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.

Warnings: No violence, sorry. This does involve a look at loving relationships between women. If this is not your style, you are under 18, or if this is not legal where you live: Either donít read it, donít get caught reading it, or forget you ever saw this stuff.

For those who think lesbianism is wrong -sorry, perhaps one day after we cure stuff like cancer and AIDS weíll work on stupidity-until then, donít read and donít flame.

Sex: Of course-not in all sections but it does happen now and again.

Sue: Always for you!

Anything I missed? Fill in the blanks or email me.

All comments, questions, suggestions and nice stuff are LOVED!

Jeaninehemail-public@yahoo.com

Chapter Six

Jay felt like life was potentially on track. She was cautiously optimistic, and that was a damned good feeling after a few years of pessimistic cynicism. She had a friend who was becoming a close friend, work was going well, other than her growing disgust at remaining so carefully closeted, and there was a chance that she could have Bailey back in her life at least as a friend.

Jay had worn her new pendant to work all week, receiving several compliments about it, but no one seemed to suspect it had a meaning, including Sharon. Jay had to chuckle at the thought of Sharon’s face if she ever realized what it was Jay had been wearing. Today was sunny and comfortable, and she had plans for the weekend that didn’t include any work! Life was feeling good for a change.

Pulling into her parents’ driveway, she cut the engine and pulled her overnight bag out of the back seat. As Jay let herself into the house, she saw that her parents had left a note for her telling her they were at the club and had decided to have dinner there as well. Smiling, Jay went up to her room and tossed her bag on the floor. She let herself fall backwards onto her bed and took a minute to review her plans for the rest of the day.

Jay knew she would need to leave soon for her golf date with Bailey. Golf date? Interesting choice of phrase, she mused. Why does this feel like a date? I haven’t spoken with her in years, she shows up on my doorstep and I’m suddenly thinking that we’re going on a date? I’m going to be her boss next week! This can’t be a date, I don’t know if I can trust her that much again. Or, that I want to risk that much pain again. Jay put her thoughts aside as she gathered the clothes she would need for her plans with Riley that evening and repacked her bag before she left for the club.

Why couldn’t Riley and I be a couple? Might make my life simpler if it had happened. Then I could have simply told Bailey she was too late. Or could I have? Jay recognized the pointlessness of her thoughts and closed her bedroom door firmly behind her as she headed to the club.

#

Bailey watched from the pro shop as Jay walked towards the locker rooms with a small bag in hand. As she watched, she saw the pro that had helped her earlier coming down the steps from the main door of the club. The two women met at the landing and hugged. Even from the distance involved, maybe two hundred yards or so, Bailey could see the pleasure in both women at their chance meeting. Bailey turned away, thinking she has plans and I just saw what those plans involve. Bailey tried to remind herself that she had no claim on Jay. Just because the sight of Jay made her knees go weak, didn’t mean Jay felt the same, especially considering their past. Determined to make the most of her time with Jay, she got the scorecards and loaded their golf bags on the cart just as Jay appeared.

“Hey, thanks for doing that for us,” she said as she approached. “You know, the subservience doesn’t actually start until Monday morning,” joked Jay.

“Very funny! I just figured since you had plans this evening, I’d get us all set to go out and we could take a cart to save some time.” Bailey was trying not to let her jealousy of the golf pro show through as she said, “I ran into the new pro here and she got your clubs out for me.”

Totally clueless about Bailey’s thoughts, Jay said enthusiastically, “Yeah, she’s a great addition to the staff here! She’s given me a few pointers I want to try out today.”

Fuming, Bailey thought, I just bet she has! “Why don’t we head for the tee?” was what she said instead.

“I’ll drive,” they both said at once. Breaking up into laughter at the once common occurrence, they decided to take turns, with Bailey driving first since she set the cart up for them. Bailey soaked up the feeling of Jay next to her and relaxed as they headed for the tee.

Jay settled into her seat before she pulled her glove out of her back pocket and pulled it on. As she started to check her first ball for nicks, she finally spoke.

“I’m glad you asked me to play today.”

Bailey felt her ears grow warmer and knew they were bright red. She stammered a bit as she tried to reply, “I…I’m glad you agreed to meet with me. I just didn’t want things to be to awkward on Monday. I mean what I said about wanting to win back your friendship and trust, Jay.”

Jay just nodded and remained silent, her eyes following a pair of ducks swimming in one of the water hazards that ran through the course.

Bailey was relieved when they got to the tee and found it empty. They flipped for the first shot after agreeing that they would follow the rules of leader takes first position after the hole. Jay won the flip, casually teed up the ball, and settled in for her first drive. Taking a deep breath, she slowly released it as she swung through the ball, keeping her head down and watching the club sweep through the path she wanted. Bailey couldn’t help but follow the twist of Jay’s body as it coiled and uncoiled. She had always liked to watch Jay, but there was something more alluring about this adult version.

“Nice shot, Jay, guess those lessons must be paying off,” said Bailey as she got out of the cart and teed up her own ball.

As Bailey lined up her shot, she cleared her mind of everything but the ball and where she wanted it to land. With a strong motion, she swung through and raised her head in time to see her ball land just behind Jay’s, both dead center of the fairway.

“Great shot, Bailey! It looks like we’re pretty evenly matched these days,” Jay complimented. Bailey was reminded that Jay had always out-powered her driver shots. Bailey had to admit that it felt good to be back on a course and able to keep up with Jay.

They walked to the cart and headed towards their balls. “So, um, have you given any thought to our friendship, Jay?” asked Bailey with a hesitant quality to her voice.

Jay blew out a breath and made herself take a second to think before speaking. “I have, of course I have. I know it will be ridiculously hard to work together every day and pretend we didn’t grow up together. The truth is, I do understand why you ran away. Yes it hurt, and I think you should have come back sooner to settle things, but you came when you were ready, right?” she snuck a look at Bailey to see how she was being received.

Bailey nodded quickly, “I did come back as soon as I realized I had to take the chance to make things right. I thought I could ignore it and it would go away, but it ate at me, Jay, I had to come back to you … I mean here.”

Jay’s breath caught a little at that but she let it pass. “Okay then, here’s what I’ve decided. We take things one day at a time. It feels comfortable to be with you here and now, but I still find myself on guard. We’re both different people than we were all those years ago and who knows if we’ll even have much in common now.” At that, Bailey raised an eyebrow, but kept silent, pulling the cart over as they reached their balls.

After they both hit their second shots and returned to the cart, Jay continued. “I admit I’ve really missed you and our friendship over the years. I want to say that I would take back that night if I could, but the truth is, it was an amazing night for me.” Jay stopped suddenly, seemingly unable to continue for a moment.

Bailey jumped in with, “It was for me too Jay, that’s why I ran. It was impossibly good. We were two kids with no clue about the world, and I felt like I had found the other half of my soul. I just didn’t know what to do with that, considering the ramifications.”

They waved another group through, as they realized that they weren’t doing much golfing. They finished the hole, both deep in thought, and when Jay got behind the wheel, she headed for a section of the course closed for renovations.

#

“Where are we going? Jay, what’s going on?” Bailey sounded a little concerned since Jay took off without announcing a change of plans.

Jay looked over and saw the worry on her face and told her, “Relax, I just figured we could keep talking without the whole club coming through the conversation. This section is closed so we can sit and talk for a while.”

Bailey nodded and smiled softly, “I’m so glad you want to talk, Jay. I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed talking with you.” Jay nodded and pulled over behind some trees with a nice view of the lake.

“Let’s settle some things without interruptions.” Jay said firmly.

Green eyes looked up at Jay and she almost lost her resolve. Bailey nodded, afraid to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing just when it seemed Jay might actually be open to working on things. She wondered about the golf pro, but pushed her from her mind and continued to look up at Jay’s deep brown eyes.

Jay settled more firmly into her seat and cleared her throat before beginning, “I guess the real question Bailey is, how much do you want from me, and how much can I give this time?”

Startled, Bailey started to protest but Jay waved her hand to ask for silence.

“Now Bail, I don’t mean that quite the way it sounded, but the truth is, as much as I understand how things happened, a lot has changed for me. I’m not the trusting soul I was in our younger days.” Bailey sat very still, almost afraid to breathe waiting for Jay to continue.

“I don’t know how to explain it, but working at this company has changed me, Bail. I’ve had to work for someone who is so deep in her closet she can’t see daylight and she wanted me to do the same. I’ve managed to compromise, I don’t lie about myself nor do I go out of my way to tell people anything much about my life outside of work. I changed companies about five years ago to get into this lending division, and now I wonder what I was thinking.”

Bailey kept quiet but she nodded while instinctively reaching for Jay’s hand with hers. She smiled when she felt the warm fingers wrap around her smaller hand.

“The thing is, all this time, I’ve just been working so hard, and now I’m not even sure I remember why anymore. I’ve started learning more about the upper management of the company and I’m not sure I want to stay. I need to know, Bailey, what is it you really want from me, from us? Friendship or … ” Jay stopped talking; she couldn’t even ask what was in her heart. Ever since she first saw Bailey again, she knew that her heart still belonged to the green-eyed woman. Now she was babbling and it was time to learn the truth behind Bailey’s homecoming.

Bailey knew this was the moment. This one moment in time was why she had picked up and moved back from Florida, without a job or a place to live of her own. Please Goddess, she begged, please let me get this right.

“Jay, I realized something just before Kelly died. I’ve never gotten serious with anyone because no one could ever capture my heart. My heart has been here with you all these years, it’s still yours with no room for another love.” Jay stayed silent but she tightened her grip on Bailey’s hand. Bailey gave a tremulous smile and said as clearly as she could, “I still feel as if you are part of my soul, Jay, and I want to see if we can build a relationship, a full partnership. I know it’s a lot to take in, and even more to ask, after all that has gone before. I know you’re seeing the golf pro and—”

“Wait a second!” interrupted Jay. “There is no one in my life right now. I’m not dating Riley or anyone else. Where did you get such an idea?”

“But I saw you when you got here, you hugged her, and don’t you have plans later? It’s okay, I don’t have any claim on you, I understand.”

“Damn it Bailey, you aren’t hearing me. Riley and I are friends, becoming very good friends in fact and we do have plans later. However, we do not now, nor will we ever have, anything romantic. We’ve hung out and talked a lot, in fact we’ve talked a lot about you.” Jay ducked her head down as she said this, realizing she was admitting to thinking about Bailey a lot since their last meeting.

Bailey gave a big sigh of relief and hugged Jay before she realized what she was doing. “Oh Jay, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to presume … I’m happy to hear you aren’t dating anyone. You’ve thought of me?” Bailey had just processed that part of the statement through her excitement to find Jay still free of entanglements.

“Of course you goofball, you came barreling back into my life without warning. Of course you’ve managed to cross my mind a few times.” Jay couldn’t help but feel as if she was walking on thin ice with her heart, knowing she still hadn’t answered Bailey’s statement about their relationship. “I guess you deserve an answer, huh?” Jay trembled a bit and it dawned on her that they were still holding hands. Maybe that’s a good sign, she thought.

“I don’t know how good I’m going to be at this, but I would like to try with you. I miss our friendship, but I lost my heart to you years ago and it never came back to me.” Jay saw tears in those emerald eyes she used to know so well. She felt her own eyes welling up as she continued, “I can’t make any promises but I will do my best to put my faith and trust in you, Bail. I’ve missed you so much.”

With that, the tears flowed down both their faces and they hugged fiercely. After several minutes, they both started to breathe more easily and pulled apart to look at one another. Brown eyes searched green eyes, looking for anything to hold on to, anything to make this moment suspect. Both sets of eyes found only honesty and caring, with a little wariness.

Jay wiped away her tears and said. ”I need us to take it kind of slow Bail; this will take me some time to get used to, and to trust.”

“Absolutely! I’m not toting a U-Haul behind the Rav-4,” joked Bailey. “Besides, I’m starting this new job, and I hear the supervisor I have is a stickler for all the work getting done quickly and efficiently. It might cut into my social life a bit.”

“Oh crap!” Jay slapped her forehead in frustration, and looked earnestly at Bailey. “I have to warn you, Sharon knows I’m a lesbian. She’s deep in the closet but she isn’t dumb. She’ll catch on to us if we aren’t careful. We have to totally keep this under wraps at work, especially with me as your supervisor!”

Bailey nodded her understanding to Jay asking, “Should I look around for a different job? I don’t want anything to ruin this chance to make things right with you. I can call up tomorrow and withdraw.”

Jay smiled for a moment, her face lighting up at the thought that Bailey would do that for her, for them. “No, it’s fine, stay with this for now and you can form your own opinions. If it becomes a problem, we can discuss it. One of us can always transfer to a different team or something. That part I know we can work out.” They both smiled shyly until Bailey noticed the placement of the sun.

“Oops, we better get you back, you have plans tonight! Hot date with the pro wasn’t it?” she teased, smiling so Jay knew it was just a joke. They started the cart back towards the clubhouse, holding hands as they drove.

“Do you want me to cancel tonight so we can keep talking? Or do you want to join us? We’re just going to dinner and maybe a movie.”

Jay was so cute in her attempt to include Bailey that she took pity on her, “It’s fine that you two are going out. I have plans also.” At that Jay raised an eyebrow as if to inquire.

Bailey burst out laughing. “I remember you practicing that look in the mirror for hours! It doesn’t fool me, woman! But, to answer your eyebrow, I’m having dinner with our parents here at the club. Mother has a nice young woman she wants me to meet after dinner.”

Jay growled at that statement.

Bailey patted her hand reassuringly, “They have no idea it’s you I want, don’t worry, I’ll take care of that later tonight. That is, if you don’t mind. You know anything I tell my mother will be back to yours within twenty four hours.”

Jay considered that before saying, “Why don’t you wait and we can tell them together? Bring them by my folks around ten in the morning? I’ll let my mom know that I’ve invited your family for brunch. Then we can tell them together that we are exploring a relationship, but taking it slowly. Deal?”

“Deal! You are brilliant you know. If I told my mother on my own it would be a matter of minutes before she was picking out baby names.” Laughing as they pulled in at the clubhouse, “I make no promises that they won’t do that still, but at least we will be a united front!” They got out of the cart and put their unused golf bags on the racks to be put back into the storage room, before heading to the locker room.

Their lockers were in different rows but they talked quietly as they changed, since they had the place to themselves. After finalizing plans, they went in search of their parents before Jay had to meet up with Riley. Jay went over, hugged her parents, and greeted the McIntyres before asking her mother for a private word. Laura went willingly, and asked Jay what was wrong.

“Nothing Mom, I just wanted to let you know, I asked Bailey to bring her folks to brunch tomorrow. Is that alright?”

Laura looked at her daughter as if she had grown a second head. “Are you feeling well, dear? I thought you just mentioned brunch with the woman that broke your heart so many years ago.”

Jay hugged her mom, “I did Mom, just trust me and remember she and I are working together now. Things have to get better, right?”

Laura shook her head, looking Jay over, but finding no sign of impending insanity, resigned herself to waiting to find out what was really going on. She knew her daughter well enough to know that she had something up her sleeve, but her mother couldn’t guess what was going to come out at brunch tomorrow. They walked back to the group just as Riley came through the door looking for her.

“Oh, there’s Riley, we’re headed out to dinner. I’ll see you tomorrow!” and she took off with a quick wave to everyone.

#

“Why do I feel as if I missed something crucial today?” asked Riley as they headed out to dinner. They had taken the CR-V back to Jay’s parents’ house before heading out in Riley’s Jeep for the night. Jay collapsed against the seat in laughter. She laughed until she had tears forming in her eyes.

“That is the understatement of the week!” said Jay when she could speak again. Getting control of herself, she turned to Riley and asked, “Do you mind if we go some place quiet for dinner and talk? Maybe skip the movie?” Riley looked at her but didn’t read anything from her expression.

“Sure, we can still go to the pub I told you about, we can get seated in the downstairs dining room if we can’t get a corner booth. Either one will give us a chance to talk.”

“Perfect” Jay said, “I just need to get a handle on some stuff, and talking with you seems to help. I think I should buy dinner since you’re playing therapist again.” Jay had been teasing Riley for the past week that she should go back to school to become a social worker or therapist, since she was so easy to talk to and gave such great advice.

They got a corner booth that opened up just as they walked in. They waited for the server to deposit menus and take their drink orders. The two friends talked over the menu, finally picking a couple of dishes to share. The server dropped off their drinks, took their orders and Riley made a toast.

“To friends, new and old.” They clinked their mugs of ale and each took a sip.

“So, I take it you have me figured out already.” Jay said with a slight smirk.

Riley gave her a much bigger smirk before telling her, “I had you figured out a week ago! You were the slow one, girly! But please, tell me what exactly happened as even my wise and wonderful powers have failed to tell me how you came to the obvious conclusion.”

Jay groaned, but grinned as she did it. Leaning her elbows on the table Jay started out by filling Riley in on the telephone call Friday morning and continuing up to the part about brunch.

“Whoa, dude, you mean to tell me you are having brunch tomorrow and announcing your fledgling relationship to all four parental units? You got a big pair of ovaries there.” Riley took a big sip of her ale, sighing with pleasure as she drank it before continuing, “I almost wish I could be a fly on the wall for that one. How do you think it will go over?”

Jay grimaced as she had second thoughts, however brief they were. “I’m sure it will be fine. In fact, doesn’t every parent want his or her kid to date the girl next door?”

Riley broke out in a huge belly laugh, turning heads in their direction. “I don’t think this is the “typical” situation, Jay, my friend. Besides your folks know what happened before, right?”

Jay nodded slowly, her eyes never straying form her ale.

“What makes you think they will be so willing to let you risk your heart with the same girl again? Don’t you think they’ll be a bit upset?”

Jay looked up and shook her head firmly. “I’m sure they will have some reservations but they’ve always wanted me to live my life the way I thought best. I can’t not give this a try. I’ve always wondered what could have been, if we had waited or things had gone differently. Now, I’ll know for sure if it is meant to be or if I’ve been holding on to a fantasy all this time.”

“Okay, girly, I expect to be kept in the loop.” Riley fidgeted a bit before asking, “You aren’t going to dump me because of this are you?” Jay was surprised to find Riley looking nervous as she asked that question.

“Oh, Rye, of course not! You’ve come to mean so much to me, there is no way I’m letting go of such a good friend. You’re gonna have to work pretty hard to shake me loose. Besides, I need all the free golf tips I can get.” Jay laughed as she said it, trying to bring a lighter tone to the table. It worked, and as their food arrived, talk turned to the happenings at the club, Rye’s family, and the books they were reading.

They finally left the pub sometime after midnight, when Riley noticed Jay yawning into her beer.

“You’ve got to learn to hold a couple of beers better than that, Conway! You’re letting down the Irish side,” she kidded as they walked to the Jeep.

Jay gave her a sleepy smile and said, “It’s weird. I’ve been really tired lately. I can gear up and get going during the day, but I’m going to bed earlier and earlier, and sleeping later on weekends. I guess I’m getting older.” Jay shrugged it off and Rye teased her about her age, since Jay was a few months older than she. They arrived in short order at Jay’s parents’ and Riley shut the Jeep off for a minute.

“Good luck tomorrow, and if you need anything, I’ll have my cell on me all day. I want a report tomorrow night, no matter what!” Riley ordered.

“Yes dear,” laughed Jay in her best hen-pecked voice. “Now go home and let me get some sleep, youngin’. No respect for your elders these days.” Jay joked as she gave Riley a quick hug and got out of the Jeep. “Seriously Rye, thanks for being here for me. It helps to know there is someone in my corner.”

“Anytime my friend, anytime. Go get some sleep, we’ll talk tomorrow.”

#

Morning came faster than Jay realized as she awoke to the smell of coffee wafting up from the kitchen. She hurried through her morning routine, threw on shorts and a t-shirt, and then changed again into a polo shirt. After quickly drying her hair and running a brush through it, Jay decided to leave it down for now. She made her bed and left her room to help her mom get brunch together.

“Morning Mom, morning Dad,” she said dropping a kiss on each one’s cheek and heading for the coffee. She poured a half of a cup, which she then topped with milk and sugar. Her mother watched in amusement.

“I still don’t understand why you even bother drinking it like that. It’s just coffee flavored milk.”

“Exactly! I like it this way!” she stuck her tongue out at her mother with a giggle. Her parent’s exchanged looks but kept quiet. “So, can I help? I can make my killer French toast if you would like,” Jay offered.

“Sure honey, I think we have everything you need for it.”

Jay gathered up egg substitute, vanilla extract, soy butter, and orange juice, which she put on the counter next to the cutting board. She sliced up a large loaf of Brioche and whipped the eggs together with a little water, then added the vanilla, a splash of juice, and a little soy butter that she melted in the microwave first. To top it off she grated in some fresh nutmeg and smelled it. Hmmm, she thought, nothing beats nutmeg! She got the large griddle heating up, sprayed a little canola oil on it, and started the process of soaking the slices of bread and frying them. As they came off, she put them on a platter in the oven to keep warm until they were needed. Thankfully, her parents had a second oven, which had turkey bacon and turkey sausage cooking away. Steve was slicing fruit, while Laura was making up some scrambled eggs with a touch of dill, a family favorite.

“So, honey, how was your night out with your friend Riley?” asked her dad.

“It was great, thanks. We went to that new Irish pub near here, and split a couple of entrées and dessert. They had great rice pudding!”

Her dad looked at her with a grin, “You still drink beer when you eat your rice pudding?” he teased.

“Very funny, old man! No, I switched to water for dessert and then went back to beer, thank you very much.” She knew he couldn’t resist teasing her about the time they went out, just after she turned twenty-one. She insisted on having beer with her entire meal, dessert included. She spent a good portion of the night learning why pudding and beer don’t mix well. She made a face at him and then laughed at the memory. “Anything else I can do, Mom?”

“No, we’re all done, the table on the patio is set, and the juice is in the fridge waiting for everyone to get here. Are you going to tell me now what brought on this fit of neighborliness?”

“Sorry Mom, you just have to accept that I’m getting nicer in my old age.” She threw a wink over her shoulder, as she went to answer the knock on the door.

After greeting the McIntyre clan and bringing them through the house. She offered them drinks and took the flowers they brought to put into a vase for the table. She hardly got a second to look at Bailey, never mind have a moment alone with her. The Conways brought everything out on to the patio and told everyone to dig in, and help themselves. The older couples remarked how much like old times this was, and the two younger women shared a quick smile as they ate. Finally, everyone had eaten and drunk their fill, so Jay got up to clear the table. Laura started to rise to help her, but Bailey motioned for her to remain seated.

“It’s okay Mrs. C, I’ve got it. If it’s going to be like old times, might as well let the kids do the dishes.” Bailey grinned at her parents and helped Jay clear the table and load the dishwasher.

Finally, alone in the kitchen and out of sight of the older folks, they exchanged a quick hug.

“Still feel like this is the time to tell them?” asked Bailey.

“Yes, positive, but we have to do it now before I lose my nerve.” She grinned as she said it, but the truth was that Jay was nervous about this announcement. There was no going back, they were definitely going to try dating as adults, and they hadn’t even kissed yet! Realizing that, Jay leaned in and gave Bailey a quick, soft kiss on her lips.

Bailey stared at her in shock before asking, “What brought that on? Not that I mind, but?” Jay quickly explained her train of thought and they both shared a laugh. Taking a deep breath, they headed back into the other room and their parents.

“Enough shenanigans kids, tell us the real reason we’re having brunch, after more than a decade of you two not speaking.” Marc, Bailey’s father didn’t pull any punches, he knew there was an agenda, and he was tired of waiting.

Jay looked in Bailey’s green eyes, saw the faith and trust in them, and she was ready. “Well, we’ve been doing some talking about our past and why we stopped being friends. We’ve worked it out to our satisfaction and … ” at that point Jay stalled out and looked to Bailey for aid.

“What Jay is saying, is that we’ve decided to explore, very slowly, a romantic relationship. Slowly that is” She was almost afraid to look up at their parents but when she did, Bailey was almost as shocked as Jay to see all four of them passing money around the table.

“What the hell is going on?” sputtered Jay. “Were you guys betting on us?”

“Well, it wasn’t like it was if you would get together or not, we simply had a pool on how long it would take you two to tell us today,” said Marc with a grin as he counted his winnings.

They looked at each other and started laughing until tears ran from their eyes. Go figure, thought Jay, we’re stressed and they already know what we’re going to say.

Leaning over to her mother Jay whispered, “Are you okay with this, Mom?”

“Honey, I’ve often thought that the two of you should have ended up together. I’m so proud of you for taking a chance on love after all the pain you’ve dealt with.”

“Thanks, Mom,” Jay wrapped her mother up in a hug.

Steve did have one question. “How are you going to handle things at work? It’s not the most liberal environment and dating a subordinate won’t be looked upon well.”

Bailey explained their plans and all the parents nodded approval. After a little more chatting, Jay realized she had to head back to her place in the city or she’d get stuck in traffic returning from the shore. She went upstairs to get her bag and Bailey followed her upstairs. While Jay looked around to make sure she had packed everything she needed, Bailey collapsed with relief on the bed.

“I can’t believe they had a pool going,” she said with a laugh.

“Hey, it is better than the alternatives,” pointed out Jay. She looked at Bailey on her bed, just like so many other times when they were growing up. Only this time it was different too, and she felt a little awkward about it.

Bailey shot her a questioning glance, “What’s going on, Jay? You got really still all of a sudden.”

Jay gave her a quick smile and reassured her, “I was just thinking how many times you’ve lain on that bed and how nice it is that you’re doing it again.” Bailey stood up and walked over to Jay, putting her arms around the taller woman.

“You are very sweet, Jay Conway. If you keep this up it’s going to be very hard to get rid of me.” Bailey’s voice wavered as she said the last part, but she kept looking in Jay’s dark brown eyes.

Jay wrapped her arms around the smaller woman and brushed a kiss gently across the top of her head. “What makes you think I want to get rid of you, McIntyre? I’ve put the past to rest, let’s see where the future leads.”

Bailey gave Jay a bear hug, unable to believe her luck that Jay was willing to give them a chance. “I’ll try to focus on that, Jay, I promise.”

They walked downstairs together, and Jay dropped her bag off in her car before heading inside to say her goodbyes. After a round of hugs, and promises to get together with her parents for golf sometime soon, the two women walked back out to Jay’s CR-V together, holding hands.

Jay laughed and when Bailey gave her a questioning look, she explained. “I feel like this is a reverse high school date. You’re walking me to my car but in my parents’ driveway. And I’m the one driving away. It just struck me as odd.”

Bailey gave a short laugh and agreed. “Call me later, so I know you got in? I’ll be around and suffering from first day nerves and all that stuff.” Jay gave her one last hug and agreed to call when she got home. Jay saw Bailey standing in the driveway through her rearview mirror as she drove away feeling a little sad and yet filled with the promise of a fresh start.

#

Monday morning, Bailey was up and out the door about an hour earlier than she needed, but she was too excited to stay at her parents’ house any more. She decided to get downtown early, and spend her time in a café looking over rental ads. She ordered her usual caffeine of choice, a large Chai latte and settled into a comfortable chair in the corner. Taking out a pen, she went over the paper’s rental section, circling those she felt good about. Deciding to call about them at lunch, she folded up the ads and stuck them in her messenger bag.

Just then she heard a voice ask, “Mind if I join you?”

Bailey looked up in surprise. Smiling widely, she replied, “You can join me anytime! What are you doing here, Jay?”

“It so happens this is my typical morning stop for Chai and a bagel. I’m not too surprised that you found it so quickly.”

Bailey laughed, “I should have known since it’s in the same building you, I mean we, work in. I was just getting ready to head up.”

“Well then, let’s head up together and I’ll get you introduced to the team before your morning orientation session with HR.”

Greeting people as they went, Jay led the way up to their offices, stopping to drop her things off in her office first. Jay introduced Bailey to Scott, and explained that he was her right arm.

“If you need anything, the odds are Scott can help. He holds the division together with scotch tape and baling wire.”

Scott blushed and held out his hand, “Nice to meet you, Ms. McIntyre. Welcome aboard and feel free to call on me if you need help locating anything.”

“Please, call me Bailey and I might just take you up on that until I get my sea legs.” With that, Jay took Bailey around the floor, introducing her to the members of the team and ending up in front of the HR suite just before the appointed time.

“See Scott when you get done, he’ll show you to your work space and get you set up with passwords and such. Spend the rest of the day getting your e-mail and other programs set up to your liking, and we’ll hit the ground running tomorrow. Later this week, I’ll take you around to the branches that will report to you for concurrences and decisions, and introduce you to the branch level lenders you will be responsible for helping along in the program.”

“Whew, sounds like a lot, but I’m ready. See you later?”

Jay shook her head, “Not likely, I’m in meetings off site by the time you get out of here.” She lowered her voice so it wouldn’t carry, “Give me a call when you head out, maybe we can get dinner or at least talk for a while.” Smiling, Bailey nodded and let herself into the HR suite.

Continued in Part 7

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