The Homecoming
By Janet Lynne

Part 9

-19-

Warning: this section contains a frank discussion of a feminine nature. If you are squeamish about such things, skip over to the next section.

Ryan sat on the edge of the bed as she lit the large pillar candle that sat on the nightstand. The wick sputtered into flame and added it's light to that of the several others nearby; it's rich scent of ylang ylang adding to the romantic ambiance of the room.

Her task complete, Ryan stretched her long frame out on the bed. She was a vision of loveliness as she reclined, naked, against the large, soft pillows with her hands behind her head and her ankles crossed. The candlelight shone on her bronzed skin, highlighting her sculpted muscles, and her light eyes shone with a fire and a brilliance of their own. She could hear her mate puttering around in the adjacent bathroom and eagerly awaited her appearance.

It was Monday and she and Janna had overslept that morning. Someone had forgotten to set the alarm the night before (someone whom Ryan wished to remain nameless) so they had not had the time to make their daily intimate connection.

Their habit of making a sexual connection every day had become so much more than simply having sex, or even making love: it had become an important part of their daily affirmation of their love, and usually occurred as soon as Janna became fully awake. Some mornings it didn't include intercourse at all, but simply a gentle touching and sharing of their bodies and their energies in the ancient tradition of Tantra Yoga. More often than not, though, intercourse was involved and Ryan found herself on this night with a physical need, which only her mate could provide relief for.

As Ryan relaxed on the bed in quiet anticipation, a gentle curse reached her ears. Before she could get up to investigate, Janna appeared in the doorway, a look of regret marring her pleasant features.

"Janna, what's wrong?"

Her mate's voice mirrored her face's dejection as she said apologetically, "Oh, honey, I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I've got my period."

Ryan looked somewhat bemused but grinned as she said, "Well, then bring a towel, love." She patted the empty place next to her on the bed, raised black eyebrows and crooked grin beckoning to her jauntily.

Janna's brows knit in mild concern. "Are you sure honey? I won't be hurt if you'd rather not."

"Sweetheart, get your gorgeous naked bod over here right now please!" Her face became a little more serious as she added, "Nothing is going to prevent me from loving you, Janna. Ever." She patted the bed again. "Come on. Please?"

Janna, still standing in the doorway, reached over and pulled a large towel off of the rack next to the shower and then made her way uncertainly to the bed, where she stood before her partner.

Ryan's face took on a look of concern as she reached up and took Janna's hand. "Honey, are you in pain? If you are then we'll save this for another time."

Janna shook her head. "No, I feel alright. It's not that…I'm just not used to making love during my cycle, that's all."

Ryan kissed the hand that she still held and quietly said, "I don't mean to sound demanding, Janna. I just want you to understand that it really doesn't bother me. Not with you." She looked into her partner's eyes. "Does it bother you?"

"No, I don't think it does. But, um, do you think it's safe?" She set the towel on the bed next to Ryan and sat on it.

"You mean STD-wise?" her partner asked. Janna nodded, after which Ryan added, "Honey I think we've shared enough body fluids already to make that a moot point, don't you?"

Janna's face took on a slightly embarrassed grin as she shrugged and nodded.

"As far as that goes," Ryan added, "I get tested about every three months when I donate blood."

Janna added, "And I get tested every six months."

"And, I was celibate for two years before you came along", Ryan added matter-of-factly.

"And I was celibate for one." Janna smiled. "I guess I see your point."

Ryan opened her arms as her rich voice drawled, "Well come 'ere then, baby!"

Janna happily fell into her embrace and her partner kissed her tenderly. Then Ryan gently laid her mate down on the bed and lay above her, soft black curls brushing lightly against golden blonde. She gazed down at her soul mate lovingly.

"What?" Janna quietly asked.

Ryan reached down and pushed a wayward strand of blonde hair behind an ear. "Just thinking about how much you mean to me. There aren't words for it Janna."

"Then show me, love."

~~~~~~~~~~

After the busy weekend that they had shared, the beginning of the workweek was almost a relaxing break for Ryan. Not quite, as the realities of semi-big city life soon set in, but almost.

On Friday, after receiving her Reiki attunement, Ryan and Janna had talked for hours about the nature of the healing gift and about its applications. Janna had shown her the ancient symbols and coached her in their use. Ryan then spent the rest of the day practicing her new craft: giving Reiki to her partner, to herself, to their house plants and even to her car, which had been running a little roughly for several days. Ryan delighted in her new ability and showed an almost childlike wonder at its magic, which in turn delighted Janna.

Later that evening, during her game, Ryan had a bit of a hard time maintaining her focus, but her skill pulled her through. She and Janna had to once again turn down her teammates' invitation to share pizza and beer with them, because Ryan's body was in a heavy detoxification stage and alcohol consumption wouldn't be prudent.

Saturday morning they had taken delivery of their exercise machines and had spent the rest of the day setting up their home gym. Janna started her conditioning program in earnest, including some light upper-body work. She had casually remarked to her coach that she might not need to use the department gym after all, but was reminded that a well-rounded workout routine included free weights, which they had not yet purchased. So it was decided that the Tuesday workouts would take place down at the station for the time being.

On Sunday, after Ryan's Peace Officer's game, they had hosted a family barbecue. Ryan found, to her delight, that every member of Janna's family was as warm and genuine as she was. Even though they were unused to seeing their loved one behaving in an intimate manner with a woman, they didn't seem bothered by it. Janna's parents, brother and sister- in-law could clearly see how devoted the two women were to each other.

Ryan had worried beforehand, not at whether or not they would accept her, but at how their lack of acceptance of the relationship could hurt her partner. Ryan found herself surprisingly relieved at her new family's attitude and was able to relax and have a good time. Had the family not been supportive of their daughter's situation, they would have had to deal with her very angry and protective mate. An angry Ryan Zamora is not someone that a mere mortal human would care to have to contend with.

Janna had been warmed beyond measure at Ryan's interaction with her six-year old niece, Brittany, and three-year old nephew Robbie. The children had gravitated to her immediately and Ryan treated them warmly and graciously, even spending a lot of time playing with them. The end of the long day had found the family spread around the large family room relaxing over coffee and dessert, Ryan in one of the large chairs with a lap full of small, sleepy towheads.

Janna was so happy to see Ryan enjoying the kids, not only because she loved her niece and nephew dearly and wanted Ryan to do so as well, but also because, since becoming involved with Ryan, she had begun to feel some definite maternal leanings. As she sat in the chair across from Ryan and gazed fondly at the warm scene, Ryan flashed her a brilliant smile. Janna knew at that moment that Ryan would make a wonderful parent one day. A silent communication passed between them through their link and Ryan smiled knowingly and nodded slightly.

Then earlier that evening, they had gone to the dojo and Janna had watched Ryan's class again. She enjoyed herself as much as she had the week before, and felt at times that her mate might possibly showing off a little for her. She denied it vehemently afterward though.

~~~~~~~~~~

Ryan did indeed show Janna just how much the small blonde meant to her. She made one final, slow thrust and then slowly pulled out, eliciting a long, low moan from her partner that matched her own. She lay briefly atop her lover catching her breath, then lifted up on one arm and with the other deftly unsnapped the harness she wore, pulling it and its appendage away from their bodies and dropped it to the floor.

When she recovered her breath, Janna said, "I'm so glad you didn't leave that particular appliance at your place for John and Sara."

Ryan, lying fully atop Janna again, chuckled, the deep tone reverberating through her partner, and replied, "Sweetheart, I seriously doubt that they'd have much use for this particular appliance. At least I hope not," she added, eyebrows rising above her bangs.

Janna giggled as she wiped damp bangs from Ryan's eyes, saying, "Too true!" She wrapped her arms tightly around her love and relished the contact that she just couldn't get enough of. Ryan burrowed her face against Janna's and kissed her neck, mumbling sweet nothings. After a moment she pulled back and rolled off of her partner and onto her back. Janna immediately assumed her favorite position and they basked quietly together in the afterglow of their love.

"God, that was nice honey. You truly have many skills." She sighed and let out a long, contented breath.

"I aim to please, baby. Anything for you." Ryan smiled crookedly as she pulled her love more tightly against herself.

Janna broke the comfortable silence a few moments later when she asked, "Ryan, have you ever thought about having a family?"

Ryan smiled, having been expecting that question. "Yes, I have. Growing up, I always figured I'd have a few kids. I knew I wasn't marriage material so I figured I'd adopt." She glanced at her partner and grinned. "Why do you ask, sweetheart?"

Janna bit her lip, as if not knowing how to begin, but decided to just dive in. "I've been thinking about it…for us. I've always wanted kids too. How would you feel about talking about it?" She turned her head slightly and looked expectantly at her mate.

Ryan creased her brows as if deep in thought but then quickly grinned as she said, "I thought you'd never ask sweetheart!"

Janna's look of shock became a radiant grin as she hugged her partner tightly. Ryan kissed her mate's brow as she gently rocked her in her arms. "Janna, I would love for us to have a family together."

"You don't know how happy that makes me Ryan." Janna's voice broke slightly and she looked at her mate with misty green eyes.

"Yes, I do sweetheart," Ryan replied sincerely, rubbing Janna's arm lovingly. "What kind of timeline are we talking about here?"

"Well, I'm thinking not real soon. Call me selfish, but I want quite a bit more time for just the two of us."

"That's pretty much what I've been thinking too."

"So you've actually been thinking about this too?"

"Yep."

"Cool! So, have you worked out the technical details yet?" She looked up at Ryan, eyes sparkling.

Ryan laughed. "Um…no. I guess we have several options available to us though." She thought for a moment and then suddenly stiffened and swallowed before asking, "Um… we are talking about your carrying these kids aren't we?"

Janna giggled at her mate's discomfiture. "Yes, I did figure that love. Are you sure you don't want…"

"No!"

Janna rubbed the arm that circled her waist. "Okay, honey, no problem." She smiled inwardly at her mate's reluctance to become pregnant. Her big tough partner. Maybe that's the problem.

"Janna, are you sure. I mean…I just don't think I…I mean I hate hospitals and…" she stammered.

"Yes, I'm sure Ryan. I actually want to experience pregnancy…very much so. I'm fine with it."

Ryan's sigh of relief was palpable and Janna grinned again. "So, do you want to talk about options?"

"Okay. Um…there's the donor question and then the method." Now that the extremely uncomfortable possibility of Janna wanting her to be the one to get pregnant was a moot point, she warmed up to the discussion, her practical mind kicking into gear.

"Honey, if it's at all possible, I'd like them to look as much like the both of us as possible. Um… a friend of mine used her partner's brother as a donor…so not only does the baby resemble both of them, but she's also related to both."

"Huh, that's a really nice idea. But, honey, I'm really not close to my brother. I don't know how comfortable I'd be asking him to do that, or if he'd even consider it. I'm sorry."

"I realize that could be a problem. There is another option. It's sort of a newer idea and I don't know anyone personally who's done it, but I've read about it. In this procedure, eggs are harvested from one partner, fertilized in vitro, and then the embryo is implanted in the other partner. That way there is the added benefit of both partners being the biological mother, so to speak. Legally, it seems to be a strong way to go. Plus, I'm pretty certain that my brother would be more than happy to help us out."

"Wow, you're kidding! That's seems like a great idea. I know I'm most concerned about custody issues cropping up." She looked at her mate and smiled. "Plus, it would be related to both of us. I think I like the idea Janna." She squeezed her partner affectionately. "And who knows, maybe one day my brother will be a viable possibility too. I wouldn't rule anything out."

"Ryan, I wouldn't agree too quickly. That procedure is much more complicated and invasive than simply borrowing some semen and having an intimate encounter with a turkey baster would be. Not to mention very expensive. We should gather all the information about it and make an informed decision."

Ryan laughed. "An intimate encounter with a turkey baster? Oh God, Janna!"

"Well, that's basically how it would be you know."

"I don't know. I think I'd rather trust my most precious gift to the hands of a capable doctor."

"Well, I kind of like the idea of my most precious gift impregnating me herself," Janna replied smugly.

"I can still do that in a doctor's office. I know people who have. The other partner pushes the plunger or whatever it is, on the needle."

"Okay, the method can be agreed on later, right?" Janna conceded. "The important thing is that we both want this." She kissed the breast under her face.

"Yes, love. That it is. Janna, I would want to wait until after we have had a commitment ceremony. Is that okay?" She kissed the blonde head below her chin.

"Yes, I would too. I guess we should start planning that first, huh?"

Ryan grinned widely. "Yep. I'm already working on it."

"You are?" Janna looked so pleased that Ryan laughed aloud.

"Yes. I told you that a friend of mine… a guy I work with actually…has a cabin on the lake. I've already asked him if we can borrow it. He said we could have it anytime after the season ends…after Labor Day…for as long as we'd like it. How'd you like to take a ride up to the Lake, maybe this weekend and take a look at it?"

"Oh honey, that's great! I'd love to. And actually, I need to get up that way for some good shots before summer ends. I've been thinking about our taking a few days and going together. Think we can?"

"Yeah. You know what? I have a ton of vacation and sick time saved up…why don't we go during the week when it's not quite so crowded?"

"Cool! How much notice do you need to give before taking time off?"

"A week should do it. Maybe less. There's a young guy on the bike squad, Micah, who's getting married and is looking for all the extra shifts he can get before then. John likes him, so I'm sure there'd be no problem with him subbing for me."

"It's settled then. As soon as you can get the days off, we're gone. Ryan, there are some very special places up there that I'd like to share with you. May I?"

"Absolutely Janna. I'd love that. Shall we make it a backpacking trip? Biking? Do you want to camp?" Her enthusiasm was catching and Janna fell right in with her. They didn't get to sleep until much later and the next morning Ryan barely made it to the roll call on time. Again. She did, however, find time for some intimacy with her wife-to-be. Of course.

-20-

The guard strode down the blue-carpeted hallway of the ultra-modern County Jail complex. He stopped and spoke to another guard who sat at an electronic control console. The second man pushed a button and a large door thirty feet ahead swung open with a swishing sound. The first guard strode through it, waited for it to click shut again, and entered a roughly octagonally shaped room, where a dozen or so guards shared the space with about fifty inmates.

The room itself was lined on all but one side by tiers of cells. The cells were enclosed by windowed doors, rather than by bars. The jailer walked straight ahead and ascended a staircase, which curved around to the left. He walked about half way around the level and stopped at an open door.

He called gruffly to one of the men sitting on a bunk within, "Simpson. You have a visitor."

A disheveled looking brown haired man in his late twenties looked up as the guard called his name. He stood cockily and stated, "'Bout fuckin' time that bitch came to see me."

"Put it to her hard, Joe," laughed his cellmate.

"Yeah, she won't know what hit her." He swaggered toward the doorway, the guard following him.

"Alright, calm down Simpson. This ain't no lady come to see you," corrected the guard.

"Then it's for damn sure my woman!" The inmates from the surrounding cells laughed as he exited the block.

They left the unit and made their way down the same blue hallway that the guard had walked down minutes earlier. They approached another control desk and the guard there buzzed them into a large room which was divided down the center by a polyethylene partition.

As he made his way to a partitioned section and sat down, Simpson was disappointed to see his buddy Billy sitting there, waiting for him.

Simpson sat on the hard chair and faced his friend. A small hole cut at face level allowed for conversation.

"Aw, fuck Billy. Get the hell out here. You got a lot of nerve, asshole. If you and Adam hadn't run off and left us we wouldn't be in this shit hole." Simpson shook his head with disgust and looked as if he needed to spit.

"Don't look like much of shit hole to me Joe. Looks pretty plush in here if you ask me" replied the twenty-something with stringy brown hair.

"Trade places with me then asshole. What do you want?" Simpson snarled angrily.

"I just thought you might like to know that me and Adam saw that little blonde queer woman you beat up. She was with the dyke cop that arrested you...hanging all over her like a slut." Billy puffed out his chest and adopted an air of importance that he really didn't feel.

The bored, angry look on Simpson's features was replaced by a look of interest. "Oh yeah? Where was this?"

"At the ball diamonds out by the port. The cop plays on one of them all-dyke teams. I checked and she plays every Friday night. We seen her again last week."

Simpson's face lit up in a sneer. "Now ain't that interesting? The blonde there too?"

"Yeah. I figured maybe Adam and me could give her a little payback for what she done to you. Teach her and her little queer girlfriend a lesson."

"Yeah. You guys owe me that much. I'd say if you do that we could pretty much call it even."

"Sure. Hey, how long you gonna be in here?"

"Shit, I don't know. Those queer-loving liberals got some kind of new law passed where you get more time for queer bashing…it's a federal crime or something. My lawyer wants me to plead out, cop to assault instead of attempted murder and get two to five. But I figure maybe I could get a jury with some decent jurors on it and beat this fuckin' charge. I don't wanna go to fuckin' San Quentin or some real shit place like that."

"Oh, I don't know Joe. It seems like the queers are getting more and more people on their side. You better listen to your lawyer."

"Yeah, maybe."

The door clicked open and the guard entered the room, announcing, "Okay Simpson, time's up."

As Simpson stood up he said, "Yeah, okay Billy, you let me know how that goes, huh?"

Billy, ever the intelligent one, responded, "Yeah, okay Joe. I know where to find you!"

~~~~~~~~~~

Ryan and Janna entered the kitchen, laughing, and Ryan deposited her gym bag and truck keys on the tile countertop adjacent to the door.

Janna sidled up next to Ryan and wrapped an arm around her waist as she asked, "How about chef's salads and wine out in the gazebo?"

"Mmm, sounds great. Why don't we grab a quick shower first and then I'll help you fix it?" Ryan replied as she turned and wrapped both arms around Janna.

"Ooh, that sounds even better. I'll make a chef out of you yet, won't I?" Janna smiled warmly at her as Ryan brought her hands up to her partner's shoulders and rubbed them gently.

"Yeah right!" Noting how tight her partner's shoulder muscles were, Ryan remarked, "You worked hard tonight Janna. You're gonna be ready for some extreme softball real soon at this rate."

"Mmm, I feel like I worked hard. My arm and shoulder muscles aren't too happy right now." She raised her shoulders and tried to stretch the kinks out of them as she spoke.

"Why don't I give you a little Reiki in the spa then?" Ryan leaned forward and kissed an earlobe.

"Oh, I won't turn that offer down. Thanks love."

"Okay, I'll pass on the wine then and have tea."

"I'll do the same so I can give you some Reiki too." She smiled fondly at Ryan, her pride in her mate's newfound healing prowess written all over her face. "You're a wonderful healer Ryan...definitely a natural." She looked thoughtful for a moment, then smiled as she asked, "Is there anything you don't do well, honey?"

"I don't exist well without you." Ryan's sincerity warmed Janna's heart and they made their way arm in arm upstairs to the master suite.

Ryan stood behind Janna, the pulsating stream of water from the showerhead hitting her back, and poured lavender-scented soap into her palm. She gently rubbed the soap onto her mate's silky skin. "How's the injury feeling honey?" she asked as she ran her hand over the mostly faded bruise on Janna's shoulder.

"It's a little sore tonight actually. I may have overdone it on the overhead press machine."

"I'll concentrate the Reiki there then." Ryan leaned forward and kissed the top of her partner's shoulder. As she did so her breasts caressed Janna's back and her mate leaned back into her.

"Mmm, baby, you feel so good."

"Janna, don't get me started. We'll miss dinner again, and I know you don't want to do that." She kidded her perennially hungry mate good-naturedly, a wide grin gracing her striking face.

"You know good and well, Ryan Zamora, that I'll gladly miss a meal or two in favor of playing with you." She turned seductively in Ryan's embrace and smiled coyly just before she leaned forward and nipped at her mate's collarbone, her hands dropping to Ryan's firm buttocks and caressing them gently. Ryan found her absolutely gorgeous with her hair wet and slicked back and felt a surge of warmth spread outward from her groin.

Ryan closed her eyes and moaned. Jesus, this woman has complete control over me. Powerless to resist her little dynamo, Ryan wrapped long arms around Janna's torso and pulled her close. She searched out Janna's lips and kissed her thoroughly, causing Janna to moan.

"God, baby, why are we so hot for each other? What is it that we do to each other?" She mumbled as her lips moved from Janna's lips down to find a pert breast.

"Ohh…Jesus…um, pheromones?" came the muttered response.

"Gotta be more than that." Large hands found Janna's buttocks and pulled their bodies closer together. Despite their difference in height, or perhaps because of it, their bodies fit together perfectly: as if they had been molded for each other. Janna's face fit flawlessly into the crook of Ryan's neck and her breasts rested just under her partner's.

As one of Ryan's talented, long-fingered hands migrated around in front of her and sought out soft golden curls, Janna once again became lost in the sensations that her mate so expertly coaxed from her body.

~~~~~~~~~~

The brilliant turquoise sky offered them just enough natural light to see by as Ryan leaned forward to take the bite of salad from Janna's fork. "Mmm, that's good. Sweetheart you're as good a cook as my Mom was."

"Honey, there's nothing to making salad." Janna accepted the morsel offered her from Ryan's fork and savored it.

"You must be right 'cause I helped make it. If it were actual cooking I would have screwed it up somehow."

"Oh, you're not that bad!" Janna fed Ryan the last bit of julienned ham from her plate and then took a sip of her sweet, lemony iced tea. She pushed her plate farther back on the decking and turned back toward her mate." Okay, who's first?"

"Let me do you first, since you're hurting." Ryan pushed away from the side and got behind Janna. "Lean back against me, baby." As Janna complied, she took several deep breaths and calmed herself before visualizing the symbols, then placed her hands on her mate's shoulders. Ryan felt the energy start to flow immediately and experienced her usual excitement at what she still considered an amazing gift. She let the energy enter her being and flow through her into her partner's body.

Janna moaned softly and settled more deeply against Ryan, feeling the warmth in her mate's hands grow and spread to her shoulders. "Mmm, your hands are very hot tonight Ryan."

"Yeah, it feels like it's flowing really strongly."

"I must need it then."

"Mmm, yeah. I feel like you do. Hey, did you notice that the truck is running better?" Pride and wonder filled Ryan's voice as she spoke softly.

"Mmm hmm, I did. Nice job honey. It's cool isn't it…that Reiki works on basically anything?" Ryan could hear the smile in her voice. "I used to have an old clunker and once when I was driving home to see the family on Christmas Eve, the transmission went out about halfway here…it went down into like first or second gear and wouldn't change…made the engine race loudly. So I stopped and gave the car Reiki for about five minutes. When I started on my way again it was fine. It lasted another few months before I had to get a new transmission."

"God, that's cool Janna!" Ryan moved her hands down to Janna's deltoids.

"Oh, good Ryan, I'm sore there too." She sighed and smiled.

"Yeah, I felt I should do there next. It's true that the Reiki enhances my intuition. I definitely feel it."

"That's super Ryan, because that's one of the hardest concepts to grasp. You're actually channeling information from your Higher Self and probably also from some Reiki Guides that you have. When we channel, it's very easy for doubt to creep in and we wonder if the wisdom is truly that or if it's just our imagination." She tilted her head back and rested it against Ryan's. "You're doing so well with this. I'm very, very proud of you."

Ryan kissed the temple resting against her face. "I had a wonderful teacher."

"Thanks, love." They enjoyed a quiet stillness for several minutes.

"How's that baby? Good?" Ryan spoke softly into Janna's ear.

"Mmm, yeah. You got all the sore spots and I'm nice and buzzy now." She moved away from Ryan and turned toward her. "Come on, your turn now."

Janna centered herself and looked Ryan over briefly. "Hmm, upper back and neck tonight?" She looked at her mate expectantly.

"Exactly!"

Janna scooted in behind Ryan and placed one hand on her back and one on her neck. She felt the tension start to melt from her mate's shoulders almost before the energy started to flow, as if her touch alone had the power to heal her soul mate.

"Oh, Janna, that's nice. Your touch all by itself feels great." Janna smiled knowingly and enjoyed the feel of Ryan's soft skin. After a few minutes Ryan added, "Oh I got my time off all set for our trip next week. Monday through Thursday. Sound good?"

"Sounds awesome. I'll make the reservations at the lodge tomorrow. I can't wait to get up there honey!" Feeling that Ryan had received all the energy she needed, she squeezed her shoulders and massaged them gently.

"Shit, Janna, you could make a living at that. It feels incredible." She rolled her head from side to side and reveled in the soft touch.

"Thanks, Ryan. You don't mind that we're not camping do you?"

"No, not at all. I usually only camp when I do long treks. I'm looking forward to having a relaxing trip with you."

"Great. We should have a nice moon too. Between first quarter and full. The nights should be beautiful if it's clear."

"Cool babe. It will be great being with her out there." Ryan looked somewhat sheepish. "Um, does that sound silly?"

"No Ryan, not at all. Remember you're talking to a fellow moon worshiper here!" She caressed Ryan's cheek. "Don't be embarrassed about your beliefs, Ryan. Embrace them. We know they have substance…we've seen the proof time and again, haven't we?"

"Definitely babe. Thanks." She pulled Janna into a hug. "I love you baby. You are so perfect for me. Thank you."

"No, thank you Ryan." She pulled back a little and gazed seriously at her mate. "I know it wasn't easy for you to trust again…to give your heart away again. Thank you so much for taking the chance with me. I feel like the most blessed woman on the planet." Her voice cracked and tears spilled down her cheeks.

Ryan reached forward and wiped her tears lovingly then pulled her into an embrace. "Thank you for the same things baby…my destiny." She kissed Janna's forehead. "Come on, I'm prunin' here. Lets go to bed, huh?"

Janna laughed. "Sure. Lets go."

Though she wasn't visible to her two worshipers, Luna felt their love for her and smiled, sending loving energy into their souls.

~~~~~~~~~~

The rest of Ryan's work week made her very glad that she was taking the next week off. It seemed that she and John had way more than the usual number of drunk and disorderly calls, domestic disturbances, traffic accidents and all manner of other altercations. The previous night at the Street Market there had been an abnormal number of brawls, and arguments between vendors and buyers as well.

The city seemed to be in minor chaos, nearly approaching the lunatic fringe feel of full moon days and nights. John blamed it on the heat, but Ryan sensed that here was some sort of underlying energetic cause: perhaps something astrological. She reminded herself to ask Janna's opinion when she got home that night.

They talked about it on their way to Ryan's game. The only thing Janna could come up with was that Mercury might be retrograde, causing all manner of communication breakdowns.

The game was way out at the big complex so they had the chance for much conversation during the drive. Janna drove the Jeep and as per usual she had her music playing quietly as she drove and they talked.

Ryan remarked, "Janna I like your music. It's really melodic. I thought all punk rock was screaming and cacophony, but yours was enjoyable. Almost poppy."

"Thanks. There are a few groups playing that style now. Some old buddies of mine have a huge album out right now. Here, let me play it for you." She popped her cassette out and fished around in the tape box for another. "Ah, here it is." She slid the cassette out and handed its case to Ryan as she inserted the tape into the player.

"Dookie?" Ryan asked incredulously, grinning. "They named their CD 'Dookie'?"

Janna laughed, "Yeah. They're just a bunch of crazy young guys. I love them though. They're a lot of fun. I think you'll like a lot of the lyrics too. They remind me of some of mine. Irreverent yet socially relevant; sarcastic. Though I don't have quite so many songs about masturbation." She grinned and glanced at Ryan, who raised her eyebrows.

The first song began. The beat was pounding, driving, yet there was a definite catchy melody and the singer had a unique style that made you want to picture him with a happy snarl. Ryan found herself bopping along to the music, just as her mate always did.

Ryan laughed above the loud music and exclaimed, "I do like this Janna. God, honey, you're rubbing off on me!"

Janna grinned at her rakishly and drawled, "As often as I can baby!"

Ryan rolled her eyes and groaned. "Oh, Janna don't do that to me now. I've got a game to play and I can't be feeling all horny on the mound."

"Horny on the mound?" Janna smiled impishly at her mate and got a playful slap on the thigh.

"You are a bad girl…stop that!" Ryan had to bite her lip to keep from laughing and encouraging the imp.

"Now you know how I feel, babe. Payback's a bitch huh?" Janna's playful grin excited Ryan even further and she groaned and leaned her head against the cool window. She tried to focus her attention on the farmland passing by, but the very proximity of her mate was foiling her. Jesus Christ, she turns me on!

Janna soon took pity on her mate and decided to change the pace. She popped Dookie out and put a new tape in. A loud, but very melodic and lilting song began. "This is a newer group that I like a lot. They're not punk, but when they play live they have a punk-like intensity. They're really cool…from Ireland. Their music has an almost Celtic flavor to it, even though it's undeniably rock."

Ryan read the cassette jacket, "The Cranberries. Oh, yeah, I like them too. What's that song? 'Dreams'?"

"Yeah, that was their first big hit a year or so ago. It's on this tape."

"Do you know them?"

"No, I've never met them. But I've heard good things about Delores, the singer. She seems really cool."

"Mmm." They enjoyed the music together as they made their way down the highway.

It was still early evening, so the mid summer sun was quite intense and still high in the sky as Ryan took the mound.

The sun's heat, it turned out, had nothing on Ryan's arm and she absolutely smoked the other team. So her team was in very high spirits as they sat around after the game, joking around. Ryan soaked up the accolades heaped on her by her teammates and decided to take them up on their offer to take her and Janna out.

As the happy group made their way out of the complex, they didn't notice the two young men who seemed to be watching them intently from a short distance away. As they reached the parking lot however, Ryan felt a prickling sensation at the back of her neck and stopped and looked behind her. She didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, but still didn't dismiss the feeling. She let a wariness seep into her consciousness and drew a little closer to Janna, instinctively wanting to protect her.

As they got into the Jeep and drove away, Ryan relaxed and reached out with her aikido, and now Reiki-sharpened senses, and determined that whatever had bothered her momentarily was no longer a threat. However, she resolved to stay on guard because that was what her intuition was nudging her to do, and she was now comfortable with listening to her inner voice.

She drove on, relaxing more fully with her mate, and decided that they would have great time at the Rainbow Lounge with their friends. And so they did.



Part 10

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