Part 3 - Unlike with work, the time element is an integral part of defining power. Power is work divided by time and relies equally upon the magnitude of the force and the rate.
Dana felt as if the weight of the world rested on her shoulders, and she was no Atlas, or even Arnold Schwartzenegger, for that matter. She sat by the window, but the heavy blinds blocked her view of the thickening storm clouds, and her thick, gray sweatshirt insulated her from the gentle breeze of the air conditioner. One arm rested across her stomach, and the fingers of her free hand roamed the keyboard. Every so often she looked up through her wire rims at her computer screen and then looked away again, rubbing her eyes.
Rachel made several trips to the water cooler just to peek into the office. On her sixth trip she noticed Dana had both elbows on the table and her face ensconced in both hands.
Then the tech flipped down the screen with a growl, leaned back, and stretched out her arms as she rolled her neck until it popped. She wanted to be sure that the nano would work, especially before going into human trials. If something were to go wrong and more people died because of some mistake, or ignorance, she didn't think she would ever be able to adjust to that guilt. Barbara had decreed that she wanted to start the previous day, but Grace had backed Dana's hesitancy and insisted that the nano would not be produced until Dana decided it was ready. Grace had no idea whether Dana would ever feel ready. Over the past week Dana had picked apart her simulation program, and Grace had called in the microbiologists and biochemists to reassure her partner that the variables had indeed been defined correctly. It broke Grace's heart to see her so insecure about her own ability to do good. But she understood, and she waited.
"Hey, there, tall, dark, and noticeably missing from my bed," Grace said, staring into her lover's blue eyes as she entered the office they shared. She pulled the door closed behind her.
"Well, if it isn't my favorite suit," Dana replied, opening her arms for a much-needed hug. " My, my, aren't we Hunt Clubby today," she remarked when the doctor slipped into the hold. They squeezed for a long time, and then Grace climbed into her cushioned chair behind her desk. Yum, Grace's hair had smelled really good during that hug, Dana thought.
"How was the slumber party at Rachel's?" Grace asked.
"You know Rach. She got me drunk and then had her way with me. How's Dick-uh?"
"Fine. He sends his regards." The blonde fiddled with a pen.
"I just bet." The tech smirked. " You weren't here when I came in. Where have you been all morning?"
"I had an eight o'clock with Barbara." This was met with a knowing groan. " Then I spent three hours approving the protocol with Dr. Spitz." The pen tapped the calendar blotter insistently. "So...are we ready for production, Dana?"
Dana folded her hands in front of her so that she almost appeared to be praying. "I can't find any reason to hold us back any longer," she mumbled.
A thrill ran down the small woman's spine, but her words were steady. "The team is ready to start production as soon as you give them the word."
"We have to be extra careful with the stereochemistry." Dana stood. " No racemation."
"Do you want to tell everyone?" Grace offered, unable to hold back her smile.
Dana sighed heavily. " Uh-uh. I want to go out for a while." The truth
was, anxiety was hanging over her like a black thunderhead just waiting to open up and melt her into nothing.
"Where are you going?"
"Don't know. Maybe to the marina, or maybe I'll find me a game." She picked up her backpack and opened the door. As an afterthought, she walked over to Grace and kissed her on the cheek.
"Call me later," Grace said as the tech disappeared from the office with her small bag slung over a high shoulder. She was worried about Dana.
"Hello." Grace Wilson answered the cordless phone on the second ring. A flash of light, a crackle of static on the line, and then two seconds later a large boom.
"Hey, baby," a deep voice replied through the increasing static. Another light flashed, one second, boom! Rain began to pound against the weathered gray shingles above her.
"Who is this?" Grace asked indignantly.
"I know you're alone," the voice replied amidst the crackle of interference.
"You do, do ya?"
"Um-hmm. I watched him leave."
"Then what are you waiting for, baby?"
"I'm at the back door," the voice answered.
A chill of excitement twisted Grace's spine like a Chinese finger cuff. She walked to the kitchen just in time to watch the doorknob turning slowly. A bright flash and large crack shook the little cottage, and then the lights went out. The phone went dead. "Dana, that better fucking be you!" her shaking voice yelled at the door.
"Knock it off!"
"Jesus, Chipmunk. Of course it's me," Dana said, stepping through the doorway, only a silhouette in the dark. Grace grabbed the soaking-wet body she had recognized immediately by smell and mashed herself against it. "You're such a baby, Grace," Doc said with a crooked smile in the dark.
"Shut up," the blonde grumbled into the wet sweatshirt material between Dana's breasts.
Dana placed her cell phone on the kitchen counter and wrapped her heavy arms around the doctor. Despite being covered in acid rain, her hair wet and stuck to her face, she felt wonderful and warm...she was home.
"Where'd Dick-uh go anyway?" She pulled her soggy sneakers off her feet.
"Out to dinner with a woman he met at the conference." Green eyes looked up in the darkness at the outline of a strong chin. " Have you been playing ball all this time?"
Dana released her hold and stepped back to peel off her sweatshirt and sweatpants while Grace scrounged up the flashlight from the cabinet under the sink. "I played most of the afternoon with some guys down at the marina park. But mostly I've been walking. I found myself on Post Road and sorted ended up here."
Grace led her through the house by the hand to the linen closet, where she pulled out a fresh, fluffy towel. "We need to get you a car...hmm...maybe not...who knows where you would have ended up?"
"I'll always end up here," Dana answered, wrapping her arms around the smaller woman and kissing her neck just below the ear. " What time is your brother coming back?" she whispered.
"If he has his way he won't be back tonight." Grace blindly found a washcloth.
"Good!" It slipped out before Doc could stop it. " I mean—"
"—I know what you mean," Grace cut in, handing the linens to her companion. Standing on her tiptoes, she gently brushed her lips across Dana's. "Go take a shower and I'll make you something to eat." Dana stared at her lover a moment, an absent smile forming, then answered her request with action.
"It's dark in here," Dana complained.
Grace followed her into the small bathroom and lit the candle on the sink for her.
"I thought that was for decoration. I didn't think it would actually burn," the tech teased.
"Take a shower. You stink."
"Are you saying I smell?"
"We all smell, Dana. You smell stinky. Pee-eww."
"Get the fuck out of here!" Doc replied with a smirk and gave the doctor a little shove toward the door.
Dana was drawn by the cozy candlelight and light music emanating from the bedside table. She wore her green cotton sleep shorts and a threadbare white sleeveless tee. Her wet hair smelled of sunflowers and was combed back from her face. From the doorway she admired the naked outline of Grace's curves as she lay on her side. She let her eyes wander along the dips and swells, and her mouth watered. She smelled peanut butter.
Dana cleared her throat. " Ever get the feeling you're a little overdressed?" Then she kneeled on the bed and removed the peanut butter sandwich that was resting on Grace's hip. Wickedly she wondered how Grace would serve her French toast with maple syrup. " Grace, you have this really kickin' hourglass thing going," she whispered as she let her fingers drift up the top leg.
"Eat your sandwich."
Dana took a bite and winced at the taste of Polander real fruit.
"All of it," Grace commanded without turning.
Dana took another bite of the sandwich. A raspberry seed popped between her teeth. Ick! she thought. " Whatever happened to the grape Smuckers I bought?" she asked, doing her best to scrape off the preserves with her finger.
"You don't like what I offered you?"
Don't complain, don't complain, or you may not get any, Dana warned herself. Then an idea popped out of nowhere. "Here," she said, reaching over and offering her jellied finger to the reclining woman. Grace took hold of the wrist and wrapped her lips around the long, sweet finger and sucked the jam clean off. She slowly pulled the finger out of her mouth, dragging her teeth along its length, and then pulled it completely out of her mouth with a "pop" of broken suction. Then with those teeth she began to nibble her lover's palm. "I'm not gonna say a word," Dana whispered when she got her hand back. She reassembled her sandwich and began to eat the peanut-butter-and-Wonder delicacy.
"You will never guess what I found in the peanut butter jar," Grace mumbled.
"No." The blonde lifted her arm from the bed and held up a small red dragon. "My Mushu figure. Any idea how he got in there?"
Dana had a good idea, and it was probably a wild one named Nate, but she wanted to tease her lover a little. "Maybe he was hungry."
"Ha! I don't think so." She placed the little figure on the table next to the bed.
Dana smiled and finished her sandwich. When she was done, and a bit tongue-tied from the sticky peanut butter, she moved over to explore the soft body next to her with her fingertips. Then she tugged at Grace's hip and rolled her onto her back. " Ah, the flip-side," she remarked. " And I think this side will be an even bigger hit." Slowly Doc leaned down to kiss the naked woman, but a hand went to her chin and stopped her.
"Do you want something?"
"Um...yes," Dana replied, arching her eyebrow.
"Maybe you should ask for it."
Dana stared down but refused to answer. Then she began to move closer but Grace held her firmly.
"Do you want to kiss me?"
Doc scowled a little. "Don't you want me to kiss you, Grace?"
"That's not the point."
It took Dana a moment. "May I kiss you?"
Dana grunted a little but Grace held her away firmly. It only made her want the kiss more. "Why?"
"You have to work a little for anything you really want."
Dana blinked. "Please."
Slowly Dana's lips met Grace's, but Grace held her face firmly in her hands and controlled the touch—light, barely making contact, and not enough for the tech.
"I want you on your back," the doctor whispered quietly but sternly. She looked up at the closed eyes of her lover. Then she lightly traced Dana's upper lip with her tongue, tasting peanut butter, and did the same to the lower lip. Dana's lips parted, and her breathing was becoming erratic, fast. Grace loved how easily she could turn her on and this was really working. "Dana, roll over."
Dana obeyed, and when she was flat on her back, the naked woman rolled to her knees and hovered over the long body. "You smell really good," Dana said, reaching up to trace the outline of a dangling breast.
"Mm-hmm." Grace looked at the roaming fingers. "Would you like to touch me?"
Dana looked at her hand. "I believe I already am."
"I think you should have asked first." Grace took hold of the exploring hand and pinned it next to the tech's head, then did the same with the less active hand. Dana strained her neck to reach Grace's mouth for a kiss, but the doctor moved away. She tried several more times but was met with the same retreat.
"Would you like something?"
"To fucking kiss you."
Grace checked her with a look that made Dana hotter than a McDonald's coffee.
Dana's hands were moved together and held by a single smaller one. "Don't move." Then with her free hand, she grasped the tech's chin and pushed her face to the side. Bending down, she whispered in her ear. "I suggest if you want me you start showing some manners."
Doc whimpered. And when Grace's tongue flicked her ear she growled deep and wantonly. Grace watched the closed eyes and felt the arms pull slightly against the hand that still held them. The jaw in her other hand clenched. She pressed slightly so she had better access to kiss and lick Dana's neck. The sensitive area at the base on the side twitched with need.
"Grace, please kiss me," Dana begged.
Dana's head was then turned, and her mouth was met with a deep, much-needed assault. The humming grunt the kiss produced was the sign Grace needed.
"Do you trust me, Doc?" Grace asked softly, her lips brushing up the bridge of a long nose to trace a dark eyebrow.
"Yes" was the reply, weak from distraction.
"And you know I would never hurt you?" She kissed the thin skin of a closed eyelid.
"—And you know I trust you?"
"I do, Dana. With my body," a kiss to the other eyebrow, " my future," a kiss to the other closed eye, " all of me." Her mouth trailed to the closest ear. " I want you to feel that way about yourself."
"I can't" came the whispered reply.
Soft hands gently stroked the strong features, and Grace nuzzled into her neck. "Trust me. It will be okay."
Dana swallowed hard. "I do trust you." A nanosecond later her mouth was covered, and when she opened to breathe, she was filled with Grace's soft, sweet tongue. Small hands wrapped tightly into the silky hair.
That was what the doctor wanted to hear. "Hmmm...would you let me tie you up?"
"Yes." A very quiet, slow whisper.
"You would like that?"
"I'm not sure...I've never...."
"Do you want to try?"
Grace smiled into the neck she was kissing and then reached down to remove Dana's shirt. "Mmm," she moaned as she leaned in and brushed against the breasts.
Grace moved off her body and stretched to reach the drawer of the table. She withdrew a blue silk scarf. "Close your eyes." Then, with slow precision, the doctor dragged the scarf along Dana's bare skin, the texture and weight making the body arch and quiver. When she touched Dana's neck, she could feel the change in temperature from a few minutes before. And the stillness. She took one wrist, and then the other. First she wrapped the scarf around the right wrist and fingers, then placed the palms together, and finally she entwined them with the silk, around and around. She placed the hands on the bed above the dark hair and tied the tail of the scarf to a rung of the headboard. She tugged once to test it. " That'll do." Then a light kiss before the body above began to move down, with well-placed touches and kisses. Hair trailed, and the supersensitive skin of Dana's chest broke into goosebumps. "These have got to go," Grace mumbled and began to tug on the elastic band of the shorts. Her lips were not far behind the waistband that was moving down. "Oh, that's so much better." The hot breath mixed with the dampness and clean, earthy smell Grace was enjoying. " Do you think that's better?"
"Yes," Dana choked out.
Grace couldn't help reaching in and touching, testing. "I think you like this."
It was met with a groan and slightly moving hips.
Doc was not sure if it was the vulnerability she felt or the fact that Grace seemed to like the control, or maybe it was a balance of both, but every inch of her body was dying to be licked or touched. When she climbed back up her body, and skin slid against skin, it was delicious but not enough. Movement was needed, and she told Grace that, begged for it, and was rewarded.
"Dana, I'm going to kiss you everywhere," the doctor whispered. "Your legs, your hips, your belly, all of you. Do you want that?"
"Do you know how good you look to me like that?"
A slight growl left the blonde, and she began her trip downward. She would show her. And true to her promise, she kissed all of her. The bottomsof her feet, the backs of her knees—everywhere was tasted, even between her fingers, and then the young woman settled in at midpoint. There small fingers joined the tongue, and with more growls, the kisses became more urgent.
"Is this what you need?" Grace asked, her teeth nipping.
"You like me to touch you like this when you can't do anything about it?"
Dana hummed and strained against the scarf.
"Giving up this control doesn't scare you?"
"No," it was breathless. "Not with you." Dana was breathless.
"You like to trust me?"
"I don't know! Jesus, you're chatty!"
Grace stifled a chuckle and held a firm look by biting the insides of her cheeks. "I think you know," she growled.
"Believe me if I knew, I would tell you so we could get on with this."
Grace stopped what she was doing and stared up at Dana.
"You need an answer, don't you?"
The doctor nodded.
Dana's dark hair fell back against the pillow and she sighed and thought. "I like it because it turns you on," she offered.
The blonde kissed a slightly trembling thigh. "And...?"
Another sigh. "And I like giving up all the responsibilty."
Grace smiled and kissed the other thigh. "Is that so, Dana, you feel responsible for everything that happens to you?"
"Yes." It was a quiet reply. "I've acted too many times doing what I thought was right, and it always turned out to be so wrong."
Grace rested her cheek against slightly sweaty skin. "And you got hurt."
"A lot of people did."
"Baby, what the rest of the world does with what you have given them isn't under your control."
"But I don't trust them."
Grace couldn't say she blamed her. "Well, start by trusting me and sooner or later..."
"They'll all be between my legs?"
The blonde began to laugh. "Would you like that?"
"Good. And I had better get on with your therapy," Grace commented and gently reaquainted herself with her target.
Dana closed her eyes and let herself trust Grace's...judgement, and what good...judgement she had. Grace filled her and
"I...I...oh, God, Grace! Oh, God!" It was like a rock penetrating the water, ripple after ripple expanding from a single point until the waves finally smoothed and calmed again. Dana moaned and gasped for breath as Grace continued. Another rock hit the surface, and more ripples. Dana strained so hard for air she was dizzy. Finally the blonde moved up and kissed her lover hard on the mouth.
The muscles of Doc's shoulders ached from the strain. " Untie me, please," she gasped. She had to touch Grace.
The doctor reached up, and with a tug Dana was free and slipping her hands out of the scarf. She grabbed Grace's hair and flipped them over so that her full weight pressed into the smaller body. She looked down into the dark green eyes while she caught her breath.
"I'm ready to give you anything you want, Doc."
So the nanophysicist tested that and could not prove that to be untrue.
The candles had evaporated into nothing, the storm had blown out to sea, and the lovers slept deeply, Dana resting atop Grace's back. For the first night in a week Dana slept without dreaming or waking every two hours. But it was not to last.
Grace awoke first to the shrill scream of her beeper. Her first thought was the nano production team. She whispered for Dana to roll off her, and in dream state the tech moved barely enough for her to slide out from under her. She moved through the darkness to the dining room table, where the little beeper was screaming. By new moonlight streaming in through the kitchen window she read the number. That was weird. She recognized it immediately.
She walked back into the bedroom. "Dana," she said, gently shaking the tech.
It took a few shakes before the tech responded. " Hmmm."
"It's the police."
Sleepy blue eyes widened. "Where?"
"Beth's work number is on my pager."
"Beth? You mean Miss Piggy?"
Dana ran a hand through her very tousled hair. "What could she possibly want?"
"I don't know."
"Have you called yet?"
"Well...let's call." Together they walked back to the kitchen to use Dana's cell phone.
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