A Woman Like You

by G.S. Binkley


xxgsb@hotmail.com

Disclaimers: Sexual Content: F/F partners

Code:

L: Love between two people with kisses, embraces and tender moments.

LS: Love scenes described in more detail, involving scenes of lovemaking.

ES: Explicit love scenes.

ß This story is rated: LS Though at times it flirts perilously close to ES

ß Fiction (Alternative)


Part 2

Chapter Five

It was a beautiful afternoon and perfect for a barbeque. Lynn placed a hand on her youngest son, lighting the grill. "The weather cooperated." Now, if only all the guests do.

"Too bad it's not the fourth of July. Somehow, I think that would be an appropriate theme for this little gathering." Nate chuckled then opened an unexpected can of worms. "You know, Jason's going to be here?"

"And, the hits just keep coming." Lacy interrupted mother and son. "Why does that not surprise me?"

"Hank was going to tell you last night, but he╔." Nate started.

"Chickened out." Hank supplied. "Is that what you were going to say, Nate?"

Lynn kissed her son then turned to his girlfriend. "Hello, Jen. You remember Lacy." Suddenly recalling something, Lynn startled them. "Oh, you kids just╔ do whatever you're going to do I need to get something out of the freezer."

"I'll go with you." Jen Farris offered.

"And, behave." Lynn ordered her children.

The trio looked at each other innocently when Hank interpreted his mother's warning. "She must be talking about Denny and Lisa."

"What'd I tell you Chris, you can't turn your back on this motley crew before they're throwing you to the slaughter." Lisa piped up offering an ersatz scowl at her siblings. "Chris, you know Hank and Nate and this is my sister Lacy."

Reaching for her hand, Chris James lifted it bringing it to his lips. "Of course, the courageous Samantha Gordon." He referenced Lacy by the character she played on her cop series.

The brothers rolled their eyes at Lisa's boyfriends display while Lacy clamped her lips preventing a snort from escaping. "It's nice to meet you." Lacy finally forced out.

"The pleasure is all mine." The Prince Charming smile he offered Lacy turned slightly villainous when he shifted his cool blue eyes to Lisa commanding her attention. "Hon, I could use a drink." The dismissive tone grated against the trio as they watched Lisa yield to his authority.

Returning his undivided attention to the bona fide star. "I'd love to talk with you about acting. You know, I'm with the Little Theatre here in town."

Hank mumbled in a veiled attempt to smother his comment. "Yeah, big fish in a little pond."

Ignoring Lisa's brother, Chris gazed into Lacy's blue eyes while still clasping her hand. "Seriously, perhaps we can get together later and discuss╔.. acting techniques."

A possessive voice injected the interlude. "Mister! She is way out of your league." Gage finished her words with a light-hearted laugh. Removing Lacy's hand from the leech attached to it, Gage stepped between the Romeo and her woman. The blonde extended her hand to Chris. "Gage Ballant." When he was slow to take it, Gage offered sarcastically. "You can kiss it if you want."

Seeing the stunned and confused young man gawk in surprise, Lacy whispered from behind to her partner. "Be nice."

Gage tossed a reply over her shoulder. "I thought I was."

"Here you go, Chris." Lisa handed him the drink unaware of the previous events. She then greeted Gage who keenly noted the long sleeve shirt Lisa was wearing on the warm summer day.

"Where's the kids?" Lacy asked.

"Your dad took them to the store." David supplied as he joined the group. "David Levine." Introducing himself, he grabbed Chris' hand, shaking it. "And, now, all we need is Denny and his family to make it a full house." Shooting a sneering glance toward Gage, David sneered. "We've even got our very own wild card."

Slapping a hand on David's back, Denny announced his presence. "Did someone mention me? How are you╔ you old╔.."

"Ah, ah, ah╔.you're older than me." David countered.

"One year╔. one lousy year." Denny then greeted the rest of the group, brown eyes sparing Gage a petulant look. "When do we eat?"

Flames jumped from the grill, sizzling smoke. "Stand back. I think she's about to blow." Nate was actually referring to the group's demeanor instead of the grill.

"Denny, where's Crystal?" He nodded toward the house. "Come on, Gage, I want you to meet my sister-in-law." When Lacy whipped around, she came face to face with her ex-husband.

"Lacy." The tall cool drink of water, Jason McIntyre, greeted her.

"Jason. Hi." Startled, a small smile developed quite unconsciously.

"It's nice to see you. You're as beautiful as ever." Sincere warm brown eyes scanned the star's perfect body.

Feeling a bit unbalanced, Lacy swung her arm around her back desperately searching for the anchor she knew would be there. Gage secured Lacy's hand reassuring her partner. "I╔I╔."

Gage moved to Lacy's side greeting the very handsome man. "Gage╔."

"I know. Hank gave me a head's up. Jason." Lacy's ex-husband clasped her hand, greeting her with a genuine smile. "Nice meeting you."

"We were just heading inside." Gage said.

Nodding, Jason looked fondly at Lacy once more. "Later."

After Lacy and Gage walked well out of earshot of the group, the blonde sighed in frustration. "Does all your exes have to be so damn good looking?"

"You don't have to worry, you're the only one I'm looking at." Then Lacy bid her a brief kiss.

"Mmmmm hmmm." In that moment, a sliver of doubt entered her mind.

*************************

After dinner, David and Denny huddled together covertly sharing their concerns. "What do you make of it?"

Crunching his eyebrows together, Denny shook his head confused. "I don't get it. What could she possibly offer Lacy? I mean she's not a man. You know╔ not the right equipment." Denny threw a look at his friend clearly indicating his meaning.

Over the last ten years that David was married to Lacy, he had become closest with her older brother. They shared the same work ethics and moral values where the man was the head of the household. It was a bond that held steadfast even in the face of David's affair. Denny consciously choose to overlook this small fact since he strayed himself once.

"And then there's the age difference." David tossed on the table for debate.

"Yes. That would be what╔. twelve years?" Dan Lewis joined the duo. David smiled thinking he was welcoming a comrade in Lacy's father until the next words were spoken. "That would be the same age difference between you and╔. the woman you're having an affair with, wouldn't it?"

TouchÄ. David gave Dan his due quelling any further nasty comments about Lacy and her partner.

The trio stood silent for the longest time. Both Denny and David waiting patiently for the older man to speak. Dan purposely held them at bay with his strong silent pose.

Off in the distance from where the three manly statues stood, Hank, Nate, Jason and Lacy observed Lisa and her boyfriend engaging in some friendly banter that soon turned sour. When Chris grabbed Lisa's arm, Hank started to get up and intervene, but Jason stopped him. "Excuse me."

Voices rose as Jason approached the arguing couple. "Lisa, everything okay?"

"Do you mind?" Chris spouted. "This is a private discussion."

"I don't want to flex my muscles here." But, Jason did just that as those same muscles outlined his skintight tee shirt. "Working construction helps me to keep fit."

"And that's supposed to mean what?" Chris taunted him.

"That I am gonna kick your ass if you don't behave yourself." Venom dripped with each word.

"Jason, please!" Lisa pleaded. "It's nothing really."

When Chris moved forward on the verge of shoving up against the taller man, Gage calmly intervened. "I wouldn't do that if I were you."

Snorting loudly, Chris asked. "And, what are you gonna do about it?"

"I'm gonna let him kick your ass." Gage confirmed then leaned in conspiratorially whispering. "You don't even want to know what will happen to you when they find out about those bruises Lisa is sporting. Oh, the long sleeve shirt does a pretty good cover up job, but you can't get pass this expert on spotting abuse. You have two choices. Leave or leave with an escort."

Grinding a hard stare into the woman threatening him with exposure, Chris spared an evil look at Jason standing guard. "Lisa╔." The slight yet resolute nod from Gage silenced the rest of his words. Chris did an about face and left. Jason tailed the man through the house, out the door and to his car watching the obnoxious Chris drive away.

Lacy was at her sister's side in a flash. Shook up, Lisa shivered on the verge of tears. Lynn joined her two daughters escorting them down a walkway into the garden for what she felt was going to be a long discussion.

When Jason returned he approached Gage. "That was pretty courageous of you."

A small laugh erupted. "It's easy to be brave with a good six foot and what╔.three inch solid wall of muscles right behind you."

Draping his arm over what he thought at one time might be a potential rival Jason smiled broadly. "I knew I liked you for some reason."

"What was that all about?" Hank asked his best friend.

Nate piped up. "Chris finally had the smarts to leave. More than I ever gave him credit for."

*************************

Lisa broke down crying in her mother's arms. "I╔. It╔only happened a couple of times. He gets carried away╔╔mad at the things I do wrong."

"Stop that right now Lisa." Lacy sharply directed. "There is no reason in the world for anyone at anytime to╔.." She had a hard time saying the word that struck her sister. "╔.hit someone else. It's not acceptable."

Sniffling, her voice cracked. "You're ashamed of me?"

"Honey, we love you. Why didn't you say something?" Lynn cursed herself for not realizing it before. "I should have known it all along╔ the signs were there."

Violently shaking her head against her mother's shoulder, Lisa countered. "No. I made sure╔. and if it was too bad, I stayed away until╔." She didn't need to say anymore. Both, Lynn and Lacy knew exactly what Lisa meant. Until the bruises faded.

"You are staying here." Raising her daughter to face her, Lynn insisted. "I'll have the boys go get your things. I will not have you in that situation for another minute."

"Please don't tell daddy." Lisa begged. She didn't want her father to think poorly of her.

"I most certainly will." Lynn stated adamantly.

Lacy softened her mother's words. "Lisa, the only way through this is if everyone understands what's going on. That way they can help you. We all love you and you have everyone's support."

Stifling the tears, Lisa recounted what happened. "Even Jason. He╔╔stood up for me."

Lynn kissed her daughter on the cheek, wiping away a few tears. Her daughter's word regarding Jason served up a seemingly unprovoked thought. "You know, this garden that your dad invests so much time in╔╔ he always dreamed of having one of you╔ when you got married╔ having the ceremony right here."

"It is beautiful." Lacy scouted the serene, peaceful and colorful garden housing a gazebo. "Where did that thought come from?"

"Oh, I don't know." She wasn't sure what sprouted her husband's long time wish to mind. Maybe it was the fact that Lisa had recently talked about getting married or that Lacy was now on the verge of divorce. She just didn't know. "The mind takes a detour everyone once in a while." Her loving eyes fell back on her distraught daughter and Lynn assured her. "One thing, for sure, that obstinate young man is going to take a permanent detour out of your life."

**************************

True to her word, Lynn had her boys including Jason retrieve Lisa's things from the apartment she shared with Chris James. And, when Lynn asked if they had any trouble or if there were any mishaps, the foursome innocently shook their heads. Although, in a small apartment across town there was one sore young man that would have vehemently disagreed.

**************************

Jason stood before Lacy ready to leave. "I'm glad you came. It was nice seeing you again." Lacy said.

Nodding over her shoulder, he motioned to Lisa. "Will she be okay?"

"Yes, I think so." Smiling at Jason. "You know, she really needed the knight in shining armor you provided for her today."

Returning his attention back to his ex-wife, Jason winked. "I did have help. I like her, Lacy. I wish you all the happiness in the world. Being a part of this family when we were together meant a great deal to me."

Lacy stood on her tiptoes giving Jason a sweet and tender kiss on the lips. "You're still part of this family and always will be."

After Jason walked out the door, Denny and Crystal approached her. "Crystal, sorry we didn't really get time to talk. We'll be here till Tuesday, maybe you can bring Jonathan with you tomorrow or Monday. I know Dani wants to see him."

Denny cleared his throat spewing a few words before passing her out the door. "Doubt if he'll be feeling any better by then. Goodbye, Lacy." He said stiffly.

Crystal gave her sister-in-law a hug not knowing what to say even if she could explain her husband's rude attitude toward his sister. All she could do was offer Lacy a weak smile. One that told Lacy all she needed to know. Denny didn't approve of her relationship with Gage and their son was probably not sick at all.

She watched the older couple walk all the way to their car then turned dropping her shoulders in dismay. Eyeing David hurriedly passing by, Lacy called after him. "David, we have to talk." She was about to set off a few fireworks of her own.

Chapter Six

Settled in temporarily at Gage's home, Lacy and the kids were preparing for their return to Hollywood the next week for the start of the star's movie. And, it didn't take long for the couple to rev back up full force devouring each other in their nightly lovemaking.

After an intense session of lovemaking, Lacy and Gage held each other basking in the radiance of their love. It gave pause for each allowing lingering thoughts to seep into their consciousness, taking root to recent revelations.

Recalling Lacy's announcement that she was pregnant filled Gage's mind. When Lacy turned to her lover, Gage easily recognized distressed blue eyes capture her completely. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing I hope." Lacy unintentionally walked seductively to the bed, lifting her knee up on the side next to Gage, sitting down.

Gage splayed her hand over Lacy's soft thigh, rubbing it tenderly, allowing her lover all the time she needed.

"I'm not really missing anything." Lacy sighed. "I'm pregnant."

Not missing a beat, opening her arms wide, Gage beckoned. "Come here."

Finding comfort in Gage's arms, a shudder followed the tears Lacy shed.

"I thought you wanted more kids." Gage reminded the younger woman.

Moving back, Lacy intently stared into green searching for any hint of displeasure with the news. "I did. I do. But╔ what╔. how do you feel about it?"

Shrugging, Gage let a slip of jealousy shine through. "I didn't like it one bit, but he was╔is, at least for a few more months, your husband. I figured you╔ you know, the night he arrived at the cabin."

"I mean about the baby." Lacy corrected her.

As if drawn like a compass needle to the North Pole Gage's hand made its way to Lacy's firm, flat stomach, resting there. "I love you and Dani and Derek and I already love╔ your baby."

The challenge that faced Gage at this point in her life was welcomed and totally unexpected. As she held her woman, Gage thanked God for the blessing of this family that dropped in her lap on one sunny afternoon near her cabin on the lake altering her future drastically. I never thought I would ever have this let alone deserve it. Gage's fingers brushed up and down Lacy's back, gently stroking her providing the comfort the dark haired woman required.

Lacy eased up next to the woman she loved smiling against her lover's smooth skin. Her mind drifted to the upcoming chore of telling David that he was about to be a father again. Last week when she had visited her mother, Lynn guessed Lacy's condition so the news wouldn't be totally unexpected when she called home. It's David that I'm worried about. Concerned David would bring up the custody issue again in their divorce, Lacy pulled Gage even closer.

"Hey, what is it?" Gage asked.

"I was just thinking about the baby and how I'm going to tell David." Lacy reluctantly offered. "And╔." Lacy flashed her eyes. "╔that this is where I want to spend the rest of my life╔.. in your arms."

"That's easily taken care of." Gage shifted the dark haired woman on her side, facing each other wrapped tightly together. "I love you." Warm lips found purchase against eager ones silently declaring their love. In between heated kisses, Gage asked. "Why don't you tell me what happened between you and David before we left your parents?"

"Mmmmmm." Enjoying the sweet and tender kisses too much to talk. Though when Gage broke away, Lacy relented. "Dani piercing her ears."

"And?" Gage left a hot trail of kisses along a perfect cheek to settle just below Lacy's ear. "Is it because you don't have your ears pierced?" Slightly sucking one of the ears in question.

Lacy fell into the seductive sensation Gage was stirring in her. "No." A verbose moan escaped. "She╔. when she's╔. I wanted her to╔.." Totally distracted from an insistent tongue causing havoc in her body raising the smoldering fire that still raged from their recent lovemaking, Lacy summoned enough resolve to finally say. "I thought she should be older before making that decision." She spit out before capturing the wandering mouth of her lover.

Gage maneuvered her body over her lover taking up resident between her legs. In between fevered kisses, the writer declared just above a whisper. "Baby, I love you so much." Gage's hungry lips traversed the smooth, silky skin over the jaw line down Lacy's neck pausing momentarily to suck lightly at her collarbone. A tactic Lacy found absolutely irresistible.

"God, I love it when you do that." Lacy said breathlessly, arching her back to meet her lover's mouth.

"Well, if you love that then your gonna really enjoy this."

Sensations flared at her lover's seductive words. And, when Gage latched on to her breast sucking hard, Lacy felt a pool of hot liquid form between her legs already overheated from her lover's sensual onslaught. The fire only propelled hotter when Gage's hand came to rest between her lover's legs. A quick uptake of breath assured Gage her overture was welcomed.

The sizzling vibrations traveling through Lacy's body took her higher and higher as Gage grinded her hips in to her lover matching her beat for beat. Wave after wave crashed against the super-sensitive shore in Lacy's taut body primed and ready to explode.

"Sweetheart." Lacy husked. "Now, please. Oh, God╔. now!"

In one final thrust, Gage carried her lover past the stars rocketing through the heavens where time stood still and pure bliss encapsulated their love.

Shallow breaths gave way to deeper ones as Lacy fell to earth tucked safely in the arms of her woman. It was a journey she hoped to take a million times over with Gage leading the way. "Oh, sweetheart, God what you do to me."

"Mmmmm. I'm enjoying you completely, Lacy." Gage planted a tender kiss on oh so sweet lips. "I don't think I'll ever get enough of you." And, Gage tried. She really did╔. all night long.

************************

Early the next morning Dani skipped into her mother's bedroom. "Is everybody up?" She clamored up on the bed settling next to her mother as Gage slept peacefully.

Kissing her daughter, Lacy said. "Derek still asleep?"

"Yeah, thought I'd give him a break." Dani smiled impishly. "Can we have some alone time?"

With a quiet glance to her lover, Lacy nodded. "Absolutely. What's on your mind? And, if it's about piercing your ears, I've already decided."

Surfacing to consciousness slowly, Gage heard the exchange between mother and daughter. Stretching, she yawned. "Why don't I wake up Derek while you two╔" She emphasized the next word. "╔girls╔. talk." After a luxurious, but innocent good morning kiss, Gage bounded out the door to drag the other sleepy head out of bed.

Steadying herself for the already made decision, Dani determined to accept whatever her mother decided since there was something else weighing heavily on her mind. "Okay, what is it?"

Surprised, Lacy said suspiciously. "You don't seem too concerned about what I'll say."

"Whatever it is will be fine with me." Dani reasoned that no matter what eventually she'd get her way.

Originally, Lacy was going to have her daughter wait, but with this new and improved attitude Dani presently displayed she relinquished her resolve and caved. "When we get back to LA, I'll go with you and we'll get them pierced."

A huge hug followed as Dani reacted to the news. "When do we leave?" The young girl fired another question before her mother could answer. "And, where are we going to stay?"

Lacy's eyes popped wide open at the last inquiry searching for an answer to a question she hadn't broached. As if on cue, Gage walked back into the room with Derek tucked under her arm wiggling fiercely. "Jage╔ Jage. Let me go."

The blonde lifted him up in the air. "Oh, you want me to let you go, huh?"

He gave her a sheepish smile, nodding his head. "Pwease."

Dropping him down in order to give him a brief kiss, Gage then lowered him to the floor. But, soon had to give him a boost up on the bed after a short waddle across the floor.

When green met blue, Gage winked at her partner. "I was thinking╔ actually, I called Mark and he's got a house out there." The blonde said, referring to her producing partner, Mark Calico.

"Is it a mansion?" Dani asked excitedly.

Gage pursed her lips in anticipation. "More like a guest house at his estate." Catching those same blue eyes she loved so much, Gage hurriedly continued in an attempt to sell the idea. "It has two bedrooms╔ kinda small really, but╔." She turned to Dani. "Mark's got a tennis court, oceanfront view and an Olympic size pool." She added knowing Dani's love for water.

"Cool." Dani approved.

Looking back at Lacy, Gage moved closer in one final effort to close the deal. "There's a Jacuzzi right next to the guest house."

"Cuzzi!" Derek clapped his hands.

An arched eyebrow to Lacy proffered the unspoken question.

"We used to have a dog called of all things Racuzzi." Lacy explained. "Nate got him for the kids on one of his visits. Derek called him Cuzzi."

Bouncing happily, Derek repeated. "Cuzzi."

"No, honey, Cuzzi's gone." Lacy's face saddened at that particular memory.

"Oh." Gage brushed her lips against the star's cheek then nuzzled her forehead against her lover. "What do you think╔about the guest house? At least till we decide what we're going to do after your movie."

Lacy wrapped her arms around her partner. "Are you going to be there?"

"Only if you are." Gage countered.

"Jeez, mom. Did you hear it's got a pool? And, besides, that's where Derek and I are staying." Dani crossed her arms only to be mimicked by her brother.

Angling her head slightly while still leaning against the blonde, Lacy saw her children's determination. "It's settled then."

Gage took the opportunity to seal the deal kissing Lacy again. "I love you."

"I know. Make sure you don't forget it." Lacy kissed her back.

"And, let's not forget that we're going to get my ears pierced first thing when we get back."

Another questioning look found its way to Lacy. Gage knew her partner was going to wait till December and let it be a Christmas gift. The look Lacy gave her clearly stated, don't ask.

"Lacy, when we get back I was thinking╔ wondering really." Drawing in a deep breath not knowing whether it was her place or not, Gage continued. "Derek╔" She nodded at the young boy in question. "You think we could check out a speech therapist for him?"

Taken aback momentarily, Lacy grew concerned. "Do you think I've been remiss about╔" Her words dropped off the ledge landing with a thud at the implication.

"Oh, no, no╔NO..it's just╔." Great, I've overstepped my bounds here. "When I was young, it helped me having someone╔. I use to╔to stutter and╔.."

Dani watched the interplay between the adults curiously. I hope Gage doesn't make mom mad. I've got an important question to ask her. Dani frowned at the scene being played out before her. Guess she needs bailing out. "I think that's a great idea. What's the big deal?" The nine year old wished she could yank back her comment when Lacy shot her an aggravated glare. Glancing at Gage, Dani backed off. You're on your own.

The rising aggravation in Lacy dissipated instantly when Derek crawled up the blonde settling in Gage's lap. "Love Jage." Leaning against her, Derek wrapped his short arms around his hero who held him tightly.

"I didn't mean anything, Lacy." Looking down at her charge, Gage brushed her lips against his short dark head. "It would be a╔ soothing salve to my soul╔ helping him like someone helped me years ago. That's all."

Ducking in to capture her partner's lips, Lacy asked absolution from her accusation then whispered against an open mouth. "I love you╔ for caring." A smile bloomed from her lips. "I just love you."

Covertly, Dani jerked her arm in victory. Yes! Good save. Now, that she thought her mother was in a more receptive mood, Dani dove in. "Mom?" Asking and receiving her mother's full attention. "Since you're going to be working and╔. can I get a tutor like before so I can be on the set with you╔. me and Derek?"

Lacy wondered when this subject was going to be broached. "The movie's scheduled for eight weeks, honey. After that, I'm taking off for a while with the ba╔." Uh oh, haven't mentioned that yet, have I? No time like the present. The soft reassuring strokes at the small of her back by her partner gave Lacy the needed courage to make her announcement. "Honey, how'd you like to have a new baby brother or sister?"

"Can I pick?"

"No." Shaking her head at how simple children took things at times.

"I'd still get to be the big sister right?" The implication meant she'd be the boss.

"Always."

"Okay. As long as that's understood." Dani agreed. "Now, about that tutor?"

Scooting her daughter closer, Lacy explained her rationale regarding her decision on this subject. "Before when we had a tutor along with your nanny, I was working all the time and I really want you to have a normal childhood. At least as normal as I can make it. That's the main reason I quit the show. I wanted to spend more time with you and Derek." Turning her daughter fully around to face her, Lacy continued. "Wouldn't you like to make friends at school?"

"I knew a lot of people from your show. They were my friends."

"Kids your own age, I mean. Dani, remember when you spent some time at that╔.." Lacy started, but was quickly cut off.

"Boarding school." Dani finished. "Yuck."

Both eyebrows zipped up suddenly when the blonde heard this, stunned at the news. The idea of being shipped off to some desolate boarding school grated against Gage. She'd experienced far too many bon voyages of her own when she was growing up sailing from one foster home to another.

"It was a private school╔ not a boarding school." Lacy countered soothing Gage's obvious apprehension. "She only went there for a semester╔.. some kids did stay there though." Remembering the unpleasant discussion on the subject before she finally gave in to David's suggestion. Lacy calmed herself redirecting the conversation. "Anyway, I really think you'll like going to a more regular school."

Gage treaded the stormy waters carefully when she added. "School can be great. You get to do all kinds of exciting things."

Dani arched an eyebrow waiting patiently to hear about all the exciting things to do in school.

"Dancing!" Lacy hurriedly added. "In school, they have little plays you can be in. And, you know how wonderful you dance."

Dani couldn't argue with that.

"And sing." Her mother continued. "You have a beautiful singing voice."

Another point Dani couldn't dispute.

On the verge of seeing her daughter swayed, Lacy concluded. "I bet you'd be the star of the show."

"That's only going to happen if she goes to school though." Gage followed her partner's lead.

"What do you mean by a MORE regular school?" The astute nine year old caught the operative word her mother covertly inserted.

Sighing heavily, Lacy said. "It is a private school╔." Lacy threw up her hand to roadblock both her partner and daughter. "You go during the day╔.then come home like a regular school. No one stays there in residence like the other one. Honey, I have to be concerned about your safety."

"In case somebody wants to kidnap me." Dani stated matter-of-factly.

The one hard cold aspect of living such a high profile lifestyle meant potentially putting her children in harms way. There were no threats or real issues to her family, but one never knew and Lacy was unwilling to take any chances. The school she wanted her daughter to attend specialized in these types of family situations.

"No one's going to do that." She assured her daughter hugging her tightly. "Though I am not willing to take that chance."

"After school can I come visit you on the set?"

"You better." Lacy tapped her daughter's nose.

"Okay╔.. I guess. Who's going to pick me up then?" Questioning blue eyes ricocheted between her mother and Gage.

Before Lacy could formulate an answer, Gage intervened. "I will." It wasn't something they had discussed and they probably would first chance they got, but Gage already made a decision regarding her family and just how much she was going to play a part in it.

Seeing the steadfast look on her partner's face, Lacy simply agreed. "It's settled then."

Chapter Seven

Lacy, Gage and the kids arrived at Mark Calico's estate via the limousine he acquired for them. Instead of dropping them off at the front of the mansion, Gage tapped the driver indicating he should swing around the side to the much smaller living quarters which offered an excellent view of the ocean.

After depositing their bags inside the guesthouse, the foursome debarked on a quick tour of the grounds. Dani ran ahead searching for the swimming pool while Derek insisted on walking along side the couple because it was closer to the multi-colored flowers that lined the walkway. Plucking a flower from its stem, the shy three year old looked up spying an old man intently watching him. Derek hurriedly found shelter behind one of Gage's legs.

The small boy returned the intense stare as the old man plucked a flower of his own, spinning it under his nose, inhaling deeply. Derek found this interesting and did the same with his flower. When the old man dropped his flower down then jerked it back up to his face, Derek giggled and followed suit.

"Chance!" Gage hollered dragging Lacy behind her while Derek did his best to keep up. "Lacy, this is Chance Mallicoat."

Chance nodded his head in respect. "Ma'am."

Extending her hand, she requested. "Please call me Lacy."

Again, he nodded then turned to the small boy. "Who are you?"

Scooping Derek up in her arms, Gage made the introductions. "Chance, this is Derek. And, Dani's around here somewhere╔." Swinging her head around scouting the grounds for the little adventurer.

Chance slid his own flower toward Derek so he could experience the sweet scent of a different flower from the garden he lovingly tendered. The young child sniffed cautiously before inhaling deeply drawing the pedals to his nose then smiled because it tickled.

"Hey, where's Mark? I want him to meet my family." Realization dawned, offering a sense of peace and contentment embracing the writer at her chosen words. My family.

Before Chance opened his mouth in response, he noticed his boss' car enter the main gate. "He's here." With these words Chance faded into the background where he felt the most comfortable.

Grabbing her partner's hand, Gage dashed off. "Come on."

Mark Calico opened wide arms welcoming his friend and business partner. "Gage, you look great." He kissed her on the lips then stepped back, blue eyes coming to rest on the young boy in her arms. "And, who's this?"

"Derek and╔.." Pulling Lacy closer while entwining their hands together, Gage smiled at her friend. "This is Lacy Levine╔ my partner."

Mark didn't miss the gold necklace Lacy nervously fiddled with when he embraced his blonde friend. "Finally╔." Mark wrapped strong arms around her offering a very sincere greeting. Over Lacy's shoulder Mark noted a young girl with pursed lips and hands cocked on her hips pinning him with a possessive glare. Releasing the star, Mark ran his hand threw his short neatly cut dark hair, graying at the temples. "And, you must be Danielle." A few short steps later, Mark held out his hand.

Dani gave him the once over then yielded. "Hello." She said sweetly. He must own the pool. "You can call me Dani."

"Done." Mark accepted the offer. "Well, then, you get settled? Sorry, I wasn't here to meet you╔. some business." Turning to Lacy, Mark continued. "As a matter of fact, an old friend of yours╔ Ron Griffen."

Lacy knew the head of Griffen Studios well. "How is he?"

"Doing fine. Gage, Ron's interested in distributing our first picture."

"About that, Mark, we need to talk." Gage stated.

A slight concern crossed his face briefly. "All right. Not till after I make sure you have everything you need. You check the place out yet?" Like the natural born leader he was, Mark led the way back to the guesthouse. "I had my staff stock the place with food and things╔ though if there's anything you need just call Chance or the housekeeper."

As they entered the small cottage, Lacy thanked him. "I'm sure everything is fine." Taking Derek from Gage's arms, she leaned in. "We'll take care of things here. I know you want to talk with Mark. Go ahead."

Gage smiled at her partner's generosity. "I love you."

"Go on." Lacy pushed her lover away while sucking in a sliver of doubt regarding the relationship Gage shared with her friend. She didn't know whether to be jealous, glad or indifferent so she busied herself unpacking till Gage returned.

Mark hooked his arm around his friend as they walked away from the guesthouse. "So, it's serious?"

"You don't know how much."

"I think I do." Mark nudged her. "Every since I've known you, I've never seen you without that necklace and now╔" Nodding back over his shoulder. "She wears it."

Blushing, Gage admitted. "Yeah, she does."

"And I know how much it means to you." Mark added then dropped the subject just as quickly. "What's on your mind?"

Reluctant to address the issue at hand, Gage started the journey in a round about way. "Where are you at with the movie?"

Accepting Gage's detour around the subject, Mark answered. "It's set to shoot in February next year. Eight weeks, but I've allowed ten. As I said earlier, my old college friend, Griffen, wants in on the action. Since we're new at this that could be of great help. Hired the director, Hugh Hayes, and most of the casting is done. Thought you wanted to be in on that?"

Running an anxious hand through her short blonde hair, Gage broached the subject. "I╔ I had better things to do." The writer and producer wanna be decided to be direct. "Mark, listen╔." She stopped both of them in their tracks. "Things have changed."

"Lacy?"

"Lacy, the kids╔ me." Briefly allowing a reflective moment to wash over her, Gage sighed. "God, Mark, I knew the moment I saw her I was in love. The moment I heard her voice I'd fallen completely and the moment she touched me, deeply in love and I knew when she kissed me that I was totally, absolutely in love with her and there was no going back. She's my past, my present, my future."

"So, tell me how you really feel." The hearty laugh that accompanied Mark's remark teased his friend mercilessly, but Gage took if for what it was. A friend who cared for her and always would.

Elbowing him in the side, Gage let a small laugh escape of her own at her overwhelming admission. "Wait till you fall."

The sad smile and thoughtful glance he gave Gage told her exactly what he was feeling. "I did that once and it was enough for a lifetime." Fond loving memories of his departed wife, Sharon, along with his parents stilled his broken heart in that one brief moment. If nothing else, he would always have the memories.

"Sorry, Mark." Gage apologized. "And, I'm sorry about letting you down with the movie and╔. here it is the one I wrote."

"I would have done it anyway, Gage. You're still going to let me have first shot at your screenplays?"

"They're all yours to produce if you want. By the way, how'd you like HERE COMES JORDAN?"

"It's going to be my next picture after this one, right?" Gage nodded so Mark continued. "You need time with this new family of yours, but we're still partners to the end. I won't have it any other way."

"Mark, I won't be able to help much╔"

"You write╔ and whatever else you have time for is good enough for me. Gage, you've got great instincts. Besides, we've already talked about this project before you left for my cabin. I know what you see in that noggin of yours. It will be a great little TV movie." Suddenly Mark turned her around facing the cottage. "Go on. I see someone is waiting patiently for your return."

Gage twisted back around falling into her ever-loyal friend's arms. "Thanks." Then gave him a kiss.

*************************

The next day Lacy set up a meeting with the director of her movie, Ryan White. He was David's producing partner and, fortunately for Lacy, a good friend. "Ryan, I'm going to have a baby."

The tall man just sat down when Lacy blurted out the newsflash. "Don't beat around the bush, do you?" A quirked eyebrow caught him dead center upon misunderstanding his comment. "I didn't mean anything by it. Lacy╔" Ryan covered her hand on the table. "You know, I love you. Does David know yet?"

"No. You need to know for the movie. Seven weeks."

"It's set for eight." He countered.

"Seven weeks pregnant. So, you may want to shoot around it. I won't be showing much."

"It's a romantic comedy, Lacy. No stunts or anything that would be dangerous╔.a couple of love scenes and I was hoping to show a little flesh." Ryan's liquid brown eyes twinkled at the suggestion then hinted further. "A little eye candy."

"I bet you do." Revealing a little skin wasn't new to Lacy, she had posed in a couple of men's magazine though not the raunchy ones. Nothing blatant, but racy enough to send a sexual shiver through any red blooded man bringing him to the brink of boiling. "Nothing to exposed, okay?"

"You should know then that Griffen╔." I didn't want to be the one to tell her but╔.. "╔renegotiated your contract in reference to that little detail."

"He couldn't╔. I've not seen anything." Lacy's contract regarding skin exposure kept her well shielded though she'd allow certain aspects of it in filming if it suited the material tastefully. "David." The cold crack of dawn snapped enlightening Lacy as to who was behind this renegotiation.

"You let him have too much control, Lacy."

"I know." Despair set in knowing that Ron Griffen would hold her to it.

"As long as I'm directing and producing it, I'll keep it tasteful. Nothing more than you already have. I promise." Ryan was the director sharing producing responsibilities with his partner in White Horse Productions, David Levine, while Ron Griffen backed the film. "David is going to be on the sidelines as much as possible for this picture." He assured her. "Listen, I've got to go."

Lacy smiled hopefully.

Touching her face after he stood, Ryan pledged. "Trust me."

And, she did. It was the man behind Ryan that she didn't trust. "David. Sit down." After a brief exchange between producing partners, Lacy watched Ryan leave the restaurant. "How did you know I was here? Never mind, I don't want to know."

Well, it worked on Ryan so here goes. "David, I'm going to have a baby."

Focused on the plate before him, David scarfed down an uneaten half of turkey sandwich. "I know. I'm going to have a baby. Old news, Lacy. Everyone knows Hayston is pregnant."

Lacy let out a short snort. "You take the cake, David. You really do. It's always about you. Let me rephrase this." Getting his full attention. "Hayston is pregnant. I am pregnant and you're the father."

David gulped. "I'm the father?"

"David, don't even go there."

"No, I mean. Lacy, this changes everything. First thing, I'll stop the divorce."

"You can't do that."

"Yes, I can. I'll call the lawyers right now." Flipping out his cellular telephone, David punched in a few numbers.

Yanking it away, Lacy reiterated. "You can't do that because I am not going to let you. End of discussion on that topic."

"Lacy, I have to keep my family together╔."

"And, what family is that?" Lacy sarcastically threw at him before tempering her anger. "Never mind! We can do this the easy way or the hard way and, David, please for the sake of the kids let's stop fighting each other. Our children need to know both their parents. Let's do what's best for them."

"But╔.I'm the father."

"Drop it and I won't bring up╔ this 'little behind my back' renegotiation of my contract with Griffen. You had no right and you know it, David." Lacy sighed heavily. "I'm calling my agent later and get this straightened out. You don't have a free hand when it comes to me any longer, David. Understood?"

It wasn't what he wanted, but he would have to quell his desires for the time being. Too much was riding on his plans for the future. Stirring up a hornet's nest with his soon to be ex-wife didn't suit his purposes. There's plenty of time between now and when the divorce is final. And, I am the father. "Understood." David confirmed offering a pleasant and, at the same time, devious smile.

Lacy bounced that same smile back to him not having spent ten years with the man sitting in front of her without learning something along the way. Like a snake before he strikes.

************************

With their mother away for a business meeting, Dani and Derek took advantage of the luxuries offered by their host, Mark Calico. Splashing in the huge pool, Dani savored the sun-warmed day while Derek played with his plastic water pistol.

"Are you coming in Gage?" Dani yelled.

"No╔. Ohhh." Gage jumped from her chair, face dripping with water. "Why should I? Your brother is getting me wet enough."

Derek hurried away to refill his toy gun once again. This time when he approached Gage, the blonde redirected him to the older man lounging on a patio chair dressed in slacks and a white business shirt.

Gage helped Derek sneak up on the unsuspecting victim then stood back as the young boy did as he was directed firing streams of water at Chance. Unscathed, the old man didn't move a muscle till one gray eye popped open zeroing in on the attacker then to the blonde instigator. In a calm steady voice, the sixty-year-old man said. "That was refreshing. Thank you." Chance then got up winked at Derek and walked away as if nothing had happened.

From a distance, Lacy watched her son's antics under her partner's guidance when a hand touched her shoulder. "You love her."

Lacy turned meeting warm blue eyes. "With all my heart."

"I do, too." Mark smiled. "Does that bother you?"

A perfectly sculptured eyebrow rose.

"I saw you watching us from the window yesterday with╔. interest." Mark carefully chose the last word.

"More like with a bit of jealousy." Lacy admitted.

Mark offered an arm. "Walk with me." After a few long moments, the tall man continued. "The bond Gage and I have comes from tragedies in our lives. Mine from losing my wife and parents in an airplane accident twenty years ago." A momentary pause. "We were going to have a baby."

Lacy gently squeezed his arm offering comfort.

"All I have left is my grandfather in England and╔. Chance, my ever-loyal assistant. But, that's a story for another time. And, Gage. We hit it off from the very beginning. When I read her screenplay, A QUESTION OF MURDER, that's the one we're shooting next year." Lacy nodded knowingly. "I felt some kind of connection in the words she wrote. I love the way she writes. Then when we met, well, who wouldn't love her?"

"I know. I do. And, so do my children."

Mark stopped short, staring deeply into Lacy's now worried eyes. "Lacy, Gage has been hurt in ways╔. she doesn't feel she deserves a family or anyone for that matter. It truly makes me happy to see her with you and the kids. She needs this. Very much." Mark considered for a brief moment her partner's recent decision before letting Lacy in on it. "Gage told me she's not going to be involved as much with filming our movie."

"No, she can't. It means a great deal to her." Lacy protested.

"And you mean the world to her. Let her, Lacy. This is something that she needs╔.. it will heal her soul."

Pensively, Lacy nodded fully understanding as she remembered Gage's words regarding getting a speech therapist for Derek. It would be a╔ soothing salve to my soul helping him like someone helped me years ago.

"Friends?"

"Friends." Lacy confirmed.

"Now, may I ask you a favor?" Lacy nodded. "I have many businesses throughout the world and have naturally become aware of the plight of people in it╔. mostly the children. Money can only do so much." Glancing at Lacy briefly, he asked. "We could use your╔..well, face to get the awareness we need in helping the children of the world. I know it's a lot to ask╔."

"I'll do it. Whatever you want." Taking in a quick view at her children happily playing in the pool, Lacy added. "Having children of my own╔" Lacy's hand unconsciously drifted to her stomach rubbing it.

"I know." He winked. "Gage told me."

"I want to help Mark and╔.." Sucking in a short breath. "╔not be so jealous of your relationship with Gage."

"Don't be." Pointing to the necklace she wore. "Do you know where Gage got that?" Shaking her head. "About twenty years ago, Gage made an attempt to find her mother. That led her to the social worker that helped Gage's mom during that time."

A questioning eyebrow rose.

"No, she wouldn't or couldn't tell Gage anything about her mother. But, that necklace, Gage got it from the social worker. She doesn't know for sure but Gage thinks that it may have belonged to her mother."

Speechless, Lacy's eyes filled with unshed tears. "Mark, maybe you can do a favor for me."

Mark understood the silent request being asked. He draped a steadying arm around his friend's lover in comfort. Maybe, Lacy, maybe in time she'll be ready.

Chapter Eight

The first week in the guesthouse flew by as Lacy and Gage readied their family for the upcoming movie and school year. Dani was enrolled in school and ready to start the following week. Gage made a few inquiries regarding getting a speech therapist for Derek. And, took the suggestion by Mark to call Dr. Charles. All the while Lacy prepared for her upcoming role in her movie.

The first day on the movie set was hectic. Lacy was escorted from place to place getting fitted for costumes, meeting the cast and crew and the last agenda item on the day included a script reading. Ryan White prepared meticulously for the short shoot. With only eight weeks allotted, he had things lined up ready to fall into place like a well-oiled machine.

"Lacy, over here." Ryan called to his star then looked around the set running his hand through his gray hair. Instead of making him look older than his forty years, the full head of gray gave way to a dapper distinguished look that he wore well. Not spotting his other star of the movie, he did see his assistant. "Griff?" Ryan waved her to him.

Lacy and Kathy Griffen arrived at the same time. "What's up, boss?" Griff asked then noticed Lacy curiously staring at her which Ryan took note of also.

"Lacy, you remember Kathy Griffen, Ron's daughter." Ryan said off-handedly still searching for his wayward star.

"Call me Griff. Everybody does." Griff offered.

"I knew you looked familiar. It must be the hair." Lacy said. "What's it been three years since I last seen you?"

Running a hand threw her short red hair Griff confirmed the observation. "Yeah, I like it better this way. Free and easy." The slightly shorter woman not only spoke about her hair it also reflected her attitude. "Though it was more like four years ago. After that I took off and worked on a couple of my dad's movies that took me around the world."

"You sure have grown up." Lacy stated.

"I'm twenty-eight now." Griff admitted.

"You're kidding. I thought you'd went to college when you left."

"Nope. Wanted to find myself and I did." Griff's green eyes sparkled as her youthful demeanor spilled over.

Patiently waiting for the two women to reacquaint themselves, Ryan finally interrupted. "Griff, where's Koda?" Then with a dismissive wave. "Just go find him. Okay? We need to get the ball rolling here."

"You mean the cameras, don't you?" Teasing the director. "Didn't go to film school for nothing." Looking at Lacy. "Nice to see again."

Lacy watched the younger woman leave. "I like her. I remember her around the set the first year of the show. She was always interested in how everything worked. I'm glad to see she's doing well."

"Yeah, she's a good kid. A bit obnoxious at times. She doesn't throw being the big boss' daughter around much, but╔." Ryan spied the errant actor. "There you are."

Turning, Lacy recognized Koda Kannon, international film star named the sexist man alive at least twice. "Ahhh. If it isn't the divine Levine." These words floated off his silver-lined tongue. Ignoring the director completely, Koda grasped Lacy's hand in his, bowed at the waist placing a velvety soft kiss upon the back of her hand. Standing erect now, he refused to let go of the soft hand he held captive. "May I be so bold as to tell you that my life only started the moment I gazed into your beautiful blue eyes." Offering her a smile that dazzled so brightly it washed out the high intensity set lights.

Retrieving her hand, Lacy countered. "You mean I could be the life╔╔and death of you?" Koda was about to return her volley when Lacy said. "Excuse me. Ryan, I need to speak with my agent a moment."

"That's okay. It's only the first day╔ not much to do." Ryan exhaled a mock sigh at the delays. Feeling a tapping on his shoulder, Ryan whizzed back around to his prima donna male star. Ryan noted the wolfish once over Koda lavished on Lacy while watching her walk away. He could read the thought propelling around the actors head just as if he'd said it out loud.

I've got to get me some of that. Koda smiled in self-assurance of winning the bet he'd just made with himself. "This should be a lot of fun."

Slapping the star on the shoulder, the director burst Koda's lascivious bubble. "She's outta your league. You won't even get on the ball field."

Koda's only reply, a smirk that clearly read we'll see.

************************

Arthur Graham stood silently listening to Lacy expound on her concerns about the contract renegotiation David had made without her knowledge. Irate that her agent would allow the renegotiation confused the star that had remained loyal to her one and only agent. After the rise of her success with the cop series many more prominent agencies cajoled, begged and pleaded to sign Lacy. This was one point she adamantly refused to consider going against David's stern recommendations.

"Calm down, Lacy." Arthur stilled the heated star's fury. "Here." He handed her the contract, flipped a few pages then pointed at one particular item.

Lacy read the small print carefully letting this new information dissolve her anger into a mellow ease. "Thank you, Art. I should never have questioned you about this."

"Lacy, first rule of business╔.never╔. ever╔ let the other person you're in bed with, metaphorically speaking, know the closet door has a secret escape passage." Arthur winked at his favorite and most important client. "I knew David was up to no good. When I saw that I could handle it without taking you away from your much-needed vacation, I did. So, the balls in your court."

Once again, her agent came through in flying colors. Arthur never let her down and signing with him was the best business decision she'd ever made. In effect, Arthur gave her a wild card to play trumping the rest of the players if needed. "Thank you. I think you deserve a raise for this." She kissed him on the cheek.

"And, I thought you were talking about money." He shot her a teasing wink.

"You will." Lacy confirmed.

"Are we interrupting?" Gage asked with both kids in tow.

Spinning around at the sound of her favorite voice in the world to hear, Lacy beamed. "Never." Then eyeing her children. "Hello, you two."

"Mom, Gage took me by my new school. It's pretty cool. They have a swimming pool inside. Did you know that?" Dani loved water. A fact Lacy carefully calculated when selecting that school for her daughter.

"Yes."

"Mama?" Derek stretched, arms wide.

"Hello, honey." She collected her son in her arms. "What did you do this morning?"

"Pway horsie with Jage." Derek galloped in her arms.

"And, watched his favorite cartoon." Gage added.

Bringing Arthur Graham closer, Lacy introduced him to her partner. "Art, this is Gage."

Instead of formally announcing to the world their relationship, the couple elected to let people come to their own conclusions, but they were not going to hide it either. Their main concern was how it would affect the children. With Lacy's divorce still pending though they agreed to temporarily quell displays of affection in public.

"Art. Hi." Gage greeted the man who was the same age as herself.

Lacy's agent knew the score between the couple in front of him after receiving the anonymous tip that turned out to be from David╔ Like I should have realized that╔ regarding the supposed affair his client was involved in while at her cabin on the lake. "Nice to meet you. Lacy, I'm off then." Seeing the questioning look on her face, Art ended by saying. "Don't particularly want to talk with Casanova over there heading this way as we speak."

As Art left Koda arrived with a wink and charming snake-like smile. "Lacy, Ryan wants us to 'get some'╔.." The way he said the last two words did not marry up with the next ones. "..rehearsing done."

Dismissing the vaguely veiled subtext, Lacy introduced her family. "Koda, I want you to meet Gage. She's a writer. And, these two are Dani and Derek, my children."

Glancing superficially toward the trio, his heavenly hazel eyes landed back on the woman he was going to add another notch to his bedpost with. "Hi. Shall we?" He asked, staring deeply into cool blue eyes.

"Yes, we shall." Gage grabbed Dani's hand and scooted Lacy, who was holding Derek, along. "We'd like to watch."

Knocked for a loop at the unexpected proposition, Koda temporarily retreated finding refuge behind the new arrival. "Griff? How's your old man?"

Griff quickly looked over the visitors to the movie set before answering him. "Fine. As a matter of fact, he just arrived. Talking with Ryan, I think."

"Well, then╔╔" Koda straightened his shirt, stretched his neck and combed his unruly light colored hair with his fingers before heading off in search of their main benefactor. "Later."

"Gage, this is Griff." Lacy made the introductions.

"Hey, it's good to meet you." Griff grabbed the proffered hand. "Why haven't I seen you before?"

"First time on a movie set."

Lacy added proudly. "She's a╔. an exceptionally great writer."

"Wow. Listen, why don't I show you around?" Looking at Lacy before whisking the blonde off.

Lacy shrugged turning to her partner knowing full well Gage would enjoy a tour of the place. "Go ahead."

"What about the kids?"

"I've got them with me. Go on."

"Are you sure you won't be needed for╔. rehearsing?" Gage emphasized the last word having zeroed in on Koda's true meaning.

"No, no rehearsing for me. Well, except╔." Lacy intentionally let the words she knew Gage would pick up on die on her lips.

"In that case, I won't be long." Turning to her new escort. "Lead on."

***********************

When Gage returned with Griff, they found Lacy, Koda and Ryan meeting with a large man who stood a couple inches over six foot. His presence spoke power, commanding and reassuring at the same time. Gage easily deduced the man's identity when Griff rushed to him losing herself in the gigantic hug he offered.

After a long embrace, Ron Griffen eased his daughter back. "Thought you were going to stop by last night?" Locking a sharp knowing brown eye on his only child, Ron silently summarized the reason. Since returning to Hollywood, the pretty woman before him worked by day and partied by night. A little too much, he thought. The movie mogul clearly remembered his daughter's shy innocent ways until she'd left to see the world. When his feisty daughter shrugged an apology, Ron declared. "You will tonight." Turning to the group, Ron emphatically extended the no refusal invitation. "I'm having a little 'get to know you' party this evening. I expect to see you all." He glanced around the room coming full circle back to the redhead. "Kathy, that means you, too."

Koda perked up at the invitation knowing full well that a bevy of beauties would be present while Ryan sighed knowing it would be formal. Lacy sent a questioning glance to Gage searching for any hint of uneasiness since she was well aware of her partner's reluctance to do 'fancy'. Gage smiled reassuringly to the dark haired woman thinking the invitation didn't include her until.

"Gage?" Griff called across the room to where the blonde had meandered finding sanctuary with the kids playing in the background. "You're coming right?"

"Huh?" The writer's head popped up. "Ahhh╔." Seeing Lacy tilt her head in acceptance. "╔sure."

"Great." Grabbing her father's arm, Griff directed him to the door then said covertly. "Father? I've got something I need you to do ASAP."

************************

Before mid-afternoon, Ron Griffen had supplied his daughter's request. "Didn't take much really. Asked an old friend." Ron handed Griff the file. "Anything I should know about?"

Reading it, Griff smiled. "No, no. Not yet. Guess I need to head to the bookstore." She started to leave.

"Aren't you required back on the set?" The business minded man asked.

She kissed her father on the cheek. "They're only going over the script and blocking╔.Ryan can handle it."

"Sweetie, you're just the assistant╔. not the director." Ron advised his daughter. He loved her and would do anything for her, but, after all, he had money invested in this film. His only child came first, however, money was a real close second.

"I was teasing you, father."

As he watched her literally skip out of his luxurious office, Ron sat there perplexed. "I never know what's on that girl's mind."

*************************

Ryan and the cast muddled through a script reading of the movie, which frustrated him to no end. Griff never returned to the set after leaving with her father. Koda was making overtures to Lacy with every word he spoke. The rest of the cast members especially the women played tag trying to get Koda's attention that was firmly riveted on the dark haired beauty.

Lacy was the only bona fide professional, besides himself, present for which he was eternally grateful. Several times she redirected the group steering them back on track. Noticing her friend's aggravation, Lacy suggested. "Why don't we call it quits for the day? With the party and everything."

His savor's words were welcomed having lost control over this motley group. "Good idea." Oh well, tomorrow's another day to get this well oiled machine up and working.

The room couldn't have cleared out faster than if someone had called in a bomb scare. "Off day?"

"For the life of me, Lacy, I should have taken the day off." Ryan had a history of bad first days on a new project. Deep down, he took it in stride as he likened it to the old saying 'bad rehearsal, good show'. The worse the first day of filming was the better the film turned out to be. "Can I give you a ride home?"

"No, thank you. Gage and the kids should be waiting in my trailer." Lacy hugged her old friend.

"See you tonight then." Ryan waved.

"Tonight." She called off after him.

************************

"Tonight!" Gage flipped through her clothes. "Why tonight? Does he know it's not even the weekend?"

Lacy let her partner rant and rave. "You're the one who said we'd attend."

Dragging a pile of clothes from the closet with her, Gage recounted the incident. "Me? I looked at you. You cocked your head like╔.like╔."

"Like what?"

"Like╔ this." Gage tilted her head exactly as her partner had done earlier when Griff asked if she was attending the party.

"I did not. I did this." Lacy cocked her head to the other side.

"Exactly. That's the same thing I did." Gage countered.

"No, it isn't. You did this." Lacy moved her head the other way. "I did this."

To Gage, the second maneuver mirrored the first. But, she no longer cared. It was something in the graceful way Lacy's long dark hair flung around as her partner attempted to discriminate between the two actions that diverted her attention. Gage closed the distance. "Do that again."

Lacy complied.

"I know exactly what that little move means."

"Really?"

"Mmmmmm." Gage tenderly took possession of the sensual lips before her begging to be kissed. So, she did again and again. Falling to the bed on the pile of clothes, Gage began undressing her partner.

"We're going to be late." Lacy said between smothering kisses she welcomed.

"I'm only helping you get undressed." Gage assured the pinned woman.

"Mmmm Hmmmm. I really believe that one." Dragging the tip of her tongue over her partner's mouth.

"Then believe this╔.. I love you." Allowing one final all consuming kiss to play out before withdrawing. Definitely overheated from the exchange, Gage desperately returned to inspecting her clothes before the fire grew too hot to handle leaving only one thing that would douse it.

Feeling like she was left in dry dock even before sailing, Lacy panted heavily. "I'm going to get you for that one, sweetheart."

"Tonight?"

"If you're lucky?" Lacy pushed herself off the bed then slipped into the five hundred dollar dress she'd bought. "What do you think?"

The appreciative smile on Gage's face shouted to the world her approval. "You make it look like it's worth a million bucks."

Giving her partner a thank you kiss, Lacy cocked her head again. "Now, what about you?"

Gage selected her chosen outfit. "I only have one philosophy about fashion╔." Looking at Lacy directly. "You, who wrote the book on style╔."

"I did not. But, I do enjoy dressing up." Lacy admitted.

"Comfortable." An arched eyebrow shot her way in question. "If I'm comfortable╔╔ I'm styling."

A squinted eye and pursed lips surveyed the chosen outfit Gage had in her hand. "Then, sweetheart, you'll be the master of style tonight." Lacy walked out the door without another word.

Confused, Gage was left standing alone. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Continued in Part 3.


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