish generosity. She hugged him and kissed his cheek. I do have that money Cori insisted I take the other night. I cant think of a better thing to do with it, but spend it on her and Kylie. "Well see what we can do about that," she told him. "But that means you have to go shopping."
"Thats okay. I love Cori. I got something for Uncle Ben and I dont want to hurt her feelings." He suddenly jumped down from the bed. "Bafroom Mama," he announced heading for the door. When she started to join him he mildly protested. "I can do it by myself."
"Remember, we are at Coris house. You know where the bathroom is?"
"Yeah." His voice warbled as he ran down the hallway.
Taylor nearly cried over her little boy who was growing up so fast. She propped her hands behind her head at stared and the ceiling, listening to Cori humming to her daughter. Deciding maybe they needed a little time alone before she joined them, Taylor finally hopped out off the bed and headed off to the bathroom herself. She met her son in the hallway and sent him to the living room to watch television until breakfast was ready. The comment Cori made earlier still concerned Taylor; she would have to find a way to gently approach the subject. Taylor wanted this relationship to work more than anything else in the world. She had to convince Cori of that and ease the womans fears.
The last snap closed under Coris fingers, enclosing the vulnerable baby in a soft fleece outfit of pink and white. She grabbed for a matching sock when long arms suddenly, but gently encircled her from behind.
The husky voice whispered in her ear. "Good morning."
The warmth of that touch and that voice cascaded over her injured body and settled into her heart, chasing away her pain. "Good morning." Cori turned in the embrace and snuggled down into the tall womans chest.
Taylor rubbed soothing hands over the shorter womans back. "How do you feel today?" she asked.
"Better." She pulled back and smiled, looking into Taylors eyes. "Especially now."
"Im glad." The dark haired woman leaned down and tenderly captured Coris lips.
A loud squeal suddenly sounded in their ears. Taylor pulled back, but her gaze remained on Coris face. She tipped her head to one side in a quick motion. "Is someone jealous already?"
Cori reached up and grabbed another kiss, eliciting another baby noise. She giggled. "I think so. But shes just going to have to get used to sharing you."
Breakfast smells soon began to fill the bright yellow kitchen. Cori wasnt quite up to cooking, so Taylor took on those duties once again. She stood at the stove preparing omelets, while Travis sat at the table eating his favorite Rice Krispies. Cori had managed to get a few spoonfuls of baby cereal into her daughter and now Kylie was lying in her little bouncy seat sucking away on a warm bottle.
Taylor placed two plates on the small table and took the seat across from Cori. Travis wiped away his milk mustache and asked to go back and watch cartoons. With his seat vacated, the tall woman scooted over to be even closer to the woman she loved. With a cast on her left arm that extended well onto her hand, it was difficult for Cori to cut into her food and still hold Kylies bottle. Without a word, Taylor gently replaced the smaller womans hand and took over feeding the baby. Cori gave her a thankful smile and dove into her food.
Saturday was Taylors regular day off this week, so once again she and Travis spent the time with Cori and Kylie. They did have a couple of errands to run and found the perfect opportunity when Mr. and Mrs. Sterling arrived in the afternoon to visit with their daughter. They also brought along Jack and Taylor was afraid that she would lose her sons attention, but after a few conspiratorial whispers between mother and child, Travis grinned and led the way out to the car.
* * * *
"What do you think of this one Travis? Will Kylie look pretty in this?" Having never shopped for little girls clothes before, Taylor spent a long time admiring the tiny, adorable dresses. There were at least half a dozen she would liked to have gotten for the equally adorable baby, but after some indecision she finally narrowed it down to one.
He looked up at the small, frilly, green and white dress his mother was holding. "Yeah Mama." He agreed. "Can I get Kylie a toy for Christmas?"
"You bet." She put the chosen dress with their other selections in the front section of the metal cart. Travis was taking up most of the carts main basket, having asked to ride when his little body was getting shoved in the over-active crowd. One more stop in the toy department and their shopping would be finished. Taylor had already helped Travis choose a suitable present for Cori and she herself had spent a fair amount of time at the jewelry counter perusing the items that were within her price range. She remembered the clerks comment she had made the purchase.
The brunette dropped the sales receipt into the red bag and handed it to Taylor. "I hope your wish comes true," she said with a friendly smile.
"Oh, it already has," replied Taylor.
With some difficulty, Taylor finally managed to explain to Travis that Kylie wouldnt be interested in a metal racecar. They looked around for a few more minutes then something high on a shelf caught Taylors attention. "Hey Trav, what is your favorite cartoon?"
"Winnie the Pooh," he claimed quickly.
She grabbed the classic Winnie made from soft, yellow chenille and showed it to him. "Do you think Kylie might like this?"
He took the stuffed toy and gave it the squeeze test, hugging it to his face. Travis smiled. "Shell like this Mama."
"Good," she said, "lets get back home."
Glad to be free of the bustling crowd, Taylor took the shopping bag in one hand and Traviss hand in the other. They moved out into the mall and started for the exit when a flash of red caught Traviss eye.
"Can I go over there and see Santa?" he asked.
Her forehead scrunched with confusion. Taylor led them to a wooden bench and sat down. "Honey I thought you were afraid of Santa? We tried to see him a few days ago and you didnt want to."
"I dont member bein fraid Mama. I wanna tell Santa bout the train so he wont forget."
Taylor shook her head at his sudden change of attitude, happy that he was no longer afraid, but puzzled by the whole ordeal. She finally just smiled and hugged her son. "Okay, well go see Santa."
* * * *
Barbara Sterling prepared a healthy lunch despite Coris objections. The older woman smiled and dropped a pinch of salt into the concoction she was stirring. "I bet you didnt tell Taylor that you didnt need her help." She teased.
Cori blushed and dipped her head. "Thats thats different Mom."
Barbara reached into the cabinet for a bowl. "Oh, how so?"
The blonde head popped back up. "Well Taylor is shes my partner. Were in a relationship and that means sharing the good and the bad."
Mrs. Sterling joined her daughter at the table while her meal simmered. "That sounds serious Dear. Let me play devils advocate here and ask, are you sure you are ready for that?"
"No doubts Mom. When Im with Taylor " Cori closed her eyes, searching for the right words to explain her feelings. Her mouth opened once then twice; nothing escaped. "I just feel "
Barbara covered a fidgeting hand with her own as she finished Coris thought. "Complete."
Cori let out a small gasp as the meaning really hit her. "Yes. After the accident the other night my last thought was of Taylor. I didnt want her to be alone again. I wanted so much more time with her a lifetime with her. I love her so much."
"And youre sure she feels the same?"
Cori wasnt angry at her mothers questions. As a mother herself she understood the concern behind the words. "She has told me she loves me and I believe her. But its so much more than just the words. Its the little things she does, the touches and the smiles. And when I look into her eyes I see her soul and I know that soul loves me." And I will try my best to make sure that look never disappears.
* * * *
Cori slowly lowered her stiff body into the mound of bubbles and warm water. Careful not to get her cast wet, she sank into the liquid luxury, moaning languidly as her sore muscles were enveloped and soothed. After carefully scrubbing away three days worth of sweat and dirt, she scooted further down in the huge garden tub until the frothy, berry scented bubbles tickled her chin. Taylor was putting the children to bed and all was quiet in the Sterling house, which now seemed so much more like a home, even though Taylor and Travis were not permanent residents yet. That move was still some time away, but she was very patience, especially with something so important. But that didnt stop her fantasies. Cori rested her head against the soft pillow behind her neck. Her eyes slipped shut and a lazy smiled graced her face as she thought about Taylor coming home to her every day, Taylor sleeping beside her every night, Taylor A slight knock interrupted her thought. "Come in."
Taylor cautiously stepped around the door, trying to avert her eyes to protect her partners modesty. "I just wanted to see if you were doing okay."
Cori smiled, but didnt laugh. She held out a bubble-covered hand. "Come over here." Taylors gaze finally met hers and the tall woman walked barefoot across the tiled floor. Cori kissed the back of the hand she held onto. "Do you know how cute you are when you get all shy?"
Taylor pursed her lips and watched the daring green eyes. "Im not shy," she finally said. "Its just that we havent even and its just a little awkward until..."
"I understand. And I still think youre cute sexy, but cute."
Taylor took a deep breath determined not to blush as she asked her next question. "Could you use some help with your hair?"
Taylor moved to the end of the tub and knelt, reaching for the bottle of shampoo on the tubs rim. She took the big cup that was used for bathing Kylie and scooped up some of the bubbly water and slowly poured it over the blonde locks. Squirting a dollop of the clear liquid into her hands, Taylor gently worked it into the short hair. Careful of the still visible bruise, she took her time not only washing away the dirt, but the pain and weariness as well.
"Mmmm, thats nice," murmured Cori.
"Thank you." Taylors long fingers continued rubbing in slow, circular motions. Both of them were immensely enjoying the sensuality of the lingering moments.
"Wow," said Cori, "you can cook, youre great with kids and you give incredible scalp massages. You do have many talents, dont you?"
Taylor took the filled bucket and began rinsing away the soap. She shrugged a shoulder. "Nah, not talents skills maybe."
Cori chuckled as Taylor finished with her hair, kissed a wet temple and rose to leave. "Honey," the seated blonde called out. "I need some help getting up."
Taylors features softened with love, long passed her embarrassment. She grabbed the huge, light blue bath towel and tossed it over her shoulder. The strong hands gently grasped Coris left bicep and supported under the photographers right arm. Cori pushed off the tubs rim and together they lifted her slight body out of the water. Once she was steady, Taylor let go and held out the terry towel. With the towel tucked around her damp flesh, protecting her from drafts and with Taylors help, Cori stepped over the rim of the white tub. The tall woman took another small towel and began drying the blonde hair. She tossed the wet cloth aside and took a step closer placing a kiss on the warm, pink lips.
Cori smiled. "Thank you. Not just for the help, but for coming into my life."
Taylor caught a drop of water as it slid down the side of Coris face. "We both have so much to be thankful for." She took just a step back to ease some of the tension. "Unless you need more help," she said, "Ill let you finish up and Ill get changed."
Cori nodded and kissed Taylor on the chin. "Ill see you in a few minutes?"
"Count on it."
Taylor returned to Coris bedroom to find the blonde dressed in a pair of heavy pajamas and lying on top of the folded down blankets. "I turned the heat up a few degrees," said Taylor. "Big surprise, its gotten colder outside and I dont want you to catch a chill and get sick."
Cori tipped here head and sighed. "You take such good care of me."
The raven-haired woman took a seat on the far side of the bed. "My pleasure," she said patting Cori on the leg.
"Can you lay here with me for just a few minutes? I need to cuddle."
"Of course, but first " Taylor wiggled her ten digits. "How about some more of my magic fingers?" The blonde nodded dreamily and Taylor scooted in behind the seated woman. She set to work on the neck and shoulders before her. Her strong thumbs pressed deeply into the tight bands of muscles, releasing the strain of the last seventy-two hours. Moans of pleasure began to slip from Coris parted lips as the medicinal massage was doing its job. "That better?" Taylor asked after many, many strokes of her fingers
"Much." Cori leaned her body back against the taller woman, who placed her chin in the crook of the offered neck.
Cori snuggled in tighter and hummed. "Wonderful."
Taylor continued idle massages with her thumb gliding across the flat belly under her right hand. She felt the muscles expand and relax with each breath, but she knew her partner was still awake. The taller woman softly cleared her throat. "Cori, I want us to be able to talk about anything. Two people who are in love and totally trust each other have to be able to do that right?"
Cori tensed just a little, wondering where this question was leading. "Absolutely," she said without turning around.
Taylor continued. "Well do you have any doubts at all about us, about this relationship?"
Cori hesitated only a second. "No, Sweetheart of course I dont. You are wonderful and you are everything Ive ever dreamed of in a partner. I knew it before, but these last few days have only proved it more. You put the family first and foremost." She tipped her head up to glance through her long lashes at Taylors chiseled face. "You know I would have done the same, dont you?"
"I love you so much Tay. You do believe that, dont you?"
The long arms tightened around her. "Of course I believe you Honey. And I love you very, very much. But Im just concerned. Are you afraid of something, something about us?"
Cori ceased all motion. Somehow Taylor suspected something. She deserves the truth, thought the photographer. She sighed and eased away slightly from the firm body. Her shameful head dropped. "Any doubts I have are about me," she whispered hoarsely.
Taylor pushed back some of the golden strands that obscured her vision of the troubled face. "Why Honey? I mean, dont take this the wrong way because I am very glad at how things happened, but you were the aggressor. You asked me out twice. Why do you doubt yourself now?"
"In order to explain that, Ill have to tell you about my first relationship." Cori pulled a hand into her lap needing some contact while avoiding Taylors eyes. "I had always suspected that I was gay, but had never acted on it before college. I casually dated boys in high school and that really proved to me that I would never marry a man. When I was twenty, studying hard in my second year of college, I met Alicia, one weekend at the library. We sort of flirted for about an hour before she approached me and after we talked awhile, she asked me out. We had fun and she asked me out again and we started seeing each other exclusively. Everything was great for a while. About three months later she came over to my apartment one afternoon and she she had just totally changed. She yelled at me about some stupid little thing and she had never raised her voice before. After that, her personality had done a complete 180. I tried to talk to her and ask her what was wrong, but that would only make her angrier." Cori took an emotionally painful breath then she felt a hand caress her arm comfortingly before she continued. "She became verbally abusive, telling me what a lousy partner I was and how I didnt satisfy any of her needs. She would say that night after night and it went on for weeks. I know youre going to ask me why I put up with it. And to tell you the truth I dont know. When things were good between us I was very happy. It felt good not to be alone. I guess I had hoped things would change back. I wanted to be in a relationship, but I was so naïve as to what a real committed relationship was. I finally got snapped back to reality by a slap in the face literally." After those words Cori got the courage to look at Taylor. What she saw there let know that she had made the right decision in making this confession. "But thats all it took. I told her to get out. She did, but not before leaving me with a few more choice comments about my personality and my prospects for any future relationships. After that, I decided that I would make the decisions about who I dated." She gave Taylor a pinched grin and playfully tugged on the hand in hers. "I guess thats when I became the aggressor." She chuckled, but looked away again. "Most of me didnt believe the things she said but I guess there is just a small spot in my soul that worries about being a good partner to you."
Taylor put two long fingers under the lowered chin and lifted the green eyes to meet hers. "Let me put an end to those concerns right now," she said, pulling their joined hands to her chest. "I have never been so sure of anything in my entire life. You, my love are an excellent partner. We may have only been together for a little over a week, but like you once told me, sometimes you just know." She kissed the small hand. "And I know. So no more doubts, okay? In fact, we should take a vow right here and now to share all of our thoughts and feelings. Well enjoy the good ones and together work out the bad ones." Taylor raised her right hand and so did Cori, who also gave a tiny, relieved giggle.
After their pledge, Taylor pulled the small woman into her arms again and they scrunched down into the soft surface behind them.
"To honor our new pact," said Cori, "Id like you to tell me about your parents. Do they have a problem with you being gay?"
"Partially. When I first told them, their reaction was pretty calm. Their only comment, Just dont flaunt it in front of us or our friends. While that did hurt, it wasnt really a problem since dating wasnt a big thing with me. I just thought they deserved to know so they could get used to it before I met someone important. The terrible part came when I decided to adopt Travis. They were livid, asking how could I expose an innocent child to such a situation. My father stopped just short of calling it a perversion. They said it wasnt fair for the child to never have a father or a chance at a normal life. But I never let them sway me one bit and I walked out the door. Thats when he said the words that I can never forget. He said no real daughter of his would have ever done such a thing." She huffed. "I always knew that I was adopted, but I always thought I was their real daughter anyway."
Cori sat forward, reached around and tugged gently on Taylors shirt until the tall woman was lying by her side. She wanted the woman she loved to be able to see the truth in her eyes. "Travis is your real son," she said. "And you are a great mother. I know you love him enough for two people but I love him too and I really want to have a special place in his life."
"You already do have a special place in his life." Taylor thought back to the conversation that she had with her son earlier that morning and she smiled. "And in his heart," she added.
Two heads, one dark and one light came to rest face to face on the soft pillows. They studied each other closely, satisfied to exchange only soft touches and light kisses.
"As much as I want to be with you," whispered Cori, "right now the most important thing is just being with you."
Taylor smiled and placed a goodnight kiss to the button nose. "I agree totally. Sleep well my love. Can I hold you until you fall asleep?"
"Youd better." Cori mumbled. "Love you."
"I love you too Cori."
More to come.
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