Kara stayed away. For three days, she worked on her painting, finishing up the sunrise at the lake and continuing on the sunset she had shared with Ginny. Ginny. She had occupied her thoughts day and night, but Kara refused to call her. She refused to go by the store. She needed time away from her. Never in her life had another woman crowded in on her so, making her nearly crazy with wanting her. It had been so long since she had known this kind of desire.
"She's straight," she said again. Isn't she? She lit a cigarette, her sixth, and slumped down in the lawn chair. Smoking and drinking, she had done much more of both since she had met Ginny, she thought, as she lifted the beer bottle to her lips. She tried not to picture the two of them together, as they had been in her dreams last night.
She shook her head slowly, absently knocking ashes from her cigarette. It wasn't as if she were looking for someone. She had realized in the last three years that she didn't really need anyone in her life. If she got lonely, if she got the urge for someone's touch, there were always willing women in Seattle. Casual sex was much safer on the heart than going through all that silly courting anyway.
She had found a lake on the map that she wanted to look at, but she had been putting it off. She glanced at the sky, clear and blue. This evening would be a good time, she thought. Only, it was at the other end of town, past the general store, and she had not wanted to even be near there, for fear Ginny or Louise would be out front. Then she would feel compelled to stop and visit and she would be forced to look into Ginny's green eyes and she would be lost all over again.
She stopped her thoughts. She couldn't just keep avoiding her. She came out here to work. If there was a lake she wanted to go to, she would go. She was acting like a teenager with a crush, for God's sake! With that, she stubbed out her cigarette and drained the last of her beer. She would go, take a look and if the colors were good, sketch another sunset and be on her way.
She drove quickly, with good intentions not to even glance at the store, but her eyes were drawn to it. She saw Ginny sitting on the porch and she cursed when Ginny lifted a hand in greeting and, without even thinking, Kara turned her Toyota into the drive and stopped beside her.
"What are you doing?" Kara asked through the opened window.
"Just sitting," Ginny explained. "You?"
"There's a lake, out on Mill Creek," she said, motioning up the road.
"Potter's Lake," Ginny supplied.
"You've been there?"
"Quiet. Lot's of trees," Ginny said, her eyes on Kara. "The fishing's not great."
"Oh, darn," Kara said with a smile.
They stared at each other and Ginny couldn't pull her eyes away, even when she felt her pulse begin to pound nervously. Her eyes dropped briefly to Kara's lips, remembering all that those lips had done to her in her dreams. She blushed crimson and found Kara's eyes again, trying to read them.
The screen door opened and Ginny finally broke Kara's hold on her.
"Why, Kara," Nana said.
"Going out sketching again?"
"Why don't you take Ginny? I think she's feeling cooped up."
Ginny looked from Nana to Kara and back again. "Oh, I couldn't leave the store just yet," she said.
"Nonsense," Nana exclaimed.
Nonsense? Ginny rubbed her temples, trying to think of an excuse not to be alone with Kara.
"We're not busy. You run along. I can lock up."
Ginny looked up and met Kara's amused eyes that just hinted at a challenge. "You don't mind?" she asked weakly.
"Not at all," Kara lied. Of course she minded. She didn't want to be alone with her. But she said, "I'd love your company."
Ginny crawled up in her Land Cruiser, resisting the urge to cling to the door, and she made herself relax. It was short-lived, however. Kara's arm slipped along the back of the seat behind her as she turned to back up and Ginny could almost feel it caressing her shoulders. She shivered from the heat of it.
"How have you been?" Kara asked when they pulled away.
"Have you been working?" Ginny asked.
Kara glanced at her, aware of her nervousness. And of her own.
"Should I apologize for the other night?" Kara asked.
"For what I said."
"Don't be silly," Ginny said with a lightness she wasn't feeling. "I asked the question."
There were no other cars at the lake and Ginny glanced at the sky, mindful of the approaching evening and how utterly alone they would be. She shouldn't have come, she thought. She shouldn't be out here alone with Kara. She felt confused and all mixed up inside whenever she was near Kara. Whenever she found Kara's eyes on her.
She watched as Kara got out, sketch pad tucked under her arm, and she looked at her through the opened window.
"Coming?" Kara asked.
Ginny nodded and her eyes followed Kara as she walked away but she was still sitting there when Kara turned back around to glance at her questioningly.
"Coming," Ginny said and she finally opened the door.
"Don't be afraid of me," Kara said as they walked. "I would never . . .."
"I know you wouldn't," Ginny said sharply. "I'm not afraid."
"Not of you, exactly," Ginny said.
"Nothing," Ginny murmured. "Let's don't talk about it, please."
Kara nodded. "Okay. We won't talk."
They walked along the path, Ginny following Kara as the trail narrowed toward the water. Kara looked overhead, trying to pretend that she was interested in the colors, but she wasn't. Her mind wasn't on sketching. She was thankful for the trees. They blocked out the setting sun and the lake reflected only the forest as it darkened with only a hint of the colors of sunset.
Kara knew she should simply tell Ginny that the colors were no good and that they should turn back. Go home, where it would be safe. Where she would not be tempted. But she didn't. They were completely alone and her pulse raced at the thought. She wanted to be alone with her, she realized and she felt foolish. Ginny wanted nothing from her, she reminded herself.
They walked to the shore, the lake surface smooth as glass in the still evening. Ginny noticed that Kara made no move to take out her sketchpad, but Ginny made no mention of it. She wasn't sure she could speak. She felt her heart pounding and she took in a deep breath of air, trying to still her racing pulse. What was she expecting? That Kara would sweep her into her arms and kiss her? That she would say she had been dreaming about her, too and she just had to see what it would be like to kiss her? Is that what she wanted? Did she want Kara to take her in her arms? God, of course not! She wanted no such thing!
Oh, she brought a trembling hand to her throat, feeling her pulse beat wildly and she knew that she had probably worked herself into a frenzy over nothing! Surely, Kara was having none of these same feelings. Surely, Kara was not the least bit attracted to her. Was she?
They stood there, the silence nearly deafening as they both looked out over the lake. When Ginny turned, Kara's eyes were on her, and her own lifted and met her questioning stare. What was she thinking? What was she feeling? Kara tried to find the answers in her eyes but failed.
Ginny touched a hand to her chest, feeling the tightness, wishing her heart would slow to normal. She felt the pull between them and wondered if Kara felt it, too.
"Too many trees," Kara finally managed.
Ginny nodded but her eyes never left Kara's. She was quickly losing the battle with herself and she took a hesitant step toward Kara.
"Show me," she whispered. "I need to know." She saw Kara's jaw clinch nervously and she wanted to put her hand there. "Please?"
Kara shook her head. "Ginny, don't," she warned. "You don't know what you're doing."
Of course not but that didn't stop her as she reached out and captured Kara's warm hand. "I want to know," she said softly. "Kiss me."
Kara felt the last thread of sanity flee at those softly whispered words. Her eyes dropped to the lips that were so inviting. Yes, she knew she should stop this, she knew she should walk away. But she couldn't deny herself the pleasure.
Ginny felt Kara pull her towards her and she went willingly. When Kara's hand touched her face to guide her, she closed her eyes and waited for Kara's lips to touch hers.
"Ginny," Kara whispered again and Ginny felt Kara's breath, warm on her face. She turned towards it and when their lips met, it was not slow and gentle. It was hurried and hungry and Ginny's mouth opened under hers and she whimpered softly when their tongues touched briefly for the first time.
Kara pulled her in close, dropping her sketch pad to the ground and fitting Ginny's body with hers, feeling Ginny's breasts press against her own and she lost what little resolve she had. Her hands slid to Ginny's hips and she cupped her roundness, pulling Ginny flush against her as Ginny's trembling hands moved over her shoulders and around her neck.
"Yes," Ginny breathed against Kara's lips and her tongue explored Kara's warm mouth, pushing past her lips. Soft lips, not a man's lips. She was on fire.
It was magic. Their kisses were hot, wet and Ginny felt unfamiliar desire pool between her legs and she moaned softly against Kara's lips. Kara started to pull away, but Ginny followed, refusing to release her, all thought gone except these insane feelings that this woman created in her. Kara's lips softened and now they moved with exquisite gentleness over her own and Ginny felt her legs threaten to collapse as Kara cupped her face between her hands and touched her lips again and again.
"Ginny," Kara whispered when she finally drew back. "Why?"
"You know why," she accused. Ginny lowered her head and buried it against Kara's chest, her breath coming fast between her parted lips. "I just . . . had to know," she whispered.
Kara tipped her chin up and looked deep into her eyes. "And now you think you know what it's like to kiss a woman?"
"Yes," came the whispered answer.
"And are you curious, too, as to how it would feel if I touched your breasts?"
Ginny took in a deep breath, afraid to answer as Kara's hands slid dangerously close to her breasts.
"Do you want to know?" Kara whispered and she bent again to take Ginny's mouth, which opened instantly to her tongue. Her hands stopped, the tops just brushing the swell under Ginny's breasts.
"I'm so afraid of what I'm feeling," Ginny whispered, although her body begged for Kara's touch and she pressed closer, feeling her nipples harden at the thought of Kara's hands on them. In the early twilight, her eyes sought Kara's, trying desperately to make some sense of her feelings.
Kara's hands trembled. It would be so easy, she knew. One more kiss, one touch. But she heard the fear in Ginny's voice, could see the uncertainty in her eyes.
"You should be afraid," Kara said finally and pushed Ginny away, nearly causing her to stumble. She stepped back, her hands brushing her hair from her eyes. Jesus. What are you thinking? What are you doing?
"I'm so sorry," Ginny whispered, her own hands trembling as they wrapped around herself. "I never should have asked."
Kara turned her back to Ginny, needing time. "Why are you sorry? It's not like I didn't want to kiss you."
"I don't know what to say, Kara. I'm sorry . . .."
"Please stop saying that. I'm the one who . . .."
"No." Ginny swallowed with difficulty. "I've been thinking about you," she admitted. "Thinking things I shouldn't." She took a deep breath and turned away. "I can't stop . . . I mean . . . you're thinking I'm just curious, aren't you?" she asked.
"I don't know. Are you?"
Ginny touched Kara's arm and turned her around to face her. "Maybe. I've never really thought about being with a woman before," she said. Her mind refused to bring up Renee. "Until I met you."
Kara laughed and shoved her hands inside her pockets to stop herself from reaching out to her. "Well, if you're thinking of experimenting, you'll have to look elsewhere. I'm not really into that." She jerked up her sketchpad and began walking back along the trail and Ginny followed, running after her.
"Kara, wait. I need to talk about this."
"Well, I don't," Kara snapped. Stupid, stupid fool, she cursed herself.
"You don't understand," Ginny said, trying to keep up with Kara's long strides.
"No, I suppose I don't," she said.
"Goddamn it, will you stop," Ginny shouted.
Kara stopped and turned around, her eyes angry. "What?"
"I know what you're thinking," Ginny said.
Kara laughed without humor. "Oh, I seriously doubt it."
Ginny stared at her, her thoughts gone suddenly as she saw the desire still shimmering in Kara's eyes. It scared her more than she thought possible.
"Don't play with me," Kara warned softly.
"I'm not," Ginny said. "I'm sorry."
"Because you don't know what you're doing," Kara continued, her voice now gentle. "I want you. But then, I guess you already know that."
Ginny nodded weakly and she was frightened by the look in Kara's eyes. But more than that, she was frightened by what her own might reveal.
Ginny slept naked for the first time in years, her body yearning for someone's touch. Kara's touch. She laid still, her arms firmly at her sides while her mind raced, memories of Kara's lips still fresh. She closed her eyes, her body on fire. Before she realized it, her hands moved to her breasts, touching her erect nipples lightly, feeling her stomach churn with desire. Her breath came quickly as she pictured Kara's hands on her, touching just under her breasts. "Are you curious, too, as to how it would feel if I touched your breasts?" God, yes. And she knew, didn't she? Her hand moved lower, across her belly and she touched her soft hair, imaging Kara's hand there. Her legs parted and she touched herself, moaning softly at the wetness she found. Her hips moved on the bed, reaching out to her hand, to Kara's hand and her pulse pounded in her temples as she stroked herself, bringing herself closer to orgasm.
"No," she cried and pulled her hand away. She would not. "What am I doing?" God, it was Kara she wanted.
She rolled over onto her stomach, her body still trembling and wanting. Kara. She wanted Kara. The truth of her thoughts scared her to death. She wanted a woman. She wanted Kara. And she was scared.
She overslept. Nana was knocking impatiently on her door, asking if she was all right and Ginny forced herself out of her dream, her wonderful dream and she turned, eyes trying to focus on the door that opened slowly.
"Ginny?" Nana's voice was concerned.
"I'm sorry. What time is it?" she asked, her voice husky with sleep and desire.
"Nearly seven. Do you want me to open up?"
Ginny very nearly sat up, then she remembered her nakedness and slumped down again under the covers. "Would you mind? I'll be there in a few minutes."
"Are you sick?"
"No. I had trouble falling asleep is all," she said.
"You've been doing that a lot lately," Nana said.
"I'm fine, Nana."
Nana watched her for a moment longer, then smiled and told her to hurry. Ginny waited until the door closed before she stood and wrapped her robe around her, her breasts, her body, still aching for Kara's touch. She shoved at her hair, tucking it behind her ears and rubbed her face, trying to wake up. Her body felt like lead and she tried to hurry through her shower, but she stood for endless moments under the warm spray, reliving the night before, remembering Kara's hot mouth on hers. Remembering how seeking her own had been. And how natural it felt.
"God, I'm losing my mind," she murmured. Maybe she needed to call Phil. Maybe she just needed to be with him. It had been a long time, too long really. It wasn't normal to go without sex this long. That's all it was, surely, she thought. Why else would she be having these insane thoughts about another woman?
At the store, she stood listlessly behind the counter, pen poised over the inventory list, her eyes staring past it. Without conscious thought, she saw Kara, saw the two of them embracing; breasts touching, hips pressing together, lips seeking, tongues dueling.
"You've been working on that list for the last hour." Nana walked over and glanced over her shoulder. "You're still on the first page!"
"Sorry. I can't seem to concentrate," she murmured.
"Want me to do it?"
"No, Nana. I'm sorry," she said. "I'll do it."
"They close at five," she reminded her.
Nana left her and Ginny forced her eyes to the page, marking down the items they needed to order. She shut her eyes several times, trying to block out images of Kara as they came to her and she firmly put them from her mind, instead she forced herself to recall Phil and pictured herself kissing him, wanting him. But it was not Phil that had her body trembling with want.
Later, when the bell jingled over the door, she glanced up, afraid it would be Kara, but two women walked in. Ginny watched them and smiled slightly when they met her eyes. Were they lovers?
God, now she was thinking that every woman she met was a lesbian! Why would that even enter her mind? It never had before. But she stared at them, seeing the familiar glances they shared and knew instantly that they were lovers.
Suddenly, Kara swam before her eyes; Kara's mouth as she bent to Ginny; Kara's tongue as it pushed into her mouth, tasting every inch of her. Kara's hands, as they rested just under her breasts. And Ginny had wanted her to touch them. She wanted it now. She could feel her nipples harden at the thought and she longed for Kara's touch. Her stomach turned as she saw Kara's hands move over her breasts, cupping them, bringing them into her waiting mouth. Ginny was aware of the ache between her legs and she knew she wanted Kara's hands there, too. Oh, God . . .I want a woman.
"Hmmm?" Her mind tried to focus, but all she saw was Kara.
"Ginny!" Nana said again and touched her arm.
"I'm sorry. What?"
"You're a thousand miles away. These women are interested in fishing and I told them how you and your grandfather used to go all the time. Tell them how to find one of the lakes."
Ginny looked up and saw the women watching her and she blushed, fearing her thoughts were exposed.
"Are you familiar with the area?" she managed.
"We're camping out on Mill Creek, but the fishing's not very good there," one said.
"No. It never has been." Ginny smiled. "There's a local fishing spot, but if someone asks how you found it, don't you dare mention my name." She told them how to get to Battle Canyon Creek and the hidden lake, the one that Kara had sketched.
"Ginny, I'm worried about you," Nana said. "Why don't you go home early?"
"You opened. I can't very well let you close, as well."
"Don't be silly. Jessica is here. Why don't you call in the order, then go home. Get some sleep."
Ginny nodded, knowing full well that if she left the store, she wouldn't go to sleep. How could she sleep? Her traitorous body was threatening her, making demands that she could not, would not satisfy!
Oh, this insanity has got to stop! I'm not a lesbian, she told herself over and over again. I'm not attracted to women. I'm not attracted to . . . Kara. She shut her eyes to the imagines of last night and turned away from Nana quickly.
"Ginny? Are you all right?" Nana asked.
"Fine," she managed.
"Something's wrong. My God, you're as white as a sheet," Nana fussed. "Are you getting sick?"
"I'm . . . I just feel a little dizzy," she said and it was the truth.
"Will you please go home? I can do the order, Ginny." Nana reached up and felt her forehead, checking for fever and Ginny was surprised that Nana wasn't burned, considering how hot her body felt. "I don't think you have a fever," Nana said.
Oh, yes, I have a fever, all right! Ginny nearly laughed hysterically and she covered her mouth with her hand. I'm losing my mind!
But she went home, leaving the store to Nana. She stripped off her clothes and took a cold shower, then crawled into bed, her skin still damp and she closed her eyes, only then allowing Kara to intrude into her thoughts.
What is happening to me? How can that woman affect me so? Why now? She groaned and rolled her head into the pillow. It was her own fault, she knew. Kara would never have kissed her if Ginny hadn't practically begged her to. And why had she begged? Good Lord, had she been insane?
"I'm not a lesbian," she whispered. Of course not. There was Phil. She liked being with Phil. She liked sex with him. She rolled her eyes and sighed. Who was she kidding? It had never been great with Phil. In fact, it had never . . . stop! "I just haven't met the right man," she murmured. "That's all."
I won't see Kara again, she vowed. Not unless she comes into the store. Then she would have to be civil to her. But that was all. She would not allow Nana to invite her to dinner ever again. She would not go out sketching with her ever again. And eventually, the guilt and shame that she was feeling over that one indiscretion would fade and she would be normal again. She should be thankful that it had stopped with just a kiss. She laughed bitterly. Just a kiss? That was hardly just a kiss! Hadn't their bodies pressed together? Hadn't her body been screaming for Kara's touch upon her breasts?
Maybe she would call Phil. Maybe she would invite him to come visit. Sex. Maybe that was all she needed.
Kara sat on the porch, smoking, like she had been doing most of the day. She could not paint. She could not do much of anything. She had gone on a long walk that morning, trying to dispel Ginny from her thoughts. Little good it had done. She had been with her all day and she acknowledged the desire that still licked at her lower regions.
She vowed she would not see Ginny again. At least, not alone. Last night, she had come so close to losing herself in Ginny's soft mouth. She had wanted to touch her. She had wanted to pull her to the forest floor and make love to her. Only Ginny's frightened eyes had stopped her from taking what she wanted.
And of course, Ginny had no idea how close she had been. Kara wanted her with a passion that surprised even her. Ginny's body had been soft, yielding and responsive. Ginny's body had begged to be touched and she probably didn't even know it herself. Only the look in her eyes had stopped Kara.
And then she was angry. Angry that Ginny had been afraid. Angry for wanting her. Angry that Ginny had made her want her.
"Jesus. Is she straight or what?"
Yes. Of course she was. She had merely been curious. Experimenting, maybe. Sex wasn't great with Phil, or so she had hinted. Maybe she was just trying to find out how it would feel if she kissed a woman.
Well, Kara didn't want any part of it. She was too damn old to get mixed up in this kind of game. She didn't need it. She needed to work. She would go out sketching, every morning and every evening, until she had enough ideas to put to canvas and she would get the hell out of here and go back to Seattle.
Where it was safe, she added.
"You're looking better today," Nana said over breakfast.
"You skipped your walk," Ginny accused. "I could have fended for myself."
"I wanted to make sure you were okay. You missed dinner."
Ginny hadn't left her room the night before. She had slept some. A troubled sleep, but still, she had slept. She had heard Nana moving about in the house, had heard her making dinner, but she didn't want to join her. She didn't want to have to answer any questions. So she had stayed in bed, pretending to be asleep. She was hiding from Nana, but she couldn't hide from her thoughts. Or her dreams.
But she was better this morning. She didn't get all flushed when she thought about Kara's kiss, at least. Well, not much anyway. She closed her eyes. I won't think about it today. I won't.
They rode to the store together and Ginny stayed busy, doing paper work and trying desperately to occupy her mind. It worked. She was surprised when she glanced at the clock and it was already after twelve.
"Aren't you going for lunch?" Nana asked.
"I think I'll just eat it here," she said.
"You've been working nonstop. You should get away," Nana said.
Ginny rubbed her head, thinking that if Nana even had a clue as to what was going on inside her, she would not want her to be alone with her thoughts for even one minute.
"No. I don't really feel like going to the park today," she said.
Nana shrugged. "I'll make you a sandwich, then."
Ginny opened her mouth to stop her. She wasn't hungry. But she let Nana walk away. She would force down the sandwich and save herself having to answer to Nana.
"Oh, there's Kara," Nana said.
Ginny's heart fluttered in her chest and her palms grew damp as she raised her eyes to the door.
"Well, she didn't stop," Nana said. "I guess she was out sketching."
Ginny let out a sigh of relief and briefly thanked the heavens for sparing her. She didn't think she could face Kara. Not yet. And especially not in front of Nana.
"I really like her, Ginny," Nana said when she brought their sandwiches. "Maybe we need to fix her up."
"Fix her up?"
"With a man," Nana explained.
Ginny covered her mouth and suppressed the laughter that threatened to surface. Fix her up with a man?
"Maybe Phil knows some nice man that would be perfect for her." Nana smiled sadly. "She's already thirty-four. She can't wait around for ever."
"Nana, I don't think Kara would appreciate you-"
"Oh, I know she said she wasn't looking, that she didn't need anyone, but I don't believe that for a minute. She's so attractive. If she would wear a little makeup and grow her hair out, she would have men lining up to ask her out."
Ginny bit into her sandwich to save from answering. It was no use. Nana would never be convinced that a woman could be happy without a man in her life. Of course, Ginny could always tell Nana the truth, that Kara preferred to be with women.
"Oh, well. I guess it's really none of my business," Nana said. "She'll be going back to Seattle soon, anyway."
"Yes, she will," Ginny murmured. The sooner, the better, she thought.
Nana fixed her eyes on Ginny. "Why haven't you called Phil?"
"I . . . just haven't."
"Ginny, don't make the man wait forever. He may lose patience and then what? Maybe he'll meet someone else and then who will you have?"
"Nana, please don't start," Ginny pleaded.
"Do I need to call him myself?"
"Don't you dare!"
Nana stared at her for a moment longer. "Well, I declare. Women nowadays. I'll never understand you."
Ginny rubbed her temples, trying to ward off the headache that threatened. She wanted to scream out in frustration. Her nerves were on edge and she counted to ten before speaking.
"Nana, we've been over this time and again. When I'm ready, I'll call him," she said quietly. "Now, please. I don't want to talk about it."
"I'm only concerned-"
"I know you are," she said gently. "And I love you for it."
The bell jingled and a customer came in, a stranger, and Nana got up to help them and Ginny closed her eyes in relief. It was one thing to be worried over these feelings she had for Kara, but at least that she could do silently. Nana's constant concern over her and Phil's relationship was slowly wearing her down until she was certain that she was going to snap at her.
"Oh, Ginny. If you happen to talk to Kara, ask her about Sunday," Nana called.
"You haven't forgotten? Settler's Day is Sunday," Nana reminded her.
Settler's Day in the park. Ginny had forgotten. The town got together each year to celebrate its founding with food and drink and music. For a mere five dollars a person, all the burgers and fries you could eat and a glass of keg beer would run you only a buck.
"Nana, I don't think Kara would enjoy it. I mean, it's burgers," she said.
"Oh, pooh. There's plenty of other stuff to eat," Nana said, dismissing her lame excuse with a wave of her hand. "She doesn't know a soul here, Ginny. It would be rude if we didn't invite her."
"But still . . .."
"Ginny? Why in the world wouldn't you want to invite her? There'll be tons of tourists there. At least, we hope so," she added. "The more people, the more money."
Ginny smiled and nodded. "Okay. If I talk to her, I'll mention it," she conceded. But, of course, she had no intention of talking to her. Kara would never know about Settler's Day from her.
What is it they say about the best-laid plans? Ginny couldn't remember, only her plan for Settler's Day had been shot out the window. She had not seen or spoken to Kara and she assumed that she could spend Sunday in the park without looking over her shoulder, worrying about where Kara was. But no.
"She said she would love to come," Nana said. "And I can't believe you didn't call her."
"I forgot," Ginny lied.
"Well, she said she has been busy. That's why she hasn't been by. Imagine my surprise to find her on the trail," Nana said and she rambled on about meeting Kara at the lake and how she gotten to watch her sketch but Ginny only pretended to listen. It had been five days since she had seen her. Five days since she had kissed her.
Oh, Lord! Not that again. She could almost get through the day now without vividly remembering her kiss, without her traitorous body still responding. Now she would have to see her. She would have to speak to her. Knowing Nana, she would insist that Kara sit and eat with them, too.
"She asked about you, by the way," Nana said.
Ginny jerked her head up. "What did you say?"
"Well, I told her that you had been sick that one day, but you were feeling better now," Nana said and Ginny closed her eyes and groaned silently. "We need to have her over for dinner again, too. She's much too thin," Nana said.
Ginny opened her mouth to speak, to tell Nana that, no, she didn't want Kara over for dinner, but Nana had turned back to the cake that she was frosting. Ginny rubbed her temples and sighed. She could get through it. Just one day. Kara wouldn't bring up the kiss, Ginny knew. If she had wanted to press the issue, she would have come to the store at some point during the last five days.
And just what had Kara been thinking, anyway? Why had she stayed away? Well, Ginny knew why. Kara thought Ginny had been playing with her. Kara thought Ginny had just been curious. And she had, she told herself. That was all! But she hadn't been playing with her, toying with her. Ginny would never do that. She was not a tease. She had simply been . . . what? Attracted? No, she didn't like that word. She was not attracted to Kara, she stubbornly insisted. She had simply been experimenting. Yes, that was a much safer word!
After much worrying over what to wear, Nana was finally ready to go. Ginny had simply shoved a T-shirt inside her shorts and found her cleanest pair of athletic shoes.
"At my age, shorts are a bit casual," Nana complained.
"Good Lord, Nana. It's a picnic. Don't wear a dress."
"I'd hate for people to talk," she said, but she eyed the pair of shorts that Ginny had laid on her bed.
"Everyone will have shorts on. Now quit worrying," Ginny said. "And wear your walking shoes, too."
"Oh, Ginny, are you sure?"
Ginny had rolled her eyes to the ceiling and nodded. Nana was always concerned with what other people thought.
They loaded the two cakes and the bowl of potato salad that they had volunteered to make into Nana's car and Ginny drove through town, now crowded with cars, and made their way to the park.
"Looks like a lot of people in town today," Nana said. "Maybe we'll have a good crowd this year."
"Well, the weather is gorgeous," Ginny said. And it was. Clear, blue skies beckoned and not even a hint of a breeze. Perfect summer weather.
"I hope Kara can find us," Nana said.
I hope she doesn't, Ginny thought. Oh, but that was cruel. She liked Kara, she really did. If it wasn't for . . . well, if it wasn't for what had happened between them, she thought that they could be good friends. That they were friends. But Ginny had ruined that with her . . . experiment.
The park was beginning to fill and they left the car in the shade of a giant spruce. Ginny balanced the two cakes while Nana carried the pie. Nana called out to friends as they passed and she actually blushed when Mr. Arnold complimented her outfit.
"See, I told you people would notice," Nana said quietly.
"It was a compliment," Ginny said with a laugh. "Besides, he had on shorts."
"Well, that's different," Nana said.
Ginny laughed. "Oh, yes. He's a man. He can be comfortable."
"Oh, Nana. You look great. Quit worrying."
But Ginny was the one worrying. She looked around, fearing that Kara would be there, waiting. The men were already heating the assorted grills, getting ready for burgers and a small crowd had gathered by the kegs of beer, but there was no sign of Kara. She breathed a sigh of relief, thankful she had been spared for at least a little longer.
Nana mingled with her friends and Ginny walked off, avoiding the children that ran and played in the park. A temporary stage had been set up and the band was already there, tuning their guitars, getting ready for later. Vendors had set up their goods in booths along the street and Ginny thought it looked more like a flea market than a picnic, but still, it brought money into the town.
Ginny turned around and made her way back to where she had left Nana and her heart jumped into her throat. Kara was there, talking with Nana, laughing at something Nana had said and Ginny stopped and stared. They hadn't seen her, Kara hadn't seen her, and she let her eyes travel over Kara slowly, and as she did, each moment that she had stood in Kara's arms came back to her with vivid clarity. She could still imagine her mouth on her, still taste her, still feel her tongue as it slid over her own.
She groaned and slammed her eyes shut, willing her thoughts away. She opened them again and made herself move. Nana looked up and waved and Ginny forced a smile to her lips as she walked up.
"Look who I found," Nana said.
There was a moment of awkward silence between them as their eyes collided, then Kara smiled and turned back to Nana.
"I didn't realize this was such a big deal," she said.
"Well, I don't know if it's the burgers or the dollar beer that draws them," Nana said.
"Or maybe the cake you were mentioning," Kara said. She looked up at Ginny then. "How have you been?" she asked.
Ginny swallowed nervously and nodded. "Okay."
Kara nodded, too.
"Have you been working?" Ginny asked.
"Yes. A lot," she said. "I've been out every morning and evening. The sunrises have been beautiful."
"I was telling Kara that she should take you out some morning for the sunrise. You've seen her sketch in the evening, but the lake she did this morning was just beautiful," Nana said.
Ginny's eyes widened and she glanced at Kara, but her eyes revealed nothing, only slight amusement at Nana's words.
"Well, you know me . . . I'm not exactly a morning person," Ginny said.
"Oh, pooh. You should do it once. She's very good," Nana said.
Ginny nodded, knowing perfectly well how good she was and she wasn't thinking about sketching. She swallowed again, feeling Kara's eyes on her but when she looked up, Kara was looking at Nana. Ginny was thankful. She didn't want to have to look at her. She couldn't. Not when she still felt . . . something. Attracted, her body screamed, but she ignored that. No, not attracted to her. Just . . . something.
But Kara was being kind, wasn't she? There was no hint in her words or actions that there had ever been even the slightest indiscretion on Ginny's part. Ginny frowned. Had she spent the last five days worrying over nothing? Had their kiss affected Kara so little that she had not even given it a second thought? No. Ginny remembered that night all too well. She remembered the look in Kara's eyes. She remembered her words. "I want you."
"Hmmm?" Ginny murmured, glancing at Nana.
"I said you should take Kara to get a beer. And bring me an iced tea, please. I'm going to help the ladies cut the cakes." Nana left them standing there and Ginny looked nervously at Kara.
"You want one?" she asked.
They walked off silently, leaving ample space between them and Ginny cursed her nervousness. What did she think? That Kara would sweep her into her arms and continue what they had started that night? Lord, she felt her pulse pounding in her throat and it was wrecking havoc on her senses. She was having a hard time breathing and she opened her mouth slightly, gulping in fresh air.
Kara shoved her hands in her shorts and stared ahead, not daring to look at Ginny. She could tell Ginny was uncomfortable. Hell, she was uncomfortable, herself. They should talk. They should have talked before today, she realized.
"If I said I'm sorry-"
"Why should you be sorry?" Ginny asked. "I'm the one who should apologize. I'm the one who started it," she said quietly. "And I'm sorry."
Ginny turned and dared to look into her eyes. "Kara, I never meant . . . I wasn't playing with you. I wouldn't do that."
Kara nodded and Ginny pulled her eyes away.
"I wasn't going to come today, but Louise insisted," Kara explained. "I know you'd be more comfortable if I weren't here."
"I'm . . . okay," Ginny said. "I've practically forgotten about it, actually," she lied.
"Good. Me, too," Kara said easily.
Ginny bit her lower lip. So, it had meant nothing to Kara, after all. She probably did that sort of thing all the time. Straight women, just like herself, were probably always . . . experimenting with Kara. Oh, Jesus, stop it! You want her to forget it, don't you?
"Let me buy you a beer," Ginny said and she dug into her pockets for money. "Hi, Matt. Two, please," she said.
"How you doing, Ginny?" he asked.
"Fine. How's Jean?"
"Oh, she's ready to drop any minute," he said. "Her ankles are swollen so she didn't make it."
"This will be number four?" Ginny asked.
"Yes. We'll keep trying until we have a boy," he said as he handed them the beer.
"Thanks, Matt. Tell Jean I said hello."
They walked off and Ginny rolled her eyes. "Four. Can you imagine?"
"No. Let's hope it's a boy, for Jean's sake," Kara said and she winked at Ginny and smiled.
"Really," Ginny agreed, trying to ignore the fluttering in her stomach.
They found Nana and gave her the iced tea she had requested, then she waved them away.
"Ginny, show Kara some of the booths. They usually have art, although I doubt it's in the same class as hers," Nana said.
Kara laughed. "Louise, I'm hardly famous."
"Nonsense," she said. "You've been in a magazine. That's famous." She went back to her cake. "Don't linger, though," she called. "I'll save us a table."
Ginny chuckled and led Kara away, shaking her head. Nana was a handful!
"She's something else," Kara said.
"Yes. And she thinks the world of you, by the way," Ginny said.
Kara raised her eyebrows and smiled. "I take it, she hasn't actually read the article?"
"No. She knows nothing about your . . . personal life," Ginny said.
"She would never understand," Ginny added.
They walked along the booths, pausing occasionally to pick up some of the crafts that were displayed. There were a few paintings and Kara studied them while Ginny studied her. It was safer to look when Kara wasn't aware, Ginny thought. And she did look. Try as she may, she could not stop her eyes from moving over her body, up her tan legs, past her shorts and coming to a sudden halt at the familiar tank top tucked inside. It was painfully obvious to her that Kara wore no bra and her eyes refused to move away from her breasts. Her breath caught and she swallowed with difficulty, finally raising her eyes, then blushing crimson when Kara caught her staring.
Kara held Ginny's eyes captive for several embarrassing seconds, then, with an arch of one eyebrow, she released her.
Ginny breathed again and she dared not look at Kara. What is wrong with you?
She felt totally out of control and her hands were trembling as she brought her beer cup to her lips. God, she was looking at a woman's breast! Had she lost her mind?
"I think I need another beer," Kara said.
"Me, too," Ginny murmured. She was hot and she knew it had nothing to do with the summer day!
They found Nana sitting at a table, two seats saved for them and Kara waited politely for Ginny to slide along the bench seat first.
"What do you think?" Nana asked Kara.
"I like it. It's fun," she said.
Ginny was all too aware of the woman sitting next to her to participate in the conversation. Her skin burned where Kara's leg brushed her thigh and she couldn't stop her pulse from racing through her veins. She tried to think of Phil, she tried to recall how it was to kiss him, to make love with him, but nothing would come to her. The memory of Kara's kiss pushed Phil from her mind and Ginny felt herself grow warm as she recalled standing by the lake, moving into Kara's arms, her mouth opening to Kara, her own tongue pushing wildly into Kara's mouth.
"Oh," she groaned softly and she closed her eyes tight.
"Are you okay?" Nana asked.
Ginny looked across the table at Nana and felt herself blush hotly. "I'm fine," she said. "Just a little hot," she murmured.
"It is quite warm today. I'm so glad I wore shorts," Nana said.
Ginny tried to listen as Nana told Kara about their morning but her mind was on the leg that pressed gently against her own. Good Lord, I can't stand it! What was Kara doing to her? Did she not have any idea of the effect she was having on Ginny? Ginny sighed, savoring the feeling of Kara's bare leg pressed against her own. She refused to wonder why she didn't move away from that warm touch.
Ginny was so thankful when the food was ready, she stood behind Kara and Nana in line, listening to Nana ramble on, meeting Kara's amused eyes occasionally. How could Kara act like nothing had happened between them? How could she be so unaffected by it all?
Because she's a lesbian. She's used to kissing other women! Ginny slammed her eyes shut. Well, she was not a lesbian and she was not used to kissing other women and it was driving her absolutely crazy! God, her skin crawled just being near Kara and she just wanted the day to be over and for Kara to go away again and leave her in peace.
"Are you okay?" Kara whispered.
"No, I'm not," she admitted. Her eyes flew to Kara's and she wished she had not looked. She couldn't pull away and she felt her chest heave as she tried to catch her breath. "I can't be around you like this," she whispered.
She saw a brief flash of understanding cross Kara's eyes before she nodded. "I know. I'm sorry," Kara said softly. "It's my fault. I shouldn't have come."
"No. It's . . .."
"Ginny, look, there's Mr. and Mrs. Dower. You remember them?" Nana called to the Dower's but they didn't hear her. "Oh, I'll have to look them up later. You were just a teenager the last time they saw you," Nana said.
"I remember them," Ginny said absently, her eyes still locked with Kara's.
They took their plates back to the table, Kara's loaded high with nothing but fries and two pieces of cake, and Ginny was again forced to endure sitting close to Kara.
"Oh, the band's good this year, Ginny," Nana said.
"Yes." Although she had hardly been listening. She ate in silence, her mind far away from the conversation between Kara and Nana.
Kara gathered up their plates when they had all finished eating and went for more beer and Ginny looked up and smiled at Nana.
"Having a good time?" she asked.
"Wonderful," Nana said. "But are you?"
"You've been awfully quiet," Nana said. "Are you not feeling well?"
"I feel fine," Ginny said. Why, oh why must Nana always notice?
"Do you think Kara's having a good time?"
Ginny nodded. "I think so." Was she? It was hard to tell. Kara, too, had been quiet.
"Here you go," Kara said, balancing two cups of beer and an iced tead in her hands. Ginny reached out to help her and when their hands touched, she trembled from the electricity between them, spilling beer on the table.
"God, I'm sorry," she murmured, mopping up the spill with her napkin.
She couldn't stand it. Not another minute. They had to talk. This was slowly driving her insane, this . . . attraction, yes, okay, attraction, that she had for Kara. And she could not stand it a second longer. She needed to . . . what? Talk? Yes, she needed to talk to her about it. She was so confused inside. Her traitorous body screamed for release but her mind refused to listen to it. This couldn't be happening to her. She was not a lesbian!
Ginny leaned toward Kara, speaking softly so that Nana would not hear. "We need to talk." When Kara looked at her, she added, "I need to talk."
"Okay," Kara agreed. "Why don't we take a drive?"
Ginny nodded and turned to Nana. "We're going to walk around a bit, Nana. You'll be okay here?"
"Of course. You run along."
They walked towards Kara's Land Cruiser without speaking and Ginny wondered what in the world she would say to Kara. She only wished for one thing; that her heart wouldn't pound so whenever Kara was near.
Kara opened the door for Ginny and she crawled inside, remembering the last time she had been in Kara's truck. They had been driving back, after The Kiss. They had not spoken. Not one word. Kara had stopped in front of the house and Ginny had nearly run from the truck then.
"Where to?" Kara asked.
"It doesn't matter," Ginny said.
Kara drove slowly down the deserted streets and she reached into the console, fishing out her crumpled pack of cigarettes. She shoved one into her mouth, then glanced at Ginny.
"You don't mind, do you?"
"Of course not," she said.
Kara inhaled deeply, letting the smoke settle in her lungs, calming her. So, Ginny wanted to talk. Great. Just what she wanted to do. Talk about how she had kissed her and screwed up her life.
"Why don't we go to my house?" Ginny said. "We can sit and talk, then."
Kara hesitated. The last thing they needed was to be alone in Ginny's house. But she nodded anyway.
Ginny walked quickly ahead of Kara, suddenly nervous at being alone with her. Maybe they should have kept driving and talked in the truck. She wrapped her arms around herself and turned to Kara as soon as the door was closed.
"I can't stop thinking about it," she said quickly. "What's happening to me?"
"Ginny, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have ever . . .."
"I . . . begged you to," Ginny reminded her. "And now, I can't stop thinking about it." She turned away from Kara, unable to look at her. "I've never thought about a woman before, not like this." She remembered Renee. No, it had never been like this with Renee. She would not have allowed it. But maybe, if she'd continued to see her, it might have evolved into a sexual attraction. Who was she kidding? It was a sexual attraction. She just couldn't admit it at the time.
"Ginny, I don't know what you want me to say."
Ginny met blue eyes filled with regret and she shook her head slowly. It wasn't Kara's fault.
"There was a woman once," Ginny said quietly. "I was just out of college. She was my boss. At the time, I thought it was just friendship. We spent a lot of time together but I wouldn't allow my feelings to grow into something else. She wanted more but I couldn't . . . I didn't know. I met Phil shortly after that."
Kara caught her breath. This, she was not expecting.
"But I'm not a lesbian," she whispered. "I'm . . . just not. I don't want these feelings."
"Okay. You're not," Kara said, trying to say the words that she thought Ginny wanted to hear. "Maybe you're just questioning your love for Phil and this was . . . something to try."
"Is that what you think?" Ginny asked. It could be true. She wanted it to be true. Kara moved closer and stood in front of her. "Ginny, it was just a kiss. I didn't touch you," she said. "We weren't even close to . . . anything."
"Weren't we?" Ginny whispered. She felt as if she were in a dream. Her eyes clouded and all she could see were the two of them, as they had been that night. She remembered Kara's hands resting just under her breasts. She remembered how her body had begged for Kara's hands to move, how it had begged for Kara to touch her breasts. She remembered how she had imagined Kara's mouth on them, how she had imagined Kara's hands . . . on her, her fingers inside her. She raised her eyes to Kara's and she felt the rise and fall of her chest as she tried to keep pace with her uneven breathing. She didn't understand the burning need that was consuming her body, moving through her with each uneven breath, settling at the pit of her stomach and demanding relief.
"Ginny . . . please don't look at me that way," Kara whispered.
Ginny swallowed down the lump in her throat but her eyes refused to leave Kara's. "This is madness, what I'm feeling," Ginny murmured. Her tongue came out and wet her lips and Kara's eyes followed. Ginny moaned low in her throat from the look in Kara's eyes and she took a step towards her.
"Kiss me again," she begged. "Show me that there's nothing here, Kara. Show me that I just imagined it all."
Kara shook her head, no, but Ginny's hands were already touching her, already moving up her arms to her neck. "Kara, please," she whispered as she was drawn to Kara's warm body.
Kara couldn't have refused even if Louise had chosen that moment to walk in on them. Her hands went quickly to Ginny's face and she cupped her, pulling Ginny's mouth to hers. Ginny's lips were parted and wet and Kara devoured them hungrily, her resolve having vanished with the brush of Ginny's tongue against her own.
Ginny's hands gripped hard at Kara's shoulders and she was certain that she was going to pass out from the intensity of it all. Blood pounded in her ears and she couldn't breathe. Then Kara's mouth turned gentle and she could breathe again and she wanted to breathe Kara in. Her hands moved over Kara's back and she pressed her body close, her hips moving instinctively against Kara.
"Dear God, Kara," she whispered, when she was finally able to pull away, finally able to take her lips from Kara's. Barely.
"I'm sorry," Kara murmured and she tried to pull back but Ginny held her.
"Don't stop," Ginny pleaded and her mouth went back for more. One more kiss, one more touch of her tongue.
"Ginny, no," Kara said. She held Ginny at arms length. "What are we doing?" she whispered.
Ginny stood there, her breathing rapid as she looked at Kara. "I know I shouldn't feel this way, but I do." She reached out and took one of Kara's hands and brought it to her breasts without thinking. "Oh, Jesus," she murmured. "Oh my God." Her eyes slid shut as she felt Kara's hand close over her breast, when she felt Kara's thumb caress her erect nipple.
Kara's mind screamed for her to stop but her body wouldn't listen. Both hands now cupped Ginny's breasts and her mouth found a throbbing vein in the soft neck that was exposed.
Ginny pressed closer, desire crowding out all other thoughts. Her dreams didn't do justice to the pleasure that Kara brought to her. It was through a deep fog that she felt her shirt being pulled from her shorts, felt warm hands touch her hot skin. She didn't stop the hands that moved over her flesh, hands that impatiently shoved her bra away.
Kara had to have her mouth there. She had lost all sense of propriety. She no longer cared if what they were doing was wrong or not.
"Oh, Kara, yes," Ginny breathed when she felt a wet tongue rake across her nipple. She pulled Kara closer, gasping when Kara's hot mouth closed over her, gently sucking at her nipple, driving her insane with desire. Her eyes slammed shut as she held Kara to her breast. Her legs parted instinctively and pressed down hard on Kara's thigh.
It was only then, when desire shot through her, right to her center, making her press harder against Kara, that she realized how far they had gone, had quickly she had lost control. It was only then that fear replaced desire.
"No," she whispered. "No, Kara."
Kara immediately pulled away, her eyes clouded with desire.
"Oh, Jesus, I'm sorry, Ginny," she said quickly, moving away from Ginny, away from temptation. She ran both hands through her short hair and groaned softly. "I didn't mean to go that far."
"I'm sorry, too," Ginny whispered before tears closed up her throat. She could say no more.
"Please don't do this," Kara begged. "Please don't cry. This is all my fault. I let it go too far."
Ginny shook her head but still, no words would come. She sat down heavily on the sofa and pulled her T-shirt down. Her hands were shaking and she covered her face with them.
"Please, Ginny," Kara pleaded.
Ginny finally lifted her tear-stained face to Kara and she was shocked by the genuine regret she found there.
"I think I just want you to go now, Kara." At the anguish that crossed Kara's face, Ginny reached out a hand and captured Kara's fingers. "I just need to be alone and sort this all out. I'm not angry with you. I can't be angry with you when I'm the one that wanted this."
"I wanted it, too," Kara whispered.
"I know. That's what scares me so."
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