Clear Conscience

by Jynaki

Copyright © August 2008

Disclaimer: See Part 1


Part 3



“Argh, what's wrong with me?” Iocca's hands buried themselves deep in her hair and gently pulled. The blinking cursor on the computer screen continued to taunt her. Winking, daring her to write something. Her creativity drained away hours ago and chapter ten were the only words that stared back at her. “I've got to get out of here for a while.”

Frustrated that her muse hadn't returned, Iocca jammed her feet into the sandals and grabbed her micro tape-recorder. Just in case inspiration struck while on the beach. Walks along the shore and the tranquil sounds of the waves always infused a surge of creativity. She also needed to give her libido a chance to cool down from the steamy love scene she'd created.

Words spoken in jest to Phillip took shape that first night three years ago. Writing had become her passion. Crunyon Point provided the illusion of the need to be a recluse, for concentration to write the great American lesbian love story.

Iocca posted her first novel on the internet and was astounded at the encouragement she'd received. To her surprise, her second submission attempt received an offer to publish. Rarer still, the book was well received and she was in the midst of the third novel in the series. She would've been finish with it if her muse hadn't gone on holiday.

She strolled lazily along the beach squinting against the brilliant setting sun and the glaring reflection off the water. In the early morning sun, the swelter of midday or by the moon's faded light; Iocca could walk the path along the beach with her eyes closed. Three years she'd spent in solitude in her home along the shore. No Phillip or Heather, but occasionally her best friend Evelyn.

She'd shuffled through the sand to walk the past out of existence. When not camped in front of her computer screen, she walked the beach; she sat on her deck and watched the passing of time as the sun and moon made their rotation around the earth. Beneath her sun kissed skin, the wounds in her soul were nearly healed.

Iocca shook her head. Today wasn't a day of reflection. The characters needed her in their reality. Hand around the tape recorder she waited for the muse to return or a hint of what should come next. Annoyed, she walked high upon the sand, out of the way of running children and scantily clad women. They'd leave soon, all of them, and she'd have her solitude and quiet.

Iocca shielded her eyes against the sun as it lowered toward the horizon to set. This was her favorite time of day. Iocca continued her trek until she came upon the woman in the shawl. A portrait of melancholy waiting for night to begin her tall frame shrouded in black facing the hot sun. Iocca had seen her from a distance before in the same ritualistic stare and clothing. The sadness she carried sought Iocca out like a lightening rod and stole her breath.

Iocca pulled the tape recorder from her pocket to catch the words that suddenly flowed from her like a floodgate. The figure turned and stared directly at her. A penetrating gaze connected them, summoning Iocca closer. Iocca turned for home severing the connection, speaking such eloquent words that the swell of emotions nearly brought her to tears. Her muse had finally returned.


“No, I'm fine.” Iocca spoke into the telephone receiver. “Aren't you tired of the mother hen routine?” She said with a lilt in her voice.

“When it comes to you, Chica, never,” Evelyn said. “You need looking after.” Instantly Iocca was reminded of Gail's empty promises to do just that.

“No I don't. Been there, done that, it's not for me.”

“Aren't you tired of the martyr routine yet?”

“No, it's fodder for my novels.” Secretly, Iocca admitted it had grown tiresome but her judgment couldn't be trusted. She'd proven that in the past and didn't care to experience again.

“I think I should come and check on you.”

“You don't need to come up.”

“You wound me.” Evelyn pouted.

“It's just that I've been in a creative zone for three days now and I'm going to ride it until it's dry. You know what I mean?”

“I don't believe you. You just want to keep all those bikinis to yourself. I never thought you'd be stingy my friend.”

“Damn,” Iocca laughed. “I could never keep things from you.”

“Never,” She chuckled. “Well if you don't want my company you must be getting plenty up there?”

“Is that all you think about Wylie?”

“When I'm not dealing with rich, conniving and atrocious old men, then yes. What are the selections like up there? It's been so long since you've let me visit.”

“I haven't paid attention.” Surprised to discover a lesbian bar in the small town, Iocca visited once or twice but hadn't been in several months. When the need for a woman's touch was to overwhelming for self pleasure, she visited The Classic and always found someone willing to end her craving. “I've been busy.”

“If you say so,” Evelyn said.

“I do.”

“Hi,” a voice called from below her deck.

Iocca leaned over and peered into the night. Several yards below stood a woman waving. Iocca recognized the woman from the beach “Hi.” Iocca returned the wave then looked curiously at her hand. Over the years others had waved and she'd never returned it. Why break that rule for her?

“What are you doing?” Evelyn said.

“Someone said hello to me and I returned it. Is that okay with you?”

“Was it a woman?”

“You're incorrigible.”

“It was a woman! You're holding out on me. You have a woman in your beach house at night, how romantic.”

“Do you ever think about anything else?”

“I try not to.”

“She's walking on the beach, not in my home.” What was she doing on the beach so late at night? Iocca watched the silhouette stroll just out of reach of the surf until she disappeared with the black of night.

“What does she look like?”

“She's tall, dark hair.”

“Oh that tells me a lot.”

“Good night, Wylie.”

“Love ya. Ciao.”

Iocca laid the telephone on the table and went to refill her glass. She returned with her guitar and sat with it across her lap. An odd tune hummed from the strings and between her closed lips. The wave to the tall dark haired woman replayed in her mind. Evelyn wanted details. Tall and dark that's all Iocca knew. That's all she wanted to know.


The sun rose with promises of another beautiful day. At the bottom of her deck, she stretched and filled her lungs with the scent of the ocean. Iocca put the ear buds in, and started a slow trot along the beach. An early morning run would get her creativity flowing. Each foot fall into the wet surf matched the cadence of the music beat in her ears. Her mind cleared and focused on her breathing.

Somewhere within a door opened and her novel characters stepped through. The mental blocks that prevented her from writing the scene magically lifted. The dialogue came to life and the problematic plot cleared. It was coming, she loved it.

She saw her coming.

Far off in the distance, Iocca could see the tall woman with the dark hair. Her strides were long and steady. She moved with the grace of a seasoned runner. Iocca's own powerful stride drew them closer. She warred with giving her a nod and continuing another mile or stopping to, to what? She frowned. Iocca's hand, the uncontrollable one that waved, reached up and pulled out an ear bud. Her legs joined in and slowed in spite of her screams for them to keep pumping.

“Hi,” the woman said.

“Hi,” Iocca bent over to catch her breath noticing that the woman wasn't doing the same.

“I'm Ariel Claymore.”

“Iocca Barnes,” she huffed shaking the offered hand.

“You're my closest neighbor.”

“Yes…” Iocca stood and was ensnared by the depths of the Ariel's blue eyes. She prayed her gasp wasn't heard. They were beautiful. She was beautiful. Her hair, black as the moonless sky fell just below her shoulders. But it was her lips that drew Iocca's attention. They were deliciously shaped with the bottom one perfectly sculpted for suckling. Her gaze traveled the length of Ariel's body and she felt the heat color her face once again. Long runner's legs extended from under the shorts. Her bulging quadriceps glistened from the spray of the ocean and the sweat from running. Iocca felt the heat cover her face up to her ears.

“Are you all right?” Ariel worried at the colored that flushed across Iocca.

A sea-gull squawked high over head snapping Iocca from her trance. “Yes. I was thinking about something and drifted.” The need to move was overwhelming. Iocca needed to put some distance between them.

“Okay,” she drawled.

“It was nice to have met you, Ariel.” Iocca turned back the way she came. She didn't bother to replace the ear bud. Her rhythm couldn't be matched by any band.

Ariel looked to Iocca running down the beach. It couldn't have been anything she said. The exchange was hardly more than a hello, and less than what she'd hoped for. Ariel looked at the hand Iocca had touched and closed it to a fist.

She'd seen Iocca from the deck of her house down the beach. She watched her run in the mornings or stroll along the shore deep in thought and talking into her hand. Face drawn in concentration, the loneliness pervaded from the woman as it shed itself from her. Ariel turned toward the ocean lifting her face inviting the fine mist to bathe her skin.

The next few mornings, Ariel looked forward to their brief encounters as they jogged past one another along the shore. She'd slow her stride hoping for more than a passing nod from Iocca. It never happened.



Through the coffee shop window, Ariel looked onto Main Street that was filled with tourists. They congested the sidewalks of Crunyon Point and invaded the merchants of downtown. She sipped the latte and watched a couple peering into a shop across the way. He heart skipped when the past summoned her to a walk in the middle of the night. Her hand entwined with Toby's as they peered into storefront windows. The memories from the past caused her eyes to glimmer with unshed tears in the present. She clenched them shut, slamming the door on remembrance. She should've left it sealed. Needed to put it behind her and move on. Begin again. It's one of the reasons she chose Crunyon Point.


Her bags had been packed for weeks waiting for the perfect time. Only a few people knew her whereabouts. That was the way it had to be. There were numerous coastal seaports she could've chosen to initiate her journey to freedom. She'd considered an island in the Caribbean or a place along England's shores. Some place where a beautiful moonrise left her filled with joy and not with tears. She could've gone anywhere but Crunyon Point.

Her freedom began the moment she left Chicago, but it wasn't complete. “The waiting is killing me,” she said over the rim of her cup. Having had enough, she left the coffee shop for the store across the street.

The chime over the door signaled the young man at the counter that he had a new customer. His long hair swayed as he nodded to her. She didn't know what possessed her to walk into the store; there'd always been a hidden desire to learn to play the guitar. It was just one of the numerous things that had been out of reach before. Her mother thought it nonsense, and her father, as expected, sided with his wife. She could learn to play now.

“Hey,” the guy from the counter greeted.


“Are you okay?” He said when he noticed the reddened eyes.

“Allergies,” she said and sniffed.

“I'm Shawn,” he said.

“I'm Ariel.”

“Are you looking for something in particular, Ariel?”

“I want a guitar.” She smiled.

“What kind and what brand?”

“One of these,” she pointed to the six string acoustic in front of her.

“What brand?”

“I'm not sure.”

He smiled secretly, knowing a novice when he saw one. She sauntered down the aisle looking at the instruments along the rack, and stopped in front of the black guitar hanging on the top row.

“That's a nice guitar.” He fingered the Mother of Pearl inlay. “It's a few steps above the beginner guitars but if you like this one…”

“I do. It's pretty.”

“Pretty.” He smirked and took the guitar down handed it to her. He watched as she held it awkwardly against her chest. “Do you know how to tune it?”

“I have no idea about anything.” She gave it back to him. “I've never played before.”

“We give lessons here if you're interested.”

Ariel walked out of McMillan's Music thirty minutes later with her new guitar snuggled in a soft case, electronic tuner, and a few books. She was too excited to wait for her first lesson in the morning. Anxious to get home with her purchase, she strode back across the street and froze on the side walk. Her neighbor sat in the coffee shop window, deep in thought.

Ariel waved and was pleased Iocca returned it then looked curiously at her hand. Until that moment, Ariel hadn't realized how much she'd looked forward to the passing encounters, jogging on the beach with her neighbor. Feeling bold, Ariel entered the coffee shop. “Hello, we meet again. Ariel Claymore,” she said.

“I remember. Hello Ariel.”

“How've you been?”

“I'm fine and you?”

“Great. I haven't seen you running on the beach.” Ariel had often thought of stopping by Iocca's home but talked herself out of the intrusion.

“I've been busy writing.”

“Oh, you're a writer.” Ariel's eyes grew large.

“I like to think so.” Iocca focused on the cup in her hands not the sparkling eyes drinking her in. Their color unnerved her. Their magnetism scared her.

“What do you write?” Ariel found her neighbor more and more intriguing.

“Fiction, when my muse is cooperative.”

“Let me guess,” Ariel's tongue protruded between her lips as she thought. “I'd say mysteries and police stories.”

“Nope, romance.”

“I love romance novels. Are you published?”


“I'll have to go to Harken's Bookstore and buy a copy.”

“I'm not sure if Harken's carries my work.” She sipped her coffee. “I'm not that well known.” Iocca was certain that Harken's didn't have a lesbian or Gay section among their shelves.

“It doesn't matter. What's the title of your book?”

“You play guitar I see.” Iocca pointed at the case between her legs.

“I start learning tomorrow. Do you play?” Ariel went along with Iocca's subject change.

Iocca glanced at Ariel's left hand touching the soft guitar case. Long slender fingers stroked the nylon material. The hand was large and tanned except for the white outline on her finger.

“I did a long time ago.”

“Maybe you could teach me sometime.”

“Maybe,” Iocca couldn't believe she'd agreed to such a thing. Why complicate her life with a runaway wife? Removal of the ring from the finger doesn't remove him. Sooner or later, he would follow.

“Great.” She stood hoping for an invitation to stay. The awkward moment didn't impact Iocca. “I'm off then. Come by anytime. I'm usually home.”

“I'll keep that in mind.”

Ariel left the coffee shop and the mysterious hard to read Iocca. One day friendly, the next distant, she guessed writers temperament were akin to artists. Iocca was different somehow. Ariel felt drawn to her. Despite the rebuff, Iocca was probably as lonely as she. Crunyon Point was too beautiful not to share even with a friend.


Ariel sat her new guitar on the couch and the bag of take out Chinese on the table. She was about to head to the kitchen when she noticed the rarity of a blinking light on her answering machine. Who could it be? She thought. She'd gone to great lengths to be anonymous in Crunyon Point. She'd kept a low profile since returning to the seaport town. Not speaking to anyone for so long meant the loneliness was becoming unbearable. That was, until she met Iocca. Ariel held her breath and pressed the button.

“Ariel, this is Steven Capriel,” the voice said and Ariel exhaled with relief hearing her attorney. “Your transaction was completed this morning. Please call to verify it was received and then telephone my office.” Delighted at the news Ariel went to the kitchen. Getting a new life had almost depleted the cash she'd brought with her. “Lastly, Ariel, Eleanor's harassing my office daily for your whereabouts.” Ariel tenses at the mention of her mother. “May I suggest you contact her? She's creating havoc with the receptionists.”

“There's a fat chance of that happening. You call my mother Steven and let me know how it went.”

Ariel said as she twisted off the beer cap and took a look pull.

“Should you require anything further, don't hesitate to call.”

Ariel sat with a heavy sigh and stared at the telephone. She didn't want to call her mother. They'd only argue, they always argued. Nothing good would come of it. Why call? Another sip of her beer and she opened her cell phone then closed it. She picked up the television remote instead. First she'd have dinner, and then she'd call. An hour later, Ariel waited for the telephone at her mother's home to be answered. It was to save Steven and his people from her mother's formidable wrath, she reasoned.

“Good evening, Boffington residence.” The sweet voice said.

“Good evening, Maria, this is Ariel.”

“Miss Ariel,” Her mother's maid said with glee. “It's good to hear from you.”

“It's nice to hear you too. How are you doing?” Ariel smiled and grabbed another beer from the refrigerator.

“Fine, Miss, just fine.”

“And Fredrick's well I hope?” Ariel asked of Maria's husband.

“Yes, Miss. He's in the garage polishing the car.”

“”I'm glad to hear that Maria.” Pleasantries done, she steeled herself for the reason she called. “Is mother available?”

“Yes, Miss, I'm sorry to delay.”

“It's quite alright Maria,” Ariel cringed knowing how demanding an employer her mother was. Seconds passed before she heard the sounds of her mother's stern tone.

“Ariel Leaudra Boffington, it's about time you called your mother.”

“Hello Mother, it's good to hear your voice too.” Ariel rolled her eyes.

“I've tried to telephone you hundreds of times and couldn't get through.”

“I have numbers blocked on my phone.”

“Blocked? Why on earth for? We've had no word from you in over two months. What could you have been thinking? You simply disappeared! My God child, we'd thought you'd been kidnapped or something horrible happened to you. Then we discover your clothing and other belongings were gone. For heaven's sake sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night like a common thief. You've given your father and me a terrible fright.” Eleanor finally took a dramatically deep breath.

“I wouldn't have been able to leave otherwise and I needed to. I was dying there.”

“Don't be so melodramatic, Ariel,” Eleanor said.

“Please, just once will you listen to me? You never listen. I couldn't breathe, I was being smothered-”

“Nonsense,” Eleanor huffed. “Dorian loves you and knows what's best for you.”

“I know what's best for me, and it's not to be Dorian's prize. I'm more than that.”

“That's ridiculous, you're cherished and loved more than you realize.”

“Give it a rest, mother.”

“Dorian still loves you even after that Toby rubbish.”

Don't speak that name!” Ariel screamed. “You're never to speak that name again.”

“Do not take that tone with me! I am still your mother! Do you understand me?”

“You want to continue to be my mother, don't ever say it again. Do you understand me ?”

Ariel waited for her mother's answer to the challenge. Jumping for joy at finally standing up to her mother would have to wait until later. Toby said that day would come and that it would be one of the greatest moments of her life. Today was that day, and at the moment it felt pretty damn good. “Mother,” She said after the line went quiet.

“Where are you Ariel?” Eleanor said quietly. “Are you in Europe? I've checked with the resorts and you weren't registered in any of them.”

“I'm not in Europe but I am doing fine mother.” Ariel was thankful her family didn't have dealings in Crunyon Point. They'd ruin the town's peacefulness.

“I trust you'll have this out of your system in time for your grand-parents' anniversary celebration.”

“We'll see mother.”

“That's unacceptable, Ariel.”

“It's the best I can do. Please understand that I need some time to myself away from everyone.”

“You could've had the entire East Wing to yourself.”

“It's not the same, Mother.”

“Come now Ariel, stop being so mysterious. I understand how a woman may need a holiday, but yours has gone on long enough. I want you to come home. Dorian wants you home.”

“It's not what you or Dorian want anymore mother. It's what I want. It's time I ran my own life and the sooner you and Dorian realize that the better off we'll all be.”

“I realize you've become shamefully insolent.”

“I've learned from the best.” Ariel huffed. “Good night, mother.” Ariel closed her cell phone and tossed it beside her on the couch. She didn't expect her mother to understand.



Leaving the coffee shop, Iocca decided to stay in town. It was time for a break from her reclusive lifestyle and to be among the tourist and citizens of Crunyon Point. She dined in one of her favorite eateries and as an extra special treat, headed towards the only movie theater in town.

Iocca shared the back row nearly empty movie house with a woman at the far end. Midway through the movie, their concentration waned as two heads were locked in heated kissing several rows below them. Her voyeurism sent her writers mind into motion. She'd use the two lovers in a scene somehow. A scene where the love dazed characters forgets themselves in public.

Her mind took it further and imagined what the lovers down below were doing. The cover of the dark theater hid her enflamed cheeks, and Iocca's breath caught as her mind played out the explicit scene vividly. Her characters experienced the joyous touch of a woman that she'd denied herself in reality.

Iocca's leg began to dance in irritation. Her eyes focused on the two heads forsaking the need for air to keep their lips pressed together. Iocca stood and made her way to the stairs and down to the ground floor. Unlike the two back in the theater, she needed air.

On the street below the brightly lit marquee, Iocca filled her lungs with the warm summer night breeze hoping it would cool her heated skin. Her teeth were clenched with desire raised from the images she'd conjured, and the visual effects within the theater. Her body craved the touch she imagined for her characters. After a glance at her watch, she headed for her car.


With her back to the crowded dance floor, Iocca settled on the bar stool. The long wooden bar took up most of the place which housed only a slightly bigger dance floor. Colored lights sprayed across the floor, and the DJ high above on a platform supplied the thundering beat. The bar was busy enough to have two bar tenders. She signaled the one that just came on duty for her second drink.

“Hey.” The woman behind the bar shouted above the music.

“Bourbon, neat” Iocca said.

“Sure.” Quickly the glass was set and filled before her. “I've seen you in here a few times.”

“A few,” Iocca said and tossed the drink down her esophagus and signaled for another.

“The name's Peg.”

“I'm Iocca.”

“That's an unusual name.”

“Yeah,” Iocca looked behind her scanning the room.

“Looking for something in particular?

“There's barely any room to tell what's here.”

“It's a regular Saturday night.” She smiled.

“I'll have to remember that for the next time I need to get out of the house.”

“Glad to hear there will be a next time.” She refilled the glass once again. “It's on the house, Iocca. Welcome to the Classic.”

Iocca looked in the mirror behind the bar and saw a pair of blue eyes staring hungrily at her. She watched as the woman shouldered her way through the crowd and came to rest beside her. Brown hair surrounded a shapely face. Her tight t-shirt displayed high voluptuous breasts atop a curvaceous waist.

“Shame on you, Peg for not introducing me to your friend?” She said,

Peg shook her head. Shea never wasted time getting to the newcomers. “Shea, this is Iocca.”

“It's nice to meet you Iocca.” Shea repeated the hungry grin she'd shown in the mirror.

“It's nice to meet you, Shea.” Iocca read the want in her eyes. That was fine with her. “Can I buy you a drink?”

“I'll have Bourbon, neat.”

“Fancy that.” Iocca gave her a seductive smile, “A girl after my own heart.”

“Not the heart, honey, but definitely after something.”

She raised her glass and clicked against Shea's. “Be careful what you wish for.”

“Why would I want to do that?”


Iocca followed Shea into the two-story home on the East side of town. “Come on in.”

“Thanks,” Iocca said eyeing the large jungle like plants around the room.

“You can relax,” Shea said locking the door behind them. “It's just us. The apartment upstairs is empty.”

Shea brusquely took Iocca lips and kissed her deeply. Iocca hesitated at the roughness but quickly let it go. Shea‘s hand closed around her buttock cheek and squeezed pulling her closer. “I'd say make yourself at home, but I thought it best to show you what I mean.”

“Let me show you, what it means.” Iocca pulled Shea into her arms for a fiery, heated kiss. Her hand rose and grasped the voluptuous breast that had taunted her from the moment she was introduced. Her finger felt their firmness and she groaned. A pinch of the hardened nipple brought their hips together with need.

Iocca pulled away and led Shea to the couch. She quickly unbuckled her jeans to pool around the woman's ankles. Shea kicked off her shoes and sent the pants flying to somewhere in the living room.

Shea soon adjusted to the slouched position on the couch. Her legs hooked across Iocca's shoulders as Iocca's mouth hungrily feasted between them.

“God!” Shea gasped. “That's it…just…like…that…”

Iocca moaned with pleasure as Shea asked for her tongue to lap harder and her nipples to be pinched. Iocca gave into the strange desire the rougher sex caused within her. She didn't want to examine why it caused her clit to swell and the wetness to soak through to her jeans. Now wasn't the time to question. Now was the time to suck the large bundle of nerves between her lips and hold onto its squirming and writhing owner.

Shea lifted her leg and held it within her own grasp. Lips closed around her throbbing center as Iocca filled Shea. Her fingers were surround by soft pulsing muscles and held in place. Iocca kept her hand still as Shea's orgasm exploded coating Iocca's hand. Only when she finally stopped her frantic bucking up and down did Shea's muscles loosen their grip around her fingers.

“Come…to me…” Shea managed to gasp and lifted her hand wanting.

Iocca stood with shaking hands fumbled for her belt buckle. She stripped from the waist down. Eyes locked upon Shea's tongue sticking out, taunting her, waiting for her to climb aboard.

Iocca's body trembled visibly in anticipation and straddled Shea's shoulders. A languid groan escaped her lips when the tip of Shea's tongue ran the length of her. “Oh girl, don't tease me.” Iocca warned as her thighs shook fighting to hold control. Shea lifted her head and her tongue drove deep inside, making Iocca's head launch backward and her cry echo off the ceiling.



The warmth of the rising sun signaled that a new day had begun. It also meant an end to another sleepless night for Iocca. She dressed for a run on the beach, hoping it would take away the extra energy in her body and bring about much needed fatigue for sleep.

She started a comfortable paced jog along the shore. The ear buds attached to the MP3 player strapped on her arm blared music to keep tempo. She hadn't gotten far when her path was filled with Ariel's shadowed figure kneeling in the wet surf from the tide washing over them. She approached in a wide arc to stop a short distance away.

“Hey, are you alright?” She called and removed the ear buds when she didn't receive an answer. “Are you okay, Ariel? Do you need help?” a wave of sadness engulfed her. It had to be the black shawl, Iocca speculated that made her appear in mourning.

“I'm fine. Thank you.” Ariel's replied.

Iocca took a few steps then turned back to the woman with the black shawl draped over her head and body. Strands of equally black hair escaped and flew from the sides. Iocca replaced the ear buds and resumed her jog down the beach.

On her return, Ariel was gone but her shawl and sarong were lying in the rut where her knees had been. Iocca slowed and watched the dark head bob in the water just off shore. Iocca continued her jog a few yards but turned back to check.

Ariel rose from the ocean like a goddess. Tall and thin, a little too thin, but her curves snugly fit her white bikini. Hair to her shoulders and slicked to her head exposed the fine features of her face. The embedded belly ring on the well tanned stomach twinkled in the newly risen sun. Iocca's breath caught, Ariel was beautiful but wore sorrow like a second skin. Iocca was caught as Ariel turned and held Iocca's stare without flinching. Magnetism suspended time until Iocca broke the spell and jogged toward the safety of home.


Refreshed from a cool shower, Iocca sat before her computer staring at the flashing cursor. Her mind drifted back to the woman on the beach. Her every thought was cursed. Ariel's melancholy captivated her like a moth to an open flame. A vigorous shake of her head and the thoughts of attraction flew out the window into the ocean. Her inner voice reminded her of what happened the last time a strong attraction shook her foundation. Gail happened. She couldn't have forgotten so soon. It was why she'd sought refuge in a small out of the way town. No, she vowed. Attraction led to need, that led to relationships, and eventually - heartbreak. She couldn't go through that again. The last time it damn near killed her.

She took a sip of her coffee and focused on the computer screen once more. She'd promised her editor the rewrites for the new novel in three weeks. Unable to sustain enough vigilance to get through the middle of the story, she was cutting it close to deadline. A banging sounded on the sliding door. She cursed and rose to answer the intrusion.

Iocca stopped in her tracks. Wrapped in her sarong was the woman she'd tried to forget. The shawl gone, the sarong hung around her shapely waist. Ariel's belly ring enticed Iocca to give it a gentle tug. The sight of it calmed her irritation. “Yes?”

“I'm sorry to bother you, Iocca,” Ariel said, “but can I use your phone?” Iocca was frozen beneath the deep blue eyes. Ariel tilted her head and shifted her stance when Iocca didn't respond. “I uhm, locked my keys and cell phone in the house and I need to call the realtor for the spare keys.”

“Sure. No problem.” Mechanically, she opened the door further. Ariel brushed passed and Iocca's head swam from the scent of ocean in the midnight colored hair. “It's over there on the table.” She pointed and hurried back to the office. She'd busy herself re-reading the chapter she'd finished that morning. Distract the distraction. It was a good plan.

Ariel looked about the sparsely decorated living room. The open floor plan had few walls and restrictions. These walls lacked warmth and ownership. No pictures, personal or otherwise. It was similar to the one she rented down the beach. Standing guard near the fireplace was a statue. Ariel leaned forward and peered at the artwork. Two female bodies entwined in a sexual embrace. Her cheeks colored and she felt the heat rise from her neck to cover her face.

When the realtor answered, Ariel explained her dilemma to the realtor and was thankful she'd be over directly to help. She took a hesitant step to the edge of the hall where she'd last seen her neighbor disappear. “Iocca,” Ariel called louder and put on a bright smile to the sour face that appeared. “Thanks for the use of your telephone.”


Awkward, “That's an interesting statue.” She pointed.

“Yeah, it is.” Iocca said once again irritated at the awkwardness of the moment.

“Well, okay. Thanks again.” Ariel said then as an afterthought, “I was wondering, would you like to join me for a run tomorrow morning?”

Before she had time to censor her lips, Iocca said, “Sure, why not. What time?”

“My place at seven, ok?” Ariel's smile reached her eyes and made them twinkle.

“That sounds fine.” Iocca waved as Ariel bounded down the deck stairs. “What the hell did I do that for?”


Ariel stood in front of the mirror with her favorite blue running shorts on. The yellow tank top hugged her long taunt waist and outlined her small breasts perfectly. She twisted about surveying her outfit and overall appearance. Across the bed, lay the rejected clothing.

“This'll have to do until I can get some new running togs.” Ariel sighed. She checked her watch, another thirty minutes before Iocca would arrive. “Now what do I do?”

Ariel grabbed the guitar from the stand near the couch and sat at the breakfast bar. She practiced the drills Shawn had shown her, but soon stopped for the burning in her fingertips. The calluses had yet to develop for pain free guitar playing. Bored quickly with that task, she clipped her house key to the inside of her shorts and went onto the deck to stretch.

Ariel twisted and pulled on her limbs to loosen them for her run with hopefully a new friend.

The writer was so distant and aloof. She looked so lonely. Ariel knew the look of loneliness. She'd worn that same look for two years. That's how long she'd been away from Crunyon Point. It had taken her that long to feel in control.

“Good morning,” Iocca called.

“Good morning,” Ariel turned, and found heaven before her: Iocca's face radiated in the morning light. Hair pulled back into a tight pony tail that bobbed at the back of her head clearly displayed tanned features. Ariel gasped at the color of her eyes. They changed hue as she melded into them. Iocca's body was leaned and taunt. Runners' thighs bulged beneath the shorts and biceps defined but not bulky.

“Are you feeling okay?” Iocca asked at the flush on Ariel's cheeks.

“Yes, fine.” They started along the shore.

“How far do you go?” Iocca said comfortably.

“About three miles out and back. What about you?”

“The same,” Iocca said. “Don't let me shorten your stride. If you have to speed up, I won't be offended.”

“I was about to say the same for you.” Ariel sent her a smile.

They continued down the beach, feet pounding in perfect rhythm. The seagulls flew and squawked over head and the waves gently crashed upon the shore. Before long they were coming to a stop at Ariel's deck stairs.

“That was fun.” Ariel puffed as she stretched her limbs to cool down.

“The run didn't seem as long this morning.” Iocca said stretching her own sweaty limbs.

“It's better when you're doing it with someone. Come on in for some juice.” Ariel said and started up the steps.

“I shouldn't, I'm all dirty and-”

“So am I, silly. Come on, I won't bite.”

“Are you sure about that?” Iocca mumbled under her breath.

“Excuse me?”

“If you're sure,” Iocca followed.

They entered through the sliding deck doors and into the kitchen. The design of Ariel's home was the same as Iocca's. Iocca sat at a familiar bar stool at the counter while Ariel placed glasses and a jug of orange juice before her.

Iocca was able to see into the living room and like her own, didn't see any photographs or family portraits displayed on the walls or fireplace mantle. Unlike her home, there were magazines sprawled across the coffee table. For the first time she wondered about Ariel and why she was in Crunyon Point. She must have children, Iocca thought. Where were they?

“So how is the book coming?” Ariel said bringing her back.

“Okay until last night. I developed writer's block and I wasn't able to get through it.”

“That's too bad. Want to talk about it? It might help.”

Iocca looked into sincere blue eyes and felt something stir inside her chest. How could she tell Ariel about her lesbian characters without revealing herself? There wasn't anything to fear with coming out. After all, Ariel was a stranger, a neighbor she didn't have to talk to or associate with. She'd gotten along just fine in Crunyon Point without ties to anyone. Iocca did admit running with someone was better than doing it alone. Running alone had never bothered her before. “Thank you, no. Running usually helps to clear my mind so it can flow free.”

“Have you always been a writer?”

“No. What about you?”

“Oh I'm not a writer.” Ariel laughed and Iocca felt warmed by the deep rich sound. “I was in hotel management.” Ariel quickly turned away and retrieved the bowl of fruit from the refrigerator.

“Now that's interesting.”

“Not very, its hard work and long hours,” Ariel said.

“So you're here on holiday.”

Ariel paused to debate how much she should reveal. “Actually, I'm deciding what I want to do with the rest of my life.”

“You're soul searching?”

“Kind of,” Ariel became pensive. “A person reaches a point where they have to decide whether to seek more from life, or to continue to exist in what they've already created. I chose not to exist anymore.”

Iocca knew what Ariel spoke of. She too had to make that same decision. She could've stayed.

A similar battle raged within her after the stunt that Gail pulled. Whether to suffer through the heartbreak while creating the same emotional devastation for others, or to find life without conflict and turmoil.

“Was it something I said?” Ariel asked as her new friend had gone silent for too long once again.

“I was just reminded of something.”

“Must've been awful, you looked so grave all of a sudden.”

“Listen,” Iocca stood prepared to leave. “Thanks for the run this morning. It was great.”

“I could use a running mate. What do you say?”


“Wonderful.” Ariel followed Iocca to the door. “I can't tomorrow, guitar lesson. I'll come by later if that's alright.”

“Sure.” Iocca said in a hurry and jogged down the steps.

Eager at having a new friend, Ariel watched Iocca until she was out of sight. Excited she'd be able to spend time with the woman, and nervous about letting someone else close to her. Toby left a void in her life that had yet to be filled. Iocca had the same hesitancy. She sensed it. New friendships meant vulnerability, no matter how small the piece of yourself you put into it. The piece she'd revealed wasn't exactly a lie or the full truth. She was in hotel management. She just didn't mention the ownership part.


Iocca stared at the blinking cursor on the computer screen. She'd counted four-hundred and twenty seven beats since she'd typed her last word. Frustrated beyond measure, she closed the laptop and headed for the kitchen.

“What the hell's wrong with me?” She asked the bourbon as she poured a sizeable amount over ice. “Spurts, little bits here and there, that's all I'm getting.”

After she'd returned from a late morning run with Ariel, the flood gates opened and the ideas poured like a sieve. She rushed her shower to get to the keyboard in her office. That spurt had lasted four hours. Her fingers had spent the last two hours poised over the keyboard waiting for it to continue. It never came.

On the deck she listened to the crash of the surf and watched the clouds float past the partial moon. She inhaled deeply and closed her eyes. Ariel in the white bikini came to her. Her eyes sprang open, and a hand clamped to the rail for support.

“Oh man,” she gasped. “What the hell was that?” Timid, she closed her eyes once more and inhaled deeply. A vision of the ocean under the pale moonlight soared within her mind and she swayed from the crash of the bourbon onto her senses. “Much better,” Iocca smiled to herself.

She retrieved her guitar from her office and returned to sit on the deck steps. One more sip of her ice drink and she hummed at the cool burn. The melody that she'd created began to take shape. Surprising, she hadn't needed to write it down. Her fingers knew where to press and which string to pick. It came so naturally.


Iocca left the house for the morning run. She'd awaken in unusually bright spirits and hummed while getting dressed. She'd taken an easy jaunt up the beach and slowed even further waiting for Ariel to join her. Ariel's deck was empty. She wasn't waiting for her as she'd been for the past two weeks. She was on time, Iocca was sure of it, but where was Ariel? Iocca bounded up the steps to find a note from Ariel taped to the sliding door.


I'm sorry I couldn't tell you sooner, but I have an unexpected appointment I must go to. Sorry to miss our date this morning. I will stop by later. Have a wonderful run.


Iocca felt saddened and read the note once more. “Date is an interesting word to use.” She crumbled the paper. “I should've given her my number. I don't have hers.” Iocca made her way to the sand. She looked to the misting sky and thought better of running. “I hope she's alright.” The sky was grey and so were her spirits. She turned for home.

The sky turned a dismal grey to match her spirits. Iocca made it home just as the temperature dropped and the rains came. Flannel lounge pants and a sweatshirt for warmth, bored and restless she moved from room to room not knowing what to do. Only the sounds of her footsteps across the floor echoed in the still house. Iocca turned on the television but lacked the ability to concentrate.

“What the hell's wrong with me?” She leapt from the couch and into the kitchen. Just as she poured herself a drink, there was a tapping at the front door. A smile brightened her face and her spirits as Ariel stood waiting to be let in. “Hey there.”

“Hi. I'm sorry about this morning.” Ariel said.

“That's alright, are you okay?” Iocca said.

“Yeah, I'm okay.”

“I was worried.”

“You were?” Ariel smiled and stroked Iocca's arm.

“Yeah, well,” Iocca stammered to recover from the electric touch.

“If I'd had your number I'd have called,” Ariel said.

“I'll give it to you.” Iocca exhaled the nervous breath. “So, what's all this?”

“It's such an icky day, so I propose we spend it watching movies and stuffing ourselves senseless.” Ariel pulled the movies from the bag and displayed the junk food. It made Iocca laugh.

“That depends on the movie.”

“You didn't strike me as the chic flick type-”

“Good observation,” Iocca said.

“But just in case, I did get one. The others are horror, comedy and action.”

“Action, horror then comedy,” Iocca said.

“Perfect.” Ariel giggled her delight.

The pizza arrived and they settled onto the couch for the first movie. Like herself, Ariel wanted to replay certain shots that were particularly good to see them again. The room was filled with their thrills and cheers. It made her feel good as she sat watching a movie. How long had it been since she'd done something this fun and relaxing? Deadlines and characters forgotten, Iocca enjoyed someone else's imagination for a while. It was also the company.

They sat so close Ariel's perfume captured Iocca's senses and made her swoon. There were many touches by Ariel, as she often pointed to something on the screen. Ariel's hand would remain a little longer each time.

“Hurry up slow poke, you'll miss the opening.” Ariel patted the vacant spot beside her as Iocca refilled their glasses as the horror movie was about to begin.

“I'm coming.”

“I hope you like vampires,” Ariel said.

“Some of my best friends are vampires.”

“And you tell tall tales my friend.”

“So far,” Iocca smiled and settled comfortably next to Ariel.

Ten minutes into the horror movie as the vampire ripped into her victim, Ariel clutched Iocca's arm and hid her face in Iocca's shoulder. Several times, Ariel's head moved so fast, her pony tail would fall across her shoulder. Iocca chuckled at the squeal that came from Ariel.

“For a big girl you sure are a scaredy cat.”

“It's not funny Iocca. That was oh…” Ariel's words trailed as her eyes were slammed shut and she clung to Iocca's shoulder once again.

“If you're afraid of horror movies, why did you get one?”

“I wanted to face a fear.”

“Well, maybe not tonight.” Iocca pressed the button to stop the movie. The thought of Ariel waking from a nightmare bothered her. “You should watch it during the day. Not at night. I

don't want you to have nightmares because of a scary movie.”

Ariel paused and looked deeply into Iocca. Her cheeks blushed lightly. “That's sweet of you. Thank you.”

Iocca lowered her head slightly but her eyes came to rest upon Ariel's lips. In the brief moment, she studied their shape, and wondered at their texture. It felt as though she wavered closer to them then suddenly found her balance and moved away to retrieve the movie from the player. Separation, she thought, separation was good.

Ariel's eyebrows knitted together then rose in delight. “Hey, will you play me something on your guitar?” She pointed to the six string acoustic near the fireplace.

“Why don't you play me something?” Iocca said handing it to her.

“I couldn't. Please,” Ariel gave her best puppy eyes.

“Oh don't do that. Is that your puppy look?” Iocca laughed fighting not to give in.


The laughter stopped and Iocca's shoulders dropped in defeat. “Oh you are real good. You know that?”

“Yes,” Ariel laughed. She sat upon the floor facing Iocca on the couch.

“Ok let's see, what shall I play for you?” Iocca said and took a sip from her glass. She began with a hearty strum and then came the words to Puff the Magic Dragon.

“I don't believe you!” Ariel yelled and gently kicked at her foot. “Something a little different if you would please.”

“There is something I've been trying to play, but haven't quite got it yet.”

“And you want to play it for me?”

“I do?” Iocca grinned.

“Yes, you do.”

Iocca's fingers pressed the strings and the familiar melody resounded between them. The descending and ascending finger plucks were lilting. Caught in her own enchanted web, Iocca closed her eyes as the music poured from within filling the air.

Enveloped in the melancholy aria, Ariel too closed her eyes. Head weaved side to side in time with the beat and colors danced before her. The compassion of the melody stirred her imagination with vivid clarity. Beyond the colors were two lovers entwined in a sensual embrace, bodies pressed together sharing one heart, one soul. Nothing else existed but them, total devotion to a moment with one another. The music created a reality where Ariel could live, not recognizing Iocca had ceased to play.

When Ariel did return to Iocca's living room, she found Iocca with a gaze of pure longing; it brought her to near tears. “That was beautiful.”

Iocca felt the heat rise to the rim of her ears. “Thank you. It's not finished.”

“You wrote that?” Iocca ducked her head. “Oh my God, that was amazing.” Stunned, the talents of her neighbor seemed endless.

“Oh please, now you're going to make my head swell.” Iocca rose and headed for the kitchen.

“It's the truth.” Ariel grabbed the guitar and settled on a stool at the counter. “I hope to play like that someday. I could pick out a C and a G.” The sounds were muffled when she strummed the six strings.

“Move your thumb further below on the neck and bow your fingers.” Iocca said.

Frustrated, Ariel sighed. “It looks so easily when you do it.”

“That's because I've been playing longer,” Iocca said. “Try again.”

Ariel peered over the bell of the guitar to make sure her fingers were bowed as Iocca had said and she strummed three times. “I can't do this.”

“Sure you can,” Iocca said and moved to stand behind her. She positioned her fingers along the neck of the guitar. “I'll finger and you strum.”

Iocca stepped closer to Ariel her breast pressed against Ariel's back. Her right hand rested comfortably on Ariel's shoulder for support. Iocca inhaled the scent of Ariel's perfume and it was all she could do to keep her footing. She could feel Ariel's warmth beneath her touch. How easy it would be to let her fingers trail the exposed skin of her neck. Ariel's back stiffened and

Iocca's bare breasts rubbed against the underside of her soft sweatshirt. Her throat was parched. The fine hairs at the back of Ariel's neck wavered beneath the breath from her parted lips.

Ariel leaned into her for additional support. Iocca fought to concentrate on changing fingers for the C and G chords until she lost the battle and jerked her fingers away from the neck of the guitar. As nonchalantly as possible, Iocca stepped away and around the counter to put something solid between them.

“All it takes is a little practice and you'll be fine.” Iocca said not looking at her. She couldn't take the chance of being revealed. Ariel was a friend, a straight friend who'd find that unacceptable.

“Practice,” Ariel said with a dry throat of her own.

“Yes,” Iocca nodded and drank deeply from her glass. The burning of the bourbon matched the heat within her cheeks as she gazed on Ariel. Surprised, the same hue covered her friends beautiful cheeks and neck as well. Iocca focused on the glass of brown liquid to break the spell. Clearly, the closeness had embarrassed Ariel. Iocca wanted to say something, but exactly what eluded her.

Ariel lowered her gaze then gasped, “My God it's almost ten. I didn't realize it was so late,” She chuckled nervously. “I should go and let you get some sleep.” Ariel hurried into the living room and carefully placed the guitar upon the couch.

Hand deep within her jeans pockets Iocca stood a distance away from Ariel. “I've had a wonderful time this afternoon. Thanks for the movies.”

“So did I. Movies are the only thing to do on rainy days. I heard it's a law somewhere.”

“I'm glad you saved me from going to jail then,” Iocca said.

Ariel put the movies in the bag uncertain of what came next. “Well, good night Iocca.” Iocca followed her to the front door.

“Good night Ariel,” Iocca paused and felt something was missing. Iocca watched Ariel get into the car and then hop out.

“Are you up to dinner and a movie tomorrow night, my place?”

“I'm there,” Iocca smiled and watched Ariel back down the drive. She closed the door and leaned heavily against it. “Are you crazy?” A trembling hand raked through her hair.


Ariel locked the front door and secured her home before heading for the bathroom. As she completed her evening ritual, her mind replayed the soft tender melody Iocca played for her. She fell in love with it within the first few bars. Iocca was truly creative, talented, and beautiful. A pleasurable tingle rose spread from her neck to cover her entire face.

What started as an innocent wish to learn to play two chords turned into one of the most sensual experience she'd felt in two years. The heat of Iocca's breath upon the nape of her neck stiffened her own nipples. Iocca's hand on her shoulder ignited a sea of rolling lava. It coursed through her body and created a throbbing ball of fire between her legs. Ariel legs shifted restlessly with thoughts of Iocca. The feel of Iocca's taut nipple against her shoulder made her inhale sharply.

Ariel relived the moment of closeness, a fact which caused her libido to jump start into life. Absently she reached beneath the sheet and pinched the attention deprived nipple. She gasped and her left hand found its way beneath the covers as well.

The rain pelted the windows in light patter and the thunder rumbled through the house. She felt the slickness between her legs, and the roar of her pleasure rose above the noise from the sky outside. Finger played with her swelling lips. Her legs twitched as she teased the bundle of swollen nerves at the top of her apex. Frenzied, she shimmied out of her boxer shorts and tossed them on the floor. In the same motion she reached for the nightstand drawer and found something to help bring her relief.

Ariel pinched and rubbed her breast, making the nipples painfully erect. Behind her eyes a lover came to her. A skillful tongue traced and suckled her aching breasts. Ariel's left side needed tending to as well and her imaginary lover switched sides while a hand taunted the center. Her breath came in spurts as the lover behind her clenched eyes pleasured her body.

Ariel's back arched as she plunged two fingers deep into her waiting opening. Suspended in place, she released a guttural moan as her fingers wiggled deep within. She fell back onto the bed with her knees sprawled and bent for freedom to receive the pleasure about to come. Several more thrusts and she would be ready. A low hum sounded from beneath the sheets.

“Oh yeah,” Ariel said and tilted her hips forward. The smooth shaft of the vibrator entered her easily. Slow and even her hips came to meet it as it moved in and out. Her walls gripped each thrust wanting to keep it in place. Ariel felt her wetness on her fingers and she pushed the device all the way in.

Frantic, her other hand touched her swollen clit. She made gentle circles around the enlarged bundle feeling it grow beneath her fingers. The vibrators' thrusts increased in speed as her need for relief heightened to near desperation. Fingers pressed against her clit she rubbed in shorter faster circles. Ariel widened her legs as she shifted her hips from side to side up and down, creating unbearable friction until her hips bucked and her legs shook violently. Her cries blasted above the crack of thunder and her limbs became locked in orgasmic paralysis.


Continued in Part 4

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