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.

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

Š Fiction (Alternative)


Part 3

Chapter Nine

Lacy and Gage arrived with Mark Calico for the movie executive's 'get to know you' party. Gage surveyed the huge room filled with glamorous people dressed to the nines. At least they look the part. "Are all of these things so…. formal?"

"Unfortunately with Griffen they are." Her friend Mark replied. "Ron's big on fancy."

Fancy? You got that right. Gage swallowed hard feeling very out of place at that moment. Having being caught in accepting Griff's personal invitation, Gage figured she'd give it a go for her partner's sake. Now she was wishing she'd found a way out of it. Sucking in a deep breath, the ill at ease writer summoned her resolve to make the best of it. "Then let's get this thing over with." She knew when her words slipped past her lips it was a mistake. Her insensitive comment reflected on Lacy's face. Moving as close as she could to her partner, Gage asked forgiveness. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it that way."

Lacy produced a small smile. "That's all right. You told me how you felt about these types of gatherings. Maybe we can go before……"

Too late. "Mark Calico…. you old son of a gun." Ron Griffen gave his old college roommate a bear hug.

"Ron." Turning to his companions, Mark introduced them. "You know Lacy, of course, and this is my good friend and business partner, Gage Ballant."

The movie mogul scrutinized the blonde curiously as he greeted her. "Gage, nice to meet you. And….." Hugging Lacy. "How's my favorite money maker?"

"Glad to see I mean so much to you, Ron." Lacy returned the hug then moved back close to her partner. "But, it seems I've been toppled by someone else in that department."

Ron raised both bushy eyebrows in question.

Nodding, Lacy continued. "Your new favorite."

Everyone turned to look as Koda Kannon approached them. Whispering Ron confirmed her deduction. "Yes, though, that's because you've semi-retired. Or am I being presumptuous on that point?"

"No, you're exactly right."

Ron continued referring to his new male star. "He doesn't have as big a draw as you. Never will."

"Then why is he making more than I am on this picture?"

"Ah, ah, ah…" Holding a finger up. "Before you say another word, if you were a man you'd make twice as much as he does easily. But, you're a woman." Letting approving brown eyes scan the length of her body, Ron continued. "And, I wouldn't want it any other way."

What Ron initiated to be a private conversation between himself and his star soon turned loud enough for all ears to hear including Koda's who picked up on the last comment by the head of Griffen Studios. "I couldn't agree with you more boss." Koda allowed his hazel eyes to drape over the beautiful woman standing directing in front of him. "Lacy, there's someone I want you to meet." Grasping her hand, Lacy hesitated. "Please."

Glancing at Gage quickly, she received a reassuring smile. She spoke to the group, but her eyes were definitely glued on her partner. "I'll be right back."

As Koda walked off with her woman on his arm, Gage turned deaf to the conversation between her friend and Ron Griffen. She picked up a few key words such as 'distribution', 'rights', 'options' and 'tons of money'. None of it interested her. What piqued her interest was the way Koda practically wrapped himself around… MY WOMAN…. as he casually introduced Lacy to another man.

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

"Tony, over here." Koda eagerly greeted the up and coming entertainment media reporter. "Lacy, meet Tony Kussler."

Tony Kussler reframed from extending his hand to the well-known female star. Instead, posted a smirk on his face squinting his dark eyes slightly. "We've….." Inserting a dramatic pause then emphasized the next word. "….almost… met once."

Clearly, Lacy didn't remember. "I know who you are and I've seen you around before….."

A sickly evil grin spread across the reporter's face. "When I was starting my career five years ago…." Lacy arched an inquisitive eye since the young man barely looked twenty-one. "Just eighteen then… your publicist set up an interview for me with you, alas…. it fell through." No use playing all my cards. No, not yet. Time for that later.

"I'm sorry. I really am. I don't remember it." The star was sincere knowing how hard it was getting your foot in the door on any career you desired especially in Hollywood.

Tony flipped a dismissive wave. "Forget it. I've done pretty well for myself."

"That you have, partner." Koda spread a smooth swipe of butter across his sometimes-drinking buddy's ego. "Tony hosts that new show, SHOWTOWN."

"Yeah, well, there is another host…. a woman." It was clear to the female star that Tony exhibited a degrading attitude toward women. Turning toward his actor friend to say his farewell. "Koda." Appraising the room full of gorgeous women, Tony excused himself. "So many women, so little time."

Koda nudged Lacy as his eyes traveled to Tony's next stop on his excursion around the room…..working it for all he was worth. "You should keep on his good side." Winking at Lacy. "Problem is…. he doesn't have one. Somebody burned him years ago…. cost him his first real job."

"Doesn't matter…. I'm stepping out of the limelight." Lacy commented off-handedly.

Grabbing both her arms, Koda twirled the woman around to face him. "I intend to change that. Lacy, we are made for each other…. cinematically speaking…." He eased her concerned look. "Together on screen we're fantastic…." And, off screen we'd be even greater together. He waggled his eyebrows seductively. Words such as 'hot' and 'sweaty' popped in both star's minds, but for entirely different reasons. "Just like Rock Hudson and Doris Day only you've got the dark hair and mine's light."

Instead of responding to her overzealous suitor, Lacy spotted David and Hayston Rawlings arrive who immediately stopped a waiter, grazed the offered food plate then found a comfortable chair. Unlike her boyfriend, rocketing directly toward her and Koda.

"Koda…." Garnishing his full attention on Lacy, David quizzed. "Lacy, how are you? Really?"

Lacy thought she actually heard of tinge of sincerity in his voice. "I'm fine."

Still focused completely on Lacy, David directed his next question to Koda. "Would you mind? I have some personal business to conduct with my…. wife."

Not for long. Koda smiled. "Of course. I have plenty of time to wine and dine this beauty as we'll be working together…. closely on the set." The suave star interjected himself between David and Lacy. Pulling her closer, Koda planted a sweet gentle kiss on her totally surprised lips. Whispering, he said. "Later." Koda started to pull back then changed his mind abruptly moving even closer than before. "I will have you." He left the dark haired woman with a stunned look plastered on her face. Koda was the kind of playboy that liked to let his prey know he was in hot pursuit.

Shaking her head, Lacy regained her senses. "I don't know why that surprised me. I've heard all the stories…. never experienced it though." It was true. Lacy had scores of men and women fans vying for her attention throughout her career, flaunting themselves at her while on publicity tours though David and the entourage he arranged for her held them at bay. But, no one showed even the remotest signs of relentless pursing her. With Koda, the tide had changed. Tapping her chin with an index finger, Lacy's blue eyes found their way to trusting green. There's only one person I want relentlessly pursuing me. She smiled. Tonight.

"Lacy, Lacy…. Are you with me here?" David finally pulled her out of her sexual musings.

"What?" Returning her attention to the dark haired producer that she still happened to be married to until February the next year when the divorce was final.

"We need to talk."

"Maybe we should have done more of that over the last couple of years, David, instead of now."

Twisting his lips in frustration. "We still have a few business ties to take care of."

"I know. You never did tell me why you renegotiated my contract."

"You want to know? You really want to know?" She nodded. "Fine. For your own sake." His raised hand froze the words on her lips. "Yes, for your sake. And, mine too." He reluctantly admitted. "MegaCom wanted some assurances that I'd provide them a hit. What better way then to show a little…"

She cut him off, correcting him. "A lot."

"….of skin." He finished. "But, that deal fell through. Thanks to you and….never mind."

His deal with MegaCom to start a new series starring his pregnant girlfriend after the end of the cop show, CRACKDOWN, was to be sweetened when he delivered the movie Lacy was presently shooting to them. MegaCom executives were very interested in Lacy Levine so David used her as leverage to keep his career in high gear. When Lacy, Ron Griffen and his producing partner, Ryan White, discovered his plan, they united bringing his scheme to a screeching halt.

"By the way, I'm not going to do anymore publicity except for this film when it's released next year. No more openings, shows or public events."

"You can't do that! You fade out of the public minds for even a second and they suddenly get Alzheimer's disease." David vehemently countered.

Giving him a stern look, Lacy continued. "David, do you even know what comes out of your mouth? Never mind. That's the way it's going to be. Period."

"Fine! Although, Miss 'slip off the face of the earth and never to be seen again' Lacy, you do have a couple of things scheduled. It was before you left for the cabin. You've already made a commitment to them." David smirked under the proffered smile.

"That's it then. Nothing more." Lacy effectively ended the discussion. There were several reasons for her decision. Her pregnancy, her desire to be with her children and, of course, Gage. Ever present on Lacy's mind was how hard it seemed that her partner was concerned, afraid even, to enter the star's very public world for fear that Gage would shame her. That could never happen in Lacy's mind, but it was real for her partner and that's what mattered the most to her. "David?" Lacy signaled toward her ex-co-star and David's present girlfriend. "She doesn't look well. Maybe you should check on her."

Seeing Ryan approach, David agreed. "Fine." Reluctant to face his partner since their heated exchange over the devious errant plan he'd hatched, David slipped off quietly.

"They do turn tail and run rather quickly, don't they, Lacy?" Ryan slipped his arm around his friend then offered her a brief kiss on the cheek.

Lost momentarily in thought, Lacy spoke. "He's got his priorities mixed up for sure." Coming back fully to the present, Lacy inquired. "Ryan, I forgot to ask David, but do you know a Tony Kussler?"

"Yeah. Gang buster kinda journalist…. gotta new show. Why?" Ryan didn't particularly like the guy who Ron Griffen invited along with several other entertainment media to the party so he could drum up any and all free publicity available.

"Something about him…. I don't know. He gives me the creeps." Lacy confirmed her earlier perceptions.

"Look at her." Ryan nodded toward Hayston. "She's dead tired. David has her booked on every show he can get her on….. attending every premiere. It's ridiculous."

Carefully studying the twenty-three year old, Lacy recognized the tale tale signs. "She's further along than I was when I lost…" Her words faltered upon remembering when she'd lost her first child during her third month of pregnancy.

Lacy's pregnancy was unexpected and her schedule was already taxing her physically. At first, Lacy ignored signs that she might have been pregnant being her first experience with it and not really wanting it to be true. When she lost the baby, Lacy shouldered all of the responsibility carrying the guilt for years. It was only after having Dani and loving words from her mother about what can happened during pregnancy that was no one's fault that she forgave herself.

"Maybe I should talk to her?" Lacy offered thoughtfully.

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

Meanwhile back at the party feeling rather uncomfortable until Mark offered his friend some wine, Gage perused the crowd trying to guess what made each of them tick. It was something the writer in her did on occasion. During her observations, she'd noticed a good-looking guy with a very nice smile staring at her several different times. The last time she noticed it, she observed Griff approach him. Some friendly words were exchanged when their verbal bantering raised its ugly head. It didn't concern her too much until both sharply turned on their heels heading directly for her like twin heat sinking missiles zeroed in on their target.

"Gage. This is Michael Jessop. You met him briefly on the set today." Griff explained.

"That's right. You looked familiar."

Michael clasped her hand, holding on to it tenderly until Griff tore it away from the writer. "Knock it off, will ya?"

"So, go ahead… ask." Michael encouraged his co-worker then blushed at the writer much to his dismay.

Shooting him an evil look dripping with poisonous venom. "What this jerk is wanting to know…."

"We both do." Michael corrected her.

Drawing in a breath, sure she would be the victor, Griff asked. "Gage, we… want to know your….. your…… are you gay?"

"I say straight." Michael quickly added.

The two would be suitors waited with baited breath for her answer. Stunned, Gage savored a few long moments to respond. It wasn't because she had any doubts about the way she felt about her sexuality. What shocked her was their interest in her that way. "You want to know my sexuality?" Dual heads nodded furiously.

With absolute assuredness, she proudly proclaimed. "I'm not heterosexual….." Michael's world flipped upside down while Griff buoyed a huge smile then licked her lips. "I'm not bi-sexual…." The last hopeful avenue for the young man was cut off now. Griff's green eyes flared devouring the writer. "I'm not homosexual….." The look on both stunned faces asked. What else is there? "I'm just…." Gage's green eyes flared, dropping her sultry voice to its lowest register. "Sexual."

Michael and Griff both shared a sexual shiver zigzagging through their overheated bodies as Gage lilt out the last word. While the young man came to attention just below the beltline, the redhead creamed her pants.

Thankful that Lacy arrived to save her from dealing with the aftermath of her proclamation, Gage offered to get the group some drinks. "What are you having?"

Still off-balance from the exchange, Griff covertly watched Gage rush off to retrieve some refreshments with Michael who offered to help. She surmised he couldn't wait to douse the fire burning inside him. Coward. Can't stand the heat.

"Griff? You okay?" Lacy shook the shorter woman's shoulder.

"Yeah, yeah, fine." Her equilibrium back, Griff decided to test the waters referencing the attractive blonde she'd set her eye on. "You're friends right?"

"Yes, very good friends…. best friends." Lacy added a bit more possessively then she'd intended.

"She interests me to tell the truth." Griff carefully studied Lacy's reaction to her words wondering if there was more than friendship blooming between Lacy and the blonde.

"Gage is a wonderful person. I already told you she's a writer." Now vague and careful not to reveal too much of her feelings.

"Yes, you did. You read her?"

"Only her screenplays." Lacy admitted not having found Gage's stories at the bookstore. Lacy was reluctant to ask her partner about the books she wrote since Gage was more than just a little bit sensitive when it came to the star reading what the writer wrote.

She remembered Gage's words. I don't know, Lacy, if you don't like them then…. you'd feel like you had to say something nice anyway. To which Lacy countered. I loved your screenplays. I love the way you write. She pleaded, but to no avail. It was then Lacy schemed to get her partner's novels at the bookstore and it was then that she discovered there were no books listed under Gage's name.

"Not her books?" Griff asked confused at this disclosure.

"No, not her books." Lacy confirmed.

Acting upon a suspicion, Griff informed the star. "I like the writer Ballantine myself. Great stuff."

"Oh, me too." Lacy joined in.

Confirmed and added to her mental list, Griff smiled at the revelation that she would use to her advantage…. later.

When Gage and Michael returned, the uneasiness between the four prevailed casting a shadow over what should have been a delightful evening.

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

"All tucked in and sleeping." Was all Chance offered the couple when they arrived home from the party.

Before Gage shut the door, she called out a thank you to the reticent man. When she turned around, Lacy was nowhere to be seen. Following a hunch, Gage headed to the kid's bedroom where she found their mother tenderly stroking first Derek's cheek giving him a kiss then did the same to her daughter. Lacy got up slowly, watching in wonder at her sleeping children.

"Come on." Gage offered a hand to her partner, leading her down the hallway to their bedroom.

Standing before the woman she loved, Gage ran her fingers up Lacy's long smooth arm coming to rest near her shoulder. The writer snagged the thin strap; gently pushing it over Lacy's shoulder then repeated the same maneuver with the other strap. Twisting her lover around, Gage unveiled the beautiful back as she pulled the zipper down allowing the dress to slip to the floor. Wearing nothing but shoes now, Lacy stood quietly allowing her lover full access.

Gage softly kissed the exposed shoulder, lowering her voice to a melodious gentle caress. "I love you."

Lacy turned into her lover's arms. "I love you. Now, take me to bed and make love to me."

"Your pleasure is my pleasure." Quick to follow her lover's command, Gage undressed and pinned her lover to the bed. Feeling her woman under her moving against her released a very satisfied moan. "God, I love it when you do that. I love the feel of your skin." Inhaling deeply the scent of her woman.

"You know, sweetheart….." Fighting the sweet welcomed sexual assault only long enough to voice her concern, Lacy offered off-handedly. "Griff likes you."

Jolting her head up, Gage scrunched her eyebrows. "Really? You think? I thought it was just a bet between the two of them."

Not fully understanding, Lacy asked. "What bet?"

"Oh, Griff and Michael wanted to know if I was gay or straight."

"And…. what did you tell them?" Very curious at her partner's answer.

Gage gave her a lascivious smile highlighted by a sexy wink before she kissed her lover soundly. "I said I was….." Dropping her sultry voice to the lowest register again to repeat her announcement. "Sexual." Claiming the sensual lips before her once more, Gage savored the sweet taste as she begged entry with her tongue, gaining permission to enter.

Lacy finally broke the kiss struggling to refill her deflated lungs. "Sweetheart, you take my breath away."

"God, baby, I love you so much." Gage husked. Then quite out of the blue a thought occurred to her. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

"What?" Studying the regretful green eyes she intently stared into. "What is it?"

"I know you don't like that…. word." Gage shied away from the blue eyes pinning her.

"Sweetheart, I haven't the foggiest idea what you're talking about."

"Babe, baby…. you know." Gage barely spit out.

"Oh…." A past morning of remembrance dawned on her. "Sweetheart…." Lacy swung her lover's head back around to face her. "When David called me 'babe', I didn't like it. Not at all. It was as if I was USDA grade A stamped and certified, like a prized piece of meat." She kissed Gage. "However, when you call me 'baby' the sensual way you say it, I feel embraced in love. So very special." Placing her hand over Gage's heart, Lacy concluded. "I know it comes from here."

"Is that why he changed your 'nudity' clause? Because he wanted to show you off?" Gage asked reluctantly.

I wondered when this was going to come up. "I suppose. That… and the fact that it's a sure fire way to draw more people to the picture." Lacy explained. "Does it bother you? My showing….."

Gage simply nodded.

The star allowed a deep sigh to escape. "You want to talk about it?"

Gage shrugged.

"What do you want to know?" When Gage shrugged again, Lacy insisted. "Sweetheart, tell me how you feel."

"I don't care for the rest of the world to see you like…." Looking at her lover's naked body. "Like this."

"I've never been totally naked, Gage." A bit annoyed now.

"And, David probably thought it was great. Here, his wife exposed to the world her sexy body and I bet he gloated, stroked his ego, I'm sure." Gage's voice held a definite tone of disgust.

Lacy pursed her lips and shifted slightly from under her lover. "I agreed to it, you know. It wasn't all David's doing."

"Yeah. And, I've got the pictures to prove it." Gage confirmed unwittingly.

"Pictures?"

Great! Gage exhaled deeply, shoulders slumped then she rolled off Lacy. "From the men's magazines you posed for."

"I see. It's okay for you to….. to ogle me, but no one else can." Lacy spat out.

What could she say? It was true. When it came down to it, Gage didn't share well with others. And she certainly didn't want to share what the two of them had with each other in any way, shape or form. There was one fact, though, that Gage couldn't dispute. All of this, the pictures and even the renegotiation was well before she'd met Lacy. I have no right to….. Carefully snuggling back up to her lover, Gage whispered sincerely. "I love you."

Those words taking the wind out of the raging sails Lacy threw up only a few moments ago at Gage's insinuations, she said. "I know that and I love you. And, remember when we were at the cabin…. you said you would trust my decisions."

"I did. I do." Gage recalled her pledge to trust the woman she'd loved even though she didn't agree with some of those decisions. Reflecting back a few moments regarding Lacy's initial statement, Gage continued. "You said earlier that Griff liked me. That is so hard to comprehend. Why me?" Gage laughed. "You're the one that half the people in the world either lust after or fancy themselves in love with."

"And that bothers you." Lacy stated the obvious. "I do have lots of fans and on the set people cater to me like I really was some kind of star. Sweetheart, you remember when you saw me wash dishes for the first time?" Gage nodded. "Even you had a certain bias about me when we first met. I'm just a person like everyone else and a mother and a woman….. who loves you very much."

"Are you mad at me?"

"No…. though I was getting there." Lacy closed the distance between them lounging her body fully against her naked lover. Lips connected with other lips then Lacy continued. "When you said 'I love you'." Another kiss. "I felt… the…. it dissolved completely with those words. I don't think I could ever stay mad at you with the way you say that to me."

"I love you." Returning the heated kisses. "I love you so…. so very much…" Gage's voice dropped again for the third time that night to its lowest register. "Baby."

No more words were spoken till early morning light. What transpired through the night let loose a raging river of emotions as the couple rode wave after wave of desirous crests coming together to a shore that beckoned them where they would lay safe on the sands of time for eternity.

Chapter Ten

The first week shooting her movie passed quickly for Lacy. She took time off Monday of the second week in order to take Dani to school her first day. Gage accompanied her along with Derek. By mid-week, the new family settled into a fairly regular routine. Lacy was up at five a.m. and out within the half hour while Gage and the kids slept in until it was time to get Dani up and ready for school.

This morning Gage was particularly anxious. After she dropped Dani off at school and asked Chance to watch Derek, Gage left for the studio. This was the big day for the love scene Lacy was filming with the ever-flirting Koda Kannon.

When Gage arrived on the movie set, Griff pounced on her noting this was the first time the writer showed up without one or both of the kids. "Hey, glad you're here."

"Hi Griff." Gage said casually, her mind definitely focused on another woman.

"Today's the big day. Everybody's gonna be there." Griff rubbed it in.

The writer shrugged moving away from her toward Lacy's trailer, hoping to find her there. The night before Lacy suggested Gage come alone to the set before the upcoming love scene. Her intention was to reassure her partner of her love before and after shooting the scene.

"Are you gonna be there?" Griff followed the blonde.

"No."

Grabbing her shoulder, Griff twisted Gage around. "I've got something I'd like you to see later. Mind if I drop by Lacy's trailer?"

"Sure." Gage mumbled off-handedly. She couldn't care less about what the redhead was saying. Leaving Griff behind, Gage hesitated then opened her partner's door. I trust her. I trust her. She loves me.

Dressed in a robe, Lacy turned when the door opened. "Gage, come in…. come here." The star welcomed her partner with a slow, sizzling kiss meant to reassure her lover. "I love you."

Pulling Lacy to her, Gage slipped her hands under the untied robe easily gaining access to the luscious body it only slightly covered. "I love you, too." Things overheated quickly between the two as they exchanged passionate kisses. Reluctantly dragging herself away, Gage said. "Chance is watching Derek and I dropped Dani off at school."

Noticing a distant cool breeze emanate from her partner, Lacy asked. "Sweetheart, what's wrong?"

"I love you, Lacy." Gage smiled, kissing her again. "Just don't want to get you too worked up before……."

Lacy sat on a nearby stool then pulled her lover between her legs. "Please don't equate what we have to the love scenes you see in the movies. It's all choreographed before hand and there are a gazillion people milling around…not to mention the bright, hot lights beating down on you. It may look romantic even sexy, but it is far from it."

"I know." Brushing Lacy's bangs away from her face. "I trust you. I really do." Gage confirmed her words with a kiss. "But, I don't trust octopus hands."

A small giggle escaped Lacy's lips. "Neither do I. I can take care of myself, sweetheart. Really I can." Lacy wrapped her hands on her lover's hips pulling her closer between her own legs. She leaned in planting tiny kisses along her lover's collarbone up to the very sensitive spot just behind Gage's ear.

Gage sucked in a deep breath. "Okay, if you don't stop we'll be doing our own love scene right here….right now."

Nuzzling her neck, Lacy said. "And your point is?"

Capturing her lover's lips, Gage melted into a deep, soul-searching kiss fanning the flames of love higher and higher. "Wow." The blonde broke away first. Attempting to still her escalating heart, Gage drew in several hasty breaths. "When you get back, we'll continue this. You do have the rest of day off…..after your scene, right?"

"Almost. Ryan wanted a costume change for another scene we're shooting next week so he asked if I would stay and get fitted." Lightly kissing her lover again, Lacy wrapped her long legs around her Gage. "I'll be home earlier than usual." Changing the subject. "You sure you want to wait here for me."

Gage nodded. "Thinking about it with my imagination is more than enough for me. No use having the actual vivid images ingrained in my mind." Placing her forehead against her lover's temple. "I love you….. so very, very much."

There was a knock at the door before Lacy could return the endearment. "I'll be right there." She called then said to Gage. "I love you more than I could ever find the words to say." With that, she kissed her lover once again soundly, reassuringly willing all the love she held for her partner in that kiss to traverse past any doubts straight to Gage's soul. The one she shared with her lover.

Lacy left her partner stunned, somewhat frazzled and completely bathed in the profound love they shared. Gage was still reeling from the sensual high Lacy lathered in her in when another knock at the door sounded. "Come in."

"Hey, it's me." Griff bounded in excited about something.

"Thought you'd be on the set."

"No. They got it under control. I wanted to show you this…actually, wanted you to sign it for me." Griff handed the writer a copy of Gage's first book.

Taking it, Gage said. "Wow. You actually found one. This is my first book….did okay I guess. They really didn't publish that many. It was a start at least." Gage sat on the couch searching for a pen on the coffee table.

Griff eased down beside Gage then scooted even closer. "Here." Handing the pen to the writer, Griff let that same hand drop to Gage's thigh massaging it.

Gage bolted back away from the aggressive redhead. "I think you've got the wrong idea here Griff."

Moving closer, the overheated twenty-eight year old puckered lips together preparing to kiss the blonde.

"Hold on. Griff!" Gage twisted around, laying the book on the coffee table freeing her hands just in case. "You're not my type."

Moving in for the kill, Griff husked. "I know… you're just…. sexual." Repeating Gage's self-assessment regarding her sexuality with smoldering green eyes transfixed on the blonde.

When Gage bolted up from the couch, Griff clamped firm hands on the writer's hips yanking her back down. It was a struggle. Surprisingly, Gage found the young redhead quite strong. Griff finally maneuvered the blonde below her leaning slightly on the open side of the couch, firmly planting Gage against the back of it.

"Griff, damn it, get up!" Gage insisted.

"No…. I want you and I always get what I want." The young woman's personality metamorphosed drastically from the sheltered life her father bathed her in while she still lived at home. However, five years of being on her own woke up the wild sexual beast that lay dormant all those years. It was loose now and preyed relentless after years of hibernating.

Still struggling, Gage finally twisted from under the redhead planting one foot on the floor, but slipped when Griff yanked her back down landing squarely on top of the young woman below her.

"Now I've got you where I want you." Griff let out a barely audible declaration.

Gage bolted her hands on Griff's lower arms then lifted once more against the demanding woman's squirming as the redhead attempted to tangle the blonde's legs. Both women were breathing heavily, scurrying around on the couch as each woman tried to gain the upper hand. Neither heard the door open and the loud gasp escape their visitor.

Griff was the first to see the stunned Lacy standing in the doorway. Blue eyes widened in total disbelief at the scene before her. "My God, what is going on here?" Lacy finally found purchase to the wild jealous thoughts running rampant in her mind.

Shocked, Gage swung her head around seeing her lover barely able to balance herself as Lacy wobbled back against the side of the door. "Ah…Lacy?"

The aggressor took the opportunity that presented itself and declared herself the victim. "It wasn't me." Griff slipped from under the blonde. Standing now, she straightened her blouse then casually picked up her book. "I just came in here wanting an autograph." The lying redhead shoved a copy of Gage's book to Lacy's chest.

Lacy spared a quick moment to look at it spying the name of her favorite author G. S. Ballantine marqueed near the top in bold letters. Realization dawned on the dark haired woman, thumping loudly like a book falling to the floor.

With a cavalier attitude, Griff tossed the book back at Gage then mustering a full head of self-righteousness, she walked out the door. Damage done.

"Lacy…." Gage pleaded then remembered she hadn't moved. Jumping up, the blonde hurried to her partner. "Lacy, I know what it may look like and…."

Returning her eyes to the book on the table, Lacy temporarily dismissed the two tangled bodies ingrained in her mind. Something deep inside her tempered the jealous rage she felt upon seeing her lover on top of someone else. It was another jealousy that reared its ugly head. "You're…… Ballantine?"

Sighing, Gage confirmed. "Yes."

Shaking her head violently, Lacy remembered the day she admitted to Gage that Ballantine was her favorite author. Shocked, Lacy asked. "Why didn't you ever tell me?"

Confused that her partner would target this item instead of the fact that she had just found her planted on top of the redhead, Gage sucked in a calming breath. "It… I don't know. It never really came up."

"At the cabin it did." Lacy countered forcefully, sure of her memory on the subject.

Thinking quickly, Gage replayed several past events in her mind. "Yeah, you're right. You mentioned something about when….. we were on the boat dock and the sheriff just walked up." Adding quickly. "After that, Dani got lost in the cave….Derek was stung and…." Shoulders dropped allowing a deep sigh to escape. "Lacy, it just didn't occur to me later."

Lacy coolly picked up the book, opening the front cover. Seeing nothing written there, she closed it. "You might want to think of something….." Her usual sensual voice cut sharply. "Special…to write." Handing it to the blonde. "Here…..I've got a love scene to do." With that, Lacy exited the trailer as quietly as she had entered. The only difference was the seething storm brewing inside her.

Gage plopped down on the coffee table tossing the book aside. Bewildered at the unexpected turn of events.

Lacy calmly walked back on the set forgetting about why she'd originally returned to her trailer, tossing off her robe revealing a nearly naked woman. "Let's get this show on the road." She announced.

Koda bolted up fleeing from his robe just as easily as his co-star did only quicker. Seeing a willing woman before him primed and determined, Koda jumped on the bed opening inviting arms to Lacy who fell into them effortlessly.

The director didn't waste any time calling 'action'. The smug male actor engaged fervently in his role with traveling hands roaming the seemingly free-range body of the beautiful woman in his arms. Even as Koda spoke his lines, he took liberties well outside the boundaries of what they had originally choreographed while preparing for the scene.

Ryan was pleased with the raw sexuality emitting from his two stars. This will look great on film. Having been concerned about Lacy's disinclination prior to the scene being filmed, Ryan listened patiently when the female star asked for a few moments then headed back to her trailer. When she returned, Ryan astutely noticed a complete personality change from timid and reserved to bold and capricious.

As Gage silently approached the set where Lacy was thoroughly engaged in a very hot and torrid love scene with Koda, the jealous flames of fire soared encasing her being in a covetous rampage. From the shadows, Gage simmered as she watched Lacy let the light haired Romeo have free rein. She silently watched Koda run his hands the length of Lacy's body traveling precariously close to sensitive areas. When Koda kissed her, Lacy returned the kiss with abundance, tongues entwining, fighting for dominance. Then when Lacy arched into the man rubbing the length of her body along his, the overpowering green-eyed sensations conquered her common sense erupting in a loud shout. "CUT!"

Everyone including the actors froze then slowly directed their attention to the shadows where Gage stood, hands balled. When Ryan redirected the crew's attention, the furious blonde strode determinedly toward the bed where Lacy laid up against Koda. Gage watched her partner yank the sheet over her effectively covering her from staring eyes.

At first, Koda anchored himself next to his co-star resolved to hold his position. Though when green eyes flared, he jumped off the bed as quickly as he jumped on it intending to avoid the stampede of one.

Through gritted teeth, Gage spit out. "So, this is what a love scene entails. You are either one hell of an actor or…. there's more here than you're letting on. Either way…."

Ryan dropped a steadying hand on the powered keg blonde ready to explode. "Gage, it's really all acting. Trust me." Yet, even Ryan knew Lacy was allowing Koda more liberties than she ever had for the love scenes during all the six years he'd directed her on the set of her cop show. "Come on, Gage."

Never leaving her partner's blue eyes the whole time, Gage finally relented as a tiny bit of logic seeped through her seething veneer. Barely containing the unshed tears that welled in her misting green eyes, Gage allowed a dark cloud of emotions overtake her. Well, I've finally done it. My worst nightmare. Embarrassed her…..shamed her. All for what? Shifting her eyes briefly to Koda then catching a glimpse of Griff standing half-way behind a stationary camera, Gage forced her now pained eyes to return to the woman she loved and vowed never to lose control of the precarious emotions dangling from a thread inside her. Gage sucked in a deep shuttering breath then she simply turned and walked away thinking that Lacy would never want to see her again.

Devastated by Gage's action, Lacy recoiled, fretting against boiling rage she felt inside threatening to overspill. But, Lacy was a true professional in every sense of the word. David had trained her to harness her emotions well. Many times in her life and career she would simply display a cool faćade in the face of unsettling situations. But none held the magnitude this one did, so far-reaching in her life threatening to collapse the newly built walls of their relationship.

When Ryan called for them to set up again, Lacy, still stunned, could only react with numbness as Koda engaged in his character's role. The amorous young man hoped the previous events would play to his favor. And, he was making headway until Lacy clenched her stomach and threw up.

"That sure kills it for me." The limp lusted Casanova retreated from the bed en route to his trailer.

"Lacy? Are you all right?" Ryan asked.

"Help me to …. my trailer." Lacy begged.

With Ryan's personal assistant nowhere in sight, Michael Jessop called an early break for cast and crew. As a passing crewmember drifted by, Michael asked. "You seen Griff?" A negative nod left the young man wondering what to do next so eventually he made his way to Lacy's trailer where the director had escorted the star. There he waited.

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

Ryan dropped Lacy off at Mark Calico's estate. Having listened to Lacy recount the events in her trailer between Gage and Griff, Ryan shook his head. "I can only say this. If Griff's involved….Lacy, trust me, she's not that innocent."

"You think she did it on purpose?"

"What do you think? That's what's important." Pulling his friend into a much-needed hug, Ryan finished. "What is your heart telling you? Your instincts."

"That I can believe her." Lacy drew in a shallow breath. "Though it doesn't explain her not telling me about the book."

"Does it really matter, Lacy?"

"What got me the most about it was…. that Griff knew… she practically threw it in my face and I… I should have known first?" Recalling her conversation with Griff at the party last week, Lacy said more to herself. "She knew then." Lacy unlocked the door then Ryan stopped her.

"Lacy, you should know Griff's the boss' daughter…. I can't fire her."

Hatching a very devious scheme, Lacy agreed. "Oh, believe me, that's the last thing I want you to do." A brief kiss on the director's cheek and Lacy was practically running down the walkway to the guesthouse praying that Gage was inside.

The director sighed heavily. "I think I've got trouble brewing on the horizon." Ryan mumbled as he sped away.

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

The evening slipped quietly by with both adults offering only laconic answers to mundane questions. Dani suspected something was brewing between her mother and Gage. Shrewdly recognizing humor would not foil the strained faćade held by the couple, Dani did the next best thing. "Derek and I are going to bed early." Screwing her face as if she was being put out, she concluded. "He wants me to read to him."

Happy with his sister's announcement, the young boy parachuted down from Gage's lap, grabbed his sister's hand and led her to their bedroom. "Night…night."

"Hey, come back here. Don't I get a kiss?" The mother hiked her eyebrows with a mock pout.

Derek and Dani swirled around, kissing their mother first then Gage before bouncing down the hallway. "Huwwy… wead to me. Now."

With the disappearance of the two children, the distant couple let silence fill the room. Each at one time or another covertly shied a rushed look at the other. Finally, Gage stood. "Well, I guess…. I should get my things."

"What?" Lacy asked in total disbelief.

Her back to Lacy, Gage explained. "I thought it would be easier for me to either sleep on the couch or Mark's got plenty of room……" Gage summoned her courage to face Lacy. "Unless…. you'd rather….. leave."

"You want me to leave? I mean that little to you?" The unshed tears that filled her eyes threatened to spill out. When Gage didn't speak, Lacy couldn't keep the dam from bursting, her head falling into her hands.

In a flash, Gage was on the ground kneeling before Lacy. She pulled the weeping woman into her arms as she felt Lacy's whole body shudder. For Lacy, there was no holding back the tremors violently vibrating through her body, shaking her to the core. Nothing, no one, had ever caused this much devastation of emotions in the young woman. "God, baby, I am so sorry. Griff set us up." Gage wasn't trying to justify her behavior just offered her assessment of the situation. "And, I should have told you about my pseudonym, but, honestly, it was never my intent to keep it from you."

Lacy's body continued to quake in her lover's arms.

"And, I know what I did on the set was…." Her eyelids cascaded shut as she sucked in a deep breath dreading to say the next words. "It was unforgivable." God, I've lost her. "Please, stop crying." The blonde begged even as tears filled her own eyes. Gage brushed back a lock of hair from Lacy's tear stained face. Drowning in the misery from the harm she had inflicted on the woman she loved, Gage offered a heartfelt apologize. "Hurting you… breaks my heart for I never ever wanted to hurt you." An indefensible sigh escaped before she sincerely offered. "If times heals all wounds then I wish for a thousand years before tomorrow brings a new day."

Something in those words penetrated through the hurt, the anger, and the rage arrowing straight through her heart to her soul. There those soothing, earnest words calmed Lacy, reassuring her and allowed peace and love to dissolve any remnants from the blistering feelings that held court before, reigning supreme. Gage's words catapulted this new feeling, overthrowing the old one encasing her heart and soul as it crowned itself victor.

Tilting Lacy's face up with both hands, Gage sincerely proclaimed. "I love you." And, for whatever time God gave them together she would restate that simple truth over and over again. "Please, will you forgive me…" Gage lowered her head slightly, begging. "Will you, please?"

Lacy determined to allow nothing on heaven or earth to stand in her way of being with her partner, her lover, her best friend. Recalling the time when Lacy begged Gage's forgiveness over her careless words regarding their relationship and her lover did just that so easily, she also remembered some other words she spoke. This is where I want to spend the rest of my life. "In your arms."

As Lacy's collapsed into her lover's arms again, the blonde didn't understand the comment, but relished the fact that she had another chance. And this time I will not screw it up.

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

Lying in bed together, Gage turned on her side pulling Lacy up against her. "Why did you come back to the trailer anyway?"

"Right before the…. scene." Lacy skipped over the misunderstood word. "Michael told me there were sounds coming from my trailer like someone was crying. I knew you were there…. I didn't really think it was you. Then Ryan called 'action' and, I don't know, I had to see for myself… just in case."

"Why would he say that?" Perplexed about what his motivation would be. Gage reasoned that he liked her, but dutifully kept a professional distance after the party.

"I'm guessing it was Griff…. like you did." Her gut feeling told her it was Griff. "Anyway, that should easily be cleared up when I talk with Michael."

Kissing Lacy, the blonde said. "You're too good for me you know that, don't you?"

"I think we're just right for each other." Smothering Gage's lips before they could counter her statement.

Dizzy from her lover's kiss, Gage protested. "I wasn't going to disagree. Lacy?" She captured concerned blue eyes. "I've never been that jealous. I didn't even know I had that kind of… rage inside. It felt like my whole world ceased in that moment when I saw you…."

"Same here when I saw you….." Lacy brushed warm lips against Gage's cheek letting her tongue glide over to the blonde's mouth cloaking it with her own. "You were kinda cute though."

"What do you mean?" This certainly caught Gage's attention having felt like a total imbecile for her actions.

"I can't say I…. appreciate the way you handled it. But, sweetheart, it was sorta endearing to see someone…."

"Make a fool of themselves?" Lacy turned away stifling a smile. Realizing that her lover was only kidding her, Gage asked in mock rage. "You making fun of me? Well, I outta…."

"What leave me?" Lacy taunted her lover with her teasing words. The reaction she received from the blonde shook her.

Gage's face turned stone cold. "I would.. never… leave you. Don't even joke about it."

"Earlier you suggested that I would want to leave you."

"I thought you wouldn't want me around anymore after….." Gage admitted.

"Never."

Gage leaned in brushing her lips against Lacy's cheek. "You're the only woman I love." A lascivious smile rose on the blonde's face as she rolled onto Lacy saddling herself between her lover's legs. Pressing her naked body against Lacy, a thought grew in her mind same as the baby grew in Lacy's stomach. "Oh, is this okay?"

"Yes. You're not going to hurt the baby. I like it when you're on top."

A quirked eyebrow preceded the blonde's next maneuver, flipping over carrying Lacy with her. "I like it when you're on top."

"Then I'm going to take advantage of my position." And she did. Lacy cuffed her lips to Gage brushing against them, sucking, lightly nipping and in total control as her willing victim allowed the woman she loved full access.

Roaming hands found their way to Lacy's hips then crossing the exposed backside of her lover, pulling her closer between her legs. Lacy shifted her leg up placing it exactly where Gage needed it the most. The blonde returned the favor causing a low sexual moan to flee from the raven-haired woman. Both women grinded against each other falling into a complimentary rhythm that escalated the lust-filled fire clamoring to the surface.

Gage ran her hands up and down her lover's smooth toned back sending shivers through Lacy. It only distracted her for a moment before Lacy placed a trail of hot kisses down her lover's neck coming to rest just above an exposed and firm nipple. Lacy sucked the breast, wetting it then exhaled. That little action stoked the fire even hotter in the blonde as noticed by the obvious shiver pulsating though Gage.

Suddenly, Lacy latched onto the breast suckling feverishly. Her right hand slid to the other breast, caressing it as her finger twirled around the nipple ascending it to its peak.

A very audible appreciative moan surfaced from the woman benefiting from all the attention her lover gifted her with. She wanted to return the good deed so Gage slipped her hand between Lacy's warm legs until she reached the intended soaked target.

The star broke away from her feeding ground only long enough to announce her approval. "God, sweetheart, oh, God, yes." Lacy smothered the waiting breast once again as she continued to grind into her lover harder and harder. Bringing her lover so close to the edge, Lacy temporarily suspended her actions.

"Baby, please….don't do this to me." Gage wiggled against her lover, thrusting her hips, trying to re-ignite the simmering flames.

Knowing she held the key to Gage's complete and utter satisfaction and that she was the only one who ever would, the younger woman stoked the fire flaring feverishly, pushing her lover over the orgasmic precipice then Lacy joined her in sweet, heavenly bliss.

Long moments later, Lacy still lay on top of her lover cooling from their lovemaking. The lathered moisture beaded on both of them sensed the cool air caress their bodies as they fell to earth. "Gage?"

"Mmmmmm."

"I want you to know I'm sorry, too. After the trailer incident…." Lacy wanted to come clean. "The scene with Koda, I… intentionally let it go too far."

"I know." Brushing back clinging wet bangs from her lover's temple. "You were hurting…. and I was the source of your pain."

"No. You're the source of my happiness…. my reason for living. You and…"

"I know… the kids." Gage laughed then kissed her spent lover. "And, I wouldn't have it any other way."

With that said, Lacy returned her head to Gage's chest listening for the reassuring pounding of the heart she loved. "Me neither."

Chapter Eleven

Dani and Derek sat quietly at the table watching the older couple fix breakfast. Neither woman strayed far from the other as they remained in constant contact, touching and kissing while smiles bloomed like flowers in springtime. "Jeez, somebody's happier this morning than they were last night."

As Lacy stood at the stove, Gage wrapped her arms around her partner laying her head on the younger woman's shoulder. "I love you."

Dani conspiratorially leaned toward her brother. "I bet Gage said she was sorry first."

"Jage?"

"Yessss?" Gage winked at him.

"Mom? How come you're not gone yet?" Dani asked. Her mother was usually up and out the door by five-thirty each morning.

"I have a late call today. And, besides, this is Derek first visit to Dr. Charles. After we drop you off at school." Lacy tapped her daughter's nose then sat a plate full of food before her.

"Where's my usual Captain Crunch?" Dani asked.

A well-sculptured arched eyebrow tossed the silent question to which Gage fumbled the response. "It's been… hectic… in the mornings…..we don't always have cereal." Gage shot the little tattle tail a mock smirk. "Thanks a lot, Dani."

"Hectic?" Lacy asked.

"You know, mom, some people just can't get up in the morning." Dani supplied the missing key.

"Oh." Studying her daughter, she then asked. "How's your ears doing?"

"Fine." Dani spat out quickly, knowing her mother was concerned with the slight infection she had after getting her ears pierced. "Did you know I was the last of my friends to get my ears pierced? How embarrassing." Her last words only housed a small trace of seriousness to them.

"Saved the best for last, huh?" Gage offered off-handedly.

"Gage, how come you always turn things around?" Dani asked seriously.

"Huh?" Gage did a double take upon being asked that question. "Oh, I don't know." In a rare moment, Gage pensively revealed a well-concealed nugget of truth about her childhood years. "There was so many things that….happened. I just tried to get away and.. change it in my mind." Shaking herself from that dark memory, Gage collected her emotions. "I made a game of it. If someone insisted it was dark out, I pretended it was light."

"You do live in your own world, don't you?" Dani astutely recalled Gage's wild imagination when it came to storytelling.

Lacy stood when she heard the telephone ring. "Dani? Finish up."

Gage cleared the table then grabbed the small boy while Lacy talked on the telephone. When she sat Derek on the couch, Gage noted the disappointed expression Lacy wore. "What is it?"

"Ryan. They've changed the schedule. He wants me in as soon as possible." Lacy watched her daughter walk back in from her bedroom with books in hand. "Come on, honey."

Gage stopped Lacy at the door. "It's okay." Pulling her lover in for a reassuring hug. "Derek and I can go it alone this time. It's only a consultation."

"I know." She said sadly. "This is exactly why I wanted to take some time off. I'm tired of missing out on my children's lives." Glad to be able to share her burden, Lacy finally accepted the change of plans. "Maybe I'll get out early today."

"Come on, mom. I get to try out for the swim team today." Hurrying Derek along the path to the car, he sidestepped his sister, dropping down to his knees. Safely eluding Dani's barricaded legs, Derek ran toward his mother. "Momma."

Whisking her son up in the air, Lacy pulled him in for a huge hug. "I love you."

Safely tucked in her arms, away from his demanding sister. Derek smiled shyly. "Love you, too, momma."

Opening the door to the jeep, Gage beckoned. "Everybody in."

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

Just outside the studio door, Lacy leaned across the seat and kissed a very surprised blonde. "See you tonight. No, you're coming back here after your visit with Dr. Charles, right?"

Flabbergasted, Gage like a mime sat there unmoving.

Tenderly brushing her fingers against Gage's cheek, Lacy said. "Sweetheart, after yesterday, I think everyone knows."

"But, I thought….."

"It wasn't going to work anyway. I don't think I would have been able to keep my hands off you much longer." Lacy resigned herself to the inevitable fact.

"It hasn't even been two weeks." Astonished, but feeling the same way.

"Are you protesting?" Artificial disappointment spilled out in Lacy's voice.

"No!" Then Gage asked weakly. "What about waiting till the divorce is final?"

"Sweetheart, I don't give a …." Quickly shifting her eyes to her son strapped in his car seat, Lacy amended her original thought. "Besides, this way everyone will know who you belong to and…. vultures like Griff won't think they have free rein."

"Your career?"

"My…. career will….. que sera sera." She kissed her partner soundly once more. "Whatever will be, will be, but there will always be us…. no matter what."

Happy to indulge in the luscious lips presented her and reaffirming words, Gage gently reminded her lover. "We were going to refrain from public displays of affection not for us so much or actually even for your career, it was in case of custody problems…. you know."

Shoulders slumped with a deep sigh before Lacy responded. "David's David and he'd only fight it if it would serve him in the long run."

"That's what I mean. Can we take that chance?"

"Sweetheart, do you really think that either you or I would ever let anyone take….." Again, she fondly looked at her innocent son. "Them away from us?"

Cupping her hand behind Lacy's neck, Gage pulled her lover in for a deep kiss. Breaking away slightly, lips still touching, her partner vowed. "No. Never." Gage winked at Lacy. "Now, get on out and go make some money. Somebody's got to keep us in the lap of luxury to which we've become accustomed."

Somehow living in a two bedroom guesthouse with no housekeeper to speak of and driving an eight-year old SUV did seem like the very lavish lap of luxury to which Lacy had never experienced before. Even the mansion she shared with David, though, opulent and it reeked of high society was nothing compared to the lap she now sat in. Blonde, beautiful and bold. God, I love that woman, Lacy thought as she watched her son disappear into the distance in the secure and safe care of her partner.

"Lacy?"

The dark haired star twisted around. "Oh! Hi Phillip." She walked past him.

"Lacy! Why haven't you returned my calls? David said…." Phillip Winnigear ran to keep up the tall woman's long strides. "He said you'd cooperate."

"He doesn't run me."

Mumbling through hurried breaths. "When did that change?"

Turning on a dime, Lacy came to an abrupt halt. "Since I realized what a snake your nephew really is." Phillip was clearly shocked by her words. "David is a cad… plain and simple. However, he is the father of my children so…..what did he tell you?" Lacy resumed her journey to her trailer.

"I had several events set up for you to attend. You've missed two of them already." Her publicist stated adamantly.

"Phillip, I am not going to be herded around town ever again." Pooling a quiet calm against the irritating man before her, Lacy continued. "Give me a list of what you have scheduled for me…..but, no more." Arching a menacing eyebrow at the much shorter man. "You got that."

Phillip shoved the prepared agenda at her then departed swiftly commanding his feet on a direct course to his nephew.

Lacy scanned the paper quickly before opening her trailer door. Good only two events.

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

"Okay, Derek. Can you say 'rain'?" Dr. Charles assessed the extremely shy boy who refused to leave the blonde's lap.

Derek buried his head deeper into Gage's chest. "He's a little shy."

"Little?" Dr. Charles exhaled a thoughtful breath. The doctor perused the chart. "He's three?"

"He'll be four in November." Gage supplied.

The thirty-five year old doctor glanced inquisitively at the blonde. "Has he always been like this?"

"Since I've known him, yes." The doctor's arched brow demanded further explanation. "Nine weeks."

"You're not his mother?"

"Oh, no. She had to work. I'm……" Gage thought furiously then said proudly. "His hero."

"Jage…Genty." Derek nodded his head against the blonde's chest.

A satisfied smile waged war with the doctor's deep scowl. "I see." The doctor finally relented. "In order for me to treat him, I need to get him to talk so we can pinpoint the problem areas."

"We can do that. What words do you want him to say? He'll repeat them to me if we make a game of it." Gage straightened up in her chair. You may have a Ph.D. but I can get him to talk. With that the doctor offered Gage a list of words that she enunciated and Derek repeated albeit unevenly.

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

Lacy and Koda sailed through the early morning scenes with ease, progressing smoothly. Even the ever-handsie Adonis kept them in check. He was on his best behavior. Then after the lunch break, it was obvious Koda's mind had left the building. When he failed to pick up his line, Ryan yelled. "Cut. Everybody… take five. Michael?" The director walked over to the distant actor. "Koda, what's the problem?"

"You wanted me?" Michael Jessop asked.

Jerking his head to a far corner of the set, Ryan asked. "What's he doing here?"

Seeing Tony Kussler leaning up against a wall jamming a donut in his mouth, Michael answered. "Said Griff let him in." Both of Ryan's eyebrows shot up. "I know…. find Griff and…. get rid of him."

It's not that the director wanted to make enemies of anyone in the entertainment press, it was just that the likes of Tony Kussler was by virtue of Tony being Tony a piranha without a cause. He didn't need a motive to devour a celebrity, but God help the one that gave him a reason. And, Ryan White accurately deduced that Lacy Levine had done just that at one point.

Glad of the reprieve, Koda slipped off the set silently. When the director returned his attention, the actor was nowhere in sight. "Hell! Lacy?"

She shrugged.

"This is just great…..just….. great."

"You wanted me, boss?" The redhead squared herself directly opposite the dark haired star putting Ryan in between them.

"Kussler?"

It was the one word she didn't want to hear then replied. "David."

That was the one word Ryan didn't want to hear, but it didn't surprise Lacy. "All right. We've got another…. love scene tomorrow morning. And, it's a closed set." Griff was about to protest. "Your father knows and it's my call. I do not want him on the set tomorrow. Got that?" His stern eyes pinned the redhead then moved to her assistant, Michael, as he walked up.

Like rapid fire both heads nodded up and down.

Then Michael cleared his throat cautiously. "Uh, Mr. White? Koda's left the studio."

With that Lacy hugged him. "Ryan, looks like I get out early." She didn't mean to tease her old friend. As a matter of fact, he looked like a lost puppy dog with his sad brown eyes, but it did mean she'd be able to call Gage, be in time to pick up Dani and maybe, just maybe, they would do something special. "Call me later."

After she'd left heading to her trailer for a quick change, Michael said softly. "Hayston Rawlings in the hospital."

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

Ryan White was a man on a mission. He barely caught up with Lacy informing her of the news before she left, re-routing her tentative plans. Several phones calls later to Ron Griffen, the hospital and numerous attempts to reach David, the director called an impromptu meeting for the rest of the cast and crew. Now, he was undergoing necessary rescheduling for Ryan knew a secret that was festering to be uncovered.

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

Deep from her drug induced state Hayston Rawlings heard a small knock at the door. "What is it?" The weak response emitted softly barely penetrating the wooden door.

Lacy pushed the door open slowly, peeked in then stood fully erect. It's time. "Hayston?" Lacy approached her old co-star. "How are you doing?"

The younger woman lethargically swung her head around meeting concerned blue eyes. "Surprise, surprise. You're the last person I expected to see here. Come to gloat?"

The older woman scooted a chair up next to the bed. "No."

"Then what did you come for? David?"

"Because I care." Lacy simply stated.

The startled expression on Hayston's face mixed a pinch of doubt with the shade of understanding in the truth of Lacy's words. "Well, well….. you're a better person than I am." She declared with a tinge of biting sarcasm. The fact that Hayston was doped up from her recent ordeal broke down her usual staunch wall of protectiveness. Studying her old friend carefully, she continued. "You're sure you aren't here to rub it in?"

"No." Lacy lightly rubbed the hospitalized woman's arm. "I'm sorry…. about the baby."

Hayston shrugged. "David didn't want it anyway."

This was all too familiar territory for Lacy remembering when she offered the happy news to her husband that they were expecting a baby only to receive a very dour, glum look of disapproval.

"He hasn't even came by yet." Hayston stared out the blind-covered window then mumbled. "Can't believe Koda did."

Barely able to pick up the young woman's last words, Lacy asked. "What?"

Dismissing Lacy, the sun-streaked blonde rerouted the conversation. "You want to know why?" Relieved in a way for this long-awaited confrontation with her co-star over David, Hayston broached the subject she'd so carefully hidden for more than a year.

Lacy thought she'd heard Hayston mention Koda Kannon's name but wasn't for sure. Why would he visit her? Recognizing the change in subject, Lacy prepared herself. "Only if you want to talk about. Hayston, I can't say I wasn't angry….. at a complete lost, actually, when David showed up at the cabin with the divorce papers, but….. the signs were all there."

"And, you were too naēve to recognize them." Trying to be sarcastic but failing miserably. She never could wage a battle against her ever-optimistic and loyal friend. "You're too damn nice Lacy. I hate that in you."

"I think what you hate is that no matter what you do…. you're a nice person….. deep down." Lacy realized during the six years of filming the cop show with her co-star that no matter how hard Hayston tried to put on this front of being a real bitch, the blonde would eventually allow a very small crack to open revealing her true vulnerable feelings to surface.

"You really believe that crap? After all I've… done."

"Hayston, you try too hard to give off this impression of being….. mean."

"A bitch, you mean." Hayston corrected her.

"Okay, I'll go so far as say… nasty." Lacy smiled causing both women to share a rare laugh together.

"I could never stay mad at you, Lacy." Hayston admitted then decided to come clean. "And, believe me, I tried. You know, I hated you because you had this perfect life….husband, kids, career."

Lacy's sad eyes cast a reflective thought. "It wasn't that perfect."

"To me, it was. You had everything I wanted. I was barely eighteen when I first met you and I thought… now this is the kinda of life I want. You had it all." Hayston scooted up in bed, straining against the pain. "It all seemed so easy for you. You know, I asked…. no, demanded that David kill your character off. When you said you were quitting, I knew David wanted to do a spin-off of CRACKDOWN so I insisted that Samantha Gordon die just in case you ever decided to come back on the new show and…. take over."

"That was never my plan. You have to believe me."

"Oh, I know that now. But, I couldn't take the chance. David and I were together….." Hayston spared the dark haired woman a glance.

Touching Hayson's arm, Lacy said. "It's okay. Everything worked out for best." Smiling at the thought of a certain green-eyed blonde with whom she was absolutely, totally, deeply in love with. I never felt that for David… not even Jason.

"I refused to sign for the spin off until he divorced you. Did you know that?" Studying her ex-co-star carefully.

"Leverage, huh?"

"In a nutshell. Of course, my real leverage was the baby. David can be a real bastard. If you know what I mean."

Nodding, Lacy reminded her. "But, he's your bastard now."

"Thanks. Just what I wanted." Hayston said casually about her self-fulfilling dream of capturing the very good-looking and successful producer.

"Is he? Is he really what you want, Hayston? Because if he is then you're going to have to stay in there and fight for him. David gets easily pre-occupied with his career and what others think of him." Lacy offered a succinct and accurate profile of her husband.

"I may be a lot of things, Lacy, but one thing for sure is that I'm a realist. David wouldn't have budged from his marriage with you unless I hadn't demanded…. threatened him with….." She let the rest of the words die on her lips.

"Maybe." Lacy said thoughtfully. "You have to decide what you want now. You're a very good actor… you don't have to try every trick in the book to get ahead."

"In this town? Do it on acting ability alone? Come on, Lacy, you are not that naēve." Glancing at her naēve friend. "Then again maybe you are?"

"Not anymore. But, getting ahead in this town is not worth it if you have to sell your soul." Knowing that would never could never happen to her now since her soul belonged to someone else.

"Would you think poorly of me if I said I never really wanted to have this baby?"

"No. It's a shame though. They're the best things in my world except…" Instead of presenting her feelings, Lacy simply smiled causing Hayston to thoughtfully reflect on the other actor's unsaid words.

"I wish I loved someone that much."

The warm loving smile that illuminated the star's face remained unchanged. "Can we put this little… feud to bed now?"

"Why not?" Hayston let out a wicked laugh. "That's where it started."

*************************
When Lacy left Hayston's hospital room, she ran into David who was slowly meandering down the hallway. "David? You're going in to see her finally?"

David pretended to be shocked. "I just heard about it."

Not believing him, she continued. "She needs you. And, if you really do care….. be gentle, but most of all be sincere." Lacy patted his chest. "You both need it." Lacy left her soon-to-be-ex-husband standing in the hallway outside Hayston's door in a state of quandary.

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

Wrapped in her lover's arms as they sat on the couch, Lacy recounted her conversation with Hayston and David while Dani was glued to the television set and Derek hovered at Gage's feet.

"Everything's settled then?" Gage asked.

"Ever thing settle then." Derek mimicked.

Lacy glanced at her son first then answered Gage. "We're on speaking terms. No hard feelings."

"Good." Gage said.

"Good." Derek repeated.

"I hope things work out for them." Lacy said to her partner, but watched her young son.

"Me too." The blonde agreed.

"Me too." Derek imitated.

"Honey, why do you keep repeating everything Gage says?" Lacy asked.

Derek gave a lop-sided grin to his mother.

"Ever since the doctor's visit, he's been doing that." Rushed words spilled out of Gage's mouth then she quickly stared at Derek defying him to repeat it.

The bright soon-to-be four year old recognized the game they'd been playing all afternoon so he hurriedly covered his face with his tiny hands and mumbled. "Doctor visit been doing that." And giggled.

"Okay. That's enough." Gage announced. "Dani?"

"Okay… enough. Dani." He repeated.

"Come get……" Gage started.

"Come get…." Derek copied.

Then Lacy took over seeing it was going to be a stalemate between the oldest and the youngest. "Dani, come get your brother? Derek…" Lacy helped him up from the floor and nudged him toward his sibling. "Go on… watch TV with your sister."

Finally, he did, leaving the two alone on the couch. "How'd it go?"

Referring to Derek's visit with Dr. Charles, Gage explained. "He'd only repeat the list of words the doctor had in order to assess the problem if I said it first….. and, that's when it started."

"I wish I could have been there." Lacy laughed.

"Hey! Mom, you're on TV." Dani pointed to the screen.

From her seat on the couch, Lacy watched the TV as she saw herself enter the hospital entrance then disappear while Tony Kussler provided the commentary. "Lacy Levine visited her one-time co-star Hayston Rawlings who was hospitalized today. The young star…." A picture of Hayston popped up on the screen. "….lost her baby fathered by Lacy's husband, producer David Levine. One has to wonder the motivation behind the visit. It's been rumored that David Levine has had a long-standing affair with Miss Rawlings and this was only recently revealed to his wife. While the divorce between Mr. and Mrs. Levine is still pending it seems to be amicable on the surface since they both attended party at the home of Ron Griffen, President of Griffen Studios, who is incidentally producing Lacy's latest film co-starring, Koda Kannon." A short film clip of Lacy and Koda in bed together during their love scene appeared on screen. "I guess Lacy Levine is not one to take things lying down….. at least not alone." Kussler smirked to his female co-star on the show.

Temporarily shell-shocked, Gage finally switched the set off. Gage stared at Lacy then she looked intently at the kids. When Dani finally twisted around, she asked. "Mom, what was that man doing in bed with you?" Her innocent blue eyes searched for an answer from her mother, but soon turned to the woman sitting next to Lacy.

Lacy laid her hand on Gage's chest. "Sweetheart, would you mind giving me a moment alone to talk with Dani about this?"

The blonde allowed a small sigh to escape before taking Lacy's hand in hers, kissing it softly then said. "Lacy….." Gage leaned in closer, whispering. "Is this a 'girl' thing between you and Dani I'm not supposed to know about or…is it a family thing?"

Astutely understanding the subtle distinction her partner was making, Lacy titled her head, kissing Gage. "Family….definitely a family thing." Then turned to Dani. "Come here." It didn't take long for Lacy to explain to her daughter that the clip was from the movie she was making and was similar to scenes she had done for her TV show. However, Lacy was livid that the scene was released to Tony Kussler for airing and planned to talk with Ryan White and Ron Griffen about this incident.

Continued in Part 4.


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