Until Soon

by indigal

Part VII

* please see disclaimers in Part I

Chapter 31

CJ's eyelids fluttered several times before opening to expose her sleepy, emerald eyes. She purred softly as she stretched her arms and legs, which were still wrapped possessively around the swimmer's body. The steady, rhythmic beating of Andi's heart beneath her hand nearly soothed her back to sleep again. She yawned, rousing herself from the most pleasant sleep she ever had. Tipping her head back, she focused sleepy eyes on her lover's face.

"Hey," CJ smiled.

"Hey yourself," Andi grinned. She wove her fingers through golden tresses before stroking lightly up and down CJ's back.

"Did I wake you?" asked CJ.

"Nah. I've been up for about a half hour."

"Just laying here?"

"Just watching you." Her statement earned her a hug from the basketball star, who buried her face against Andi's neck. The warm breath tickled Andi's skin. After an extended moment, the younger woman pulled her head back enough to see the blue-eyed woman. A smile decorated CJ's face. "What are you smiling about?" Andi asked.

"You. Me. Last night..." she revealed. She arched her honey-brown eyebrows up and down, still grinning at the older woman whose arms remained wrapped around her. "I woke up during the night, and at first I was confused because I thought it was all a dream but ˝"

"You've had those kind of dreams about me?!" Andi interrupted.

"I'll never tell," CJ whispered seductively. She stretched up and kissed the dark-haired woman softly on the lips. "So I'm smiling because I'm glad it wasn't a dream."

"Me too," Andi replied. She tightened her arms around the young athlete, drawing her close for a hug. "Your skin is chilled," she remarked. The grad student vigorously rubbed her hands over CJ's exposed shoulders, creating friction to warm her.

"That's 'cause I seemed to have lost my T-shirt last night," CJ teased.

"You didn't seem to be cold last night, thought," Andi teased back.

"The fire was roaring and ..."

"And?"

"A certain someone made sure I was pretty hot, even without my T-shirt."

"It was my pleasure, I assure you," Andi affirmed.

"It was very mutual," CJ replied.

They shared several soft, sensual kisses before CJ's stomach announced her hunger.

"I guess you're hungry," Andi noted. She rubbed the basketball star's belly as she grinned.

"You stimulated my appetite," purred CJ seductively.

"But didn't I leave you satisfied?"

"Very much so, but ˝"

"But?"

"It was so sweet, you left me wanting more." She pressed her lips softly against Andi's, deepening the kiss until her stomach roared again.

"I think it's time to feed the beast," Andi teased. "I brought muffins from the bakery in town. Interested?" A pair of dark eyebrows arched in question.

"I think I could be tempted," CJ replied. "Although... I'm quite comfortable right where I am." She grinned seductively and nibbled her way up Andi's neck to her chin. Almost immediately her stomach growled again, turning her seductive grin into an embarrassed grimace. "What time is it?" she asked.

"Nearly 11:00," replied Andi. She reached out to stretch, cat-like, before draping her long arms around CJ again.

"I haven't slept this late in... I can't even remember when. Of course, I never had such good reason to before..." She reached up and kissed Andi again before her stomach erupted with more gurgling. "OK, OK," CJ quipped, addressing her demanding stomach. "I'll feed you already." She turned to face Andi before continuing. "I guess I'll be taking you up on the muffin offer after all."

"Good," the taller woman replied. "I have some ideas for the day, so we can head out after we eat."

"Plans? Like what?" CJ asked, excited and intrigued.

"You'll just have to wait and see," Andi teased.

"You're just full of surprises, aren't you?" CJ jested.

A single, ebony eyebrow arched in response as a smirk crossed Andi's lips.

*      *      *      *      *

      "The town hasn't changed much since the last time I was here," noted CJ. She strolled next to Andi, occasionally brushing shoulders with the taller woman as they meandered through the side streets in the quaint New England town. As much as she wanted to hold Andi's hand as they walked, she knew that type of public affection would turn a few heads and she didn't want to do anything that would make her companion uncomfortable. To avoid the temptation to clasp the swimmer's hand, CJ dug her own hands into the pockets of her faded blue jeans, replacing the yearned-for physical contact with eye contact instead.

"When was the last time you were here?" Andi inquired.

"Four years ago. I came during freshman year with some of the girls on the team. For some reason, Coach canceled a Saturday practice so we drove out here to do some Christmas shopping."

"It's pretty here around the holidays."

"Yeah, it really was. There were a few inches of snow on the ground, and all the shops had wreaths and holly around the windows. By late afternoon, when the sun was going down, they turned on the holiday lights and the whole town looked like one of those miniature scenes that you'd set up under the Christmas tree."

"Hmmm. You're right, it does look like that."

"After we shopped, we had dinner at the Inn down the road. It's a really nice place and we lucked out with the early-bird dinner special, 'cause none of us had much money. The food was great, but the best part was afterward. We didn't feel like going back to our dorms, so we sat in the lobby of that big, fancy hotel, in their comfortable chairs in front of a huge, roaring fire and just hung out and talked for hours. We acted like we knew what we were doing, so people probably thought we were staying at the Inn. Nobody said anything to us." She giggled at the recollection.

"Sounds like a fun day," Andi commented. She grinned to herself, secretly pleased with her decision to end their day together with dinner in that very same Inn.

"It was the second best time I've ever had in this town," CJ replied.

"Second best?

"It became second best compared to today," CJ said softly. She bumped her shoulder against Andi's as they walked, then favored the swimmer with a dazzling smile. "Thanks so much for bringing me here. I'm having a great time."

"Me too," And replied. She smiled warmly at her blonde companion as they strolled along in silence. After half a block, the dark-haired woman paused in front of an artisan's shop. Placing her hand gently on CJ's forearm, she halted the basketball player with a request. "Do you mind if we go in here?" Andi asked. "My mom's birthday is next month and she likes these glass sun catchers that they sell."

"Not at all," CJ replied. "It looks like an interesting place."

"It is. They have handmade things by local crafts people and artisans, some of it very unusual." She held the door open and allowed the younger woman to enter before her. She smiled as their bodies brushed together in the narrow threshold. "The sun catchers are in the back," noted Andi. "Why don't you look around and I'll find you back here in a few." She smiled at CJ, who nodded her assent.

The flaxen-haired woman wandered around the small shop looking at the beautiful, handcrafted items. A solid cherry wood jewelry box with an intricate inlay pattern caught her attention, so she walked over to the counter to inspect it further. The wooden surface was polished smooth, highlighting the pink-brown tones of the unusual grain. She lifted the lid slowly, only to discover that the box itself was only part of the treasure. Inside were displayed pens, each one unique in design and shape. Some of the bodies were made of wood, others metal, and a few were enameled in deep, rich colors. The latter caught her eye. Carefully, she lifted up a sea green enameled pen, whose primary color was flecked with darker crystals of emerald and gold. The pen felt heavy in her hand, yet as she moved it into writing position, the balance and weight were perfect. Borrowing a pad of paper that was obviously left on the counter for just that purpose, she began to write Andi's name.

"Find something you like?" Andi purred. The swimmer stepped up behind CJ, placing her hand on the small of the younger athlete's back. Her warm breath tickled her companion's ear as she spoke. CJ found herself shuddering involuntarily at the contact, and she could barely refocus her thoughts to answer the whispered question. Finally finding her voice, she responded.

"I've never seen a pen like this before." CJ turned and placed it in Andi's hand for her inspection. The swimmer turned it over then held it up to look at.

"Yes, it's very unusual. Heavy, too."

"But it feels perfect to write with," CJ added. She blushed as Andi glanced down at the paper and noticed her name written there in CJ's neat script. "And I love the color," the younger woman continued. "It reminds me of ˝"

"Your eyes." Andi held the pen up and looked between it and CJ's eyes. She smiled at the match.

"Can I help you ladies?" a man's voice interrupted. Both women turned toward the deeper voice. "That's an excellent choice," he added, indicating the pen.

"Yes, it is," Andi replied. "I'll take it."

"Andiˇ"

"Consider it an early graduation present," Andi offered softly. She turned back to the man behind the counter and addressed him. "Do you have a box for it?"

"I'll bring one out for you," he replied before walking into the back room to retrieve it. Once he was out of earshot, CJ spoke again.

"But you don't have to buy me anything, Andi," she implored. She rested her hand gently on Andi's arm. "This weekend is wonderful enough. You don't have to do anything else."

"But I want to," Andi replied. "Let me get it for you?" Her azure eyes softened as two dark eyebrows arched up to reflect her request. The sweet look and soft voice were more than CJ could resist. The basketball star sighed softly and smiled, nodding her head in assent.

"It's beautiful," CJ replied. "I love it."

"I'm glad. Besides, every grad assistant needs to have a special pen. You can use it to take notes in class or when you're scouting recruits." She smiled and winked at CJ just as the salesman emerged from the back room with the box. Taking both the pen and Andi's credit card, he completed the purchase. Within minutes, the two women were back on the sidewalk, strolling toward the next interesting shop.

"Thanks again," CJ stated softly. She wrapped her arm around Andi's shoulders and gently squeezed her close. "I'll give you a proper thank you when we get back to the cabin." She winked at the swimmer then released her from the sideways embrace.

"I'll look forward to it," Andi replied, grinning. She paused, looking down at her watch. "We better head back this way so we're not late for dinner."

"But the car's this way," noted CJ. Her honey-brown eyebrows were crinkled in confusion as she pointed in the opposite direction than they were headed.

"I know, but the Inn is this way. We have dinner reservations in fifteen minutes." She grinned devilishly at CJ, enjoying the younger woman's reaction to her surprise.

"The Inn? But how ˝"

"Coincidence, really. But it worked out perfectly, don't you think?"

"You're amazing," grinned CJ. She shook her head slowly, locking her eyes with Andi. Impulsively, she threw her arms around the taller woman's neck and pulled her in for a hug. Andi warmly returned the embrace before walking towards the Inn with her arm linked through CJ's.

*      *      *      *      *

      "Looks like there'll be another beautiful sunset tonight," remarked CJ. She glanced over at Andi, who drove the Jetta slowly down the dirt road toward the cabin. The dark-haired woman looked away from the road long enough to make eye contact with her companion. She smiled.

"Perfect for an evening paddle," she commented.

"Paddle?"

"Yes, as in canoe. Can you canoe?" Andi laughed at herself. "Say that ten times fast." CJ smiled at the tongue twister.

"I'm better in the front of the boat, where I don't have to steer," the basketball star answered. "I haven't been out in one in a while."

"I'll take the back, then. We'll paddle up the lake and I'll show you some beautiful homes just north of here. This is the most still time of the day, as far as wind goes. The water will be like glass and the paddling should be easy. The colorful sunset will be a bonus."

"Sounds good to me."

The two women brought their things into the house before emerging once again and walking to the dock. Andi carried the paddles and life jackets. After retrieving the upside down canoe from the sawhorses near the dock, they carried it to the water's edge and set it down. Andi placed their equipment inside the boat then steadied it against the edge of the dock while CJ climbed in. Once she was seated, CJ returned the favor as Andi settled into her seat. The basketball player turned around to bestow a full smile on Andi before she pushed away from the dock and began to paddle.

The watercraft glided over the lake, leaving behind tiny ripples in its wake. Their paddles, stroking virtually in unison on opposite sides of the boat, made soft plashes as the wood broke the surface of the water. Although initially cool from the evening air temperatures, the women quickly warmed up from their moderate paddling effort as the canoe floated smoothly from the dock.

Once further away from the shoreline and the trees, the sky opened up and the women were surrounded by the brightness of another beautiful sunset. Yellows, oranges, and reds painted the sky and reflected onto the water's surface, giving the impression that the canoe and its two passengers were floating across the sky. When they were out near the middle of the lake, Andi called softly to CJ.

"Stop paddling for a minute," Andi requested. She lifted her paddle and rested it in the bottom of the canoe. CJ twisted around in her seat to watch the grad assistant, then followed suit with her own paddle. The canoe rocked for a moment while the two women settled their paddles, then the small boat became as motionless as the women in it. The yellow-orange water outside the boat was completely smooth as it mirrored the sky above.

The smell of the lake water mingling with a hint of pine wafted to CJ's nose and she inhaled deeply. She closed her eyes and smiled, finding herself completely at peace. In her mind, the only thing that could have improved the moment was if she had been facing Andi, or better yet, sitting next to the blue-eyed woman, yet she knew that was impossible in the precariously balanced canoe. She breathed in deeply again, and conjured up a picture in her mind's eye of the beautiful, dark-haired woman. Andi's voice interrupted her reverie.

"What do you think?" the swimmer asked,

"Beautiful," CJ replied softly, thinking both of her mental picture as well as the scenery. "It's so peaceful out here, and the sunset is simply amazing."

"Yes, it is. It's a perfect night for a paddle. Thanks for coming with me."

"You don't have to thank me. I'm enjoying it, too."

A splash on the side of their boat drew their attention as a black-headed loon pushed through the water's surface. Emerging with red eyes wide open, alert to the women and boat before him, he let loose with a yodel that initially startled both paddlers. After his short, cacophonous outburst, he dove back under the water leaving circling ripples behind in his wake.

"I've never seen a loon up close," commented CJ.

"Their markings are so beautiful," remarked Andi. "Last year a family of loons lived nearby the cabin, and every evening, right after dinnertime, they would swim by the dock. Martha, Karen, and I would take the lawn chairs down to the water's edge and wait for them to go by. They had five little babies that were so cute. Sometime, the babies would ride on the parents' backs."

"Do you come here often with Martha and Karen?"

"As Martha puts it, I have an open invitation to come up any time, with or without them. I have to admit that I really like it here. Not that campus is crazy-busy like a city, but it's nice to get away from people and deadlines and stress."

"You're lucky. This is a great retreat."

"You're lucky, too. I'm allowed to bring a guest." She arched an eyebrow and grinned at CJ, who had turned in her seat to smile at Andi. "So, are you about ready to unwind in that hot tub?"

"Silly question," CJ smirked.

"Let's head back." The two women retrieved their paddles and began stroking. Andi steered from the back of the canoe, directing their path back towards the dock just as the sun was dipping below the hills across the lake.

*      *      *      *      *

      The two women stretched out shoulder to shoulder in the hot tub, reveling in the heat of the bubbling water and the awareness of their mutual nakedness. With heads tilted back, they gazed up at the stars, basking in the glow of the moon as it peaked above the mountains across the lake. Andi slipped an arm around CJ's shoulders, pulling the younger woman closer. Turning slightly, the flaxen-haired woman nuzzled against the swimmer's body as the skin-on-skin contact increased her arousal.

"This has been another perfect day," CJ offered. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply against Andi's skin, inhaling a heady mixture of woods, spices, and outdoors. "Our walk through town, my beautiful pen ˝ did I mention how much I love it?" She opened her emerald eyes and focused on Andi's face once again.

"Only twenty-five or so times," Andi replied. She smiled down at the flaxen-haired woman in her arms.

"Well, make it twenty-six. Whenever I'm writing with it, I'll think of you."

"Don't start daydreaming in class, now..."

"Nothing wrong with a little daydreaming now and then." She burrowed deeper against the swimmer's lean body, wrapping her arms across Andi's stomach. Nibbling lightly, she trailed her lips softly up Andi's arm toward the swimmer's broad shoulder before she continued speaking. "And the paddling was spectacular. To see that sunset in the sky above and reflected in the water below was just... I can't even find the words to describe it." She paused and crinkled her nose and brow as she thought. "It was like being a part of forever. Thanks so much for taking me out on the water with you." Bringing Andi's hand toward her mouth, CJ placed small kisses on each knuckle before turning the hand over to kiss her palm.

"I'm glad you liked it." She squirmed a bit as CJ's sensual touches charged her body.

"I loved it. And dinner... being at the Inn with you was wonderful."

"The dinner was excellent," Andi agreed. "But the company was even better."

"So you like my company?" CJ asked seductively.

"Isn't it obvious?" Andi replied. "I love to be near you."

"How near?"

"Very near."

"This near?" CJ shifted her position and moved her leg over Andi's legs, straddling the swimmer's thighs with her knees, which rested on either side of the seat upon which Andi sat. After briefly raising out of the water to expose her breasts to Andi's devouring gaze, she slipped down below the water again as she lowered herself onto the older woman's lap.

With her legs spread widely across Andi's thighs, her already aroused clit became exposed to the bubbles that effervesced to the surface of the hot tub, tickling her sex as they rose. That sensation, combined with the pressure of Andi's naked skin against her own, served to further elevate her arousal. She murmured softly to herself, closing her eyes to delight in the sensation.

"God, you turn me on," whispered Andi. Her heart ached with desire as she gazed at the beautiful body before her, the moonlight glistening off the younger woman's wet skin. CJ's eyes opened slowly, revealing eyes dark green with yearning and passion. Reaching out her hand, Andi gently cupped the small, firm breast that floated just below the water's bubbly surface. Stroking lightly, she dragged her thumb across CJ's nipple until it pebbled beneath her touch. CJ's soft moan drew her attention up to the basketball player's face, where she noted her parted lips and heavy breaths.

With her other hand, Andi reached up and slid her palm behind CJ's neck, gently pulling the younger woman's lips down to her own. She paused when CJ's face was just a hair's breadth away and looked deeply in the younger woman's passion-hooded eyes before devouring her mouth in a searing kiss. Lips parted and tongues begged entrance then danced together as they explored each other's passion.

When they finally pulled their lips apart, both women gasped as their breath came in ragged bursts. A plaintive moan escaped from Andi's lips. Did my heart ever beat before I met her? Andi wondered silently.

"What you do to me..." the swimmer gasped. She leaned her forehead against CJ's as her rapidly beating heart pounded in her ears. "God, I want you." Every nerve in her body tingled with arousal.

"I am yours," CJ whispered. She opened her emerald eyes to peer into the deep blue pools of Andi's eyes. The offering, so simple yet so meaningful, touched the swimmer's heart deeply, rendering a spoken reply unworthy. Substituting action for words, she slipped her hand below the water's surface and glided down CJ's smooth, flat abs before tangling her fingers in the honey brown curls. As she reached the apex of the basketball player's legs, Andi could hear her breathing increase as the younger woman rocked her hips slightly toward Andi's touch.

The motion caused Andi's fingers to touch CJ's clit, which elicited a loud moan from the younger woman. So powerful was her need to please her lover, Andi was unable to take her hand away to slow their passion, which was quickly spiraling higher. Despite the fact that they were submerged in the hot tub, Andi could clearly distinguish CJ's wet arousal from the warm water in which they were submerged. The slickness of CJ's passion caused a pulsing of heat at her own center as she arched up her hips, pressing her hand more firmly against CJ's need.

The combination of the warm water, the cool evening air, and Andi's insistent touch made CJ's body vibrate with pleasure. She could feel herself slipping out of control. She pressed her hips against Andi's hand, begging for the swimmer's deeper touch. Sensing her need, Andi dragged two fingers slowly over CJ's clit before pausing at the basketball player's slick entrance. The moment her fingers penetrated CJ's hot center, Andi could hear her moan and could feel the silky pressure surround her fingers. Her heart stirred at the intimate pleasure that CJ allowed her to share. After a moment's pause, she partially withdrew the digits, much to CJ's displeasure.

With increasing urgency, the younger woman pressed her hips against Andi's hand while the swimmer held her two fingers erect, sliding them in matching rhythm to CJ's grinding hips. When Andi's thumb joined the dance, rubbing sensually against her clit, CJ called out loudly before coming while Andi was deep inside her. The warm, tight clenching around Andi's fingers testified to the intensity of the orgasm. Andi smiled, not removing her fingers until the last shudder left CJ's body.

"I never knew... a hot tub... could be... so much fun," CJ gasped. She rested her head against Andi's forehead and was held close in a loving embrace by the dark-haired woman, who responded with a throaty chuckle that vibrated against CJ's chest.

"There's something wonderfully erotic about water..." Andi began.

"So that's why you became a swimmer?!" CJ teased seductively. "Being around nearly-naked, wet bodies all the time..."

"Certainly one of the perks of the sport," quipped Andi. She placed her hand on CJ's cheek, drawing the other woman's face closer for a kiss before CJ rolled off Andi and onto the seat next to the her, pulling the swimmer onto her lap as she moved.

Wrapping her arms around Andi's narrow waist, CJ pulled the tall woman close so that her back rested against the basketball player's chest. Andi could feel CJ's erect nipples pressing against her back, which sent pleasant tingles throughout her body. She tilted her head back, resting it on CJ's broad shoulder. The motion exposed the swimmer's bronze neck to CJ's gaze and without hesitation the basketball player lowered her lips to nip at the soft skin.

Andi whimpered at the contact, her already-aroused body reacting strongly to the touch. CJ's hands dragged up from the older woman's flat abs to cup her round breasts, which were only partly submerged below the bubbles of the surface. The basketball player watched her own hands as they caressed and teased the soft swells, which caused the brown nipples to harden beneath her skilled touch. Andi's head rocked back against her shoulder as soft moans escaped her lips.

The forcefully bubbling water flowing beneath the swimmer's lean body had a buoyant effect, lifting her so that she floated near the top of the effervescing foam. Steadied by CJ's body, which pressed against her upper back and shoulders, her long legs floated out in front of her, stretching across the hot tub. CJ gazed with desire as glimpses of the swimmer's beautiful body emerged through the foam.

Keeping one hand on Andi's breast, CJ slowly dragged her fingers down the swimmer's chest and stomach before tangling them in her dark curls. The soft moan that tumbled from Andi's lips confirmed that the contact was indeed what the older woman was craving. CJ dipped her fingers lower, rubbing against the silkiness that had liberally coated the swimmer's swollen sex.

With long, slow strokes, she caressed Andi's clit, dragging her fingers low enough to tease at the entrance to the swimmer's hot core. Andi's body responded by rocking against CJ's hand with increasing speed. While the basketball player's hands kept up their sensual ministrations to the grad assistant's breast and clit, her mouth and tongue were trailing kisses between Andi's shoulder and cheek.

The sweetness of CJ's loving attention soon peaked Andi's arousal, causing her to gasp audibly as her body begged for release. Sensing her lover's need, CJ increased the pace of her stroking, matching the rhythm of Andi's hips until she felt the swimmer's body tense up for a moment before she exploded her release. CJ stayed inside Andi until she coaxed each wonderful wave from her body, then she cradled the swimmer in her arms and murmured wordless reassurances. They held each other for several minutes in a silent embrace.

"I have to remember to thank Martha for filling up the hot tub last weekend," Andi smiled. She tilted her head back and kissed CJ slowly and sensually as her body relaxed in the basketball player's arms.

"It was certainly a treat," CJ affirmed. "Much as I hate to say it, though, I think I've got to get out now. As it is, I'm so relaxed I'm not sure I have any bones left in my body ˝ due in no small part to you," she added, kissing Andi once again.

"True. I think we exceeded the fifteen minute max," Andi agreed.

"More at issue is what we were doing during those fifteen minutes, wouldn't you say?" She grinned.

"Quite right." She returned the grin, arching one dark eyebrow as she spoke. "Besides, I don't want to drown in this hot tub and miss out on a little bit of heaven on earth with you right here." Her remark earned her a resounding hug from CJ, who remained sitting behind the swimmer and holding her tightly.

"We can always take this party inside," CJ suggested. She was so wrapped up in Andi's passion that she didn't want the evening to end.

"I'll stoke the embers and get the fire going again. It'll be a chilly run from here to the cabin."

"I'm sure I can count on you to warm me up once we get there," CJ teased.

"That you can," Andi replied seductively.

*      *      *      *      *

      CJ sat back in bed, propped up against the pillows, watching Andi. The swimmer sat at the foot of the bed near the fire, drying her ebony locks in front of the roaring blaze. As she bended forward, shaking her head and raking her fingers through her dark trusses, CJ watched the cotton T-shirt creep up her back, exposing the upper swells of her butt as well as the soft, downy hairs of her low back. Never before had she felt so emotionally and physically connected to another person. She shivered as she thought about their hot tub experience a half hour ago, craving more intimate contact with the beautiful body before her.

As if reading her mind, Andi sat up and turned toward the flaxen-haired woman, smiling softly as blue eyes met green.

"It's pretty dry now," she announced. She stood, then added two more logs to the fire before coming around to the side of the bed and crawling under the blanket, which CJ held open in invitation.

Andi shifted onto her side, her body tucked up again her golden-haired companion. With her elbow bent and her head resting on her hand, she gazed at the beautiful woman lying by her side. CJ's green eyes were partially hidden beneath eyelids that were half closed as the basketball player reveled in her companion's nearness. A smile tugged on her lips, which were slightly parted. Andi could hear her increased breathing and could see the rising flush color her face.

She slid her hand under the hem of CJ's T-shirt and raked her fingers slowly around her flat stomach, eliciting a soft happy-noise from the younger woman. Her fingers trailed up to CJ's ribs, gliding softly in arching half-circles underneath the basketball player's breast. She felt CJ arch slightly to her touch, murmuring her pleasure.

CJ's arm snaked out and slid around Andi's back, stroking light touches in zigzag patterns across the swimmers back. Andi responded with a soft hum accompanied by warm breath that tickled the basketball player's ear. Suddenly the small distance between their two bodies became too great for either woman to bear. Andi was the first to close the distance, rolling further towards CJ then pressing against her as she leaned up to kiss the woman of her desires.

Their lips met in a frenzy of passionate kisses that elicited plaintive cries from both women. All day long, CJ had wanted to touch Andi, to reach out and wrap her arms around the tall swimmer and cover her mouth with kisses, yet their day in public as well as her apprehension of coming on too strong prevented her from acting. However, lying beside Andi, touching her provocatively, and hearing the older woman respond to her touch moved her to act on her previously restrained feelings.

With the wanton desire of one whose passions were quickly spiraling upwards and nearly out of control, Andi rolled over on top of the green-eyed woman until she straddled her hips, her body pressing against the younger woman's. They continued to exchange passionate kisses for several moments until Andi slowly pulled back, breaking their lip contact. She looked down into emerald eyes that were wide open in both disbelief mixed with eager surprise.

CJ looked up into azure eyes, lit from within by a fire of burning desire. Had she not felt equally turned on by Andi's assertiveness, she might have pulled her eyes away from the blue orbs that peered into her soul. Rather, she locked eyes with the swimmer and smiled seductively, encouraging the ebony-haired woman with her eye contact as well as her body language. She arched a single, honey-brown eyebrow, inviting Andi to continue.

With both hands positioned on the bed near CJ's shoulders, Andi hovered over the basketball player's body, maintaining enough physical contact with her legs and hips to tease the woman beneath her. Her dark hair, backlit by the roaring fire, hung down, framing her face. Slowly, she lowered her torso until she was practically touching the muscular body below her. Two cotton T-shirts separated their skin, yet Andi could feel her nipples pressing against CJ's aroused nubs. She lowered her face further until her lips hung just above the basketball player's. With pounding hearts and lips moist with anticipation and desire, they breathed each other's air.

"I want to feel your body against mine," Andi purred. She continued to gaze into CJ's eyes, waiting for a response. Dancing green eyes smiled their assent. Andi sat up and with one, swift motion, pulled the white T-shirt over her head, tossing it onto the floor. She watched as CJ's eyes widened and took in the beautifully toned, bare body before her. When CJ attempted to follow the motion with her own shirt, Andi stayed her hand.

"Let me," the swimmer whispered. Kissing CJ softly, she gently pressed the younger woman back down onto the bed. Then, with slow, worshipful motions, she began to undress her. Slipping her hands under the hem of CJ's T-shirt, she lifted the light, cotton material upward, dragging her fingertips against the basketball player's smooth body as she moved. Her flat stomach was exposed as Andi lifted up the material.

As the pale skin of CJ's abs came into view, Andi paused in her motion to gaze upon the expanse of smooth, flat skin. Moving one hand from the T-shirt's hem, she dragged it back slowly over firm skin. Her light touch elicited another murmur from the younger woman. Teasing her fingers over the skin's surface, she lightly brushed the white-blonde hairs that covered her companion's belly. She leaned down to kiss it once, dipping her tongue into CJ's navel before slipping her hand back beneath the shirt's hem to continue what she had started, smiling as CJ squirmed beneath her ministrations. She wanted to bring exquisite pleasure to CJ, to convey her love through worshiping hands and devoted lips.

"Raise your arms for me," Andi requested in a whisper. CJ lifted her arms as asked, pausing to trace the swimmer's cheek with her knuckles before resting both her arms above her head on the pillow. She was unaccustomed to giving up so much control to a lover, yet she sensed that she could trust the blue-eyed woman, who gazed down upon her with a heated mix of tenderness and desire.

Through the light cotton of the T-shirt, Andi could see the rapid rise and fall of CJ's chest as her breathing continued to come is short gasps. Her peaked nipples pressed against the thin material, announcing her arousal. The basketball player's lips were slightly parted, adding a breathiness each time she exhaled. Her body wiggled slightly as she watched and waited.

Andi slowly dragged her hands under the material, against the outer sides of CJ's breasts, then up the exposed undersides of her arms, which remained over her head on the pillow. With one gentle tug, the swimmer doffed the sleepwear then leaned up over CJ's body, her firm breasts teasingly close to the younger woman's mouth. Lowering her face to speak softly into her ear, the swimmer whispered seductively.

"Close your eyes and keep your hands where they are," Andi requested. She pulled back to look once again at CJ's face. The green eyes gazed up at her, questioning the request while blue eyes gazed back with passion and intensity. After a brief moment, a look of complete trust crossed CJ's eyes before they closed. "Focus your senses. Just feel me touching you," Andi purred. Two honey-brown eyebrows arched as a grin raised CJ's lips, but her eyes remained closed. Andi leaned down and whispered in a sultry voice, "No peeking." The warm breath tickled CJ's ear, causing her to shiver despite the heat of the fire and desire.

When she was sure that CJ's eyes were shut, she shifted her weight back, once again straddling the basketball player's hips. The sight of CJ's beautiful, naked body beneath her own, as if in perfect offering, had served to arouse her own need. She smiled as she thought about what she'd offer in return. My heart and soul, if she'll have them, she thought silently. She pressed her warm, wet center into CJ's golden curls, grinding lightly against the younger athlete's body.

CJ responded immediately by arching her hips under the weight of the older woman, trying to press herself against Andi's core. She fought against the urge to open her eyes and gaze at the beautiful, lean body that rocked on top of her. Desperately she wanted to reach out and pull that body fully down on top of her own, to touch the body that fueled her desire like no one had ever done before. Abiding by Andi's request, however, she kept her eyes closed and her arms where they were, focusing her senses on the warm, wet pressure of Andi.

Tickled by those golden curls beneath her, the swimmer could feel the wetness of her building arousal, but when CJ's hips began to move faster, accompanied by her increased breathing and soft moans, Andi intentionally slowed the pace to light contact. She watched as CJ's fingers clenched and opened as they rested tensely on the pillow over her head. The delay was near agony for Andi as well, since the rubbing had increased her own desire for release; however, she was not finished elevating CJ's passion.

CJ heard herself moan softly when Andi decelerated her grinding hips. She could have easily slipped over the edge of a pleasant orgasm if the rocking had continued. Instead, she felt her sex throbbing against the pressure of Andi's body as the older woman continued to straddle her. When the swimmer's body nearly stilled, CJ fought off the temptation to open her eyes to look at the woman who could light up her body with such apparent ease.

Andi simply sat back and watched as CJ stilled beneath her. The pale, muscular body glistened lightly, and her chest rose and fell with her rapid breathing. The ebony-haired woman looked with longing at the swimmer's breasts, slightly smaller than her own, and fought off the urge to lower her lips to them. She waited, wanting the basketball star to feel the weight of her adoring gaze. Andi knew that, in the absence of her physical touch, CJ would know she was watching her, caressing the muscular body with her eyes. She looked at the younger woman's face, the lids still blocking the emerald orbs behind them.

CJ's body tingled from Andi's stimulation, but the cessation of the other woman's touch continued to arouse the basketball player's curiosity and desire, and cause her imagination to wander. She envisioned Andi's eyes roaming over her body and was completely turned on by the thought. Thrusting her hips again, she tried to indicate her desires to Andi, who watched CJ's body as it craved her touch.

The basketball player's writhing and squirming had their desired effect. As much as Andi enjoyed the view before her, her wet and tingling body demanded a more active roll. Placing her hands on the bed near CJ's shoulders, Andi her lowered mouth until it hovered over her companion's breast. Softly, she blew on the pink nipple, watching in delight as it immediately responded. The younger athlete's glistening skin combined with the warm breath caused the nub to harden perceptively, accompanied by its owner's throaty moan. Then, starting several inches away, Andi touched her tongue to the light skin beneath her. Dragging her warm, wet tongue around the erect nipple in ever-narrowing circles, Andi slowly approached the hardness that ached for her touch. Just before she arrived at her destination, she lifted her tongue, disconnecting her contact.

CJ's moan expressed more disappointment than Andi could bear, so she gently lowered her lips to the basketball player's hyper-sensitive nipple. Upon contact, CJ inhaled sharply, her body electrified from the touch. Andi's patience was fast coming to an end as the swimmer moaned and writhed beneath her mouth. Responding to CJ's urgings, Andi sucked and bit gently on the tip of the erect nub, eliciting a sharp cry from her lover. Lowering her other hand, Andi gave equal attention to CJ's other breast, rolling the nipple between her fingers.

The flaxen-haired woman's body was on fire as Andi continued to suck and stroke her. CJ's hips arched up off the mattress, pressing her need against Andi's hot center. With eyes squeezed closed and hands clenched tightly over her head, she wondered how long she could endure. When Andi's mouth moved to the basketball player's other breast, CJ felt ready to explode. In one swift motion, she arched her back and dislodged the older woman, effectively rolling her over and lying on top of her before the dark-haired woman knew what happened.

"Hey!" Andi protested.

"Sorry," purred CJ, "but you exceeded the fifteen-minute rule in the sweet-torture pact." She straddled Andi and gazed upon her with deep green eyes that were alive with passion. "My turn," CJ added seductively.

She lowered her mouth to Andi's breast and licked the pebbled nub with abandon, eliciting whimpering moans from the woman beneath her. She wanted to devour her lover, to take Andi within her own body feel her inside, to share one place, one heart. With equal time devoted to each breast, CJ moved back and forth between the erect nipples, sucking and gently biting the tip in her attempt to consume Andi's body. The swimmer arched into her touch, lacing her fingers through the basketball player's blonde hair and holding on so that CJ wouldn't tease her by ceasing her ministrations. As she writhed beneath the strong, muscular body above her, Andi managed to bend her knee slightly, bringing her thigh in contact with CJ's wet, hot clit.

The younger athlete moaned loudly as the Andi's muscular thigh pressed against her throbbing sex. Immediately, she began rubbing against Andi's leg, her slick arousal further exciting the woman beneath her. Her arms were shaking from the exertion of holding herself up as she rocked and grinded her core against Andi. She released the older woman's tender nipple to catch her breath as well as to make a request.

"Touch me," she begged through panting breaths. She raised her body off Andi's slick thigh just high enough for the swimmer to slide her hand between them.

With a knowing touch, Andi's fingers gladly took over what her thigh had begun. Her initial touch met with silky wetness and heat, eliciting a soft cry from the younger woman. As her thumb stroked the basketball player's engorged clit, Andi slide her finger into the warm passage of her lover's desire. She felt CJ's body shudder as she plunged deeper before withdrawing slowly.

CJ could feel herself balancing on the precipice, knowing that another moment of Andi's touch would thrust her over the edge. Shifting her weight to balance herself on one very shaky arm, she lowered her hand to the apex of Andi's legs, dragging her fingers through passion-dampened ebony curls. As her fingers parted the swimmer's folds and found their mark, she could hear the older woman cry out softly beneath her. As she slipped inside the silky, warm passage, she could feel her finger being squeezed as Andi arched to press her deeper within.

"Come with me," CJ whispered. Her body began to tingle all over and she knew that the wave of her release was about to crash. With a final caress of her thumb against Andi's hard clit, her body exploded with her lover's, both women's aftershocks rocking their bodies against each other's as they held on, riding out the waves. For several minutes they trembled in each other's arms, whispering wordless reassurances and holding on tightly to sustain their intimate connection. After the quaking eventually subsided, CJ's spent body collapsed on top of Andi's. The two women's slick, hot bodies molded together as they wrapped arms and legs around each other.

"You. Are. Incredible," CJ managed to gasp as her breathing finally returned to a somewhat normal rate. Her cheek was pressed against Andi's chest and she could hear the older woman's heart still beating quickly. She completes me, she thought silently. She's what I've waited my whole life for.

"Unbelievable. You," was all that Andi could manage to respond. She placed her hands on either side of CJ's face and gently pulled the younger woman up so that she rested fully on top of her own body. Gazing at CJ with deep, blue eyes, she brought their lips together in a tender, passionate kiss. You are the other half of my soul, Andi reflected. As their lips parted, a single tear rolled from CJ's eye and dropped onto the pillow. Despite the relative darkness of the room, the emotion was not lost on Andi.

"CJ?" whispered Andi. She stroked the blonde woman's cheek with the back of her fingers. "What?" Dark eyebrows arched, pleading for a response.

"I... " She paused, closing her eyes hard as another tear followed the first. She opened her emerald orbs again to find concerned, cerulean eyes gazing back at her.

"Is something wrong?" A hint of worry colored Andi's words.

"No. Not wrong." She shook her head a bit from side to side. "Just the opposite."

"Tell me," Andi invited. She smiled slightly with soft, blue eyes.

"I... " Again CJ paused, biting her bottom lip as she struggled to give voice to her feelings. Andi watched the nervous gesture then kissed CJ's lips again, silently willing her the courage to open up. Andi's offering seemed to strengthen the basketball player's resolve. Closing her eyes, she released a deep breath then opened her emerald orbs again, looking at Andi with a noticeable, new-found sense of peace.

"You can tell me anything," Andi offered.

"I love you," CJ whispered. She blinked back another tear then locked her eyes on Andi's. "I couldn't share such an intense, passionate evening with you and not feel that way... and not tell you." CJ's heart began racing again as her anxiety mounted after revealing her heart and feelings to Andi. Her ears echoed with her quickly-beating heart and she found herself counting its beats as she waited for a response from the dark-haired woman. By the time she reached seven, the swimmer spoke.

"I love you back," Andi replied softly. Her lips formed a contented smile as deep blue eyes twinkled below her arched eyebrows. Saying those words was easier than she thought it would be and the warm flush and tingling feeling that flooded her body confirmed that her words were indeed accurate. Suddenly she felt giddy, and grinned broadly. "I really do," she added, punctuating the statement with a searing, passionate kiss.

CJ responded by throwing her arms around the older woman's neck and pulling her close, covering the swimmer's face with kisses. The effect was ticklish to Andi, who began to giggle.

"Do you have any idea how happy I am?" asked CJ. She paused her kisses to gaze into Andi's eyes.

"As happy as I am right about now, I hope," the swimmer replied. A smile decorated her beautiful face. Breathing a contented sigh, she kissed CJ's lips once more before she moved to the basketball player's side, still wrapping her arm and leg around her lover's muscular body.

Outside the cabin, the moon's glow cast blue shadows through the branches of the pines and birches. Pinpoints of starlight decorated the velvet sky, reflecting their fire in the still waters of the lake below. A shooting star dashing through the heavens was the only movement in the otherwise still night. Gaia's cycles continued that night as they had since the dawn of life. Inside the cabin, however, the women's lives had changed forever.

Chapter 32

      The cabin echoed with the gentle rhythm of rain beating off the rooftop. The pattern, steady and regular, blended subtly with the slowly beating hearts of the women sleeping inside. With bodies still wrapped together in love's embrace, they remained lulled in sleep by the consistent, soothing rhythms around them.

A crack of thunder caused the ebony-haired woman to stir. She wrapped a protective arm more tightly around the flaxen-haired woman in her arms, smiling as the other woman murmured softly. A second rumble caused dark eyelashes to flutter before opening slowly to expose crystal blue orbs to the rainy morning. Her azure eyes lit up as she gazed fondly at her beautiful bedmate.

What did I do to deserve this? the ex-swimmer wondered silently. Her heart overflowed with happiness as her eyes caressed the beautiful face beside her. She smiled and softly kissed CJ's forehead before enveloping the younger athlete in her strong embrace.

The grad assistant's loving gestures were not unnoticed by the drowsy woman in her arms. With her cheek pressed against the older woman's chest as they embraced, CJ could hear her bedmate's accelerated heartbeat. The tender kiss followed by the affectionate hug warmed the basketball player's heart and roused her from another wonderful night's sleep. She yawned and stretched before rewrapping her arms securely around the tall, lean body of the ex-swimmer. Tilting her head back, she opened sleepy emerald eyes to gaze up at Andi.

"Hey lover," Andi purred.

"Mmmmm," CJ smiled. "I like the way that sounds."

"I like the way it feels." She arched two ebony eyebrows and grinned.

The flaxen-haired woman shifted up enough to meet her lover's lips in a soft kiss. Her fingers brushed the grad student's bronze cheek and she reveled in the contact. Andi slid her hands down the younger woman's sides, pulling her body up so that they were face to face. They greeted the morning and each other with lingering, adoring kisses that reaffirmed the passion of the previous evening. After several moments, their lips parted yet they maintained intimate contact with their eyes.

"The rain on the roof sounds so relaxing," murmured CJ. She broke away from Andi's gaze and rested her cheek against her lover's chest once again, comparing its steady thumping to the soft patter of the precipitation.

"Perfect day to lounge around," Andi noted. She sighed contentedly and snuggled closer to the basketball player's warm skin.

"I wish the weekend didn't have to end," CJ lamented softly.

"Me either," Andi agreed. "But I promised you that I'd get you back to campus in enough time for you to finish up your work."

"Right... back to the real world." The younger woman's tone held a hint of sadness.

The two women remained quiet and still as the rain beat a steady pattern on the rooftop, interrupted occasionally by the rumble of thunder that echoed across the lake. Both women were loath to leave not only the bed in which they slept, but also the cabin in which their love was finally brought to life.

"You're quiet," Andi remarked softly. "What are you thinking?"

CJ remained silent for an extended moment, gathering her thoughts to form words with which to share her fears and dreams. Andi brushed the basketball star's back with the tips of her fingers, wordlessly encouraging her lover to share what was on her mind. Finally CJ lifted her blonde head and looked into Andi's blue eyes before speaking.

"How will things be when we leave here... when we get back to campus?" Her voice was soft, almost timid. Her head was tilted slightly to the side as she gazed at the ex-swimmer with questioning, emerald eyes.

"How would you like things to be?" Andi asked. She smiled softly and continued to brush her fingers up and down the younger athlete's back before tangling them in her golden tresses.

"Like they have been this weekend. I want there to be an 'us' when we get back."

"Did you think there wouldn't be?"

"You said yesterday ˝"

"That we should be discrete 'til you graduate. But that doesn't mean I don't want to be with you. I do... more than anything. I would like to make things work between us."

"I do too," CJ replied. She looked up shyly before continuing. "I meant what I said last night... when I said that I love you."

"I know you did," Andi replied. She placed her hands softly on CJ's cheeks before gently drawing the younger woman's face up and kissing her tenderly. "And I meant it when I said that I love you back." She smiled reassuringly at the flaxen-haired woman. "That won't change when we leave this cabin and get back to campus... exceptˇ"

"Except what?"

"Except to get stronger over time," Andi reassured.

"It's funny," CJ began. A small grin tugged at her lips. "I feel like I've known you all my life and have been waiting for you to come back to me."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. So what took you so long??!!" She poked the ex-swimmer playfully in her flat belly.

"I detoured at the school of hard knocks," she shrugged. "But I'm here now and I'm not going anywhere."

"I'll hold you to that."

"You can hold me anytime."

*      *      *      *      *

      "I love baby animals, especially puppies and kittens," said CJ. She sat sideways in the passenger seat, facing Andi as she drove. The basketball player's arm rested across the backs of the seats while her fingers tangled in the ex-swimmer's dark locks.

"I love that first cup of coffee in the morning," Andi began. She leaned her dark head into CJ's gentle touch, purring softly as the younger athlete played with her hair. "The first cup is always the best, especially if I splurge and use some light cream." She paused then continued. "Your turn again."

"I hate the fact that we had to leave the cabin," CJ pouted. She looked over at her dark-haired lover with gloomy, emerald eyes and down-turned lips. "I wish the weekend didn't have to end."

"And I hate to see you sad," Andi replied. She reached out and gently stroked CJ's cheek before resting her hand on the blonde woman's thigh. "We'll come back again, I promise. And we'll take other fun road trips, too."

The basketball star placed her hand over Andi's and intertwined their fingers, squeezing gently. Her thoughts lingered on their wonderful morning in the cabin and how they lounged together in bed after Andi built up the fire. A smile crossed her lips and her body tingled as she recalled making love with her dark-haired companion as they listened to the roaring of the fire and the pounding of the rain. It had been hard leaving the warmth of Andi's arms in order to pack up and clear out of the cabin by noon, but she reluctantly agreed since she had a few hours of schoolwork waiting for her when she got back to campus. She sighed audibly, still disappointed but accepting their inevitable return.

"You OK?" asked Andi. Concerned azure eyes searched CJ's face.

"Yeah," she sighed again. "I'm OK. I'm sorry that I got droopy about leaving. I don't want to end such a great weekend on a sad note."

"It's not sad, CJ. Just think of it as the beginning, not the end."

"The beginning?"

"Yes. The beginning of us." Andi smiled broadly and winked.

"Good point," CJ admitted. Her emerald eyes brightened and a smile spread across her lips. "So, is it my turn?"

"I believe that it is," Andi replied. She squeezed the younger woman's hand gently.

"I love hot tubs," CJ remarked seductively. Her honey-brown eyebrows danced up and down suggestively as she grinned at her dark-haired lover.

The women continued to talk and listen to music to pass the time on their return trip. As quickly as the weekend passed, so too did their drive. By early afternoon, Andi pulled the Jetta back onto campus and drove slowly toward CJ's dorm. She parked the car and turned off the ignition before shifting in her seat to face her blonde companion.

"I suppose I should get out of the car now," CJ sighed. "I don't know how I'm going to get any work done, though. My mind will be on you." She smiled softly at Andi while reaching out and clasping her hand.

"I'll be thinking of you, too," Andi replied. She winked at the basketball star and grinned, hoping to cheer up her friend. "Work for a couple hours, catch up with your roommates, then call me when you climb into bed later tonight," Andi requested. "I want your voice to be the last thing I hear before I fall asleep, so that you will be in my heart and in my dreams."

"Can I hug you, or would that be indiscrete?" CJ asked.

"I think a hug would be just fine," Andi replied. The basketball player returned Andi's smile then leaned across the car to embrace the ex-swimmer. She buried her face against the grad assistant's neck, breathing in deeply to memorize her scent. After several moments of holding each other close, they reluctantly parted.

"I suppose a passionate kiss would fall in to the 'indiscrete' category," CJ mused.

"Unfortunately, yes," Andi reluctantly confirmed. "I'll take an IOU for the next time we're together, though."

"You can count on it. So, until soon?" CJ offered.

"Yes, until very soon," Andi replied.

*      *      *      *      *

      Andi sat on her sofa with the phone cradled between her ear and shoulder while she unlaced her sneakers and waited for Martha to pick up on the other end. After the third ring, the registrar's cheery voice greeted her.

"Hello darlin'," Martha sang.

"Aren't you taking a chance with that kind of greeting?" Andi teased. "I could be a phone solicitor or something."

"I've got caller ID, remember?"

"Oh yeah," she replied sheepishly. "So, how are you?" Andi asked, her tone more spirited.

"We're fine. Question is, how are you?" Martha goaded. "How'd your special weekend go?"

"Perfect! I just called to thank you soooooo much for letting me use the cabin. It was just... everything was so... I can't even begin..."

"Must have been good. The English major is speechless," Martha teased. "See if you can string together enough words to tell me what happened."

"One or both of us might blush," Andi smirked.

"Nuff said," Martha hastily replied. "I'll take that to mean you told her how you feel and the feeling was mutual?"

"Very mutual. And very wonderful..."

"Kaaaa-ren," called Martha. Andi listened as her friend shouted to her partner from across the room. "Andi got laid. You owe me ten bucks."

"Hey!" Andi choked out. "You're acting as a bookie for my love life??!!"

"I'm just teasing you," Martha quipped. "So, things went well, huh?"

"Better than well," Andi gushed. "I'm so incredibly happy. I feel like... she's exactly what I've been waiting for."

"Well, we're excited for you, Andi. It's good to hear you sound so happy. You deserve to be. CJ's a lucky woman."

"I'm feeling pretty lucky myself," the ex-swimmer added. "So, can I buy you lunch tomorrow to thank you for the cabin?"

"I'd love to meet you for lunch, but please don't feel like you owe me anything. Just seeing you happy will be sufficient payback."

"Great! I'll walk over to your office at noon, OK?"

"I'll be ready."

"Tell Karen I said hi, and I'll see you tomorrow."

"I will. Talk to you later."

*      *      *      *      *

      Andi stepped out of her bedroom wearing sweats and a T-shirt, her hair still damp from her recent shower. She padded across the living room and stretched out on the sofa before turning on the table lamp and picking up her journal. With her back resting against the padded arm of the couch and a pillow placed on her lap, she opened the ribbon-marked page to her last entry. She reread it before dating and beginning a new page.

I feel like my life has begun this weekend. I love CJ and she loves me back. It's really that simple yet I made things so complicated for so many weeks while I agonized over what to do. Right from the start I should have taken a lesson from CJ and followed my heart like she followed hers. Lucky for me, her heart was still willing to take a chance with me when my heart finally got brave enough to admit what I was feeling. Now that I've acknowledged it not only to myself but also to her, I feel so incredibly happy! Our weekend together was unbelievably passionate, sincere, comfortable, fun ˝ it was everything I could have ever hoped for. She is everything I could ever hope for. She's the one. After this weekend together, I have no doubt that she is what I've been waiting for my whole life. Now that we've found each other, I don't plan on ever letting go.

Andi's writings were interrupted by a phone call. She quickly closed her journal and placed it on the coffee table then reached for the phone, eagerly anticipating the sound of CJ's voice. She was not disappointed.

"Hello?" Andi answered.

"Hey lover," CJ purred.

"God, what you do to me when you say that." Andi's body tingled with thoughts of her blonde lover.

"It's very mutual, I assure you."

"You're calling earlier than I expected," Andi remarked. She looked at the clock on the wall and noted the time. "Finish your work already?"

"Yup. I was motivated by a phone call that I was eagerly anticipating. So, what are you doing?"

"Just got out of the shower and was writing in my journal. How about you?"

"I finished my work and was just hanging out." She paused before continuing. "I couldn't stop thinking about this weekend," CJ whispered softly.

"Me too," Andi agreed.

A knock on the grad assistant's door made her swing her legs off the sofa and sit up abruptly. Her azure eyes widened at the sound.

"Someone's knocking on my door," Andi spoke. "Stay on the line with me while I walk down to answer it. And hold onto that thought," she added seductively. She opened her apartment door and descended the stairs then looked through the peephole in the door. A smile decorated her lips as she pulled the door open. CJ stood outside, smiling.

"I'd rather hold on to you," the blonde woman replied. She clicked off her cell phone as she stepped through the open door and then closed it behind her. She turned to embrace her ebony-haired lover. The two women fell into each other's arms, melding their bodies into a passionate embrace. CJ's warm breath tickled Andi's ear as she spoke.

"I really wanted to see you," the younger athlete began softly. "I just needed... you."

Andi pulled back from the embrace just enough to kiss CJ tenderly on the lips before taking the basketball player's hand in her own and leading her up the stairs.

Chapter 33

      Andi tuned out the keynote speaker, whose prosaic baccalaureate address didn't capture her attention nearly as much as did thoughts of her blonde lover, who sat with the other graduates on the great lawn. The ex-swimmer's seat in the bleachers provided her with a perfect view of the object of her desire to go along with the fantasies that preoccupied her mind. She smiled to herself, daydreaming about the last few weeks since their trip to the cabin and the resulting love that had developed and deepened. She wanted to take that microphone out of the keynote speaker's hand and shout to the world that she loved CJ. She grinned mischievously at the thought.

"Well?" asked Martha. Her question was emphasized with an elbow to Andi's ribs, causing the grad assistant to pop out of her reverie.

"Sorry," Andi replied sheepishly. "I wasn't paying attention."

"Thanks, Captain Obvious," Martha teased. "I could tell. I asked if it was me, or if this guy was a bit dull."

"He's dull, all right," Andi confirmed. She looked at her watch for the tenth time, anxious for the ceremony to be over. All the faculty members of the college were expected to attend so she sat amongst them, with Martha at her side, both women clothed in the mandatory dark gowns and capes reflecting their degrees. The only advantage to their duty assignment was the bird's eye view of CJ.

As if reading Andi's thoughts, the blonde athlete turned and looked toward the faculty section where she knew her ebony-haired lover was seated, then waved inconspicuously. After the ex-swimmer returned the wave, the basketball player signed 'I love you' to her before touching her heart with the same hand. The blue-eyed woman's heart raced, blushing her face and causing her to grin.

"I saw that," Martha joked. She had witnessed CJ's sign language message as well as Andi's subsequent blush. "I'll bet you're glad that," she paused to look at her watch, "in a matter of minutes CJ will officially not be an undergraduate any more."

"Quite," Andi sighed. "I was never big on public displays of affection anyway, but I'm afraid that even our eye contact and body language give us away."

"You're right about that," Martha teased. She feigned injury after Andi elbowed her lightly.

"That's because you know the truth," Andi rationalized. "I don't think anyone else was paying attention to us. Everybody else was too worried about finals and other end of the year stuff."

"True," Martha agreed. "It's all history now, though. You can say and do what you like together ˝ within reason, of course," she added, amending her invitation. "If you start romping naked across the Great Lawn together, I think you'll force the administration to override its 'don't ask, don't tell' policy."

"I wasn't planning any naked romping... at least not in public," Andi grinned. "I'm really not looking to drape myself all over CJ when we walk across campus," she added, her voice more serious. "It's not about that. I just don't want to fell like I have to hide something that has become so important to me, and I don't want CJ to feel that way either."

"You don't have to explain anything to me, girlfriend. Your life is my life, remember?"

"I know. Speaking of which, what's Karen doing while you're here?"

"Probably home cooking or cleaning. Her folks are stopping by this weekend on their way to Boston for vacation. Speaking of vacations, when are you and CJ headed out of town?"

"Three days from now, and counting," Andi replied. "Before we go, we have to move CJ's stuff into her new place. Coach Malardie got her a room in the graduate dorm for the summer."

"Hopkins Hall?"

"Yeah. It's not bad, for a dorm."

"Roommates?"

"Nope," Andi grinned. "Coach arranged for her to have a single. She also promised CJ about twenty hours a week of work this summer so that she can afford to stay on campus. She's also signed up for two classes."

"Sweet," Martha smirked. "I guess both of you are happy about that. So after you move CJ, where'd you gals headed off to?"

"CJ wanted to go to Provincetown for a few days. She said that after weeks of being 'discrete,' she wants to walk down the street holding my hand for all the world to see. We'll take our bikes, hang out on the beach, and just blend in with thousands of other people just like us."

"Sounds like fun," Martha approved. "Hey look, CJ's row is next." She pointed to the black-gowned students who stood obediently and walked in order to receive their diplomas.

Andi sat forward on her seat, peering around heads to watch as CJ shook the dean's hand before being handed her document. She smiled broadly at the administrator then turned back toward the spectators and waved. Her emerald eyes found Andi in the crowd and the ex-swimmer smiled when they made eye contact before CJ exited the platform.

Andi sat impatiently while the remaining students received their diplomas then processed out across the green led by the full professors and other school dignitaries. When the last student exited, Andi followed the rest of the faculty and marched out to join the celebrating crowds. After saying goodbyes to Martha, she walked over to their designated meeting spot to wait for CJ.

Within a few moments CJ came bounding across the lawn with a blonde-gray woman in tow. The basketball player's arm was linked in the older woman's arm as she walked briskly to keep up with CJ's considerably longer legs. The grad assistant smiled and waved a greeting as the two women approached.

"Congratulations!" Andi announced.

"Thanks!" CJ replied. The blonde athlete unlinked the older woman's arm and faced Andi, reaching out and pulling the dark-haired woman close to her for a hug. The surprised ex-swimmer returned the hug, quirking a grin over CJ's shoulder at the woman who had walked over with her lover and stood watching as the two women embraced. After an extended moment, they stepped apart and CJ spoke.

"Andi, I'd like to you meet my mother, Terry," CJ began. "Mom, this is Andi."

The grad assistant stepped forward and offered her hand to the older woman. CJ's mother's handshake was warm and firm. Her emerald eyes, so like her daughters, looked deeply into Andi's azure orbs.

"Hi, Mrs. ˝"

"Please, call me Terry, " she interrupted. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you." She smiled at Andi, still holding her hand firmly. "CJ's told me so much about you," she added. The ex-swimmer used every bit of her self-control not to turn and look at her blonde lover to interpret the meaning of Terry's seemingly casual remark. She blushed slightly and grinned.

"Good things, I hope," she managed to squeak out.

"Very good things. I wanted to thank you personally for taking such good care of CJ after her eye injury. She couldn't rave enough about how attentive and welcoming you were." Terry finally released Andi's hand and shifted her arm around CJ's waist. "CJ tells me that you'll be joining us at the restaurant," she added. "I'm glad. It'll give me an opportunity to show my appreciation."

"It was my pleasure, Mrs. ˝ I mean, Terry," Andi replied. "And thank you for including me in the celebration."

"CJ wouldn't have had it any other way. I'm glad you're coming." She turned and faced CJ. "Shall we? We're meeting the rest of the family in thirty minutes. With all these people trying to leave, we're likely to hit traffic." Andi stepped forward next to CJ's mom, who stood between the two tall athletes. As they walked, Terry gently placed her hand on Andi's arm before addressing the ex-swimmer in a voice loud enough for her daughter to hear. "So, can I count on you to keep an eye on CJ this summer?" Terry asked. "Sometimes trouble has a way of finding my daughter, if you know what I mean," she added, winking at Andi. "This is the first summer that she won't be home. I'll feel better if I know that you're keeping an eye on her."

Andi bit the inside of her cheek in order to stifle an audible laugh. She dared not look at her flaxen-haired lover for fear of giggling out loud. She swallowed the laugh and regained her composure before she responded.

"I'll take good care of CJ, I promise," Andi replied. Her voice was sincere, even if her idea of that job description was slightly different than CJ's mother probably had in mind.

CJ simply walked along next to her mother, grinning to herself at Andi's innuendo.

Epilogue
one year later

      Andi pushed open the door to her apartment then slowly walked to the center of the large room, her footsteps echoing in the empty space. Now that the last of her boxes had been loaded in the van, the place looked much bigger than she remembered. She turned slowly in a circle, looking at the fireplace, the empty bookcases, the kitchen, and the windows that looked out across campus. Sighing deeply, she thought back to the last time the apartment looked this way, when she moved in just over two years ago. She shook her head slowly. So much has changed since then, she thought to herself. Back then, the apartment had been her cocoon while she healed and recreated herself following her injury and her breakup. Her new living arrangements would serve a similar purpose by marking another turning point in her life.

She smiled when she thought of her new life with CJ and how she had redefined herself yet again not just as an individual but also as an integral half of a committed relationship. A soulmate, as CJ puts it, she thought. Their first year together had been a wonderful bonding of partners whose hearts and energies were focused on the same goal ˝ a loving life together. The prospect of falling asleep and waking up every day next to her blonde lover filled her heart with soul-warming joy. So enraptured with the image was she that the ex-swimmer didn't hear her other half as she quietly stepped into the room.

CJ walked up behind Andi and slipped her arms around the taller woman's lean waist. Her chin rested on one broad shoulder as her body pressed its full length against that of the dark-haired athlete. The blonde woman smiled when Andi rubbed her hands affectionately on the younger athlete's arms before intertwining their hands. She nuzzled her face against the ebony locks, enjoying the fresh, herbal sent that mixed with the ex-swimmer's unique aroma. They stood silently for several moments before CJ finally spoke.

"You OK?" she asked. Her voice was soft and her breath tickled the older woman's ear.

"Fine," Andi replied. "Just making sure I didn't forget anything." With that said, she still made no further move to look around the apartment for forgotten possessions. The women remained motionless.

"Second thoughts? Regrets?" CJ asked.

"None," stated Andi. Her voice was confident and direct. She turned in CJ's arms and placed her hands gently on the younger woman's cheeks. With their noses nearly touching, the dark-haired woman gazed deeply into her lover's emerald eyes and smiled. "I've already promised you all my tomorrows. Living together is the next step in our commitment and I'm absolutely thrilled about it, my love." She punctuated her statement with a passionate kiss that left no doubt about her feelings.

"I will always love you, Andi," CJ whispered.

"Until forever," Andi replied.

 

The End

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