Ginny spent a fitful night, tossing in her bed as she remembered Kara's words. "A woman knows." How would Kara's kiss be? Hot and wet? Or would it be slow and tender?
Ginny groaned and rolled over, hating herself for her thoughts. What was she doing? Why did this woman occupy her mind so? And thoughts of kissing her, no less! She was not attracted to women! She never had been! What she was thinking was insane!
No. She hadn't been attracted to Renee. At least, not sexually. And she was positive that she was not sexually attracted to Kara, either.
"You're straight, for God's sake," she murmured. "Act like it."
She got out of bed and went into the kitchen for a drink of cold water and she stood at the sink, watching the moon overhead. Nearly full. Kara's moon.
Was she watching it, too? Or was she sleeping peacefully, unaware of the effect she was having on Ginny?
"She's not blind," Ginny whispered. And how embarrassing would that be? Kara had not so much as said one inappropriate thing. Ginny found Kara's eyes on her sometimes, but that was all.
Ginny turned and found Nana watching her. "I'm sorry. Did I wake you?"
"Are you all right?"
She held up her glass. "Thirsty."
"I think I'll have some, too," she said and moved into the room. "Must be this moon. I can't sleep a wink."
Ginny glanced up again at the moon and again thought of Kara. "Yes. I know what you mean," she murmured.
Kara paced her room in the darkness, a cigarette glowing hotly in her hands. "What's it like?" The soft words echoed in her brain again and again. She shoved one hand into her hair and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. It had been far too tempting. What's it like to kiss a woman? Here, let me show you.
She should really stay away from Ginny. It was becoming uncomfortable to be around her. She laughed out loud, thinking it hadn't been since college that she'd been attracted to a straight woman.
And it had been a very long time since she'd had such a consuming need to kiss someone, she thought.
So she stayed away. And she painted. She was inspired, if nothing else and she started on the sunset the next day, working feverishly all day. When she reached for a beer that evening, she remembered she hadn't thought to buy more and she opened a bottle of wine instead. While her soup heated, she took her wine and cigarette out to the porch and sat, listening to the evening approach.
She sat until darkness surrounded her, her cigarette glowing in the night. Her thoughts drifted to the previous evening and she let them. She saw Ginny sitting on the grass beside her, leaning on her elbows, watching her with those intense green eyes. Had she been merely curious? Kara brought the cigarette to her lips and inhaled deeply. Possibly. Or maybe Ginny felt the electricity between them, too.
No. She was straight, Kara reminded herself. And straight women were curious. But still, there was something happening between them. She could feel it and she suspected that Ginny could feel it, too. Would she even chance seeing Kara again? Had she been afraid that Kara might actually try to kiss her?
She stood up suddenly, putting a halt to her thoughts. She ate inside, barely tasting the soup as her mind remained focused on Ginny.
"You never said how it went the other night," Nana said over dinner two nights later.
Nana nodded as she cut into her steak.
"It was interesting. I never noticed the colors before," Ginny said. "How they change nearly every second before the sun goes down," she said quietly.
"Is she any good?"
"Very. She captured it exactly," Ginny said, remembering how Kara's fingers had moved over the paper, snatching up color after color without looking. "She has this thing about the moon," Ginny said.
"Yes. She puts a full moon in all of her paintings," Ginny said.
"Well, I'd like to see one of them, wouldn't you," Nana said.
"Yes. I would."
"Does she have any finished?"
"She didn't say," Ginny said. And she hadn't thought to ask. She had been too busy wondering about kissing a woman to ask. She blushed, putting a halt to her thoughts. No need to go over all that again. She had already spent two sleepless nights.
"Maybe we should have her over to dinner again," Nana said. "You seem to have become friends."
"Yes. I like her," Ginny said carefully. And she did like her, it was true. She only wished she wouldn't constantly think about kissing her.
Nana stood back and watched her. "Are you all right, Ginny?"
"Of course. Why do you ask?"
"You've been quiet. Your answers are short." She watched her for awhile longer. "Are you thinking about Phil?" she asked.
Ginny smiled. No, Phil had definitely not been in her thoughts lately. "I'm fine, Nana. Really. And, no, I haven't been thinking about Phil."
"Well, he hasn't called in a week or so, has he?"
"No, he hasn't."
"Maybe he's waiting for you to call," she prompted.
Ginny smiled again. "Nana, don't start," she said gently.
"Well, I just don't understand you. If it's me you're worried about, don't. I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself. And, in case you haven't noticed, I enjoy running the store. Your investment would be safe."
"I know. You're wonderful at it. But Phil and I . . . we just needed some time apart," she said.
"Honey, I know marriage is a big step. But don't run from it. When you find a good man that loves you, you better grab him. They don't come along every day," she said.
"Nana, when did you know that Grandpa was right for you?" she asked.
"Oh, I'd had my eye on him," she said with a wink. "He just didn't know it." She put her fork down and Ginny could tell she was remembering. "The first time he kissed me, it was magic. Pure magic. I had been waiting for months, but he was a damn fool and thought he would offend me if he tried to kiss me." She laughed. "By the time that he actually got around to it, I was so ready for it, I nearly passed out."
Ginny smiled. Magic. That's how it should be. That's how she wanted it to be. Was it magic when Phil kissed her? Had it been that first time? She tried to remember when they had first kissed. A lunch date, and he had brushed her cheek. Then he had cooked dinner for her and had stolen a kiss as she had poured wine. But magic? No, she wouldn't have called it magic.
"Are you worried about Phil not being the right one, dear?"
"I'm not certain that he is," she admitted.
"Ginny, you'll know. But he's good for you, isn't he?"
"Yes. He's good." And he was. He just didn't stir her soul like she needed him to.
Kara had purposefully gone to the store during lunch, hoping that Ginny would be out. And she was. Nana greeted her with a smile and drew her inside.
"I'm afraid that Ginny's at the park," she apologized.
"That's okay. I ran out of beer," Kara said and took two six-packs from the shelf. She looked around. "You don't happen to have any tofu, do you?"
"Never mind," Kara said and laughed. She picked through the fresh vegetables and bought a few more bags of pasta. "I can make do with this," she said.
"Ginny will be disappointed she missed you," Nana said. "Why don't you come over for dinner again?"
"Oh, Louise, thanks, but I don't want to trouble you with my diet," she said.
"No trouble," Nana said, racking her brain, trying to think of something she could cook without meat.
"Really, but I appreciate the offer," Kara said, letting out a sigh of relief. It was short-lived, however. The bell jingled over the door and she turned and met green eyes across the room.
"I thought that was your Land Cruiser outside," Ginny said.
"Beer," Kara said and she shoved a bill at Nana.
"Have you been working?" she asked.
"Yes. It's coming along."
They stood watching each other, Kara not realizing that Nana was trying to give her change.
"Sorry," she murmured and held out her hand. "Well, I better go. See you around," she said. She had nearly escaped out the door when Ginny called to her.
"Hmmm?" She turned around and Ginny walked over to her.
"Come to dinner?"
"I think Louise is out of vegetable dishes," she said quietly.
Ginny smiled. "Come early. There's a trail at the park I want to show you," she said. "And don't worry. We'll do something with rice," she added.
Kara's eyes lingered for a moment, then she nodded. "Okay. But don't go to any trouble."
"Come about six?"
Kara nodded again, knowing she was foolish to accept. The less time she spent in Ginny's company, the better. What was it about this woman? Green eyes remained fixed on her and she smiled weakly.
Ginny watched her retreating back until Kara was out of sight and she sighed. Why had she insisted on dinner? She knew she was playing with fire but that hardly mattered anymore.
Ginny was chopping vegetables for their stir-fry when Kara knocked on the door.
"Go ahead. I can finish," Nana said and waved her away. "But I'll wait for you to cook. I'm not really certain what you're trying to make here."
"I'm not really certain myself, Nana."
She wiped her hands on a towel before opening the door. Kara had traded her shorts for jeans and her T-shirt was tucked inside neatly. Ginny's eyes traveled slowly upward, stopping only when blue eyes locked with hers. She drew a nervous breath as she stared at the taller woman.
Kara held up a bottle of wine. "I hated to come empty handed again."
Ginny shook herself, finally stepping back.
"Thank you. Let me give it to Nana, then we can go to the park."
Kara watched her, her eyes following her as she walked away.
Ginny was aware of Kara's eyes burning into her and she had to force herself to keep walking. But when she was safely seated in Kara's vehicle, she couldn't seem to relax. She was aware of Kara's nearness like never before and she refused to look at her as she drove. She closed her eyes for a moment. I'm not attracted to her! Not like that. When they parked, they sat for a few seconds, their eyes lighting everywhere except on each other. Finally, Ginny opened the door and Kara followed suit.
"The trail follows the stream," Ginny said and they walked in silence, past the picnic table where they had shared lunch.
"You're awfully quiet. Is everything okay?" Kara asked.
"Yes, of course. I just wanted you to see the stream." She managed a weak smile as Kara's eyes peered into hers and she finally looked away, afraid. "I don't know about the colors, though. Probably too dark in the woods," she said, continuing.
They walked on, the shadows lengthening as they followed the small stream. Ginny seemed nervous and Kara wondered why. Was she afraid to be alone with her? No. Ginny was the one who had suggested the walk, not Kara.
Ginny tried to keep her breath even and steady as she walked, but this woman's nearness wrecked havoc on her system. The walk had been a mistake, she realized now. She had simply wanted to spend time alone with her, without Nana. Time to talk. But they had been doing very little talking. Instead, their glances had collided time and again.
Kara's hand on her arm stopped her and she looked up.
"In the spider web," Kara said softly and motioned with her hand. A butterfly had been caught in the web and its legs were captured, but it continued to struggle to escape.
"Let's save it," Ginny said and reached for it. Kara stopped her.
"It's probably dinner. And breakfast," she said.
"But it's too pretty to leave," Ginny said, her eyes turning sad at the thought of the beautiful butterfly becoming dinner for a spider.
Kara agree and reached up to untangle the butterfly, trying not to disturb the web. The butterfly wrapped around Kara's finger and she gently pulled the web free.
"Oh," Ginny breathed. "Let me see." She reached for Kara's hand and brought it to her, the butterfly still clinging to Kara's finger.
As they watched, it flew away into the trees without a second look to its rescuers. Kara lowered her hand, Ginny's fingers still wrapped around it. They stood there for seconds, minutes before their hands finally drew apart.
Ginny was aware of her heart beating, pounding in her ears and she forced her eyes from Kara. Why did this woman affect her? This woman. Ever since Ginny had laid eyes on her, her mind and body had asked a thousand questions. Questions that she struggled to answer.
"Come on," Kara said quietly and continued down the trail.
Ginny watched her, her feet still firmly planted. Kara looked completely at home in her jeans and hiking boots. Comfortable. Loose jeans that were snug on her backside, gently swaying as Kara walked and Ginny found she couldn't pull her eyes away.
"Are you coming?" Kara called, breaking Ginny out of her self-induced trance. Well, not entirely self-induced. The woman in the jeans had something to do with it. Ginny finally moved, walking briskly to catch up and they continued along the path in silence, both fumbling with their thoughts, looking for something safe to say.
"Is it too dark here?" Ginny finally asked.
"It's nice. Pretty." She stopped where boulders had fallen and formed small rapids in the creek. "This would be nice at night, the moon overhead," Kara said softly. "The trees would make perfect shadows on the water."
Ginny wasn't watching the water. She was watching Kara, watching as her chest rose and fell with each breath. She lowered her glance, settling on the soft swell of Kara's breasts. She wore no bra. Her eyes found Kara's nipples as they strained against her T-shirt and when she realized she was staring, she tore her eyes away, her lids slamming shut for a brief moment and she took a deep breath, savoring the smell of the forest and trying to come to her senses. What are you doing?
"I thought you might like it," she finally managed to say.
"I do. It's very beautiful," Kara said quietly, but her eyes were fixed on Ginny, not the stream.
"Nana will be waiting for me to start dinner," Ginny said, but she made no move to go, aware that Kara was watching her. She kept her eyes glued to the stream.
"Yes," Kara murmured. "We should go. Thanks for showing me this. I can appreciate beautiful spots like this without having to paint them."
Ginny looked up and let her eyes settle on Kara's for a moment, then turned and led the way back.
Kara called Ginny at the store two days later. She had stayed away, hoping to give herself time to quell the budding attraction she felt between them. Attraction that she knew now was not one-sided. Ginny's eyes were too expressive to hide that. But Kara would take it no farther. That was a line she would not cross. Instead, she would try to be a friend to Ginny. She knew that Ginny was having some issues with her relationship with Phil. Maybe she just needed a friend to talk through them. Kara could do that.
"I'm having an early dinner," she said. "Want to join me?"
Ginny hesitated only a moment before agreeing. She realized she had missed Kara.
Kara fussed over the lasagna most of the afternoon, thankful there was some garlic bread in the freezer. She had not shopped with the intention of having a dinner guest when she'd left Seattle but her homemade lasagna was one of her favorites.
They sat on the porch while the bread heated, sipping wine and Ginny watched as Kara lit her cigarette.
"You don't smoke much, do you?"
Kara laughed. "I've been in the process of quitting for several months now. Does it bother you?"
"No," Ginny said. She wondered if it had bothered Marsha. "Do you date?" she asked suddenly. If Kara was surprised by the question, she didn't show it.
"Some," Kara said. "You?" Kara raised one eyebrow as she watched Ginny.
Ginny smiled and looked away. "No."
"Still holding out for Phil?"
"Well, there aren't a lot of eligible men out here in Chiwaukum," she said.
"Not that I've been looking," Ginny added quickly. "I mean, technically, Phil and I are still an item," she said.
"But, like I said before, there should be more. You know?"
"He's a wonderful man, and I should be thankful that he wants me, I guess."
"But you're looking for that maddening desire?" Kara asked with just a hint of teasing in her voice.
"Yes. You probably think I'm silly," Ginny said.
"Not at all. Everyone should hope to find that," Kara said.
"What about you? Are you still looking for it?"
"I guess we're all looking," Kara said and shrugged.
"Has there been anyone since Marsha?" Ginny asked.
"In my life or in my bed?" Kara asked with a grin.
"Well, I've dated, if that's what you mean. And a few have stayed the night, but none that I wanted to start a relationship with."
"Do you get lonely?" Ginny asked.
"Not really. I've always been a loner. I've never felt the need to surround myself with people, friends. That's where Marsha and I differed. She always had a lot of friends."
"And when you painted?"
"She left and went out with them," Kara finished. "I didn't mind, really."
"Do you miss her?" Ginny asked gently.
Kara shrugged. "Sometimes. I'm not certain if I miss her or I just miss what we had."
"Does it bother you to talk about her?"
"No. I'm past that. It has been a long time."
"Were you still in love with her when she left?" Ginny asked.
Kara leaned forward and smiled. "You certainly are full of questions tonight," she said.
"Were you?" she asked again.
Kara sat back and inhaled deeply on her cigarette, letting the smoke out slowly. "I guess I thought I was," she finally said.
"Meaning I hadn't realized that we had fallen out of love," she said quietly. "It just happened and I never even knew."
"You blame yourself?"
"I guess you were right. I got so involved with my work that I forgot about my relationship."
"Enough!" Kara said and laughed. "Dinner, please," she said.
Kara again lit a candle and placed it between them, then served them both heaping plates of lasagna with the garlic bread.
"My turn," Kara said after she had filled their wineglasses.
"Phil. What's it like with him?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I know he wants to marry you and you're hiding up here, trying to decide. But, what do you do with him?"
"In bed?" Ginny asked, shocked.
Kara laughed lightly. "Please. Spare me the details." She grinned. "No, I mean, what do you do together? Where do you go?"
"Oh," Ginny said, relieved. "Well, the usual things. Dinner, movies, out with friends. That sort of thing. Phil likes to cook, so we stayed in a lot, too."
"Did you live together?" Kara asked.
"No. I was firm about that. I needed my space," she said.
"Is he any good?" Kara asked and flashed a grin.
"In bed?" Kara asked easily.
Ginny blushed hotly. Why on earth were they having this conversation? "It's okay. I mean . . . sure, the sex is . . . fine," she stammered, feeling a sudden need to defend her relationship with Phil. The sex wasn't great but she would never admit this to Kara.
"He's surely not the only one you've slept with, is he?"
Ginny blushed again. "No, he's not."
"Good. I would hate to think that I've slept with more men then you have," Kara grinned.
"That would be ironic, yes," Ginny said and matched her grin. "There was only one other, though. I won't count my high school sweetheart. He was only allowed to touch my breasts," she said.
Kara leaned forward and raised her eyebrows mischievously. "Lucky him," she said.
Ginny blushed yet again and had a hard time dragging her eyes away from Kara's.
"What's it like? With a woman, I mean," Ginny asked shyly.
"You mean, what do we do?"
"No. I can imagine . . . I mean, I know what . . . you do, I guess, but . . . I don't. What I mean is . . . oh, never mind," she said, thoroughly embarrassed now. "Forget it."
"No. What do you want to know?" Kara asked seriously.
Thoughts of Renee suddenly came to her and Ginny very nearly blurted out her story but she stopped herself. There was absolutely no need for Kara to know about Renee.
"Never mind," she said again.
Kara stood and took her empty plate into the kitchen, but called over her shoulder. "It's okay to ask, you know. It's only natural to be curious about things you don't understand."
Ginny rested her head in her hands. Curious? Much too curious, she told herself.
Kara stood in the kitchen and watched Ginny as the candlelight flickered around her. She had been clearly surprised by her question. She wondered how she would have answered it.
Ginny nodded when Kara returned with the bottle of wine and she watched her pour, her eyes locking on long fingers that held her glass lightly. She had really nice hands, Ginny noted.
"That was a delicious meal, by the way," she murmured, pushing her plate away.
"Thanks." Kara searched for a safe topic, something to put them both at ease, but nothing came to her.
"I am curious about one thing," Ginny finally said and the words were out before she could stop them. "What kind of women do you find attractive?"
Kara nearly choked on her wine. Darkness had settled and the candle flickered between them. Ginny met Kara's gaze shyly but did not look away.
"I was just wondering," Ginny said.
Kara let out a deep breath, knowing she was dangerously close to crossing that line. And telling herself that Ginny was straight was doing absolutely no good.
"Okay. You mean physical appearance or what?"
Ginny was aware of the sound of her heartbeat and her hand trembled as she set her wineglass down. But she asked anyway.
"If I were a lesbian, would you be attracted to me?" Ginny asked quietly.
Jesus. She actually expects me to answer that?
Kara twirled her wineglass nervously in her hand, desperately searching for a safe answer to the unexpected question that hung between them. She leaned forward slightly and rested her elbows on the table.
"You want me to honestly answer that question?"
Ginny was swallowed up by blue eyes and she knew she had crossed into dangerous territory, but yes, she wanted her to answer it honestly. And she realized she wanted the answer to be "yes".
"I'm just wondering what kind of women you find attractive," she murmured.
"You're very . . . attractive," Kara said softly as she took in every detail of Ginny's face. "And if you were a lesbian, we wouldn't be sitting at this table talking. We'd be in my bed, making love until dawn."
Ginny's breath caught in her throat and she swallowed with difficulty, knowing Kara could see how much her words had affected her. She forced her eyes away and took her wineglass, nearly spilling it as she brought it to her lips.
"But, since you're not a lesbian, it doesn't really matter, does it?"
Ginny shook her head but refused to meet Kara's eyes.
She slept fitfully, images coming to her in the night, images of a woman, touching her, kissing her. Images of Kara as she laid beside her, her naked body warm to her touch, her naked body sliding over her own. And Ginny went to her willingly, her own hands seeking, her own mouth opening under Kara's.
"God," she whispered and she sat up, perspiration glistening on her body and she buried her face in her hands, embarrassed by her dreams. She brushed her damp hair away from her face and closed her eyes, pushing Kara away from her.
It wasn't even yet five, but she got up, her feet carrying her numbly to the kitchen and she made coffee, then stood under the cool spray of the shower, washing away the last images of her dream.
"You were up early," Nana accused later.
"Couldn't sleep," Ginny said and she looked away, afraid her eyes would reveal her thoughts.
"You need to get more exercise. Why don't you walk with me in the mornings?"
Ginny laughed. "Someone's got to open up the store."
"Well, then, do it in the evenings. You ought to ask Kara. I'm sure she would walk with you," Nana said.
Ginny nearly blushed and shook her head. "I would hate to disturb her work," she managed to get out.
"Did you have fun last night?" Nana asked.
"Yes. We just had dinner and visited," Ginny said carefully.
"She's a nice girl, isn't she?"
Ginny nodded. "Yes. She is." Very nice.
"Did you get a chance to see any of her paintings?"
"No. I didn't think to ask," Ginny said.
"Well, what do you talk about, if not her work?"
Ginny stared at her, at a loss for words.
"Ask her sometime, will you?" Nana continued.
"I will," Ginny promised. She bent to kiss her cheek. "Enjoy your walk. I'll see you later."Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org