Part One - The phenomenon of attraction.
A few minutes before midnight, Dr. Wilson pulled the Jeep Wrangler into the gravel drive of her weathered cottage on the Southern Connecticut shore. She yawned, a long, hearty yawn, and removed her driving glasses and placed them in the visor pocket. The front light had been left on for her, illuminating the slate walkway to the front door. She punched her entry code into the access pad by the door, but it refused to release the lock. "Friggin', fraggin' techno piece of shit," she sputtered as she tried again. The door clicked, indicating that the lock had finally succumbed.
She stepped into the house, depositing both her briefcase and her shoes haphazardly next to a neatly arranged pair of black, cloth Converse hightops. The house was very dark, and all Grace could hear was the jingle of the black dog as she climbed off the forbidden couch and waggled over to her roommate, offering an official greeting.
Grace rubbed the silky head and snout as she discarded her suit jacket onto a chair and meandered into the kitchen, hoping to find something to eat, having skipped both lunch and dinner. As was usually the case, the house was immaculate, everything stowed away in its designated cubby. She opened the refrigerator in hopes of finding remnants of the dinner she had missed but found no promising containers. "Well, shit. That's what you get for being late again," she told herself.
Knowing her roommate, the one without hair all over her body, she had probably made some succulent seafood dish that would have melted on her tongue and burst with flavor. This was the fifth night in a row she had stayed at the Center past nine-thirty. Dr. Barbara Buchler, the Biomedical Research Chairwoman for Yale, had placed her in charge of the Cancer Research Center, and Grace had spent all week trying to establish a budget and technical projections for the facility.
She washed her hand to remove the dog slobber and made a peanut-butter-and-Bacos sandwich, which she ate standing at the counter. When she was finished, she washed it down with a tall glass of chocolate milk.
With the warmth and reassurance of food in her belly, she silently moved to the bedroom, where she hoped her roommate would provide a different kind of warmth. She removed her tailored blouse and slacks, then her brassiere and bikini briefs, and finally her socks. She gently lifted the blankets to slip under the covers and inch closer to the curvy silhouette of her lanky lover.
Silver light sneaked into the room through the edge of the shades, allowing Grace to see that the sleeping figure was on her side, facing away from the door. She slipped under the cool sheets and let her hands roam and explore the warm body that had created the luscious outline.
"Gabrielle, I mean it, you have to go now--my girlfriend will be home soon," a sleepy voice sighed.
"Your girlfriend. I didn't know you had one. Is she dangerous?" A whisper and a kiss on the shoulder blade.
"Nah, but she does bite."
"Like this?" A nip to the shoulder.
"Oh, yeah. Just like that." Dana rolled over to face her tardy amorous partner and gave her a serious look. "You're very late." A peck on the mouth. "Ummm, again."
"Am I too late?" Another kiss.
"I ate your dinner, and in terms of the lesson you've been begging me to give you, you're too damned late for that too."
The young face pouted, but then an idea twinkled a green eye. "No way we can strike a deal?" She kissed the base of the long neck. A lick, a suck, and then lightly grazing teeth. "I'll even let you call me Gabrielle."
A jet-black eyebrow shot up, and then the tall nano tech silently answered by rolling her lover onto her back and placing her body on top. Grace slid the inside of her thighs along the outside of the long thighs that pinned her to the mattress. Dana was resting on her elbows, her long, dark hair cascading from her head into the face of her favorite doctor. Slowly she lowered her head to kiss the soft, parted lips below her, capturing the top lip and drawing it between hers.
"Mmmm, Gabrielle, you kiss almost as well as my lover," she whispered and then broke and began to chuckle. Grace's lips pressed against the strong point of her chin, then moved slowly down to the base of her neck, where she could feel the pulsing of her heart. She felt her dark-headed companion shudder from her hot breath and touch, and she smiled. Her mouth worked its way around to Dana's ear. When she reached it, she let her tongue brush the entrance, and then she lightly nibbled an earlobe.
"What about my lesson?"
A shudder and goosebumps covered her lover's back and arms from the sound of the low voice. Meanwhile, hands had worked their way to aching breasts and hard nipples. They gently caressed, kneaded, and tugged out a few small gasps. Blue eyes that looked silver in the moonlight glazed over in pleasure. "Now?" the brunette labored to answer.
"Um, yes, now," came the whisper.
Strong hands were gripping the sheets by the blonde's head.
"Okay," she moaned and rolled off to her back away from the attention. "God, you're cruel."
Grace was grinning and snickering. She rolled up onto her side and pushed her lover's white T-shirt up past her belly button. She ran her hand along the scarred belly, lightly tracing the scars, the one from this year's stabbing still pink, others many years old and pale. She let her fingers rest on the newest one, received four months before when Dana had been attacked for an unknown reason by someone powerful enough to have a deadly nanovirus at their disposal.
The two women rarely spoke much about who the attackers could be, but Dana had the government as the primary suspect, and possibly someone with whom she had once worked. But she was not sure why they had injected her with the Beta virus that ended up almost killing her, destroying her original kidneys. She suspected that they were the same people who had cloned her skin cells and placed them under a murdered woman's fingernails. What they had expected to accomplish with either feat was still a mystery.
Grace chewed her lip, making little circles with her fingers on her lover's smooth belly. She thought about the two hidden scars on Dana's back, from the double kidney transplant. Modern medicine had performed its miracle, first the cloning of her organs and then the physical exchange. But Dana had been home from the hospital for only two months. She was beginning to regain some of the weight she had lost, but she still tired easily.
Dana grabbed the young doctor's hand just before it slipped under the elastic waistband of her sleep shorts and withdrew it.
"Lesson first," she corrected and climbed out of bed. Thank God the water's cold, she thought to herself, and stretched her muscles.
Grace rolled out her side and pulled on a pair of gray sweats and an ancient, faded blue college T-shirt. She took a quick trip to the linen closet to grab a few towels and an old blanket. Dana came over and grabbed the bulky blanket, laying it over her own shoulder.
"Come on, Rip," she said to the dog that was again sleeping on the end of the couch. A blue-black head popped up at the mention of her name, and she sprang to the floor. She led her friends through the back door and down to the sandy beach.
The waves of the Atlantic Ocean, formerly the Long Island Sound, beat rhythmically against the beach. The full moon cast shimmering light onto the two forms, who carefully laid out the blanket. Grace dropped the towels onto the blanket and then removed her sweats and shirt. Dana tossed a piece of driftwood into the water, and Rip sprinted after it, hopping over the crashing waves and splashing up a frothy path.
Dana watched the ocean come to her, leave, then rush back.
"You're not too tired?" Grace said to the wide-shouldered back.
Dana turned to the doctor.
"Because if you are, we can skip--"
"--I'm fine," she answered and grinned at the beauty before her. "But if you're chickening out...."
Eyes squinted back at the challenge.
"And the water is really cold," she said pointedly and walked to the blanket. She slipped out of her shorts and baggy shirt, revealing an endomorphic body just beginning to regain muscle mass. She held out her hand to Grace, who accepted, and walked her to the edge of the water. "Best bet is to dive right in," she suggested.
"I'll wade...you go ahead."
Cold water struck their feet, then receded with their breath. Rip sloshed over to them and shook the water from her coat all over them as she dropped the piece of wood at Dana's feet. Grace reached for the plank, but Rip barked at her, startling her.
"What's her problem?" she asked Dana, who was bending to retrieve the stick from the sand.
"She doesn't think you throw it far enough." She flung the stick out into the water.
Grace scrunched up her face in distaste. "She thinks I'm a wimp."
A crooked smile. "She accepts your shortcomings. Now for that swimming lesson," Dana said, picking up the smaller woman and hefting her onto her shoulder. It would have been impossible a few weeks earlier, but the vitamins and exercise were doing wonders for reshaping the flaccid muscles atrophied by her illness. She waded into waist-high water and then lowered the clinging, naked woman down into the frigid water.
Grace clung to her like a kitten, pressing her breasts and pelvis tightly against the taller woman not out of passion or even the ice-cold water but out of fear. Grace could not swim in the ocean. At first Dana found this ironic, considering where Grace had purchased her house. But as she learned more about Grace, she understood it was a personal challenge she had put herself up to.
"Relax, I'm here," Dana said soothingly, her arms around the curving waist and very, very much enjoying the contact. Saltwater rose and fell against their bodies. Rip dog-paddled by, kerplunking her way with each stroke and offering a doggy snort.
"Quit showing off, you bitch!" Grace grumbled.
"Now come on, loosen your hold a bit, or I'm going to take you under with me."
Slowly the blonde began to relax, straightening her legs until soft, mushy sand squished between her toes. Dana did not let her eyes or hands move from the frightened pupil.
"First thing is that you need to become one with the water."
Grace rolled her eyes. "That's stu--" and then a large swell crashed into her, tugging her off her feet and under the murky water. After the initial mind-chilling hit of cold water, panic consumed her, and she tried to scream. Then she was yanked out of the darkness and terror.
choking, she pushed Dana away, angry and embarrassed, and began to trudge to shore.
"Get your perfect little ass back here," Dana said in a low, strong voice to the retreating figure.
"That was mean what you did."
"Mean how?" Grace continued to walk against the tide. "You don't think I commanded the ocean to do that?"
Grace turned around. "No, but you knew that wave was coming. And you know I'm scared of...of...."
"My arms were around you the whole time. Besides, you can stand up here--all you had to do was put your feet down. It's no different than in the bathtub."
The frightened woman did not budge.
"Look, you won't be able to sail with me if you can't swim."
Grace's face grew grim. "I can swim, just not in this water."
"Water is water, Grace, a highly dipolar molecule made up of two hydrogens and an oxygen. This stuff just happens to have a little salt added for taste."
"And the ability to kill twenty million people."
A pause. "You can't sail with me unless you learn how to swim," Dana repeated but wondered if she was being too tough. Millions of people had grown up with a fear of water after the Big Wave had wiped out many of the East Coast cities that were not buffered by some land mass. Millions of years earlier, the last Ice Age had left a long glacial deposit, subsequently named Long Island, off the Connecticut shoreline. This land mass had disappeared altogether when the enormous wave hit. Now the Connecticut shore was no longer protected from the corrosive energy of the ocean, which was why the waves pounded the beach so heavily.
"I promise I won't let anything happen to you." She held out her hand to her rigid friend. It took a moment for Grace to accept, and when she took the proffered hand, she was pulled into the naked body of her best friend. If anyone could keep her safe from harm, Dana could.
Dana spent the next hour teaching her pupil how to tread water and then how to swim--well, sort of swim--with the waves. With each new skill picked up by the bright woman, her confidence grew.
Dana was standing chest-deep in the water, tossing the stick for the dog, who swam quickly to retrieve it.
"So, who is Gabrielle?"
"Huh? What?" A glimpse of recollection. She chuckled. Could Grace actually think there really was someone else? "No one, it's just a name that popped into my head."
"Oh," Grace replied, not believing her. The water was cold, and she felt herself begin to shiver. "I know several Gabrielles. Seems like everyone was naming their daughter that in the late '90s."
"I've never met any."
"Yeah, right." She picked her feet up and tried to breast-stroke a few meters farther away without thinking about fish or crabs or tidal waves.
"I would never lie to you, especially about another woman," Dana said, intensely serious.
Grace turned and swam back toward her. "But you do know a Gabrielle--or did. I can tell from your eyes."
Dana squinted at the approaching swimmer, her arms crossed over her exposed upper body.
"Who was she?"
Dana rolled her neck and stared at the water surrounding her. "She wasn't a 'who'; she was more like a 'what.'"
"A 'what'? What was she, some virtual woman you made on your computer when you got lonely?"
"No." Dana looked nervous.
Grace swam closer, very interested. She had touched on something here and needed to know. "Then what kind of 'what'?"
"An imaginary friend."
Grace stood, a surprised but interested look on her face. "Go on."
Dana watched the water dance off her lover's breasts, the moon behind her. She felt the heat of arousal beginning as a small wave reached up and licked a perky nipple. The round breasts and strong shoulders, the thin belly that swelled into hips, and what was hidden beneath the water began to go through her mind.
"Da-na," Grace sang, knowing where her mind had wandered.
Dana swallowed so that she could speak, hoping the cover of night would hide the blush that had crept onto her cheeks. "I was little. I made her up to play with because I didn't have any brothers or sisters."
Grace looked amused. "What was she like?"
"What do you mean?" Dana ducked into the water to cool off.
"You know, did she talk you into getting into trouble? Was she mischievous?"
"She was very brave."
"What did she look like?"
A quizzical look back. "I don't understand the question."
"What's to understand? What color were her eyes, her hair? Was she tall or short?"
"I wouldn't know."
"What do you mean?" She began to laugh.
"Well, she was kind of clear."
"Yeah, Dopey, she was invisible."
Dana threw her head back and laughed loudly. "She talked a lot too, never gave me a chance to get a word in."
"Well, that explains a few things, now, doesn't it? Does she ever visit you now?"
"No, Grace." Dana swam up to within inches of her companion. "I have you to keep me from getting a word in." She slid her arms around the slender hips of her lover and stood. "You're getting better. Still afraid?"
"Not as much, but I can touch here. If I were out farther, I don't know."
"We'll have to try that when it's light out. When you feel comfortable with the world knowing there is actually something you don't know how to do, we'll try a lesson during the day."
"Want to hear something silly?" The two were sitting on the blanket, dressed, towel-drying their hair.
Grace looked at her with interest.
"When I was in York I spent a lot of time in solitary confinement. We called it the hole, and it wasn't a very pleasant place." She breathed deeply and picked up a handful of pebbles, which she began throwing one by one into the water. "I was placed in there on several occasions, but one time...." She tossed a rock toward the waves and waited for the splash. "One time I was in there for an incredibly long time. Rachel told me it was a year and a half, but it seemed a lot longer." She stopped.
"That's not silly," Grace said, resisting the urge to wrap her arms around Dana.
She began to throw pebbles again. "The silly part is that after a couple of weeks or so, Gabrielle began to talk to me again."
"What did you talk about?"
"She told me jokes and stories. Stuff like that. Sometimes she sang--not very well at first, but the more she sang, the better she got. You know, singing just takes practice. It's all muscular--well, not all, but people can control their tone. Sad thing is, if they're told young they can't sing, they never practice enough to get any better at it."
"Another theory from the desk of the Great Doc Papadopolis."
Dana smiled lazily and lay back on the blanket. "What do you think about it? Do you think I was going crazy?"
"No, sounds more like coping, just like when you were a kid. You were lonely and needed a friend. That was a pretty extreme circumstance."
Dana slipped her hands behind her head and looked up at the stars.
"Now, if you had slept with her, then maybe I would say you were a little cuckoo for cocoa puffs."
"No, I don't have sex with imaginary people, only beautiful, blond, brilliant doctors." She shivered as a cold wind blew across the blanket.
"You're cold," Grace said.
"How about a hot shower, and then you can make love to your brilliant blond doctor until the wee hours."
That caught Dana's attention. "Rip!" a whistle. "Let's go." She hopped to her feet and offered her hand to Grace, yanking her to her feet.
In the shower Grace could see the blue tinge to her lover's body from the cold and worked her hands all over the body to improve the circulation. She berated herself for not being more careful. Dana was recuperating wonderfully, but she was still healing, and being in icy water for an hour was not the best way to improve one's health.
Dana had no idea why the doctor was treating her to such a wonderful washing, but she didn't complain. She liked the attention.
"And you said I had a perfect ass? You need to check the mirror once in a while," Grace said as she slid the soap down to wash the round behind.
"Nothing perfect about this scrawny body," Dana said as she turned in to the smaller frame. "Now you, you take my breath away." And with that she bent and indulged in a mouth-quenching kiss so deep that it sucked the air out of Grace's lungs, leaving her feeling lightheaded.
"Dana?" Grace asked as she stroked the hair of her resting love's head that lay in her lap. She was sitting up with her back against the headboard. They had made it to the bed when the hot water ran out. The sheets were still damp from the water they had not taken the time to towel off. "I want to ask you something."
"Hmmm," Dana replied sleepily, planting a kiss on her belly. Her hands were resting comfortably wrapped around her lover's muscular thighs. She was comforted by the lingering musky scent of her Grace and the warmth of her body.
"Sex has been different since your illness," she said tentatively.
"Different how? Bad?" Dana looked up in concern. She had thought it was better.
"No, not bad--different. I used to feel like you couldn't get enough of me. Before, it was like you were trying to devour me."
"I hadn't eaten for twenty-nine years, Grace. I was kind of hungry."
Grace cocked her head and swatted her lightly. "No, it was more...." She searched for the word.
"No, it's still passionate. Insatiable."
"Insatiable," Dana repeated for herself. She sat up next to her lover to think about it. Wrapping her arms around her knees, she leaned her head on her forearms. "When we first started..." she paused, trying to be tactful, "...sleeping together, I was caught up in trying to please you, in the newness, and in letting go of certain...things." But things had changed over the past months. Dana had allowed herself to enjoy the intimacy of the lovemaking, the easy humor it had, and letting her lover explore her body. A thought crossed her mind. "Are you telling me our lovemaking is boring?"
"No," Grace laughed.
"Phew. Because I really like where we are."
Grace let a hand rub down the curve of the spine to the pink scars on her back.
"Where are we?" she asked seductively, watching her hand's languid progress.
Dana arched an eyebrow and in a swift movement pulled Grace toward the end of the bed so that she was flat on her back under her, their bodies stretched against each other.
"Do you know what I want when I'm with you, Grace Wilson?" she whispered into her ear before gently sucking the string of muscles of her neck. "I want to crawl right up beside you and stay there forever because that's how good it feels for me to be with you."
Grace smiled against Dana's shoulder and kissed softly at first, but as she felt her lover's hands part her thighs and then begin to stroke the inside of her legs, she bit down hard. Dana forgot her activity and reached for the bed covers as she moaned loudly. When Grace removed her teeth, Dana took the opportunity to possess her mouth roughly. Her tongue searched ardently for Grace's, but the blonde captured it between her teeth and began to suck on it, pulling it deep into her mouth. Dana whimpered and grabbed onto her lover, who had slid her thigh between her legs. Grace used her hands to pull the body on top of her even closer, her own body moving against her lover, who groaned desperately into her mouth. When Grace finally climaxed, she threw her head back against the mattress and called out Dana's name, her body rigid and convulsing as Dana continued to move. A moment later Dana reached the same place and collapsed, with a gasp, onto the smaller body. They fell asleep like that and slept until late morning.
As was becoming the practice, Grace awoke first. Dana's illness had made her tire easily and get into the habit of sleeping late. On mornings when Grace woke up underneath her lover, which was often, this was a problem; however, it was nothing she could not solve. On this particular morning she decided on a slightly novel approach. She decided to sing one of Dana's least favorite ditties.
"It takes all sorts to make a world." Dana's eyes shot open. "Big and tall sorts, short and small sorts." Grace began to giggle when she caught the look on her sideways face.
"Stop!" Dana said, lifting herself onto her elbows. The protest only made Grace sing louder and more off-key. She was rewarded with a wet tongue on her nipple. But she continued to sing. "It takes--oh, God," she groaned while Dana let her hand roam down as her mouth clamped on the nipple and sucked.
Return to the Academy