By KG MacGregor
Leaving no room for doubt that this might only have been a friendly gesture, Anna pressed closer and raked her tongue tentatively across the smaller womans lips to urge them apart. Staggered by the surge of emotions that welled up in her chest, she moaned into Lilys open mouth.
If Im dreaming, god help the fool that wakes me up! For Lily, it was more than just a meeting of lips. It was an unmistakable confession from both, and the blonde was completely overpowered by the sensation. Annas lips were the softest shed ever kissed, and she pulled the womans head closer, slipping her tongue inside the warm mouth.
Too soon the kiss ended, both women short of breath. Not willing to give up this intimate embrace, Lily buried her face into the long slender neck. Anxiety simmered underneath as she worried that Anna would suddenly have doubts. The words replayed in her head. "Its you that I want." If there was a chance on earth that they could really be together, Lily knew she would walk through the fires of hell to make it happen.
The tall woman pulled her closer, cupping the blonde head with her palm, swaying ever so slightly to keep the sensations alive. She held Lily like that for several minutes, not uttering a sound. Gradually, Anna felt the strain of the last six weeks recede. In its place was quiet, like a settling of her soul. "This is right," she whispered. "I feel so still inside."
"Me too. I want to stay in this place, wherever it is." They stood together silently for another few minutes, soaking up the calm. Lily would take the next step. Leaning back, she studied the tall womans visage, looking for signs of awkwardness or uncertainty. Finding neither, she brought her face closer, green eyes darting between Annas eyes and lips. Turning her head slightly at the last instant, the women shared a breath as their lips met again.
The second kiss held none of the shyness of the first. It deepened with fervor as each was swept up again in excitement and wonder. Arms and hands remained still, holding firmly to the other. This was not about passion, but about connection. When they broke again, Anna kissed the smaller womans nose, and rested her cheek atop the blonde hair.
"I have to go. I need to leave for the airport at six." She didnt release her hold, even as she talked of leaving.
"No. Im afraid I cant allow that." Lily tightened her grip.
"Dad and I are going to Munich tomorrow for nine days. Id like to go thinking you and I were okay again."
"Were okay, Amazon."
Something is different about Anna this morning. George Kaklis and his daughter boarded the Lufthansa 747 at 7:45 a.m., taking their seats in first class. Anna was obviously excited, more so than George could remember on any of their previous trips. "Are you looking forward to Munich?" he asked his smiling daughter.
"Im looking forward to being with you. Itll be fun to see the new designs. I just wish they would schedule this in July instead of January," she lamented. Anna hated being cold.
"Youre in a good mood," her father fished.
"Yes, I am." But she was not forthcoming, so George let it drop for the time being. Breakfast was served over Arizona, and to his surprise, Anna then pulled a blanket over her head and slept all the way to New York.
Lily was running on pure adrenalin. In the office by 7:30, she was smiling and friendly, a welcome change from the surly nature her co-workers had come to expect.
Unable to sleep at all after Annas late night visit, Lily relived the kisses, the embrace, the soft words of assurance. Truth be told, she feared that if she went to sleep, she would awaken and none of this would have really happened. Her day started off with a thrill when Anna had called her from the limo at 6:15.
"Ive only got a minute. The driver has gone to the house to collect Dads things."
"If a minutes all youve got, Ill take it."
"Thank you for talking with me in last night."
"Thanks for not taking no for an answer. And for coming back after I was so mean."
"Its forgotten. I understand why you ran."
"Yeah, Kim helped me figure out the Todd part." Lily cringed. She didnt want to think about that. "He kissed me, not the other way around. I told him that night I wasnt interested."
"Youre kidding." If what Anna said was true, Lily was responsible for her own misery of the past six weeks.
"Honest. I was already trying to figure things out. About my feelings for you, that is."
"Well, I like what you decided."
"Theyre coming toward the car. I should go. I Ill miss you."
"Me too you. Travel safely."
Annas secretive behavior on the phone made the attorney a little uneasy, but she waved it off. This was all new to the beautiful woman, Lily reasoned with her rational mind. She herself wanted to bang a drum on the street corner and shout that Anna Kaklis had kissed her! But she was determined that Anna would lead the way. Im not going to screw this one up with expectations about how she should act.
Christ! Nine days was a long time! Her only contact with Anna had been three "thinking about youhope youre doing okay" messages left on her voicemail, once while she was in court, another while she had been in the shower, and the third while she was taking out the garbage at home. Now resigned to let the garbage reach the ceiling, Lily planted herself on the couch all weekend waiting for the phone to ring.
Wednesday afternoon. Four more days! Annas plane got in at 4:07 on Wednesday afternoon. She would probably be exhausted from her trip, and go straight home. Then shed want to go to the dealership because she needed to check on things. And shed probably have to sleep a lot on account of the jet lag. And see her family. Either way, Ill be lucky if I see her again before next weekend.
Lilys misery was interrupted by the loud ringing of phones all over the tiny apartment. She had turned all the ringers to the max to be sure that she wouldnt inadvertently miss a call. "Hello .this is she no, Im not interested no, really, the only thing I dislike about my current phone service is that you have my number." With that, she hung up the receiver, immediately noticing the blinking message light.
Shitfuckhelldamnscrew! Another Lauren-ism.
God, this was frustrating! Anna had tried to guess when Lily would be at home or at her desk, but she hadnt been able to get through. The time difference made it difficult, and the seminars left her with little free time. Shed hoped it would be easier to connect on the weekend, but that too went to voicemail.
Or maybe Lilys avoiding my calls again. Anna hadnt wanted to consider that possibility, but it had taken her a week or more after Tahoe to realize that getting bounced was no accident. She couldnt stop the niggling doubts as she replayed in her head the phone conversation from the car. Was it disbelief she heard in Lilys voice when she told her about Todd? Or maybe Lily simply didnt have the patience to deal with someone who couldnt seem to get her head on straight.
Curious George could stand it no longer. Anna had been cheerful and upbeat when they left LA. Now, a week later, she was distracted and withdrawn. Over dinner on Monday night, he gently broached the subject. "Sweetheart, is everything okay?"
"Of course. The seminars are good. The company is absolutely fabulous. It isnt snowing. What more could a girl want?" she answered with a smile that didnt quite reach her eyes.
"You know, Im really enjoying having this time with you, too. We dont seem to spend enough time together. Thats why I always look forward to these trips." When he got no response, he knew he would have to be more direct. Somethingor someonewas consuming his daughters thoughts. "Its just that you seemed so happy when we left, and now youre quiet again."
"Its nothing to worry about, Dad." Anna didnt want to have this conversation. "Its just a small personal problem. Ill work it out."
A personal problem? Was Anna seeing someone? She was an extremely private person, not at all quick to share information about the men she dated. In fact, she had been seeing Scott for nearly two months before she introduced him to anyone in the family. Surely, George reasoned, she could use my guidance here. "Anna, Im your father. Ive been watching you worry about things all by yourself for 32 years. I want to help." She wouldnt meet his eyes. "Please let me in there."
The woman sighed. She could resist almost any force on earth, but she couldnt refuse her father. What is it they say? Stay as close to the truth as possible. "You remember my friend Lily, from the earthquake?"
"Yes, of course." Where was this going?
"Well," she started hesitantly, "we had a misunderstanding, but I thought we had it cleared up before I left. Now Im not so sure." Anna still hadnt met her fathers eyes. "Im just worried about losing her friendship."
George weighed the possibilities. His daughter didnt have many close friends, so he knew that Lily was important to her. But he couldnt shake the feeling that there was more to it than that, and it made him extremely uncomfortable. His first instinct was to dismiss out of hand his daughters irrational worry about the state of a casual friendship. He bit his tongue though, remembering Martines warning about inadvertently pushing Anna into something. Still, he needed to say something to convey both support and caution. "Sweetheart, I understand that Lily is important to you, but maybe its time to start putting that terrible earthquake ordeal behind you. You cant let things like casual friendships rule your life. Your family, the business, these things are much more important in the grand scheme of things. Dont you agree?" That was a pretty good argument, if I must say so myself. But his daughters response nearly knocked him out of his chair.
Standing abruptly, Anna gathered her jacket and purse. "You know, I think Im going to blow off the last day." It was a half-day actually, followed by a luncheon, then a cocktail party for the North American dealership owners tomorrow night. "I hope you dont mind. Im just going to go back to my room and call the airline. If you want to join me, Ill change your ticket too, but I dont mind if you want to stay until Wednesday."
Well, that certainly went well, George thought sarcastically. "No, you go ahead."
Tomorrow! Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
The attorney was drafting an update to the court on her counsel with Maria Esperanza to cooperate with the court-ordered visitation schedule for Miguel. True to his word, Pete Simpkins had enrolled the volatile father in classes for anger management. It looked like all of them were headed for a happy ending. Lost in her workand mercifully distractedshe missed seeing the beautiful woman exit the white Town Car at the curb.
Anna tried the door at the main entrance, but it was locked for the night. 6:40. The flight from JFK had been delayed 90 minutes, but the car she had arranged had been waiting for her at the airport. Thinking her friend might be working late, Anna took a chance and asked the driver to bring her to the Braxton Street Law Clinic. She grew excited when she saw the light on in Lilys second floor office but without entry to the building, the phone was the only option. If the blonde were ducking her calls, shed just have to get back in the car and go home.
The tall woman walked back to the limo to retrieve the phone from her carry-on. Nervously, she paced through the menu options and pressed the call command for "Lilys office." Leaning her tall frame against the door of the Town Car, her heart skipped a beat as the blonde appeared in her view.
"Lilian Stuart," she announced formally, slapping the button to activate the speaker phone.
"Hi Lily. Its Anna." She held her breath as she waited for her friends response.
The attorney was speechless.
This was not good.
"Are you there?"
Lily lunged to grab the receiver, very nearly disconnecting the call. "Anna! Finally! I cant believe it! I was about to leave and I would have missed you again! Oh my god!" To say that the blonde was excited would have been a bit of an understatement. She was nearly hyperventilating. "This has been so frustrating. Im going to be so happy to see you!"
Whew! The tired traveler was flooded with relief. "Well, then you may want to look outside your window."
Lily made her way to the window and parted the blinds. There in the twilight leaning against the limo was the most beautiful sight she had ever seen.
I cant believe how easy this is, thought Anna. She and Lily had spent almost every evening together since shed returned from Germany. Theyd slid effortlessly back into their old playfulness, the tension of the last six weeks forgotten. Looking back, Anna realized that she and her husband had never shared this kind of compatibility. In fact, any casualness they enjoyed as they got to know one another seemed to disappear once they moved their relationship to a romantic level. At that point, the woman suddenly became more self-conscious, and she had difficulty with simple conversation. If it had felt this natural with Scott, I might never have let him go.
Tonight, Anna was stretched out on Lilys couch reading the current issue of Car & Driver while the attorney sat close by on the floor reviewing a stack of legal briefs. Neither needed the others attention, but each relished the closeness. Their silence was relaxed, and every so often the blonde would reach behind her absently and stroke the beautiful womans arm, leg or "You know, Im not going to let you get your work done if you keep that up."
Lily reluctantly removed her hand from the womans shapely hip, arching her eyebrows suggestively as she turned. "Then maybe I should just put my work away." With that, she let the papers fall and climbed onto the couch, draping her entire body along the length of the muscular frame. "This couch is awfully lumpy. I dont know how I ever fell asleep here." She burrowed into the now giggling mass underneath her. "But its definitely softer in some places."
The kiss that followed started innocently, as just another chance to connect. As it lengthened, it deepened, and soon both bodies were responding to the exchange, moving in a slow rhythm against one another. As Lilys hand drifted up to softly stroke the side of Annas breast, the taller woman gently caressed the shapely rear beneath her own fingers. This was the first clearly sexual overture of their young relationship, and it was escalating too quickly for either woman to keep her head.
"Oh my youre incredible," the blonde said as she stilled and dropped her lips to the womans neck.
"Wow, I " never felt anything like that in my whole life. "Wow," she said again simply. Anna had always felt that she controlled her own desires, that things moved to the next level because she decided it was time. That wasnt the case here. If circumstances were differentthat is, if it werent already ten oclock on a night before both were due at work early the next dayAnna was pretty sure that she wouldnt have wanted to stop. She had wanted to be certain of her feelings before she gave in to her bodys response, but it was her body that seemed to be running this show. This was so different from anything in her past, like a craving.
Lily shifted and sat up beside the beautiful woman. "I could get lost in you so easily." Lily knew that her sentiment meant more than just the physical desire that she felt. She was falling deeply in love.
Anna was drowning in these new sensations, and couldnt think of what to say. She squeezed Lilys hand and smiled.
Well, that went over well. Lily knew she had to give this time.
"Lilian Stuart," the attorney answered crisply. She was due in court this afternoon for jury selection in a housing discrimination case. It was Tonys case, but he always asked her to sit in when he picked a jury. You have a gift for reading people, he had said.
"Hi there, sweetheart. Hows your day?"
Sweetheart! Lily nearly swooned. "Hi yourself. It just got better. Whats up?" She stretched from her desk to push her office door closed.
"I wanted to ask you something. Im having dinner with Kim tonight. Ive been thinking that Id like to tell her about us, if its okay with you." They had decidedactually Anna had askedto keep their relationship secret until they were more certain of their feelings. Lily took it as a good sign that the stoic woman was ready to share this with her sister. On the other hand, it was also a risk. Kims disapproval would be difficult to overcome.
"Of course its okay." More tentatively, she added, "Will you tell me how it goes?"
Anna realized that Lily was worried. "Sure, but dont worry about it. Kim likes you, and I think she has pretty good idea whats going on. Shell be okay with it, Im sure."
Grateful for the assurance, Lily countered, "Well, I hope it goes okay. How would you feel if I talked to Mom?" She felt guilty for keeping something so important from her mother, and she hoped that Anna would acquiesce.
"Go ahead. I know how close the two of you are. I guess it was silly of me to ask you to wait in the first place." Anna really envied the closeness between Eleanor and her daughter. She liked to think that she would have been as close to own mother.
"Not silly at all. I know this is all new for you, and itll take some time to get used to it." Lily paused before she continued. She didnt want to scare her new love away, but Anna needed to be prepared for some of the problems she might face. "As much as I hate to say it, youre right to worry about what others might think. People have prejudices, and some of the folks that youve known for years might look at you differently if they knew about us."
"Lily, I how do I say this?" The blondes stomach suddenly lurched with anxiety. "It isnt you being a woman that scares me. Its its making another mistake for everybody to see."
Lilys heart went out to the woman. As they drove to San Jose last fall, Anna had described in detail the humiliation she felt when she divorced Scott after only a year of marriage. Against her own better judgment, George and Martine had staged an elaborate wedding and reception, with more than 400 people in attendance. Anna had been almost embarrassed at the opulent display, made worse by its undoing so soon after. Lily reassured her friend, "Well take our time with everything. I want you to be sure."
"So whats it like making love with another woman?" Kim was not one to beat around the bush, especially when her sisterto her demented delightembarrassed so easily.
"I cant believe you went there so fast!" Anna retorted indignantly. "I just told you about this sweet woman who has touched my heart, and the wonderful sense of romance were enjoying. But no! All you want to hear about is the sex!"
"Yeah, yeah. So? Whats it like?" the imp persisted.
Anna sighed and dropped her shoulders in surrender. Kim was incorrigible. "I dont know. We havent exactly done anything."
"Well, what are you waiting for!"
"Its not a race, you know. Not everybody gives in so easily to their most basal instincts, like two people I know who shall remain nameless but who cant keep their hands off one another!"
"Dont go changing the subject. Were talking about your sex life here." Kim took special pleasure in tormenting her sister this way, and she was thrilled to see Anna so obviously happy.
"We are not talking about my sex life! I dont even know what it is that we do," she mumbled the last part sheepishly. Her sister was the only living soul with whom Anna had shared the details of her intimate experiences with Scott. To her infinite embarrassment, Kim then went on and on about the things she and Hal did between the sheets. She would never look at her brother-in-lawor Al Gore for that matterthe same way again.
"You dont even know what you do? Well how will you know when youve done it?" Little Sister was really having too much fun now. Once she tasted blood, she usually badgered Anna until the shy woman spilled her guts.
"Well, I guess I sort of know what well do, but people like different things." Anna had never thought much about sexual things. She liked to think of herself as more, ahem cerebral. Now however, her attentions wandered there almost every time she thought of the cute little blonde. "Lily excites me."
Kim was taken aback by the quiet seriousness of her sisters last remark. "Im really happy for you, Sister. Whats it like, the excitement?"
Anna thought of Lily and smiled. "Its like nothing Ive ever known. Being with her just makes me so aware of myself, of my own body. I want to feel her hands on me. I want to kiss her and touch her everywhere. It was never that way with Scott."
"You didnt like to touch him?" Kim needed to tread carefully. She didnt want her sister to think she was still teasing.
"It wasnt that. I just didnt think about it. When I did touch him, I did it because I knew he wanted me to. But with Lily, its like a hunger."
"A hunger." It wasnt a question, but an understanding. She felt the same way about Hal. "So why dont you feed it?
The tall woman blushed again. "I think thats going to happen soon."
"Then youll tell me everything, wont you?" The old Kim was back.
In spite of herself, Anna knew she probably would.
"So she doesnt seem to be afraid of getting involved with a woman?" Eleanor was delighted to hear of the new direction in her daughters love life, but was trying to determine the source of the faint apprehension she discerned.
"No, she says she isnt. I really dont think that its an issue for her." Lily had been bursting with excitement to finally have the chance to tell someone about Anna. But as she talked with her mom, she realized that it was also a chance to explore her own feelings about where things were going. "Its just that well, thats not the same as saying that youre gay. And if shes not, then shell realize it eventually. And there wont be anything either of us can do about it."
"You know, Katharine had a favorite expression she would use whenever someone worried too much about things that might not happen. She used to say Dont go borrowing trouble. I think thats what youre doing here, sweetheart. You need to be enjoying this time, not worrying about it."
As always, Eleanor was absolutely right. Even if Lily couldnt control her creeping doubts, she needed to savor this time getting to know Anna in a more intimate way. "Youre right Mom. I wish Katharine were here to see this. Shed probably get a kick out of seeing me so frazzled. I tell you, its like nothing else in the world exists."
"So are things progressing?"
"What things?" It suddenly dawned on Lily what her mother was asking. "Oh no! No way am I going to talk with my mother about that! I have limits!"
"Okay, suit yourself. But I guess that means you dont want to hear whats new with Bill Mueller and me." Bill was a longtime family friend. In one of lifes cruel ironies, the oncologist had lost his wife of 21 years to cancer three years ago. Lily knew that her mother spent a good deal of time with the doctor, but she had no idea that their relationship had blossomed into a romance.
"Whats this? You and Bill? Tell me everything! No, on second thought, a girl doesnt need to hear these things about her mom either."
"Well, thats a good thing. A womans got to have some secrets," she chided.
"It was a very moving service, dont you think?" Hal offered as they left the Presbyterian Church on Endicott Avenue. Kim, Anna and Lily were near tears and unable to do anything but nod their agreement. Tony wrapped his arm around the blonde attorney as a gesture of support. One year ago today, 27 people had lost their lives at the Endicott Mall. Tonights memorial service commemorated those lives and honored the heroes who had rescued scores of survivors. For Anna and Lily, it also marked the day that they met.
After a quick dinner with their friends, the two women headed to Annas Bel Air house in the X5. "What on earth did you say to your sister? She kept looking at me, grinning like she knew something I didnt know. I swear she winked at me when you took my hand in the church."
"Oh, I just told her that you were special to me, and that we were having a lot of fun getting to know each other." Anna reached out and took Lilys free hand again.
What does special mean? "So what did she say?"
"She was inquisitive."
Lily sensed that Anna wasnt telling her everything, and it allowed her insecurities to creep in. Had Kim tried to dissuade Anna from going forward? Pulling into the driveway, she turned off the engine and shifted sideways to face her friend. "You mean inquisitive like Are you happy with how things are going? or inquisitive like What the hell do you think youre doing?"
The tall woman sighed and looked out the window so the blonde wouldnt see her blush. She hoped above all that Lily wouldnt tease her like Kim had. She had never been able to talk about intimate things openly without getting embarrassed. "No, inquisitive like Whats the sex like?"
"Oh." The blondes stomach fluttered, as it did every time she thought of making love with this beautiful woman. She couldnt see her friends reddened face in the dark, but she surmised from the turned head that Anna was unsettled by the thought. Her heart sank with the acknowledgment that they might never progress beyond friendship, but if friendship was all that Anna could give, Lily knew she would accept it just to be near her. "Anna, look. I dont have any expectations about that. I just want to enjoy being together. If it happens, I know it will be wonderful. If it doesnt, well be okay." And I will die.
Realizing that the blonde had misread her embarrassment as apprehension, Anna knew she needed to clear things up. "Come inside for a minute," she invited. They had already decided to call it an early night, since the car dealer needed to be on the lot at seven on Saturday morning. Lily stepped into the foyer, and Anna wrapped her arms around the small body. "Dont read anything into that stuff with Kim. She lives to make me blush, and shes pretty good at it."
"So you were embarrassed?" Lily was confused. So it wasnt
"Yeah, a little. But it doesnt mean that we wont you know." Anna couldnt hide this growing blush in the soft light of the foyer.
Nor could Lily hide her relief. Oh god, Im in love with this woman! She tightened her arms around Annas waist and laid her head on the tall womans shoulder. "Hey, Im not going to tease you. Im just glad to know that youre thinking about me that way."
"Of course I am." Are you kidding? "You are so special to me. But I get the feeling you dont really know that. Sometimes I dont think I do a very good job of showing you how I feel."
"No, you do fine. Youre special to me too." Very special. "I think Im just a naturally insecure person. Probably my birth mothers legacy. I usually expect the worst, then Im not disappointed." As those words left her lips, she grimaced at how pathetic she sounded.
Anna was gradually coming to understand the fragile state of Lilys heart. All of those people who had walked away from herher mother, her high school friends, her lovershad missed the chance to know Lilys capacity to give. She took the small hands and clutched them to her chest, "I dont want you to be insecure about my feelings for you. If you want to make love, Im ready."
The blonde was so surprised by the statement that she couldnt immediately respond. She was almost ashamed that her admissions of insecurity had elicited such an offer. "Anna, the thought of making love with you excites me almost more than I can stand. But when we make love, and I hope we will, I want it to be because were both ready, not because Ive made you feel like you have to prove something to me. I need to handle my own insecurities."
The dark-haired woman relaxed, resting her cheek against the blonde head. They stood that way for several minutes, both warring with the need to share something. Talk of making love had definitely raised the stakes.
Guarding your emotions is a bunch of crap if it means not being true to yourself. "I love you, Amazon."
Annas arms tightened firmly around her. "I love you too, Pygmy."
Ahhhhh! Part 12
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