I Know This Bar

By: Girl Bard


Please see Part 1 for disclaimer.

Special thanks again to my beta readers Linda and SB. You guys are the best, seriously.

And thanks to everyone who mailed me feedback! Keep it coming!

Part 4:

May 12, 2000.

Empty. Cold. The only way I can describe how I feel. On her way to the airport Jaden dropped me off at my house. I watched her drive away. We really didn't say goodbye, she gently kissed me and said she'd see me soon. For the first time in my life I couldn't think of anything to say. I numbly kissed her back and dragged myself out of the Explorer.

Now I'm sitting on my front steps, knowing that once I enter my house my fantasy life of the past few days will disappear and realty will come crashing down. I don't think I'm ready for that yet, hence me sitting on the cold front stairs.

Crickets softly chirp. It's four in the morning, the sky clear and quiet. I shiver as a cool breeze blows through my front yard, the morning dew cold against my skin. Wrapping my arms around my legs, I can't help but notice how my butt is freezing. The cold concrete I am sitting on sends a chill through my entire body.

I take my lower lip between my teeth and bite down, willing myself not to cry. I am so cold. I miss Jaden's warmth; I can still feel her near me. But it's not enough; her ghostly presence is no comparison to the real thing. Last night was incredible; after the game we went back to her hotel room. I awoke sometime after we made love to find her long body curled around mine, her hand possessively cupping my breast. Sensing a change, she pulled me even closer to her, and I fell back asleep feeling her warm breath softly blowing in my hair.

I can still hear the gentle low tones of her laughter; this morning she woke me by kissing my eyelids, cheeks, mouth, and neck. Never a morning person, especially at 3am, I awoke rather grumpily regardless of her lovely wake-up call. She laughed at me then, and called me a crab.

A flash of blue in the distance distracts me from my thoughts. I squint my eyes, trying to focus on the color better. It is barely visible in the dark morning, and as quickly as it has appeared, it is gone again. I stand quickly, ignoring the sharp pain from my numb lower body. I scan the horizon, not finding the color anywhere. Memories of bluebirds and Jaden filter through my head as I make a sudden decision.

I'm going to the airport.

I speed faster than I ever have, determined to make record time to Cleveland/Hopkins Airport. There is no traffic at this hour, and once I hit the turnpike I slow, wary of the cops who love to stop the poor traveler late for their plane.

I reach the airport in thirty minutes, and park haphazardly in the short-term parking. I know Jaden's flying US Airways; I saw the tags on her bag.

Bolting to the terminal I scan the departures screen. There is a 6:00am departing flight to Boston. That has to be it. Gate B4.

The airport is packed, vacationers and crying babies, scared dogs in cargo kennels, and businessmen and women walking quickly to their gates. I stand in the security check line, fidgeting as I check my watch every few minutes.

I make it to Gate B4 at 5:13am and I search the crowd for Jaden. I don't see her. Oh Goddess, what if I have the wrong flight? I decide to ask the US Airways representative at the counter if Jaden Phillips has checked in.

"I'm sorry dear, I can't help you. We can't give out that kind of information." He looks sympathetic, his lively brown eyes and wrinkled face reminding me of my grandfather.

"Please, she's a friend of mine and I need to say goodbye to her." I plead with him, my eyes filling with tears. It must work, because he smiles at me and after making sure no one else is around, he rapidly types on his computer. My fingers drum on the counter in rhythm with his typing.

"Miss, she is on this flight to Boston, and she has already checked in." He says, his voice low and secretive. I smile and impulsively grab his hand.

"Thank you." I tell him sincerely, and he nods.

"Good luck to you." He says as I squeeze his hand. He gently grasps mine and releases it, his dark eyes twinkling.

I still can't find Jaden. Where in the hell is she? I know she had to return her rental car, but I would expect her here by now. I sigh and find an empty seat at the gate, anxiously searching the busy airport traffic for any sign of her.

I feel her before I can see her. My neck tingles, and for the first time since she left I feel warm inside. I turn my head, and see my Goddess. She looks upset, her normally proud posture slumped, and shoulders sagged. Still, she has an effect on everyone that sees her, men and women alike doing a double take as she passes them by. My girl is quite a looker, and I am surprised how angry yet secretively pleased I am to have others think so.

She doesn't see me yet, her gaze focused on her newspaper and tall cardboard glass of what is probably coffee. As she gets closer she suddenly looks up, scans the crowd, and locks her brilliant blue eyes onto mine.

I am up and running to her and before I can think rationally I hurl myself into her open arms. Thank Goddess she was smart enough to set her steaming cup down when she saw me vault out of my chair.

We hug like we haven't seen each other in ages. Breaking apart, I am aware of the curious stares from the milling crowd. Jaden smiles her most beautiful smile, the one where her eyes light up and her entire face is aglow.

"What are you doing here?" She asks, and I beam back at her.

"I had to see you." I state simply. Shaking her head she escorts me to a pair of semi-private empty seats, her hand on the small of my back.

We sit, and just stare at each other. I know I must look like shit, I am wearing my same clothes from yesterday and I didn't even shower or wash my face this morning. Jaden, however, looks beautiful, in her black pants and light blue short-sleeved sweater.

"Where do we go from here?" I hear myself ask. I know it's a loaded question, and I expect Jaden to freeze and become immediately distant. But she surprises me; her face softening as she gently and discreetly takes my hand. Her long fingers are warm from holding her cup, and the contact is what I desperately need.

"I get on a plane and go home. You go home. We write and call each other, and see each other when we can." She smiles, knowing that this isn't what I was really asking.

I duck my head. I had hoped she would answer me seriously. "Grace." She says, and I look back up to her smiling face.

"I don't know where we go from here." She says softly. "Where do you want us to go?" I don't answer. How do you tell someone you've only really spent a few days with that you've discovered you're hopelessly in love with her? That you want to spend each possible moment worshipping their body, heart, and very soul?

"Gracie, I think our friendship is very important. I never want to lose you as a friend." She states, expectantly waiting for me to say something, anything.

"I can't imagine my life without you." I whisper, squeezing her hand. "You've allowed me to feel and experience so much. I never have to pretend with you, I'm always myself and I love that."

"So let's say that we care for each other very much, and we desire each other, but we want to always maintain our friendship." Jaden purses her lips in thought. "And we have a very special relationship, but we are not committed to being only with each other." I look at her in surprise. She senses my nervousness and adds, "We're not committed only to each other, yet." I nod, agreeing with her.

"That sounds good." I tell her solemnly.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, US Airways would like to start boarding flight #014 to Boston, Massachusetts at this time. If you're holding a ticket for rows 28 through 31, please make your wait to the gate at this time. Thank you."

The flight attendant's voice jars us out of our intimate conversation. Passengers eager to board the aircraft rush to form a line. Jaden looks at them, rolling her eyes and groaning. I squeeze her hand in sympathy. "I hate flying." I tell her, and she looks surprised.

"I thought you would like it. There's so much to see." She says, and I shake my head in disagreement.

"I hate it. Please explain to me how something so heavy and cumbersome as a huge airplane filled with people and luggage can fly without falling out of the sky."

Jaden smiles. "Grace, it's all in the engines, you see, the amount of torque that.."

I cut her off with my hand. "It's too early to hear about torque and physics. I hated that class in high school." I smile at her, and she returns my warm smile with a look that can only be described as feral.

"I'm in row 7. I have a few minutes before I board." She says, running her tongue over her pouting lips. "I need to use the restroom." She stands up, leaving me there as she walks to the women's restroom next to the gate. I quickly catch on to what she means and run after her, catching her as she reaches the entrance.

Thank Goddess the ladies' room is empty, and Jaden smirks as she leads me into a stall. "Jaden! People are going to notice two pairs of legs in one stall!" I whisper as she hungrily kisses my neck.

"Shhh!" She shushes me, a finger to my lips. She suddenly picks me up, my legs instinctively wrapping around her hips. We moan into each other as our lips meet and I urgently pull her closer to me as our mouths dance together.

Kissing frantically, we ignore all of the other boarding calls for Jaden's flight. Her hips are pumping into my center deliciously, our breasts pressed together. Jaden's strong arms are around my back, and I am running my hands through her long hair.

We hear the final boarding call and Jaden tears her mouth away, sliding my body down hers gently as she sets me back down. I whimper softly as her body parts from mine. She tenderly kisses my forehead, wiping away the sudden tears springing from my eyes with her thumbs.

"Don't cry." I duck my head; fresh tears spilling down my cheeks. "Sweetheart, everything will be fine." I nod, trying to convince the both of us. I look up at her, and smiling through my tears I fix her mussed hair, and wipe her smudged lipstick from around her lips.

"I have to go." She says, her voice catching. I nod, knowing if I speak I will start sobbing. She kisses me softly, and opens the stall door. "You can come out, no one is in here." She tells me, and I slip out of the stall.

"Bye." I whisper. The look she gives me breaks my heart all over again. She looks so upset, so sad.

"Bye." She says, hugging me one last time and quickly leaves the restroom. I head for the sink, splashing cold water on my face. I look like shit. Seriously, I can't remember a time when I looked worse. I dry my face off with a paper towel and exit the restroom in time to see Jaden disappearing through the gate. I run over, grateful to see her tall form still in sight.

"Jaden!" I yell to her, and she pauses at the end of the gate. She turns around, surprised to see me standing there. "I'll see you around." I tell her, and she beams.

"Gracie! I love you!" She says, and I stand there frozen, disbelieving what I just heard. She disappears through the gate before I have a chance to respond.

She loves me. Again, I am numb. The flight attendant, sure that no one else is boarding the plane, glares at me until I step back so she can shut and lock the door. I walk over to the seats in front of the window, sitting where I can see her plane. I wait, trying to absorb what she has just told me. Her plane starts to pull away, and I say a silent prayer to whatever Gods and Goddesses exist to keep my love safe. Her plane silently picks up speed and glides gracefully into the sky. It is now that I cry again, knowing that she soon will be far away from me, miles away from me, but close always in my heart.

Five minutes later:

What did I just do? I fold my arms and look out the window of the airplane as it takes off. I can't believe I told Grace that I loved her. Now what? I ask myself. What do I do now? Love is a foreign thing to me, and I swore that I wouldn't let the little blonde into my heart.

Who am I kidding? She's been in my heart from the first moment I laid eyes on her. I'll never forget that night at the bar, when I walked in I saw one of the men giving her a hard time, flirting with her and making drunken advances. The first thing I noticed was her eyes, the color unrecognizable in the dim light, but I saw how vibrant they were, how expressive. It took every ounce of my control not to bash that guy's head in, and just as I was about to make my way over to help her she was able to move away. I could tell how angry she was, her strides short and quick, full of energy.

And then, when she approached me and I saw the beauty of her delicate face, I fell. Instantly. And somewhere inside of me, a part knew that she had fallen as well. There was nothing either of us could do to stop it. Never a believer in fate or destiny, I wouldn't know what else to call it.

But love? Being in love with her? Or with anyone? I didn't think this would ever happen, and I'm not sure if I want it too now. One thing I know, I need Grace. And I've never needed anyone, so this is terrifying. If I need her and she leaves, or doesn't need me in return…I can't imagine what would happen to me.

The flight attendant interrupts my thought by offering me a drink. I request a grapefruit juice and she hands me a cellophane-wrapped package that she calls a "Breakfast snack." She's pretty. A few months ago, I would have been all over her. But now my thoughts are only of Grace.

I sigh, leaning against my seat as I open my breakfast snack. A muffin and a sad-looking fruit cup. Lovely. I sip my grapefruit juice, knowing if Grace were here I'd be teasing her about drinking Coke at 6am. I can't kid myself. I miss her. A lot.

"You're a tamed woman, Jaden." I tell myself as I stare out the small window, and say a silent goodbye to Ohio.

Journal entry:

May 12, 2000.

I can't believe Jaden loves me. I never thought that I would hear that from her, especially as she was boarding a plane. Leave it to her to constantly surprise me.

I've made a decision. I know it sounds cliché, but I can't give my heart to Jaden while I'm sleeping with Scott.

I tense involuntarily while remembering that horrible experience. The last time was during his spring break, about a month before Jaden was done with her Florida assignment. I couldn't even write about it, let alone tell her about it. Although nothing physical had even happened between Jaden and I, I still felt as if I was cheating on her in some way.

Scott pressures me for sex constantly when he's around. He gets so demanding and forceful when I don't give in to him. But now, because of how I feel for Jaden and I know she feels for me, I know I can't allow him to pressure me.

I have to go to work soon. It's so strange how your life can instantly change and then return to normal. I miss Jaden, but now that I'm back in my normal routine it's almost as if she was never here.

I didn't think you could fall in love with someone in just a few days, but I have. And I'm not kidding myself, I've been in love with Jaden since I saw her that first night at the bar.

Love at first sight.

Journal entry:

May 24, 2000

I talked to Jaden tonight. She sounds like she misses me, and though we talked for a while neither one of us had the courage to bring up her declaration of love at the airport. It's so hard talking to her without seeing her. I can still recall the exact color of her eyes and the way her lips curl when she smiles. It feels like I haven't seen her in ages, when I know it's only been 12 days.

Scott called and said he's coming over today. It's been so difficult to see him, especially after Jaden's departure. He's upset that I "shafted" him (using his words) when she was here. I'm running out of excuses as to why I can't be alone with him.

Later that afternoon

I turn off the TV as Scott's white truck pulls into the driveway. He's way early. Glancing at my watch I see that Lydia won't be home for an hour. Shit. I contemplate not answering the door, but my car's in the driveway and I know he knows that I'm home.

I open the door. He is standing there with a bouquet of flowers. "Thanks, these are beautiful!" I tell him.

"Beautiful flowers for a beautiful lady." He says and I stifle my groan. He is so cheesy. Any girl that is wrapped up in the myth that is prince charming would be lucky to have him, but that's not me. He leans to kiss me and I discover that he tastes like beef jerky. Gross. I break the kiss, feigning that the flowers need water, and run for the kitchen.

I fill a vase with water and arrange the flowers. "I think I'll put these in my bedroom." I tell him, and he smiles. He is a cutie, no doubt about it, but not my type. I enter my room and set the flowers on my dresser. Scott followed me into my room, surveying it curiously.

"You have our prom picture in here!" He excitedly says.

"Yeah, I keep it in here all the time." I say. I snort softly. It's only because my mother makes me. It's a nice picture; we look like the stereotypical All-American apple pie couple, both of us blonde and grinning at the camera.

"You know Grace, everyone at college wants to meet you. Why don't you come up for a weekend next semester?" He asks. He has asked this every year that I can remember.

"I can't Scott, you know that I have to work on the weekends." This is my typical argument. "I have to work to pay for college. My parent's don't pay for any of it, you know that."

He frowns. "I know, but Gracie can't you come up for just one weekend?" I stiffen, hearing him call me Gracie. He hasn't ever done that before.

"What did you just call me?" I ask, my tone harsh.

He looks confused. "I don't know, what's the big deal?"

"Don't call me Gracie, okay? Ever." My tone is stern and he looks surprised to hear me talking to him like that.

"Fine, sorry. GRACE." He says pointedly. I take a few breaths to calm me down. He looks hurt and I feel bad that I snapped at him. He didn't know any better.

I touch his arm. "I'm sorry Scott, I just don't like being called that." I lie, unable to tell him the truth.

He wraps his huge arms around me. "It's okay babe, just don't ever yell at me like that again." He hugs me and I feel like a mouse with a lion. Don't ever yell at him like that again? Who is he to tell me what do to? I bite my tongue and let him hug me. His hands start to wander up and down my back, grabbing my ass and squeezing it. I feel so manhandled, literally.

"Scott, stop." I say, gently pushing against his chest for him to release me. He doesn't, and holds me tighter.

"C'mon Grace, it's been so long. A guy can't go this long; we haven't done it since I was home for that week over spring break."

As he presses himself against me I long for Jaden. I feel so guilty, like I am doing something wrong, when I know we haven't committed to each other. I don't know what to do. I am frozen as he holds me, his hands running over my body as if he possesses it. His hardness is against my stomach, his soft moaning in my ear. The entire thing makes me feel dirty and disgusting. Being with Jaden never made me feel like this. With Jaden I feel so uninhibited, so in tune with my body, I feel so loved and cherished.

I start thinking about Jaden, her soft breasts pressed against mine, the way her hair tickles my neck and shoulders as we kiss. I imagine it's her here with me, her gentle hands touching my most private areas, and her soft lips full of promise. I miss her so much, I long for my fingers to be inside her, feeling her wetness. I groan and am snapped back to reality as Scott takes this as encouragement. He backs me up to my bed and lies on top of me. He goes to kiss me, and I push him away.

"Scott, no."

He doesn't hear me, or he chooses to ignore me. He thrusts his hips into mine and tries to kiss me again.

"Scott, NO." I tell him, more forcefully this time. He frowns at me.

"What is your problem Grace?" He says, a touch of anger in his voice.

"I don't have a problem. You're the one with the problem. When I tell you no, it means for you to stop." I glare at him, trying to convey how angry I am at him.

"Fine." He snaps, and gets off of me. I am now able to breathe with his hulking weight removed. He runs his hands through his hair. "Most guys wouldn't put up with this shit Grace." He spits out angrily at me. "But I love you, so I'll wait."

"Thank you." I tell him honestly. He tries to smile, but I can still see the anger in his dark eyes. "I have to get to work soon, you better go." I tell him. He looks like he's about to argue, but backs off and complies. I show him out, allowing him to lean over and steal a quick kiss. After he pulls away in his white truck I shut the door, bang my head against it and start to cry.

Journal entry:

May 27, 2000

Tonight was awful. I finally returned Scott's calls and met with him. I planned on talking to him, trying to let him know how upset it makes me when he pressures me for sex. Instead of the rational discussion I planned out in my head, we got into a huge fight. It seems he can't understand why I suddenly won't "put out" for him, and that I should just obey his every command.

He said he was going to his parent's vacation house with a few of his buddies for a few weeks. He said we need some time apart. My thoughts exactly. But I would rather have a lifetime apart.

I hate fighting; I always feel like I'm horrible for disagreeing and that I should just shut up and comply. And that hate that a part of me feels like that even more.

My parents and Lydia are leaving for their cruise in a few days. I'm eager to have some time to myself, although I wish I could see Jaden. She hasn't brought it up, so I haven't either. She seemed really distant when I called her this evening, like she was hiding something.

I hope she isn't regretting anything between us. I don't think I could stand it.

Journal entry:

May 29, 2000

I can't believe this. When I look back at my entry from two days ago, I seem so sad and depressed. Funny how in two days, 48 hours, I can go from the saddest girl in the world to the most ecstatic.

Jaden called me at the bar tonight. Over the din of the crowd I thought I heard her say she had a surprise. It seems like the little schemer is FLYING ME TO BOSTON FOR A WEEK!

Yes, I'm serious. Jaden bought me a ticket; I leave on Monday and return on Sunday. I am freaking out. She broke down and said she had it planned when she found out my parents would be going on a cruise for 12 days. I can't believe her, she is the most amazing and wonderful and sweet and giving person I've ever met. I promised to repay her for the ticket, after crying and blubbering on the phone how wonderful she is and she said: (and I quote) "Don't think about repaying me, I just want you here."

She's the most amazing person I've ever met. And I will find someway to repay her, besides my undying love.

Monday May 31st, 2000.

I'm sitting at Logan Airport in Boston, people watching. People are fascinating here; the different races and colors are a shock to my eyes. Northern Ohio is mostly Caucasian and African American. Massachusetts is a true melting pot, and seeing so many different people is incredible. They are so beautiful, everyone having a different essence about them. I decide I love the East Coast, though I haven't seen the outside except when the plane touched down. Goddess, I hate to fly. That was my first time flying by myself. Something about the plane, it's so nauseating, the air pressure is way off and I always feel claustrophobic. Except this time I was so excited, I felt claustrophobic and excited. That's even worse.

The claustrophobic-ness is over, but not the excitement. I called Jaden before I left, and she sounded as excited as I was. She gave me her number at the station and told me to call her from my stopover. I had to change planes in Philadelphia, and when I spoke to her she was really upset.

"Grace, I have to stay here longer than I thought. I have to cover a sick officer's shift. I don't think I'll be there in time to pick you up, but I won't be long, okay?"

"It's okay, do whatever you need to do. I don't mind waiting. I'll call you at the station when I get in, okay?"

"Okay sweetheart. If I'm already gone, then wait at the Cheers Bar by your terminal, okay?"

I told her I would. Wow, the real Cheers! I would have to take a picture for Uncle Rick. He was so sweet when I told him where I was going. He offered to watch Bean and said that if my parents called he would tell them I was really busy.

I decided not to tell my parents that I was going to visit Jaden. They were so wrapped up in preparing for their cruise; I think it would have flipped my mother out to have me go somewhere else. She's already upset enough that I didn't want to go on the cruise. I said I didn't think I could be on a boat that long, but I don't think she bought it. Uncle Rick will cover for me, Bean is in wonderful hands, and Scott will never even miss me. Uncle Rick dropped me off at the airport and gave me some cash.

"Don't spend it all in one place." He cautioned, and gruffly kissed my cheek goodbye. He may be a bear, but underneath he is warm and fuzzy. I feel really lucky to have him. It's surprising that my mother's brother would be so down to earth and understanding, the exact opposite of my mother herself.

So I called the station when I got in, and Jaden was out on a call. I decided to wander around and people watch some more. I glance at my watch; it's almost been an hour since I called. I find a pay phone and call the station again.

"Jaden Phillips, please." I request the switchboard director.

"I'm sorry, she's left for the day." The friendly operator tells me.

"Oh. This is her friend she is supposed to pick up at the airport. Do you know when she left?" I ask, hoping she's not already here.

"Oh, this is Grace the mystery woman?" The operator says, laughing.

"The one and only." I respond, finding her laughter contagious.

"Well, nice to meet you Grace. I'm Diana, and Jaden's been talking about you all week."

"Jaden's been talking?" I ask incredulously. "That's unusual for her." Diana finds this hysterical and pretty soon we are both giggling like schoolgirls over the phone.

"My mistake. She's said a few sentences that contain your name." Diana corrects herself. "She left about a half an hour ago. She should be there any minute." Shit. I hope she's not waiting for me. "Um, okay, great. Thanks, and nice to meet you!" I tell Diana, and hang up quickly.

Cheers. I have to find Cheers. I look around, realizing I have no idea where I am. "Okay Grace, this won't be hard. Just find Cheers. You found it before, it was right next to the US Airways terminal." I look around for signs for US Airways. Not seeing anything helpful I ask the man shining shoes if he knows where Cheers is.

"Closest is right around that corner." He says, pointing to his left, never looking up from the expensive-looking shoes he's polishing.

"Thanks." I say, and head to where he pointed. Sure enough, there is Cheers. I sigh in relief and sit down in an available seat.

I wait, and wait, and when it seems like I've been waiting forever, I look at my watch. Hmmm. It's already noon, and I spoke with Diana at ten past 11:00. Jaden should be here by now. I look around, and head into the bar, in case she's waiting inside.

"Excuse me," I ask the bartender. "Have you seen a tall woman, with long dark hair and blue eyes?" He thinks for a second and shakes his head.

"Sorry, dear." He says in a thick Boston accent. "You meeting her here?" He asks, and I nod my head yes. "You got the right Cheers?"

I am confused. "What do you mean, the right Cheers?" I ask.

He smiles, amused by my naiveté. "There's a Cheers Bar in every terminal here."

Oh crap.

Okay. "Think rationally, Grace." I tell myself, determined to find Jaden before she is sick with worry. She said to wait at the Cheers at my terminal.

"Sir?" I ask the bartender. He smiles condescendingly at me and I ignore my urge to smack him.

"Yeah?" He asks. Jeez, where's Sam Malone when you need him? I would expect rude treatment from Carla, but Sam Malone always was nice to the ladies.

I bat my eyelashes at him. "Where is the Cheers in the US Airways terminal?"

My pathetic attempt at flirting must have helped a bit, because he kindly gives me easy directions. I thank him and rush out of the bar.

Minutes later I am in the US Airways terminal, in front of Cheers. No Jaden. Shit.

I enter the bar, and ask the bartender (who is hopefully not an asshole) if they've seen her.

He smiles at me, "Are you Grace?"

I guess that answers my question, Jaden was here.

"Yep, is she mad?" I ask, knowing she is probably thinking I've been hijacked or taken prisoner by some madman.

"She's worried. She said to tell you to stay right here," he points to an empty bar stool, "until she gets back. She's checking the other Cheers."

I sit. "Thanks." He smiles kindly. "I guess I got a little lost."

"Happens to us all, dear. Can I get you something?"

I buy a drink from him, and order Jaden a vodka martini with three olives. I figure the least I can do is give him some business for his trouble.

I sip my whiskey sour and wait for Jaden. Yeah, I know it's only 12:30, but after this insanity I think both Jaden and I deserve a little drink. It doesn't take her long to show up, I see her race by the stained-glass window of the bar. I wave to her and can't decide if she looks relieved to see me or if she wants to kill me. I smile my best "gotta love me!" smile to her, hoping my cuteness will override the trouble I've just caused her.

"Fancy meeting you here, gorgeous." I say as she strides into the bar, once again the picture of calmness. How does she do that? How does she go from running around the airport like a lunatic one-minute and the next minute seem like everything's under control?

"Hey trouble. Enjoy making me worry like crazy?" She asks, a faint smirk on her face to let me know she's not really mad.

"Sorry." I say sheepishly, hanging my head. I move my upper body close to her and she takes the hint, wrapping me in a warm hug. With her standing in front of my bar stool, my sitting position allows my head to rest right in her breasts. Yum.

"It's okay. I'm just glad you're safe." She kisses the top of my head. This is nice. I can tell she feels awkward about the public display of affection, so I pull away from her, motioning for her to sit.

"I bought you a drink." I say, smiling. She chuckles and picks it up, toasting me.

"Cheers." We say in unison, and both crack up. The bartender rolls his eyes. I'm sure he's heard that one a thousand times.

After enjoying our drink we exit the airport. Jaden chivalrously took my bags and my throbbing shoulders appreciate it. We walk through the short-term parking lot.

"Did you bring your police car?" I ask, feeling like a little kid.

"No I didn't, and if I did you couldn't play with the siren." She says, laughing at me. Damn. She knows me well.

"What kind of car do you have?"


"Um…oh this is difficult." I pretend to ponder over the different choices. "Lemee guess, an Explorer?"

"You got it. Give that girl a prize."

"Ohh…what's my prize?" I ask, cutting in front of her and making her stop in her tracks. I run my eyes up and down her body, using my best "fuck me" eyes. When I finally tear my gaze away from her toned and very desirable body I look into her eyes. They are deep blue now, her pupils widened with arousal. I smirk at her, knowing I have her hooked and approach her, sensually moving my body against hers. I stand on my tiptoes to kiss her and she meets my kiss with an urgency I didn't expect. I rub against her, moaning into her mouth. I know she's getting so turned on; her entire body is tensed and ready for whatever I am willing to give her. Which is everything. I pull away from her. "Race you to the car." I whisper. Before I can finish the thought she is off and running, me chasing behind her.

Later that evening:

I am vaguely aware of Jaden's lips kissing my stomach and her hand softly stroking my thighs. I don't stir and her lips move lower, now down to my hipbones. Hmm. Continue sleeping or wake up and make love to the woman I adore? Tough choice.

I open my eyes, surprised at the bright sun that forces me to snap them shut again. Jaden chuckles against my hips, her warm breath causing goose bumps to pepper my skin. I yawn and stretch, lengthening my body. This conveniently brings my already-wet-with-anticipation sex in front of her mouth. I laugh, seeing her surprised reaction. Jaden shrugs her shoulders and smirks at me, gently spreading my legs.

"Ohh.." I moan. No one has ever done this to me before. Scott always begged but the idea honestly grossed me out. But Jaden's dark hair and beautiful blue eyes between my legs is one of the most arousing things I've ever seen. She continues her sweet torture as I lay my head back on the pillow. Her tongue is incredible, licking and sucking my most sensitive of all areas with such love. She varies, licking fast and hard and then so gently. I am moaning and thrashing around on the bed, my hips pumping into her face urgently. She wraps an arm around my hips to steady me, while using her other hand to slide her fingers into me.

"Jaden!" I gasp, and she stops. I moan with frustration.

"Are you okay? Am I hurting you?" She says, her eyes wide with fear. Her mouth is wet and slick, her slightly swollen lips covered with my wetness. It is beautiful.

"No, you weren't hurting." I say, smiling at her. "Those were good sounds." She looks relieved, but still doesn't return to her previous task. My clit is screaming for her, every nerve of my body begging her to touch me, to lick me again. I pump my hips to her, hoping that will get her attention. She's just staring at me, a half smile on her face. Is she enjoying my frustration? Is she doing this on purpose? Probably. She's infuriating like that. That's one of the things that I love about her, believe it or not, her never-ending capability to completely frustrate me and make me fall madly in love with her at the same time.

"Um, Jaden?" I ask. And she smirks. Yep. She's defiantly doing this on purpose.

"What do you want Gracie?" She half-whispers. Goddess she's hot. No other word to describe this woman right now. Her hair is tousled from sleep, her stunning eyes are so dark blue, her pink lips covered with my wetness, and her long fingers still deep inside of me. I feel her soft breasts pillowed against my legs, her nipples are so hard.

"You know what I want." I tell her. "Please Jaden."

"Pretty please?" She teases and I want to strangle her and kiss her at the same time.

"Pretty please. With cherries and whipped cream on top." I answer, moving my hips again, this time making her fingers inside of me brush oh so wonderfully against my clit. "Oh Goddess…" I moan, thrusting my hips again. Her fingers move inside of me, each time my hips pump it sends such a delicious feeling to my tender clit. I move my hips faster and faster, making her fingers move and rub just the right spots. She watches for a while, and finally lets out a ragged moan. She dives her head in between my legs, eagerly licking me again. She pumps her fingers in and out while she nibbles and caresses my clit. It's so good. I am panting and shaking and moaning and screaming her name before long and I collapse.

I'm tired. Jaden crawls up my body, laying on me. I ravish her mouth, tasting myself on her lips. This turns her on, and she moves her hips into mine. I can't get enough of my taste on her and I kiss her harder. She is moaning against me and getting me all worked up again. What a wonderful wake-up call.

I firmly push her off of me, laying her back down on the bed. She is so incredibly beautiful. I have her exactly where I want her, and boy, do I want her. I lick my lips in anticipation, causing her to moan with excitement. I cup her silky breasts with my hands, feeling her nipples harden. I straddle her hips and she spreads her legs for me. I lie down on top of her and kiss her deeply.

I feel so uncoordinated as I kiss my way down her long, supple body. Jaden makes everything she does look so suave, but I feel like a horny teenage boy, groping and bumbling. But Jaden seems to love what I'm doing, moaning and writhing underneath me. She arches her back and tangles her strong hands in the sheets.

I love her body. It's so finely sculpted that Rodin himself couldn't have done a better job. Her swanlike neck flows into powerful shoulders, which in turn flow into long, muscular arms. I love her arms. They are so toned, yet so feminine. She doesn't look like a female bodybuilder; she has such graceful womanly curves along with the power and muscle. Her stomach muscles are visible under a layer of softness and her impossibly sexy hips lead into impossibly long toned legs. Her feet are long and delicate, her toes regal looking. I've always thought feet were icky, but there is something about Jaden that makes me want to kiss and tickle her gorgeous feet.

I stop gawking at her perfection and kiss her cute bellybutton. She makes a sound somewhere between a moan and a laugh as I swirl my tongue around it. I lower myself between her awaiting thighs. She lays her head back on the pillow and arches her back again, exposing herself to me.

Goddess. She tastes exactly like I remember. I lick and tease her, knowing I've hit the right spot when she groans and runs her hands through my hair. She holds my head gently to her most sensitive spot and I suck her clit, swirling my tongue over it at the same time. I love the guttural, almost animalistic sounds she's making and she gets close to her release. I continue to suck and lick at the same time, and she frantically pumps her hips in rhythm to my tongue.

"Don't. Stop. Please don't stop." She pants, tangling her hands in my hair tighter. As if I could stop now. She's so close, I can feel her tensing and I know she will come soon. And she does, screaming and grinding into me, and moaning. It seems as if she comes forever, and finally relaxes and sighs. "Thank you." She says, her eyes closed and a languid expression on her face.

I crawl up to her and settle my head on her chest. She wraps her arms around me and we lie in a damp, sex-induced haze. Ahhh. This feels great. I smile into her breasts and she hugs me tighter, kissing the top of my head. We don't say anything; there isn't anything really to say. We just enjoy each other's company, and the gentle sounds of the ocean through the open window.

After we left the airport we grabbed a quick lunch and raced back to Jaden's gorgeous apartment. I don't remember what it looks like, Jaden unlocked the doors, and we threw my bags down inside. Before I got a decent look at the place, Jaden had me pinned to the door and was ravishing me, and then we made a beeline for the bedroom.

We had incredible "Missed-you-so-much-sex" and fell asleep in Jaden's huge and soft bed. Jaden gave me a wonderful wake-up call, and the rest is history.

I'm hungry. I wonder what time it is. "Jaden?" I ask, my voice vibrating against her chest. That sounds funny. Goddess, I feel like an idiot. A couple of sex sessions with this woman and I'm reduced to a third-grade mentality.

"Yes?" She drawls out.

"I'm hungry."

"Big surprise." She answers. I try to muster the strength to raise my arm to smack her but I decide it's too much work. She loves to tease me about my appetite. I don't blame her. My mother is such a Nazi about my eating habits and she demands that I stay stick-thin so Scott will love me, but I love to eat. So when I'm not around my mother, I eat whatever I want, whenever I want. And that's usually a lot. Jaden thinks she a big comedian by making fun of me.

"And I want to see your apartment." I really do. I'm so curious about Jaden and her likes and dislikes.

"Alright. Let's get up." She answers, suddenly standing up and pulling me into her arms. Goddess she's strong, she is holding me like I'm a doll. She smiles at my surprised reaction and kisses me. Setting me down gently she cups my hand and kisses me again. I have a distinct feeling she's trying to distract me from seeing the apartment so I pull away from her, grab her hand, and drag her out from the bedroom.

"Alright, alright. Here's the tour." She says, walking to the front door. I admire her perfect ass as I follow behind her. Jaden lives in an interesting apartment. The building is an old Victorian house that is separated into three apartments, one on each floor. When we pulled up outside and I sat staring at it with a stunned expression on my face, Jaden explained that apartments in Massachusetts were hard to come by, so many old homes were renovated into apartments. They're beautiful on the outside and cozy on the inside.

Jaden's apartment is on the third floor, and we made our way up the beautifully carved wooden stairs. Now, standing inside with her, I'm finding it hard to look around. I'm very distracted by her naked body.

"Um, can you put clothes on?" I ask, feeling my face turn red. She smiles and rolls her eyes at me, heading for the bedroom again. I look around, admiring the beautiful apartment. For the third floor of an old house, it's very spacious. The front door opens into the small galley kitchen. The kitchen is big enough for two people, all the appliances are new and the tile work on the backsplash and floor is exquisite. There is a small dining area aside from the kitchen, where Jaden has a little table with two chairs. The living room overlooks the ocean, and the view from this high is beautiful. The house has a nice-sized back yard that is fenced in, but it appears there is a gate that leads to a walkway down to the beach. Jaden's living room is sparsely decorated, with a couch and two chairs filling up the space. A massive stone fireplace takes up one entire wall, and I think how beautiful it would be to sit in front of a fire with her, watching snow fall on the ocean.

"Here." She says as something hits me in the stomach. I look down to see Jaden has put on a pair of worn boxers and a frayed t-shirt. She looks freaking hot. Yes, I know. I say that all the time, but she really always does look hot. I can't imagine her looking any other way. The object she has thrown at me is really two objects, another pair of cotton shorts and a t-shirt.

"Thanks." I say dryly. "How romantic." She laughs as I dress, finding the shirt way too big but the boxers fitting thanks to the elastic waistband. "Jaden, this is beautiful." I tell her, and she smiles shyly. I walk over to the living room, admiring the view. The ocean is fairly calm today, and I can't believe I'm finally seeing the Atlantic Ocean. "Perfect." I whisper, as Jaden comes up behind me, wrapping me in a hug.

"What color is the water?" She teases, and I honestly can't answer. It's a swirling mix of green and gray and blue.

"It's perfect." I say, and she nods. She leads me around the rest of the apartment. She has a small bathroom with beautiful blue tile and a small second bedroom. Jaden seems to be using it mostly for storage. "I didn't know you had two bedrooms."

She shrugs. "It's not as big as mine and it doesn't have a view of the water, but it's really nice to have as an extra closet." We head back for the kitchen, and she goes through her cabinets. "I don't have much here." She says apologetically. "I thought when you got here we could go shopping and get things for dinner."

"That's a great idea." I tell her, spying her empty cabinets and desolate refrigerator. "Let's shower and grab dinner and then we can shop or whatever." I see by the microwave clock that it's 7:30. How did we manage to sleep and have sex for five hours? Well, in my opinion, it was time very well spent.

Jaden volunteers to shower first. She asked if I'd like to join her, and believe me, I would, but I'm really, really starving. I know if I showered with her we wouldn't get out of here and have food for another two hours or so. So I politely decline and she heads off for the bathroom pouting.

I sort through my bags, pulling out a pair of jeans and a purple v-neck shirt. I get my shower things ready and explore Jaden's apartment some more. I'm not snooping, just looking around. Her living room has a few pictures of people. I carefully study them, easily picking out the ones of Jaden's family. Her mother is beautiful, almost a spitting image of Jaden herself. Jaden has a picture of her mother holding her and her brother, I'm assuming, and the three of them share the same chiseled good looks and dark hair. Jaden has the same stunning eyes as her mother, while Jonah has dark eyes. A picture of Jaden's grandmother shows that in her younger years, she looked just like Jaden and her mother. What a beautiful family.

On the mantle of the fireplace there are more pictures, one of Studley grazing in a large, green pasture, and one of Jaden and a man I don't recognize. He has the same coloring as Jonah, but unless Jonah's features drastically changed as he got older I don't think it could be him. This man looks dangerous, with his muscular arm around Jaden, the other holding a motorcycle helmet. He has a feral grin for the camera, while Jaden looks bemused. I wonder if she'll tell me about that guy, whoever he is. The next picture is the one we had taken at Cedar Point. I grin, thinking how sappy Jaden is to have put that up. But it is a great picture.

"Your turn." Jaden's voice interrupts me from my thoughts. I turn around to see her wrapped in a very small towel. I gulp. She smirks and heads for her bedroom, shutting the door. What a tease.

Throughout my shower I wonder about the man in the picture. Who is he and why does he have his arm around Jaden? I push down all thoughts of jealously, knowing that Jaden and I aren't committed to each other. But I still can't help myself from wondering.

I quickly dress and run my fingers through my hair. Jaden is ready to go, sitting on the couch and leafing through a magazine. She looks casual, she is wearing jeans and a short-sleeved shirt, so I figure my outfit will be fine. I pull on my shoes and plop down next to her. "I'm ready."

She lays her arm around my shoulders, pulling me in for a quick kiss. "Where do you want to eat?"

I think for a minute. "Somewhere nice, not too ritzy but not Mc Donald's either. Somewhere where we can get good food, fast." I add, pointing to my growling stomach. She laughs and stands up, offering me a hand to pull myself up with.

"I know a nice place. Let's go." We head down the stairs and out into the beautiful evening. The sun is just beginning to set, red-gold and purple hues promising a colorful sunset. Jaden's neighborhood is quiet, with stately old houses resting in large yards. I admire the architecture and am surprised to see dates as old as 1749 proudly displayed on the homes. It must have been even more beautiful here in the 1700's, with horse drawn carriages and people dressed formally all the time. I sigh melodramatically as I get into Jaden's Explorer. She looks over at me, a confused expression on her face.

"Everything's so old here." I explain. "In Ohio we don't have any houses built before the American Revolution. This area is so full of history and importance." She smiles at me, shaking her head.

"This is nothing. If you want history, we'll go into Boston one day." I dance excitedly in my seat as Jaden pulls out of her parking spot.

"That would be awesome. We should go." Jaden nods in agreement, and I wonder what else she has planned for this week.

We drive a short distance to a cute little Italian restaurant. Since it's almost 9:00 and on a Monday, the place is deserted and we have no problem getting a table overlooking the water. "This is exactly what I had in mind!" I tell Jaden as I look over the expansive menu. Hmmmm. "Lasagna?" I ask my starving belly. It gurgles what sounds to be a "Yes!" so I decide that's what I should order. I look up to see the waiter staring at me like I'm a moron. Jaden is smiling, and I can tell she thinks I'm cute. Heh. I smile and blush and order the Lasagna with a dinner salad and garlic bread.

"Would you like a drink?" The waiter asks me, his hungry eyes locked on Jaden.

"Coke." I spit out at him. When he still doesn't look at me I add a nasty-sounding "Please." His startled eyes dart to me, and as I glare at him I can tell his brain is trying to figure out why this innocent looking little blonde is so pissed at him. He finally figures it out when Jaden reaches over to take my hand, squeezing my fingers gently.

Ahh. Jaden's simple gesture is enough for him to get the hint. He hurriedly takes Jaden's order and promptly returns with our drinks. "Asshole." I mumble under my breath. Jaden looks at me in surprise.

"Gracie, calm down. He wasn't doing anything." Jaden squeezes my hand.

"I know, but I hate people flirting with you when I'm around. It makes me feel so self-conscious and jealous." I try to explain how I feel.

"Sweetheart," she starts, melting my heart with the term of affection, "You have absolutely nothing to be self-conscious about. You have to know that when I'm around you I think of no one else. I don't want anyone else." I glance up at her, and see the truth of her statement reflected in her brilliant eyes.

"Okay." I muster, not wanting to continue this discussion any further. "So, what are we doing this week? Do you have to work at all?" Before I can let her start I have to add, "Do I get to meet Studley?"

Jaden smiles. "I have ideas for this week, but I wanted to see what you wanted to do first." I nod, excited to hear her ideas.

"Well, first of all, no I don't have to work at all." She says, and I can tell by her face that this is a good thing.

"Why? I mean you just had time off when you came to see me after your Florida assignment. I can't believe you can get an entire week off!"

"Gracie, I have months of vacation time saved up. I've been working with this department for five years and never taken a vacation. Ever. So I have a lot of time saved up, and with the project from hell I just finished, they owed me time off on such a short notice."

"Oh. Well, I'm glad you don't have to work. So what are we going to do?" I smile at her and she returns my smile, her eyes flashing in the dim light of the restaurant.

"I thought tomorrow we could just spend the day relaxing, and then on Wednesday we can go into Boston. There's a lot to do there, and I think you'll love it. Thursday maybe we can drive up towards New Hampshire, and on Friday I've arranged to borrow a horse so we can go trail riding. Saturday and Sunday we can decide on later. We have an entire week." She finishes, smiling.

"Thank you." I tell her honestly, suddenly choked up at how much thought she's put into this vacation for me. "I can't believe you flew me out here, Jaden, I'll never be able to repay you."

"For the last time, I don't want you to repay me. I love you." She says, looking down at her plate.

Wow. This is the first time she's said that to me face to face. This is intense. I grasp her other hand and hold onto them as tight as possible, trying to convey the love I have for her. "I love you too." I say, surprised at the strength in my voice.

"Here we are." Interrupts our annoying waiter. "The lasagna and the spaghetti." He sets down our dinners, salads, and garlic bread and promptly refills my glass. I'm a Cokeaholic. I'll never claim to be anything but. Our romantic moment interrupted, we roll our eyes in unison and dig into our dinners.

Great food, a beautiful woman who loves me, and an ocean view. Life doesn't get any better.

June 1, 2000

What a beautiful morning. I woke before the sun, as usual, and was pleasantly surprised to find Grace in my bed. Sometime during the night she managed to tangle herself in the covers and climb on top of me. I gently moved her to my side, untangled her, and wrapped myself around her. I want to get up and go for a quick run, but the soft sounds Grace is making in her sleep and her warm little body make it impossible for me to get up. Hell with running, I can run when she's not here. Truthfully, the thought of waking up alone makes me surprisingly depressed. I snuggle closer to Grace; pleased with the contented sigh she releases, and try to erase the upsetting thought from my head.

I must have fallen back asleep. I don't really remember, but it's now almost 9:00 AM and Grace is still sleeping peacefully. The sun is streaming in through the bright window, casting her face in a warm glow. Her face is relaxed in sleep, and she looks much younger than her 22 years. I lean up on my elbow and brush her hair away from her face. She leans into my touch, a slight smile forming on her pink lips.

Is she awake? I can't tell. She is so still, wrapped up next to me. She has her small hand curled around my bicep, the other hand resting on her own chest. I pick it up, kissing each knuckle and stifling a laugh that threatens to erupt when Grace frowns and pulls her hand away.

She's quite a crab in the morning, my Gracie. I can't decide what she enjoys more, her meals or her sleep. I know she doesn't get enough of either, so I have taken it on myself to pamper her like crazy this week. She's mentioned her long hours at home, how she goes from classes to work to late nights with little sleep. Now that she has a summer break I hope she can catch up on her sleep. And I know that her mother is a Grade A bitch who likes to criticize Grace's every move. She complains that Grace eats too much. What an idiot.

I slide the covers down to Grace's waist, frowning at the ribs I can see slightly under her skin. Grace's body is so slight to begin with; she doesn't need to lose weight. I'm surprised at my mother hen-like attitude I have for her. I've never considered myself maternal in any way, but something about Grace makes me want to take care of her and protect her from anything and everything. Grace fusses at having the covers removed. She is like a small child, so sound asleep yet completely aware of her surroundings. As much as I would love to stay here cuddling with her, I am getting restless and have to get up.

Without disturbing her I slide out of bed and pull on my pajamas that were torn off of me last night. We had a great time, after our late dinner I could tell Grace was exhausted from her long day of traveling, so we quickly shopped for a few groceries and then came home to get ready for bed. Grace somehow got her second wind and ended up stripping me of my pajamas and throwing me down on the bed. I can't believe her sex drive. I always thought mine was out of control. I look like a nun compared to her! I'm defiantly not complaining, just a little surprised.

I pad into the kitchen, and open my fridge. It's quite strange to actually have food in here; I usually just heat up whatever leftovers I have from my previous night's take out. Deciding to make something easy I dust off my rarely used pans and concoct egg and cheese omelets, microwave some bacon, toast a few bagels and manage to cut up some fresh fruit. I'm impressed with my impromptu breakfast and everything looks delicious. I fix two plates and grab a can of Coke for Grace. Balancing the plates and her Coke I head for the bedroom.

Grace is dead to the world. I had thought the smell of food would awaken her, but that didn't work. She is so cute. She is tucked in like I left her, but has stuck one foot out at the end of the bed. I set the plates down on my dresser and creep over to her.

"Gracie....time to rise and shine!" She doesn't move. I try again, deciding to use physical torture only as a last resort. "Sweetheart." I nudge her. She responds by taking her pillow and putting it over her head. What a cranky girl. "Gracie...last chance..." I tell her, my voice sing-songy. She still doesn't respond so I sit on the bed, and pick up her small foot.

She tries in vain to get away as I tickle her foot. I'm far stronger than she and she soon realizes she has no chance of escape. She is giggling in a still-half-asleep way and I release her foot, moving up to straddle her hips. I start the procedure on her ribs, tickling her until she's gasping for mercy.

"Morning sunshine." I tell her cheerily and she looks like she's going to punch me. "Goodness, what a crabby girl you are in the morning." I get off of her and pick up her steaming breakfast plate. "I made you breakfast."

She yawns and stretches. "Good morning. You made me breakfast?" She asks, finally catching on. I nod happily and hand her the plate. " Jaden, this looks incredible! Thank you!" She is wide-awake now, digging into her food. Making little noises of approval she complements my cooking and I beam at her.

"I forgot my drink. I'll be right back." I head for the kitchen and pour myself a glass of juice. I remember how salty Grace likes her food so I grab the shaker and head back into the bedroom. Grace smiles at me and pats the bed next to her.

"Come and sit." She says, and I do. She offers me a piece of strawberry and I take her fingers in my mouth, gently sucking the fruit from in between them. This makes her blush and I smirk at her as I eat my omelet.

Wow. This is really good. I'm proud of myself, I should cook more often. Grace opens her can of coke and puts salt on her food. I don't know how she does that. That girl eats salt on practically everything. We eat our breakfast, and talk about our plans for the day. I've convinced Grace that we're just going to bum around town. Glancing at the clock I see it's almost 10:00. We have to get going if we're going to make it on time.

"Come on, it's a beautiful day and we should get going." Grace looks at me like I've gotten two heads, but she complies and gets up. Rising on her toes to kiss me softly she whispers in my ear.

"Thanks for breakfast. It was really good." I smile at her and push her towards the bathroom.

"Go ahead and shower, I'll take one after you." I tell her as I hand her a clean towel.

"Don't you want to shower with me?" She asks, waggling her eyebrows. Oh Grace, if only you knew how much I would love to press you against the shower wall and make you come. I try to be an adult. There just isn't time, and we can't be late.

"Not this morning." I tell her. She says nothing and closes the door. As soon as I hear her start the water I head for the phone, calling to confirm my reservation.

Five minutes later:

"What's the matter with Jaden?" I say to the pulsating water. I scrub my hair angrily, upset at her sudden coldness. Yesterday she was pouting like crazy because I wouldn't shower with her, and today she acts like the entire idea disgusts her. She's so strange, sometimes she's so warm and fuzzy and then she suddenly turns cold. Breakfast was so nice, it was so great to wake up with her there and I can't believe she cooked for me. She was so cuddly this morning, and now I'm being shunned. How insulting.

Frustrated, I rinse my hair and begin to shave my legs. I hate shaving. I have such sensitive skin. I itch for days whenever I shave. I should just have them waxed but I think I'd pass out from the pain. Realizing I didn't bring any shaving cream I use some of Jaden's. It's this cool gel that turns to cream and smells really good. It's called "Glistening Pear." I make a note to myself to get some.

I finish shaving and look around in the shower at Jaden's other shower stuff. She has the norm, conditioner and soap, the cool shaving gel and her shampoo. I flip the lid and smell the shampoo. It's the exact smell of Jaden's hair, coconut and vanilla. Wow. I notice she has toothpaste and her toothbrush in the shower also. That's weird. I never knew anyone that brushed her teeth in the shower before.

I turn the water off, remembering I have to save some hot water for Jaden and get out of the shower. Drying myself off I put lotion on and exit the steamy bathroom. Jaden is nowhere to be found. That's strange. I wonder where she is?

I head for her bedroom to get dressed. I find her clothes laid out on the neatly made bed. I look outside, trying to gauge the weather. The ocean looks pretty smooth, only a few waves disrupting the tranquility of the day. The trees in Jaden's back yard are slightly blowing, and it doesn't look as if we'll have rain today. I feel the cool air through the open window and decide on wearing jeans. I'm always cold, and I think I'll freeze in shorts. Pulling on my jeans I decide on a simple black short-sleeved shirt and add my light blue and black fleece vest. I wear my comfortable tennis shoes and pull my long hair back into a ponytail.

I'm ready, where the heck is Jaden? She was the one in such a rush. The front door suddenly shuts. I head for the living room, meeting Jaden half way.

"Sorry." She breathes, slightly out of breath. "I had to run a quick errand." She looks over what I'm wearing. "You look cute. Do you have a baseball hat or sunglasses or something?"

"I have a hat, why?" I ask her, confused. Where in the hell are we going? I thought we were just hanging around today and taking it easy.

"Good, bring your hat. I'm going to jump in the shower. I'll be ready in 10 minutes. Make yourself comfortable." She heads for the shower, turning on the water immediately.

She's acting SO weird. I grab my well-worn light blue Gap baseball hat. I've had it forever. Plopping down on the couch, I flip on the TV. I scan through the channels, and before I can decide on what to watch I hear the shower turn off. Jeez, that was fast. I turn just in time to see Jaden race stark naked into her bedroom. I do my best wolf whistle, and hear her laugh as she closes the door.

Minutes pass as I watch Sesame Street. What a great show. Kermit is my favorite; I agree it's not easy being green. I giggle as Ernie splashes in the tub with his rubber ducky. Jaden emerges from the bedroom, looking comfortable in jeans and a loose-fitting tshirt, her hair pulled back into a baseball hat similar to mine and wearing worn shoes. She has two windbreakers in her hand, and she hands one to me.

"Just in case it rains." She says as I take the jacket. I glance out the living room window.

"It looks clear to me, is it supposed to rain today?" She shrugs.

"You never know around here. In Massachusetts the weather changes every five minutes." She says, her eyes sparkling. "Besides, who knows where we'll end up today?"

Uh oh. Jaden is up to something. I can tell, because she has this kid-in-a-candy-store look on her face. I don't question her and grab my book bag, stuffing the jacket she handed me inside. She hopefully hands her jacket to me and I sigh and stuff in my bag also. "Pack mule at your service." I tell her, smiling to let her know I'm kidding.

"I'll carry your bag." She asks helpfully. I gently smack her arm as I head for the door.

"Shall we?"

"We shall." She answers, grabbing her keys.

It's 11:00 by the time we get in Jaden's Explorer. She's glancing at the clock as she speeds down the highway. It's a narrow 2-lane highway, divided by a thin median. She's darting in and out between cars and going well over the posted 50mph speed limit sign. The highway is bumpy and full of jarring turns, so I'm glad I securely belted my seat belt.

"Um Jaden?" I ask, swallowing nervously.

"Yeah?" She asks as she puts her blinker on and almost cuts off another car.

"Why are you driving like you have a death wish?"

She laughs at me. "Gracie, this is how you drive in Massachusetts. There is so much traffic and so many people you have to speed, tailgate, and swerve in order to get anywhere."

"Sheesh, and you have the nerve to call me Speed Racer. One should talk!"

"Sweetheart, I promise I won't kill us, okay? But this is Rt. 128, also known as "Anything goes on 128." There are no places to be pulled over, and besides, I'm kind of exempt for tickets anyway. She smiles at me.

"Ah, one of the perks of being in law enforcement." I tell her, grinning.

"Exactly." She resumes her nerve-wracking speed. "Besides, we don't want to be late."

"Where are we going?"

"Not telling." She says, shutting her mouth and miming that she's locked it and thrown away the key.

"Jaden, I hate surprises. I can't stand the suspense. Please tell me."

"No." She mouths.

Arugh. She's so infuriating. She always does this to me. Now myself, I can't tease her. She gives me the puppy dog eyes and the pouty lips and I immediately cave. But when I beg and plead, she just ignores me no matter what I do.

"Please?" I try again, batting my eyelashes even though she's driving and can't see them.

Silence. She beams at me and turns on the CD player in the Explorer. "What do you want to listen too? What kind of music do you like?" "Country." I state, knowing it will aggravate her.

"Ick. I always like to say: "Prevent inbreeding, ban country music." She teases.

I stick my tongue out at her. "You're such a jerk. First you won't tell me where we're going, and next you make fun of my taste in music." I feel myself climbing onto my soapbox. "And I'll have you know, that I enjoy all types of music. In Ohio, country music is king. But I enjoy everything from classical to rock. Jazz is probably my favorite." I state firmly. She nods condescendingly.

"Alright. Well, you didn't answer my question. What do you want to listen too, besides country?"

"How can I answer that when I don't know what you have?" I tease her and she rolls her eyes at me, reaching under her seat and pulling out a large CD case.

"Pick anything in there. If there's nothing you like there is another case under your seat." She must love music as much as I do. I probably own over 100 CD's, but Jaden's collection puts mine to shame.

"Who's Suzanne Vega?" I ask, looking at the eight different CD's she has bearing that name. Jaden looks at me like I'm insane.

"You seriously don't know?" She asks, and I shake my head. "You're missing out on one of the most talented people ever. Put in that silver CD of hers." I do, and the Explorer is suddenly filled with acoustic guitar.

"Pretty. I should love her, especially since I play the guitar." Jaden looks at me funny.

"I didn't know you played the guitar." She says. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"Well, figuring since I still don't know where you went to college and lots of other stuff about you, I thought that not telling you I play the guitar was insignificant." She looks hurt so I smile at her and place my hand on her thigh. "Besides, I'm not that good. It's just a stupid hobby I picked up." I shrug as she looks over at me.

"I went to college at UMASS, the University of Massachusetts." She says, an unreadable expression on her face.

"I learned to play guitar my freshman year in college from my friend Greg." I say, smiling at her.

"Well, then if you like acoustic guitar, you'll love Suzanne Vega." Jaden states firmly, turning the volume up on the radio. And she's right. The singer's voice is powerful yet almost emotionless, the guitar is strong without being overpowering, and the entire effect of the music is calming.

"It's beautiful." I say, recognizing the introduction of one song. "This sounds familiar to me."

"It's called "The Queen and the Soldier." Jaden states, her face wistful. I can't place where I've heard it from, but I do know that I've never been able to pick out the lyrics or the melody completely. Suddenly it registers.

"This is the song you always play on the jukebox at Uncle Rick's Bar, isn't it?" I ask, nodding my head sharply.

"Yeah, this is the song. I was surprised to find it there, it's not exactly a popular bar song." Jaden answers, her face impassive as she merges onto yet another highway filled with crazy drivers. "We're almost there."

"Where?" I ask, trying to lighten the mood again.

"To where we are going." She teases back, grinning.

"And that would be where?" I'm hoping if I annoy her enough she'll tell me.

"Gracie?" She asks.

"Yes?" "Shut up."

We finally turn off the highway onto a main road. The sign tells us to turn left to Newburyport, and Jaden does so. "Newburyport, isn't this where you were raised?"

"Yep, this is the place." We pass the standard city things, McDonalds, Kmart, and a few grocery stores. Suddenly the main road makes a sharp right and we are in the middle of a beautiful residential section. The houses are so ancient, large cape-style houses with huge front windows and widow's walks on the top story.

"It's so pretty! Did you live around here?" I ask, amazed at the quaintness of this small town.

"A few block away. Newburyport isn't that big, it's mostly tourists now that come to walk the boardwalk along the port. This place is a madhouse on the weekends." I can imagine. The streets we are driving along now are filled with tiny old-fashioned stores, toyshops, candy shops, and a few high-end clothing stores. We arrive at a dead-end street, in front of a large building on the water with colorful sea scenes painted on the side. "We're here!" Jaden announces excitedly, jumping out of the Explorer. I get out, trying to figure out where we are. Jaden is rummaging around in the back, and approaches me with a small cooler and paper bag.

"What do you have, and where are we?" I ask her, wondering if she's ever going to tell me. Jaden smiles and opens the bag for me to see. It looks like the makings of a lunch. She hands me the cooler and I open it to find more snacks and goodies. I raise my eyebrows in question and she finally spits it out.

"We're going on a whale watch!"

I practically leap into her arms. "Are you kidding? Seriously? Like a REAL whale watch out on the ocean?" She nods as I hug her.

"Come on, we were supposed to be here at 11:30, and it's almost quarter till 12:00. Let's go." She heads towards the building and I follow her. The building is cute inside, filled with souvenirs and whale information booklets. Jaden marches up to the desk as I browse around. "Hi, I'm Jaden Phillips and I have a reservation for 2 for 12:00. The girl nods and checks over her notepad."

"Yes, Ms. Phillips, I have you down. How do you wish to pay?" I walk up to Jaden, digging my wallet out of my bag. Jaden looks at me funny and whips out her credit card.

"My Visa is fine, I'm paying for both tickets." She tells the girl and myself. I start to argue and she silences me. "Shush. This is my treat, okay?" I grumble to myself, this entire vacation has been her treat. Not that I'm complaining, but I feel like such a freeloader and I don't want her to think that of me. I make a mental note to talk to her later about this. Meanwhile, I'm thrilled that in 15 minutes I'm going to be out on the ocean on a boat with the most gorgeous and amazing woman AND looking for whales! Jaden signs her credit card receipt and I pull her hand.

"Come on!" I tell her, leading her to the boat. She laughs and follows me up the ramp onto the tall vessel. "Where should we sit?" I ask, noting the sparsely populated boat.

"This way." She states, leading me to the front of the boat. There are few people sitting here, with most of them accumulating on the lower deck to be closer to the water. Jaden takes a seat and pulls me down next to her. From this vantage we have a perfect viewpoint of both sides of the ship.

I bounce around in my seat. "Have you ever been on one of these? Do you really see whales up close?" I am babbling, and I know it, but I honestly can't remember a time when I've been this excited.

"I went once when I was really little with my grandmother and Jonah. We saw quite a few whales, and yes, you do get close." She seems to have caught my excitement, and she actively tells me of her experiences.

"So where were you this morning when I was in the shower? You said you had to run an errand?" Jaden smiles.

"I called for a reservation a few days ago, and I had to confirm it today. They said that since it's a four-hour tour we should have some snacks and that it might rain. I didn't have any windbreakers so I ran and got some. I hope yours fits."

"Jaden, you didn't have to buy me a jacket! But thank you." I tell her. I can't believe how thoughtful she is. "And thanks for packing a lunch too. I know I'll be starving soon." I say, smiling at her. "This is a four hour tour? What if we sink like the cast Gilligan's Isle? They were on a three-hour tour and no one ever found them." She groans and rolls her eyes at me. She does that a lot. Either she thinks I'm cute or she gets annoyed with me easily. I'm hoping she thinks I'm cute; Jaden doesn't seem like the kind of person who would keep hanging around someone that annoyed her. At least I hope she isn't.

"Gracie, we're not going to sink." She says, wrapping her arm around me. I snuggle down into her embrace. This is nice.

Suddenly a booming voice announces that the tour will begin. Several deck hands scramble to untie and push off the massive ship, and without further ado we are slowly moving through port. It's a perfect day to be out on the water, hardly any wind and the sea looks to still be smooth. "Welcome aboard folks, I'm Captain Tom and I want to let you know a few things." Captain Tom tells us that this past week has been wonderful for sighting whales and dolphins, since this is their primary migrating time almost every tour has had luck in finding the elusive sea mammals. We are also told that we will probably hit some rain when we get further out, and I'm thankful for Jaden's windbreaker.

After about 20 minutes we leave port and are on the open sea. I can't believe I'm actually on the Atlantic Ocean. It's so incredibly beautiful, the water is dark and murky just like I thought it would be. "Is it what you expected?" Jaden asks, her voice husky in my ear.

"Everything and more." I tell her, a sudden lump in my throat. I turn to her, gently kissing her cheek. "Thank you for everything. I love you."

She smiles at me, and I detect faint tears in her bright eyes. "I love you too." Not wanting to have an uncomfortable public display of emotion I smile at her and turn my eyes back out to sea. Jaden was right about wearing a hat; the glare from the sun off the water would kill my eyes if not for the brim of my baseball hat.

"When do we see the whales?" I ask, my eyes still searching around the massive sea.

"Usually we have to go about an hour out. So we have some time yet." I lean back into her and continue to survey the ocean. It's so solemn here, each wave conveying an ageless tale. I think about the people that have sailed these very waters, Christopher Columbus, the Pilgrims, and my very ancestors. It's an almost creepy sensation, and I shudder into Jaden's shoulder.

"What's wrong?" She asks, a concerned look on her face. I shake my head at her.

"Nothing, just daydreaming about all the people who sailed these waters, how many of them died, how they felt finally seeing land after months at sea, all that stuff." I feel her smile at me. I know she thinks that I think too much, and maybe I do.

"They say the Pacific has no memory." Jaden says, the color of her eyes far more brilliant than the ocean beneath us. "But the Atlantic never forgets." Her words are spoken clearly, and I believe that she must be right.

"Why do they say that?" I ask, never having seen the Pacific. A faint smile crosses her impassive face.

"The Pacific is wild, rough, and beautiful. The water is the color of your eyes, sometimes blue, sometimes green, and usually a mixture of the two. It looks almost untouched, as if no one has ever sailed on it before."

I nod, trying to picture a vast aqua ocean. Maybe one day we can see it together.

"But the Atlantic has a history. One look at the murky, choppy, water leads you to believe that it holds the soul of every being that has ever crossed it."

"That's beautiful." I tell her, listening to the strong and melodic tones of her voice. She says nothing and we are content to be with each other.

The boat is gently rocking, Captain Tom is telling tales of the sea and the whales, but I am only half listening. Instead I am focused on Jaden, how her silky hair is wispy around her face where it has blown out of her ponytail, and the smell of her skin that is damp with the spray from the sea.

"Alright folks, we have a whale directly to the left of the boat." I am not expecting this mass stampede of people, but obviously Jaden is. She stands, her tall frame blocking people from crowding around us. "Where in the hell did all these people come from?" I ask, wondering what happened to the mostly-vacant boat we started the tour with. Jaden chuckles in my ear.

"They all get in a tizzy when a whale is spotted. People push and fight each other for a better view. It's insane." Jaden answers, and I agree.

Meanwhile, we are standing in a great viewing spot anxiously looking for the whale, and Jaden's defensive posture and menacing glare have kept all the annoying tourists far away from us. It's nice having a tall, dangerous girlfriend.

"Where is it?" I ask, for the 1,000th time. I hear Jaden trying not to groan or roll her eyes.

"Gracie, he said it was underwater. It will surface, don't worry about it." Her consoling doesn't soothe me. I want to see the whale now, dammit! After several more painstaking minutes we are rewarded with large bubbles coming from under the water. Captain Tom is blubbering something about that being a sign the whale will surface but I ignore him and stare at the bubbles.

"Ohhh!" The crowd ohhs and ahhs the appearance of the beautiful sea mammal as it's back appears above the gently rocking ocean. The whale's blowhole releases a stream of air and water vapor as it takes another breath. Then, it dives back under the water and gives us a view of it's massive tail fluke. I am holding onto Jaden's shirt and jumping up and down. The whale was probably 10 feet away from us, and the most powerful thing I've ever seen. It was beautiful.

"More!" I cry, as Jaden takes me in her arms and kisses my head. She's murmuring something to me, but I am focused on the once-again calm sea.

"It will be back, don't worry." Jaden says, and she's right, as suddenly a whale does another breath-and-then-dive again. I think this one is different though, because the tail was marked differently. Captain Tom then announces that we have found a small group of them and they are feeding. I can't believe it.

Jaden gasps, as the ocean is suddenly alive with the whales. Everywhere we look there is either a whale back or tail. It's as if we are in the middle of a movie, I can't believe that this is happening. "My camera!" I suddenly remember, and I am tearing apart my bag looking for it. I know it's in here somewhere. I finally find it and after turning it on, manage to snap some great close-up shots of the whales.

We view the whales for over an hour. I can't believe how beautiful they are. One young whale that was curious of the boat treated us by bringing his head above water and allowing us a look at his face. The Humpback Whale is an incredibly noble animal, and to think of the numbers slaughtered by whalers makes me sick. I mention this to Jaden and her face turns angry and cold. She is easily angered over things like this, and I don't blame her one bit.

The whales being to show themselves less frequently, and Captain Tom announces that we will be heading back to shore. I sigh, disappointed to be going back to shore. I love this ocean, and despite my slight seasickness, (which I didn't tell Jaden about to prevent her from worrying about me the entire time,) I feel as if I could stay here forever. We do need to be getting back however, we traveled so far out that the shore is nowhere to be found.

Jaden and I sit, and I shiver in the rapidly cooling air. I pull my vest tighter around me and zip it up. "Here." Jaden states, wrapping me securely in her embrace. She is distracted; I can tell by the way her pale eyes are flicking around from the sky to the sea and back to the sky again.

"What's the matter?"

"I'm not sure." She states, still surveying the distant horizon. "Do you smell that?" She asks, and I sniff the air. I smell the sea, and the delicious smell that is Jaden.

"Smell what?" I ask, shivering again in the cool air and sudden wind that has picked up. Without a word Jaden takes my windbreaker from my bag and hands it to me. I pull it on and snuggle back into her warmth.

"There's a storm headed our way." She finally states, after minutes of silence. "And judging by the horizon, it's going to be a bad one." I look in the direction she's staring and see that she's right. Within minutes the sky has turned from a sunny blue to an ominous dark gray. The sea itself has seemed to pick up, the waves suddenly choppy. I see whitecaps in the distance.

"How far is it to shore?" I ask nervously. I get seasick only in rare occasions, and I know a full-out ocean gale would defiantly be one of those occasions. I've already almost thrown up in front of Jaden once, and I don't plan on doing it again! And then there's the whole other issue of being thrown overboard and drowning, or swimming to shore. Not fun at all.

"I don't know, it took us awhile to get out here. I'd say an hour at the least." She says, still looking at the rapidly approaching clouds. Damn it.

Captain Tom uses this fine opportunity to inform us that a storm is approaching. Everyone is to put a life jacket on, and be prepared to head down to the main enclosed cabin. This is where I begin to panic. Sure, the thought of the boat sinking is horrible enough, but I'll be damned if I'm going to spend the last few moments in an enclosed cabin with all of these people. I don't think I'll be able to do it; I am so claustrophobic that even plane compartments make me nervous.

I think Jaden senses my panic. She wraps her arms around my shoulders and kisses my temple. "I'll be right back, I'm just going to get lifejackets." I watch her leave. "Oh Goddess, this doesn't look good." I say out loud, as the heavens suddenly open up and it begins to rain harder than I've ever thought imaginable.

A few minutes later:

Shit. This is bad. I squint my irritated eyes to avoid filling them with sea spray and gusting winds. Gracie is curled up in my arms, well, as best as one can be curled up while wearing a thick life preserver. I'm trying to shield her from the downpour, with little success. We are among the few left on deck. Everyone else with any brains went down to the enclosed first level.

Gracie, myself, and a few other brave souls are braving the storm along with Captain Tom and the crew. They are huddled in the small steering area of the ship, and from their nervous faces I can tell we're in for a long, rough, ride.

We aren't moving very fast, the massive boat rolling dangerously in the choppy sea. The waves are already crashing over the lower deck, and I'm no weatherwoman, but I can tell it's going to get worse.

Captain Tom pleaded for everyone to cram in the enclosed first level a few minutes ago. There was a mad rush of scared people, and I could tell from Gracie's frightened face that she was not looking forward to joining them. She seems a little green around the gills, if you know what I mean. Not that I blame her, the way this ship is rocking is enough even to make the most fearsome sailor want to lose it over the side. I think if we were to be in a tiny, hot, space with other people breathing down our necks her nausea would become severely worse. And I wouldn't do that to her.

Besides, if we're going to crash, I want to be clear of everyone else so I can get Grace to safety. That's my first priority.

So here we are. The storm sure is beautiful, and I know that even though she's scared, Grace is appreciating it. She wanted to see the ocean, and she's sure seeing it. The Atlantic is known for it's trickery, beautiful and calm while a ferocious storm waits to unleash it's wrath without any warning.

She's shaking. I wrap my arms tighter on her, cursing the damn life preservers. We are hit by a sudden wave and the boat tips dangerously to the left. I slide out of my rain-made-slippery seat onto the deck.

"Grace!" I shout to her, and look up in time to see her careening towards me. I hold out my arms to her, hopefully to lessen her impact onto me. She crashes into me, knocking my breath from my chest. She struggles to get up and I hold her to my aching chest. "Hold still." I yell to her, wanting her to be in my arms if anything else should happen. I twist my arms around to unsnap my life preserver strap and interlace it with the strap on her preserver before snapping myself in again. That way, where she goes, I go. And I'll never let go of her, if I can help it.

"Shit, Jaden we have to get downstairs!" She screams to me as the boat lurches back again. She's right; we are helpless on the top deck, being whipped from side to side by the relentless waves. She puts on her backpack, securing the straps around her life jacket and murmuring something about not wanting to leave it behind.

"Crawl towards the stairs, don't stand up!" I tell her, and quickly kiss her cheek. "Go first, I'll be right behind you." She begins to crawl, our connected life preservers pulling me with her. I have to hop to keep up with her, but we make it to the stairs fairly easily. It's difficult to walk down the stairs while connected, but there's no way I'm letting go of her.

Finding the first level we take seats outside of the packed enclosed seating. The weary passengers in the enclosed section are standing practically on top of each other. They all look hot and sweaty and terrified. I'm relieved to be alone with Gracie, though a part of me is wondering what happened to the other people that were on the top deck with us.

She looks beautiful. I know I shouldn't be having those thoughts now, but I've never seen her look more exquisite. Her faded blue hat has long been stashed safely in her backpack, and tendrils of her long blonde hair have blown out of her ponytail, framing her face in wild, long strands and highlighting the deep color of her eyes. They are almost a gray now, and I realize this is the color they get when she is afraid. I've seen her eyes bright blue with happiness and a deep green when she's aroused. I grin at her, and she cocks her head, wondering why I'm smiling at her like a love struck teenager while in the middle of a severe sea storm.

"What?" She asks, moving herself closer to me. I've never seen anyone look so hot while wearing a life preserver. Hell, I can't help it any longer.

And I kiss her.

Part 5: Coming soon! Stay tuned and please email me with feedback!!!

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