Disclaimers: All characters referenced in this story are mine and mine alone. Any similarities between them and anyone else living, dead, or fictional, is purely accidental/coincidental. Basically, hands off without my permission-pretty please.
If you like them, feel free to let me know about it at Jeaninehemailfirstname.lastname@example.org if you don’t, please don’t be mean.
Warnings: This story will depict relationships between women. If that bothers you, I’m sorry for your narrow-minded approach but please leave now and come back when you come out. If it is illegal for you to view this type of story due to age or location then please come back when you age or move. There will at times be somewhat graphic descriptions of medical events, nothing too graphic but not for those who faint at the mention of an IV. With that said, I hope you enjoy!
I’d like to thank Vic and Trish, the two people that encouraged me to put this out to let others decide its fate.
Also, for Sue, the reason I want to do my best is to be the woman you deserve-I’m always on call for you!
“Cait, are you ready yet? We have to get going if we’re going to help set up!”
I was waiting for Caty so we could go to a barbecue at the park. Some of the people from the station were having a little get together and I had offered an extra table and some chairs. These events took place a couple of times throughout spring and summer, but this was the first time since Karen left that I was bringing a date. So yeah, I admit to being a little nervous.
“Hang on, I’m coming, just had to finish wrapping up the coleslaw and the watermelon. Can you carry the melon plate and I’ll get the slaw?”
I went into the kitchen, grabbed the platter of sliced watermelon, and resisted swiping a piece. We got into the Rav-4 and headed towards the park. It was a wonderful day, perfect weather with a clear sky and a slight breeze. Spring had faded into early summer and it was more than welcome.
The first person I saw when we got to the park was Tony. He had been back on the job for a couple of weeks but he still didn’t seem quite himself yet. He was very quiet and seemed to prefer spending his downtime alone or working out. I wasn’t sure yet what was going on with him, but I was very glad to see him out to socialize with us again.
“Hey Tony! Ya wanna come give us a hand here? We have that long table for the food plus some chairs and stuff in the back.”
He came over and waited for me to open the back of the Rav-4.
“Hi Cait, hey Donny. So, what do you have in that cooler? Some of your coleslaw?” he asked hopefully.
I laughed, “Not exactly, it is slaw but we followed Cait’s recipe this time. It’s close to mine though, I think you’ll like it. If you don’t, that leaves more for me!” I gave him a nudge and he headed off to the pavilion that was assigned to our group. After getting the table set up her came back for the cooler.
We carried the chairs and the rest of our supplies over and started arranging things. Some of the guys were getting the big grills set up with charcoal and wood chunks for the chicken, corn, and burgers that would go on later. Someone set up a portable CD player and got the music going, while some of the wives and girlfriends sat around keeping an eye on the kids and helping with food preparation. It felt great to spend time with my family again.
Caty came over to me and asked me softly, “How open are you willing to be about us right now? Have you told anyone that we’re dating? I wanted to ask sooner but it slipped my mind.”
I looked over at her and grinned. I hadn’t told anyone yet but I figured that this was as good a time as any to announce it. I grabbed her hand and pulled her close to me. I moved my head closer to hers and said, “I’m very ready to divulge our little secret. Trust me?”
She smiled and nodded, then looked a little surprised when I hopped up on the bench of one of the picnic tables.
“Hey! Everybody! I have an announcement!” I waited for the noise level to drop a bit before I continued. “Some of you know that I’ve been a little easier to work with lately.” The expected chuckles and jeers happened then quieted. “I just wanted to let you all know at once, I’m finally dating someone who is likely to understand this knuckleheaded bunch I call family! Cait and I started dating recently, so be nice to her, she deserves it for putting up with me!”
I jumped off the bench to the laughter and cheers of my firehouse family and stood next to Caty. I took her hand and smiled, “How was that? Think they know we’re dating now?”
“You are absolutely insane,” laughed Cait.
It felt amazingly good to be able to spend the day with my firefighter family and Cait, merging the two most important things in my life. People congratulated us and warned Cait throughout the day, teasing me at the same time. All would have been perfect if not for that niggling self-doubt and fear in the back of my head. I kept thinking back to why I wasn’t meant to be in a relationship. It all came about during my time with Karen.
We dated for several months after our first night together. Eventually, I suggested that she and I move in together and she agreed enthusiastically. I thought things were perfect, I was enjoying my work as a medic, steadily gaining knowledge and experience, and she seemed to enjoy her work in nursing. Things seemed great for the first couple of years.
I remember coming home one night after a twenty four hour shift to find Karen waiting for me with a romantic dinner laid out, soft music, candles, and an envelope propped up on the table by my plate. I smiled, leaned in towards her and gave her a kiss hello before reaching for the envelope. As I opened it, I felt her excitement and I couldn’t wait to read the card.
Inside the envelope was a card with a picture of a baby and a puppy on the front. Inside, the card was blank other than the handwritten words, I love you. Can I have your baby? To say I was in shock was an understatement. I hadn’t thought about kids yet. We hadn’t talked about kids, and I didn’t know what to say. I looked up to see a warm glow in her eyes and a hopeful smile on her face.
“So, what do you think honey? Let’s have a baby! I’ll carry it, so it won’t interfere with your medic career!” Karen’s eyes sparkled and danced with joy and excitement. I think she never considered that kids might not be something I was ready for just yet.
“Um, it is really sweet of you, but we haven’t talked about this at all Karen. I don’t know if I’m ready for kids yet.”
I stalled, not knowing how to handle this situation. The truth was, I was afraid of starting a family at that point. I couldn’t work a set schedule and do the work that I love. I didn’t have regular hours and my job was dangerous. I wanted to enjoy my life as it was, share time with Karen, see my friends, party when I wanted, and sleep when I wanted. I wanted kids, but not for a few more years. Maybe after I made supervisor status or something.
“Honey, when did you decide you wanted a baby? Why haven’t you said anything?” I had to know. I felt blindsided and trying to get my feet back under me.
“I’ve always wanted kids, I thought you knew that. Donny, what’s wrong? Don’t you want kids? Or is it that you aren’t sure you want to stay with me?” Karen looked hurt and that broke my heart. I never meant to hurt her, I was just in shock, so I tried to reassure her.
“Karen, I didn’t say I didn’t want kids, I just didn’t expect this tonight. I’m honored that you want to have a baby with me, really. I just don’t know if I’m ready for that yet.”
I felt like a jerk but I didn’t know how to tell her that I just didn’t plan on having kids for several years.
“So, we can talk about it? I guess I sprang it on you without any warning, huh?” She gave me a small grin. “I was just so excited after I talked to my doctor. She said I’m in perfect health and a good age to start considering having kids. I’d like to do it, I want to have kids. What do you think?”
What could I think? This was important to her, though I didn’t feel ready. It wasn’t as if I hated kids or anything. I guess I figured that if she wanted them badly enough, then it was one of the compromises and sacrifice things I needed to do for her. Besides, maybe I’d enjoy it once I got my head wrapped around the idea. After all, I bought the house figuring to fill it with a family one day. I just figured that was a long while away.
“Sure baby, sure, I was just taken by surprise. We never really talked about it but, yeah, if you really want to have kids, then I guess we should.”
Karen leapt up and gave me a hug, a kiss that would melt my socks, and dragged me into the bedroom. We made love all night long and I figured I must have made the right choice.
The quick version is, we fought about the way to do the conception, but in the end, she agreed with me that it was too weird not to go through a sperm bank. I didn’t want to look at the kid and think of some guy I knew. We saved up, picked a company, and eventually a donor. She tracked her cycle and we ordered the insemination package. I followed the instructions to the letter, but month after month, she didn’t get pregnant.
I wasn’t that upset or concerned and Karen seemed to take it all in stride. What I hadn’t realized was that she was devastated and blaming herself for the lack of conception. I simply figured it wasn’t the right time and the powers that be were letting us know it. I was blind to her pain, immersed as I was in my own life at the station. About a year later, right around the time I met Caitlin in person, Karen and I decided to take a break from trying to conceive.
Karen started pulling away from me, not wanting to make love, not spending as much time alone with me. I wasn’t too concerned. I knew she was sad but she loved me and I didn’t think about maintaining that bond. I thought that she just needed time to regroup, so I left her to do that on her own. What I should have done, from the start, was let her know That I wasn’t ready for kids. I was relieved when she didn’t conceive and that contributed to my ignorance of her pain. I knew that I would want time alone to come to terms with things, so I assumed that was what she needed.
I had my head so far up my ass, that I couldn’t have seen daylight if I tried. Karen needed me to comfort and console her. I went drinking with my friends and didn’t make an effort to include her because she was too depressed. I didn’t see the depth of her pain, instead, I felt and acted as if I had dodged a bullet. She saw through that and was even more hurt. It was the beginning of the end, but I was too stupid, selfish, and blind to recognize it.
We lasted about another year, and Karen’s mood started improving about six months before she broke up with me. I thought she was just coming around and getting out of her funk. The reality was, she was putting her life back together to restart in another place, without me, to try to have a child on her own. I just didn’t see it until it was too late.
When she told me about her plans, I knew it was my fault. I had turned away from her instead of talking it out. I have always had a hard time talking about my feelings and being a paramedic didn’t help matters. Part of our training is to repress our feelings until after the shift, or at the very least, after the call. If I cried after every tragic thing I saw, I could fill an ocean with tears. I learned to tamp down my feelings and pack them away. This helped me lose Karen, I just wasn’t there for her when she needed me to be. The worst part was, I really did believe that she would get over things without my help. I understood the term partner so well when applied to my job, yet I didn’t apply the same meaning in my private life.
All of this went through my head when I thought about my relationship with Cait. I never wanted to let her down as I had let down Karen. Things with Cait grew slowly and were so much more intense for me. I knew deep down, that if I lost her through my own stupidity, that I might never recover. This was it for me, I had to get this right, or I would be alone for the rest of my life. And yes, I’m aware that I can be very melodramatic, but it is still the way I felt.
“Open the door Chloe, before my arms fall off!” Cait said as she waited for me to fumble with the key to my front door.
“I’m working on it,” I grumbled as I juggled the bags from the barbeque, Cait’s overnight bag, and my keys, while trying to open the door. She had the cooler and refused to set it down while I opened the door.
“There we go, just dump it in the kitchen. I’ll take care of it.” I dropped the bags from the barbeque with the left over paper goods, utensils, and various items, before heading to the bedroom to toss in her bag. Finally, I headed back to the kitchen to find her unpacking the cooler.
“Hey, I was going to do that!” I tried to take over but she was already done.
“Chloe, I can handle it. I love the way you want to protect me, but I’m a big girl. I can handle stuff like this, really. You were never this protective when we were just friends. What’s going on?”
I knew it! This was too good to last. I was already upsetting her and I didn’t know how to stop myself. No matter what I thought was the right thing, it wasn’t. I pulled away and made a show of dumping the ice in the sink.
“Chloe, what is it? Did I say something wrong?” I could hear the concern in her voice but I couldn’t make myself talk. I was driving myself insane with thoughts of how I messed up with Karen and how badly it would hurt when I lost Caty. That was the problem, it wasn’t if I lost her, it was when I lost her.
“Chloe, I mean it, sit down, and talk to me. I need you to tell me why you’re shutting down.”
She tugged my hand and pulled me into the living room. We sat on my sofa and she waited patiently for me to say something. The problem was, I didn’t know what to say. How do you tell someone that you are totally messed up inside?
“I’m fine Cait. I’m just tired from the day.” Damn, that sounded like bullshit, even to me. I soldiered on though, “I’ll be fine once I get a good night’s sleep. Why don’t we go to bed?”
She shook her head and I knew she didn’t believe me. I guess that is the benefit and downfall of falling in love with one of your best friends. They know you well enough to call you on your bullshit.
“I’m not tired yet and I want to talk, is that okay?” Caty’s voice was soft and soothing, the calm demeanor she used as a dispatcher. I had always trusted that voice, even when it was just a voice on the radio.
“Uh, sure, what did you want to talk about? Did you see Tony today? He seemed almost back to himself.” I tried to deflect the conversation away from me, but it wasn’t going to work.
“Sweetie, Tony is a nice kid, but he isn’t the one I’m currently worried about. I could use your advice actually.”
“Sure Caty, whatever I can do to help. What’s going on?” I thought that perhaps, I was free and clear for now. There was something else bugging her and I could try to help her deal with it.
“Right now, the woman I’ve been best friends with for years, the woman that has recently become my lover, is hurting, and I don’t know how to fix it. How do you suggest I treat her injuries?”
I stood up, not liking the surprise attack, as I thought of it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I’m fine. I told you, I’m just tired. I’m sorry if I’m grumpy, I was stressed about today. It all went fine and now I’m tired. C’mon baby, let’s go to bed.” I tugged on her hand, pulling her to her feet.
Caty let me lead her to the bedroom and was quiet while we got ready for bed. I peeled back the comforter and climbed in first, waiting for her before pulling the comforter up and cocooning us.
“G’nite honey, I love you. Let’s just get some sleep, okay?”
I could feel her concern but she finally relaxed and said, “I love you too. You can talk to me when you’re ready. I’ll be here.”
It took me a while, but I finally fell asleep to the sound of sirens in my head.
I awoke to find myself snuggled tightly against Caty. I almost had to struggle to figure out where I ended and she began. I lay there for a few minutes, reveling in her warmth and the comfort of her presence. Then I remembered the talk from yesterday. I knew it would return and I had to figure out how to deal with it. I started to roll out of bed when a warm arm snaked around my middle, pulling me back.
“Where do you think you’re going? I haven’t had my way with you yet!”
Cait was trying to wake up and give me a credible leer at the same time. The effect was adorable and I felt my heart melt for her all over again.
“I was just going to the bathroom. Can I still go if I promise to come right back?” I asked her teasingly.
“I suppose so, but bring me some OJ when you come back to me, Slave!” Cait said in the most imperial tone she could manage, but the effect was ruined by her rather large yawn mid-sentence.
I tossed a pillow at her as I walked away, and then said, “Your wish is my command Mistress, as always.”
I chuckled as I headed to the kitchen after my time in the bathroom. I gathered some orange juice, bagels, cream cheese, and stacked it all on a couple of plates. I carried it just as she was coming out of the bathroom.
“Hey, what’s all this? I was kidding about the OJ. I was about to come out and get some. You don’t have to wait on me.”
“Yeah, I know, but I thought I was supposed to come back and snuggle. I decided to combine activities.” I grinned, knowing she couldn’t turn down a chance for breakfast in bed. Sure enough, she jumped back into bed, took the orange juice from me, and smoothed out the covers so I could set things down.
We enjoyed our time with each other and eventually, after we ate, talk turned back to the previous night. I knew I wouldn’t luck out forever, and now there was no excuse of exhaustion or hunger to fall back on.
“So, are you going to tell me what was bothering you last night? Or, should I guess?” Cait looked over at me with so much determination that I didn’t know what to say or do. All I could think of was finding a way to distract her and not let her see that I wasn’t the right choice for her.
“I told you last night, I was just over tired. I just worried that you would over due it with the cooler.”
“And I already told you, I don’t believe that story for a minute. I remember how you were when Karen left town. If you think I’m going to hurt you, why did you announce us to everyone yesterday? Or, is that what freaked you out?”
“I don’t know, I just felt weird last night. I still think I was just too tired. I didn’t feel like I was making any sense. Can we just leave it at that, please?”
Caty looked over at me again, and her gaze softened, but I saw pain there as well. Somehow, without meaning to, I was hurting another woman I loved. I didn’t know how to stop myself from doing it either.
“Chloe, sweetie, I understand how hurt you were, I was there, remember? I’m not her. You aren’t the same person you were then either. I’m not asking for something that you can’t give me. I just want your trust and I want you to share your thoughts, and feelings with me. I knew before I told you how I felt, that there was a chance you wouldn’t be able to return my feelings. I know how shut down you’ve been. I’m just asking that you try to tell me. It’s okay to be afraid, to want something, to disagree with me.”
I looked away, unable to meet those expressive hazel eyes. I knew what she wanted but I didn’t know if I could deliver it. I would have to break through barriers that I set in place to protect myself. What would happen if I took them down, if I let her inside me fully? Wouldn’t the real me just scare her away, just as it did with Karen?
“I think I know what you mean, but Cait, really, I do trust you. I know you aren’t Karen. I’m not the same just off probation medic I was when she and I got together either. I don’t want to see you get hurt. I couldn’t take it if I hurt you too!”
I started to choke up so I stood, walked over to the window, and stared outside. I couldn’t look at her, not now, not until I was under control again.
“What is it you’re afraid of? Why are you trying to remain the big, bad, super cool medic with all the answers? Talk to me.” Her voice was gentle and I could hear her concern.
Cait slipped out of bed and walked over to me. She wrapped her arms around me from behind and tried to pull me back against her, but I resisted. At least at first. It felt too damn good to lean into her though, and I found myself wanting to share my fears with her. I didn’t know how to start. She already knew some of what happened with Karen, but not quite everything.
“I don’t want you to think poorly of me, but the truth is, Karen was right to leave me Cait. I wasn’t the right person for her, and I didn’t even have the guts to tell her how I really felt about things. At least, not until it was too late to change anything.”
She waited quietly, letting me gather my thoughts. I tried to figure out how to tell her what a loser I was when it came to personal relationships, without losing her. I finally decided I had to tell her what I was thinking. She wasn’t going to give it a rest until I did. I steeled myself for the rejection that would inevitably follow, just as it had most of my life when I opened up too far.
“What you didn’t know about me and Karen was that she really wanted to have kids back then. We never talked about it before, but she sprang it on me over a surprise romantic evening. Suddenly, everything was all about having a kid. There were sperm donors to consider, clinics, methods of conception, everything. She even asked my brother if he would donate his sperm so that this kid could have genetic material from both of us! She did that without even talking to me first! I was furious!”
I stopped for a moment to gather myself. This wasn’t Karen in front of me, but I could feel the anger surge, even now. While I was quiet, she took the opportunity to speak.
“I can’t believe she did that behind your back. No wonder you have trust issues sometimes.”
I shook my head, “That isn’t all of it, and it wasn’t all her fault either. When she first brought up kids, I was too afraid to let her down. I didn’t tell her that I didn’t really want any kids just then. I hadn’t thought about being a single parent and then when we got together, I was enjoying just being us, so I didn’t think about kids then either. When we finally settled on a donor clinic and picked a donor number, I still wasn’t positive I wanted to give up my way of life for kids. I agreed to it all, but I never told her that I still wasn’t sure about having a kid. I didn’t really want to do it then. We tried for close to a year to get her pregnant, but it didn’t work.
When we decided to take a break, I was so relieved! It felt like I dodged a major bullet. Instead of telling her that, or trying to comfort her and understand her sadness, I partied. I was out drinking and partying with the station guys, while she was home, convinced she was a failure as a woman. I never noticed. Heck, I never even bothered to try. It was my fault that she left.”
Cait stood the silently, holding me against her from behind still. I didn’t feel any change in her but I was too afraid to turnaround and look at her face. I had begun to cry as I told the story, feeling the pain I caused Karen and the pain of losing her all over again.
“Honey, you made mistakes, she made mistakes, neither of you are fully to blame. You weren’t honest about your feelings, but it sounds like she wasn’t either. Is there more?”
How did she know? I had never admitted the last part of all of this to anyone. Hell, I had hardly admitted it to myself. Yet, Cait seemed to know there was more to the story, more to why I didn’t trust easily anymore.
Sighing, I pushed myself to tell her the rest. “I haven’t told anyone about this before. I really want this to work with us, but …”
Cait pulled away then, but she pulled me by the hand to sit on the bed with her. Lifting my chin with her hand, she made me look her in the eyes.
“What do you see when you look at me Chloe?”
“I see you, I see Caitlin.” I was puzzled but tried to play along.
“I see so much when I look at you Chloe. I see your love, your fear, and your pain. I see that big heart that you tucked away behind walls you thought were unbreakable. I see your strength and intelligence. So, in essence, when I look at you, I see you, I see Chloe.”
More tears starting coming down my cheeks again as she spoke so sweetly to me. She made me want to be a better woman for her, but if I told her the rest, would she still want me?
“Cait, there is more to the story, you were right. I just never wanted anyone to know. I was so ashamed, I just wasn’t good enough for her.” I took in a shuddering breath, trying to make myself say the words. “When I came home the night we broke up, I found her there waiting for me. Well, sort of waiting for me. I think she knew when I would be home and planned it. She was in our bed, with a man. She said that since I couldn’t give her the child she wanted she found someone who could. He was willing to take care of her through the pregnancy and then sign away rights to the baby. She didn’t care what she had to do. All that had ever mattered to her was having a baby. She told me before she moved out that she didn’t love me, I was just someone she thought was kind and would be a good parent.”
With that, I lost control and burst into loud, body shaking, crying. Caty just help me, rocking me gently back and forth. She whispered stuff to me as I cried myself out finally, and held me as I slept. I don’t know how long I was out, but when I woke up, Caty was still there holding me safely.
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to unload on you. I certainly didn’t mean to fall asleep on you after I did.”
Caty just hugged me tightly and said, “Sweetie, you have nothing to apologize for at all. You were treated so badly by her! No wonder you never really dated after that fiasco! Baby, all I can tell you is that I will never, ever withhold important information from you. Nor will I ever sleep with someone else, especially a man, while we are together. It is you I love, and you that I want.”
I burrowed into her side and clung to her, praying that it was true. I wanted so badly to believe her and trust in the words she spoke. “Caty, it’s going to take me some time, is that all right? I don’t mean to push you away, I really don’t. I’m not used to talking about a lot of stuff and believing what other people say is harder for me than talking.”
“I’m here, I’m not going anywhere. Take the time you need and try to have faith that it will all work out in time.”
I felt better having told her about it, but I still worried about the future and what that might bring. At least I didn’t have to worry about telling her and losing her anymore. She didn’t seem upset by what I had done as much as she was upset for me. That was a completely new experience. It was something I was willing to get used to experiencing.
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