The Harvest

by G.E. Birch


Chapter Eleven

Carolyn spent the week thinking about what she wanted to do about getting back into dating. There was a science professor who had made it known that she would be interested in going out, but if Carolyn was going to date someone she liked she'd get up the nerve and ask Elise, so she decided she really wanted to just date on the most casual of basis'. She wanted a no strings kind of thing and she refused to face the particulars of this decision.

Elise was still working on slowing down. She had a lot more time to herself and was reading a lot of books. She had a list of required books for a couple of Carolyn's courses and was making her way through them at an alarming pace. Alarming because she wasn't doing much else.

On the evenings when they talked Carolyn seemed a bit more subdued than usual and Elise wondered if everything was all right even as she had no idea how to broach the subject.


Carolyn and her friends had spent Saturday night two weeks before Thanksgiving at their favorite gay watering hole. She had danced with a lot of women there, one in particular. They had hit it off in a one-night-stand sort of way and they spent the rest of Saturday night enjoying each other's company in Carolyn's bed.

Sunday night she considered how she felt, not bad - not great. It had been a long time since she had slept with anyone and at the very least some tension was gone from her body. Jill didn't expect anything, hadn't even bothered leaving her phone number.

Carolyn had talked to Elise earlier in the evening and the best part was she felt more comfortable with her than she had since she had woken up in Elise's arms several weeks before -feeling things that frightened her. She no longer believed that the attraction she felt for Elise would come between them. The friendship she cherished seemed somehow back on solid footing.

Elise had been very happy to talk to Carolyn tonight. She seemed back to her old self and Elise smiled remembering their teasing talk. Life is good…

Carolyn moved slowly around her office, putting away reference books and stacking and filing essay papers to grade sometime this weekend. Elise would be here soon and she was looking forward to their weekend, it had been too long between visits. Carolyn felt in a different place than she had since the beginning of the summer now long past.

Last night she had spent the evening with Jill again. They had hooked up when Carolyn had gone for an after-dinner beer with Lisa at the bar. They were just leaving to go home when Jill came in and well…Lisa left the bar with raised eyebrows but Carolyn had decided to stay. They hadn't stayed long. Carolyn hadn't gone to a woman's apartment on a school night since college. She drove home about 1:00 a.m. so she was just a little tired today. She had her head buried in the file cabinet when there was a knock at the door. Elise. Her heart picked up speed.

Elise stuck her head in the door and searched for Carolyn. Carolyn raised her head and looked across her office at Elise, whose blue eyes were shining with pleasure. They smiled. Elise felt overwhelmed with emotions, so excited was she to see Carolyn again. She opened the door all the way and walked into the room in need of some kind of contact. She approached Carolyn as Carolyn closed the file drawer with a bang. With just a moments hesitation she put her arms around Carolyn and hugged her close. Carolyn's laughter filled her head as she lifted Carolyn off her feet for a second. When they were both standing on their own again Carolyn said with a big smile,

"Thank you for that hug, you just made my day." Elise wrinkled her nose her eyes dancing and admitted,

"I missed you." Carolyn agreed.

"I missed you too, we'll have to do a better job at getting together. Especially now that you are probably just sitting on your ass all day every day."

"Ha! What do you know?" They argued playfully with each other as Carolyn gathered up bags filled with papers and books that she wanted to take home. She handed Elise several and they made their way to their vehicles.

Elise freshened up while Carolyn changed out of her work clothes. Carolyn was happy, she threw her turtleneck sweater and slacks onto the back of the armchair in her room and walked in her underwear and bra to get a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt to wear.

She went into her bathroom to check her appearance in the mirror and looked at the hickey that had encouraged her to wear a turtleneck to school today. It was fading a little already, she felt slightly ridiculous to be sporting a hickey at her age but…She ran her fingers through her blond hair to straighten it up a bit and then slipped her feet into a pair of slippers and went to find Elise.

Elise was sitting at the kitchen table and she looked up smiling when Carolyn came out of her bedroom. Carolyn smiled in answer and asked,

"A beer or glass of wine?" Then before Elise could answer she offered, "Or I've got soda."

Elise opted for a beer and Carolyn brought two out of the refrigerator and opened them before coming over to sit down with Elise at the table.

"So what have you really been doing with all this leisure time?" Carolyn asked.

"I've actually been doing a lot of reading and of course keeping an eye on the markets so I can make a living."

Carolyn smiled and took a long pull on her beer. Elise watched her happily her eyes taking in her fresh face before discovering the hickey on her neck. She tried to stop the deluge of feelings that poured through her but there wasn't any way to close the door on them. Abruptly she stood and said,

"Excuse me for a second." Not hearing Carolyn say, "Okay." She walked directly to the bedroom she was sleeping in and shut the door. The pain washing through her, made her stagger and she sat down hard on the edge of the bed. After a couple of minutes she began trying to straighten things in her mind so that she could…she wasn't sure what but she couldn't feel this way and continue with the weekend.

What is wrong with me…? She pondered for several minutes she didn't like seeing the hickey on

Carolyn's neck but she wasn't sure why. Carolyn told you that she was determined to begin dating. I guess I thought dating was just going out and not actually having sex with someone. Fool!

"I'm okay - it's none of my business." She repeated to herself over and over as she splashed water on her face and forced her feelings away. She had to go back out there and she was torn between wanting to go home and hide and wanting to spend time with Carolyn.

Carolyn frowned as she emptied her beer. What was up? She hoped Elise was okay. Carolyn was just making a decision to go and find out when the door opened and Elise walked back out into the living room. Carolyn watched her carefully; she seemed pale - even through her still dark tan. Wondering if Elise was feeling ill she asked gently,

"Are you alright Elise, are you feeling ill? You look a little pale." Elise couldn't smile but she tried her best to be calm,

"I'm fine. Just felt a little queasy for a second." Carolyn stood up and said,

"Come here, let me look at you."

"No, no - I'm fine, everything's fine." Carolyn frowned and looked closely at Elise's face. She didn't look fine.

Elise sat down at the table and took a big drink from her beer bottle. Carolyn was confused and her concern shown on her face,

"Should you drink a beer when you are feeling queasy honey?" Elise cringed at the sound of 'honey' on her lips. Carolyn walked over to Elise and knelt down on one knee in front of her, she looked up at Elise with gentle regard,

"What's wrong?" Elise wanted to scream at...Carolyn was crowding her, she needed to get away but she sat as still as a statue until Carolyn's tender touch smoothed across her knee. Quietly bursting out of her in a whisper came,

"Why are you touching me?" Carolyn pulled her hand back from her stroking and leaned back on her ankles.

"I'm sorry, I…I was just trying to see if you are all right. You seem very upset and I wanted to help you." Elise swallowed and said,

"I'm fine." Carolyn kept watching her, bewildered by Elise's obvious agitation. Carolyn thought of all the times she had touched Elise, she felt terrible now…she had been crossing barriers she didn't know were there. Wanting to assure Elise she said sincerely,

"I'm so sorry Elise, I didn't know my touching you upset you so much. I apologize, it won't happen again. Okay?" Carolyn wanted some affirmation from Elise that Elise understood that Carolyn respected her…profoundly respected her. She watched Elise for some kind of answer. Elise wouldn't meet her eyes for several unsettling moments and then Elise asked quietly her eyes finally meeting Carolyn's,

"Would you mind if I asked you a personal question?" Carolyn's took a breath hoping Elise would let her make this right.

"Not at all, what do you want to ask me?" Carolyn waited.

"Why have you kissed me…why do you touch me when you obviously have interests somewhere else." Elise asked indicating the hickey on Carolyn's neck. You could have knocked Carolyn over with a feather. She scrambled to find an explanation other than her attraction for Elise, realizing that she was going to come off as extremely callous.

"Well, when I kissed you I didn't have 'interests' elsewhere and so I did…kiss you, because I really wanted to and it was nice. I thought you were enjoying it too and I'm sorry if I crossed any boundary lines." Elise thought about what Carolyn had said. Carolyn had never crossed any boundaries until today and even through her hurt Elise didn't want Carolyn to think she had broken the rules of their friendship, nothing could have been further from the truth.

"I did enjoy it…" Elise admitted a blush rising in her pale cheeks, "But I don't want you to do it anymore because I don't want you to make fun of something I might take seriously and you share with everyone." Carolyn felt the sting of those words but she couldn't argue. She wanted Elise in her life no matter what and if this was what Elise wanted then she would have it.

"All right, I'm sorry - I won't kiss you anymore. Will that make everything…better?"

Nothing will ever be better. Elise thought morosely, feeling sorry for herself.

Chapter Twelve

Carolyn lay in her solitary bed, miserable to her core. She and Elise had made it politely through dinner but after just 30 minutes of TV (Elise sitting in a chair and Carolyn on the couch) Elise had pleaded tiredness and went off to bed. Carolyn had watched her go, hating that she was going to shut herself off from discussing this but she didn't chase her or press the issue.

For the past hour and a half she had been fighting herself to not go knock on Elise's door and give comfort so she could find some herself. She couldn't imagine why she had been so obtuse about what Elise was feeling. Why she had acted so selfishly? You went and had sex with someone so you could crush the attraction you felt for Elise. Shit, when did I become so stupid and selfish? She continued to beat herself up…

Elise lay with her legs pulled up to her chest in a loose fetal position. She had cried earlier but her tears were spent now and she was quietly lying still, holding herself. She felt a little tired finally…

Carolyn got out of bed and went into her bathroom. She had on red flannel pajama bottoms with white polka dots on them and a white T-shirt. She was exhausted but wouldn't sleep if she didn't make this right for Elise…and for herself. She hated that her own fear had brought them to this…mess.

Elise lifted her head and frowned. She had thought she heard a knocking sound. For a moment she listened but it was quiet so she lay back down. Then she heard a knock and Carolyn calling her name quietly. She sat up leaning on her arm and said,

"Yes?" Carolyn out in the hall took a deep breath and asked,

"Can I come in?" Elise answered without really knowing what she said until she watched the door being pushed open and the light from the hall way falling across her face. Elise blinked and her eyes felt like they had sand in them. Carolyn took in Elise's puffy eyes and red nose and wanted to climb on the bed and comfort her but she couldn't do that so she shut the door letting just a little light still come into the room and make it dark but light enough to see each other. She swallowed wondering what to say to fix this?

"Elise I…cherish our friendship and I don't want this to come between us. I would really appreciate it if you'd talk to me." Elise just stared at her hands as she sat, the covers around her waist. She didn't say anything either way; she couldn't seem to get anything out of her swollen throat. Carolyn waited for a short time and then decided to go forward, it couldn't get any worse. She sat on the very edge of the bed and asked,

"Why have you been crying Elise?" Elise just sat there and then finally she cleared her throat and spoke,

"I think because I feel like an idiot." Carolyn frowned and began to say something but Elise held up her hand and continued,

"I guess it was pretty ridiculous to think that someone like you would be interested in someone like me. I guess I cried because of that. Don't worry though, I'm fine - sometimes it's good to just get it out."

"Elise, God…it's not ridiculous that you would think that. I do have feelings of attraction toward you but I felt like I shouldn't because you…well, I didn't know you felt the same way I did. I tried to back off because I felt I was going to hurt our friendship and it's very important to me."

Elise processed that. If Carolyn was attracted to her then why was she doing…something with someone else? That didn't make a bit of sense to her. She needed some answers but she needed the courage to state the questions first…she looked at Carolyn, she could see the pain in Carolyn's eyes and she melted a little. Elise had to put into words how she felt to make herself understood so she said to Carolyn,

"I'm not very good at expressing myself, I'm afraid I'll say the wrong thing and that you'll be angry with me. I don't want that."

"Elise please, just say whatever you want. I'm an adult and if we are going to work this out you need to be honest and forthcoming. I have no idea…had no idea that you were feeling anything towards me. And if someone who cares about you gets angry at you, you just talk about it until you work through it." Elise took a deep breath and asked,

"Why would you let someone else…" She fumbled around for the right word, "Touch you. Does it mean that if we ever did…something, that it wouldn't mean anything to you? That when you've kissed me that it's just…a joke?" Carolyn looked shocked,

"No Elise." She reassured her passionately, "I have never kissed you or anything else that…wasn't very precious to me." Carolyn watched Elise, focused completely on her. She climbed onto the bed and scooted closer, sitting Indian style. Elise didn't even acknowledge Carolyn's move, she was frowning and then asked a harder question,

"So why would you have…do…that with someone else?" Carolyn didn't want to answer that honestly. She did it because she was running a little scared, did it to take her mind off her attraction for Elise, that she had no idea Elise was reciprocating. She did it because she was afraid to have feelings for someone again that were tied to promises of one kind or another. She did it because she hadn't had sex in a long while and she wanted to. It was a messy proposition to explain these things to someone you cared about who wouldn't understand most of them. She considered what to say to be as honest as she could and yet not leave herself open to hurt.

"The only thing I can tell you is that I did it for a number of reasons, none of which seems very sane right now. If I would have known how you felt, we could have discussed this sooner and maybe I would have made a different choice. I'm sorry if I hurt you, it was my very last intention to do that."

They both sat still thinking their own thoughts. Carolyn had just said she might not have made the same choice if she would have known how Elise felt but she didn't say that for sure she wouldn't have. That hurt, even if it wasn't intentional. Elise had been slowly coming awake feeling strange but wonderful feelings for Carolyn, now she didn't know what she was supposed to do with all that she felt. She was afraid that if she locked it up inside her she would choke on it. She was staring at her hands against the white sheets and Carolyn put her hand on Elise's hand for a moment and pleaded,

"Elise please, talk to me." Elise didn't really have a choice but to go on. She couldn't be around Carolyn anymore if they didn't find a peaceful solution. She shook herself, forced herself to finish what she had started,

"I have feelings for you. They make me feel…breathless and giddy when you're around…they make me want to kiss you and more…but if you are having a relationship…" Carolyn cut in and said,

"I'm not having a relationship with her Elise. It's not like that." Elise looked carefully at Carolyn's face trying to read what was in her eyes. She guessed that meant they were just having sex. Elise bowed her head, tears threatening again. Damn.

Carolyn couldn't see Elise's expression in the shadows and she reached out and tenderly raised Elise's face. Carolyn almost died of agony to see tears running down Elise's face.

"Oh God Elise, please…" Carolyn said in distress. "Can I hold you?" Elise shook her head and whispered brokenly,

"I'm okay." Carolyn was frustrated by her impotence; she wanted so badly to hold Elise.

"Elise, you're not okay. You're crying and you won't let me comfort you." Elise wiped her tears on the arm of her T-shirt and sniffled quietly.

"It's okay. I'm fine." Carolyn waited while Elise calmed down; she rubbed her hands against her flannel pajama pants trying to be patient. Her green eyes were filled with hurt. No one spoke until Carolyn could take it no longer,

"Elise why are you crying? What can I do to fix this?" Elise smiled slightly for the first time since they had sat down for a beer,

"You can't fix my feelings Carolyn." Carolyn smiled sadly and agreed,

"I know and I don't think they need fixing. I think I need fixing." But then Carolyn asked the harder question,

"Why were you crying?" And Elise suddenly had an answer,

"I cried because you're letting someone else do with you, things that I want to do. Because I thought you maybe would feel about me the way I feel about you. I should have said something sooner." Carolyn felt tears rising; she looked off to the opposite side of the room feeling Elise's words in her deepest heart. She finally turned back and looked at Elise and said in a choked voice,

"Forgive me…" Tears were rolling down her face now, "I didn't know and I screwed up big time." Elise grabbed the sheet wrapped around her and pushed it away. She sat forward on her knees and pulled Carolyn awkwardly closer. It took a little sorting around but soon Carolyn was being held in Elise's strong arms, lying against Elise's chest, Elise slowly rubbing her back and smoothing her hair. As soon as Carolyn had her emotions under control she said,

"Why is it you think I need comforting, you're the one who has been hurt?"

"I think you probably cry about…never. So I think a little comforting is in order."

"Like you cry all the time, do you?"


"Liar." Then Carolyn accused tiredly, "You wouldn't let me comfort you."

"I know, but I feel comforted now, holding you." Carolyn shifted and put her arms around Elise's back hugging her close. They held each other for a long time until Elise couldn't hold them in a sitting position any more. She shifted then laying back into the pillows and bringing Carolyn with her. Carolyn was so tired and emotionally drained. Elise rubbing her back made Carolyn sleepy and comfortable. She couldn't stay much longer before she fell asleep.

Elise shifted Carolyn onto her shoulder and pulled the covers up. Carolyn pulled her head up and said groggily,

"I should go to my room." Elise brushed Carolyn's blond hair back off her forehead and said,

"Just lay down and go to sleep. Your safe and I want you to stay where you are." Carolyn thought about that for a moment and asked,

"Are you sure, I know we've got more to talk about but I can't make any more sense tonight, I'm too tired."

"Yes I'm sure, I feel lonely and I'd really like you to stay if it's okay?" Carolyn look at Elise once more and then said,

"Okay. Good night Elise." And Carolyn put her head back on Elise's shoulder and drifted off. Elise smiled tiredly in the darkness. At least she could hold Carolyn tonight. They slept soundly, completely spent after their emotional evening.

Elise opened her eyes and then sighed. Taking stock she felt Carolyn fast asleep lying across the left side of her body. Carolyn's face was pressed against her throat, her soft breath a teasing rhythm on Elise's skin. She lay as still as possible, she never wanted this to end. Before too long she drifted back into a light sleep.

Carolyn became aware that she was being held firmly by strong arms. That her legs were straddling a strong thigh and that she was cozy and content right at this moment. How she managed to be laying on top of half of Elise she didn't know but right now she didn't really care, it was a gift. Some minutes passed and her body was insisting that she get up and find a bathroom so she slowly disengaged and stretched, a feeling Elise felt down her entire length. Elise woke from her dozing and smiled,

"Good morning!"

"Good morning." Carolyn replied as she carefully shifted her body away from Elise and onto the bed beside her.

Green eyes met blue and Carolyn reached up to caress Elise's face. Elise put her hand over Carolyn's and held her gently. Then Elise broke in and asked,

"Who's cooking breakfast?" Carolyn laughed softly and ordered,

"We are…but not until I run to the little girls room." Elise continued to smile and Carolyn found Elise's smile hard to resist, she leaned close and their lips met in a slow sweet kiss. Tender and healing. Carolyn waited for Elise's eyes to open then she asked,

"Could we talk some more later on today?" Elise's smile vanished and her blue eyes filled with worry,


"Don't look like that, it's nothing bad - I just want to be sure we are on the same page and that we both understand what is and isn't going on here."

"That sounds good." Elise agreed. Carolyn smiled brightly then and bounced out of Elise's bed heading for her room, she called from the hall,

"What should we have?"

They cooked breakfast together and ate happily. Carolyn had put on a hooded sweatshirt to step out on the balcony and bring in some firewood. She left it on as they ate and Elise relaxed, putting yesterday behind them until later.

Carolyn leaned against the wall in the shower and let the spray hit her body full force. She thought of the hurt that she had inadvertently caused Elise and tears rose in her eyes once again. She had no idea where she and Elise were heading but she was willing to find out. Her fears were so strong though and she wished she didn't feel so used up and cynical.

Elise washed quickly - her mind running over the events of the last day. She felt excited and scared about revealing her feelings to Carolyn but she felt 'over the moon' that Carolyn was attracted to her. She didn't know how any of this worked, she didn't know a lot- but she wanted to find out.

Chapter Thirteen

Their day was fun, they went out for lunch at a really great sandwich shop, which Carolyn informed her, was lesbian-owned. They laughed and played with each other through a couple of department stores to find some shoes for Elise and a commitment ceremony gift for Carolyn to give friends when she was in Connecticut over Thanksgiving weekend.

Carolyn had on a ribbed turtleneck that fit her perfectly adhering to her curves and dark jeans, wanting nothing to remind Elise of…she couldn't put a word to it so she pushed it away. Elise wore jeans and a bright blue sweater, her eyes electric whenever Carolyn looked at her.

They pulled each other playfully around by the hand and sometimes didn't drop them right away. It was a heady day.

They cooked supper in tandem and enjoyed the lamb with a delicious bottle of red wine. Afterward they went out for a movie and held hands in the dark theater. Laughing about the first time they had seen a movie together in the freezing theater in Riverdale.

Back at Carolyn's they built a fire and relaxed. Lying on their stomachs watching the flames Carolyn knew it was time to have a conversation and she hoped they were somewhere in the same neighborhood as far as what they wanted so with trepidation she asked,

"So tell me what you have in mind for…us?" Elise didn't talk for a little while as she thought about how she wanted to respond.

"I would like to…I guess…I was going to say get to know you but some things I do know so I guess I want to get to know you as someone to date. Does that make sense?"

Carolyn nodded her head and asked,

"What's dating to you?" More time… Carolyn was reminded of getting to know Elise the first time but she kept the observation to herself.

"It's…um going out together and doing stuff, sort of like we have been but with the understanding that I'm interested in you as a date and it's the same for you." Carolyn nodded her head and then asked,

"And sex?" Elise blushed as Carolyn knew she would but they had to discuss this.

"I'd like to but I need time…to be sure that it's right for me?"

"Yep, I agree with that. Do you want this to be exclusive…as in neither of us sees anyone else?" Elise turned her head for the first time and watched Carolyn's profile, the light flickering in her eyes and shadows chasing across her face. She tried to consider her answer outside of that telltale feeling of jealousy that raised its ugly head anytime she thought of Carolyn with someone else. She felt very vulnerable saying these things because she didn't quite mean them but she aspired to, wanted to be…as cool about it all as Carolyn was. But she could only be her stumbling self so she just laid out how she felt as best she could,

"I think that I can't make any decisions for you…but for me, it will be exclusive because I'm only interested in getting to know you…this way. I think though to give this a chance to get somewhere it will have to be a little exclusive. I can't see that I could allow myself to let this happen if you were dating other people…" Elise thought in silence for a moment, "I guess that's asking you to be exclusive and I don't want to force you into a place you don't want to be." Carolyn turned her head and their eyes met, they smiled at each other slightly - Carolyn considered what Elise had said while she stared into those mesmerizing eyes…finally Carolyn shook her head mentally and asked,

"What's…'let this happen?'"


"Okay." They were both quiet and Elise wondered what 'okay' meant for a minute before she finally asked with raised questioning eyebrows,


"I wasn't sure what 'this' meant. It could have been a life long commitment for all I know." Elise grinned and said,

"Yeah, commit yourself to me green eyes." Carolyn stuck out her tongue and leaned over to give Elise a kiss on the cheek she put her face in Elise's neck, her silky hair tickling Carolyn's face. In a muffled voice she said,

"I'm a little scared, you don't have to make fun." Elise laughed and teased Carolyn as she continued to nuzzle Elise's neck,

"A little scared? Brother. I thought I was the virgin." Carolyn pulled her face back and used her fingers to lightly turn Elise so they were looking at each other,

"I want to be honest." Elise waited for her to continue but she didn't so Elise said,

"I want you to be honest too, but could you tell me about what?" Carolyn said,

"I'm frightened to be trapped in something that turns out to be no good for me and I don't get out because I'm afraid of hurting you." Elise frowned and then said,

"You're jumping way too far ahead of us Carolyn, if you do that I don't think your going to enjoy this much. In fact we might as well not even begin, we'll just be friends." Carolyn thought about what Elise was saying and conceded to her,

"You're right. It's just dating."

"Right. Just dating." They smiled and Carolyn began to relax. She could handle dating. Carolyn was in her own world for several minutes and didn't notice Elise looking at her lips with longing. But when she had calmed her fears she did notice and she smiled a sexy predatory smile,

"I don't suppose you'd let me in your pants right now?" Elise gasp in shock and her blue eyes flew to Carolyn's who were happily watching Elise freak out. After the initial shock Elise's eyes narrowed at Carolyn and she firmly pushed Carolyn down onto her back where Elise began kissing the daylights out of her smart mouth friend. The gentle barrage of kisses delighted Carolyn and they spent the next hour talking and kissing.

Elise wanted the night to never end, her heart had been through quite a work out this evening already but as they were both getting tired Elise asked shyly,

"Would you consider sleeping with me tonight?" Carolyn sat up worriedly saying,

"Elise, I don't think your ready for that tonight." Elise frowned and then it dawned and she said,

"I mean sleep. Not sex."

"Oh…" Carolyn wondered if it were wise, it had been a heady evening for them both. But the enticement of sleeping next to Elise was too powerful and so she said,

"Okay…I'll go get a shower and then I'll be in." Elise sat up and happily began to make sure that the fire was banked for the night and that it was completely contained. Carolyn stood watching her, remembering back on how much she enjoyed having someone else to carry the load once in a while. Don't allow yourself to get caught up in that enticement, she cautioned herself as she made her way to the shower.


Carolyn tried to concentrate on the reading the paper she was supposed to be grading but she was thinking about Elise. She should be almost home, Carolyn thought as she looked at the clock over the mantle for about the thousandth time. It was raining and sort of sleeting so she was a little worried, she wondered if it were actually snowing out toward Weldon. She put aside the paper and walked to the balcony door, sliding it open. It was spitting down some slushy stuff here, midwestern people were so blasé about weather. They lived and breathed by it but it didn't really ruffle them much. Elise had assured her that it would be fine and 30 minutes later when the phone rang Carolyn grabbed it and said,

"Hello!" It was fine,

"Hi - I just got in so quit worrying."

"I wasn't worrying." Carolyn replied defensively.

"Shah, I thought you were going to tie me to a chair you were so bent on my not going in a little rain." Carolyn smiled not letting Elise get the best of her,

"I'd like to tie you to a chair and have you at my mercy." Carolyn purred. Elise blushed speechless. Carolyn laughed and said knowingly,

"You're blushing head to toe now."

"Says who?" Elise growled. Carolyn laughed some more before saying,

"I'm glad you made it home safely, how were the roads?"

"Slippery. It's actually snowing here - we'll almost, it's sleety-snowy."

"Is that the official weather term?"

"Yes." They made arrangements to talk later in the week before Carolyn left for Connecticut for Thanksgiving and then rang off. Carolyn sat down and tried to concentrate once again on the essay papers that she was supposed to have graded by Wednesday.

Chapter Fourteen

Elise spent her week thinking and running errands. She got the snowmobile serviced and she took her 'car' that was rarely out of the machine shed for a ride and then into the garage in Weldon to be sure it was ready for the winter. The week after Thanksgiving she would get the farm machinery caught up on a few small repairs.

On Thanksgiving Elise arrived mid-morning to help with dinner. Anne had them all working full tilt so dinner would be ready when the turkey was ready.

Elise was filled with a feeling of excitement, her secret was bursting to get free but she didn't want to tell Anne while Anne and Bob's parents were within hearing.

Anne found Elise as helpful as ever but slightly absentminded and filled with some kind of strange energy. Finally, as she reminded Elise for the third time what she wanted Elise to do with the celery and carrot sticks she asked,

"Is everything all right or are you suffering from some memory deficiency?" Elise looked from her task surprised and answered,

"Everything is great!" She smiled a big smile and Anne met it with one of her own before raising her eyebrow in question and said,

"Spill it!" Elise looked around to see if anyone was within earshot and whispered shyly,

"I'm dating Carolyn." Anne's steady gaze kept Elise pinned for a few moments acknowledging Elise's happiness. She wished she knew the perfect way to handle this revelation to give Elise support but to also tell her to be cautious with this new experience.

"What do you think about that?"

"I think it's great. I really like her a lot." Elise answered. Bob's mom Doris came into the kitchen and Anne held Elise's gaze for another couple of seconds before saying,

"Can we talk about this later?"

"Yes. And don't be worried, everything is fine." Anne smiled at her and then gave her a kiss on the cheek. Elise smiled her eyes watering suddenly,

"I love you Annie."

"I love you honey." They continued to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, fabulous aromas filling the air each time the oven was opened. The noise level climbing each time the favored team made a drive toward the goal line.


Carolyn got out of bed kind of late. She could smell coffee; she swore that was what woke her up. She and her brother had got in pretty late after Carolyn's plane had been delayed, just the usual holiday travel nightmare. She trotted down the carpeted stairs to the kitchen and found her Mother stirring something on the stove in her usual role as chef. Her mother rarely cooked but when she did, it was fantastic. Carolyn smiled and said,

"That coffee smells wonderful."

"Darling! Jamie said flying was terrible last night." They came together for a warm hug in the middle of the kitchen.

"Yes, it stank. But I'm happy to be home."

"We're so happy you're home also." Her mother got down a big mug and filled it with coffee before handing it to Carolyn and getting out the cream. Carolyn poured until it was a creamy beige color and then walked to the refrigerator and replaced it.

"You look great dear, sparkling…I'm so pleased." Carolyn laughed, she doubted she was sparkling in her sweatshirt and flannel pajama pants but she was happy that her mother felt she looked well.

"I feel good." She confirmed. Her Mother continued to smile as Carolyn sipped, then with a flutter she remembered her stirring and went back to the stove.

"Breakfast will be ruined if I don't mind this. Your father is in the den dear, go find him."

"Okay - how long until breakfast?"

"About 30 minutes." Carolyn went along to the den and found her father reading the newspaper.

He moved to get up but Carolyn motioned for him to stay seated. She held her coffee cup away from them as she leaned down for a kiss. Her father took off his reading glasses and smiled.

"So glad you're home dear."

"Me too Dad."

"Your brother has gone out for a run. He didn't want to wait any longer for you."

"That's all right. I'm too tired to run, I'll go for a walk after dinner."

They chatted for a while until they were called to breakfast. Jamie breezed into the kitchen midway through the meal and plopped himself down. They enjoyed their family unit, so separated by work and distance, once again home.


Elise had been drying and putting away dishes for an hour. Everything was back where it belonged as far as she could tell. She hung up her towel and went to watch some football. The day would wind down in about 2 hours until then she was happy to lay on the floor with Eddie and enjoy the talk going on around her.

When everyone was gone except the family Anne made a cup of tea and sat down with Elise at the kitchen table. Anne began by saying,

"I'm worried and happy for you at the same time."

"Why worried?"

"Because there's great potential for hurt here."

"Anne, we're just dating. I enjoy her company I feel…something for her and…we talked about it." Elise answered trying to make Anne feel better about this.

"How does she feel about you?"

"She's interested in dating me."

"Honey, she's not new to this - you're new to this. You've spent most of your adult life alone, I don't think I know that you've gone on a date since high school? Are you sure this is what you really… 'want' isn't the right word, because you obviously want to date her but…" Anne couldn't think of any excuses to pull her friend back from something she was sure spelled h-e-a-r-t-a-c-h-e.

"I just don't want to see you get hurt." Elise thought about that, she knew she didn't want to get hurt either but she had been alone and sitting still for so long that she wasn't going to stop until there was a very good reason and not getting hurt just didn't fit the bill.

"Anne I do understand what you are trying to say, but you can't protect me all my life. You've done a great job up until now, but you've got to let me make my own mistakes." The life long friends looked at each other, it felt more sober than Elise wanted, she was so excited about this and she wanted her friend Anne to be also.

"Why happy?" She asked Anne referring to her 'worried and happy' statement.

"Because I can see how happy you are Elise…and please don't believe for a minute that I'm not happy for you. I am…but…well I always feel responsible for you, you know that."

Elise's eyes watered and she looked at Anne,

"I know you do and I love you for it but please…let me have this with your approval." Anne nodded her eyes tearing up also. Then Elise said,

"Wanna tell me why you haven't made a single comment on the fact that Carolyn is a woman?"

Anne laughed through her tears and said,

"Bob and I each came to that conclusion a while back hon."

"Bob figured this out?" Anne nodded,

"Oh brother, if Bob knows what's going on the whole town will know soon." Anne laughed and then sobered

"Elise please be careful in Weldon, the Bible thumpers will make your life miserable if they get wind of this."

"I know but they won't because they haven't been able to keep track of me since I was 16."

"True." Thinking of how Elise had effectively kept them away from her since the day her parents died. Anne and Bob and the kids attended the Lutheran church, semi regularly but no one ever bothered Elise about attending, while we got a constant barrage of calls and chats if we missed two weeks in a row.


Jamie lay stretched out on Carolyn's childhood bed. There wasn't much room on the double bed and Carolyn effectively shoved him over and made room to sit Indian style. Jamie talked about what it was like to be a resident. He liked it and hated it in turn, didn't like the hours mostly. Carolyn sometimes wondered if he'd make it through, he sometimes found it hard to settle down. Jamie finally ran out of steam and asked nonchalantly,

"So who are you seeing…or what are you doing to put that dazzle in your eyes?" Carolyn laughed,

"I don't have dazzle in my eyes you idiot."

"Yeah you do, you look excited and…better than I've see you in a couple of years. Mom and Dad are all aflutter about it."

"You talked with Mom and Dad about me?"

"Yep, they want me to get the straight story and report back. Tell me everything, all the details and I'll give them the crib notes."

"Up yours!"

"Naughty, come on tell me…who is she or what is she doing to you?" Carolyn smiled and looked out the window, a far off look making her green eyes darker with some kind of emotion that Jamie couldn't interpret. He waited patiently.

"I'm dating again." Carolyn said making it sound like nothing.

"Dating who?" Jamie wasn't going to quit until he had the answers…he never did.

"I met her this summer." Carolyn decided she would make him ask every single question until he had the story. He didn't deserve to get the whole story without some work.

"When did you meet her this summer? You mean out in that backwater of Weld…whatever?"

"Weldon, it's called Weldon."

"Yeah, okay Weldon…so who is she?"

"Nobody, you'd know."

"Oh you brat, of course I wouldn't know anyone there, I've never had the misfortune of visiting the damn place. Who is she? I only remember you discussing…a woman farmer…" His eyes narrowed watching Carolyn stare back at him blankly.

"Don't tell me…"

"Don't tell you what?"

"Your…what was it you said…'dating' a farmer? Oh my God!" Carolyn laughed and shoved him,

"Quit calling her a farmer, her name is Elise."

"Oh God, a farmer - Carolyn…she must be awfully good in bed to keep you interested." Carolyn dropped the bomb,

"I wouldn't know." Jamie lay there uncomprehending for a few moments and then he sat up pushing his too long bangs out of his face.

"You haven't done the deed?" Carolyn scowled at his use of the English language,

"That is a disgusting thing to say about someone I'm interested in." Jamie stared at her for a long time until Carolyn said,

"Knock it off. I'm…we're just dating. I like her, I'm attracted to her, she feels the same and that's all there is to it. Nothing more, nothing less."

"Nothing less than not getting laid, there's truth in that statement." He said coyly.

"Getting laid, as you so rudely put it- isn't the be all and end all."

"Since when? I mean your record clearly states the opposite."

"Well things change. I haven't managed to make a success out of any relationship as of yet so I'm changing my focus and seeing how it goes." Jamie heard the unspoken pain in her words and said angrily,

"There's a difference between not managing a successful relationship and being in a relationship with someone who was inadequate, conniving and unfaithful." Carolyn smiled sadly and reminded him,

"Well I made those choices, no one twisted my arm. Elise is uncomplicated, smart, fun…and… the hottest thing I've ever laid eyes on." Jamie let go of his anger and laughed,

"Now that sounds more like it. You were beginning to worry me."

"It's nothing serious. I'm just taking it as it comes and seeing how it goes."

"Sounds smart." Jamie watched her as she talked about work and noticed how her eyes lit when she mentioned something that she and Elise had done or seen together. His sister was just a little more than interested but she was being cautious and he couldn't fault that. He didn't ever want her to be as hurt as she was when she had finally seen the light about Tanya. His strong sister, torn down by years of being lied to and compromising herself, the fact that it was all in the name of love made it even worse. He trusted if there was any good in the world at all his sister deserved to find it. But with a farmer…he had strong doubts about that.

Chapter Fifteen

Elise eagerly opened her E-mail so she could check her messages. She was expecting E-mail and she wasn't disappointed. She quickly opened the one from Carolyn, smiling happily as she read.

"Lisa and her date are going to meet us at a place near campus, so just meet me at my office and we'll go from there. Dinner is at 8:00 p.m. we'll probably have drinks before. The restaurant is semi-nice so we can't wear blue jeans. (Think my work clothes!) Can't wait to see you."

Elise climbed up the stairs to finish packing. She looked into her closet for something dressy. She frowned at all the options before she sat on her bed and considered what she would wear if she had it in her closet. It was definitely time for some clothes shopping; she'd have to get Carolyn to help her but for tonight? Finally she had packed everything else that she wanted to take to Chicago for the weekend and took her bag down stairs.


Elise walked out of the department store with a pair of gray slacks and a sweater chosen for her by the personal shopping assistant. She jogged out to her truck, searching her pockets for her keys.

She drove out of the parking lot heading for Carolyn's condominium. Her level of excitement at the evening ahead picking up with each mile she drove.

She looked at herself in the mirror for the 100th time. The slacks fit her perfectly, clinging to her hips the legs flaring out. The black mock turtlenecks sweater was cashmere and fitted more snuggly than things she usually wore, she didn't feel self-conscious just strange. It was a new thing to dress up for much of anything. She had clothes for the odd wedding, and the baptisms of her former school classmate's children but she hadn't needed dress clothes for anything else.

Elise looked carefully at her face and used a comb to straighten up her hair. It hung down her back thick, dark and shiny. She hoped Carolyn liked the outfit. She grabbed her black wool jacket and pulled it on, using her fingers to pull her long hair out of the collar before buttoning up.

The cold wind blew in her face as she walked across campus. It had been dark for over a half an hour as Elise made her way from her truck to Carolyn's office. There weren't many people out on campus. Elise looked around and thought of Carolyn walking out here alone each evening, she frowned at the thought.

Elise knocked on the office door and waited for a response.

"Come in." Carolyn called. She looked up hoping it was Elise. It is…her mind breathed in bliss as she stood and watched Elise walk in the room. Her eyes widened when she took in the clothes Elise wore.

"You look fantastic!" Elise smiled at Carolyn.


"Oh yeah! Did you go shopping?"

"Uh huh - but you have to go back with me so I can get a few more things." Carolyn grinned and said,

"Only if I can watch you change." Elise blushed and came forward into the room stopping and smiling brightly before bending her head for a kiss. Her world rocked for several long moments before she pulled her head up to look into green glowing eyes. They continued to stare at each other, only inches apart. Carolyn reached up and began to undo the buttons of Elise's coat, their breathing increasing as one.

When it was unbuttoned Carolyn pushed it off Elise's shoulders. Elise caught it as it slid down her arms and without looking tossed it over onto the couch in Carolyn's office. Carolyn's eyes feasted before she stood back a little still grinning.


"Stop, you're embarrassing me." Elise said touching Carolyn's cheek. And then reminded,

"You look really great yourself." Carolyn laughed and said,

"You don't ever have to stop telling me how hot I am." Elise rolled her eyes and then pulled Carolyn close again, nibbling at her lips until Carolyn grabbed Elise's head and kissed her hard. They drew apart.

Carolyn's body was pushing her to rub herself against Elise. She ignored it, with difficulty and took a step backwards, moving quickly to her desk and beginning to pack her bags. Elise frowned wondering what was up? Carolyn glanced up when everything was in her bag and met Elise's questioning eyes. She didn't want to talk about her desire but in fairness to Elise she needed to make herself understood so she answered the unspoken question by saying,

"The day will come when you'll understand, until then I'll just say what you already know - I find you very attractive." Elise smiled and said with a measure of appreciation if not understanding,

"I find you very attractive too, you don't have to run every time." Carolyn laughed lifting her eyes brow suggestively,

"I do need to run, unless you want to find yourself flat on your back…" Elise felt more warmth pooling low in her body, making her feel weak in her knees, Carolyn always set her heart pounding, with her touch and her words.

"I don't mind being flat on my back, if your asking." Elise said blushing but she didn't take her eyes away from Carolyn's.

Carolyn let go of her bag and approached Elise. They stood looking at each other until Carolyn stepped close and put her arms up around Elise's neck before pulling her lips down to meet her own. Elise brought Carolyn near, enclosing her in a strong enveloping embrace. Their lips fed hungrily, Elise running her hands down Carolyn's back, the soft feel of her sweater, stimulating her fingertips.

Elise loved feeling Carolyn pressed against her and wanted to pull the lower part of Carolyn's body closer. She debated as she continued to chase Carolyn's tongue with her own.

Carolyn gasp into Elise's mouth as she felt Elise's hands slide down her back and gently cup her hips pulling Carolyn against her. Carolyn's fingers ran up into Elise's hair running her fingers through the soft tendrils. Elise was throbbing in a great deal of places on her body; she held Carolyn's hips rubbing against her own need. Carolyn groaned and tore her lips away.

"Oh Elise…have mercy." Elise released her intimate hold on Carolyn and put a couple of inches space between each other. Carolyn laid her forehead on Elise's shoulder breathing hard. Elise rubbed Carolyn's back tenderly. Their breathing slowed after a time and Carolyn pulled her head up to look at Elise. Elise smiled gently and said,

"You feel so good in my arms." Carolyn thought about the way Elise's touch made her feel and said quietly,

"I'm glad." Carolyn took a deep breath to calm her body's cravings and glanced at her watch. A cold shower was out but how about a cold walk?

"We have a little time before we have to go to the restaurant, would you like to go for a walk?" Elise didn't hesitate,

"Yes. That would be real nice." They took the bags and left the building, walking first to Carolyn's car to stow her bags and then they began walking along the River Esplanade. They shivered a little in the cold but before long Carolyn was warm and happy with Elise's arm around her keeping away the cold.

Seven-thirty sneaked up on them when they were quite a ways away from where they were supposed to be so they caught a cab over to the restaurant. They found Lisa and her date Ryan sitting at the bar. After introductions Carolyn ordered them some drinks and they made conversation until their table was ready at 8:15.

Carolyn's eyes flipped from Elise to Ryan and then to Lisa, listening and smiling but remaining silent. Elise looked particularly alluring tonight, the candlelight sent shadows across her face and upper body. Carolyn rested her eyes on Elise's breasts, their sloping beauty making her hands itch. Her eyes lifted and she watched Elise talking to Ryan, her eyes shifted to Lisa. Lisa's eyes met Carolyn's and she gave Carolyn a knowing smile before winking. Carolyn blushed slightly and wrinkled her nose.

After dinner they walked out into the cold. In separate taxi's they left the restaurant behind.


Elise built a fire while Carolyn opened a bottle of wine and tossed a bunch of pillows onto the floor in front of the fireplace. Once the fire was burning brightly they settled back into the pillows, Carolyn resting on Elise's shoulder, Elise's arm holding Carolyn close to her side.

"I had a great time tonight with your friends."

"Good. I thought you would." They lay together, Carolyn enjoying the feel of Elise's cashmere sweater against her cheek. Temptation lay inches from her face and she watched Elise's breasts rise and fall with her breathing. Finally she gave in and slowly ran her fingers across Elise's taut stomach feeling her muscles contract then she slid up and cupped her, squeezing gently, immediately feeling the hardened peak against her palm and a low gasp from Elise. Carolyn looked up at Elise whose blue eyes were blazing in the firelight.

Their lips met and Carolyn continued with her gentle ministrations. Everything else fell away as they explored each other thoroughly, their fingers making forays into hereto-unknown places.

Elise brushed Carolyn's warm skin, her fingers running under Carolyn's blouse, searching and finding the places that made Carolyn gasp with pleasure. She listened to her heightened breathing, felt the silky material of her bra, wanting to hear Carolyn's delight. Wanting to be Carolyn's delight.

Carolyn mentally shook herself, her body pulsing with unrequited pleasure. This had to stop very soon - it was getting painful. But first she pulled Elise's sweater out of her slacks and slid her hands across her stomach to the edge of her bra, the quiver of muscle fascinating her. She yearned to watch those muscles play under Elise's soft skin. Her lips ran up Elise's jaw line and then whispered in her ear,

"Can I unfasten this?"

Elise felt Carolyn's hand on the front opening of her bra and wanted nothing more than to feel Carolyn's hands touching her there.

"Yes." She breathed. Moments later she felt the release and her breast pressed forward out of their confinement. The first touch of Carolyn's hands and she lost coherent thought, sweetness and warmth seeped into every pore leaving her overwhelmed with a need she had never experienced before. Gasping for air she stilled Carolyn's hands with her own and opened her heavy eyelids to find Carolyn's deep green eyes looking back with tenderness.

Moments passed, long moments and then Elise said gruffly,

"I don't want to stop but…" Carolyn broke in softly trying to calm the pulsing in the lower regions of her body,

"It's your call Elise, don't worry about it." It came out shorter than she wanted and she tried again,

"What I mean is…" The pause was longer than she wanted also as she scrambled for the right words. But Elise spoke first,

"I'm as ready as I'll ever be but I…um…just got my…period today." She finished in a whisper. "And I don't want to have my first experience when I feel kind of hormonally unbalanced and…icky." She laughed self-consciously.

Carolyn grinned and rubbed her nose against Elise's.

"We'll wait until its right."

"I'm sorry."

"Stop. I'll live if you will." Elise smiled and stretched underneath Carolyn, settling them together more closely. Carolyn enjoyed the feeling but her body had taken all it could tonight and she kissed Elise, scooted off her and sat up. Elise instantly missed Carolyn's body against hers but she didn't press.

Carolyn stood and threw some of the pillows up on the couch before reaching a hand out to Elise who was still reclining in the pillows.

"Come on, it's past my bedtime." When Elise was standing they put the rest of the pillows away, made sure the fire grate was in place and Carolyn began to walk to her room.

"Carolyn." Carolyn turned around to see what Elise wanted,


"Would you consider sleeping with me tonight?" Carolyn knew she couldn't sleep next to Elise tonight…well maybe if I go get some relief. She smiled slightly and said,

"I need a shower first, then I'll be in okay?"

"Great…are you sure? You can say no."

"I'll be in." Elise turned and headed to her bedroom. A shower sounded good.


Carolyn shut the door to her bedroom and leaned back against it. Her body was filled with needs and wants and just plain old horniness. She methodically stripped off her clothes and got the shower going, the needs of her body making her limbs feel heavy.

Under the warm stream of water she slowly let her fingers trace down her body. Eliciting a sigh as she slipped her fingers into startling wetness. Blue eyes flitted through her mind as she felt the pleasure rising within her body. She leaned back against the tile and the water splashed against her nipples making her gasp. A surge of desire rushed through her before her world rocked and she reached out to steady herself until the dizziness passed. Carolyn stayed where she was, the water warm and relaxing now.

She knocked on the door and Elise called,

"Yeah, come on in." Carolyn pushed the door open and Elise came out of the bathroom letting her hair fall down around her shoulders. She was fresh from the shower also and had on flannel pajama bottoms and a T-shirt. Carolyn swallowed and reconsidered, she felt some relief but she didn't know if she could do this tonight - even though she really wanted to sleep here. Elise watched Carolyn silently for a few minutes and then asked quietly,

"Are you okay?" Carolyn looked up from her musings and smiled slightly,

"Yeah - I'm fine." Elise didn't think that sounded very convincing and she walked to Carolyn, reaching out and clasping her hand. She wasn't immune to the feelings that being close to Carolyn invoked and she guessed it might be too much for Carolyn after tonight's session, so she said,

"It was selfish of me to ask you to sleep here, I'm feeling what I guess would be sexual frustration and I would imagine what you are feeling is on a whole different level." Carolyn smiled,

"It's true, you're tough on the old libido Elise." Elise grinned,

"I like hearing that."

"I like feeling it, except when there's an overload without end. Then I get all fussy." Elise continued to stand near Carolyn; she wished for the umpteenth time that her period had waited a few days. Her body felt swollen and cramps were making her lower back ache. Carolyn's fussiness was all she was thinking of though when she said shyly,

"You know, we can wait for…a better time for me but I don't see why you have to wait." Carolyn's eyes flew to Elise's. She looked for and received confirmation that she had heard correctly. She cleared her throat before saying,

"That's a very nice offer but we'll…make love when it's right for both of us." Elise was suddenly quite taken with the idea of pleasing Carolyn and she said,

"I won't see you for a couple of weeks and I don't want you to keep waiting."

"Elise, no. It's both of us or neither of us. I'm not interested in finding satisfaction, I'm interested in making love with you." Carolyn was feeling a little stronger now and she took Elise's face in her hands gently. She placed a soft kiss on Elise's lips and then said again,

"Thank you, but we'll wait until it's the right time." Elise smiled and asked,

"Does that mean you'll stay and sleep here?" Carolyn actually felt as if she could manage that now and she replied,

"Come on, get in bed." Elise crawled in lifting the blankets until Carolyn was also underneath then she shut off the lamp and they cuddled up together. It was late and they were both sleepy from the hour and the wine. Carolyn's body gave a couple of zings and then settled itself against Elise, soon after she was fast asleep. Elise smiled drifting until sleep claimed her also.

Carolyn woke with a start. Her eyes opened, it was dark all around, her body was in an acute state of arousal. She tried to remember the dream she had been having and realized that Elise's hands were wrapped around her and under her shirt brushing lightly against her bare skin. Then those magical hands played across her breasts making Carolyn's breath catch as Elise caught a nipple between her fingers gently toying.

Elise put her face in Carolyn's silky hair her lips behind Carolyn's ear, whispering softly,

"Let me take this off you." Elise said pulling at the bottom of Carolyn's T-shirt. Carolyn's eyes popped open as she came fully awake.

"Elise…stop." Carolyn reached up to grab Elise's hands holding them still in her own. Shaking with her needs she whispered roughly,

"Have you changed your mind?" Her question was met with several moments of silence so she asked,

"Elise, I…is this your way of telling me you want to make love…now?"

"I want to make love to you." Elise said quietly.

"I thought we talked about this, about waiting until the time was right for both of us."

"We did but…I just wanted to…" Carolyn released Elise's hands and turned around putting her hands on Elise's face.

"Elise if you feel up to it, I would be more than happy…" Lame Carolyn, "Ecstatic to make love with you. But if you're not feeling up to it then you need to give my poor body a break." Elise smiled slightly, "I'm sorry, I'm not thinking very clearly I guess." Carolyn leaned forward and put a kiss on Elise's forehead then she sighed and asked Elise for confirmation,

"So…tonight is out for you?"

"Yes…I'm sorry I have cramps and…" Elise didn't want to get technical so she was silent. Carolyn smiled slightly hoping that levity would help Elise understand,

"Did you know that sex relieves cramps?" Elise laughed quietly at that.

"No I wasn't aware of that but forget it." Carolyn playfully tickled her way under Elise's T-shirt and plucked at waistband of her pajama bottoms. Elise caught her hand in her own and said,


"I like that double standard, you misbehave but I can't. Come on, are you feeling crampy?"



"My lower back."

"I'm telling you I can make those go away in just a few minutes."

"If it involves touching me below the waist, forget it." Carolyn laughed and accused,

"You sound like a virgin." Elise said smartly,

"Ha ha!" Carolyn lay looking at Elise -blue eyes watched her. She could help with those cramps without sex…

"Turn over and let me rub your back." Elise looked at Carolyn carefully and asked,

"So you've given up…"

"Yep, it's your call Elise but I would like to rub your back for you. Cramps suck." Elise rolled over onto her stomach and Carolyn hopped off the bed, she needed something to lubricate Elise's skin with, so she told Elise,

"I'll be right back, don't move." Elise lay quietly thinking.

Carolyn climbed back over Elise's thighs and put some massage oil in her palm, rubbing to warm it. Then she began to massage Elise's strong lower back taking away every ache, every cramp, every thought in Elise's head. Time ceased to exist and Elise felt herself falling asleep, she resisted it but gentle, firm fingers and magical hands were sending her to dreamland.

When they woke in the morning Elise was cramp free and very happy. She and Carolyn went out for breakfast and then off to the mall to do some shopping. Carolyn teased Elise for hours about doing 'it' in the dressing room -among other places. Elise was in a perpetual state of sexual awareness, something she hadn't even been mindful of before.

Carolyn smiled, thinking about all the teasing she had heaped on Elise today. Elise was such a good sport and very sexy in a most naïve way. She seemed completely unaware of the looks she drew from people as they went through stores and down the mall. Carolyn had insisted on going with Elise into the changing rooms and Elise was getting comfortable with stripping off her clothes to try on something that Carolyn had found for her.

They carried bags in each hand as they made their way to Carolyn's jeep. Elise had basically a new wardrobe. Carolyn was giving Elise guff about the cash she had paid for everything with.

"I've never seen anyone carry so much cash, what did you do rob a convenience store before you came to my place yesterday."

"What exactly do you have against cash?" Elise asked smiling.

"Nothing, I've just never seen so much of it. I pay for everything on a credit card and then pay it off the next month, then I have a record of it."

"Well, I pay for everything with cash and then there is no record." Carolyn frowned and asked,

"So you don't want a record? Is that what you're telling me."

"Well - I do have one, I have the sales slips - so I have a record but no one else does. It's no big deal I just like it that way and I can afford to pay cash so I do." Silence reigned inside the Jeep until Elise looked over at Carolyn to see what was up. Carolyn was frowning and Elise asked her,

"What is it?"

"We spent, well…you spent a great deal of money today, are you telling me that you always use cash for clothes and stuff like that?"

"I use cash for everything."

"What's everything?" Carolyn asked.

"Everything - like vehicles, farm equipment, food, clothes - anything and everything."

"I'm going to come back to that cash for vehicle thing but first I want to know - do you have a credit card?"

"Yep, just one but I've never used it."

"Never used it." Carolyn repeated. Then she continued with her questioning,

"So you paid for that truck with cash?"

"With a check, uh huh."

"That truck must have cost over 20 thousand dollars, did you trade something in on it?"

"Nope, I gave my old truck to Anne and Bob for Eddie. It's in their barn waiting for him to turn 16."

"So you paid cash for that truck?

"Yes." Carolyn was confused, I mean farmers didn't make that much money, did they?

Carolyn looked at Elise through narrowed eyes. Something wasn't adding up. Elise had paid for well over a thousand dollars worth of clothes today and she paid for it with cash that she actually had on hand.

"Elise do you always carry so much cash?"


"That's kind of dangerous."

"In Weldon?"

"No, in Chicago."

"Well, I think it's alright. How else am I going to pay for something I want to buy?"

"Hmm…" Carolyn mulled over her next question briefly then asked,

"So you're making a decent living…farming?" Elise considered what she wanted to say carefully. Only Bob and Anne knew how well she did between farming and investing. On the other hand whom would she rather tell? She debated until finally saying,

"I do make a decent living farming. I also invest."


"Yeah, really." Elise answered beginning to get amused by the consternation on Carolyn's face.

"So could you, say…call an airline today, make a reservation for a first class ticket to…Fiji and stay in a 4 star hotel for the next month and have any money left over to eat for the rest of the year?" Elise laughed.

"Yeah, but I'd have to carry an awful lot of cash on me." Carolyn laughed and let it be for now.

"Well you are definitely buying supper. I mean shit!"

"Figures…I shouldn't have told you."

"Too late baby." They laughed and headed for a Chinese restaurant that Carolyn wanted to share with Elise.

Chapter Sixteen

In two days Elise would be in town, and they were set to move their relationship to a new level. Carolyn was many things but calm wasn't one of them. She was afraid that everything would suddenly be serious between them and she didn't want to go there. Where do I want to go? Just forward, but slowly, I'm already spending way too much time thinking about Elise. So far Elise was just going with the flow but Carolyn feared this new level in their relationship was going to change everything.

Not that these fears were going to change the course of their relationship, if indeed it was a relationship. At least quit lying to yourself, it is a relationship at its…beginning. They were both ready to go to the next level. Carolyn laughed to herself, some of us more than others.

"Hey!" Carolyn said as she opened the door to Elise smiling brightly. Elise grinned in return and put her bag down inside the door. Carolyn reached up for a quick kiss, the idea wasn't to make it into the bedroom first thing, so she kept it as impersonal as she could considering she was incredibly glad to see Elise and wanted to get her into the bedroom first thing.

Elise was nervous but only…a little, mostly she was ready. She could see that Carolyn was a little anxious also and she wanted them both to be able to loosen up and let everything happen naturally. So she said with a twinkle in her blue eyes,

"Where should I put my bag?" Carolyn smiled and shut the door behind Elise.

"Ah, now there's the big question." She reached out and picked it up walking toward her bedroom. She put one hand on the jam and leaned inside setting Elise's bag down on the carpet before walking back to Elise.

Elise smiled acknowledging where they were headed with a gentle kiss to Carolyn's cheek. Whispering she teased asking,

"Are you nervous?" Carolyn chuckled and said,

"Am I nervous? I'm hardly the question of the hour." Elise kissed Carolyn's other cheek, nuzzling Carolyn's ear tenderly with her nose.

"I'm starving. Are we going out or eating in?" Carolyn smiled putting both her hands against either side of Elise's face, green eyes meeting dazzling blue,

"We're eating here." And then Carolyn pulled Elise down and kissed her, nibbling at her lips, Elise opened her mouth and their kissed deepened sweetly. Finally Carolyn gently slowed the kiss and pulled away saying,

"Enough." Elise grinned and replied,

"Never enough." Carolyn smiled affectionately,

"You are so sweet." Looking at each other ended with Carolyn taking Elise's hand and pulling her into the kitchen.

The light scent from the bouquet of flowers on the dinner table reached Elise as she poured a glass of wine for Carolyn and herself. One glass was all she would allow tonight; she didn't want anything to cloud her mind…besides Carolyn. She raised her eyes to where Carolyn was putting food into serving bowls and then standing on her tiptoes to get down another bowl before turning around; Elise quickly paid attention to what she was doing so she didn't spill red wine on the tablecloth.

They ate a delicious meal. Talk pinging back and forth as it always did between them. They laughed together. The nervousness was simply 'with them' tonight and Carolyn really wanted it to go away. This night should be relaxing, fun and…exciting, which wasn't really very relaxing she acknowledged. She considered what her own nervousness was about…Elise's virginity.

Her hand reached across and tenderly grasped Elise's fingers. Elise lifted her eyes from her plate her smile questioning. Carolyn was silent looking for any signs of distress but Elise looked fine, maybe it's just me.

"What?" Elise asked quietly.

"How are you feeling?" Elise chuckled and said,

"Oh about a thousand things come to mind."

"A thousand, that's a lot?" Carolyn considered before saying, "Are any of those feelings scared or nervous?" Elise thought carefully about how she felt and then answered,

"Not scared surely but maybe a little nervous."


"That's a pretty leading question. You're going to make me blush, which is probably why you asked?" Elise teased. Carolyn was quick to say,

"No it's not that, I want to know if this is what you really want?" Elise's forehead wrinkled in a frown,

"This meaning, to begin a…to have…sex?" Carolyn smiled and said to Elise,

"Yes - is this really what you want?"

"Uh huh." Elise watched Carolyn's face carefully looking for signs of what was making her nervous. She was exuding some kind of tension that Elise couldn't put her finger on. So Elise picked up Carolyn's hand, which was still snug in hers and kissed the back of it, then turned it over and kissed the palm. Suddenly Carolyn's eyes took on a sensual look the nervousness gone for the moment.

The dishes were finally all in the dishwasher. Elise dried her hands on the hand towel and turned toward Carolyn who was drying and putting away the pans she had used to cook supper. They both looked at each other, serious faces suddenly splitting into big grins.

"Come on." Said Carolyn and she reached for Elise's hand as they walked to Carolyn's bedroom. Without releasing Elise's hand Carolyn flipped on the bedroom stereo and pushed play on the CD player. The room filled with a beautiful voice singing a vocal jazz standard, Carolyn handed a book of matches to Elise and pointed to some candles.

Elise lit several while Carolyn crossed the room lighting others here and there. When the room flickered with candlelight Carolyn turned back and approached Elise.

"Would you like to dance?" Elise smiled, mesmerized by Carolyn's hypnotic green eyes. She loved to look at them, they were so expressive - right now they were filled with a sensual look that made Elise's heart flutter.

Carolyn reached up, placing her arms around Elise's neck; the full length of her body pressing against Elise. Elise settled her arms tightly around Carolyn's back and hugged her closer still. They moved to the music.

Elise lost herself in the slow rhythm, the delightful pressure of Carolyn's body against her own, the clean floral scent of Carolyn's shampoo, the silky feel of her hair against her nose and lips as she kissed the blond head.

Carolyn loved the feel of Elise's warm embrace it was safe and exciting. Carolyn face against Elise's neck found tender sweet skin to kiss, her fingers playing with long soft hair.

"I love the way you smell." Elise breathed over Carolyn's ear. Carolyn smiled and grazed her teeth along Elise's neck before looking up into her eyes,

"Thank you." Then she put her fingers on Elise's top button and raised her eyes again in question, Elise smiled and nodded. They slowly began to unbutton, push, pull and discard each other's clothes, revealing soft skin to their fingers and sensual curves to their eyes.

Carolyn released Elise from the confinement of her bra and told Elise breathily,

"You're so beautiful Elise." Carolyn followed the blush her compliment drew, with her fingertips. The air around them became charged with excitement and pleasured whispers, as their kisses deepened they stumbled toward Carolyn's bed.

The feel of Carolyn lying against her naked sent Elise into an overload on her senses.

"Hang on." She gasped catching Carolyn's dancing fingers. Carolyn immediately stopped her explorations and said softly,

"Are you alright?" Her green eyes filled with concern as she sought Elise's. Elise smiled shyly,

"I'm…great, it…you…feel so good I thought I…was going to spontaneously combust for a second there." Carolyn smiled leaning down to kiss Elise, coaxing her for a moment before whispering,

"You are going to spontaneously combust sugar." Elise blushed and brought Carolyn's luscious lips back to her own.

Carolyn slowly gave new meaning to the word 'explore' as she took Elise on an exquisite journey of discovery, her whispers inciting waves of pleasure as her hands spread shudders up the length of Elise's body. Elise was aware of only Carolyn, luring her higher and higher bringing her feelings charged with gasping pleasure until a powerful eruption washed through her entire body. Inhaling sharply she called Carolyn's name.

Carolyn held Elise as she lay breathing hard. She brushed back Elise's hair from her damp forehead. Elise's eyes were closed but she had a slight smile on her face, Carolyn patiently waited.

Blue eyes soon revealed their warmth and satisfaction and Elise said quietly,

"I can't think to remember if I owe you an apology or was it a thank you?" Carolyn chuckled and lay down on Elise placing honeyed kisses along her neck and face.

Elise lay quietly in glorious wonder of her body's response to Carolyn's touch. Her fingers lazily grazed Carolyn's shoulder blades and lower until she was back in her head. She used her hands to gently pull Carolyn's lips away from her neck and settle them against her own. They kissed deeply as Elise continued the motions of her fingers.

So quickly that Carolyn didn't even have a chance to protest, not that I wanted to, Elise flipped her over and shifted her own body so it wouldn't crush Carolyn who looked up with raised eyebrows at Elise who widened her smiling eyes and rubbed her nose against Carolyn's.

"Tell me if I'm crushing you." Elise whispered as she shifted off even more. She reveled in the feeling of bliss that Carolyn's silky warm body offered.

"Don't move off, you're not heavy." Elise spent the next several minutes keeping Carolyn busy with kisses and licks all along her collarbone and below. Carolyn held Elise's head to her, as Elise's fingers began a light delicate circular motion across her stomach and up to her breasts.

Carolyn was on fire when Elise made her way lower,

"Show me how to please you." Elise whispered, her fingers dipping into warm wetness. Carolyn inhaled sharply and puffed,

"Everything your doing pleases me."

"Show me." Elise demanded gently as her lips claimed Carolyn's. Carolyn let her finger intertwine with Elise's; sinking into welcoming warmth, moving together, giving direction that quickly spiraled upward to ecstasy. She sighed against Elise's warm lips.

They didn't make it far from Carolyn's condo the rest of the weekend. Elise was too willing to learn everything she could and Carolyn too accommodating.


Elise couldn't put words to what she was feeling, she needed some time alone to put a name to everything and so she waited until she was in her truck and on the way to Weldon before trying to sort it out. If she had known how wonderful her body would feel, she surely would have had sex years ago. She laughed at herself, yeah right. Only Carolyn mattered so much, could make her feel…so much.

She ached with feelings she couldn't, no - didn't know how to express. Making love...the breathless enveloping feelings Carolyn's touch brought her. The closeness they had made…a world all their own. Elise wanted that desperately, now that she was on her way home she wanted so much to go back and pull Carolyn into her arms and push the rest of the world away, forever. She looked at her cell phone, considering if she should call, just to hear her voice. She talked herself out of it and continued on her way home lost in the cherished moments from the weekend passed.

Carolyn sat curled up on the couch, the remote sitting on her thigh. She had been clicking channels for about an hour and was really sick of herself. Go back and do the reading you need to get done. She didn't move because she had already tried to focus on reading twice since Elise had left and hadn't been able to concentrate either time. She needed the television to keep her from thinking…of blue eyes watching her as she orgasmed. Of Elise's attention to every detail…on her body, her worshipful words making Carolyn feel beautiful and cared for. Elise had been the virgin but Carolyn felt like she had gone to places she didn't even know existed when she was in Elise's arms. It was almost more than she could bear. She clicked through some more channels.

Finally the phone rang and Carolyn reached and grabbed it before the first ring was finished. She waited impatiently clearing her throat, until it had rang a third time before she pseudo-calmly pushed 'talk' and said,


"Hi - I'm home." Carolyn smiled into the phone glad Elise was home safe and more than glad to be talking to her.

"How was the drive?"

"It was good. What are you doing?"

"Well, I'm watching TV but I've got some reading to do before I go to bed tonight, so I suppose I should get to that soon."

"I miss you." Elise couldn't keep it in any more. Carolyn's heart pitter-pattered and she said,

"I miss you too."

"I didn't get a chance to tell you how much I enjoyed the weekend." Carolyn laughed and teased,

"Which part exactly?"

"Hmm…" Elise played along, "Probably the part where you…" Carolyn waited breathlessly, "went to the door for the pizza so I didn't have to put my clothes on." Carolyn laughed hard,

"You shit."

"Now, now." Elise grinned as she paced around her kitchen happy to have Carolyn's presence even if it was just over the phone. They talked about a ton of things, as if they hadn't just spent the entire weekend together.

Elise stayed in bed late. She was always awake at around 5:30 but she didn't feel like getting out of bed. Her body felt strange this morning. She was sore in a few spots, who knew that sex used a whole separate set of muscles? The next time she looked at the clock it was 6:45 a.m. but she still didn't get up for the day.

Her thoughts argued with each other about whether she should call Carolyn this morning. Just about the time she had herself content with not calling the inner voices would change and convince her that calling would be a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Oh God.

She tried to turn her thoughts to other aspects of the day ahead but she couldn't concentrate on anything other than calling Carolyn. Elise picked up the phone at her bedside and dialed, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly to calm herself. On the second ring a gruff voice answered,


"Hi, I didn't wake you did I?" Elise asked disgusted with herself for not waiting longer.

"Nope, I'm standing over the coffee pot trying to inhale some caffeine to get me going. I didn't sleep to well." Wishing she hadn't admitted that she explained,

"Up too late and maybe nibbling on chocolate wasn't such a great idea at 11:30 at night."

"I'm lounging." Elise bragged.

"Nice…anytime you're here you drag me out of bed at dawn, so I really appreciate you calling me and telling me that…You can bet I won't be charmed out of bed before 10:00 next time you're here."

"I didn't get you up that early this weekend."

"Excuse me? I was up at the crack of dawn both Saturday and Sunday."

"Well yeah…but I didn't make you get out of bed." Carolyn was smiling now but she continued to complain,

"I had to perform though." Elise laughed.

"I like that." She replied dryly. "You complain NOW but I didn't hear any objection this weekend." Carolyn laughed,

"Who would complain? It's every woman's fantasy to be woken by a tongue licking her…"

"Alright." Elise interrupted. "I didn't call to be embarrassed this early in the morning." Smiling Carolyn asked,

"Why did you call?"

"Well…to say hi and to see how you are feeling after the weekend." Better skip the part about just wanting to hear her voice.

"I'm feeling good." Carolyn said keeping it as uncomplicated as she could. "How are you doing? Are you comfortable with all that's happened?" Elise answered,

"Yeah…at least most of me is comfortable." Carolyn frowned her concern showing and asked,

"What aren't you comfortable with?"

"Uhm." Elise dragged it out, "I guess probably…I'm a little…sore. Must have used some muscles that I've never used before." Carolyn laughed hard and with unmistakable satisfaction she said,

"Sore huh?"

"You don't need to sound so pleased about it. I'm not really enjoying it that much."

"I think I kind of like the idea…in theory." Carolyn said with amused sympathy. "I'd massage you if I were there." Elise smiled and told Carolyn,

"And I might take you up on it." Carolyn quit teasing for a moment and told Elise,

"Why don't you take a warm bath, that should help?" Then her concern turned to teasing again,

"I'll try to take it easier on you next time."

"Oh stop." They chatted for a few more minutes and then Elise hung up and got out of bed happy to begin her day.

Carolyn made her way to the shower smiling. It was a pretty damn nice day she thought as she looked out her bedroom window. After a minute she tossed her T-shirt on her bed and went into the bathroom.


"Anne, please don't say that. She means a lot to me and I want you to be happy for me not be angry with her. She comes with her own set of baggage, I don't want to be with her because she's perfect, just because she's Carolyn." Anne tried to let her worry for her friend go but it was a lifetime of caring to defeat and she couldn't do it.

"I'm not angry with her Elise, I'm just worried for you. I know I can't do a damn thing about what she feels but I can caution you."

"I'm wondering if this is about Carolyn or Carolyn who is a woman."

"I guarantee you it's about Carolyn, I don't give a damn about the lesbian thing. I mean what do you know about her - is she solid, does she care about you in return. Is this just about sex?" She didn't know how that could be but she was winging it as best she could, completely upset about Elise having a sexual relationship with Carolyn. They sat quietly, thinking about what had been said and Elise wanted Anne to know that this was very serious and important to her and that she wasn't going to listen to anything bad said about Carolyn.

"Anne - in all the time I've known you I've never said an angry word about Bob." Anne looked stricken. But Elise added, "In the past 10 years there hasn't been a word to say, that's true. But he was a jerk sometimes in high school. Possessive and obnoxious and I was quiet because I love you and I knew you loved him."

"And I appreciate that. But…" Anne frowned suddenly struck with what she thought Elise might be trying to say,

"Are you telling me that you are in love with Carolyn?"

"I think so, but I'm not completely sure. I've never experienced this before and I'm not sure exactly what I should be looking for."

"Do you want to be near her every day and you can barely stand being apart?"

"Yep, and to make matters worse she lives a couple of hours away and all I want is to be with her every day." Anne sighed and asked,

"Does your heart pound whenever she's in the room?"

"Right out of my chest."

"Think the sun shines a bit brighter whenever she's around?"


"Oh shit."

"Yeah." They sat looking at each other smiling. Things were getting complicated.

Anne proceeded as carefully as possible but she wasn't going to sit by and idly watch, she would however actively watch.

"So what do you guys talk about when you spend time together?"

"Well, everything. Books, what's happening in the world, farming, about her work, stuff like that."

"Do you ever talk about personal things, like how you feel?" Elise considered the question thoughtfully.

"We do to a point. Things do get real personal when you're sleeping with someone." Elise told Anne blushing. "But she is scared of getting hurt so she does her best to hold me at arms length."

"Maybe that's best. Maybe it keeps things nice and slow and gives you both a chance to make sure it's what you both want."

"I suppose…" Elise agreed slightly unhappy, "I'm not going to hurt her and I wish she'd trust me."

"Elise I'm sure it's not about trusting you, it's just about her not being sure about what she wants, and I think it's a good boundary to respect." Anne said hoping that trying to explain Carolyn to Elise would help Elise slow down.

The two friends sat thinking. Anne wondered if this really was about the lesbian issue. She didn't think so but why was she hell-bent on talking Elise out of this relationship? God, if Elise got hurt by this, Anne didn't know what would happen to her friend. She had lived her entire life out on the farm, isolated from everything and everyone. Elise knew everything that was going on in the world but she had no experience with it, no first hand knowledge about how people really were, she just saw the good in people or ignored them altogether. This would be the first time she was unprotected out in the world and although she was 32 years old Anne was scared for her. Bob was sticking with 'just be here when she needs you' and otherwise let her live her life the way she wanted. But Anne was having difficulty, even if she knew it was the best policy to follow.

Elise wanted to explain a thousand ways she felt about Carolyn but she couldn't, didn't know how. And maybe it would just worry Anne more if that were possible. She probably should have made a break from Anne's protection before now, but there hadn't been any other reason to make the break. She loved Anne and didn't want her upset but Carolyn…well she certainly cared about her too. And in such a different life-altering way that she really wanted Anne to understand the depth of her feelings.

"Annie, I think I'm falling in love with her. Right now she's scared but over time…I don't want to lose her and I don't want you sitting here everyday worried out of your mind. I'm a big girl, could you please treat me like one?"

Anne smiled slightly thinking she had to give support and that was all, Bob was right.

"I'm working on it kiddo, I'm not trying to come between you I just want to…keep your eyes open. Love can be very heady. Promise me if you need to talk you'll call…anytime. Don't even hesitate, okay?"

"I'll call if I need to talk. Now can you give me a break?"

"I'll give you a break." Anne said menacingly as she came over and hugged Elise close. They stood together for several moments and then pulled apart smiling at each other.

Later that night Anne lay in bed trying to understand why she found the idea of Elise loving Carolyn so difficult to handle. She didn't mind the woman thing, she was sure of it - but why did she feel so upset about Elise's news today? Elise deserved someone to love, someone who cared about her above all others. Yeah but did you really think it would ever happen? No.

Anne hated to admit it but this was about one thing - jealousy pure and simple. Elise was her closest dearest friend, there hadn't ever been anything that had come between them - not even Bob. Ick she wasn't very proud of this. She couldn't support Elise if she didn't let go of the feeling that Carolyn was coming between them - she had to get past this.

Elise threw her jacket on the back of a kitchen chair and went into the living room, plopping down in a chair. She replayed the conversation with Anne, remembering the worry in her eyes. Oh well at least it was over, the telling of it anyway, she had been putting it off for a couple of months not wanting anything to burst her bubble of happiness, and also not really sure how to begin a conversation about the deepening of the relationship between herself and Carolyn.

Elise didn't have a moment's peace between herself and her thoughts of Carolyn. She wished she could find a little more balance. Anytime she tried to discuss the way she was feeling with Carolyn; Carolyn would stop her by changing the subject or asking to talk about it later. She had even gone as far as not answering the phone for a day.

She wasn't too sure where this was all headed but she did know that she was falling in love with Carolyn and she was finding it extremely difficult not to tell Carolyn how she really felt, had felt for quite a while now. She'd have to be an idiot though to not see that Carolyn didn't feel the same and didn't want to talk about anything serious between them. Elise didn't really know what she herself wanted, except that she wanted to spend more time together. Every other weekend wasn't cutting it anymore and Carolyn was going away on vacation this week. Elise wouldn't see her for almost a month. That stunk!


Carolyn lay on her bed, flat on her back staring at the ceiling. She was in the midst of packing for her vacation to the Bahamas. She was leaving early in the morning, Jamie was meeting her in Miami and they were flying over together from there. Carolyn had booked a cottage over-looking the sea. Both of them were looking forward to it, Jamie couldn't quit complaining about being overworked and Carolyn wanted to run, run, run from everything.

Things with Elise were…wonderful but Carolyn didn't trust wonderful. She really needed to step back and look at where she and Elise were heading and it was difficult to do that in Chicago for some reason. She would also appreciate talking about it with Jamie, even if he was clueless about how relationships worked. Just talking would help her put things in perspective.

Elise picked up a truckload of seed at the Co-op. The fields weren't dry enough to plant as of yet but spring was in the air and she needed something to keep her busy while Carolyn was on vacation. She hadn't called and Elise hadn't expected her to but somewhere in her heart it hurt a little bit. She wanted to talk to Carolyn everyday and feeling this way was beginning to seem unfair since Carolyn clearly wasn't feeling the same need to talk. Get a grip on yourself.

Chapter Seventeen

Carolyn ran headlong into the water diving when she got deep enough. The water was warm, nothing like the ocean in New England where she had spent many summer days swimming. She and Jamie had just got back from a run and diving into the water was supposed to be refreshing but tepid water certainly didn't have the same feel as say 'The Nestea Plunge.'

Jamie waded in and sat down, the water covered him to his neck.

"Ahh, that's enough exercise for vacation boy." Carolyn laughed and swam back toward him, when it was shallow enough she stood and walked until she was next to him and then plopped herself in the water. They sat enjoying their surroundings; white sandy beaches, almost the consistency of flour, beautiful azure water, balmy temperatures and sunshine overhead - not a cloud in sight. Jamie looked over at Carolyn smiling slightly,

"Want to talk now? I've been waiting…patiently to hear what has you acting so distracted. If you're going to pretend that 'it' doesn't matter then could you at least be a more convincing actor?" Carolyn stuck her tongue out at him, frowning as she said,

"I feel like talking about it will force me to make some decisions or except some…truths which I don't want to accept." Now Jamie frowned. He waited surrounded by paradise. Carolyn stood and walked up onto the beach sitting down again. Jamie didn't move for a couple of minutes then he stood and smiled at her,

"Am I supposed to follow you? If you'd just give out a code book for this stuff I'd be better equipped to help." She smiled and said to him,

"Elise." That's all she said and he walked over and sat down next to her, settling in and enjoying the sun on his wet skin.

"What about Elise?" If they were beginning with one syllable this was going to take a while.

"She's…" Jamie waited glancing at her discreetly. She had the look of wonder and confusion and something else he couldn't place quite yet…

"She's really…" Jamie frowned and prompted, "Is it what she is or what she's done? Would charades help?" Carolyn pushed his shoulder and said,

"It's everything."

"Everything about Elise?"

"Yeah." Jamie thought about a blender and the rum drinks he could whip up, that might loosen her tongue a little,

"I'll tell you what - we'll go up to the house and shower, then I'll make some rumrunners and maybe by then you'll know what you want to say." Pausing for a moment to help her up off the sand before turning toward the bungalow.

They were grilling chicken and vegetables on the hibachi, the rumrunners were sliding down a little too easily but they didn't have to drive and they were on vacation so… Somewhere in the midst of the chicken Jamie asked,

"So how is Elise these days?"

"She's great, beginning to look toward planting. She'll be in Chicago the weekend after I get back."

"How are you guys doing? Have we progressed to..?" He raised his eyebrows subtly, widening his eyes. Carolyn laughed feeling lazy and well…a little tipsy,

"Oh yeah."

"And…" Carolyn lowered her eyebrows at him,

"You're not expecting details, surely?" Jamie laughed,

"God, no! I just want to know how you feel about this…new level of…" He frowned perplexed and said, "You know!"

"Well I don't know, things are going smoothly but I'm making certain that I look at everything in reality instead of through rose colored glasses."

"Kind of trying to take all the romance out of it, is that what you mean?" Jamie said this with a straight face and it took Carolyn a few moments to get his dry wit.

"I am not. I'm trying to be level headed."

"So tell me where you are? How you're feeling about her?"

"I feel…a lot. Everything is so comfortable…but in a really exciting way." She scowled at herself knowing she wasn't making any sense.

"And you like spending time with her? Which is how often if you don't mind my asking?"

"I do like spending time with her. We get together every other weekend either in Chicago or out at the farm. I'd like to see her more often but the last couple of times I've seen her she…she seems way ahead of where I want us to be."

"Where do you want the relationship to be?"

"I want it to just go along as it is now." Jamie raised his eyebrows and Carolyn explained,

"Just seeing each other every couple of weekends, talking on the phone several times a week and…sex." Jamie smiled and asked,

"So if Elise would just go with the program that you've set, you wouldn't be feeling…distracted and worried that she might have feelings for you that you don't want her to have?"

"That sounds more arrogant than I feel about it Jamie."

"Okay. So the big problem is her feelings or what you 'think' her feelings are because you can't be sure, correct?" Carolyn thought a few moments before replying.

"It's not that I don't want her to have those feelings…I'm just…not sure that this is the relationship for me long term." Jamie forced her hand by saying,

"Carolyn it's all good and fine to surmise what her feelings are but she hasn't told you so why don't you put some thought into how you feel about her." The silence stretched out and Jamie didn't want this to be so difficult so he said,

"Let's just forget for a minute that you've had a rough go of love before. Let's pretend you never had your heart broken. Does Elise have any qualities that you are looking for? Any at all?"

"Well of course."

"What are they, specifically?"

"She's gorgeous, and sexy."


"She's smart, hardworking, very fun…interesting and interested." She stopped, still thinking and Jamie asked,

"Interested in…?"

"Well…everything, my work, her work, the books on my syllabus this semester, she's read them all and given me some insights I hadn't considered before. She's interested in Chicago and going places and meeting people, very curious. I…like her a lot, I'm never…bored in her company." Jamie snagged a glance at Carolyn's face now and saw light dawning behind her green eyes. He smiled to himself and asked,

"And what about…the future, where do you see this heading?" Carolyn looked up from her musings startled,

"The future?" She said loudly. "I haven't given the future any thought."

"So you're just…playing? Just getting laid and enjoying her company?" Carolyn frowned at that description of their dating relationship. But she didn't want to look at the future so she answered,

"I guess so."

"Sounds great." Jamie said happily. "I'm glad you're enjoying yourself." Carolyn scowled now and Jamie coughed to keep from laughing out loud.

"Want another drink?" He asked Carolyn and she looked at her forgotten glass which was empty again and said with feeling,

"Yes please."

The stars were twinkling in a very big and very dark sky. They were pretty well drunk now and had been singing bawdy songs on and off for hours. Jamie gave Carolyn a long look until she asked him,


"Did you call Elise since you've been here?"


"Don't get all excited, I just asked a simple question."

"No I haven't called her. Don't think it's been easy either." She muttered. Jamie laughed happily and told her,

"What's going to happen if you call her? Do you turn into a…lesbian."? Carolyn smiled at the stars and said,

"Oh my are you funny."

"I know it's quite a weight to bare sometimes but really, why not call?"

"I think she's falling in love with me."

"What happens if she falls in love with you?"

"She expects things from me that I might not be willing to give. Or…or worse yet she traps me."

"How can she do that without your permission Carolyn?"

"I don't know but it's happened before and I can't do that again."

"I think you should treat Elise like Elise. You don't have to sell your soul right now but don't weigh everything against the past. The past sucked and today doesn't and Elise at least deserves her own shot at you. You deserve your own shot at her." Seriousness was difficult when you had put down several rumrunners so he added,

"And I deserve another rumrunner." Carolyn smiled but her mind kept repeating what he had said.

They didn't make it out of the bungalow until after lunch; rumrunners weren't painful…until the next morning. Oh lord.


Elise put her head out of the shower, was that the phone? Yes it was, she grabbed a towel and ran dripping water across the floor and into her bedroom,

"Hello." She said, sounding short to the caller who had waited as long as she could before calling,

"Hi, it's Carolyn. Did I catch you at a bad time?" She asked feeling more needy than she was comfortable with.

"No, I was just getting out of the shower." In another 5 minutes, she lied. Carolyn smiled picturing Elise gloriously naked and dripping wet, she had very vivid memories of that particular delight.

"Hmm, that sounds nice - I wish I were there." Elise blushed and said,

"Yeah right - it's so great here in my freezing bedroom - the Bahamas can't even compare I'm sure." Carolyn laughed and said,

"Sarcasm doesn't suit you little girl."

"Thousands of miles away is the only way you could ever get away with calling me a little girl."

Carolyn laughed.

"So are you and Jamie having fun? Tell me what you've been up to?"

"We've been doing something called 'laying around', we do it in the bungalow, down on the beach, pretty much everywhere we go we 'lay around."

"Sounds like a good way to vacation. It's tough to lay around outside here, it causes body parts to freeze followed by certain death."

"Maybe you should come down here and thaw out." Elise smiled and said,

"That sounds reasonable, cause you'll be back in Illinois in 2 days." Carolyn laughed and told Elise,

"You wouldn't even have to pack anything more than that black bikini. Just stuff that in a backpack and head on down…in fact, you don't even have to bring that if you don't want to - we have a completely private beach and clothing is optional."

"So you're running around without your clothes on?"

"What are you kidding, my brother's here!"

"Oh, so it would just be me without clothes." Carolyn laughed and retooled her offer,

"We'll get rid of him, then what do ya say?" Elise laughed,

"I will if you will."

"Oh, you know I will." They chuckled together and talked about their upcoming weekend.

Elise was walking on air the rest of the day.

Carolyn walked on air the rest of the day.

Chapter Eighteen

Elise walked from her truck to Carolyn's condo door. She was very excited to see Carolyn - she hoped that there wouldn't be any more long separations. This one had been difficult, just when she was ready to see more of Carolyn she was seeing less of her. It sucked.

Carolyn answered the door wearing a pair of lounge pajamas that made Elise's heart pitter patter even harder. When the door was closed and they had kissed, Elise said indicating Carolyn's loungewear,

"I like these."

"It was this or saran wrap. I thought this was more subtle."

"Than the Saran wrap?" Carolyn nodded eyes twinkling. They smiled at each other and then Elise asked how school had been this week with everyone back on campus. Before Carolyn answered the question she said,


"What?" Elise asked concerned.

"I should have gone with the saran wrap." Elise frowned thinking about their conversation so far, she was missing something - and then it dawned on her.

"Maybe a sledge hammer would work." Elise laughed taking her coat off and tossing it over the back of a chair before turning back to Carolyn with a predatory glimmer in her blue eyes. Advancing on Carolyn, she leaned down and scooped Carolyn up in her arms and walked toward the bedroom.

"You're going to break something, put me down." Carolyn said happily as she held Elise around the neck.

"Farmers are tough." Elise said as she tossed Carolyn onto the bed and followed her down.

Elise woke to find Carolyn's soft body snuggled face first against her chest. They were both on their sides. She paused for several minutes feeling…peaceful and a less easily named feeling that caught in her throat and made swallowing difficult.

The emotions trembled on her lips for a while until it dawned on her and she whispered,

"I love you." The silence swallowed her softly spoken words.


Carolyn hadn't laughed so much in weeks, since the last time she had spent the weekend with Elise. They were on their way to their favorite restaurant for dinner and then they were going dancing afterward with Lisa and a couple of other friends. Elise had on black jeans with a thin black sweater tucked in and belted. She looked edible and Carolyn spent the car ride holding Elise's hand even while shifting and watching her in the flashes of light that the streetlights and car headlights provided.

Elise held Carolyn's hand over the dinner table and wondered at the desire in her belly. She and Carolyn had spent most of the day reacquainting themselves with each other's bodies. And still she burned with a need…to touch her. Her early morning discovery that she loved Carolyn made Elise yearn to say the words. She had to swallow hard to get them out of her mouth.

Carolyn wore black slacks and ribbed charcoal turtleneck. She looked cool and sophisticated until she cracked up over something Elise had said, then she just looked happy and sexy. Elise watched every move she made enjoying every moment.

Carolyn paid the woman at the door, accepted the stamp on the back of her hands and waited 2 seconds until Elise had one also then grabbed her hand and pulled her along toward an empty table. They talked, not noticing anything or anyone until Lisa tapped Carolyn on the shoulder.

All the necessary introductions were made and then pretty quickly the music just got louder and louder until it was very difficult to talk. They sat for a while holding hands and yelling in each other's ears but then a song came on that Carolyn liked and she leaned over and asked Elise to dance.

Elise had been waiting all night to get Carolyn out on the dance floor so she could watch her. She couldn't dance to save her life but…watching Carolyn was quickly becoming her favorite pastime.

Carolyn did not disappoint she moved to the music, aware of Elise's eyes on her - enjoying Elise's attention. The songs passed one after another but neither of them noticed they were in world of their own. The music slowed after a long while and Elise pulled Carolyn into her arms holding her close.

"This is more my speed but I could watch you dance all night."

"Oh yeah, you like the way I dance?" She teased looking up at Elise with smiling green eyes.

"Um huh, you're breathtaking - watching you makes me want to stay and watch you and drag you home all at the same time." Carolyn smiled squeezing Elise in a hug. They danced slowly for a while until Carolyn said,

"How about we take off in a little bit and when we get home I'll give you your own personal dance exhibition." Elise's blue eyes widened and she grinned and asked with delight,

"I just get to sit and watch?"

"Sure, you can sit and watch…"she paused sexily, "for as long as you can stand it."

Elise smiled with pleasure and nuzzled Carolyn's ear with her nose, placing kisses against her soft neck. The music heated up again and they danced until they were both hot and sweaty.

They sipped beer holding hands, there was no point in trying to talk it was too loud so they sat and watched and occasionally tried to yell answers to Lisa's questions.

Elise floated away in her own thoughts, thinking about Carolyn and wanting to go home and spend time with her, she had to head back to the farm tomorrow night. There just wasn't enough time anymore. A gentle squeeze of her hand brought her eyes to Carolyn's sparkling green orbs. She mouthed,

"Ready to go?" to which Elise immediately replied,


As soon as they walked into the apartment Carolyn pushed Elise gently to the couch helping Elise out of her coat and throwing it on a nearby armchair, placing her own there also. Her eyes found Elise's and she said,

"Just say when you've had enough." With that provocative statement she walked to the stereo, kicking off her shoes as she went. Carolyn shuffled through the CD's and found the one she wanted. As the first strains were heard she began to dance for Elise. The music throbbed erotically and Elise was mesmerized before the second note played.

Electricity filled the air around them as Carolyn began to undress, moving in perfect time - her body slowly revealed to Elise's eyes. Excitement had never felt like this before, Elise felt the pulsing rush of her heart in her groin.

Carolyn watched Elise's eyes fill with desire; it was a heady experience dancing for someone you wanted to please the way Carolyn wanted to please Elise. Piece by piece her clothes dropped silently to the carpet. When she was naked Elise pushed herself off the couch and reached a hand for Carolyn pulling her into strong arms.

Elise was in a state of intense sexual desire and she quickly yanked off her clothes only taking her lips away from Carolyn's to shed her sweater. The sound of their labored breathing mixed with the music, which continued to thump, played in Elise's ears as she lay Carolyn down on the couch.

They burned hot, touching and kissing, licking and sucking until their voices rang with joyful completion. It was a moment of earth shattering intensity and Elise shuttered with the need to say what was in her heart. They lay panting, quietly holding each other close.

The emotions Carolyn was experiencing were powerful but she wasn't sure if it was the incredible sex or her feelings of connection with Elise that made her so flustered. Elise shifted off Carolyn's still overheated body and Carolyn said,

"Don't move."

"I don't want to crush you."

"You aren't." Elise stayed half on but shifted her weight to her side so that Carolyn could at least breathe. Carolyn reached up and pulled the throw down on top of them using her hands to smooth it across Elise and herself. They shifted and got comfortable, well as comfortable as they could on a cramped couch. They should probably move to the bedroom soon thought Carolyn but she was too lazy to move just yet.

Elise's lips found Carolyn's and they kissed slowly, gently nibbling. Elise spent the next several minutes covering Carolyn's face, neck and collarbone with soft kisses and delicate licks. Her mind repeating over and over the words that expressed what she was feeling, I love you Carolyn, I love you Carolyn until it just came forth, in an audible whisper.

"I love you." For a breathless moment Elise felt like time stood still, or that she hadn't really said it out loud. Nothing was different, no one moved… until Carolyn turned her head and her green eyes pierced into Elise's. She didn't speak but her eyes spoke volumes.

Elise could see panic but it was quickly gone and then Carolyn's hand reached up and held Elise's cheek gently, placing a kiss on her lips and then she said,

"Let's go take a quick shower and go to bed." Elise continued to look at Carolyn but Carolyn didn't say anything else. They shifted off the couch and walked together into Carolyn's bedroom and then into the bathroom.

Elise crawled into Carolyn's big bed. She had debated whether she should dig out a T-shirt to wear or if she should just sleep naked the way they usually did when they were together. She didn't like feeling so vulnerable especially after what she had just experienced in the living room. Besides the incredible feelings that making love had filled her with there was the small problem of having just told Carolyn that she loved her and receiving absolutely nothing in response to her whispered words.

She wasn't hurt, well not yet, but she was confused. She wanted to talk about it; at the very least she needed Carolyn to acknowledge that she had heard the words. Pulling the covers up she got comfortable and waited.

Carolyn grabbed a T-shirt and put it on thinking only of putting some distance between her feelings and what Elise had just thrown at her. She wasn't ready for this and didn't really want to deal with it tonight but she knew she had to because Elise wouldn't just leave it. Would she? She looked at her face in the mirror taking in her heightened color and red lips. Tonight had been…wonderful. Unbelievable! Oh Elise, Carolyn didn't know what she was going to say?

Carolyn walked back into her bedroom; Elise was lying on her side - her eyes shadowed and invisible to Carolyn. Please let her be asleep. Carolyn silently begged. When she sat down on the far edge of the bed though Elise turned and said,

"Are you alright Carolyn?"

"Yes, I'm fine." Carolyn assured her.

"Should I get a T-shirt on?" Elise asked feeling more vulnerable than before.

"Not if you don't want to." Carolyn said leaning back on her elbows. Elise sat up letting the sheets drop to her waist and she pulled Carolyn over to her and pushed her back into the pillows, keeping her arms around her so she didn't feel so…alone.

"Please talk to me, I feel like you're…well…angry?" Carolyn smiled, well her lips did but her eyes didn't follow suit.

"I'm not angry at all Elise…" Carolyn sighed and said, "I…want you to understand that for me, I'm enjoying this slow and easy dating thing. I love the time we spend together…just the way it is right now. And I guess I'm worried that you're getting ahead of where we actually are." Elise heard the words and tried to process them with fairness. She did her best to not be hurt that Carolyn avoided even saying the words, like they had an illness attached to them.

"I enjoy spending this time with you Carolyn. I wouldn't want to change it, I just couldn't keep feeling the way I do about you and not say something." Carolyn looked up at Elise's serious blue eyes, the bottomless quality pulling her in. She resisted with effort and said,

"I understand your need to say it but can you understand my need to…not hear it?" Elise frowned stumbling headlong into hurt. Ouch! Her eyes filled with tears, she sat up - putting some distance between them now. Carolyn could have kicked herself - dammit she didn't want to hurt Elise she just wanted some space. She pulled the now reluctant Elise into her arms and whispered,

"Elise please…that didn't come out the way I wanted it to. I just…want this just the way it is now." Elise couldn't believe that telling Carolyn she loved her, something that had taken every ounce of strength she had to say the words, was being thrown back in her face. With anger and hurt beginning to show more forcefully now Elise said,

"You mean that if I tell you that I love you that I'm messing up what we have together?" She didn't expect an answer and she didn't get one. Carolyn continued to hold her until she pulled away sitting up. Carolyn didn't know what to say so she was silent, watching Elise. Elise stood and walked to her bag and pulled on a T-shirt and pajama pants then walked back and climbed into bed.

Carolyn sighed with relief and made room for Elise. Elise settled down on her side, her back to Carolyn. Carolyn lay down and wrapped herself around Elise from behind hoping for the best. She felt upset and mean, which she had never intended to be. She just wanted to go slow, what was so bad about that?

They slept late into the morning. And woke to a chilly spring day. Elise felt strange, like overnight there were big barriers between them and she didn't know what to do.

Carolyn wanted to fix everything but to do that she would have to think for a while. The distance between them this morning was palatable and she was caught tightly between protecting herself from hurt and protecting Elise from hurt.

Carolyn took a shower alone. She considered what was going on here, acknowledging her own fear but refused to feel guilty about it. She tried to look at it from Elise's point of view and could understand that Elise had every right to say what she felt even if Carolyn didn't want to hear it. She tried to think about the future but it freaked her out too much and she dropped it. All in all it was not a relaxing shower. When she was dressed in well-worn jeans and a sweatshirt she went out into the kitchen and found Elise beating eggs for scrambling.



"Can we talk now?" Elise looked across at Carolyn and smiled, with a twinge of sadness.

"Sure. Can I continue with this?" She indicated the pan with butter quickly melting in it.

"Of course." Carolyn came over and plopped herself up on the counter a few feet from where Elise was cooking.

"I didn't handle last night very well and I'm sorry." Elise didn't look up but she said,

"It's okay."

"No it's not okay. What you said…that you loved me…really freaked me out. And it doesn't have anything to do with you it has to do with me. I'm afraid of making mistakes. I'm afraid to get hurt, and I didn't handle it well." Carolyn watched Elise until Elise lifted her head and looked her way,

"My loving you is hurting you?" Elise asked seriously, her eyes crowded with hurt. Carolyn took a deep breath and said,

"The fact that you love me isn't hurting me Elise. It's just that I want to go very slowly and be more careful than I have in the past. And I feel like you're getting ahead of where I want to be."

Elise pondered that as she pushed the eggs around the pan effectively scrambling them. She wasn't trying to hurt Carolyn by telling her she loved her but since that had already been stated. She tried to get clearer by asking,

"So what is so scary about me loving you?"

"I…think it makes me feel pressure…" Carolyn didn't go on so Elise asked,

"Pressure? What do you feel pressured about?"

"I know you're not trying to pressure me into anything but it just makes me uncomfortable right now." Elise frowned as she took the toast out and buttered it. That didn't explain anything but she also wanted this conversation to just be done, telling someone you loved them…well she couldn't have imagined this response in a million years and…enough was enough.

"If you don't want me to tell you that I love you then I won't but it won't make the feeling go away Carolyn. It will just be inside me." Their eyes met and Carolyn looked at those blue eyes filled with hurt but she could see love also. Seeing it and hearing it though seemed like a huge difference in this moment so Carolyn said,

"If that would be alright for now I would appreciate it. And we'll talk about it down the line a bit -okay?" Carolyn wished Elise would look at her but she didn't and Carolyn didn't force the issue.

"Sure." Elise said shortly turning to get the bread out for toast.

Their day wasn't the best they had ever enjoyed together and Elise headed home earlier than she would have otherwise. She felt like crying and she felt like hitting something, she wasn't sure in what order that would be in. She had no experience to guide her and knew she couldn't talk to Anne about it, at least not yet because Anne was waiting for another reason to talk her out of this relationship. That's the last thing she wanted to hear.

If Carolyn was scared and pressured then Elise would be sure she didn't do anything else to make her feel that way. But everything in her was at boiling point so she opened the windows and let the cold late afternoon air into the truck trying to release the pent up feelings. She just couldn't understand how loving someone could turn into such a nightmare.


Carolyn was looking at the ground when Lisa opened the door; she motioned Carolyn inside and locked the door behind them. Carolyn said,

"Hi." Lisa looked at her carefully taking in the pale features.

"Well, come on - let's crack open a bottle of wine, are you alright?" Light concern painting her voice.

"Yes, I'm fine - I just want to have another perspective. I'm feeling shitty about…well let's get that wine and then I'll tell you about my sordid little day."

When they were seated sideways on the couch facing each other Carolyn said,

"Until this past weekend Elise and I hadn't seen each other for about a month. I definitely missed seeing her, talking to her face to face." Lisa heard a BUT…in there somewhere but Carolyn continued,

"Long story short, we've been having a nice easy and very fun time getting together every other weekend or so. We had a fantastic time this past weekend until late Saturday night when Elise told me that she loved me and I freaked out." Carolyn finished clearly disgusted with herself. After a big gulp of wine Carolyn went on,

"Elise was hurt by my asking her to please slow down, well…no…by me telling her that I liked things just the way they were." Lisa watched Carolyn's face carefully and asked,

"Just the way they were - which is?"

"Seeing each other every other weekend or so and just going with the flow."

"So her telling you that she loved you was not your definition of going with the flow?"

"No it wasn't. It made me instantly feel trapped and scared. I just want to be sure, at every step, that this is right for me." She finished defensively. Lisa nodded and said,

"I do think it's important for you to feel comfortable with every step you're taking but…it's equally important that Elise gets the same consideration." Lisa tried to read Carolyn's reaction to her words but couldn't. She asked,

"What was Elise's reaction to you telling her that you wanted to keep things slow?"

"She said she wasn't trying to change anything, she just wanted to tell me how she felt. But her saying that changed everything." Lisa frowned and asked,

"How did everything change?"

"Well it made me feel pressured because I don't feel the same." Lisa knew she was going to step on Carolyn's toes here but she went ahead with it anyway,

"What did she say she wanted from you - exactly? Cause it sounds a little like…you want to completely control the situation and Elise. I mean damn her for saying she loves you and pulling you out of your comfort zone."

"I don't think it's a bad thing to not want to be yanked out of my comfort zone." Lisa was a little disgusted with Carolyn's attitude and so she said,

"Okay. So you don't want her to tell you that she loves you, I guess maybe you had better tell her that - although I don't know how one would broach that." Carolyn confessed,

"I already told her and she said she wouldn't say it anymore."

"Jesus Carolyn. You told her not to say that she loves you anymore? Is she still speaking to you?"

"I don't know if she is or not." Carolyn said unhappily.

"Well maybe it's for the best if she doesn't - because she obviously cares about you and is working under the assumption that you two are going to make some progress here someday. Maybe that isn't what you really want; maybe you just want to have a little fun. Although I must admit that's about as shitty a thing to do, with someone so obviously inexperienced as she is, as I've ever heard." Carolyn felt anger but not at Lisa and not at Elise, she was angry with herself and…Tanya and the rip-roaring mess they had made. And how the whole mess was screwing up her life now. The silence in the room stretched out until Carolyn said,

"I don't want it to be over I just don't want to be rushed, what should I do?" Lisa smiled kindly but with firmness she said,

"Try to get this fear in balance. Carolyn you deserve to be happy, I've seen you with Elise - there is no way I will believe that you don't care for her..." Carolyn broke in immediately,

"I do care for her, a lot - I'm just scared shitless. And I'm sick of feeling like a failure."

"You aren't a failure and the sooner you get that straightened out in your head the better off you'll be." Carolyn tried for a smile but it didn't come off too well and she said,

"How much do I owe you for the session?" Lisa laughed,

"First one's free."


Carolyn called Elise midweek. Elise didn't answer and Carolyn left a message. When Elise arrived home she listened to her voice several times before erasing it. Carolyn had asked her to call but Elise wasn't sure she would tonight. She was still reeling from the past weekend.

She had been alone for so long and she had thought that maybe she had found something that would be just for her, just a week ago she was thinking about suggesting that they get together more often.

Now there wasn't a chance she could even have a discussion about it. She had cried on and off for several days but wasn't any closer to understanding and she couldn't remember a time she had felt so isolated since her folks had died. If she talked to Anne - she would end up defending Carolyn and she just didn't want to defend her right now.

Of course she didn't want to let the whole thing go - she loved the woman. Didn't love always prevail in the end? That's probably religious bumble. There wasn't much she could do, she had been effectively silenced but maybe, in time Carolyn would come to accept her love. Maybe Carolyn could even learn to love again. Elise fell asleep hoping for the best, but she was pretty sure she wouldn't get it.


"Hi, I'm glad you called. I was going to give you a call in a few minutes." Carolyn said smiling in spite of the seriousness of the moment. Thank God she called!

"What's up? Did you have a good day at school?"

"Sure, yeah. They all have a problem settling down after spring break and with the weather improving daily, it's hard to hang on to what little attention span they had to begin with." Carolyn didn't want to talk about this stuff; she wanted to be sure that Elise wasn't angry. She asked,

"Would you like to talk about last weekend?" It hadn't come out as well as it could have but it would have to do.

"Uh…no." Carolyn was surprised enough to ask,

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. If there is something you want to say though, go ahead." Carolyn had to know where they stood,

"Are you still angry?"

"No…I'm not angry anymore." Elise didn't elaborate. So Carolyn had to ask,

"Are we…is everything okay then?" Elise thought for a few moments and said,

"Sure, everything's fine - I won't tell you I love you and you'll…I can't remember what it was that you were going to do for me in return for my cooperation?" Carolyn laughed startled by Elise's candor.

"Oh baby what I'll do for you." Elise smiled, letting her hurt wash away in the now familiar feeling of excitement,

"I'd like specifics." Carolyn was so relieved, tears filled her eyes and she asked,

"What are you doing this weekend?"

They made plans for the weekend, Carolyn would arrive on Saturday morning and Elise hung up the phone a sense of relief sluicing through her.

The anxiety of the past couple of days behind her Carolyn spent the week trying to be patient about the upcoming weekend. She wanted to see Elise badly and make things up to her, she wanted to look in her striking blue eyes and feel certainty about…she wasn't sure what? But the need for connection rode her every single hour of the rest of the week.


On Saturday morning the spring winds buffeted Carolyn's jeep as she drove the now familiar roads to Weldon. The fresh smell of newly plowed fields came through her vents - they made black patchwork pieces across the land.

Elise heard the jeep before she saw it. She came around the edge of the house, watching the jeep get closer. When Carolyn saw her she smiled, her heart thumping with joy. She stopped near the door and shut off the jeep jumping out and walking quickly across the grass toward Elise. Elise's smile gave her a jolt and she threw her arms around Elise's neck and hugged her close.

Elise wrapped her arms around Carolyn pulling her feet off the ground and twirling around with her. When she finally let Carolyn's feet touch the ground - she slipped her hands up to cradle Carolyn's precious face bending down to kiss her deeply.

Carolyn splayed her hands on Elise's waist feeling the solidness of her. When their kisses ended Elise smiled and lifted Carolyn telling her,

"Put your legs around my waist." Carolyn did as she was asked and Elise walked toward the house, shouldering open the door and entering the kitchen.

"I can walk - you big stud."

"We'll see about that in a couple of hours." Elise returned with a twinkle in her eye.

"Elise Johnson, I'm shocked." Carolyn mocked with wide green eyes as Elise carried her up the stairs to her bedroom.

The evening was soothing for them both. They ate dinner - almost on top of each other at the kitchen table. Sipping wine and nibbling on the food as much as each other. Carolyn had on a silky black camisole and the briefest wisp of black panties. Elise wore a very thin white T-shirt and underwear. They didn't last too long at the table before they lifted the bottle of wine and headed back upstairs.

Continued in Part 3.

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