The Journey
By Janet Lynne

Part 11

-21-

See Part 1 for disclaimers

Janna, laughing, threw her arms around her wife's neck and pulled her over to the bed. Ryan laughed as she was pushed onto the soft surface, and pulled her mate down with her. "Janna, I'm gonna have to take you out on the town more often, aren't I?" She said as her wife nuzzled her neck playfully.

"I wouldn't complain if you did."

"Well I'll have to see what I can do about that." She pulled Janna close and they lay on their sides, bare legs entwined. "It was a great night, Janna."

"Yes." Janna closed her eyes and sighed. "Starting with dinner. And then the gig... God."

"Yep, it definitely got the evening off to a great start." She shook her head. "Jesus, Janna. I thought the Seattle and L.A. shows were exciting, but tonight took the cake. I thought they might carry you guys off as royalty."

Janna laughed. "Yeah...nothing is outside the realm of possibility in this town. God, honey...it's great to be appreciated. Shows like tonight's make everything else we have to go through worth it."

"It had that magic you love?"

"Yes. It was magical. And so was the rest of the evening. Being with you, here. Seeing Missy and Lisa again. Showing you some of the places that were important to me. It all came together beautifully tonight."

"And the night isn't over yet." Ryan's eyes sparkled as they gazed into Janna's.

"No, it's not." Green eyes returned the sparkling gaze. Mirrored it. Janna leaned forward and kissed Ryan gently, softly, sending love to her through their bond, then laid back on the bed and encouraged Ryan to follow.

"Janna, I do believe you want me to love you," Ryan said quietly as she gazed down at her mate.

"Astute observation," Janna whispered, just before her lips were captured.

As she kissed her wife, Ryan shrugged out of her robe and broke the kiss long enough to help Janna shed hers.

"I love you, sweetheart. Thank you for making my life complete."

"Oh, Ryan."

Ryan gently lay atop her wife and they kissed again, with as much feeling as they ever had, and their passion, always just below the surface for both women, ignited, sending the pleasant electricity they knew so well coursing through their bodies.

Ryan broke the kiss and brought a hand up to gently, reverently caress Janna's breast. "You are so beautiful, baby. So beautiful."

"So are you, love," was the breathless reply.

Ryan leaned down slowly and kissed the lovely breast, then captured its happy nipple gently in her teeth. Her tongue replaced her teeth and caressed it lovingly before it was sucked into her mouth. Janna moaned and rolled her head to the left, and gazed directly into the curious eyes of her daughter.

"Jesus!" She pushed Ryan away and sat up. "The baby's watching us!"

Ryan was so startled that her libido evaporated instantly and she hopped off the bed and approached her daughter's portable crib. Halley was on her stomach, supporting herself on her arms and gazing at her mothers through the fabric mesh. When her Momma reached her, she giggled drowsily and lay back down, then turned her face to look coyly up at Ryan.

"Christ, Janna, she's your daughter one hundred percent."

Janna rolled over and moaned.

Ryan leaned down into the crib and gently caressed her baby girl's head. Very softly, she said, "Sweetheart, it's time for naa naa now. You go naa naa." Her rich voice comforted Halley and had the desired effect, as her eyes closed immediately. Ryan gently turned her onto her back and covered her, whispering soothing words as she did so. "That's our good girl. Night little sweetheart."

Ryan gazed down at her sleeping daughter and sighed, then turned to look at her wife. She shook her head and smiled wryly before climbing back into bed. "Jesus."

"Jesus is right. Should we cover the sides in case she wakes up again?"

"Janna, I don't think that will make much difference. We'd better just make good and sure she's asleep or not have sex at all when she's in the room. I think that when we get home we'll have to consider moving her into the nursery."

"You're right. Since she's beginning to crawl, we can't keep her in the bassinet anymore anyway...she'll climb right out." Janna sighed deeply. "And, she's getting older...she's so sensitive, so empathic, that it's probably not a good idea to make love with her in the room...whether she's asleep or not."

Ryan winced, but nodded her agreement.

"I'm sorry, Ryan."

"I know, Janna. It can't be helped." She gazed over at Halley's sleeping form. "God, I'm gonna hate not having her in our room with us."

"So am I. I've been dreading it."

"But it's time, Janna. Our baby is growing and developing so fast."

"Yes. It's such a miracle."

"That it is, baby."

Ryan wrapped Janna in her arms. "Come on, love. If we can't play, let's get a good night's sleep.

Janna sighed resignedly, but then chuckled. "Ryan, I can't remember what a good night's sleep is like, can you?"

She thought for a moment and replied, "Nope, can't say I do. Well then, let's get as much sleep as we can before Halley needs to eat again in a few hours...how's that?"

"That works." A few minutes passed quietly before Janna mumbled, "You know what?"

"What, baby?"

"No contact high tonight."

"That's great, Janna. Why not...do you think?"

"Super ventilation system. They always did have a good one there." She snuggled more firmly against the solid body beneath her. "I'm glad. The experience was getting a little old, and the morning-after headaches sucked."

"Cool, baby. That means we can count three weeks from the last San Diego show and mark it on the calendar as when you can start nursing Halley again. And, um I was a little worried about hanging out backstage with you tonight...tomorrow...you know what I mean. But it sounds like it will be safe. I'm glad. I'm really getting into this groupie thing."

"Cool. You're the hottest groupie I've ever had. Night, baby."

"Night, Janna."

~~~~~~~~~~

The new day dawned gloriously, San Francisco style, as a thick layer of fog, accompanied by a biting breeze, shrouded the magical city. Ryan zipped her leather jacket closed and pulled her mate closer to her side as they walked along the pier. Janna leaned down to make sure Halley's blanket was wrapped around her securely enough to keep out the wind, and they continued on.

It was early yet and the typically crowded tourist spot was nearly deserted. Only a few vendors, those offering coffee and bakery goods, were open. They strolled to a bench next to the wooden railing and sat, gazing out over the bay. Janna held a hot cup of café mocha between her hands and sipped at it gingerly.

"This is nice, Janna," Ryan said after sipping her cappuccino. She gazed out toward the Golden Gate. "So peaceful right now."

"Mm, yes, it is. It won't be, later, when the hordes of tourists arrive, but it's still a nice place to visit, even then."

They watched as a lonely tug made its way out to meet a new arrival: a cruise ship or possibly an enormous tanker. It would return mightily guiding the imposing vessel to a safe berth. The shrill call of seagulls sounded above them and was answered by the bark of sea lions.

Ryan turned toward the direction of the amusing sound and exclaimed, "Look, Janna," as she pointed to a group of the comical animals lying on the adjacent pier.

"Oh, honey, they're so cute!"

"They are. Look, they're all huddled together."

"Mm, later they'll be warming themselves in the sun. That is, if he ever makes an appearance." She glanced overhead at the softly billowing grayness. "It's pretty thick this morning. I don't see any signs of the sun poking through."

As she spoke, Ryan smiled and said, "Look," and she nodded toward the great bridge. Above one of its towers, the clouds were parting and a tiny speck of blue sky could be seen.

"All right! We will have Grandfather's company today. Cool!" She turned and was pulled against her mate. They sat together and enjoyed their coffees as the day began around them: shopkeepers arrived to open their stores, delivery trucks pulled into the hidden lanes behind the shops to deliver their goods, and employees began arriving to ready for another day of business. It was Thursday, but still promised to be a busy day on the popular pier. City residents tended to shop there mid-week, when at all, preferring to avoid the wall-to-wall tourist crowds on the weekends.

"Honey, I'd like to go into the Christmas shop, okay?"

"Sure, babe. And, surely the incense shop, too?"

"Oh, yeah, I forgot about that one! Yes, for sure."

"Okay, baby. We'll do some shopping and then how about walking down to Fisherman's Wharf for lunch?"

"Ooh, that sounds great." She checked her watch. "The baby should be hungry around then, too. Then we can take a cable car back to Union Square and relax until dinner, okay?"

"It sounds perfect, Janna. I'm, um, looking forward to meeting Jordan."

"Are you? I'm glad....I don't want you to be uncomfortable. After we patched things up after the breakup, we became good friends. She's a good person...so is her wife, Pam. God, I haven't seen them in a couple of years. They have a little girl...she must be two, two and a half now. God, time flies."

"Mm, it does, babe. Look at our little one. It seems like yesterday that you were pregnant with her and sick all the time."

"Ughh, yeah. But you know, I've forgotten most of the discomfort." She kissed her wife's cheek. "I'm starting to think about when we should do it again."

"Oh, God, Janna, are you? I'm not sure I'm quite ready for that again, baby. Can we let Halley get a little older before we start planning the second one? Like when she's sleeping though the night?"

"Yeah, I'm not in that much of a hurry, either, love. Just starting to think about it some."

"Okay, baby. We won't wait too long. I'd like for them to be pretty close in age. But you know what?"

"What love?"

"I'm enjoying Halley so much that I don't want to have to divide my attention between her and another child. Is that selfish?"

"No, it's normal. I feel the same way. I'm sure that when the time is right, we'll have our little boy and we'll all be very happy together. He'll fit right in and our family will feel complete."

"That's the ideal, anyway."

"That's how it's gonna be, Ryan."

As Janna lay her head against Ryan's shoulder, Ryan remembered something her Grandfather had shown her in the vision the prior year and thought wistfully, you're right, baby...we may not be expecting what life sends us, but together, we'll face it and we'll be just fine...and our family will be complete. Ryan smiled and soaked in her wife's essence as they sat in the pleasant surroundings. She gazed down at Halley in her stroller. She was quiet, lying on her back, enjoying her pacifier as she held a small, stuffed bunny above her face and played with it's whiskers. God, I'm blessed.

She shook her head in amazement and her perceptive wife said, "We are so blessed, Ryan," just before capturing Ryan's lips and bestowing another blessing on her.

~~~~~~~~~~

Ryan pulled the sweater over her head and heard a knock at the door. "They're here, babe," she called to Janna in the bathroom as she moved to answer the door.

"I'll be right out."

Ryan opened the door and grinned as she said, "Hi, Missy, Lisa...it's good to see you again," and gestured for them to enter the hotel room.

"Hi, Ryan, thanks. You look great!" Missy bubbled as she gazed appreciatively at Ryan in her black v-necked sweater over a crisp, white t-shirt and faded jeans.

"Thanks, so do you," Ryan smiled.

"Guys!" Janna exclaimed as she exited the bathroom dressed for her gig in a black t-shirt and faded 501's, and swooped toward her old friends. Lisa pulled her into a full-bodied hug and kissed her cheek as she exclaimed, "God, girl, you look wonderful!"

"Thanks," Janna said as she moved to hug Lisa's wife. "Hi, babe." She stepped back and inclined her head at her. "You look really good."

"Thanks," her tall friend beamed.

Ryan walked to the bed, where Halley sat in her carrier/car seat, all ready to go. She knelt in front of her daughter and kissed her cheek. "Okay, my little love. You're going bye bye with some nice friends now. You be a good girl, okay?"

"Mamamamama, goo."

Ryan kissed her again and rested her cheek against Halley's soft hair. She felt an acute pain at sending her baby off and wasn't at all sure it was a good idea. But Janna had assured her that she would fine. Despite that, Ryan knew that her wife was experiencing the same feelings at the moment.

Janna knelt by Ryan's side and stroked her daughter's cheek gently before kissing her goodbye. "Bye sweetie, see you tomorrow." A sob stuck in her throat and she leaned against her mate.

"Jesus, Janna, don't start or you'll get me going too. Come on, baby. She'll be fine," Ryan said as she stood and picked up the carrier.

"I know," Janna sniffled. She turned and faced her friends with a wry smile. "No offense you guys, we're just not used to this."

"It's okay, we understand," Missy said thoughtfully. "She'll be fine, and we're really looking forward to this."

Janna picked up the loaded diaper bag. "Everything you need is in here, including her bottles. You'll need to get them in the refrigerator as soon as you get home. There should be plenty and you'll probably have a few left over. Um, we wrote out a list of instructions, but basically, she should eat one more time before bed, and if you keep her awake she might go five or six hours before waking during the night. Um, any questions?"

"Nope! We're old hands at this. Oh, did you put some of her favorite toys in? We have a few, but we'd like for her to have some of her own favorites."

"Yes," Ryan replied. "And she loves her bunny. We usually put her down with it and her blankie...the yellow one."

"Okay, I think we're set then." Lisa said. "Now, you two go out and have a great time and try not to worry," the curly-haired brunette added. "We have your pager number and you can call and check on her as often as you want."

"Thanks, Lise. You don't know how much we appreciate this," Janna added. "And, um, I'm sorry she'll need to eat during the night. We're still only feeding her breast milk." Janna shrugged apologetically.

"It's fine, hon," Missy said. "We agree with that attitude, and um, it'll be good practice for us." Her lips began to curl into a shy smile as she glanced at her partner.

"Practice?" Janna exclaimed as a smile lit her face. "You're not..."

Missy nodded happily and pulled her shorter mate close. "Yes, we are. Two months along!"

"Oh my God!" Janna screamed and embraced her friend. "I knew you were glowing! That's wonderful...I didn't even know who were trying!"

"We wanted to keep it under wraps, you know, in case it didn't work out," Lisa supplied. "But we used your tried and true method and got pregnant on the first shot...so to speak! So, uh, thanks guys, for the inspiration and the advice."

"Shit, Lisa, Missy, congratulations," Ryan offered. "You're gonna be so happy."

"We see that, Ryan. All we have to do is look at you two."

"You'll make wonderful mothers. My God, guys...your lives will be turned upside down, but in the best possible way. There's no way to describe the happiness a baby brings." Janna said, teary-eyed. "No way."

"Janna's right," Ryan said as she wrapped an arm around her wife.

"Well," Lisa said, "We should go so you can take off."

"I'll walk you down and show you how the car seat works," Ryan said as she grabbed her jacket.

"I'll go too," Janna added, as she picked up the long blue bag containing the portable crib, and together the five friends made their way down to the parking garage.

Ten minutes later, Ryan and Janna could be found holding each other back in their room as they shared the pain of missing their daughter. The room felt very empty without the presence of their special baby's aura./p>

~~~~~~~~~~

Ryan sat with her back against the bar, watching people enter the sophisticated room as her wife sat beside her, chatting with the friendly bartender. She noted the entrance of an attractive male couple and smiled. They hadn't seen Doug and Jay since their wedding reception almost two years previously. She waved, catching their eye, and gently nudged Janna.

"Doug and Jay are here, love."

Janna smiled at the friendly man tending bar and turned, "Cool!" She waved to her friends and hopped off the barstool.

"Baby," Jay squealed as he threw his arms around his small friend. "It's been way too long, my girl!" His deep brown eyes twinkled merrily as he appraised his friend.

"Yes, Jay Jay, for sure," Janna replied as she hugged her tall, thin friend, and kissed his cheek.

"Doug, how are you?" Ryan asked as she extended her hand to the fair-haired man.

He looked shocked as he brushed her hand away and pulled her into a hug. "We're all fags here, love, we do hugs. Give me one of those full-body lesbian hugs that your kind are so famous for."

Ryan laughed deeply and complied, nearly squeezing the air out of the shorter man.

"God, I guess I asked for that," he gasped, grinning. "Janna, babe, you look marvelous! Give me a little sweet sugar, sugar."

Janna grinned widely and did as asked, and then the friends seated themselves at a large table to await the rest of their party. A few minutes later, Ryan noted the entrance of a stocky blonde woman with a crew cut and multiple tatoos, and her taller friend, who sported short, dark hair and numerous piercings. She stood and waved, "Marcy, Donna...over here."

The women spotted her and headed their way, winding amongst the tables in the crowded bar. After exchanging similar greetings to what they had with the men, the friends continued to visit while awaiting the remaining two members of their party.

Ryan listened with half an ear to the friendly conversation while scanning the bar. Presently, she saw two extremely attractive women enter. She knew immediately that Jordan was the tall woman of about twenty-five, with shoulder-length brown hair. She was dressed very much as Ryan was, in a sweater, jeans and leather jacket, while her blonde partner was more feminine, wearing tan slacks and a powder-blue polo shirt.

"Janna, this looks like Jordan."

Janna turned from her conversation and followed Ryan's nod. When she spotted her ex-girlfriend, a warm smile lit her face and she rose to meet her friends.

"Jordan."

"Hey, Janna, you look great, babe."

"So do you." She leaned forward and kissed Jordan's cheek, lingering for a moment as Jordan pulled her close.

Ryan stood behind her, feeling her jaw tense as Janna kissed the other woman. Bend, bend, bend...

Janna stepped back and said, "Jordan, Pam, this is Ryan."

Ryan stepped forward and nodded as she extended her hand and said, "Nice to meet you."

Jordan returned the firm handshake and looked Ryan in the eye sincerely as she said, "It's great to meet you, too, Ryan. Janna's told us so much about you. And Halley." She smiled winningly.

Jesus Christ, she reminds me of a younger me. It's uncanny.

Janna caught her mate's eye and winked at her as she placed a warm arm around her waist and turned her toward the table. They seated themselves and as the others exchanged greetings, she felt Janna's warm hand rest on her thigh. She looked at her wife and received an enormous burst of love through their link. She sighed and smiled wryly, then nodded at Janna and rested her hand on Janna's, squeezing it to indicate all was well.

Jesus, she felt that. She gave an internal shake of her head and plunged in to the happy conversation.

~~~~~~~~~~

Janna lifted the guitar strap over her head and flung her hands in the air, thrusting her trusty sidekick toward the sky. "Yes! God, that was awesome!" She yelled, pumping her other fist in the air.

Brian and Jason both whooped in unison and jumped up and down, pumped. Jeff ran up and threw his arms around both their shoulders, pulling them close. "You guys did it! You fuckin' rocked the house! You killed them...again!" He looked from his brother to Brian. "I'm so proud of you guys. Shit!"

Then he looked over at Janna, who stood nearby holding her guitar in one hand, with a huge grin on her face. Her black 'The Tribe' tour shirt was soaked through with sweat and her shaggy, short blonde hair was soaked with sweat as well, plastered to her face and scalp. "Janna. I don't..."

She interrupted, "Hey, it was my great pleasure, Jeff. Believe me. It was great. I might even do it again." She approached and shook his hand. "You're a fine manager." Turning to her young friends, she said, "And you guys are rockers! Plain and simple. You blew the crowd away at every show and you blew me away too. I had a fuckin' great time playing with you. I'd do it again...in a heartbeat." She pulled them close and they shared a warm hug and some tears.

Ryan watched as Janna shared the special moment with her band mates. As she did so, she was overcome with emotion. It had been a wildly successful tour, and she was very, very happy for their young friends. But her happiness at her friends' good fortune nowhere near approached the pride she felt for her mate. Her wife was a gifted professional musician and a charismatic performer, and she felt honored to have shared so many special moments on this tour with her.

She was anxious to pull Janna into her arms and congratulate her, but she let the musicians have their moment. Janna's friends joined Ryan, eager to offer their congratulations as well, but also stopped, not wanting to intrude on the moment. The three friends shared one more tearful hug, then separated and put their instruments away.

As Janna turned from her guitar case, she was scooped into her wife's arms and they shared a long, passionate kiss.

"Baby, you were so fuckin' awesome...there aren't words." Ryan shook her head. "There just are not words. Or for how proud I am of you. You were poetry...magic...art. Baby..." She shook her head, speechless.

"Thanks, love. That means so much...I can't tell you." Janna teared up and hugged her wife again, letting Ryan's solid warmth caress her soul and bring her down to Earth. She gazed up adoringly at her wife, smiled, and added, "And what about you? You were wonderful, Ryan! Thank you for doing that, baby...I know it was putting you on the spot, but it just occurred to me on the spur of the moment." She shook her head wondrously at the memory of her wife singing beside her, and her breath caught as she recalled the passionate kiss they had shared at the end of the song, to a rousing ovation. "The crowd loved you...I think that song got the biggest ovation all night. You were incredible."

Ryan blushed faintly. "Shit, Janna, it wasn't that good...but thank you." She added with a wink and a crooked grin, "It was a fuckin' blast, baby. So exciting... and you're right, the energy coming from the crowd is an incredible high. I'm, um, glad I know 'Teenaged Queer' well enough to have sung it. Thank you, Janna. That was a once in a lifetime experience."

"Maybe not." Janna returned the wink with a jaunty grin. "Maybe we've both found new careers." She pulled Ryan close again and they shared another passionate kiss, nearly losing themselves in each other. Again.

Janna's friends had to wait through that emotional display as well, but finally the lovers parted and Janna opened her arms to her friends. "Guys, I'm so glad you were here. It made it that much more special. Thank you."

As she was congratulated and praised by her friends, Ryan stepped back and watched once again. She let them have their own special moment until she was motioned to join them. A short time later, Janna's friends left to give her space to wind down and clean up and Ryan went to the restroom.

Janna sat alone on the long sofa, contemplating the awesome show and letting the buzz from the satisfaction fill her. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and laid her head on the back of the sofa. Presently, she felt someone sit beside her and smiled when a warm hand caressed her thigh.

"Back already, love?" She said without opening her eyes.

She was answered by a soft kiss, but knew almost before the other lips touched hers that they were not Ryan's, and her eyes flew open.

"Diana! What the hell was that?" She yelled, shocked, bringing her hand to her mouth.

"You looked so inviting...I couldn't resist. Don't tell me you don't want it, Janna. What we had was so good. I miss it." She ran her hand farther up Janna's thigh.

Janna was too stunned to speak. She could only shake her head slowly as she tried to form the word, "No."

Her ex-lover took her silence to mean agreement, and took the situation even further. She reached a long hand down to her vest and unbuttoned it, pulling it open and exposing large, augmented breasts, then leaned in for another kiss.

Janna suddenly regained the ability to think and brought her hand up in front of Diana's face. "No! What are you doing? Get away from me!" She tried to scoot away from her seductive stalker, but was stopped by the end of the sofa.

"Janna, you know you still want me, admit it. And I definitely want you." She pinned Janna with cold, brown eyes. "I can give you everything you want."

She leaned in toward a shocked Janna again and was reaching for her stunned face when she was stopped by a firm hand on her shoulder and a deeply menacing voice saying, "Get the fuck away from her. Now!"

She turned angrily to see who had the audacity to intrude and looked up into Janna's wife's roiling blue eyes. Every muscle in her body was tensed and her glare shot daggers at the singer.

"I said, get the fuck away from my wife." The words were individually accented and bitten off with a barely controlled anger.

The arrogant singer glared at her and spat, "Fuck you."

She never saw the punch coming. It was so lightning-fast that it didn't even register that she had been hit. All she knew was a lancing pain in her jaw as her body flew over the back of the sofa and landed on the floor behind it.

As she sat on the floor in shock, the singer screamed, "Shit! You fucking lunatic!" She brought her hand to her mouth and wiped away blood. Looking down at her bloody fingers, she screamed, "I am going to sue the shit out of you for that...count on it, cunt!"

Ryan, struggling to control her rage, replied calmly, in a dangerous voice, "Fine, Diana, you do that. I think the press will find the proceedings extremely interesting. Especially when it becomes known that we were fighting over a woman." She took a step toward the irate woman and added coldly, "I've been keeping tabs on you and read a very interesting article recently in Spin in which you stated, and I quote, 'My childish experimentation with bisexuality ended several years ago. I am most decidedly heterosexual, and looking for an exciting, strong man who doesn't mind a strong, independent woman.' End quote. It sounds to me, Diana, as if your record company doesn't want it known that you're queer."

Diana looked as if she were about to burst a vessel, and her eyes bugged out most unattractively as she screamed, then stood up, pulled her vest closed, and left.

Janna watched her ex-girlfriend leave and flew off the couch. She gently grasped Ryan's hand, inspecting her knuckles. "Ryan...are you alright?" She softly kissed her mate's red knuckles as she gazed into her eyes. "My protector."

Ryan laughed, releasing the tension from her body. "Your jealous, hotheaded wife, you mean." She shook her head. "That was a pretty stupid thing to do. She could have me arrested."

"Oh, but she won't...and for the very reason you so eloquently stated. God, Ryan, that was satisfying. I wanted to do that three years ago when she dumped me so cruelly."

"I'm glad I could avenge you then, my love." She pulled Janna close as she added, "So glad."

Janna sank into Ryan's embrace, letting the surging adrenaline in her body settle and calm. She could still feel, could sense, the powerful emotions running through her mate's body and ran her hands down Ryan's strong back reassuringly.

"I love you, Ryan," she mumbled into her mate's throat.

"God, Janna..." Ryan nuzzled her wife's hair and took a deep breath. "I wanted to kill her."

"Your reaction was appropriate, Ryan, and I'm very grateful. I was too stunned to react."

"Still, Janna," Ryan shuddered.

Janna reached up and gently grasped her wife's face between her hands as she stated sincerely, "I love you, Ryan," and kissed her.

Ryan melted into the kiss gratefully and pulled Janna roughly against her, deepening the kiss and running her hands down Janna's body. Janna moaned and Ryan gently turned them and sat on the couch, still kissing Janna, and pulled her into her lap. Janna straddled Ryan and continued the passionate kiss as they lost themselves in each other and hands began roaming fervently. As she savored her wife's lips and tongue, her blood began surging, and Ryan ran her hands up under Janna's shirt and caressed her back, moaning her pleasure into her wife's mouth.

Janna pulled back and as she gazed seriously into Ryan's eyes, pulled off her shirt and removed her bra, then fell back against her mate and continued the kiss. At the sight and feel of her mate's naked breasts, Ryan lost all semblance of self-control and ripped her own shirts off over her head, followed by her bra, and when her breasts met Janna's, their passion was ignited. They continued the fervent necking, so lost in each other that neither cared that their location was far from private, though they were currently alone in the room.

Janna's old band mates, Donna and Marcy, laughed raucously together as they led Dougie, Jay Jay, Jordan and Pam back to the dressing room area. They rounded the corner and burst through the door, only to stop short at what they saw taking place on the sofa.

"Holy shit!" Marcy gasped, a little too loudly.

Janna was in Ryan's lap, and both were naked to the waist, necking deeply and caressing each other's torsos sensuously. Marcy's outburst startled them and Ryan broke the kiss and stared from behind her lover with wide eyes. Janna's shoulders slumped and she fell against her mate, her body shaking with silent laughter.

Jordan smiled knowingly as Marcy asked sarcastically, "We're um, not interrupting anything are we?" And boldly planted herself on the sofa next to her friends.

"What makes you think that, Marcy?" Ryan asked as she held her wife against her.

"Oh, nothing in particular." She rolled her eyes.

Donna added, also sarcastically, "It couldn't wait until later, huh?"

"You had to be here," Janna replied, glancing at her old friend with a smile. She looked proudly back at her mate and added, "Diana was here. She made a move on me and Ryan decked her. I was just showing her my gratitude," she added with a smirk.

"No shit? No fuckin' shit?" Marcy gasped.

"No shit," Janna confirmed.

"Good for you, Ryan. She's a bitch and I'm sure she deserved it," complimented Donna.

Ryan nodded, as did everyone else in the room.

"So are you two gonna fuck or are we gonna go out? I'm thirsty," Marcy stated in her no nonsense way.

While their other friends laughed, Janna scowled at her friend and held out her hand. "Hand me my shirt please."

Marcy picked up the sports bra that lay beside her on the sofa and presented it with two fingers to Janna."

"Jesus, Marcy, it's not on fire."

"Yeah, but it's all sweaty. Why don't you leave it off. We won't mind." She smirked as she glanced at her other friend, who raised her eyebrows and returned the smirk.

"Yeah, babe, it'll make it easier for me later," Ryan drawled sexily.

Janna grinned saucily at her wife and tossed the bra over her head, where it landed in a heap at an astonished Jeff's feet. At his shocked grunt, Janna turned partly, exposing most of a breast to the startled young man.

"Oops, sorry, Jeff," she giggled.

He cleared his throat. "It's okay, Janna, really."

She grinned as she turned back to her mate and slipped her black t-shirt on over her head. Ryan smiled wickedly at her, and then at their friends and gently pushed Janna from her lap, exposing her exceedingly beautiful assets to all in the room.

"Fuckin' shit," murmured Jeff, Marcy and Donna in unison, while Doug and Jay applauded, and Jordan and Pam nodded appreciatively, and they all gaped as Ryan lazily grabbed her shirts and slipped the white tee back on, leaving the bra and sweater off for the time being.

Janna sat beside her playful wife and just grinned. "Did you all get a good look?"

"Sure did, babe. Thanks for asking." Marcy replied smartly. "And thank you, Ryan. I haven't seen tits that nice since the last time they had strip night down at the Kat Club." She shook her head and glanced at her other friend. "Don, babe, you're in real danger of getting dumped tonight, 'cause I'm gonna try to find some sweetness to take home. Sorry."

Donna waved her off. "You're in the same danger, bud." The two women were best friends, but not lovers. They had been involved briefly years before, but had found to their amusement that they clicked best as friends.

Ryan laughed and pulled Janna back into her lap, where she kissed her sweetly. Then looked up at their gathered friends and stated, "Well, people, what's the plan?"

Jay Jay thrust his hands in the air and shook his slim hips as he trilled, "We're gonna paint the town red! Let's go!"

And paint the town red, they did.


-22-

Ryan lit the last candle and lay on the bed. I'm glad we spent the morning at Pier 39...we got some nice candles and incense. The aroma of ylang-ylang filled the air, lending a romantic ambiance to the room along with the warm, soft lighting the candle provided. Ryan could hear her mate humming lightly in the bathroom and smiled as the door opened and the light shut off.

Janna's breath caught at the vision before her. Ryan was lying naked on the bed, in wait, with a dashing smile on her face. Oh...my...God... Her heart began to pound, sending her blood surging through her veins as she approached her lover.

As Janna approached, Ryan forgot to breathe. Her mate's naked form was glorious in the soft candlelight. Full breasts swayed gently as she moved and Ryan couldn't take her eyes off them. She reached out to her wife as she said, "Come here, baby, I need you so much." As Janna fell into her arms, she added, "We missed out on our loving yesterday and I'm wanting you badly."

"The feeling's mutual, Ryan," Janna replied as she settled against her mate's long body.

Ryan laid them down and covered Janna's body with hers. "Where were we when we were interrupted last night?"

Janna grinned and pointed to her right breast. "You were right here."

"Oh, yes, that's right," Ryan muttered as she lowered her mouth to said breast. She kissed the already taut nipple and stroked it before gently sucking it into her mouth. At her wife's intake of breath, she smiled and went to work, lavishing devoted attention on both Janna's breasts. Several minutes later, she mumbled, "How do you want to love, baby?"

"Tantra style...it's been a long time. Okay?"

"Yes," Ryan practically moaned as she sat up and pulled Janna with her. As she sat against the pillows, Janna settled in her lap and wrapped her legs tightly around her hips. "Gods, Janna..."

"I love you, Ryan."

"I love you, Janna. You're my Universe."

"And you're mine," Janna said as she kissed her mate and they began their sacred dance of love.

Nearly an hour later, the lovers were still entwined in the same position, writhing as one as gifted fingers and mouths delivered delirious pleasure, and Ryan gasped as her orgasm exploded, sending her seemingly into another dimension and taking her wife with her. They rode out the culminating orgasm together for several minutes, gasping for air as the waves of pleasure rocked their bodies.

"Fuck...Janna, every time we do that it's better than the last." She rested her sweating forehead against Janna's and sucked in more air.

Janna sagged against her mate as she responded, "That's the idea, love...to improve with," she sighed before continuing, "with experience."

Ryan removed her hand from Janna's vagina and wrapped both arms tightly around her, reveling in their closeness, and Janna did likewise, grasping Ryan about the waist. Ryan rocked them slowly back and forth for several minutes, not wanting to part, feeling as one with her soulmate.

"Two halves...two halves, Janna, of the same soul," Ryan said as she swallowed the strong emotion she felt and tears began to stream down her cheeks.

"Without a doubt, my love. Without a doubt." Janna pulled back and gazed at her mate, and tears started down her face as well.

Ryan leaned in and captured her lips, savoring them, feeling blessed by the gods for her greatest gift, then gently parted from her mate and laid them down together. They drifted quickly into sleep together and slept blissfully until mid morning.

The warrior held her sleeping mate-sidekick in her arms and silently thanked the gods for bringing them together. Her body shuddered and tingled as she thought about the love they had shared earlier, after she had presented her mate with her birthday gift.

She loved the poem I gave her. Sappho captured my feelings for her perfectly. And my bard showed me her gratitude, too, she smirked. Gods. She shivered again and closed her eyes as she recalled their lovemaking. They had learned the skill during their visit to India, and practiced it at every opportunity. The technique, already ancient, allowed them to draw out their physical pleasure for many long minutes, and her lithe, agile mate had become exceptionally talented at the practice. Gods, I thought I was good, but she puts me to shame. I have never had a more talented, more giving lover.

She smiled at the memory of her mate's body wrapped tightly around hers and her breath caught as a jolt of pleasure shot through her, emanating from her groin. She took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. What does this woman do to me? I loved her until my body was spent, and yet I want her again. Gods...

The small, blonde warrior-bard shifted against her partner's firm body. She felt the electricity of arousal coursing through her body and it helped her to awaken completely. She opened her eyes and gazed into the cloudy lavender depths of her lover. Ah, it's her arousal that I'm feeling, through our link. She sighed and smiled. I love this effect that I have on her, and that she has on me. Gods, I love her. Silently, she turned in her partner's embrace and pushed up to claim her lips. She kissed her lifemate deeply and was quickly turned onto her back. Her warrior began making love to her again, gently, sensually, communicating her devout love for her.

"Gods, love. What do we do to each other?"

"I don't know, my bard. I only know that if I could make love to you all day, forever, it wouldn't be enough."

"But we can give it a try," the bard responded coyly.

"Yes," the warrior replied with a smirk. "We can try." She captured her mate's lips again and moved her body sensually against the smaller woman's.

Her mate wrapped her arms and legs tightly around her and matched her sensuous, writhing movements. Under the light of the full moon, they shared their love together again, and were awake to welcome the dawn.

~~~~~~~~~~

Ryan smiled and let the dream memory warm her. No wonder we're so good at that particular technique...we've been perfecting it for two thousand years...over how many countless lifetimes? Gods... Janna stirred in her arms and settled more deeply against her. I will never get tired of that.

"Mm, Ryan...is it morning?" Janna asked without opening her eyes.

"Yes, babe. Almost nine."

"Nine...my God! The baby's due..."

The knock at their door interrupted her. "You were saying?" Ryan said with a smile as she removed herself from beneath her wife and stood, grabbing her robe. She threw it on quickly and didn't bother to tie it as she hurried to the door, opening it to find Missy standing with Halley's carrier in her hands.

"Sweetheart! Come in," Ryan invited with a warm smile.

"Why Ryan, I didn't know you cared!" Missy said coyly. Noting Ryan's state of undress, she added, "I'm sorry, were you not up yet?"

"Nope, but it's okay, Mis," Janna responded from the bed. "It was a late night."

"A very late night," Ryan added with a drawl. She took the carrier from their friend and proceeded to babble and coo at her baby, while Janna sat up, pulling the sheet up under her armpits, and greeted Missy.

"Mis, thanks so much. We can't tell you how much we appreciate this. How was she?"

"She was an angel, Janna." Looking at Ryan she smirked and said, "She must take after you."

"Definitely," Ryan responded with a smirk of her own as she set up Halley's crib next to the bed..

"She went down at 10:30 and didn't wake up to eat until almost 5:30, and was very content the rest of the time. She's a very happy baby...she really was a joy."

"Oh, I'm glad." Janna said as she removed her daughter from the carrier.

"Well, guys, I have to go in to the office. It was great seeing you...let's not make it so long next time, huh?" She said as she leaned down to give Janna a hug.

"Okay, babe, we won't. You take care now...call me if you have any pregnancy questions...though I'm still a little miffed at you for not having any morning sickness."

"Sorry! Ryan, bye. Take care of my girls, please."

"Will do Missy. Tell Lisa thanks, huh?"

"I will. Bye guys!"

Ryan let Missy out and returned to the bed, pulling her robe off before sitting next to Janna.

"And what do you think you're doing?"

"We haven't had our cuddle time. Halley says that we should never overlook our cuddle time. She's prepared to go into her crib and play for a few minutes to give us some privacy." She added, seriously, "Honey, that's okay, isn't it? It's not actual sex. I don't think it should affect her at all and we can stay under the covers."

"I think you're right. And it is bonding time for us...not that we especially need it," she smirked.

"We do need it, every couple does. And besides, we love it." She picked up Halley, kissed her, and deposited her in her crib, then joined her wife on the bed and pulled the covers over them both.

Pulling Janna into her arms she remarked, "I had a nice dream just before waking up."

"Did you? So did I. What was yours about?"

"Well, you know what we did last night? Just before falling asleep?"

"Yes," Janna replied with a smile.

"That's what we were doing in the dream too. Baby, no wonder we're so good at it," Ryan said as she squeezed her mate. "Look how long we've been practicing."

"Mm, yes. Same dream again, Ryan. How cool. But first, you gave me a beautiful poem. It was my birthday. God, I wish I could remember it."

Ryan recited from memory,

"There is a moment when I look at you
And no speech is left in me
My tongue breaks
Then fire races under my skin and I tremble
And grow pale, for I am dying of such love
Or so it seems to me."

Janna gasped, "My God, yes...that's it. You remember it?"

Ryan shrugged. "I have a good memory." She caressed Janna's cheek and added, "It's perfect. It's how the warrior felt about the bard and its how I still feel about you."

"God...you're perfect, Ryan."

Ryan kissed her mate and embraced her tighter, initiating their sacred connection and reveling in their shared energy and love for a time.

~~~~~~~~~~

The bus rolled along the Altamont Pass, heading east toward home. As she gazed out the window at the dried hills and the windmills that stood tall among them, Janna was reminded of the last time she had passed that way. It was when I was coming home. Just before I met Ryan.

Her soulmate could sense her contemplation and squeezed her gently from behind. "Penny for your thoughts, love."

Janna smiled and leaned back against her wife, turning her face to steal a quick kiss. "I was remembering that the last time I came this way was two years ago when I moved back home. Just before we met."

"Oh." She took a deep breath, letting it out and caressing Janna's waist softly. "That is a homecoming that I will forever be thanking the gods for. I am so glad that you listened to your heart and left the City."

"Me too, baby. Me too."

"Mm. In about a half hour, baby, we'll be home."

"Yes, it's gonna feel so good."

"How about...you, Halley and I play in the spa when we get there? It should be nice and refreshing. We'll just relax until game time."

"God, honey, I am so there. Good idea. Have you let Sharon know that we'll be making the game?"

"No, not yet. She was so friggin' hardcore about it last week that I thought I'd let her stew a while longer. They only lost one of the games while we were gone, for crying out loud."

"Ryan, you two must have been enemies in a life or several...you each seem to delight in pissing the other off."

"I know! I've had the same thought." She nuzzled Janna's neck and gave her a sultry monkey bite. "I think that Sandy just doesn't give her enough pussy."

"Ryan! Jesus...could you be a little more crude, honey?"

"Oh, yeah, I think I can...wanna..."

"No!" Janna half turned to look back at her mate.

"Okay, but I can be a lot worse than that," Ryan said sexily in Janna's ear as she ran her hands up under Janna's shirt and latched on to two soft breasts.

"Stop that! What's gotten into you?" Janna stilled Ryan's hands and removed them, glancing to see that no one was watching. They both were...with smug grins on their faces. "Jesus..."

"Um, do you two wanna get a room?" Jeff suggested with a smirk.

"No need. I'm gonna fuck her silly at home in, oh," Ryan glanced at her watch. "About twenty minutes." She leaned heavily against Janna and whispered, "I think I'll get the strap-on out and chase you around the house. We haven't used the kitchen table in a while."

Janna closed her eyes and fought the desire that was taking hold, not wanting to encourage her naughty mate's very naughty behavior. Gods. I can't. I can't resist her. She turned and straddled Ryan's lap. "That sounds like a plan." Then she kissed her surprised wife, to whoops and whistles from their friends.

Janna pulled back and looked at her wife with raised eyebrows. "What...you can dish it out, but you can't take it?"

"Oh, baby, I'll take whatever you wanna give me. Anytime, anywhere, anyhow, anyway."

"I know you will," Janna said as she sat back, then turned and settled once more against Ryan's chest. Ryan's hands immediately resumed their place around her waist, and she was pulled even closer.

Just then, Halley came crawling from the back of the bus, chased by a crawling Jason.

"Jason, what the hell are you doing with my kid?"

"I'm playing with her, Ryan. Just like you do, tough stuff."

"Just watch you're not too rough, huh?"

"Geez, Ry...this kid's as strong as an ox. Can't imagine who she gets that from," he added sarcastically as he picked the happy baby up.

Ryan smiled proudly and puffed out her chest.

"Easy there, Dad. I'm no creampuff either, you know." Janna reminded her.

"That's true, Janna." Ryan admitted. "You are one tough little cookie. Sweet too. I could nibble on you all day." She playfully nipped at her favorite nibbling spot on Janna's neck, illustrating her point.

Jason handed the baby to a giggling Janna, and the little one immediately settled against her Mommy's shoulder. "She'll be ready for a nap when we get home, honey."

"Cool, babe," Ryan said with a jaunty grin.

Mm, hm. Very cool.

~~~~~~~~~~

Janna's brother Dan met the bus and the returning family and drove them home. After kissing her brother goodbye, Janna joined her loved ones in the bedroom, where Ryan was changing a drowsy baby.

Janna sidled up next to her and said, "I guess we'll have to have playtime after her nap."

"Family playtime, anyway," Ryan drawled. She looked sideways at Janna and added, "I, um, got a little worked up thinking about fooling around when we got home, but if you're tired..."

"Honestly, honey, I am a little dragged out from the trip...maybe we can just do a little something in the spa? Something relaxing?"

"Sure, Janna. We just had some awesome sex last night, so I'm really not feeling needy. I think I was just getting a little stir crazy on the bus, is all."

"I know what you mean. Tell you what...why don't we relax in the spa and let nature takes its course?"

"Janna, I absolutely love letting nature take its course. Thank you, baby." She deftly pinned the clean diaper and put a fresh undershirt on the baby, then lifted her to her shoulder. "Honey, I think we should put her down in the nursery...let her get used to the crib."

"Good idea. I'll go ahead and turn it down." Janna walked ahead of Ryan into the next room and pulled the shade to darken the space, then went to the Winnie-the-Pooh bedecked crib and turned down the comforter. Ryan laid the baby down gently on her back, cooing softly to her.

"Mamamama," Halley said quietly, gazing up at her mothers. Janna placed her pacifier in her little mouth and she closed her eyes as she sucked contentedly on it. Quietly, her mothers backed out of the room and stood together in the doorway, gazing at her.

Ryan draped an arm around Janna's shoulders as she said, "She's in her own room now, Janna."

"God..." Janna turned into Ryan's hug. "Let's go into our room now, Ryan. We can do the spa later when Halley wakes up.

"Let's go, babe."

A few minutes later, they were in their own bed, stripped down to their underwear, kissing softly, and glad almost beyond measure to be back home.

~~~~~~~~~

A few days later, after working a very long Monday following her vacation, Ryan returned home to prepare for her aikido class. Janna was preparing a light snack for them to eat before class, as they usually went out to eat afterward, often with students or fellow teachers.

Ryan tiredly set her gym bag on the counter and tossed her keys into the key basket.

"Hi sweetheart, long day, huh?"

"God, Janna, the headaches..." She shook her head. "My entire department practically fell apart without me there, but do you think they would call me on the road? No. So I had to try to sort everything out today. Jesus, what a fuckin' mess." She looked wryly into Janna's eyes. "So, how was your day?"

Janna shook her head and laughed. "It was fine. I had to push myself to get anything done, though. I have two projects that I really need to finish, but I had trouble getting back into gear. I got a little lazy on the trip, I guess."

"I hear ya, babe. Didn't you, uh, tell me once that the spirit dudes say that old souls tend to be lazy anyway...that they basically don't like to have to do anything? That we, um, prefer to have fun...even when we know there's work to be done?"

"Yep. And I was feeling every single one of my two hundred and fifty or so lives today, let me tell you."

Ryan laughed and shook her head. "So was I, babe. So was I."

"Honey, let's wind down in the spa before class. I can tell that you need to relax and I can give you some Reiki. Come on...you don't want to try to teach when you're exhausted. We can eat our snack out there."

"God, Janna, that sounds good. Where's the baby?"

"She's in her new playpen, visiting with the baby in the mirror the last time I checked. Go get undressed and I'll bring her out to join us."

"Oh, she'll like that. But let me get her...I need a Halley hug. You go get the spa ready, okay?"

"Done, love." She stood on her tiptoes to kiss her wife, who pulled her close and prolonged the kiss. Pulling back to gaze into her mate's eyes, Janna said, "At this rate we'll miss class."

"Oh, but the alternative is looking so damn nice, Janna."

"Scoot. Go get our daughter."

"Yes, ma'am." Ryan scooted and Janna readied the spa.

An hour later, the family entered the dojo. Ryan and Janna both felt more relaxed almost immediately upon entering the calming space and both noted and appreciated the fact.

"It's good to be back here, Janna."

"Yes, it is. And I'll bet your students will be glad to see you."

Ryan shrugged as they heard, "Well, there they are...the two rock stars, home to visit the mere peasants!"

They smiled as their friend Joe approached and exchanged hugs. "What do you mean rock stars, Joe? I was but a mere groupie," Ryan said with a smirk.

"Oh yeah? That's not what they said on the evening news," he said, gray eyes sparkling.

"Evening news?" They said in unison.

"Yes, I think it was Friday night. It was a quick story about the success a local band was having on tour, and they showed a certain highly decorated local police officer singing."

"Fuckin' shit..."

"What? It was wonderful! You couldn't really be heard over the poor video equipment, but you looked good. And so did your guitar playing wife." He smiled widely.

"Jesus Christ, Joe, I was singing 'I'm a teenaged queer'!" She hung her head and sighed. "Christ, I hope no one else saw that."

"Oh, why not, honey? You were incredibly good. It was a highlight, if not the highlight, of that show. I wish I had it on tape."

"Fuck..."

"Well, at any rate, it's great to have you two back. Your students missed you. I know they're glad to be rid of me." He smiled warmly as he added, "See you in awhile."

"Bye, Joe," they both said, and Ryan turned to Janna, red-faced. "Come on, Janna, we're almost late."

"Okay, babe." Janna grinned at her tough mate's discomfiture and shook her head.

They proceeded to the mat room's foyer and removed their shoes, then entered the large teaching space, Ryan carrying the baby in her seat. As they entered, the assembled students, all from Ryan's class, applauded and whistled, and it was at that point that both Ryan and Janna realized that a tape of Ryan's performance did exist, and that their buddy had shown it to everyone present.

"Oh, fuck..." Ryan moaned under her breath, as Janna giggled.

"Take a bow, you guys...both of you!" Called one of Ryan's buddies from the force. Ryan calmly flipped him the bird, to a round of laughter, and tried to corral her class instead. Janna gave her a quick squeeze and sent her a burst of love, receiving a thankful nod in return and left to deposit Halley with their friend Ellen in the stands.

As she returned to Ryan's side, the class parted to begin their calming movements, and both women heard a seductive, "Well, hello. Long time no see," and looked up to see the attractive, but troublesome, student from months earlier who had made a pass at Ryan.

At the sight of the woman, Ryan and Janna looked at each other and said in unison, "Oh, no!" And then fell together in laughter, hugging each other closely to keep from falling down as they shared their very private joke. Ryan kissed her beloved mate and parted from her to approach the confused woman.

She pinned the woman with a serious gaze as she said, "If you're seriously here to learn aikido, you're welcome to stay. But if you're here for extracurricular reasons....especially having to do with me... I would suggest that you leave right now. Because I am here to teach aikido to serious students, and I am not now, nor will I ever be, interested in any woman other than my soulmate, to whom I'm happily married and completely devoted." She added, "Make up your mind right now, please, and either join the class or leave," and turned and walked away, signaling for Ellen to turn on the music.

The woman stared after Ryan for a minute and then turned and left the room, to both Ryan's and Janna's great relief. They came together to practice the aikido mai together, dancing gracefully across the mat. Neither guided the other, and they weren't touching, yet they moved as one.


The End

Thank you for sharing this journey with me!

Feedback is appreciated



Thanks to my kids, who make my life complete, with special thanks to Andrew, who often makes it necessary for Mom to seek out the stress-relieving solitude of writing. I love you guys! XOXO

Thanks to the following artists for providing inspiration in the form of music during the writing of this story: Pearl Jam, Green Day, Screaming Trees, Melissa Etheridge, Blink 182, Lit, Ramones (always), Joan Jett (forever), 3 Doors Down, Nirvana, Bikini Kill, Team Dresch, Tribe 8 (my Tribe), k.d. lang, Katherine Fugate for her 'When Fates Collide' mix, John Huling, Dead Can Dance, Sarah Brightman, Sacred Spirits, Sarah McLachlan, classic dudes Schumann, Grieg, and Chopin, and of course, Joseph Loduca for his Xena soundtracks.

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