Disclaimers: The characters in this story are mine. This is a 'uber' story, set in today's timeline, and some of the characters may bear a more than a slight resemblance to certain other characters we all know, but which are not owned by me. Any similarity to real people is purely coincidental. The location is Orlando, Florida. This is a character driven piece. There is no plot. There is no violence, nobody is trying to kill anybody else, nobody is chasing anybody else, nobody is ..well, you get the picture. The backdrop is a law firm, and sometimes law firms can be rather routine places to work. This story brings two people together in that environment who end up making each other's lives anything but routine.
Subtext Disclaimer: There is subtext here, too. This story deals with the growing attraction and eventual deep, profound love between two people who happen to be of the same sex. Although there are some scenes depicting the physical expression of that love, there are no graphic scenes here. If that is what you're looking for, you might want to read something else. This is simply a story about soulmates finding each other again.
Feedback: This is my first attempt at fan fiction. Comments are always welcome. Let me know if there's something you especially liked or didn't like. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by KM
Robin stepped off the elevator and walked to her office, her short blonde hair slightly damp from the drizzling rain. It was a miserable gray day, having rained all evening, and now the rain continued well into the morning, leaving the earth a wet and soggy mass. Traffic was tied up all over town, the drive in to work stop and go, causing Robin to run rather late this day. I hate Mondays.
After having been gone a week in New Orleans, she had spent all day Sunday catching up on her mail, grocery shopping and performing other mundane chores in between trying to complete the unfinished unpacking she still had left over from moving.
She entered her office, set her briefcase down and powered up the computer. It was then that she noticed something sitting on her desk, right next the stack of deposition transcripts she had waiting to review. As she sat down in her chair, she reached out and picked up the object. Café du Monde Coffee with Chicory. A can of the wonderful coffee she had liked so much in New Orleans. She smiled to herself. Jess. Under the can was a scribbled note.
Thought you might like to enjoy some of New Orleans in Orlando. There's also an order form in case you want to order some more later.
Robin shook her head in quiet amazement. She opened up her e-mail program and typed in a short message.
Got the coffee you left. Is there no end to lengths you will go to bribe me into doing your grunt work for you? Chicory coffee works for me! Thank you.
She clicked the send button and looked up in time to see Paul Franklin standing in her doorway, his lanky build leaning casually against the door frame.
"So, I see you made it back from your first document review, all in one piece, I may add." He chuckled and stepped into the office, taking a seat. "Hopefully, Jessica didn't torture you too badly."
"Well, it wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. I mean, we did get to see some of New Orleans while we were there, so that kind of made up for it." Robin had a distant look in her eyes for a brief moment.
"Well, I'm sure you did your best to get Jessica out for a little fun. She doesn't go in much for play. Pretty much all work." Paul leaned back in the chair and stretched out his legs. "I remember the first document review I had with Jessica. We went to Atlanta and proceeded to spend all day and all evening knee deep in financial records. I remember thinking that somebody should just shoot me and put me out of my misery." He laughed slightly.
"Ooooh, That sounds bad. I hope I don't have that in store for me later on." Robin relaxed in her chair and regarded Paul. He was a senior associate, rather tall, with slightly wavy graying brown hair that made him appear older than he was. "Did you need help with something today?"
"Yes, a couple of things, if you have time." He leaned forward slightly and looked at her gently with warm brown eyes. "I was hoping you could draft a couple of motions to dismiss for me. I'll be in a mediation the rest of the day and I really need to get them out. One of the paralegals can get you the forms." His gaze lingered, and he gave Robin a charming smile as handed her the files.
He's flirting. "Sure, Paul. I'll take care of it. Go on to your mediation."
Robin stood up as Paul left the office and turned to stare out the window at the gray morning light, the outline of the lake below barely visible through the haze of the rain. She shook her head. I'm not going to get involved with anyone right now. I just can't do that yet. It's only been a few months. It was a defiant thought, maybe in spite of herself, but she was adamant just the same. And although she didn't exactly know why, she came to realize that she didn't quite feel comfortable with that decision.
Jess sat in the high backed, largely uncomfortable, velvet covered chair in Harry Roberts' office, staring out the large windows and patiently waiting as he completed his phone conversation with the managing partner, Gordon McDaniel. Work had seemed to pile up while she way away, as it always does, and she knew she had some long nights ahead of her this week in order to catch up. Sometimes going out of town was just not worth it. Jess smiled to herself. But this time it was worth it.
Harry put down the receiver and looked over at Jess, appearing somewhat preoccupied. He frowned. "I haven't seen our new associate today. Have you? You didn't scare her away already, did you?"
"Oh, be serious, Harry. It's a mess out there. She's probably just running late."
"Maybe. How did you two do in New Orleans? Any problems?" Harry took a sip of his now cold coffee, then pushed his intercom button. "Betty, could you bring me some more coffee, please." He looked at Jess. "Want some also?" Harry was from the old school, having yet to realize that most legal secretaries didn't normally fetch coffee nowadays.
"No, thanks. Um .we got everything we needed from RSJ. I think Robin will work out well. She found some key documents for us and seems to able to grasp some of the relatively finer issues of the case. I'd like to put her on my trial team." The secretary stepped quietly into the office and set a fresh cup of coffee down on Harry's desk before retreating back to her work station.
"You want Robin on your trial team? So soon? You know we usually send in more experienced associates." Harry took a sip of his now hot coffee and considered the request. His frown deepened as he mulled over the thought in contemplation. "Alright, this is what we're going to do. You can put her on your trial team, for now, and we'll see how it goes. If you feel she's in over her head, I want you to tell me immediately and we'll get Keith or Mark in there." He looked at Jess directly, the silent warning evident. "There is no substitute for experience. We can't compromise the client's case for training purposes."
Jess pursed her lips and gave it some thought, not for the first time mind you, and asked herself again just why it was she wanted Robin on her trial team. Sure, it was unusual for a first year associate to be placed on a trial team. But Jess was certain Robin could handle it. Robin's sharp. Her instincts are good. And I need someone who can work with me. But in the back of her mind the question lingered. Was there some other reason? Would I be compromising the client's case?
"Alright, Harry." Jess nodded. "But if it comes down to it, I'd rather not work with Mark again after the that little near-malpractice screw-up the other week." She grimaced at the memory, then stood up and walked toward the door. "If I feel Robin can't handle it, I'll let you know."
And, with that little piece of business out of the way, Jess headed toward her own office. She stepped inside and plopped herself down in her burgundy leather chair, idly noting that most of the morning had been frittered away. She looked for a particular piece of correspondence that urgently demanded her attention, digging her way through the mass of papers strewn haphazardly across her desk, until finally coming across it. Neatness was never a strong suit.
Almost as an afterthought, Jess glanced at her computer, seeing and then reading a lone e-mail message from Robin. She got the coffee. Jess smiled gently to herself, then typed in her reply.
Glad you liked the coffee. By the way, I didn't know you were immune to my bribing techniques.
She clicked the send button and promptly turned her attention to her overflowing in-box. A few moments later, a message came back.
I never said I was immune to your bribing techniques.
Jess arched an amused eyebrow. Is that so? Well, Jess, it looks like you're going to make use of your bribing skills after all. And somehow, she found that thought quite to her liking.
The evening descended rather quickly, the rain never letting up, and the work seeming to multiply during the day faster than rabbits. Most everyone had left the office by now, and Jess knew it would be a long night, as the dreariness of the day settled deep within her, and her disposition quickly soured along with the weather.
Robin, on the other hand, had completed most of her urgent tasks and was headed toward the elevators, umbrella in hand, when she heard Jess's deep alto voice in subdued dictation coming from down the hallway. She's working late. Bet she hasn't eaten.
Robin made a decision. She quickly walked back into her own office, dialed the phone and ordered some take-out for dinner. A half hour later, she had procured said take-out and made her way over to Jess's office, where she found Jess as she was before, dutifully dictating into her hand-held tape recorder.
"You still here?" Robin poked her head inside the office door.
Jess looked up and smiled, her mood suddenly and inexplicably brightened. "Yep. See what you get to look forward to?"
"Um .I figured you probably hadn't eaten, so I took a chance and ordered some dinner. I hope you like Chinese." Robin held up a bag in front of her, presumably containing the food in question. "Care to join me?"
A delighted grin. "I would love to. I was going to take a break soon anyway." Jess looked down at her paper-covered desk "Let me just see if I can clear off a space here somewhere. Sorry it's such a mess." Jess apologized and gave a wry smile. "So, what did you get?"
Robin sat down and set out the paper plates. "A couple of egg rolls, moo goo gai pan and shrimp with lobster sauce." She looked up at Jess expectantly.
"Ooooh, shrimp with lobster sauce. That's one of my favorites." Jess eagerly opened one of the containers and started dishing out its contents.
Robin simply shook her head and grinned uncontrollably.
"What?" Jess took a bite.
"I think you just might have an incurable preoccupation with shrimp." Robin chuckled.
A raised eyebrow. "Sounds serious." Another bite. "What would you prescribe?" Jess studied her intently.
"Well, seeing as it's incurable, I'd definitely say it would require lots and lots of personal attention." Green eyes locked onto blue.
Personal attention? "I see." Blue eyes held the gaze. "Is my condition .hopeless?"
"Most definitely. We need to start the necessary treatments right away." Robin looked away, then cleared her throat. "And, if you can tear yourself free from work tomorrow night, we could start with a home cooked meal at my place." She smiled. "Can you make it? "I wanted to break in my new apartment. You'd be my first visitor."
"Ah, well, now how can I turn that down?" Jess smiled back and took another bite. "Should I bring anything?"
Just you. "No, just you." A beat. "And no, we're not having shrimp."
Jess let go a laugh. Jess, you are so in over your head.
The next day, the sun had returned and most of the dreary moods from the previous day had brightened accordingly. The day was unremarkable for the most part, save for the not so subtle attentions directed by one particular senior associate toward one particular new associate, which did not go unnoticed by one particular junior partner. As was the case, Paul seemed to spend an amusingly inordinate amount of time hanging about, and in the vicinity of, and generally near, Robin's office. The office gossip mill was in full force that day, and as was also the case, said gossip did not go unnoticed by that same particular junior partner.
As the day came to a close, Robin rushed home to prepare what was soon to be her first formal dinner in her new apartment. Jess was expected to come over at 7:30, and Robin began preparations for the meal in earnest, seeking to make this first dinner quite perfect.
Shortly after 7:30, Jess arrived, appearing a bit tired, but otherwise in a relatively good mood, considering it had been another full day, even if a little routine.
"Hi." Robin answered the door. "I see you found this place okay."
Jess stepped inside. "Yeah, no problem, though I had to take a detour to get here."
"How come?" Robin gestured for Jess to sit down on the fluffy sofa.
"Well, I stopped to pick up something. I know you said not to bring anything, but just consider this a housewarming gift. From me." Jess handed her a medium sized box.
Robin's eyes lit up. "You didn't really have to do that."
"I know. Open it." Jess grinned.
Robin opened the box with a contagious enthusiasm, at last revealing a large, berry scented candle in a beautifully carved wooden centerpiece. "It's beautiful, Jess." Robin fingered the carvings. "Thank you."
"I thought maybe you could keep it on your dining room table for decoration, if you didn't already have something, and of course, if you like it." Jess smiled a bit shyly.
"I do like it. Very much." Robin glanced up, and then turned her attention toward the dining room. "Let me put it on the table and see how it looks." Robin stepped over to the table and placed the centerpiece carefully on the tablecloth, admiring the way the simple elegance of the candle added a certain beauty to the arrangement. "I like it." She turned to Jess. "Want to see the rest of the place?"
"Sure. Lead the way." Jess dutifully followed after the petite woman, exploring the small, yet cozy, one bedroom apartment, complete with vaulted ceilings and kitchen nook.
After the grand tour, Robin led them through the short hallway and back into living room. "So now you've seen my humble abode." Robin smiled modestly. "Not much, I know, but I don't need too much right now."
"I like it just fine." Jess looked around. "It's a bit larger than the apartment I had when I first came here. You've done a great job fixing it up, too."
"Thanks. It took me long enough." Robin grinned widely and then headed into the kitchen. "Dinner's ready. Go sit down and I'll get everything. I made Chicken Parmesan." She stuck her head back out the doorway. "Sorry, no shrimp."
"I think I'll live." Jess cracked a smile and took a seat at the table. "Smells great, by the way."
The dinner was quite delightful. They ate together and engaged in easy conversation and comfortable companionship, warmed by the soft glow of the candlelight which danced merrily off the berry scented candle sitting nobly in the center of the table. It was, of course, all rather pleasant, and carried with it a hint quiet familiarity, though neither Robin nor Jess could quite place the feeling.
"Can I ask you a question?" Robin pushed the food around on her plate for a moment.
"Um .what do you think of Paul?"
"Paul?" Jess looked a bit surprised. "Well, let's see, he has the makings of a great litigator and certainly will be up for partnership next year." Jess took a sip of her wine.
"Yeah. That's not quite exactly what I meant." Robin up shyly through blonde lashes. "Um .I mean, what do you think of him .as a person?"
"Oh." Jess mulled that thought around for a moment, not really knowing why she felt a sudden uneasiness settle over her. "He's a nice person, quite charming, although a bit arrogant sometimes, and certainly available. All in all, I'd say he's quite a good catch for someone, if they could catch him, and no one has yet. Why?"
Robin leaned over and whispered in all seriousness. "I think he's been flirting with me."
Jess dropped her fork to her plate, and proceeded to laugh uncontrollably until the beginnings of tears formed in her eyes.
"What?" Robin asked perplexed. "Why are you laughing?"
Jess calmed down enough to speak. "He's been flirting with you."
"I think so."
"And you've just now figured this out?"
"Yes. So?" Robin raised both eyebrows.
"Robin, I hate to break this to you, but the whole office has known this for weeks." Jess failed miserably to suppress another laugh.
"And you knew? And you didn't tell me?" Robin gave Jess a playful slap.
"Hey, no hitting. I'm sorry, I thought you knew." Jess also failed miserably to sound sincerely apologetic.
"How was I supposed to know? We were gone a whole week." Robin shook her head. "I should be really mad at you for this."
Jess, after much difficulty, was finally able to compose herself. "Okay, I am duly chastised. I should have told you." She then gave Robin an amused look. "Well?"
"Well, are you interested?" Jess waggled her eyebrows. Do you want really to know this, Jess?
Robin chuckled softly. "Well, no. Not really. I um ." She quietly sobered somewhat as she watched the firelight flickering from the slowly melting candle top. "I don't think I can .you know .be involved with someone right now." This last part was said in almost a whisper.
Damn. Jess closed her eyes briefly in regret. What's the matter with you, Jess? "Robin, honey, I'm so sorry. That was very insensitive of me." She placed her hand over Robin's and ducked to look into green eyes. "Forgive me?"
Robin nodded, an almost sad smile crossing her features. "You shouldn't have to watch everything you say around me. I'm the one who should be sorry. This is something I have to deal with for myself."
"No, Robin." Jess gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "You don't have to deal with this alone. I'm here. Will you remember that?" Blue eyes pleaded in genuine sincerity.
Robin took a deep breath and offered a brave smile. "You are so sweet to care the way you do." She whispered. "I'm not sure I deserve that."
"You deserve that and more." Jess nodded and squeezed Robin's hand once again, then released it. "Now come on, let me help you get this stuff cleaned up, okay?"
They both got up from the table and cleared away the dinner dishes. While Jess was still in the kitchen, Robin stepped over to the quietly flickering candle, made a silent wish and then blew out the flame, watching as the tiny wisps of smoke trailed behind and then disappeared into the air. The wish she made was private, something which her heart had already acknowledged, but her mind, in all its meanderings, had been slow to recognize. Until now. Verbalizations failed her, but her wish, nevertheless, remained intact.
When the dinner dishes were finally finished, Robin went over to the freezer and pulled out her newly acquired can of official Café du Monde Coffee with Chicory. "Want some?" She looked over to Jess expectantly.
"What a treat. I get to share your coffee. I would absolutely love some." The dark haired woman went into the living room as Robin set the coffee maker to its task.
If you want to watch TV, go ahead and turn it on." Robin called back from the kitchen.. After a moment, she poked her head back out the kitchen doorway. "So how did you manage it anyway?"
"Manage what?" Jess put down the remote control and looked at Robin quizzically.
"The coffee. How did you manage to get it without my seeing you?" Robin brought out the hot beverages and set them down on the coffee table.
"There were some times when you weren't looking, you know."
Robin shook her head "That's hard to believe." She sat back next to Jess on the fluffy sofa.. "I thought I had my eye on you the whole time."
A dark eyebrow shot up. "Did you, now?" Jess slowly set down her coffee cup and leaned back, staring intently into the green eyes just inches from her own. "And did you see anything .interesting?"
Robin took a sip. "Perhaps." She looked away for a moment, then turned her attention back to Jess. "But I didn't see you get that coffee."
Jess grinned and leaned forward slightly, tilting her head so her forehead rested neatly against Robin's. She gazed into eyes the color of the sea, and whispered very softly, her breath gently caressing Robin's face. "Then I guess, Robin, you aren't as observant as you think."
Oh God. Robin sat mesmerized for a brief moment, her eyes locked by a penetrating blue. Her heart rate had curiously sped up, and she was unable to move, the intensity of the gaze too much to resist, and the proximity of Jess too much for her senses to ignore. At last, shaking herself free from her captivity, she broke the gaze and relaxed back against the fluffy sofa, as Jess likewise did the same.
For the rest of the evening, they managed quite effectively to carry on in casual conversation, neither seeming to notice how quickly the minutes passed, until Jess looked at her watch and offered a silent frown. "I wish I could stay a little bit longer, but it's getting late. I still have some work to do tonight, and you should get some rest." It's getting harder to leave her.
"Thank you for coming over. And thank you for my lovely housewarming gift." Robin smiled. "I really do like it." They both stood up and Robin gave her a quick hug.
"It was my pleasure. And thank you for a wonderful dinner and truly wonderful company. I'll see you tomorrow." Jess opened the front door and stepped outside into the autumn's night air. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight, Jess. Drive safely," Robin called out as Jess turned and walked toward her car. She watched Jess drive off and then stepped inside and closed the door. She stood by the door for a moment, then walked into the dining room and over to the table where the wood-carved centerpiece stood holding its candle in quiet grace. She lifted the centerpiece almost reverently and studied the intricate carvings which adorned its base, tracing their delicate shapes lightly with her fingertips. She recalled the wish she'd made earlier that evening, as the candle had been finally extinguished, and she hoped now, above all hope, that her heart's wish might somehow come true. What she didn't know was that it already had.
Robin set the case file down and picked up the ringing phone. "Robin Wilson."
"Robin, it's Jess. Can you come down to my office. I need to go over some things with you."
"Sure, I'll be right there." With that, Robin started down the hallway, side-stepping an admiring Paul, and dodging the hushed voices and veiled stares of certain gossip propagators along the way. Jeez, I wish he'd just go away. She rapped lightly on Jess's door, and was quickly motioned inside.
"Good, you're here. Close the door." Jess peered at Robin over a mountain of paperwork. "I just wanted you to know I've asked Harry to assign you to my trial team. He's agreed."
"Okay." Robin appeared a bit unsure.
"Listen, I know you don't have any trial experience, but I also know from working with you that you would do an excellent job with some of the things we need done. I will not expect you to handle anything I feel you are not sufficiently prepared for. Keith is our back up and can assist us as necessary. We've got a lot to do here to prepare witnesses and pull together our exhibits." Jess handed Robin a list of due dates. "I need you to make sure everything gets done by these deadlines."
Robin nodded. "I'll take care of it."
"Good. And Robin," Jess looked across the desk. "If at any time you feel you're having trouble with something, or need help, please come to me right away, okay?"
Robin smiled, a bit more confident now. "Okay."
With that out of the way, Jess stood up and stretched. She had been sitting in one position all afternoon and needed to take a little break. "Now for the fun stuff." She gave Robin a small wink and sat on the edge of her desk. "The firm gets tickets to the Broadway Series every year and most of the time I never use mine. I don't usually like going alone. But this time the tickets are for Cats which I'd really like to see. I've got an extra ticket." Jess fidgeted. "Would you like to go? It's Saturday night."
"I love Cats and I would definitely like to go." Robin gave a broad smile. "Where is it playing?"
"At the Performing Arts Center. The show starts at 8:00. I could come get you and we could drive down together, if you'd like."
Robin thought for a moment. "Well, maybe I should drive. I'm farther away from where we're going and it's easier for me to pick you up on the way than you coming all the way out to get me. You just have to give me directions." She grinned. "Easy directions."
Jess grinned back. "Okay, that'll work. I'll e-mail you the directions to my place. They're easy. Come pick me up at 7:00, okay?"
"You got it." Robin stood to leave. "Thanks for inviting me, Jess. I'll leave you to your paperwork now." A sly grin as she headed out the door. "Don't get lost in there."
"Yeah, yeah. Everyone's a comedian." Jess sat back down behind the mountain of paper on the desk, grinning broadly from ear to ear. Jesus, Jess, get a grip, will you?. You'd think you were going on your first date or something. She raised a dark eyebrow at the thought.
Robin pulled her blue Miata into Jess's driveway and honked the horn, the evening chill forcing her to keep the convertible's top up. A moment later, Jess came out of the house, set the alarm and then made her way to Robin's car.
"Hey there." Jess got in the car and buckled her seatbelt.
"Hey." Robin pulled out of the driveway and made her way toward downtown. "I don't know my way around yet, so can you tell me how to get to the Performing Arts Center from here?"
"You're in luck. I am an expert back-seat driver." Jess grinned proudly. She turned around and looked over her shoulder. "Ooops, you don't have a back seat." A shrug. "Sorry, can't help you, then."
Robin giggled. "You are such a goofball. Just point me the way, will ya?"
They arrived at the Performing Arts Center with plenty of time to spare, in spite of one minor directional mishap, and took their seats for the show. All in all, it was a perfect evening, as they both enjoyed the performance immensely. Robin appeared captivated by the musical, and every once in a while during the show, she would tap Jess lightly on the arm and whisper a commentary or two about the production. At one particularly compelling part of the show, Robin let her fingers linger lightly on Jess's arm as the performance continued, though Jess would be hard pressed to tell anyone exactly what that one particularly compelling part was, having been too distracted at the time to notice.
At the show's conclusion, they headed back home, Robin needing directions again, in reverse order, on how to get back to Jess's house. As she pulled into the driveway and stopped the car, Robin quietly marveled at how much she had enjoyed the evening and just how much she had enjoyed being with Jess. It was a feeling unlike anything she had ever experienced, a feeling of complete and absolute contentment, as if this was exactly where she was supposed to be.
"Thanks for the show, Jess. It was really great." A wide grin. "And you give excellent directions. I only got lost once."
"You're welcome. And just for your information, it wasn't my directions that got you lost." Jess pointed a playful finger. "If you will recall, I specifically told you that it was a one-way street long before you turned down it, going the wrong way, I might add." She unbuckled her seatbelt.
"Well, if the direction giver would have given the direction taker a little more information in the first place, then maybe the direction taker would not have turned down the one-way street going the wrong way."
A bored look. "Are you finished?"
"Good." Jess reached for the car's door handle. "Hey, you haven't seen my place yet. Would you like to come in? I'll give you a tour." Jess raised both eyebrows expectantly.
"Sure." A chuckle. "That way I can see how you big-time partners live." Robin turned off the ignition and followed Jess to the front door and waited as she turned off the alarm.
Once inside, Jess proceeded to show Robin every single room, nook and cranny of the large four bedroom house. It was, quite simply, an expansive ranch style house, very well appointed with modern furnishings and plush wall to wall carpeting, complete with a swimming pool out back.
"Well, there you have it. This is how us big-time partners live." Jess winked and spread her arms wide to each side.
"It's .um .wow .really nice .and big." Robin stood in awe. "There's so much space .just for you?"
"Well, yeah, just for me. Have a seat in the living room. Want something to drink? I have soda." Jess entered the kitchen.
Robin walked over and sat down on the plush, soft sofa. "Okay, soda's fine." She tried to take in the sheer vastness of the house and offered another chuckle. "You know, I think I'd get lost in here."
"You think so?" Jess brought out the beverages and set them down on the pine wood coffee table before taking a seat on the sofa next to Robin. She then leaned her head toward Robin, as if telling her a carefully guarded secret, and quipped. "There are no one-way streets in here, Robin, so I think you'd be okay."
Robin squinted her eyes. "You are such a brat." She playfully tugged at Jess's shirt sleeve. "I will definitely get you for that"
"Yeah, yeah. Promises, promises."
Robin looked around again, a gentle curiosity crossing her features. "If you don't mind my asking, why did you decide to get such a big place .I mean .just for yourself?"
Jess sat up a little straighter and tensed her jaw slightly. "It wasn't supposed to be just me. It's a long story. You don't want to hear it." She turned her head and focused her attention on the corner of the coffee table, making it clear that she did not want to continue further.
"I'm sorry. It's none of my business. That was rude of me."
"No, it's not that. It's just that it's not a pleasant memory."
"I'd listen, if you wanted to tell me. After all, you've listened to me." Robin tilted her head sympathetically. "But if you'd rather not, that's okay, too."
Do I really feel like dredging all this up? Jess sighed. "Alright." She took a deep breath, then paused briefly to collect her thoughts. "When I first started working for Roberts & McDaniel, I met James. He was a little on the wild side, but I fell head over heals for him and we got along very well. He was majoring in Engineering at the University here, and somehow he had lost his scholarship mid-way through completing his degree. I agreed to put him through the rest of his coursework." Jess glanced up slightly at Robin to gauge her reaction. "We made a lot of plans together. We were going to start our own company. I'd be the legal counsel .we'd take over the world, so to speak." Jess shook her head. "It all seems so stupid now. I was very young and very naïve. When James finally graduated, I thought we should start out right, so I bought this place, sort of as a celebration of his graduation. The place I had was really too small."
Jess fixed her eyes on an imaginary spot on the wall and her voice took on a more dispassionate tone. "The day after James graduated, I came home. He was gone, and all his things were gone. He left a note on the table saying thanks for everything, but that he needed to move on. He even cleaned out our bank account." Jess let go a disgusted laugh. "I was such an idiot to have trusted him. I was a meal ticket, that's all. He got what he wanted from me, and I mean that in every possible way, and then he just skipped out."
Jess looked down at her hands now, suddenly feeling sick at the memory of the betrayal, her voice nearly a whisper. "Now you know what a fool I was .am." Just then, two gentle arms surrounded her in a quiet embrace, holding her high above the drowning waters, and offering her soul safe harbor from the storm within. Jess closed her eyes and sank into the welcoming contact, savoring the feeling of gentle warmth and comfort such as she had never known before.
After a long moment, Robin released her hold and looked up firmly into cerulean eyes. "You are not a fool to me, Jess. Never. You are a wonderful person who I am proud to know. I'm sorry he hurt you." I would never hurt you. "You didn't deserve that."
"Thanks." Jess sat back against the sofa and then cleared her throat. "I told you it wasn't a pleasant story." She gave Robin a weak smile and continued. "After he left, I moved in here myself. I refused to let him take this home away from me , too."
Robin took Jess's hand and gave it a firm squeeze. "Thank you for telling me. And I do like your home." She offered a warm smile. "Very, very much."
They sat there for a few moments longer before Robin, already quite tired, stifled a small yawn. She leaned her head back against the sofa and briefly closed her eyes. "I'm sorry. It's getting late. I really should go home so you can get some rest, too."
Jess nodded and then stood up, leading Robin toward the door. Though she was afraid to admit it, the truth was, she really did not want Robin to leave. Their daily separations were becoming curiously quite difficult, and the sense of loss, at times, seemed increasingly present. Don't go. Jess hesitated. "Stay?" It was a simple request.
A blonde head swung up in surprise. "What?"
"Stay. I mean, it's late and tomorrow's Sunday and unless there's something you have planned .um .I could fix up the guest room for you." Jess glanced at Robin hopefully, and then paused slightly. "But if you can't stay .."
"Yes, I can stay." Robin smiled. "Don't go to the trouble of fixing up the guestroom. I can sleep right here on this nice, cushy sofa." She pointed to the object. "It looks pretty comfortable to me."
Jess shook her head. "Horrible. You'd be much better off sleeping in a bed. If you don't want me to fix up the guestroom, the only other room with a bed is my room." Jess pointed to the room in question and arched an eyebrow. "We'd have to share."
"I really don't want you to go to any trouble." Green eyes fixed on blue. "So, I see no other alternative. We have to share." Robin gave her a wide grin. "We did share once before, as I recall. And I still think you're pretty trustworthy."
"Trustworthy is a such relative term." Jess winked and grinned back. "I've got a nightshirt you could use. It'll be a bit big, though."
"That's okay, I like wearing them a bit big."
They performed their nightly routines, Robin sans toothbrush, although mouthwash worked as a temporary substitute, and changed into their sleep clothes. Thanks to Jess, Robin donned an over-sized sleep shirt, and Jess pulled on her favorite Calvin Klein boxer shorts with matching shirt top. Both were quite tired as Jess turned off the nearby light and they snuggled down deep into the cozy queen-sized waterbed.
"I've never slept on a waterbed before." Robin waited for the slight wave motion to settle down and then chuckled. "I won't get seasick, will I?" She looked over to Jess in the dark.
"No, I can personally guarantee that you will not get seasick."
"Good, because that would be quite unpleasant." Robin grinned and closed her eyes. She took a quiet moment to absorb the crisp, light scent around her, of wood and fresh pine, and another scent, which she found quite indescribable, but which she came to immediately recognize as belonging to Jess. She took a deep breath of air into her lungs, holding it for a brief moment and committing the now familiar scent to memory, forever imprinting it in her conscious mind.
"Can I .um .?" Robin suddenly fell silent, unsure of how to say what she wanted to say. It was an unusual request, to say the least, and she wasn't at all quite sure of how it would be received. Finally, she gathered her courage and just simply asked. "Would it be alright with you if I .um .came over there?" She pointed over to Jess's side of the bed. I don't know why, but I need to feel you next to me right now.
Jess opened her eyes in minor surprise. Is she asking what I think? She quickly gave herself a mental warning. Not wise. "It would definitely be alright." She heard herself say it before she could stop herself. "Come on over here." Jess patted a spot next to her.
With that, Robin quietly slid across the bed and rested her head partially on Jess's shoulder. She wrapped one arm lightly around Jess's waist, and then let herself savor the feeling of the comforting warmth of the body next to hers. She closed her eyes and snuggled down contently, breathing in the wonderful scent that she had committed to memory just moments ago, her mind immediately knowing the undeniable truth. I'm home.
After Robin was comfortably settled, Jess, almost without conscious thought, silently lifted her free hand and placed it lightly on top of Robin's back, slowly moving her fingertips back and forth against the fabric of Robin's sleep shirt. You like this too much, Jess.
Robin let go a small sigh. "This is nice."
"Yes, it is." She idly traced a petite shoulder blade.
"Does it bother you?" Robin spoke in a hushed tone. "Being this close, I mean?"
"No." Jess drew tiny circles with her fingertips. "How about you?"
"No." Robin whispered. "I like being close to you."
"Me, too." It was all Jess could manage. "Goodnight, Robin."
"Goodnight, Jess. Sleep well."
Bright sunlight filtered through the venetian blinds as the early morning sun made its way up the horizon. Robin awoke first, somewhat disoriented, and then suddenly remembered where she was, and more specifically, who it was she was partially lying upon. She blinked her eyes open more fully, then squinted again as her eyes slowly adjusted to the daylight.
She looked around, then found that her free hand was curiously placed on Jess's hip, and one leg was nudged haphazardly over Jess's thigh. Robin studied the body she was lying on, and with a quiet, yet ardent fascination, she slowly trailed her hand from its perch on Jess's hip, northward, over Calvin boxers, and underneath the bottom edge of a Calvin shirt, until it came to rest lightly on top of Jess's stomach. Jess's bare stomach. Jess's bare, warm stomach. Robin suddenly felt that same stomach quake with subdued laughter, and she guiltily turned her head up to meet the owner.
"Hi there." An amused blue eye regarded her. "What are you doing?"
Robin blushed. "Hi. I was just, um ..getting comfortable."
"I see." A grin. "And are you um ..comfortable now?"
"Good. We aim to please." Shut up, Jess. A moment passed. "Do you know what today is?"
"Yes, but what else?" Silence. "Let me give you a hint. Boo."
A chuckle. "You are very weird." Robin snuggled down further. "I have absolutely no idea what today is, other than Sunday. What is it?"
"Do I have to tell you everything?" Jess lightly rapped her knuckles against the very top of Robin's head and then lowered her voice. "It's Halloween, silly." Another grin.
"Oooh, and I must look a sight, too." Robin made a face. "I am definitely not a morning person. I probably scared you half to death when you woke up and saw me." And saw what I was doing. She grimaced. "I probably look a mess right now."
Jess observed Robin's slightly mussed hair and eyes still drowsy with sleep. "Nah, I think you look cute." You're so adorable.
"Thanks. Can I go back to sleep now?" Robin pulled the covers up around her more tightly.
"Sure, but I'm getting up. I'll fix breakfast."
A green eye opened. "You cook?"
"Well, I guess you will just have to wait and see, now won't you." A playful eyebrow wiggled. She extracted herself from the almost dozing form, careful to remove certain body appendages lying on top of her which were not her own, and headed for the kitchen.
After some undefined period of time, Robin felt the gentle rocking of the waterbed as it suddenly moved to accommodate a larger weight making its presence known beside her. She looked up to find sparkling blue eyes staring back at her. "Hi." A sleepy voice managed.
"Glad to see you're awake, sleepyhead." Jess grinned "I made breakfast. Want some?"
Robin slowly sat up. "Yes, I'm starving."
"What a surprise." A grin. "I thought we'd eat breakfast in here. It's Sunday, after all." Jess brought two trays of food over to the bed, set them down., and then sat herself on top of the bed covers next to Robin.
Robin's eyes lit up at the sight. "You made pancakes, and sausage, and, oooh, there're strawberries, too." Robin picked up a strawberry and plopped it into her mouth.
Jess nodded. "Yep. I, myself, personally like to eat strawberries when they're dunked in sugar. Here, try one." Jess took a strawberry, coated it with sugar, and held it out for Robin to take. Instead of just reaching out and taking it, Robin leaned over unexpectedly and took a bite of the sugar-covered strawberry directly from a very stunned Jess's hand, her soft lips lightly grazing Jess's fingers, and the sensation sending a wonderful and not too subtle tingle down Jess's spine. Jess couldn't have moved her hand away if she'd tried, so transfixed by the sight, and caught in a wave of sensory overload. She felt her breath catch at the delicious contact, while her mind suddenly and frantically cried out in alarm. You're feeding her, Jess. Jess pulled her hand away.
"That was good." Robin smacked her lips.
Oh God. It was all Jess could do to swallow. "Glad you liked it," her voice almost croaked. A moment's pause and then Jess cleared her throat. "So, what do you have planned for today?"
"Nothing special." Robin took a bite of her pancake. "The usual Sunday chores, grocery shopping, laundry, house cleaning stuff, you know. You probably have a housekeeping service do yours, huh?"
"What, you don't believe I'm domestically inclined?"
Robin chuckled. "I would hardly think so, although you can cook, so you get two points for that."
A raised eyebrow. "Really. Tell me more about this point system of yours. Do I get points for everything I do or just for certain things?"
"Only certain things, and you have to be really, really good at them."
"And who decides what those certain things are and if I'm really, really good at them or not?" Jess finished her last bite.
Robin pondered that question for a moment. "Since it's my point system, as you say, then I would be the one to decide what those things are and if you were really, really good at them."
"I see." Blue eyes locked onto green. "And when I get enough points, what do I get?"
Anything you want. Robin held the gaze and smiled just a bit. "I can't tell you specifically, but I can definitely guarantee it will be well worth your effort."
They finished their breakfast amicably and got dressed, Robin needing to return home for a shower and a fresh change of clothes before beginning her Sunday chores. Jess sent Robin happily on her way and then proceeded into the kitchen to take care of the breakfast dishes. When all such chores were completed, Jess made herself a cup of coffee and sat down on the plush sofa in the living room. She'd had a silly grin on her face all morning, and her mind was making sure she took proper notice of that fact, her internal voice making itself known today with a persistence not even she could suppress.
Something's going on, Jess. And it's making you a bit nervous, isn't it?. You're a smart person, an intelligent lawyer at a top rated law firm. Surely you can figure it out. Maybe we should think about this.
She put her feet up on the coffee table and set down her coffee cup, then relaxed against the back of the sofa and prepared herself for some quick self-analysis, with a little cross-examination thrown in.
First things first.
You like Robin.
'Yes, we've become good friends.' Her alternate internal voice mentally supplied.
Maybe it's more than simple friendship.
'Nope, just friends.' The alternate internal voice happily assured.
But friends don't normally do some of the things you've done.
'Such as?' The alternate internal voice cautiously asked.
Let's look at the evidence, shall we? You've slept in the same bed twice, very closely I might add. You buy gifts for her, you take her to Broadway musicals, you feed her with your hands, you can't wipe that silly grin off your face, and you're constantly flirting with her. Yep, that about covers it.
'I do not flirt with her.' The alternate internal voice was raised up a notch.
Oh, please. The windows fog up every time you two are in the same room together.
'I don't know what you're talking about.' The alternate internal voice was indignant.
Don't you? Let's take a look at some other things. Just answer the following questions. Do you like her?
'Yes, I already said that.' The alternate internal voice answered.
Do you want to be with her all the time?
The alternate internal voice became restless. 'Yes, so what?'
Do you think she's cute?
'Yes. She's adorable. Next question.' The alternate internal voice was clearly agitated.
Do you have romantic feelings toward her?
'Hold it right there, buddy.' Her alternate internal voice was more than angry. 'That is way out of line. I do not have, nor have I ever had romantic feelings toward a woman.'
But this isn't just any woman. This is Robin.
'So what?' The alternate internal voice was fuming. 'I am not interested in her that way. End of story. And even if I was, which I'm not, she most certainly is not interested in me that way.'
Is that what you're really afraid of? That she wouldn't return your feelings? Or are you really just afraid to admit to yourself that you might have romantic feelings for her? Or both?
The alternate internal voice calmed down a bit. 'I ..don't know. I have feelings for her, yes. Things I've never felt before. Things that make me crazy. I'm just not sure they're romantic. And I'm not sure I'd be even be comfortable with that. Even if I did have romantic feelings for her, and even if I was totally comfortable with that, I still don't think she would feel the same way about me.'
So that's really what's going on then, isn't it. Even if you did have romantic feelings for her, which we're not clear you do, you're not sure you're totally comfortable with that idea.
'Correctamundo.' The alternate internal voice concluded.
And even if you were comfortable with your feelings, you're afraid Robin would not have those same feelings for you, and you would never, ever want to do anything to hurt Robin in any way. Is that it?
'Correctamundo again'. The alternate internal voice was now resigned.
So maybe you should just do your best to fight whatever feelings you might have until you're sure.
'Maybe I should do that..' The alternate internal voice answered, sounding quite glum.
Good. Feel better now?
'Just dandy.' The alternate internal voice responded a bit sarcastically. 'I'm so glad we had this little chat.'
© Copyright 08/05/2000.
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