See disclaimers in Part 1

Rae returned to the condo much later than expected, having shared good conversation and a Ben & Jerry's strawberry/kiwi smoothie with Howard on the beach. But she didn't regret not getting her errands done. Howard was now a great friend, one she could count on for the rest of her life, and time with him was important, the little of it they did manage to spend together.

She stripped out of her running clothes, now dry from the afternoon heat, shrugged into light sweats to guard against the chill from the central air, and contemplated the rest of her day. She could go into the lab and finish the second quarter productivity report Jim would be looking for on Monday, or she could tackle the mounds of laundry mocking her from the overflowing hamper... or she could relax for a while. She stuck her tongue out at the dirty clothes, decided to take a well deserved weekend away from work, sat down at her computer and logged on.

The sun was starting to set when Rae finally stood up and stretched languidly. She loved spending time chatting with her cyberfriends, a few in particular, whom she'd had the pleasure of meeting at organized get-togethers. She smiled, recalling a post one of the gals on her mailing list had written, about how people on the internet fell in love from the inside out. It was an appropriate observation, one she agreed with wholeheartedly. She'd met gals whom she could now consider great friends, and the brief time they'd spent together had been glorious fun.

"Time to take a shower, Rae." she spoke aloud. "Get your ass in gear. It's Saturday night, and a full moon at that. The ladies will be out tonight." A small fire ignited in her belly, almost primal in its nature. She grinned inwardly, strolled down the hall to the bathroom, and stepped into a steaming shower, letting the hot water strip away the remaining residue of the previous night.

Rae left her favorite Greek restaurant, having eaten dinner alone, as was her normal routine. She used the time to organize her thoughts, and prepare herself for what promised to be an interesting evening. Cindy would certainly be at the bar, gloating about last night. Rae groaned. Damage control. A glance at her watch indicated that it was too early to show at the bar, so she headed down Church Street to the Women's Common, the unofficial gathering place for all quasi political lesbian activities. Workshops and seminars of all sorts were held there, from PFLAG meetings to Gay Pride committee organizing. Rae was not a flag waving sort, but she never missed a Pride weekend... as a spectator, and helped out behind the scenes when requested. She preferred to stay in the background, allowing her more extroverted acquaintances center stage when the TV cameras were rolling. Everyone who knew her, including her staff at work, was aware of her preference to be with women, but it was never an issue. If anyone harbored ill feelings regarding her lifestyle choice, they were never voiced. She had earned respect from colleagues and friends based on her abilities, and her integrity. The questionable area of her life was perhaps her sexual prowess. But no one except Rae herself knew the motivation behind those choices, and she had never led any women to believe that they would possess more of her than her body for a brief time. Any women that is except Susan... and Sam. Past history, she sighed. I'll dwell on that another night. There was no use getting into a funk about that now. It was time to play, not to contemplate the freakin' mysteries of life.

She pulled open the heavy wooden door of the ancient stone building, and stepped inside, immediately greeted by a few gals lounging on the worn couches of the common room.

"Hiya Rae. On the prowl?"

"Ha! As if you're not!" Rae grinned at the heavyset woman sprawled on a sofa. Mel was well known in the community, one of the very vocal minority, campaigning for every gay and lesbian cause she could sink her teeth into. Rae liked her. She was brash, direct, unafraid, and comfortable in her tattooed skin. Her appearance belied her intelligence, and when first met, she was invariably underestimated, until her mouth opened in debate. Then she gained a healthy respect from her adversaries.

"I see you're in your Saturday night uniform. Looking for some action?"

Rae glanced down at herself... black boots, Levi button fly 501s, and a flattering black sweater over a white T-shirt. "Ya never know." She drawled. "Actually, it was the only clean stuff in the house. I didn't get my laundry done today. Otherwise occupied."

"Oh yeah? Was she cute?"

"Get your mind out of the goddamn sewer, Mel. I met up with an old friend on the beach."

"Sure Rae. Whatever you say. Besides, I heard all about it."

"Oh, for Christ's sake! Already?"

"Hey, Cindy doesn't waste any time. You know that. She was in here earlier. When she left, she said she was headed down to the bar to get a good seat for the talent show tonight. But not before she bragged about her wild night at your place."

Rae judiciously ignored the last comment, knowing she would deal with the consequences soon enough at the bar. But she felt the anger stir in her stomach, irrational as it was, knowing full well she had brought the problem on herself. "What talent show? Shit. I wanted to dance tonight."

"DJ won't be on 'til eleven. Deb's offering a hundred bucks for the best chair dancing routine."

"What the hell for? It's not like she doesn't have the place packed practically every night of the week." The Rose was the premiere lesbian bar in the city, and there was often a line of women waiting at the door to get in... unless you were a regular who knew the bouncer well. The place had been raided often enough though that Deb was extremely cautious about not exceeding the occupancy code.

Mel shrugged. "You know Deb. Ever vigilant about providing entertainment for the masses. It'll be funny. I'll head down there with you. We can watch that cute blonde bit of jail bait gyrating to Love Shack."

"All right. Just let me check the paper first." Rae grabbed a copy of Lavender Morning, the city's free monthly guide to gay and lesbian events. She sat down on the couch opposite Mel, and nodded a greeting to the other women gathered around. She knew they must have heard Cindy's raving as well, so feeling slightly self-conscious, she buried her face in the paper, and read about the Leatherman contest at Chaps, the men's equivalent to The Rose. Maybe she'd go. The men were a trip in their leather vests and G-strings, with their bare butts hanging out for the world to see. She had a few friends there, and was welcomed warmly whenever she visited.

Rae lost herself in the paper for a while, until the rustling sounds of women getting up and moving around invaded her consciousness. She looked up and saw Mel watching her.

"You ready to go?"

"Yeah, I'm done. Lots of good articles in this one. Did you read the bit about Penny's new book? Naiad is going to publish it."

Mel smiled. "It's great. She deserves it, given how hard she worked on it. I read the draft she sent to the editor. Man, it's gut wrenching though."

"Really? How so? They don't give any details in the article."

"She wrote about Marilyn's suicide."

A silence settled on the group. "Jesus." Rae breathed. "Wow. I didn't think she'd ever do that."

"I think it was therapeutic for her. She needs to move on with her life, and stop taking the blame for that." Penny was a good friend of Mel's, full of vibrancy and love of life, until she'd come home one night and found her lover's naked body in the bathtub... the hairdryer floating in the water, still plugged into the wall. The authorities had deemed it suicide when they saw the extension cord which allowed the appliance to reach the necessary length. Penny had never fully recovered, blaming herself for not recognizing just how severely her partner had been affected by her family's ostracism after finding out about her lifestyle choice. Mel had then taken it upon herself to champion PFLAG's cause, and bring the problem of gay suicide more to the fore. Her persistence had resulted in one of the largest PFLAG chapters in existence.

"Ok gals. It's Saturday night. Let's just go have some fun. Dwelling on it won't change the past." Mel stated, attempting to disperse the gloom.

Rae jumped up. "All right. Let's go watch some kinky chair dancing."

Mel and Rae walked ahead of the rest of the group, chatting amiably as they neared the bar. They passed the famed 'steps' of the Second Cup cafe, where gay men gathered, sipping lattes, and joking about their depraved plans for the evening. This area of the city was known as the gay quarter, complete with clubs, restaurants, cafes, and apartment buildings populated by the dykes and queens of the city. Of course, it was against the law to discriminate based on heterosexuality, but everyone knew the preferences of the tenants in this small village within a city, and homophobes steered clear for the most part. With the help of 24 hour foot patrols by the metro police, and the ingenuity of Mel's 'buddy' system, gay bashing had practically disappeared. Gay men and women were given loud mountain whistles, and carried them wherever they went. Whenever the shrill sound was heard, day or night, establishments emptied out into the street, ready to take on whatever bastard was trying to destroy the tenuous peace they had fought so hard to attain. It was now perhaps the safest part of the entire city, and Rae loved it. Whenever she crossed into the four block section, she felt a warmth envelope her, a tangible feeling of home, of freedom, like she had always belonged right here.

As they approached the bar, they could see a small line of women on the steps, waiting to get in.

"Jesus. It's early for a line." Rae commented. She looked at her watch. 9:35pm. Usually the line didn't form until at least 10:30.

"I think it's because the weather's been so nice. I'll bet the place has been packed all day." Mel glanced back at the six women following behind. "Those guys are gonna be pissed when Dotty lets us in and not them."

Rae gave her a wry grin. "Hey, when they've been coming here as long as you and I have, they'll have paid their dues. Until then, they'll have to wait in line. I'm going in." She didn't enjoy jumping the line, which is why she tried to get to the bar earlier than most. It usually caused some grumbling and snide remarks from the uninformed women in line, and tonight was no exception. As Mel and Rae ascended the stairs, gently moving the women aside, one unfamiliar individual voiced her disapproval.

"Hey! The line's at the bottom of the stairs, ladies!"

Rae turned and gave her a withering look, and then glanced at Mel, who grinned evilly back. She leaned in front of Rae, and smiled humorlessly at the woman. "We're the entertainment, sunshine." And with that, grabbed Rae's elbow and headed inside.

The massive bouncer dressed in black leather pants and vest over a white tank top grinned broadly when she saw the pair walk through the inner door.

"Well, lookee here! Two of my most favorite patrons of this fine establishment! How long's it been gals? 18 hours?"

"20 at least, Dotty! Besides we can never get enough of you. You know that!" Rae laughed and gave the large woman a huge bear hug. "Why Mel was just mentioning how much she missed you."

Dotty reached over, wrapped a muscular arm around Mel's neck, and kissed her full on the lips. "Missed you too, sweet thing. Didn't get to see you much last night. What's been goin' on?"

Rae left the two women chatting at the door, and walked over to the bar.

"Your usual, Rae?"

"Not yet, Rachel. Just a coffee for now, thanks."

"Ok. Just brewed a fresh pot. Hang on."

The petite bartender busied herself preparing the coffee while Rae took in the activity surrounding her. Deb had done well when her and her partner Liz had purchased the rundown building ten years prior, determined to turn it into a classy bar, worthy of the loyal patronage she hoped it would gain. Her vibrant personality and dedication to the lesbian community had helped the bar survive and thrive in a time when gay bars opened their doors on a weekend, and placed For Lease signs in the windows two months later. The Rose was in a prime location, in the heart of the gay district, and in the first three years, had obtained enough earning potential to allow major reconstruction.

They opened up the huge full basement, placing a second serving bar, three regulation pool tables, two more bathrooms and seating for another 120 women. The upstairs wasn't as spacious, but it made the most of the space available. The large well equipped bar extended down the left side of the room, while the seating was an elevated area to the right of the entrance, near the windows overlooking Church Street. From there, women arriving early enough to get a table could observe the medium sized dance floor, which was surrounded on three sides by a small drink ledge and bar stools. The DJ booth, complete with top of the line equipment, was glass enclosed, and situated in the far corner of the dance floor. The bathrooms were located in the back, and allowed ample room for the seemingly never-ending lines of waiting women. The design was optimal, permitting an easy flow throughout, so even at its most crowded, one never got the severely claustrophobic feeling experienced in other bars.

But the most recent renovation was the bar's crowning glory. In the fourth year, Deb and Liz hired one of the bar's frequent customers, a professional contractor, to build an 800 square foot, four season patio along the side of the building. They opened an entrance from the inside, behind the DJ booth, and enclosed it with a seven foot privacy fence. The roofing was an ingenious partition and beam design, extending the ceiling height to 10 feet when closed, and permitting easy removal when the weather turned warm. A third service bar was placed in the corner, and numerous picnic tables provided ample seating.

They'd had a huge celebration when the final inspection cleared the patio for use, and Deb and Liz basked in the glow of their dream realized.

More than anything, Rae loved the atmosphere of the place. It was tastefully decorated with framed prints from local gay and lesbian artists, and furnished with sturdy, contemporary seating. The owners worked hard to keep the place in impeccable repair, and succeeded admirably.

"Here's your coffee, gorgeous." Rae swiveled back to face the bar and smiled at Rachel.

"Thanks. You know what they say about flattery, don't you?"

"No... what do they say?" Rachel placed her forearms on the bar and leaned forward. "Tell me."

"It'll get you everywhere, unless the recipient is aware of your impure, ulterior motives." Rae bantered back easily.

"One of these days, girl..."

"Never know Rach, you just never know."

It was a standing joke between them. They were attracted to each other, but knew that the friendship they had developed was far too important to jeopardize with anything more.

"How many gals have signed up for the talent show?"

Rachel glanced at the sign-up sheet behind the bar. "Only eight. But it'll be entertaining. Should only last about an hour, then we'll clear the dance floor."

A small stage with a single chair had been set up in the middle of the dance floor.

"Jailbait's got a good chance. She's doing Love Shack by the B-52s."

"Mel told me. Who else is going on?"

The two women looked at the sheet together and decided that their choice was pretty much a shoo-in, unless one of the other seven women came up with something truly unique. As it turned out, Jailbait put on a wild, gyrating performance, but the last act was a gal fairly new in the area, who crooned out a wonderful old Sinatra tune, Fly Me to the Moon, complete with top hat and walking stick. The winner was decided by audience approval, and she received a thunderous round of applause at the end of her number. She didn't buy a drink for herself the rest of the evening, instantly accepted into the fold.

Rae grinned. It's always the crooners who get the women. She was not unfamiliar with a little crooning herself, and had been known to participate in these fun, amateur shows on occasion. But only after being plied with enough drink to temporarily lower her inhibitions about performing in public. She had a wonderful voice, and was constantly razzed about not displaying her talent more often.

After the stage was removed, the DJ started the crowd dancing with an excellent mix of house music, and the prowling began in earnest. Single women clustered around the dance floor, and a few brave souls gathered up enough courage to approach Rae. She declined the invitations, but politely thanked them for asking. She was charming, even in her refusals of their attention, ensuring none felt the sting that usually accompanied rejection. Treating people the way she liked to be treated was a personal motto of hers. The downside of this admirable quality was that some women still thought they had a chance, even when they had no hope in hell of gaining her affection.

Around 11:30, Rae spotted Mel weaving her way through the crowd towards her.

"Having a good time?"

"I always have a good time here, Rae. How about you?"

"Yep. Nice crowd tonight."

"I've been watching." Mel grinned like a cheshire cat. "You've been beating them off for the last hour."

"Shut up, Mel." Rae whacked her friend on the arm good-naturedly.

"Been out on the patio yet?"

"Nope. Why?"

"Guess who's out there?"

"Just tell me, you shit."

"Nice mouth. Well, Cindy, for one. You'd better get out there and stem the tide. I'm not sure if she's enhancing your reputation or her own."

Fuck. "Who else is out there?"

"Guess, I said."

"Mel..." Rae growled threateningly.

"Oh yeah... you scare me, pussycat."

Rae rolled her eyes and got up to go check out the patio.

"Be prepared." Mel called after her.

Not turning around, she shrugged her shoulders to indicate she'd heard Mel's comment.

The patio was overflowing with women, the loud hum of conversation punctuated with occasional raucous laughter. The atmosphere was pleasant, everyone enjoying the late night summer breeze and good company. Rae scanned the crowd, easily done, given her height advantage. As her eyes slowly wandered over the familiar faces, her vision settled on a tall, willowy redhead, her back facing the doorway in which Rae stood. Can't be. Cindy momentarily forgotten, she gently forced her way through the press of bodies, and came up behind the woman.


The woman turned at the mention of her name, and her face lit up with a brilliant smile. She threw her arms around Rae's neck and squeezed hard.

"It's so good to see you!"

Rae returned the embrace with as much enthusiasm. "Why didn't you call me?"

"I just got into the city this afternoon. I figured I'd find you here on a Saturday night. I called your apartment around seven, but got the machine."

"I went out to dinner. How the hell are you? You didn't tell me you were coming home. Everything ok?"

"Oh yeah. Dad's fine now. Came through the surgery with flying colors. Figures he'll outlive us all."

Denise's father had suffered a heart attack a few weeks prior, resulting in bypass surgery, but he was an ornery old guy, and Rae knew he'd survive. She'd had many a long phone call with Denise recently, late into the night, offering a shoulder to cry on across the miles, the woman grieving that she couldn't get home in time to see him before the operation.

"I wanted to surprise you, and I wasn't really sure when I'd get here." Denise explained.

"That's ok. I'm glad everything turned out. I knew it would."

"I know that sweetie, and I swear it was only my trust in your good instincts that kept me from going crazy until I could get here." Denise kissed Rae fully on the lips, having yet to remove her arms from around the dark woman's neck. She drew back after a long moment, and opened her eyes to see blue eyes gazing intently at her. "Thanks." She said softly.

"You're welcome. You know I'll always be here for you."

"I know." She released Rae and stepped back. "You look great, by the way."

"So do you. England seems to agree with you."

"It does. I love it there. And I'm getting a lot of painting done too. Making decent money. I'm happy."

"Really? Have you sold anything?"

"No, but I have a few potential commissions in the wings when I get back."

"Oh, so the club is paying well?"

"No." Denise grinned. "But the tips are incredible. Seems those British women love a cute redhead with a Canadian accent."

Denise had left the country a year and a half ago to pursue her dream of painting in Europe. She had told Rae at the airport that the other half of her dream was to tend bar for women with sexy foreign accents. Rae had laughed, given her a tender hug, and wished her luck in finding her dreams. Theirs had been a sweet, six-month affair, both knowing and readily accepting that they were not each other's final destiny. But they thoroughly enjoyed each other's company, and had a lot of fun together.

"So how long are you here for? And where are you staying?"

"I'm flying back Friday, but I have to go to Hamilton Monday." Denise's entire family had lived all their lives in the town a couple of hours outside Toronto. She was the only one who had left, feeling suffocated in the industrial town. She also wasn't out to her conservative family, making her life even more constricted. Traveling overseas was the best decision she had ever made.

"My stuff is at Rick's, at my old Rosewood apartment. You know, the one I had when I was at Ryerson."

"I remember it. I liked that little place."

"So did I, but Rick has ruined that artsy flavor I left it with."

"No. It left when you did." Rae replied quietly.

"Hmmm. Still as dangerously charming as ever, I see. I knew I missed something about you."

"Ha! You're a funny gal, Denise. Would you care to dance with this old snake charmer?"

"Now what do you think, doll?"

As they turned to walk inside, Rae ran smack into Cindy, and remembered her original reason for coming out to the patio.

"Hello darling. I see you've found your next conquest." Cindy's eyes flickered to Denise's face and saw the hatred there. "Oh really, Rae. Old news. Or is she more attractive now that she has a European flavor?"

Denise took a step forward, nostrils flaring and lips set in a grim line. Rae put an arm out to stop her progress and gave her a pleading glance, knowing if Cindy was provoked, she would definitely start in about the previous night. Not that the bitch needed any provocation.

Rae breathed deeply and gave her antagonist a deadly glare. "Cindy, shut the fuck up... NOW."

"Rae, I'm hurt. Is this how you treat everyone who shares your bed?"

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Curse my goddamn hormones to hell and back a thousand times. She heard Denise's sharp intake of breath, and out of the corner of her eye, saw the redhead's shoulders stiffen.

"Denise dear. You should have been there. It was pure heat. I thought the neighbors were going to call the police, thinking someone was being murdered." Cindy's voice was sickeningly sweet, belying her vicious intent.

The dark woman drew herself up to her full height, arms straight by her sides, and fought to maintain control, the desire to break the blonde in half almost overpowering. Rae's temper when provoked was legendary, as well as her physical strength, and she had been known to leave more than one opponent with the scars to prove it. Her journey towards self-control had been long and arduous, and she was never sure that it wouldn't desert her. She relieved her pent up tension with running and heavy workouts for the most part, but in situations like this, she was at the mercy of her volatile aggression.

"I asked once, Cindy. I won't ask aga..."

"You didn't ask anything, Rae." Cindy interjected. "You told me to... how did you put it?... shut the fuck up. Now that wasn't very nice." Everyone on the patio could sense the dark energy rolling off the tall woman, and it had become eerily quiet, all eyes turned toward the confrontation between the two women, so contrastingly different. They stood toe to toe, Rae's fists and jaw clenching rhythmically; Cindy tense, but trying hard to appear relaxed.

"Now, now. I knew it was too quiet out here." Dotty's voice permeated the silence. She had been alerted of the potential trouble by Mel, who moved around her to stand beside Rae.

"I don't need any help here, Dotty." Rae murmured, keeping her eyes locked on Cindy.

"I'm well aware of that, my dear. But I get paid handsomely to keep blood off the floor and the furniture intact. And, I might add, to keep your sorry asses out of jail. Does nothing to enhance the lesbian image, ya know?"

Dotty moved her massive frame between the two, forcing Cindy to back up a step.

"Hey, diesel dyke! Don't push me! I'll get your fat ass fired!"

The bouncer closed her eyes, and counted slowly backwards from ten.

"I'm only going to say this once, you skinny bitch. There are names for women like you, and none of them are very nice. And I'm a nice gal. So go back to your drink and stop stirring up trouble, or I'll make it an early night for you."

"What about her?! Or are you still hoping against hope that she'll bed you too?!"

A shocked sound rippled through the crowd, everyone aware that Cindy had crossed the line with that comment.

"Go the hell home, Cindy. Before this gets any uglier." Mel's solemn voice broke through the din, and calmed Rae slightly, whose body had coiled involuntarily into a tight spring, wanting to rip Cindy in two.

"You people are such assholes. So fucking pathetic." Cindy spat. "I was leaving this sorry space anyway. It's boring here."

Dotty breathed again. "Don't come back anytime soon."

"Oh, don't count on that. I'll be back to liven up this place again." Cindy headed towards the patio gate, but couldn't resist getting in one last dig before she left. She turned back. "Mind if I call you tomorrow Rae? I know last night had to be the best sex you've had in years." She looked right at Denise, laughed evilly and left. She did manage to get out of sight of the bar before the tears welled up in her eyes, and she angrily brushed them away.

The silence was deafening for a long moment.

"Show's over, folks. Go back to your drinks." Mel called out. She looked at the three women who were standing still, lost in their own thoughts. After a few seconds, conversational murmuring could be heard, and a sense of normalcy returned.

"Dotty, I'm sorry abo..." Rae started to say, only to be cut off by the bouncer's harsh voice.

"I don't want to hear it, Rae! I've known you a long fucking time, and I consider you a friend, which is the only reason you're still here and not on your way home too, but you piss me off so damn bad sometimes! Of all the stupid, goddamn things to do, sleeping with that bitch has got to rank right up there with the best of them!"

Rae bit back the harsh retort poised on her lips, knowing that Dotty's disquieting remarks were not only true, but also coming from a place of pain. Her long-standing crush on the tall woman was known to some, and Rae had had to work hard to cultivate their friendship and get beyond the woman's desire for a relationship that would never be realized.

Dotty turned on her heel and stalked away, shoulders hunched. Mel patted Rae on the arm. "Forget about it. She'll be fine in a bit. Relax. It's over. Try to enjoy the rest of the night, ok?" She followed the bouncer inside, not waiting for a reply.

"Yeah." Rae spoke to the air. Then she remembered Denise. Not knowing what to expect, she turned to face the tall redhead. "I'm sorry. I know that's lame, but I don't know what else to say. You shouldn't have seen that."

Denise's expression was confused and hurt and angry all at the same time. "Rae, for Christ's sake, why? What were you thinking? I know you're lonely, but her?"

"I'm not lonely! It was stupid, I know that! I just..." She let the statement trail off unfinished.

"Oh, for God's sake! It's not a crime to want someone in your life, and not be alone. Why do you have such a hard time admitting that to yourself?"

"Denise, can we please drop it? Please? I don't want to talk about this now."

"You never want to talk about it. I'm your friend, Rae. Don't shut me out. I know we're not the ones for each other, but I care for you deeply, and I know how capable you are of hurting yourself. Talking helps."

"All right, we'll talk. But not here, ok? Why don't we get your stuff and go back to my place? You can stay there until Monday."

Appeased by Rae agreeing to discuss it later, Denise decided to drop the subject. "Ok. Actually, I was hoping you'd ask. I really wanted to spend some time with you. We can laze around tomorrow and just enjoy the day. Or did you have plans?"

"Nope. I was going to come here after the ball game, but we don't have to do that."

"Ah, the big game's tomorrow, huh? Well, let's just play it by ear then. How does that sound?"

"Sounds just fine." Rae finally smiled. "Uh... Denise.........?"

"Rae?" The redhead grinned impishly. She enjoyed the teasing little game of repeating names.

"You're so bad. I just wanted... well... I know how disappointed... just... well, thanks for not freaking out on me."

"I can never be disappointed in you, Rae. I know you, remember? And underneath all this hard stuff is a good person... who just makes dumb mistakes sometimes."

Rae shifted her feet and looked down at the floor, uncomfortable with the direction the conversation had taken. She had never been able to accept compliments well. Denise recognized the signs of her withdrawal, and decided to lighten the tone. "You Scorpios. You pretend to be so tough. But us Cancers know better. You're like an open book in Hebrew. You just gotta know the language."

"Yeah, yeah. Don't start with me about this cosmic stuff again. Do you want another drink, or do you want to leave?"

"Well, I seem to recall a promise for a dance, tall, dark, and gorgeous. I'm not going to pass that up."

"There's that flattery thing again. Must be a full moon."

"Oh yeah? And who's been chasing your skirts tonight, young lady? Hmmm?"

"No one in particular. But I'm a popular gal, doncha know?" Rae smirked, deciding to get in a little teasing of her own.

"Oh, park that ego at the door, Crenshaw. I know better."

"Sure. My ego could fit in your back pocket, sunshine."

Actually, you're right. You just don't recognize your appeal."

"Ok, enough of that. Let's dance, shall we?"

Levity returned, they headed inside, and danced together to the fast beat, old familiarity making their moves together seem choreographed. The DJ slowed it down then, her voice coming through the speakers. "Here's a special request from Mel, dedicated to the reunion of old friends, Rae and Denise. This is for you, gals."

The song started as they smiled at each other in the dim light. Rae glanced over her partner's shoulder to catch Mel's wink, and she winked back as she and her former lover slid against each other to the throaty sound of Benny Mardones singing Into the Night. It was a favorite of Rae's, even though she wasn't fond of the opening lyrics. It was about unrequited love, sang with such passionate desperation that it tore at her heartstrings every time she heard it. She sang softly in Denise's ear as they moved slowly around the dance floor.

Part 3
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