For complete disclaimers see part 1.

NOTE: HETERO ALERT!!!  It's brief, and I'd like to think fairly painless, but is there.

If you'd like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at:

Come visit me at: or my publisher at:

1049 Club
Kim Pritekel

Part 8

"Go long!" Michael yelled, arm thrown back, ready to let the cocoanut fly.  He chuckled as he watched his little buddy try and run down the sand, which was no easy feat, especially in Gucci loafers. "Dumb fairy," the Texan chuckled with affection.
Dean glanced over his shoulder, trying to keep Michael in sight as he ran, waiting for the mechanic to throw another one of his bombs.  Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, he chanted mentally as the big man let'r rip, the cocoanut flying through the air at a dizzying speed.  The attorney's eyes followed it all the way into the surf, throwing himself into the incoming wave, almost drowning in his shock at actually catching the damn thing.

He broke through the surface, getting to his feet, half sputtering, half laughing as he raised the caught prize high overhead.  He could hear Michael cheering from where he stood far down the beach.  Dean was about the spike the "ball" when he stopped, hearing something.  Dark brows creasing, he looked up into the sky, trying to figure out what he was hearing.

"Dean!" Denny whined, waiting for her turn, completing their little triangle.

"Wait," he said, still looking up into the sky, holding a hand up to forestall anything more.  "A hum," he said softly to himself, "like, like," he concentrated, listening, listening. "Plane!  It's engines!"

Denny and Michael ran over to him, almost running him over as they, too studied the skies, trying to figure out what the attorney was talking about.

"Don't you hear it?" Dean was beside himself. "Yes, yes, it's engines.  Like a plane, but not quite …"

Denny listened, straining, a vibration of sorts.  Like, "A helicopter."

"Yes!  That's what it is!"  Dean was almost jumping up and down.  "Light the fires!  Light the fires!" he yelled, running toward the rebuilt signal logs.

"Wait, Dean, hold on now, buddy.  Let's wait,"  Michael cautioned.

"For what?!"

"Until we see it."  Michael was desperately scanning the sky, bright blue, not a cloud to be seen, nor a glint of metal.  "Don't be wastin' the wood till we have something to signal."

"No!  We need to light it," Dean muttered, his hands shaking in his excitement, cursing as he dropped the wood bow.

"Do you guys hear that?" Pam asked, running full speed out of the dense jungle, her eyes already pinned to the sky, Mia at her heels.  "Do you?"

"Yeah," Denny said, turning in a circle, squinting against the glare in her light eyes.  Oh, what she'd do for a pair of sunglasses!

"Are they coming for us?" Mia asked, her voice a whisper of awed hope.

"I don't know, darlin'," Michael said, Adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed hard. "I just don't know."

Rachel looked up from her newest project, Christmas gifts in the making, eyes squinting against the intense blue of the sky.  She set the third of the cocoanut shell that she'd been working with down, rising to her feet.  She could hear it, a motor of some type, disturbing the still, afternoon air.

"What is that?" she whispered, walking over to her favorite spot, on the ledge near the waterfall, getting as close to the edge as she dare, the ocean waiting below.  "Is that an airplane?"  She craned her neck back as far as she could, searching, hoping, her heart pounding in anticipation.

"Come on, you bastard!" Dean yelled, dropping the bow again.  Finally he managed to get all parts together, gasping with relief at the smoke that began to rise. "Light, you bastard.  Light!"  The wood caught fire, Dean smiling as the small flame flickered shadows across his face.  Glancing up at the skies again, he jumped to his feet, running into the foliage, toward his hut.

"Where you going, Dean?" Denny asked, taking her eyes off the sky for only a moment.

"To pack!  We have to be ready!"

"Dean, no," she shouted after him, returning her gaze to the heavens.  The sound was getting softer, further away. "it's leaving," she finished, entire being slumping as disappointment gripped her hard and painful.  Soon the sound was nothing but a brief memory of hope.

"Where is it?  I'm ready," Dean said, panting from the exertion and excitement, his few meager belongs in his hands.  Wide eyes looked everywhere, as though he expected a sea plane to be taxiing toward the beach.

"It's gone," Pam muttered, head hanging as she turned away from the sky, disgusted and disheartened.  She walked over to the fire that was quickly spreading on the pyre, angrily kicking sand on it to douse the flames. "Fucking gone!"

"No," Dean murmured, running toward the water's edge where he'd first heard the chopper.  "No, it can't be gone."  The desperation was beginning to fill him as he searched the sky, two cocoanuts clutched to his chest, along with the one extra sarong he owned.  "No!  Goddamn it, where did they go?"

No one said a word, each dealing with their own devastation.  The attorney turned to face each one in turn.

"Where did it go?" he asked again, voice raising in pitch with his panic.  Again, everyone remained silent.  Frustrated and beyond upset, Dean kicked at the sand with a growl, throwing his worldly possessions into the sand and stalking off into the jungle.

"Well," Michael said at length. "That's that."  He sighed heavily, reaching for the cocoanut they'd been using as a ball earlier.  "Denny, it's your turn," he muttered, his heart not in it.

"Yeah."  Denny easily caught the toss, fiddling with it in her hands, lost in her own disappointment.  She wanted to cry, break down and scream at the sky and the fates, and everyone on the God forsaken island, but knew it would do no good.  She needed to keep it together.  After all, they had everything on the island they could want, right?  Except their freedom.

Rachel felt the silent tears sliding down her cheeks, a hand absently brushing at them.  With a final dejected sigh, she turned back to her project, starting another small fire.


Never had she seen such a quiet group of people in her life, nor had she seen the island so quiet, save for the first day she arrived, alone.  Denny left everyone alone, knowing they needed to get through their disappointments their own way.  If any of them were thinking like she was, then they were all remembering their lives back home, realizing how close they'd come, yet how dreadfully far they were, from going home.

The brunette walked along the beach on the backside of the island, feeling the chill start in as night fell.  The waves crashed upon the rocky shore, unseen.  Stopping, she noted a lone fire up on Rachel's ledge.  Realizing she hadn't seen the blonde since early afternoon, she followed the beacon, climbing with calloused hands and feet.  Times like that, she felt like Jungle Jane.

Rachel's golden head glowed orange and shadow in the small fire, her features painted in eerie pockets of dancing shadow.  The blonde looked over at her, eyes turned a golden gray in the firelight.

"Hey," she said, her voice soft, eyes glancing back at her fire as an unfortunate bug flew into the flame, popping and fizzling.

"Hi.  Is this okay?" Denny asked, indicating the author's ledge.  At Rachel's nod, she sat down, eyeing what was before her.  Six cocoanut shells, not quite half of a shell, were lined up, four of them filled with a strange material, that was hard to tell what color it was, with the lying fire light.  "What is all this?"

"I'm making soap."

Denny's eyes widened, her spirits lifted immensely.  "Soap!?"

"Shh," Rachel chuckled, finger to her lips. "Christmas gifts.  The other night it hit me.  I had to research it when I wrote Willing To Conquer, so I figured I'd give it a try.  I just hope I remembered everything."  Her grin was sheepish, Denny's joyous.

"Well, I think after today we all need something.  This is a brilliant idea, Rachel.  So these are the moulds?" she fingered one of the cocoanut shells.  At the blonde's nod, she continued. "What's in it?"

Rachel raised a honey colored brow.  "Oh come on, Denny.  Don't hurt my feelings by telling me you didn't read the book…"

The coffee shop owner chuckled, nodding. "I did read it."

"Saponaria officinalis," Rachel said softly as she stuck her finger in a half cocoanut shell she held in her left hang, testing the texture.  She glanced up with a playful smirk. "Better known as soapwart.  Watch and learn."  Rachel took a handful of already peeled roots and leaves, pouring a bit of water over her hand, then rubbing vigorously.  Denny watched in wonder as a lather began to seep out from between the blonde's palms.

The brunette let out a long breath, eyes pinned to the sight, her skin and scalp itching at the sight.  "Gimmie."

Rachel chuckled, offering her hands to the outstretched ones of the brunette.  "It doesn't smell particularly wonderful, but it's something."

"Oh, yes," Denny breathed, looking down at the slightly prickly foam in her hands that may as well have been gold.  She closed her eyes as she brought it up to her face, inhaling the natural, slightly bitter, scent.  "This smell beats out Dean's sweat any day."

"That's no lie."  Rachel poured water over Denny's hands, which she'd lathered the foam over, smiling at the contented sigh that received.  "Did you hear it today?"

At first Denny was confused by the extreme change in Rachel's voice and demeanor.  She looked into the small fire, tossing more petals and stems of the soapwart inside, her voice low and monotone.

"Yeah.  We all did.  I think Dean was the most devastated."

"I don't know about that."  After a moment, Rachel gave the brunette a sad smile, her eyes quickly flickering away.  "What will be the first thing you'd do, if we were all able to go home?"

Denny sat back, holding herself up on her hands and stared out into the darkness, a black wall seeming to close them in on three sides, the jungle and more rock to their backs.  Grimacing as she ran a hand through her greasy hair, she sighed, thinking.  She was surprised by the first thought, and what the first thought wasn't.  "Sleep on a bed."  She smiled at the thought.

"Oh, that sounds so good," Rachel purred, eyes half-hooded in pleasurable bliss.  "Do you think they were looking for us today?"

"I doubt it.  It's been a long, long time.  No doubt everyone thinks we're dead by now.  It kills me, putting Hannah through all this for nothing."  Denny sighed heavily, allowing herself to fall back totally on the cool rock, hands tucked behind her head.

"I know."  Rachel thought of her husband, whom she hadn't thought of in a long time.  Was that wrong?


The softness of the brunette's voice got Rachel's attention.  She met a lazy blue gaze, almost outside of the line of the small fire. 

"How come you don't talk about your husband?"

Rachel thought about this for a moment.  She knew why she didn't talk about Matt, but tried to decide if she wanted to let Denny in on the reasonings.  Looking into those beautiful eyes, she knew that she could trust the brunette completely.  Rachel was amazed, as she didn't even trust Reenie as much as she wanted to trust Denny.  Finally she sighed, setting down the newest batch of 'soap' she'd mixed, letting it harden like the others.

When Rachel spoke, her voice was soft, almost a though she were telling her secrets to the night, itself.  "The reason I was on that flight was because, yes, I was going to Italy to start researching my next book.  But, the timing was because," she paused, though wasn't sure why.  Her heart was pounding, the old pain coming back in a bright burst.  She looked down at her hands, yet again feeling like a failure.

Denny saw the transformation instantly, and for a moment regretted asking, but then decided that maybe Rachel needed to talk about it.  Nothing had been mentioned, and it must have been relatively recent to the blonde's boarding that plane.  She scooted over closer to the author, giving her silent support.

"Four days before I got on that plane, I had gone out to meet with a local vendor about a book signing, and when I came home, I found Matt in bed with a woman named Diane.  She lived down the street."

"Oh, Rachel."  Denny's heart broke for her friend, pushing herself up into a sitting position, moving so she was sitting beside the blonde, though facing her, her right thigh touching Rachel's right thigh.

"I guess I should've known something was going on.  All the signs were there, you know, coming home later and later, the sudden purchase of cologne."  She shrugged, still unable to meet Denny's eyes.  She knew if she saw the concern that she knew she'd find there, she'd lose it and start crying again, the betrayal still raw.  "I called my best friend in New York, asked if I could visit for a few days.  Reenie let me mope around her loft for awhile, though I think she was about to kill me."  Rachel grinned, only then able to meet the brunette's gaze.  "When I decided I'd taken up enough of her space, and definitely needed some of my own, I hopped a plane for Milan.  The rest is tragic history."

"You've been keeping this inside all this time?" Denny asked, her voice soft and soothing.  She saw a nod from the blonde, who looked away, presenting her with the back of her head.  "Why?" she asked, bringing a hand up to run her fingers through shaggy, blonde hair.

"I'm okay."  Rachel shrugged, though it was not believable in the least, and Denny wasn't falling for it.

"You're full of shit."  Denny felt the vulnerability come off the blonde in waves.  Glancing behind her, she saw the rock face, scooting back against it, reaching for the author. "Come'ere."

Rachel looked over at her companion, seeing what she had in mind, and nearly flew over to her.  No, she didn't want to talk about it, but instinctively she knew she would feel better if she did.  She needed to get it out, needed to try and understand.  It would certainly make it easier when, if, the ever made it back.  Scooting over to the brunette, Rachel found herself engulfed in a strong embrace, her body sideways against Denny's chest, side of her head resting just under the coffee shop owner's chin.

"Talk to me," Denny said, once the blonde was settled.

Rachel was quiet for a long time, so long that Denny wondered if maybe she'd fallen asleep.  Tilting her head to see the author's face, she saw green eyes blinking several times, a little too moist.  The brunette rested her head back against the wall, bringing up a hand, absently running it through Rachel's hair again.  She loved her hair, the golden color, the softness.  She could remember even before she knew Rachel, when she'd seen pictures in magazines, or the one interview she'd done on that talk show, being mesmerized by the color, wondering if it were real.  She blushed, thinking about just exactly how she knew it was real.  Modesty while being on a stranded island was not an option.

"I didn't want to marry him, Denny.  I've never said that out loud before."  Rachel brought up a hand, swiping at an errant tear.  She'd always harbored a great deal of guilt over that.

"So why did you?" Denny whispered, resting her chin atop the gold head.

"Honestly?  It seemed like the right thing to do.  And this," the blonde sniffled, tears freely flowing down her cheeks. "I saw it as an experience.  My whole life I've lived to gain experiences, something to write about, fodder."  Her voice lowered to a whisper, shame filling her, finally able to admit it to herself. "I married Matt for story ideas."

Denny tried not to react, cringing inside; no doubt Matt knew this, or knew something was up.  It wasn't her place to judge, so she remained silent, lending her support and friendship.

"I cared about him, I may have even loved him in some way, but I know now it wasn't how I should have been.  God, no wonder he cheated."  Rachel buried her face with her hands, the tears coming in earnest.

"Hey, hey."  Denny tightened her hold, placing a soft kiss on the top of the blonde's head.  "If he was that unhappy, or that unsatisfied, he should have left, not strayed."

"I know.  But it's not that simple when you're life is legally bound to someone."  Rachel's laugh was bitter and short. "I looked into it."

"You were going to leave him?"

"I thought about it.  The public scrutiny and tabloid would have been awful.  I had decided to give it more time, maybe another year, see if we could get happy."  She sighed heavily, her tears slowing, fingers wiping at them.  "Then I caught him."  The author stared out over the edge of the rock ledge, which she knew dropped off into the sea.  "You know what I think upset me most, at finding him with another woman?"

"What?" Denny whispered.

"Knowing that I had pushed him into it.  I took for granted that Matt would stick around, no matter what, that I controlled the future of our marriage and my emotions.  Never did it occur to me that he would get tired of me, and move on.  I don't blame him, really."

Denny understood both Matt and Rachel's positions, as Hannah had been in a similar situation with her husband, marrying when she was nineteen because it was the proper thing to do.  Yet, she could see how angry and hurt Matt must have been.  She knew if she were with Rachel, she'd want all of her, too.  Not just what the blonde could, or was willing, to give.

Rachel took the brunette's stretched out silence for judgment. "You must think I'm a real bitch, don't you?"

"No, Rachel, I don't.  I think you…"  What did she think?  Taking a deep breath, she decided to be honest. "It may not have been a great idea to marry when you weren't ready, but since you go through life, looking for experiences, you should know that you learn and grow from those experiences."

Rachel listened, at first wanting to be angry by Denny's words, but she forced herself to listen with an open ear, trusting the brunette to speak only the truth.  She found herself getting lost in the low, velvety quality of Denny's voice, her words soft and gentle.

"I've had a lot of time to think about this since we've been here.  I honestly don't think that was a conscious decision for me, to be so cold, so heartless as to marry him for a goddamn story."  Tears started again.

"Hey, I don't think you have it in you to be so cold on a conscious level, Rachel," the brunette said into her ear, brushing long bangs out of amazing green eyes.

Rachel had nothing left to say, so instead cuddled closer into the warm body wrapped around hers.  Yet again she was struck with the need for Denny's comfort, and the way the brunette could so effortlessly get her to drop her defenses.  Only Daisy could ever do that fully.  She was the only one who truly understood Rachel, or tried to.  Until now.


Dean muttered the entire way through the foliage, stomping until finally he realized he had no idea where he was.  He looked around, one tree, plant, vine, patch of dark soil, looking like the next.

"Shit."  Deciding not to panic, after all, how could he get lost on a three mile island, the attorney decided to stroll, venting his profound disappointment before returning to the others, if he returned to the others.  He was tired of this, tired of the island, seeing the same thing every day, the same faces every day, the wind, the surf, the ruin of his skin!  Dean ran hands through his stringy hair, which pissed him off all over again!  He wanted his shower back home, with the three massive heads, spraying his body with precious hot water from three angles.  He missed picking the days shampoo from the array they kept on hand.  The feel of soft skin, lotion and a goddamn shave!!

The shaver found in the washed up baggage had long ago gone dull, and was used for something else, but even that was gone from the wrath Mother Nature felt they needed again.  Why was he being punished?  Was being an attorney really that bad?  His gaze rose to the heavens, trying to find answers in the clear, blue sky, which oddly, matched the color of Denny's eyes.

Dean's thoughts turned to Will.  It was funny, during the first part of their incarceration, he could only think of Will's body, his incredibly talented mouth and tongue, and how good the architect felt against him.  But now, all he wanted was a hug from the man he loved more than life itself.  He wanted to be able to look into Will's beautiful eyes and know he was home.

Dean sniffled, swiping angrily at the new tears that sprang to his eyes.  He had a feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach, like he'd never see his Will again, never step foot into his favorite boutiques or the bagel shop on the corner.  Never again would he be able to use their season tickets to the theater.

Finding a small clearing, Dean plopped down and buried his face in his hands.


"Buon Natale!"

Gloria rolled her eyes as she was hugged by yet another wayward cousin, whom she hadn't seen in twenty years, and knew wouldn't be seeing this year if not for everyone feeling the need to coddle her, and surround her with joy and cheer. 

"Buon Natale," she said, excepting a kiss to either cheek, then had to hug all of cousin Bernard's six children.  Stick your Merry Christmas up your ass.

"Gloria!  Come help Nonna needs your help."

The dark-eyed woman was happy to leave the receiving line and help her grandmother set the table.  The Vinzetti women had been cooking for six days, having to feed at least thirty-seven.  She just wanted to know where, in her grandparent's very small cottage, where these people going to go?

Christmas used to be Gloria's favorite holiday, but she had never dreaded a day or event so much in her life.  She knew her family was trying to be there for her, trying to help "make her forget".  Well, she had news for them: there was no way she was going to forget that she was celebrating a day of family and love without her only child.  She played along, smiling and participating in mindless chatter and catching up, wishing she were back in New York, curled up with a whiskey and cable TV.  The only good thing she saw in all of this was the chance to spend time with her grandfather, who was getting weaker, his cancer becoming more apparent. 

The day before, Gloria had gone with her grandparents to the doctors, getting the sobering news that this would likely be Paolo's last Christmas.  The younger woman felt sick that Mia wasn't able to see her Pappo one last time, or vice versa.


Naomi studied her brother-in-law, seeing the bright red Santa hat perched slightly askew on his head, his tailored pants and white button up shirt, festive Christmas-tree drenched bow tie.  He smiled, he joked, he even took seconds of the luscious dinner he'd had catered.  All of it was for simple appearances.  He was dying inside.

"Hey, you," the architect said, raising his glass in holiday salute to his favorite female.  Naomi smiled back, hip bumping him as she sipped from her egg nog.

"Hey, yourself.  Great party."

"I thought so," Will said proudly, looking out over all of his guests, merry and jubilant.  Just like he'd planned it.  "The plumb pudding made quite the splash, I must say.  I wasn't sure," he wrinkled his nose, sipping from his own goblet of thick, rich egg nog.  Crossing one arm over his stomach, he rested his other elbow on it, tapping his chin with a finger.

"So are you going to introduce me to your new friends?  After all, they did fly all the way in from Massachusetts to join us."

Will met twinkling dark eyes, then grinned.  "But of course.  Follow me."  He took Naomi by the hand.  "You'll love Parker, their fifteen year old.  She's darling!"


"Come on, Walter!  The kids are ready to open their damn presents!  Slowest damn man on the planet," Meredith Adams muttered, arranging the last of the cookies she and Jenny had baked the week before, frozen to keep them fresh.  "Come on, kids!  Jenny, pour everyone something to drink!  Alan, get the fire banked!  Conrad, help me carry this stuff in!"  The older woman felt like she was doling out instructions to thin air as there was no movement in the house.  "Damn it.  Have to do every goddamn thing my goddamn self." 

Slamming the last cookie down on the tray, Meredith wiped her hands on a dish towel and stormed up the stairs, knocking on, then opening her granddaughter's bedroom door.  The girl sat at the small writing desk, working feverishly on a paper that had been assigned in her tenth grade history class.

"Did you hear me?"

"Yeah, hang on, Grandma.  I'm almost done," the girl said absently, scribbling the last of her notes.

Meredith walked further into the room, looking over her granddaughter's shoulder.  "Is the paper on that female King?  What was it, The Donald?"

Jenny chucked, glancing up at her grandmother.  "Donal, Grandma.  Yeah, she was a female ruler."

"Well, whoever she was, get your little butt down there so we can start Christmas."

"Come on, boys," Walter said, walking by the family room, where Alan and Conrad continued to play video games, despite their grandmother's call.

"Come on, Con," Alan said, tossing his controller to the floor and pushing himself up from the couch.  The stubborn thirteen year old remained in front of the TV, focused on killing the bad guy, again and again and again.

About to make his way on into the living room, Walter stopped, noting the youngest boy still playing games. "Conrad," he barked,  "get off your ass and do as your grandmother says.

"Why?  You don't," the boy muttered, not taking his eyes off the screen in front of him, lip curled in rage as he shot the zombie, watching in satisfaction as it blew apart, blood and gore spraying the screen.

Walter felt anger wash through him, having no patience for the little shit and his attitude.  He and his wife had taken in those kids, and he was getting damn tired of the bullshit.  He wanted his old, peaceful life back.  And his little girl.

Conrad yelled out in surprise and anger as he felt large hands grip him under the arms, dragging him away from the TV, the boy kicking, trying to get away from his formidable grandfather.

"Let me go!  Let me go!"

"Hearing the struggle from the other room, Meredith and Alan ran over to find Walter and Conrad at the genesis of a fist fight.

"Con!"  Alan grabbed the boy, pinning his arms to his side, lifting the boy off his feet as Conrad struggled against him. "Stop it, stop it!"

Conrad stilled, the sound of his older brother's voice penetrating the fog of anger that constantly clouded his judgment and thoughts.

"This is not gonna bring mom and dad back!"  Alan felt his little brother go limp in his arms, and he turned the boy around, Conrad growing so much over the past year.  The older Dupree couldn't even use the kid's head as an armrest anymore.  Alan knew Conrad would later be ashamed at the tears that streamed down his face, their dad always teaching them to be men, and men don't cry.  "Come on," he muttered, leading the boy outside.

Meredith felt profound disappointment fill her, and suddenly her husband's arms were around her, his plaid shirt absorbing her tears of frustration.  All she wanted was a good Christmas for the kids!


"Here.  Thought you might want this."

Matt looked up at the unexpected voice of his partner. "What are you doing here, Burt?  All dressed up."  He sat back in his chair, taking the steaming coffee the large man had set on his desk.

"Look pretty sharp, don't I?"  Langley grinned, adjusting his tie under the roll of his chin.  "Going to Mass with the wife.  Thought I'd stop by on our way to give ya this."  A festive plastic tray, filled with Christmas goodies and wrapped in green plastic wrap, was set at the center of the detective's desk.

"Tell Rita I said thanks.  Dinner."

Burt's smile was weak, sliding off his face. "That invite still stands, Matt.  No body should be alone on Christmas."

"I've got work."

"Yeah, well, dinner's at six if'n you change your mind.  Gotta go- the wine of communion is calling."  With a wink, Burt headed out, leaving Matt alone with his thoughts.  The cop grabbed a pencil from the holder at the corner of his desk, twisting between his cigarette-stained fingers.  Rachel would kill him if she knew he'd picked up the habit again, but some days it was the only thing that calmed him.  He was working ridiculous hours every day, sometimes seven days a week.  His captain had already warned him, so to appease her, he'd taken the weekend off, but was back, sitting at his desk on Christmas day.  "Deck the halls," he muttered, turning back to his computer.


"You have got to be kidding me?!" Reenie gawked, watching the two women dancing across her spacious living room, furniture pushed aside, rugs rolled up.  The little blonde, hair whipping around, in Beth's arms looks wonderful, and their bodies dancing together was one of the most sensuous things the editor had ever seen.

Beth and her cast mate, Christian, were doing their best to not giggle as they dirty danced, then Beth whirled the blonde away, watching as Christian launched herself into the air, landing silently on her knees, head whipping back.

"Bravo!"  Reenie cried, clapping loudly as the two ladies bowed deeply at the waist.  "You two can be the Christmas entertainment any time!"

The two women hugged in triumph as the dark-eyed woman fanned herself.  Beth had met the amazing talented dancer in San Francisco, where they'd worked together briefly.  They had become fast friends, keeping in contact over the years, even as Christian had moved from state to state and country to country, performing for audiences all over the world.  Beth was thrilled to have her back in the US, and was in New York to support the blonde dancer in her newest role in Midnight Run.

"Miss Scott," Reenie said, handing the dancer a rose from the editor's Christmas basket she'd received at work.

"Oh, why thank you," Christian bowed deeply again with a grin as she accepted the gift of gratitude.

"And Miss Sayers,"

"Madam," Beth's bow was all flourish and pomp as she, too accepted her rose.

Chuckling, Reenie headed toward the kitchen.  "Come on, you, two- dinner's ready."

Christian had no time to fly back to Sterling, Colorado to spend the holiday with her elderly aunt and uncle, so Beth invited her over to join Reenie and herself for a quiet, low-key dinner and fun with the girls.  New to town, Christian had eagerly accepted. 

Beth knew this was tough on her long time friend, so had done her best to keep the evening light and filled with laughter.  Christian was a wonderful person, and good company, and the blonde and the editor had hit it off, just as Beth figured they would.  Instead of Reenie allowing herself to roll in sadness or loss, thinking about the holiday without seeing Rachel, or at least talking to her for half the day over the phone, she listened and laughed, hearing the two entertainers' stories of success and dismal failure on stage, of breaking legs, figuratively, and literally.  In short, it was more fun than the editor had had in six months.


It had been a hard decision.  It had been a very hard decision, but Tracy liked her new surroundings, enjoying the snow falling around the ranch in Billings, Montana.  When her mother's insurance and retirement had been cashed, and given to the veterinarian's daughter, Tracy had taken the money, quit her job, and bought the small ranch out west.  She was tired of the east coast, having lived there most of her life, save for the four wonderful years she'd gone to college in Idaho.  She'd fallen in love with the dry climate, the people, and unbelievable openness.  Back in New York, everything and everyone was crammed into such tight spaces.  She wanted her son, Luke to grow up in Montana, both of them to be able to ride freely, every day, and not just when they could get to the stabled horses on weekends.

Colleen decided against the move west, her elderly parents in New Jersey, and she wanted to stay near.  It had been a painful parting, but Tracy understood.  The deaf woman and Tracy had talked about it at length, and decided Tracy would get a dog, trained specifically for the deaf, as well as, now seven, Luke could help his mom out.  It was scary, but necessary.  Tracy needed a new start, and new surroundings, not haunted by the specter of her mother, who she missed, and was filled with so many regrets.

Tracy had been a junior at Lampley, a college for the deaf in Idaho, when she'd met Samson Tackle, a professor, and partially deaf.  Tracy had become pregnant that spring, and Pam had been livid.  She had worked almost day and night to pay for her daughter's education, and felt Tracy was throwing it away, and with an instructor, to boot.  Mother and daughter had never gotten along well after, and Pam had a difficult time accepting her grandson fully.  Even still, Tracy knew that over the past couple of years, her mother had tried her best, and they were closer than they'd ever been, but nowhere near how close they'd been before the deaf woman had left for college.

Now, as Tracy watched her son tear into yet another gift, this one from his dad, whom the boy had seen for the first time the week before, she felt a sense of peace.  She would always have regrets, and would always yearn for the mother who not only pulled away emotionally, but was no longer alive.

Tracy's attention was caught by movement, an automatic smile returning to her face at her son's excitement as he showed her the huge fire engine.  She clapped her hands for him, to let him know she was happy.


The lip was released again, then promptly pulled back in, this time even, white teeth chewing lightly.  Hannah ran her thumb over the cool glass, Denny's beautiful face smiling up at her.  The picture had been taken during their trip to Kauai, Denny sitting on the trunk of their rental car in the strangely wooded area at "The end of the road", the beach at one end of Kauai's only highway, and where they'd spent a great deal of their time.

The researcher felt her heart pounding in her ears, blood racing through her veins, questioning her decisions of the past month.  Tiffany.  After the redhead had kissed her at the beginning of the month, Hannah had ran, and had run far.  The kiss had felt so right, and yet so terribly wrong.  She'd gone home and cried, cradling one of Denny's shirts to her chest.  It had still smelled like the coffee shop owner, which made her cry even more.

After long talks with her mother, Hannah had come to the conclusion that she couldn't live her life by what should be the etiquette of grieving.  She had to live by what felt right for her.  She loved Denny, would always love Denny, and somehow felt she had always loved her, but ultimately, she knew Denny would want her to move on and be happy.  The brunette felt she had a shot at happiness, and decided to take it.

"I love you, Denny," she whispered, kissing the cool glass, then placing the photograph in the box with the rest of Denny's things.  The box was placed in the garage, with the other boxes.


 Rachel chuckled at the parade of freshly cleaned bodies that walked by, each with a huge grin.  It had been so difficult to keep her gift away from everyone for the few days until what they surmised was actually Christmas day, but she had managed, with Denny's help.


"Can I give it to them now?"

"No, Rachel, it's not time yet."


"No!  Come on, Rachel.  Stay strong."


"What are you grinning at?" the brunette asked, seeing the goofy look on the author's face.  Rachel shook her head, brushing overly long bangs out of her eyes.  She couldn't wait until she could actually tuck them behind her ears.

"Just glad everyone enjoyed their Christmas gift.  That's all."

"Ohhhh," Denny purred, sniffing at her own skin, which wasn't Irish Spring fresh, but was no longer oily, and smelled of nature. "You have no idea."

"I think I do, if Dean's antics have anything to say about it."  They both laughed, remembering as the attorney had run to the shore, whipped his sarong off, waggling his business to God and the sea with a whoop.  "I've never seen such white ass cheeks in all my life."

"Giggling girls make me nervous," the white ass cheeks owner said with a raised brow, walking up to the couple.  That was how everyone on the island was seeing the two women as now, though no one had said a word to Rachel and Denny about the status.  It was obvious to anyone with eyes that something was growing between the two, and had been since almost day one.  Pam told Dean and Michael about their nights, when Denny and Rachel would glance over at their other two sleep mates, make sure they were asleep, then the blonde would cuddle up with Denny, the brunette wrapping her body around her, both quickly falling to sleep.

"Yeah, well your peanut flapping in the wind makes me nervous," Denny said, eyes wide as she punched her chest with her thumb.  Dean chuckled.

"Eh, you're just going through dildo loss."

"Yeah, cause you keep stealing it!" 

Rachel lost it at the look on Dean's face, the blush that crept slowly up his deeply tanned chest, burning his cheeks and ears, until finally, without another word, he raised his chin in defiance, and marched off.  Blue eyes met Rachel's green, and both women dissolved in fits of laughter.


Pam stood on what had become toted as The Rock, since the back beach was covered in dangerous rocks and reef, where Pam, Mia and Rachel had landed, what seemed like years ago now.  She was freshly washed, her skin tingling, and her hand absently running over a naked breast.  She was missing Austin, her thoughts drifting to him for the first time in several months.   They hadn't dated long, so the emotional attachment wasn't there, but she still missed him, and was deeply sorry he lost his life in the crash.  She only hoped it was quick.  She didn't remember when he'd died, or if he'd been there as the vet had scrambled her way out of the sinking plane.

Closing her eyes, she allowed her thoughts to drift back to where they'd been, on her skin, highly sensitive as want spread through her body.  She'd kept her body's needs under wraps, but for some reason was strikingly alive at the moment.  She didn't know if it was from becoming clean once more, or she simply needed physical release.  Whatever the reason, she gasped as a hand brushed across one of her rigid nipples, arousal gathering between her thighs, which moved restlessly as her weight shifted from one hip to the other.


Michael hummed under his breath, deep voice almost graveling in his song.  He was on the search for more vines, making the women necklaces for Christmas.  He was amused at himself, being stranded on an island doing nothing to improve his tendency toward procrastination at the holidays.  The Texan spotted exactly what he was looking for, the bright, white and pink flowers winking at him in sunlight and shadow through the trees.  He could hear the crash of waves on rocks getting louder as he neared The Rock.


Pam's eyes remained closed as the hand squeezed her entire breast, then her palm rubbed over her nipple, her other hand sliding down over a newly flattened belly, the skin hot to the touch, to the tie of her sarong.  She was aching now, allowing her mind to bring up fantasies and memories of being touched.

"Oh," she sighed, the material of her covering sliding down her thighs, pooling at her bare feet.  Her fingers slid further down, tickling the wiry hair between her legs, shocked at how wet she was.


Michael's hum turned to a soft whistle when he broke through the line of trees, stopping dead in his tracks when he saw the naked back and butt of Pam, standing on the beach, both of her hands blocked from his sight, though he thought he saw slight movement from between her legs.

Michael Dupree had an unusually high sex drive, and this island had been like a death sentence to his manhood.  He'd sneaked off to the jungle many a night, groaning quietly at the quick release, but nothing would ever replace the softness of a woman, the feel of her heat surrounding him in a pocket of softness.  He felt himself growing hard from the thought, and from the vision before him.  He knew he should walk away, go get off in the trees, then finish his task, but the mechanic felt rooted to the spot, unable to take his eyes off the visage of Pam, obviously pleasuring herself, soft sighs and groans able to be heard above the sound of surf.


Pam froze, suddenly have the feeling that she was being watched.  Shame filled her as she took her hand away from her sex, covering her breasts with both arms, and then turning.  She gasped slightly at the sight of Michael, standing in the shadows, a predatory glint in his eyes.  That look spoke to Pam's physicality, and she felt new wetness gathering.

Without a word, she slowly uncrossed her arms in silent invitation, which the Texan made no mistake about.  He walked onto the beach, hands reaching down to his fly to swiftly unzip what was left of his jeans, his intent blatantly clear.

Pam felt her heart pounding in her chest, her breathing quickening as she slowly backed up, her eyes beckoning him to follow, which he did.  In a heartbeat, the mechanic pounced, his mouth roughly taking the veterinarian's, feeling hands pushing at his pants, one of his big hands reaching down to wrap around the back of her leg, roughly pulling her leg up, Pam's heal latching onto the back of his own thigh.

Pam groaned loudly as she felt the intense heat as Michael entered her in one quick thrust, both breathing out of control as they basked in the bliss of human contact and sexuality.  Never in her life had Pam experienced anything so satisfying, though brief, Michael groaning into her neck as he thrust one last time, their bodies plastered together by sweat and desire.

It took a moment, but they began to come back to reality, realizing what they'd just done.  Michael's eyes widened, sickening guilt consuming him as he pulled out, turning his back on Pam as he resettled himself.  Pam ran a shaking hand through her hair, noting the posture of the man before her.  She had a feeling what was going through his head.

"Michael," she said softly, grabbing her sarong and retying it, then placed a hand on his back.  "Michael," she said again, when she got no response.  He glanced over his shoulder, giving her his profile. "Please don't let this make you feel guilty.  It just happened."

"I promised," he said, his own voice shaky.


"Promised my wife I'd never do that again."  He looked down, hating himself.

"Honey, Melissa is gone."  Pam gently turned the big man around until he was facing her, eyes sadder than any puppy she'd seen.  "Don't beat yourself up over this."

He nodded, but didn't convince the doctor.  Without a word, she gathered him in a deceptively strong embrace, holding him as he dealt with his pain and guilt of self-imposed feelings of betrayal.  Pam rubbed his back, thinking about what they'd done, and trying to figure out how she felt about it.  She knew it was a simple act of physical release, and nothing more, but would never want to make Michael feel this way.


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