See Part 1 for Disclaimers

Opening Doors

By J.S. Connolly

Copyright 2005

"And I will love you, baby…always

And I'll be there forever and a day…always

I'll be there till the stars don't shine

Till the heavens burst and the words

don't rhyme. I know when I die you'll

be on my mind. And I'll love you always."

- Bon Jovi

Chapter 5

Finally alone after a plethora of grins and ribbing from her son Meg undressed, and warm in her flannel pj's found her mind drifting back to the kiss. Her smile became a groan at the heat and pure unbridled wanting it stirred within her.

Attempting to move to safer thoughts she thought back to the beginning when she first met the charismatic lawyer.

It was about 5 years ago and she'd just finished up getting her Paralegal Certificate from New York University. She and Ben were getting along financially but only barely so she knew she needed to find more stable and better paying work.

Also she was tired of pulling two jobs. One at the local supermarket and the other at a restaurant, if it could be called that, it was actually a diner and gave new meaning to the expression "greasy spoon". Needless to say she never ate there on breaks so that also added to their bills.

Through the school's employment services she'd been directed toward the small firm Tanner ran herself. She did mainly civil and constitutional law along with some pro bono work. Granted it was just an internship and not a highly paid one, but it was a foot in the door and with only one lawyer to assist she could learn without being bombarded with requests from every direction. All the same she needed to go through an interview to get the position and was exceedingly nervous when the day arrived.

She practiced incessantly in front of the mirror; Ben and anyone else who'd listen so she believed she had any questions covered that might arise. However, nothing could've prepared her for the force of nature that was Tanner McKenzie. She heard the office door open and looked up as long legs moved closer only to be captured by warm, intelligent eyes that were a captivating shade of blue. The black pant suit and white silk shirt served to bring out the attorney's eyes even more. Long sable hair framed her face and full lips smiled as she held out her hand. Meg rose and almost forgot her bag as long elegant fingers encased her smaller hand. She was drawn out of her reverie by the deep silky voice of the tall woman.

"Hi, I'm Tanner McKenzie and you must be Megan Shay.

I was told by the career counselor that you were interested in an internship."

She mentally chastised herself ' Jesus Meg. You're acting like a tongue-tied school girl with her first crush.'

"Yes, that's right. Is this a good time? I can come back if you're busy."

"No, no it's fine. Why don't you come in and we can talk."

Tanner turned and headed for the office.

"Okay. I'm mean alright."

'Pack it up Meg. She may end up being your boss so stop it.

What is up with you anyway? You've never noticed a woman this much before. If you don't get a grip you're going to start sounding like Derek Jacobi in "I Claudius".'

' Oh god I know but who wouldn't notice that strong back, those long legs. Not to mention those full lips and oh my god those eyes. So blue they'd put the sky itself to shame, sigh!'

'Fair enough but she's a potential boss so shake it off, beat it down, whatever but get your head together before you blow it.'

Tanner chuckled as she made her way toward her desk chair and motioned for Meg to take the one on the opposite side.

'Oh christ did I say that out loud and not even know it'

She looked up to see only compassion and a touch of leftover amusement in sky blue eyes, and felt her anxiousness ease.

"It's okay Megan. I know how stressful these interviews can be and it's not like you said Okey-dokey. I like to think I'm pretty laid back. The only thing I will say about what I've seen so far is you seem very accommodating, which isn't a bad thing when it comes to meetings like we're having so don't misunderstand me. But in this business when you're dealing with other lawyers and their clerks and such you can't afford to be too accommodating. If you are you'll be getting files, lists and documents with little or no time to go over and answer them, or make a filing against them and that's bad especially if you have a case pending in a matter of weeks. So I guess my first question to you would be can you be assertive because if you can't they'll walk all over you without blinking an eye. I'll be entrusting you with a very important part of the process of protecting my clients so I need to know you can rattle the cages if the need arises. Can you do this?"

There was nothing accusatory or threatening about the woman's tone only inquisitiveness and a glimmer of hope. If she was one to assume she would think the enigmatic lawyer wanted this to go well as much as she did.

She smiled and gathered her confidence.

"Yes, yes I believe I can. I can understand your need to ask because I've heard of a lot of instances where the assistant will become lax or just frustrated. What with how many times they need to call and remind the opposing firm that they need to release certain information, and it caused their client to lose the case. I've never had to do it myself, but I decided to go back to school two years ago and didn't have the money. Now I'm not one to blow my own horn but I know some people would've given up. I applied for a number of loans and grants and it seemed to drag on forever especially the grants so I had to keep on top of them for about six months. Finally, one of the grants came through. Now, I won't say it wasn't frustrating and I was as nice as possible about it but believe me they tested my patience. Still, when I got the letter I was so happy the rest of it didn't matter."

Tanner smiled full out at the fire in her eyes.

"That's excellent. Something tells me you're quite the fireball when you set your mind on a goal. If I may ask what made you decide to go back to school and why this field?"

Meg blushed slightly at the comment, and grinned as she thought of Ben and how there was nothing she wouldn't do to give him the best life she could.

Curious blue eyes awaited her answer.

"Oh well that's easy. I went back for my son to give him a better life. Not that it was bad but I was working two jobs just to make ends met and I was so exhausted by the time I got home that I had little time to spend with him. I missed so much of his first few years I didn't want to miss anymore."

She swallowed down the lump in her throat and compassionate blue gave her the courage to continue, which amazed her

' I just met this woman so how is it that she can calm me with just a look. She's not at all what I imagined a lawyer would be like but maybe she saves it for the courtroom.'

"Um, as far as why I chose the legal field. Well, I guess I've just seen so much pain and cruelty...not just physical but emotional that I wanted to be a part of something that would protect the rights of others."

She waited for a reply noting that the other woman seemed almost touched by her honesty, and her eyes filled with admiration.

"Um, Wow. Thank you for sharing that. You're son is a very lucky kid. I have one myself so I know the feeling. As for the rest, I went over your academics before you came today. I also looked at the references from your professors' and all of it was very impressive but I needed to meet you and make sure we could work well together. And I needed to know that you had a feel for the business because it's very demanding. Having said all that, it's obvious to me that you have a lot of heart when it comes to this kind of work. That's definitely a character trait I'd want in an assistant as you'd be my right arm so to speak, so if you want it the position is yours."

The tall woman beamed and Meg felt herself well up with happiness and gratitude.

"Thank you so much, I'd love to have it," she sniffled.

"Hey, what's wrong," Tanner said coming around the desk to hand her a tissue.

"I'm just so grateful. You were so understanding and compassionate about everything. How could I not do well with all of that surrounding me. I know I'm new even to the this type of interviewing but somehow I know that's a rare thing and something tells me you are as well, so thank you."

She found the blush on the tall lawyer's face quite endearing, and it blew her away that she felt so comfortable with someone she'd only just met. It was as if they'd known each other for years.

"Well, I never really thought about it. The only other interview I ever did was for Rose, my secretary, who's out today. I don't remember getting that reaction from her so it must be you. You must've just brought it out of me."

Blue eyes gazed at her warmly and Meg felt like she would just melt at the sweet sentiment and could only utter "Oh" as an incredible urge to place a soft kiss the other woman's lips overwhelmed her.


Taking a deep breath she tore her eyes away and looked everywhere but at the statuesque woman in front of her. Still the need for an outlet for her feelings remained and before she could stop herself she gave Tanner a quick hug.

' Ah hell, what did I just do.'

"I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me. I was such a mess coming in here and put me at ease right from the start. I guess my emotions got the better of me for a minute. I really don't go around doing that on a normal basis, honest. I'll understand if you want to change your mind."

She looked down momentarily but shifted her eyes up at the feel of a soft hand on her arm. Moving her gaze from the large hand to sympathetic blue she felt her heart rate steady a bit

"Meg. Can I call you Meg? Please relax. I'll admit that's a first for me. Hell not even my clients hug me after a big settlement, but all the same it didn't make me feel funny or anything. I'm just glad I could make things easier for you and the fact that you expressed it that way well if things were reversed I might react the same way. Besides it's been a very emotionally stressful day for you I'm sure, so unless you plan on showing your gratitude that way in the middle of a deposition or in court don't worry about it."

Meg grinned slightly as a small chuckle escaped, ' Somehow I think I'll never fail to be surprised by the depth of this woman.'

"Yes, you can call me Meg, but I'm not sure what I should call you. Thanks for understanding and you don't have to worry about me doing that in front of anyone."

"Ok good, and please call me Tanner as Attorney McKenzie is a bit of a mouthful. Besides I don't like being so formal except when it's necessary like in front of clients or opposing counsel. Why don't you come in Monday and I'll start to get you familiarized with everything here. How's that sound?"

"True it is. Oh, I know what you mean. I'm so used to everyone being on a first name basis that I suppose I need to be careful. I'll make a mental note about the clients and counsel. Monday sounds great Tanner. I look forward to it," she said holding out her hand.

'and to seeing you again.' she added silently

Tanner took the small appendage gently but firmly in her own.

"Yeah great. I look forward to it too. I'm really glad this went so well. I have a feeling that what you showed me in there is only the tip of the iceberg, and I can't wait to see what else is revealed."

If she didn't know better, and actually she didn't. She would've thought she detected a warm undercurrent beneath the later statement because it seemed that Tanner's voice had dropped an octave

She smiled and said goodbye and proceeded out the door.

Later she'd swear that it was a miracle that her legs functioned long enough for her to exit the building. She believed the only thing that kept her standing was remembering that the woman was obviously straight, or was she? After all she herself had a son and was quite sure she didn't care for the company of men, so that didn't automatically make Tanner straight either. And now that she thought of it she remembered seeing a picture on the wall behind the attorney desk of a blonde haired woman holding a baby. Her head fell into her hands as she sat on her couch.

' Ok. Let's weigh this. On the one hand you have the opportunity to learn the type of law you love, have steady income, spend more time with Ben, and just maybe get to know this incredible woman more and you know you want to.

On the other hand you are very attracted to her and she's not available. Can you quell it? Can you be with her, interact with her, learn from her and keep from touching her the way you want to? Can you be happy with just a possible friendship?'

'Well it's not like I've never had to control my feelings before. Granted they weren't this strong and never this fast, but the idea of not knowing her, not learning from her. No, I really want to and I want to find out if we could be friends cause from the vibes I get I think we definitely could be. I don't want to ruin that before it's even started so I'll just have to bury them, and take a lot of cold showers. As strange as it is after only one day I really can't imagine my life without her and I don't even want to consider it so yes I can be happy with friendship.

Coming back to the present she shook her head at herself.

"Who the hell did I think I was fooling." she whispered as she bit her lip. No matter how deep she buried it was always there beneath the surface. Sometimes the only thing that kept it in check was the fact that the woman had a partner and a son. Still she did cherish their friendship which took a bit of a beating after the accident, but her love remained ever vigilante for the woman who'd captured her heart because she knew under all the pain and fear was the sweet, and compassionate Tanner she'd met that very first day. Hadn't she shown Meg more than a little of that tonight? Was she trying to break free of the anguish that had been crushing her for the last few years? Did Tanner have feelings for her that went further than she thought?

If that kiss meant anything she was certain of it, but she also knew the woman was probably terrified by her own actions. And if deeper feelings were involved Tanner would probably try to run from them. Green eyes misted at all the pain her friend had endured, and then cleared only to be replaced by love and determination. She'd made up her mind.

' She'll have to fire me if she wants to get away. I won't let her run. She deserves to have love in her life again, and I've waited so long to give her mine. Hell, I'll tie her up if I have to, but we will talk about this."

With this thought she drifted slowly to sleep as images danced across her mind. Images of Tanner that first day.

Of the many hugs and the laughter they'd shared since.

She smiled in her sleep and as the image became a bit

fuzzy she creased her brows until it cleared and she saw herself lying in a bed naked. It wasn't her bed and she

wasn't alone. As things moved in almost like in a movie she shivered as she watched another woman place soft kisses

all over her neck and chest. Moving in even closer she

moaned as she realized it was Tanner. She could almost

feel the long dark hair teasing her nipples before a warm tongue took over. Small hands buried themselves in sable

locks as a warm mouth enveloped her breast and began to suck at her like a newborn. In her sleep she writhed and groaned basking in the erotic pleasure of her dream. Unfortunately, reality can be a real pain in the butt she thought to herself when she heard a knocking at her door.

"Mom are you ok?"

Meg blushed. "Yeah honey I'm fine. It's just a little stomachache. Sorry if I woke you. See you in the morning," she said hoping Ben would leave it alone. She sighed in relief when she heard a soft ''Ok" followed by footsteps. Getting out of the bed she headed to the shower and not even bothering to undress blasted herself with cold water. As she knelt in the tub with the excess water rolling down her face she thought

'God, this is going to be a long night. I wonder how she's doing? I guess I'll find out Monday. And I will even if I have to tackle her and hold her down on the floor. Hmm, but what if she decides to hide at home? Well I do have a spare key to take care of Riley while she's gone so if she tries to play hokey I'll just have to be her personal truant officer.'

A laviscious grin surfaced as she thought of this, "Oh boy it's a good thing I'm really not or I'd be arrested for what I want to do to her. Sigh! I hope you're ready my friend cause one way or another things are going to change come Monday."

As she rested her head on her knees she silently she sent up a prayer that Tanner wouldn't push her away. She was broken out of her thoughts by the sound of the phone. Grabbing a towel she made her way over to the nightstand.

"Hello…Tanner…Tanner, what's wrong?"


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