There was a gap in the stream of people, allowing Sam to see a strikingly beautiful woman walking towards them. She was wearing stylish clothing and her dark, wavy hair bounced in time with her long, graceful strides. The blonde couldnít help but be impressed. She looks like she just stepped off the cover of a fashion magazine. Sam squared her shoulders and sucked in her gut. This ought to be interesting.
ìTina!î Andi smiled. ìWhat a surprise. I didnít think this was your kind of event.î
A shrug. ìThings change.î
ìSo I see.î Brown eyes shifted to Sam. ìHello. Iím Andi.î
ìHi.î Steadfastly meeting the gaze, the musician moved closer to Tina and wrapped a hand around her bicep. ìIím Sam.î And sheís mine.
There was a moment of uncomfortable silence before Andi nodded, acknowledging both the greeting and the possessive stance. ìYouíre a lucky woman.î
ìI know.î The couple replied in unison, looked at each other, and grinned at their like-mindedness.
ìHoney,î Sam explained, ìI think she was talking to ME.î
ìOhÖî Tina blushed and shuffled her feet. Honey?
Andi watched her ex-lover. Sheís blushing... incredible. Evidently, keeping my feelings to myself wasnít the best plan. I was afraid she wasnít ready and Iíd scare her away. But I ended up losing her anyhow. ìWell, Iíll let you get back to your shopping. Iím glad I got a chance to see you and say Merry Christmas.î She stepped forward, kissed Tina on the cheek and whispered something to her. Then, taking off rapidly in the opposite direction, she was gone.
Without a word, the accountant suddenly sprang into motion, heading for the parking garage.
ìTinaÖ wait.î Sam hurried to catch up.
ìLetís go home,î Tina, clearly rattled from the encounter, implored. ìPlease.î
ìHome it is.î
They walked to the garage and rode the elevator to the third level where they had prearranged to park.
ìIím over here.î Sam pointed to the left. ìIíll follow you.î Quickly throwing her shopping bag in the rear of the SUV, she got behind the wheel and trailed Tinaís car the short distance to Bayshore Palms. She used her new remote at the gate, impatiently having to wait for it to close after the BMW before being able to open it again. When she pulled into the empty space next to the silver car, her partner was already pacing back and forth in front of the elevator.
Sam jogged over and they went up to the condo. As soon as they got inside, the blonde put her arms around Tina. ìItís all right.î
ìIím sorry.î The taller woman reciprocated the hug.
ìThereís no reason for you to be sorry. How about we sit on the couch and talk a little bit?î
ìI could use a beer. Would you like one?î
Neither of them moved.
ìUmmÖ T? Youíre going to have to let go of me so I can get it for you.î
ìIÖ I donít ever want to let you go.î Tina loosened her grasp just enough to duck her head for a kiss. ìEver.î
ìI like it when you think that way.î Especially when you tell me. Sam smiled and backed out of the embrace before they could kiss again, knowing where that would lead. And right now, more than anything, we need to talk. She turned on the lamp by the couch. ìWhy donít you take off your shoes and relax while I get the beers?î
Tina took the advice and was sitting with her feet propped on the coffee table when Sam returned to join her. They were quiet for a few minutes, sorting their thoughts while they sipped their drinks.
Sam spoke first. ìSheís very beautiful.î
ìI guess so. IÖ it never occurred to me that weíd run into her.î
ìItís a small world. Iím sure youíll meet an ex or two of mine somewhere along the line.î
ìI donít think Iíll like that.î
ìIt can be an awkward situation, but, if all else fails, you can always give them that glare of yours.î
ìBesides, I donít have anyone from my past quite asÖ stunningÖ for you to meet.î
ìI never loved her.î
ìI know.î Sam gently brushed the trace of lipstick from Tinaís cheek. Sheís in love with you, though.
ìShe told me sheís glad Iím happyÖ andÖ ummÖ she misses me.î
ìOf course she does.î Sam had been extremely curious as to what Andi had whispered and was pleased that Tina had shared the information without being asked. ìDo you miss her?î
ìIÖ care about her. Iíd like for her to be happy, too.î
Sheíll have to get over you first. ìEverybody has to find their own wayÖ in their own time.î
Tina put her drink on the end table. ìCímere.î She gathered the blonde into her arms. ìIt may have taken me a while, but I found what I want.î
ìAre youÖ sure?î Insecurity crept into Samís voice. ìI meanÖ youíre so gorgeous, itís a given that peopleÖ beautiful peopleÖ will flirt with youÖ want you. I donít know how to compete with that.î
ìIím VERY sure. And there is nobody for you to compete against. With one lookÖ one wordÖ one touchÖ youíre in here,î Tina tapped her chest, ìhugging my heart.î
An enormous smile lit up Samís face. ìReally?î
ìReally.î Tina smiled back, delighted her words had helped ease the womanís doubts. I need to tell her stuff like this more often. Pulling the bottom of the polo shirt out of the waistband of Samís jeans, she slid a hand underneath. ìIt doesnít hurt that you have an incredibly sexy little body, too. SoftÖ with curves.î Her hand cupped a full breast. ìFor meÖ youíre just right.î
The combination of compliments and gentle caresses had turned Sam a rosy shade of pink. ìYou certainly know how to flatter a girl.î
ìIím going to hold you to that.î
ìGood. I like it when you hold me.î
ìSo do I.î
Several minutes of contented snuggling passed.
ìIím sorry if Iíve been acting jealous. Itís not the most endearing of traits. The problem is, anything involving you seems to send my emotions into override.î
ìI understand the feeling. The thought of losing you...î
ìThereís NO chance of that.î
ìI get a pain in my stomach just thinking about it.î
ìIíll never leave you.î Sam kissed Tina tenderly. ìI promise.î
Blue eyes became moist with tears. ìWhat if somethingÖ badÖ happens?î
ìWe can find a way to get through anything.î
ìIÖ ummÖ Iíve been having nightmares again.î
Sam was immediately worried. ìAbout the accident?î
ìKind of.î Tina took and released a shaky deep breath. ìButÖ itís not Steven. ItÖ IÖ loseÖ you.î
ìThat WONíT happen. Not if I have anything to say about it.î
ìSteven and I said weíd always stick together. I told him IÖ lovedÖ him.î
I bet youíve never told anybody that since then. Sam considered carefully how to respond. She decided that, as difficult as it might be, she had to be realistic. ìWe canít anticipate everything life has in store for us. If, as unlikely as it is, something happened, Iíd fight till the end to stay with you. And, no matter what, even if I was physicallyÖ goneÖ Iíd be in your heart forever.î
ìIÖ needÖ you. I donít know what Iíd doÖî
ìPromise me you wouldnít run away again and close yourself off from everyoneÖî
ìI canít promise that.î
ìWhat about Joshua?î
ìYes. If something happened to me, heíd need you to help him deal with it.î Almost as much as youíd need him.
ìIÖ donít think Iíd be much help.î
ìJust being there for him would be enough.î Sam used her thumb to wipe the tear trickling down Tinaís cheek. ìNot that we have to be bothered with such thoughts, because weíre going to grow very old together.î
ìI hope so.î
ìFor now, our main objective should be to get you a dream catcher.î
ìThe Native American thing?î
ìYeah. You hang it by the bed. It filters out bad dreams and lets the good ones through.î
ìDoes it work?î
ìItís worth giving it a shot, donít you think?î
ìIíll pick one up tomorrow. But for tonightÖ I think Iíll hold you and see if I can keep all the bad dreams away.î
ìI like that idea.î
ìWell, it will take both of us to make it work.î
ìWhat do I have to do?î
ìYou have to believe that I love youÖ that Iíll protect youÖ and Iíll never leave you. Can you do that?î
Tina looked into Samís eyes, seeing only love and devotion shining back at her. How can I NOT believe it? ìYes.î
That night Tina slept peacefully, wrapped securely in Samís arms. The next morning, she told the blonde not to buy her a dream catcher.
She already had one.