Author's Note: Thank you to all of you who have been taking time to offer feedback about the story so far. I have enjoyed meeting you through The Message! This story will eventually contain a "loving" relationship between two women. The characters, town and storyline are all products of my imagination. A special thank you to Susan for reading in advance and helping me over the rough spots!
By J.A. Breeze
Tessa parked on the country road as she watched Jennifer turn onto a driveway. A mailbox marked the turnoff and as soon as the Lexus was out of sight, Tessa pulled forward to read the name displayed in large block letters.
"Jarnigan! I told her to stay away from that damned DA. What does she think she's doing? This is not allowed!" Tessa ranted as she beat her hand against the steering wheel.
She drove her car off the road into a sheltered area among some trees. Taking a camera equipped with zoom lens from the seat beside her, she made her way carefully along the road. She stayed hidden in the tree line and invisible to the casual observer. In just a few minutes a farmhouse came into view and she saw Jennifer's car parked in the driveway. Using the camera lens she focused on the front of the house and found Jennifer locked in Casey's arms.
"You are mine, damn you ... you will not do this to me ... it is not allowed ... I'll make that woman regret she came within a hundred miles of you!" Tessa grew more and more agitated as she watched the women on the porch. The longer Casey held Jennifer in her arms the more distraught Tessa became. "I will make you both pay for this!"
Unaware that they were being watched, Casey pulled back and looked into the face of the smaller woman. She placed a gentle hand under Jennifer's chin and tilted her head so she could look her in the eyes.
"Hey, it's okay, you know? You are safe here with me--with my family. We won't let anything happen to you."
"God, Casey. You must think I'm an unstable crybaby. I promise you that I'm not. I am usually in complete control of my emotions," Jennifer said as she gazed into warm brown eyes filled with understanding and perhaps something else. Could it be awareness? Interest?
Casey allowed her eyes to remain locked with Jennifer's as she used her thumb to wipe the tears from the smaller woman's cheek. "It's going to be okay, Jennifer. I promise I won't allow her to hurt you or your kids."
As they continued to stare deeply into each other's eyes, Casey began to feel a stirring deep in her center. A need that had long been dormant. She breathed in deeply as she began to lower her head toward Jennifer's.
Jennifer was amazed when Casey's eyes appeared to darken even further, she knew she was about to be kissed and oh how she wanted to feel Casey's lips upon her own. Jennifer moved in closer and tilted her head back ready to meet Casey's descending lips.
Casey drove back any fleeting thoughts that told her what she was about to do was wrong. She wanted to taste Jennifer's kiss. She wanted to feel their tongues dance.
"You are so beautiful," Casey mumbled right before her lips sealed with Jennifer's.
The reality of their kiss was much more than either woman could have imagined. Simultaneous moans were released as arms gathered the other closer. Passion and need quickly took control of their senses and what Casey intended to be a gentle tasting of lips, soon erupted into demanding need.
Jennifer locked her arms around the taller woman's neck tugging her down so she could experience more of her by deepening the kiss. Casey's hands roamed up and down Jennifer's back, cupping her ass and then traveling to her shoulders and back down again. Jennifer's fingers wrapped themselves in Casey's hair pulling her closer even as Jennifer felt one strong knee firmly insert itself between her legs, pressing against her heat. She groaned and opened her mouth wider taking more, demanding more and getting it.
Jennifer moved her hand down Casey's chest and just as her hand cupped a full, firm breast, they heard the sound of a throat clearing from inside the house behind Casey. But instead of allowing Jennifer to withdraw from her arms, Casey held her close and lowered her forehead to rest against Jennifer's.
"That was simply amazing and we will get back to it later, but right now I think we had better stop before my mother sees something no mother should ever witness."
Although somewhat embarrassed by her reaction to Casey, Jennifer didn't even try to stop the smile that brightened her face. Giving the breast in her hand a promising squeeze, she released it to cup Casey's cheek. She rubbed a thumb back and forth over the taller woman's lips. "My shade of lipstick does look pretty good on you."
Casey laughed as she said, "I probably should apologize for kissing you, but I can't honestly say that I'm sorry."
"I'm glad you're not sorry and it is sort of my fault anyway. After all I threw myself into your arms the minute you opened the door. Not to mention I'm pretty sure I was the one groping you just now."
"And may I say that was a very pleasant surprise?" Casey teased. "On both counts." To her delight Jennifer blushed but didn't back down.
"I'm glad you liked it," Jennifer responded in kind giving the taller woman a wink.
Casey chuckled at the cheeky response and shook her head in wonder. "I can tell you're going to be a handful." As soon as the words left her mouth she knew they wouldn't go unnoticed and the smaller woman didn't let her down. Jennifer cocked her head to one side and raised an eyebrow in question.
"A handful, huh? You have no idea!"
"Maybe I should get your bag and take you in and introduce you to my parents. They're very anxious to meet you."
"You told them about me?" Jennifer asked all the while wearing an amused grin.
"Yes, I hope you don't mind, but I told them the whole story. At least as much as I know."
"No, that's okay. I don't mind your parents knowing. But they must think my life is a mess. Or even worse that I'm crazy."
"Of course they don't. In fact I know they'll do everything they can to help. Now, come on let's get you inside and settled."
The whole time the women were talking they had their arms locked around each other in a close embrace. Their eyes locked. Smiles clearly showing. Just as Jennifer went to step back Casey stopped her by tightening her grip.
"Please wait. There's something I just have to do." She lowered her lips to Jennifer's once again. But this time she sprinkled feathery kisses as she nibbled lightly on the delectable lips. "Your lips are so soft. They fit with mine just perfectly."
"Um ... Casey. This is very nice, but don't you think we should maybe stop before your mother actually does catch us?" Jennifer said between Casey's kisses.
"Yes ... we ... probably ... should," Casey responded as she punctuated each word with a kiss, earning a giggle from the smaller woman.
Casey dropped her hands from Jennifer's sides and allowed her to back away. Stepping by her, Casey picked up the bag and motioned for her guest to precede her inside the house. Casey placed the bag at the foot of the stairs and led Jennifer along the hallway to the family room. Casey immediately recognized the knowing grins on both of her parents' faces.
Oh no. She must have actually seen us. This is going to be loads of fun.
"Mom. Dad. I'd like you to meet Jennifer Gibson, the woman I was telling you about. Jennifer these are my parents Brenda and Emerson Jarnigan."
Jennifer stepped forward to shake hands first with Casey's mother. "It is very nice to meet you, Mrs. Jarnigan. Thank you very much for allowing me to impose on you this way."
"Nonsense, dear. We're glad to have you and it's no imposition at all. Is it Emery?"
"Of course not," Casey's dad said as he stood to take the woman's hand. "My, my. You're a tiny thing. Much like my Brenda," he said with a teasing smile.
"And, it's easy for me to see where Casey got her height, not to mention her beautiful brown eyes." As soon as the words left her mouth Jennifer felt the heat race up her neck to settle in her cheeks. I did not just say that out loud.
Taking pity on Jennifer, Casey came to her rescue. "Jennifer, why don't you have a seat and I'll get us something to drink?"
"Thank you, Casey. A drink would be nice."
The four sat and talked with Casey's mother leading the discussion and asking several questions about Jennifer, her children, her parents, where she was raised. Although somewhat embarrassed by her mother's obvious inquisition, Casey was delighted to learn more about the woman who had caught her attention so suddenly and had apparently awakened her sleeping libido.
Farmers were known for rising early and it wasn't long before Emerson was ready to be excused. "Four o'clock comes awfully early and these old bones need more rest than they used to so if you ladies will excuse me, I'm going to head on up to my bed."
He gave his daughter a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder as he paused on his way upstairs. "I'm glad to have you home. Good night, Casey."
"Thanks, Dad. It's good to be home. I'll see you in the morning," Casey responded as she patted the hand on her shoulder with one of her own.
"Nice to meet you, Jennifer. It's good to have you in our home."
"Thank you, Mr. Jarnigan. It's a pleasure to have met you and your wife. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you for opening your home to me tonight."
"We're glad to do it. Anytime." He made his way out of the room after adding one last thing to his wife. "Brenda, you won't be long coming up? Will you?"
Brenda and Casey both understood that as his way of telling his wife it was time to allow the two younger women to talk. Brenda gave him a smile that let him know she understood. "I'll be up in just a few minutes, honey."
Brenda turned the discussion to what the two would like to eat for breakfast the next morning and then decided to leave them alone to talk. Emerson had been gone less than ten minutes. "If there's nothing you girls need, I think I'll go on up myself."
"We're fine, Mom. I'm sure that if we need anything, I can find it."
"I'm sure you can, dear."
Casey stood to take her mother into a warm hug. "I love you. Sleep well."
"I love you, too. It's so good to have you home."
After the women exchanged kisses on the cheek, Brenda turned to Jennifer. "We're very happy to have you with us. Casey will show you to your room when you're ready."
"Thank you, Mrs. Jarnigan. I do appreciate it."
"You're very welcome, Jennifer. And I mean that," Brenda said as she bent over to pat Jennifer's hand. "Good night, girls. We'll see you in the morning."
"Good night, Mom."
"Good night, Mrs. Jarnigan."
Once the two women were left alone, Casey adjusted her position on the couch to angle her body toward Jennifer with one leg pulled up onto the cushion and her back leaning into the corner of the couch. Jennifer took up similar position on the opposite end which allowed them to be comfortable and look at each other.
"Now, tell me what upset you so much today. What happened?"
"Man, you really don't beat around the bush, do you?"
"I thought that was what we've been doing ever since you got here."
"Was it?" Jennifer asked as she raised an eyebrow.
"Well, that and getting to know each other," Casey responded clearly interpreting the unspoken message. "Are you ready to talk about it, or do you want to wait?"
"No, I don't want to wait but I still think it's best to show you. Let me go get something out of my bag."
"You sit still. I'll go bring your bag to you," Casey said as she stood up.
"Thanks, Casey. I really would like your reaction to all this."
When Casey returned with the bag, she placed it beside Jennifer's feet. Jennifer unzipped the side pocket and pulled out a manila envelope along with a clear plastic storage bag. She handed them to Casey and then settled back to watch the other woman's reaction.
First, Casey turned the plastic bag over and examined the contents--a single long-stemmed red rose with a hand written note. She adjusted it so that she could read the note without removing it from the bag. You are mine anytime, anywhere.
"You found these when you awoke from a nap?"
"Yes, I had fallen asleep on the couch. Tessa must have slipped into the house."
"Jennifer, you know you have to call the police and make a report. You can't just ignore this. This woman could be dangerous not only to you but to your family. I'll help you get a restraining order against her and if she does anything like this again, you can have a her arrested."
"I understand what you're saying but I'm not sure I'm ready to bring the police into this. There's more. You should look inside the envelope."
Casey placed the plastic bag on the couch cushion between them and opened the manila envelope. She reached inside to pull out the contents that proved to be photographs. There were shots of Jennifer at various places in Wilmington. In some she was talking with civic and business leaders. In others she was out her family. There were even a couple shots of her lazing on a lounger with a woman on one beside her. As she flipped through the photographs Casey became more and more concerned. It was obvious someone was watching Jennifer very closely--monitoring her every move.
"Oh, no!" Casey didn't mean to react but when she reached photographs of a teenage girl and boy at school, at the mall, out with friends, she couldn't help but respond. "Are these photos of your daughter and son?"
"Yes. That's part of the reason I got so upset when I received the envelope. Her involving my children makes this so much more difficult and complicated for me. Casey, I can't let her harm my children."
"Her? So you believe Tessa sent the photos as well?"
"Yes, who else would do it? But you need to look at the rest of the photos."
As Casey reached the end of the stack of photographs, she looked up in surprise to meet the knowing look in Jennifer's eyes.
"It's shocking, isn't it?"
"She must have been outside your house," Casey said as she looked once again at a photo that showed her kneeling in Jennifer's kitchen holding the smaller woman in her arms, Jennifer's head pillowed against her chest. "This photo makes it appear like we are very familiar with each other."
"Yeah, I noticed that, too. But you need to look at the last photo."
The last shot was very similar to the other one showing them embracing but someone had scratched the photo leaving a rough white place where Casey's face should have been.
"So do you think this means someone wasn't too happy about me holding you?" Casey asked with a grin as she turned the photo toward Jennifer.
"Casey, it's not funny."
"No, it isn't but I refuse to let some coward intimidate me. If someone has something to say to me, they can damn well say it to my face!"
"Are you implying that I'm letting her intimidate me? You have no idea what it's like to be in my position," Jennifer responded in anger.
"Hey, wait a second! Where did that come from? I didn't mean to imply anything. I'm just saying I don't play games. If someone has something to say to me they should say it. Because that is damn well the way I do things! And I know your situation is different. You have something to lose in all this."
"And you don't?"
"No, I don't. This isn't directed at me."
"So this is just another mystery to solve--a case to close?" Jennifer asked, the hurt evident in her voice and her expression.
"You are putting words in my mouth. I certainly did not mean to imply this is just a case to solve. Hell, I'm pretty sure that after what happened between us on my parent's front porch that you know you're much more to me," Casey said as she raked a hand through her hair in frustration.
"Look, I'm sorry. I've been under so much stress the last few weeks that I'm not myself. Not knowing what she'll do next ... how far she'll go ... is driving me crazy--the uncertainty of it all." Jennifer's words served to defuse her anger and Casey's frustration. The women settled back into conversation as Casey attempted to get Jennifer to do what needed to be done.
"I understand that. I really do and I want to help you. But I need you trust me. You have to go to the police. There needs to be a record of her threat and of her evasion into your home. It will protect you in the long run."
"Oh, Casey. I don't know that I can do that ... go into the police station and admit I picked up some woman in a bar, had an affair with her and now she's threatening to expose me to the world as a lesbian."
"That's actually something I want to ask you. How do you feel about that--exposure?"
"Not as troubled as I did. I've come to realize this who I am and if people in this town can't accept that then so be it. I'm not going to hide anymore and more importantly I'm not going to deny myself the life I was meant to live."
"What about your husband and your kids ... not to mention that beautiful house you have?"
"My husband and I have separated and plan to get a divorce. We have both known for a long time--maybe even from the beginning--that we weren't going to make it."
"Do you plan to stay where you are? Wait! Am I asking you too many personal questions?"
"Not at all. I don't mind. This has all come to a head kind of quickly although it's been coming for a very long time, years even. I know what I want to do and what the first thing will be."
"I'm going to look for a smaller house somewhere and begin a new life."
"And, will that new life include a woman--a girlfriend?"
"Lord, I hope so," Jennifer said.
Casey broke into a full chuckle at her words and tone. Jennifer gave her questioning and peeved look that had sent reporters running for their cubicles during her days as a news editor. But her expression didn't have the desired effect on Casey. Instead she laughed harder. Finally, Jennifer couldn't hold back and joined in the laughter.
"God, that felt good," Casey said once they had themselves under control.
"I'm glad you find me so amusing," Jennifer said dryly.
"It wasn't that really. It was your tone. You sort of sounded like a starving woman who has food in sight." Jennifer raised an eyebrow at Casey's response but decided to remain silent. Oh I'm a starving woman all right and I see something that I'm sure could satisfy my hunger.
Now it was Casey's turn to be taken back by the raw assessment and hunger she saw in the other woman's eyes. "Perhaps we should call it a day. Are you ready for me to show you to your room?"
"I am kind of tired after everything that's happened today so if you wouldn't mind--"
"Not at all." Casey took Jennifer's bag and led the way upstairs. She knew the room her mother had prepared for their last minute guest. "This is your room here. I'll be just across the hall if you need anything," Casey said as she led the way into the guest room and placed the bag on the bed.
"Good night, Casey. And thank you for everything. I'll think about what you said. I promise."
"We can talk about it more tomorrow. Get some rest now and remember I'm just across the hall." Casey turned to leave the room but Jennifer stalled her with a hand on her arm.
"I really do appreciate all that you are doing for me. I hope you know that. I don't know what I would have done without you today."
"It's okay. I'm glad I can be here for you and I hope that I can help," Casey said as she caressed Jennifer's cheek. Jennifer's breath automatically caught and then her heart rate increased at the other woman's touch. Casey watched her nostrils flare and noticed the pulse jump in her neck. Bending forward she lowered her head to Jennifer's and placed a very gentle kiss on her lips. "Good night, Jennifer. Everything is going to be okay. We'll figure this out a bit at a time." With those words she turned leaving Jennifer standing frozen beside the bed--fingers touching the lips that Casey had just kissed.
Good night, Casey.
Tessa had watched the house for hours. She saw the lights go out downstairs and then watched as first one and then two lights came on upstairs. Once those were out again, she turned and headed back to her car.
You may think you're going to get rid of me but that's not going to happen. You're mine and nobody is going to get in my way--keep you from me! How dare you do that with that woman?
Settling behind the wheel, she started the car and headed back toward the interstate looking for a hotel where she could spend the night.
"You may think this hotshot DA is what you want, but I know better. And you will too in time. I just have to remind you of everything we had together. Starting tomorrow."
Michael was just about ready to retire for the night when there was knock at the door. He had moved into an apartment his company kept for visiting business owners. Having the apartment available often proved beneficial while negotiating a contract. He opened the door to find his business partner, Richard waiting.
"Richard, what are you doing here? It's kind of late, isn't it?"
"I know but there's something you need to know and I didn't want to wait until morning. You going to let me in?"
"Sure come on in. Have a seat. You want a drink? I have a nice single malt?"
"That would be good and you might want to pour one for yourself."
Michael went to the bar and filled two tumblers with scotch. He handed one to the other man when he returned. Richard had taken a seat on the couch so Michael chose a chair across from his partner.
"Spill it, Richard. What's up?"
"We have problems on the contract for the convention center. I've been told that the DA's office and the TBI are watching the bidding process very closely, looking for irregularities."
"What kind of irregularities?"
"They suspect someone is going to fix the bids and walk away with millions."
"How did you hear about this?"
"I had dinner with a woman who works in the mayor's office. She said the mayor is being investigated for conspiring to fix the bids and that he is stunned."
"Well then what do we have to be concerned about? We've been successful on several state funded projects from the Tri-Cities to Memphis to Nashville."
"If someone has inside information we aren't going to get this project. And you know what that means? We're in trouble, Michael. We need this project!"
"I'm well aware of the financial condition of the company. You don't have to tell me anything," Michael with his irritation apparent in his tone.
"Well, I did what I came to do but we need to come up with a plan for what we're going to do. Thanks for the drink." Richard tossed back the remainder of his scotch, placed the glass on the table and left as quickly as he arrived.
"What in the hell am I supposed to do now? This cannot be happening to me!" Michael drew back his arm and slammed his glass into the wall across the room.
"Not now goddamnit. This is not happening now!"
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