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 gender. 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
Jess had worked the entire weekend. With trial looming just around the corner and much preparation left to do, not to mention her new more supervisory role on the case, Jess unfortunately had little time to play all weekend. Hooky time, as Robin called it, had to take a rain check this time. So, now it was Monday again, and the work just never seemed to end.
Jess arrived to work very early that morning, grabbed a cup of cappuccino from the lobby coffee shop, and made her way up the elevator to her office. The law firm's office suite at this hour of the morning was nearly empty, and Jess found herself wandering through the darkened reception area a little preoccupied. She strode down the long hallway to her own office, opened the door and turned on the light. The morning sun had just started to peek its way above the horizon, the first warm rays blanketing the city below in golden hues. She approached the large, floor to ceiling glass window and gazed momentarily at the rising sun, idly noting the slight haze which had settled over the skyline. Not lingering too long at the window, she set her briefcase and her cappuccino down and quickly started up the computer. As she sat in her burgundy leather chair waiting for her computer to come to life, she glanced across the top of her desk, intending to survey the ever-increasing contents of her in-box, most of which she never even put a dent in over the weekend. At that particular moment, an object, neatly nestled on the inside corner of her desk, suddenly caught her eye. Leaning in for a closer inspection, Jess reached out her hand and pulled the object toward her, picking it up and studying it intently. What's this?
It seems that a slender glass vase with a single, perfect red rose had been deposited on her desk. This miraculous floral depository had somehow occurred at some point after Jess had left the office the previous evening and prior to her arrival this morning. She looked down at her desk again to see that a small, simple card had also been placed beneath the small vase. She reached out and picked up the card, turning it over, and reading the three simple words on the card to herself. And then she read them again.
'I missed you.'
That was all the card said. It was not signed, and yet there was no question in her mind who it was from. Jess stared at the card for a long while, then over to the red rose, and then back again at the card, wondering just when, exactly, it could have been placed on her desk. There was only one possible explanation. She's here. Jess hastily set both the card and the rose down, got up from her chair, and dashed out the door of her office, not slowing down as she crossed the lobby and the darkened reception area. She rounded the corner and headed down the hallway, finally reaching her destination. Stepping rapidly inside the occupied office, Jess quickly closed the door and stepped around the desk, kneeling down just next to the desk chair, and staring into warm green eyes.
"Hi." Robin smiled.
Jess smiled but was otherwise was silent.
It seems Jess had been mentally evaluating whether she should just give in and do what it was she really wanted to do, even though she and Robin were unquestionably in a business setting. Coming to the conclusion that there was probably no one else in the office at this hour, and that Robin's office door was now sufficiently closed, Jess finally chose to do exactly what she had wanted to do from the first moment she had seen that perfect red rose on her desk. She carefully leaned in toward Robin and placed a tender kiss on her lips. She then wrapped her long arms around Robin in a complete and warm embrace, whispering softly into her ear. "Hi. I missed you, too."
Robin hugged her tightly, and then pulled back and smiled. "My, you're here early."
"I could say the same about you." Jess gave her a tender smile in return. "And you've been very busy, I see."
Robin chuckled "Yeah, well, you see, I have this particular boss, who's a real slave-driver, and has loaded me down with preparing massive trial exhibits." She grinned widely.
"I see." Jess stood up and stepped over to sit in the chair across from Robin's desk.. "And so, was the rose just a ploy to butter up said slave-driver boss?"
Robin furrowed her brows in thought for a moment. "Did it work?"
"Then, absolutely. It was definitely a ploy to butter up the slave-driver boss." Robin chuckled. "And there's more where that came from."
Jess arched a dark eyebrow. "Is that so? Well, then, I think your slave-driver boss might be in dire need of more of your buttering up techniques real soon."
Robin shook her head playfully. "Nope. Not so fast. I have to have proof that my so-called buttering up techniques are actually working first, before I proceed further."
Jess pondered that thought for a moment. "Well, Robin, I think I demonstrated quite well when I first came in here this morning how effective your buttering up techniques are." Jess pursed her lips in concentration. "You don't agree?"
"Well, let's just say it was a good start." Robin nodded seriously. "But I will definitely need more convincing on the matter."
"Okaaay." Jess tapped her fingers on the front of the desk pensively. "It seems that your slave-driver boss is free for dinner tonight. If you happen to be free as well, then perhaps said slave-driver boss could take you someplace nice to eat. Would that help to convince you that your buttering up techniques are working?"
Robin got up from her chair and stepped around her desk, leaning lightly against the front edge facing Jess. "That might help."
"But you would still need more convincing?" Jess queried.
Robin leaned in close to Jess and whispered into her ear. "That particular part of the convincing would come after dinner." She winked.
Jess sat there staring at Robin for a long moment, not speaking and her mouth slightly open.
Gotcha. Robin started laughing very hard and pumped her arms jubilantly. "Yesss. I got you. I finally, finally got you."
"It's not that funny, Robin." Jess tried to dismiss the matter.
"Oh, yes it is. You're just mad because I finally got you." Robin pointed a playful finger accusingly at Jess. "When you get me, you laugh about it for days. When I get you, it's supposedly no big deal." She smirked. "I don't think so."
"Listen, you did not get me. I knew all along what you were going to say. I was just playing along." Jess stood up.
"You just can't admit it, can you?" Robin stepped closer.
Jess leaned down to look directly into green eyes. "There's nothing to admit."
Robin shook her head. "I can't believe you." She then whispered softly. "You are so hopeless."
"So you keep saying." Jess whispered back and then leaned in and gave Robin a tender kiss, which turned into several more kisses and then into several more after that.
"Um .." Robin stepped back. "We shouldn't be doing this here."
Jess took a deep breath. "Right." But I can't help myself. "Okay. I've got to get to work, and so do you. So, tonight, dinner, my treat. Got it?"
"Got it." Robin grinned.
"Good." Jess approached the door. "And Robin?"
"As it relates to the sufficiency of your buttering up techniques, I plan on doing quite a bit of convincing on that matter later on this evening after dinner." Jess winked. "Just thought you should know that." Then, without so much as another word, she strode out the door leaving Robin a bit speechless.
Oh boy. She is good.
The candle flickered in its glass holder on the tablecloth in the intimate little French restaurant as Jess and Robin sat quietly at a small table in the corner. As promised, Jess had taken Robin out to dinner in this exclusive little restaurant, one in which she was sure Robin had not been to or even heard of in her short time in the city. Dinner had been an enjoyable but subdued affair, the food delicious and the conversation light. Still, the undercurrent of something else seemed to be present, something absent from all their dinners at home together, something which imposed a sort of self-awareness of their particular situation. Being out in public. It seemed to arbitrarily place boundaries on their normal interactions with each other, each having to take extraordinary care not to appear overtly affectionate. And the fact of the matter was, it all was done entirely without conscious thought or effort, just a natural and instinctive distancing that took place due to the intimate nature of the setting.
"You seem quiet tonight." Jess sipped her after-dinner café au lait.
"Just a little tired, I think. It's been a long day." Robin looked across the table at Jess and smiled. "Especially since I got to the office so early this morning. You know, I'm definitely not a morning person." The smile turned into a full grin."
"Is that so? I hadn't noticed." Jess responded dryly.
"Just as long as you don't get used to it. I just went in early today to get caught up on some things before the long holiday, but it's not going to be a regular occurrence." Robin finished her chocolate mousse dessert.
A dark eyebrow shot up playfully. "So, no more roses, then?"
"I didn't say that" Robin winked.
"Good, because I'd still be susceptible to any and all buttering up techniques." Jess motioned the waiter over to request the check. "You can feel free to butter away, if you'd like."
"I'll keep that in mind." Robin chuckled and then looked over to Jess as the soft candlelight highlighted her striking features. Robin almost, for a split second, reached across the table to lightly grasp Jess's hand, but before the thought even became conscious, Robin looked away, finding other things in the restaurant of seemingly great interest. Had Robin acted on the impulse, the irony of the situation was that the waiter would have chosen that exact moment to return with the check. The waiter did, in fact, return with the check and Jess paid for the meals, leaving a hefty tip in the process.
"Let's go." Jess stood up and headed toward the door with Robin following closely.
As they reached the main entrance and lobby area, a familiar voice called to them from the restaurant bar. "Hey, Jess, Robin." They both turned around instinctively at the same time to see Harry and his wife Barbara seated at a small table in the bar area. Harry stood up and motioned them both over to their table.
Jess waved and acknowledged him, and then spoke to Robin, somewhat apologetically. "Let's just go over and say hello, and then we'll leave, okay?"
"Sure." Robin nodded a bit unenthusiastically and followed Jess over to where Harry and Barbara Roberts were seated.
"Well, if it isn't the best team of litigators our firm's seen in a long time." Harry grinned. "Fancy seeing you guys here. What's the occasion?" He was merely making conversation.
"Hello, Harry. Nothing special. Robin and I just left the office a little while ago and thought we'd check this place out for a nice meal." Jess tried not to be too specific with her answer.
"Good, good. You remember my wife, Barbara?"
Jess smiled politely. "Yes, we've met a couple of times at some of the firm functions. It's nice to see you again, Barbara. And this is Robin Wilson, one of our new associates this year."
Robin gave Barbara Roberts a courteous nod. "It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Roberts."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, too, Robin, and it's good seeing you again, Jessica." Barbara Roberts' manners were impeccable.
"Care to join us for a drink?" Harry motioned for Jess and Robin to have a seat.
Jess cast a slight glance toward Robin and then declined his offer gracefully. "Thanks, Harry, but we were just heading out. It's been a long day for the both of us. Another time?"
"Sure. How was the meal?" Harry politely inquired.
"Very nice, thanks." Jess turned to leave, lightly guiding Robin ahead of her. "Have a nice dinner. Goodnight." Jess and Robin exited the restaurant bar.
If Barbara Roberts considered her observations upon her brief encounter with the two women, she never mentioned a word of it to her husband.
Jess pulled her silver Mercedes up to the front of Robin's apartment building to drop her off after their dinner together. "Thanks for joining me tonight."
"Will you come up?" Robin asked a bit shyly.
Jess idled the car. "Not if you're too tired."
"I'm not." Robin lightly touched Jess's arm. "Come up for a little while." She almost pleaded.
"Alright." Jess turned off the ignition and got out of the car, following Robin up to her apartment.
Once inside, Robin turned on the lights and sat down on the fluffy sofa, kicking off her shoes in the process. "It feels good to finally relax." She put her feet up on the coffee table and sank back into the cushions.
"You do seem a bit tense." Jess joined her on the sofa.
Robin nodded. "I think I'm just a little nervous about Harry seeing us at the restaurant."
"I don't know." Robin became pensive. "It might seem unusual for us to be there."
"Trust me, Harry thought nothing about it." Jess removed her shoes and placed her feet up on the coffee table, as well.
"I hope so." Robin let out a faint sigh.
Jess turned to look at Robin with a bit of concern. "There's something else, isn't there?"
"You know me so well." Robin gave a small, almost sad smile and shifted her position toward Jess. "I'm leaving on Wednesday morning to go to Detroit for Thanksgiving." She looked down at the fabric on the sofa and traced a small pattern with her finger. "I don't want to go back there."
Jess didn't know what to say. "How long will you be gone?"
"I'll be back Saturday evening." Robin leaned her head on Jess's shoulder and spoke in a distant voice. "Will you tell me that everything's going to be okay?"
Jess wrapped a long arm around Robin's shoulders and hugged her to herself tightly. "As long, as I'm around, kiddo, I promise you, it will be okay." She smiled warmly and gave Robin a light kiss on the lips. "I promise."
And at that precise moment, wrapped in Jess's protective embrace, Robin had the distinct feeling that everything would indeed be alright. All of the pain, the sorrow and the guilt that had been gnawing at her so strongly for the past several days, seemed to ease somewhat as she sat cozily on the sofa curled up next to Jess. It's amazing how I always feel better when she's here. "What are you going to do for the holiday?"
"Going to my mom's in Tampa. My brother and his wife and kids will be there. It's always a lot of fun when we get together." Jess smiled at the memories.
"I'm glad you have some place to go. I was worried that you might be here by yourself." Robin crossed one ankle over one of Jess's and leaned into the embrace further.
"Nope, I'm good." Jess sat silent for a moment, fingering the collar of Robin's silk blouse, then spoke again. "I hope things go okay for you in Michigan." She really didn't know what, specifically, Robin was worried about, but she had a general idea. "Will you need a ride to the airport?"
Robin shook her head. "No, I'm driving myself there. Besides, you'll be at work." She laid her head back against the cushions and stared into concerned blue eyes. "I'll manage just fine, and I do know how to get to the airport. You don't need to worry about me."
I always worry about you. "If you say so." Jess offered a small smile. "But call anyway, if you change your mind."
"Thanks, I will." A moment's pause. "Thanks for dinner tonight, Jess. It was a lovely restaurant." Robin smiled warmly. "Of course, the company wasn't so bad, either."
"Good, because there's plenty more where that came from." Jess touched her finger to Robin's nose and attempted to lighten the mood. "And as I recall, I believe my task for this evening was to convince you that your ploy to butter up the so-called slave-driver boss was working. So, are you convinced yet?"
Robin turned fully so that she was leaning entirely against Jess's body, bracing herself with her forearm resting on the back cushion. She traced a delicate finger over a strong jaw and whispered. "Perhaps more buttering up is in order." With that, Robin, pressed her lips to Jess's, tenderly at first, and then slightly more forcefully.
Jess returned the kiss in kind, reveling in the feel of the weight of Robin's body on her own, and the indescribable sense of some indefinable inner connection that passed between them at the contact. The kiss turned into a series of kisses, very long and very slow and deliberate, but as always before, they were not deep. After several moments, Jess pulled away slightly and grinned. "Buttering up is good."
"I'm glad you think so." Robin punctuated that statement with another light kiss. "Have I told that you do that really well?"
Robin gently brushed her fingers lightly across Jess's lips. "Kiss. I think you definitely get points for your efforts in that department."
"Is that so?" Smiling blue eyes stared into green. "And how is my point progress coming along?"
Robin grinned. "You're winning."
"I am?" Jess stroked Robin's short blonde hair
"And just so I'm perfectly clear on the matter, what exactly do I win?"
Robin tilted her head slightly. "You keep trying to get me to tell you what your prize is. Like I told you before, I can't tell you specifically, but it will definitely be worth your effort."
"So you say. Can't you at least give me a little hint?" Jess reached up and placed a light kiss on Robin's forehead, and then her cheek.
Robin stared thoughtfully at the wall behind Jess's head, pretending to ponder the question seriously, then looked directly into blue eyes. "Nope."
"Well, then, you might just have to provide me with a little more incentive, lest I lose interest."
Robin bent her head and nibbled on a convenient earlobe and then whispered softly. "Jess, I can personally guarantee that you will definitely not lose interest."
Oh boy. Jess swallowed audibly and cleared her throat. "I see. Um ..well, it's getting pretty late, you know."
"I know." Robin shifted her weight off Jess to sit directly on the sofa. "I should let you go home."
"Yeah. Do me a favor, though?" Jess sat upright and put on her shoes. "Promise me you'll call me at any time this weekend if you need to. If I'm not here, I'm in Tampa. I'll give you the phone number to my mother's house."
Robin stood up and walked Jess over to the door. "Okay, I promise." She placed her hand on the brass doorknob but did not open the door. "I'll miss you."
Jess stepped forward and wrapped Robin in a tight embrace. "I'll miss you, too, kiddo. I'll see you tomorrow at work, right?"
"I'll be there." Robin reached up and gave Jess a lingering kiss, and then watched as Jess stepped outside the door and made her way down the stairs. "Goodnight, Jess. Drive safely." Robin stood in the doorway as Jess got into her car and pulled out of sight, the red tail lights finally disappearing around the bend. Robin walked back inside, her thoughts many miles away, as she mentally began the process of determining what to pack for her trip. This week cannot be over soon enough.
Robin stepped off the jetway and into the Detroit airport, the chilly air hitting her squarely before a blast of heated air came her way from the airport's gate area. She glanced around and finally spotted her mother and father off to one side waiting patiently for the passengers to disembark the plane. Robin strode over to them.
"Hi, Robin, honey, how was your flight?" Colette Wilson hugged her daughter. "Did they feed you?"
"Hi, Mom. The flight was fine and I did get lunch earlier." Robin turned to her father. "Hi, Dad."
"Hi, honey." Thomas Wilson gave her a hug. "Let me take your bag."
"Let's get you home and I'll fill you in on all the plans for Thanksgiving. I'm so glad you decided to come home." Colette Thomas rattled on about everything and nothing in particular as they made their way through the airport terminal and on to the car.
When they arrived at the Wilson home, Robin took her things upstairs into her old room and unpacked. The room was just as she had left it. The desk where she used to study, the old stereo, the old high school yearbooks and all of her childhood things lay still as they had so many years before. Nothing was out of place and everything was the same. It was as if it was all from another lifetime ago. But the reality was, it wasn't. Robin went over to the dresser, and opened one of the top drawers. Inside was everything she most wanted to forget. Letters, momentos, a class ring, a varsity letter, and pictures. Lots of pictures. She shut the drawer abruptly and proceeded to unpack and put her clothes away, hanging most of her things in the closet. Once finished, she sat on the bed and pulled a piece of paper out of her wallet. It contained one very important phone number. She stared at the number for several moments in silent debate. I want to call. But she resisted the urge.
Thanksgiving would be stressful enough, the family gatherings always taxing. But she knew there was one particular thing she had to do while she was in Detroit, one thing that would probably be the most difficult thing she would ever have to do. Robin got up from the bed and walked back over to the dresser, opening the top drawer once again. She lifted out a black velvet box and opened it, revealing a gold and diamond ring. Lifting the ring out of the case, she slowly fingered the beveled cut surface of the diamond. We picked this out together. She had never worn it. It had arrived a week after the accident. Their parents had planned the engagement party for the following week, which, of course, never took place. Robin sighed and reached inside the drawer once again, pulling out a photograph. David. He was handsome and tall with sandy blond hair, hazel eyes, and a wide smile on his face as he stood with his black Labrador Retriever, Buddy. Robin looked at the picture for a moment and then lifted out another photograph from the drawer. It was one of herself and David together by the lake. She looked so happy then. She wondered if she ever was really as happy as she looked in the picture. Sighing heavily, Robin quickly replaced all the items in the drawer, and went back over to the bed to lie down, curling up on the edge. Her eyes tracked to the piece of paper with the phone number lying on the nightstand. I want to call. But she resisted the urge again.
As she lay on the bed, tightly curled up, waves of sorrow and guilt made their way mercilessly over her. If only she hadn't been so selfish. If only she had tried to work things out instead of getting upset. If only she hadn't said those horrible things to him. If only. Things would have been different. He never would have left so angry and he would still be alive. She felt her eyes well up. Tomorrow she would go. She hadn't gone before. The service had left her too emotionally upset. The hearse took him away and she never said goodbye. And she never went back to visit him. Ever. So, tomorrow she vowed to herself that she would finally go. Finally. To tell him goodbye and to say that she was sorry. Maybe it was closure she needed, or maybe the feelings would never go away. She wondered if she would she ever be able to put everything in the past and move forward. A single tear now tracked its way down her cheek and she looked over again at the piece of paper with the phone number written on it. I want to call. But she resisted the urge yet another time and instead, clutched the piece paper in her hand, finally falling into an uneasy rest.
"Robin, honey, tell me about how you're doing all the way down there in Florida." Colette Wilson poured herself another cup of tea. "Your father and I have been so worried about you down there all alone."
Robin sighed. I'm not alone. "I'm fine, mom. My job is great. I'm working on a trial which will take place in a couple of weeks, and I really enjoy it."
Colette nodded. "Yes, I'm sure you do. But we were thinking that maybe you should come back here. You could get a job at a local law firm here in town. Your father has many connections."
Robin finished her breakfast. "Mom, I like it in Florida and I want to stay."
"But your family is here, dear. And don't you miss all your friends?"
"I have friends in Florida." Robin really did not want to continue this conversation.
"Well, we're worried about you. It's a big adjustment for you to be so far away. Your friends in Florida don't understand everything that's happened." Colette began the preparation of the turkey.
"Mom, please. I'm staying in Florida. I'm doing fine and I've talked about everything with a friend there. My friend understands." Robin finished her coffee.
"Well, let's not worry about it now. We'll discuss it some more when you're here at Christmastime."
Christmas? "Mom, I want to stay in Florida for Christmas." Robin stated it a bit defiantly, and mentally braced herself for the expected reaction.
"What?" Colette looked up from her turkey preparation in surprise. "I thought you'd want to spend the holidays with your family."
The guilt trip starts. "Mom, I'm here now. There is no reason for me to come back in another month. I want to spend Christmas in Florida this year." Robin got up from the breakfast table and started to head out of the kitchen.
Colette called back to her. "Well, if you insist on staying down there at Christmastime, then perhaps your father and I will come visit you."
Robin stopped dead in her tracks and slowly turned around. "You would come to Florida?"
"Yes, of course. We'd like to see where you live and you can show us where you work. We'll have a nice time." Colette finished stuffing the bird.
Robin now turned fully to face her mother. "You and dad always go to Aunt Martha's for Christmas."
"Yes, but this year, we can do something different. Your Aunt Martha will understand. We'll see her another time." Colette considered the discussion closed and placed the bird in the oven.
Robin allowed a brief scowl to cross her features. Great. This is not exactly what I had in mind for Christmas.
Setting the oven timer, Colette glanced at the wall clock. "Now, remember, we're eating at 3:00 today, so if you have any plans, please be back before then."
Robin took in a deep breath. "Actually, I was wondering if I could borrow the car. There's someplace I wanted to go today."
"Of course, dear. Take the sedan." Colette next began to prepare the candied sweet potatoes, mumbling quietly to herself. "I thought for sure I had cinnamon."
Her disposition a bit sullen, Robin quickly made her way up the stairs to her room and threw herself onto the bed, mentally preparing herself for the day's events. She groaned to herself. I am so not in the mood for this. She was tempted just to put everything off and go back to sleep, but avoidance, of both her family and the other matter she vowed to take care of, was simply not the answer.
It was a short time later that Robin found herself driving down the winding road, around the spreading oak trees and the small serene lake, back into a recently opened grassy area. The markers were placed flatly on the ground, surrounded by the perfectly manicured green lawns. How do they keep it so green in the wintertime? She knew where to find him, having gotten the directions many times before, but in the end, she never had been able to bring herself to go. One particular time, she had actually found herself at the entranceway to the cemetery, staring down the winding driveway, willing herself the courage to go inside. But as was always the case, she had felt an overwhelming sickness come over her at the thought of seeing where he lay, and couldn't bring herself to drive through the gate, instead turning the car around without even so much as stepping outside. But here she was today. Thanksgiving day. She thought about that. What was there to be thankful for? She suddenly had a thought, something which she felt betrayed him and his memory, and so she quickly shoved that particular thought back into the recesses of her mind, and set herself to the matter at hand.
Robin parked the car and walked over to the designated marker, kneeling down on the green grass a little off to the side. As she gently fingered the brass nameplate, a few small tears escaped her eyes, and she had to fight with herself not to just get up and run away. Again. She quietly composed in her mind what she wanted to say to him, hoping that the act of saying what she needed to say would somehow bring her some measure of peace. And so, having gathered her thoughts together, she began.
"Hi, David." She whispered softly and then paused. "I'm sorry it's taken me this long to come visit you. I wanted to come and tell you about a few things. I've been trying to start my life over. It hasn't been easy, but I've got a great job now at a law firm in Florida. Florida is warm and sunny most of the time. No snow. You would like it." She smiled. "I also wanted to tell you how sorry I am for the things I said to you that night. I didn't mean any of them." The teardrops fell faster, and she looked up at the clouding sky trying to place her emotions under control. Robin fingered the brass nameplate again, and then reached into her purse and pulled something from it. "I have something to return to you. I'll send it to your folks, but I thought I would tell you, first." She held the small velvet box in her palm and opened the lid. "I remember when we picked this out. You wanted to have this one specially made for me." Robin ran her thumb over the oval diamond setting. "It's beautiful, and I will always remember it." She stopped for a short moment, then continued. "But, David, I can't keep it." She set the box down on the grass by the marker.
"I met somebody in Florida who's helped me to adjust." Robin absently looked down at her restless fingers. "Her name is Jess, and she's been wonderful to me. We get along so well. She works at the law firm I'm with now." Robin paused again. "I love her, David. Does that seem strange to you? Sometimes it seems strange to me, but it doesn't change the fact that I do. She makes me happy. I want you to know that you will always hold a special place in my heart, but I want to move on with my life now. I think you would want that, too." Robin once again picked up the black velvet box, looking for a moment at the diamond ring still resting inside, and then with an apparent and deliberate finality, snapped shut the lid, and in the process, snapping shut that chapter of her life which the object represented. She brought her fingertips to her lips, placed a gentle kiss on them, and then brought her fingers back down to rest against the brass marker. "Goodbye, David."
She wiped the remaining tears from her eyes and stood to leave, turning around abruptly. As she took her first step away from the grave, she saw them. They came up the short pathway, as they had no doubt done countless times before, and made their way solemnly over to the grave where Robin was standing. Robin froze. She hadn't expected to see them, and now, here they were, and here she was. As they approached, they looked up and saw her standing there.
"Robin, is that you?" David's mother came up to Robin and gave her a gentle hug. "How have you been, dear?"
"Alright. Thank you, Mrs. Mitchell." Robin stood awkwardly. "Mr. Mitchell, it's good to see you, sir."
"Yes, Robin, it's good to see you, too." Mr. Mitchell's voice was soft.
"We heard you've moved. Florida, isn't it?" Mrs. Mitchell seemed genuinely interested.
"Yes. I accepted an offer with a law firm in Orlando. It's a good job. I'm here for the holiday, then I'll go on back." Robin glanced at a nearby tree and spoke softly. "I wanted to visit him while I was here."
Mrs. Mitchell took Robin's hand. "Of course you did. I know he would be happy that you've continued on with your dreams. Davey was very proud of you."
Robin fought with her emotions. "I have something I wanted to give to you." She pulled out the small velvet box and looked at David's parents. "I was wondering if you would take this. I can't keep it. I mean ..it's hard for me to have it. I was thinking maybe you could donate it or do something good with it. I wanted you to decide." She handed the box to David's mother. "Whatever you decide to do is okay with me."
"Are you sure, Robin?" His mother took the box and held it for a moment.
"Yes. Please, I want you to have it." Robin smiled slightly, and then focused her attention back to the brass nameplate, whispering softly. "I still miss him." She turned toward where her car was parked. "I should go now so you can visit. It was good to see you."
"Alright, dear." Mrs. Mitchell gave Robin another hug. "Please take care of yourself. Tell your parents hello for us."
"I will." Robin started walking toward the car, and when she was almost half-way there, she turned back around and watched the Mitchells from a distance. Look at them. Mrs. Mitchell stood stoically, while David's father stood beside her, his shoulders noticeably slumped and his head bowed. He lost his son. He had barely spoken a word, and Robin felt that he was still stricken with grief over the loss. She walked over to the car and got inside, then stared silently at the two figures in the distance. She rested her forehead against the steering wheel and the tears starting to fall all over again. It's my fault.
Jess had returned from Tampa the previous evening, having had quite an enjoyable time with her family, and now debated with herself as to whether she should go into the office to catch up on a little work. Today was Saturday, and Jess had not heard from Robin at all since she left for Michigan. That being the case, Jess reasoned that things were most likely going okay with her. Robin was, after all, with her family. Family was important, as Jess well knew, and it was good that Robin had her family to turn to. It was all good. Very, very good. Jess sat on the plush sofa and began packing her briefcase and organizing her paperwork. As much as she tried to convince herself that everything was alright, her internal voice kept nagging at her just the same, until she finally gave in to the insistent niggling.
You know something's wrong, don't you?
'Don't be ridiculous. Everything's fine. Go away.' The alternate internal voice was annoyed at the intrusion into an otherwise peaceful day.
You can feel it, though, can't you? You know when something's wrong, and something is definitely wrong.
'No, I said everything's fine. Robin promised she'd call if she needed to. She didn't call, so therefore, everything's fine.' The alternate internal voice ran the logic unconvincingly.
She told you she didn't want to go. Admit you're worried.
'What part of everything's fine don't you understand?' The alternate internal voice was now quite belligerent.
You can't ignore it.
'I can if I want..' Denial was certainly a strong suit.
But you're still a little bit worried, just the same.
'I am not worried.' The alternate internal voice became increasingly agitated. 'Okay, maybe a little worried. So what?'
You think she's not over him.
'You're certainly blunt. She said she loves me, okay? That implies she's over him.' The alternate internal voice drew the conclusion quite well.
Then you're deluded.
'Listen, buddy, there's no need for insults. I am not deluded.'
Aren't you? There's a lot going on with her past that she hasn't come to terms with.
'She said she's handling it.' The alternate internal voice tried to reason.
You don't really believe that. You think you're competing with a ghost.
'No. She said she loves me.' The alternate internal voice sounded as though that statement alone made everything alright.
While that may be true, what if she's not over him? What if she needs to stay with her family and come to terms with her loss in her own time? What will you do, then?
The alternate internal voice became defiant and did not want to continue on with the current conversation. 'She won't stay there, she's coming back, and she's over him. End of story.'
But you don't know that for sure. She might just be running away from the memories. Even if she does come back, she might not stay here long.
'Boy, you're persistent. She said she loves me.' The alternate internal voice reiterated. 'She'll stay here.'
Are you sure of that?
'Yes. She said she loves me.' The alternate internal voice reiterated again, this time with a bit of uncertainty.
It might not be enough.
'It is.' The alternate internal voice then became defiant once more. 'As I've said before, she said she loves me. Do I have to spell it out for you?'
But even if she said she loves you, it's possible it might not be enough. Just think about that.
A moment's consideration of the previous statement, as requested. 'Alright, I take your point.' The alternate internal voice held a bit of resignation. 'It's possible it might not be enough.'
And so you're worried.
'Okay, I'm worried.'
Because she might not be over him.
'Yes.' The alternate internal voice held a tad bit of jealousy. 'Nothing escapes you, does it?'
And she might not stay here.
'Yes.' The alternate internal voice now answered sadly.
Even though she said she loves you.
The alternate internal voice answered even more sadly. 'Yes.'
So, it's inevitable, then. She'll eventually leave you in the end. It's just a matter of time.
The alternate internal voice was quiet for a very long moment. 'I'd rather not think about that.'
And that's exactly why you're deluded. You should indeed be thinking about that.
The alternate internal voice shut the door soundly on the matter. 'You don't know what you're talking about. I am very content in my thinking on this matter. As I said before, everything's fine. Now, go away and leave me alone.'
Jess immediately got up from her position on the sofa and walked abruptly out the door, leaving at once for the office. Denial was not just a river in Egypt.
It was well past the dinner hour when Jess returned home that evening from the office, having buried herself in her work for the majority of the day. She entered the house, immediately remembering that Robin was due home that night. She checked her answering machine for messages. There were none. Jess, of course, took this as a sign that everything was perfectly alright and mentally reminded herself to call Robin first thing in the morning. She took a frozen dinner out of the freezer and popped it into the microwave, deciding to eat quickly, watch a little TV, and then go to bed early. Once she finished eating, she stretched herself out on the plush sofa and flipped on the television. She had just about dozed off when the phone rang. Startled, she reached a long arm out to pick up the cordless receiver.
"Hello." Jess's mind was foggy.
"Jess?" It was Robin's voice, albeit a bit shaky.
"Robin?" Jess sat up. "Where are you?"
"I'm here. Actually, I'm at the airport. I just got in." Robin's voice still sounded a little shaky.
"Are you alright?"
There was a long silence.
"Robin?" Jess became concerned.
"Are you alright?"
"Um .." Robin's voice sounded distant. "Can I come over? I don't want to go home to an empty apartment just now."
"Yes. Do you want me to pick you up?"
Robin blew out an audible breath over the phone line. "No, I have my car. I'll be there in a half an hour, okay?"
"Okay. I'll be waiting." And with that, Jess clicked off the receiver and promptly began pacing, counting the minutes as they passed tediously by. Robin had definitely sounded upset. Jess, you're quite the idiot, aren't you? She paced back and forth. How could you try to convince yourself that everything was alright? A million thoughts ran through her mind, not the least of which was imagining that Robin was going to leave, and was coming over to tell her of her decision. Damn. Jess paced some more, and became more and more agitated as the minutes slowly and agonizingly ticked on, letting her mind conjure up all possible and assorted scenarios, none of which were pleasant. Jess looked over again at the clock on the wall for the thousandth time. Where is she? After another long moment of pacing, she heard a light knock sound at the front door.
She immediately rushed into the foyer, almost tripping over her briefcase in the process, and opened the door. "Robin."
Green eyes locked onto blue as the door opened. Robin stood there, hands fidgeting slightly, and not moving one inch from the doorstep. "Hi."
Surprised by the apparent hesitation, Jess quickly motioned Robin inside and closed the door. Before Jess could turn back around completely, the petite body rushed to hers and crushed her in a fierce embrace, clinging on as if for dear life, and not letting go. Jess put her arms around the small frame, holding on just as tightly, rocking them both gently back and forth. It was such an incredible feeling, holding onto each other so desperately close, as if trying to merge themselves into one being, afraid of letting the other go.
After several minutes tucked in Jess's comforting embrace, Robin finally spoke. "I missed you so much."
Jess kissed the top of the blonde head. "I missed you, too, sweetheart." She led Robin over to the plush sofa, turned off the television with the remote control, and sat down. "How are you? How was your trip?" She held Robin's hand and gently pulled her down alongside her onto the sofa.
"I've been better." Robin sat down beside Jess and then released her hand.
"Was your flight bad? I know you sometimes have a hard time." Jess momentarily thought that this was the problem.
"No." Robin smiled. "It was okay." I feel better just being here. "I feel so stupid. I just didn't want to go home to my empty apartment. That's all." She lied.
That's all? Jess squinted her eyes and stared at Robin for a long moment, studying the green eyes and locking them into an intense gaze. She slowly and very deliberately shook her head. "No, that's not all. Tell me?"
Robin tore her gaze from Jess and shifted her eyes to rest on the darkened fireplace, seeing, in actuality, absolutely nothing. Tears began to make their way from Robin's eyes. "I .I can't."
Jess's heart sank. All her fears were coming true. Robin was leaving. Jess lifted a shaking hand to Robin's chin and turned Robin's face toward her own, caressing the small cheek. "Robin, please tell me." She whispered the plea bravely, already afraid of the answer, and trying desperately to keep her emotions in check.
Robin quickly wiped the straying tears from her eyes, regaining her composure somewhat, and took Jess's hand in her own and entwined their fingers together. She spoke very softly. "I don't know how to tell you about this. I'm afraid you might not understand."
Jess unconsciously clenched their joined hands tighter and stiffened, bracing herself for the inevitable. "I'm listening."
"I went to visit him."
Visit him? Jess's expression became puzzled. "Who?"
Jess sat back against the sofa, not exactly knowing what to say to that. "You went to the .."
"Cemetery." Robin finished. "You're going to think this is awful of me, but it's the first time that I ever went there." She sighed heavily. "I tried to go many other times before, but I never could make myself actually do it." She paused. "This time, I did."
Jess nodded slowly and then brushed her thumb back and forth over the inside of Robin's palm in a calming motion. "You needed to visit him, right?" Jess wasn't sure she was putting it all together correctly.
"Yes. It was hard, but it was something I had to do. There was something I had to say to him." How much do I tell her? "I wanted to tell him that I was sorry, and I wanted to say goodbye." Robin shook her head. "I never told him goodbye."
Jess was beginning to see the picture now, and she wasn't at all sure it was something she really wanted to see. She's never let go. "You needed to do that."
Robin nodded. "There's something else." She glanced at Jess to gauge her reaction. "I told him that I couldn't keep the ring. I kept it until now, but " Her voice trailed off. "You must think it's strange that I kept it all this time. I told him I was going to send it to his parents, but when I was leaving, they came there." Now, Robin's voice broke down, and the tears came quickly as she wiped them away with a shaking hand. "They looked so sad. I gave his mother the ring and I left right away. I couldn't let them see."
Jess reached her free hand over to gently wipe a tear from Robin's cheek and whispered. "See what, honey? What didn't you want them to see?"
"How guilty I was." Robin was inconsolable.
Jess collected Robin in her arms and held her close. "Oh, honey. Shhhh. Please, Robin. We've been through this. Honey, it wasn't your fault. It was an accident, that's all. It wasn't your fault." Jess's words weren't having any effect. This is not a surprise to you, Jess. You knew she hadn't come to terms with this.
Jess did her best to comfort Robin, and after a very long time, Robin's sobs subsided and she rested in the quiet embrace of Jess's arms. It was strange, but for Robin, telling Jess had lightened her heart somewhat. And she felt so safe and protected wrapped in the strong embrace, that she never, ever wanted to leave. There was one more thing she wanted to say, and so she lifted her head and gazed into beautiful blue eyes and whispered. "I also told him about you."
"Yes. I told him that I was happy." Robin grasped Jess's hand and lightly kissed the knuckles. "And I told him that I loved you."
Jess nodded absently, not knowing whether to trust what Robin was saying. She says she loves you, Jess, but it might not be enough. For some inexplicable reason, Jess's eyes welled up with unshed tears, and she quickly turned her head away from Robin in embarrassment.
Robin was startled by the abrupt change in demeanor. "Jess, what's wrong?"
"Nothing." Her voice broke. "I don't want to upset you more." She refused to turn back to face Robin.
"But you're upset, and that does upset me more. What is it?" Robin shifted to look at Jess, but Jess continued to avoid the gaze. "Don't shut me out." Robin pleaded.
Jess closed her eyes tightly, as if in pain, and then opened them again and turned her head to stare very sadly into confused green eyes. She sat silently for a moment before speaking. "I don't think you're over him." A teardrop fell involuntarily. "I think you need to come to terms with what happened, and when you do that, I think you will realize that I was a convenient substitute, and you will eventually leave." Jess hated to be harsh but the truth was better out in the open.
Ouch. That stung. Robin swallowed hard. "You don't believe I love you?"
"I believe you believe you do, now."
Green eyes bore into blue. "But I will change my mind and leave. That's what you think."
"Yes." Jess looked away again, unable to withstand the intensity of Robin's gaze any longer.
Robin sat silently for a moment, then got up from the sofa and stepped over to stand in front of Jess. She looked down as Jess sat there, unable to make eye contact with her once more. This has to do with James. Robin slowly knelt in front of Jess, and reached out to place her hands lightly on either side of Jess's waist, leaning in slightly. She looked up and patiently waited as stoic blue eyes slowly tracked back to lock onto her own. She spoke calmly and with considered gentleness. "I don't know what to say to convince you that I will always love you and that I will never willingly leave you. I'm very sorry that James hurt you like he did, but I am not James, and I will not leave you." There was no expression on Jess's face so Robin continued. "I don't deny that I have issues to deal with when it comes to David. But I never saw you as a substitute for him, convenient or otherwise, and I never will." Robin reached up and brushed her fingers back and forth across Jess's cheek. "I'm going to tell you something now which may seem rather harsh, but it is the truth, and I can't change it." She paused, trying to find the right words. "If David were here right now, and if I had to make a choice between the two of you, and I know that this is not fair, but if I had to make that choice, I know who I would choose."
Jess looked at her and solemnly spoke for the first time in a long while. "You would choose him."
Robin lightly bit her bottom lip and shook her head very slowly, almost in dismay, and then whispered. "You are not listening to me." There was no hint of reproach in her voice. She now realized the depth of the hurt James had inflicted. Robin lifted Jess's hands, kissing the palms of each tenderly and with unequivocal reverence. She then slowly brought one large palm up to her own cheek, and held it there, covering it fully with her own hand. "It's you, Jess." She whispered. "Only you." Robin closed her eyes briefly, and as she did so, a silent tear fell.
And suddenly, at last, it all became so clear, and Jess finally saw it. She now saw what it was that was tormenting Robin so much. It was the guilt. Not only about the events leading up to David's accident, but also about loving Jess more. Jess immediately lifted Robin up from where she knelt and pulled her onto the sofa, leaning her back gently against the throw pillows. She laid down next to Robin and spoke soothingly, caressing a fair cheek. "Robin, I am so sorry for doubting you." Jess stroked Robin's blonde hair. "I am so very sorry. I was so consumed with my own fears that I didn't understand what you were really saying. Will you forgive me? I do understand now, and I'll help you through it, if you'll let me." She gently placed a kiss on Robin's soft lips. "I love you, Robin."
Robin closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. "Thank you for understanding." She placed a strand of dark hair behind Jess's ear. "I think I'd like maybe to talk with somebody ..professionally about some things. I think I should do that. Do you know of anyone I can call?"
Jess smiled and brought her hand up to rest on Robin's shoulder. "Yes. We'll call on Monday, okay?"
"Okay." Robin nodded, then glanced shyly at Jess. "So, would it be alright if I stayed over tonight?"
Jess now grinned. "Well, I was hoping you'd want to stay. I've grown rather fond of having you in my bed."
Robin blushed. "You are incorrigible."
"Perhaps. But it doesn't change the fact that I want to be with you."
Robin blushed further. What, exactly, are you saying? "When you say that you want to be with me, do you mean ..?" She wasn't quite sure how to phrase the question.
Jess chuckled at Robin's awkwardness. "Well, that too."
Robin hid her face behind her hands. "I am so embarrassed."
Jess removed one of Robin's hands. "Don't be embarrassed about that." She punctuated the sentiment with a small kiss. "When or if you're ready for anything more ..physically, then tell me. And I promise, I'll tell you. Deal?"
Robin gave her a warm smile and sat up. "Deal. Now let me get my bag from the car. It's good I have all my stuff with me since I didn't go home first."
Robin got up and went to her car and retrieved her bag to change into her night clothes. It was a little chilly that evening, so Robin wore a fleece night shirt. Jess selected her flannel sleep shirt with matching draw-string boxers, and they set about their nightly routines. After Jess and Robin had both finished readying themselves for bed, Jess reset the temperature on the waterbed, and they both snuggled down under the covers. They cuddled together comfortably for a few moments, until Robin suddenly became all too aware of Jess's proximity.
"I could really get used to this." Robin sighed. "I think I already am." She stroked a flannel sleeve lightly.
Robin thought about how to best put into words what she wanted to say, and finally just decided to simply state it as succinctly as possible. "I'm really close."
Jess opened her eyes in slight confusion. "Um ..Robin, we're cuddled here close together. Of course, you're close."
"No. I mean that you have me in your bed and I'm really close." It was no small thing for Robin to admit.
However, Jess, it seems, could not buy a clue. "You don't want to cuddle tonight? You need space?"
"Um ..no. Let me explain it to you this way." Robin reached her hand down and directed it under the edge of Jess's flannel sleep shirt until it came to rest on Jess's bare stomach. She then brushed the soft, warm skin lightly, tickling slightly.
Jess inhaled sharply at the contact and then giggled. "Look who's incorrigible, now." She grinned at the playfulness.
Robin stilled her hand and patted the bare stomach, "Perhaps. But it doesn't change the fact that I want to be with you." She paused for effect. "And that I'm really close."
I don't get it. Jess was particularly dense that night.
Robin removed her hand from Jess's stomach and turned over onto her side. "Since you said to tell you, I just thought I would."
I still don't get it. I don't get ..Oh. The light was dawning. Oh. The light fully dawned. Oh boy. Jess swallowed. "Um ..Robin?"
"Me, too." Jess was obviously not big on words that night either.
"You, too, what?" Robin grinned in the dark, determined to make Jess say it.
"Me, too, I'm really close, and I'm telling you."
"Okay. I'm glad we have that settled." Robin reached back a gave Jess a small pat on the thigh.
"Me, too." Jess apparently did not know many other words that evening. "Goodnight."
We're really close. Oh boy.
Robin stirred from her slumber to a strange sensation, and not being fully awake at the time, let herself linger in the space between wakefulness and sleep as the odd sensation persisted. As she became more fully aware, she registered that she was lying on her stomach and there was a slight, but fleeting, pressure on her back. It was certainly odd because the pressure would start and stop and then start up again. She finally brought herself to full consciousness and furrowed her brows, trying to determine its source.
A green eye opened and then squinted at the bright sunlight which filtered in through the venetian blinds, trying to adjust to the light in the room as the gentle, fleeting pressure on her back continued. Robin opened her eyes more fully now to see amused blue eyes staring back at her. Jess was happily perched up on one elbow, looking down at her with a curious grin on her face.
"Hi, sleepyhead." The amused blue eyes regarded her.
"Hi." The fleeting pressure continued and Robin furrowed her brows again. As she studied the sensation, she also noted that Jess's arm appeared to be moving in direct proportion to the pressure she felt. "Um ..Jess? What are you doing?"
The sensation stopped. "Who, me?" Jess asked innocently.
A chuckle. "Yes, you. What are you doing?"
"Nothing." The sensation resumed.
"Well, I'm pretty sure it's something."
The sensation stopped again. "Nope, nothing."
Another chuckle. "Then why did I feel something on my back?"
Oh, that." The sensation resumed.
"Yes that." Robin tried unsuccessfully to suppress a grin. "So, what are you doing?"
"Yep. What do you think this is?" Jess traced an image on Robin's back with her finger.
"Um ..a car?" Robin guessed.
"Nope. Try again." Jess traced the image another time.
Robin took another guess. "A boat?"
"Nope again. You have to concentrate." Jess drew the image for the third time. "I'll give you a little hint." She traced several words on Robin's back, as well.
Robin processed the writing. "Choo choo?" She chuckled. "You drew a train?"
"Very good." Jess grinned proudly.
"What is it with you and trains, anyway?"
"Nothing." Jess just couldn't resist the metaphor. "It just reminded me of a particular conversation we had about trains in general and how I especially like to ring the bell loudly and enthusiastically." She could barely contain the grin as she waited for Robin's reaction.
It didn't take longer than a full second before Robin caught on, and then she quickly threw the pillow over her head. "You led me right into that one before I was fully awake." The muffled voice came from under the down filling and linen fabric. "Not fair."
Jess was busily laughing, jiggling the water in the waterbed in the process. She lifted the pillow off Robin's head and leaned down next to her. "You are so cute." She then placed a light kiss on Robin's lips, brushing the mussed blonde hair with her fingers.
Robin rolled over onto her back. "Are you sure you want to be kissing me. I have morning breath, you know." She reached up and traced Jess's lips with her thumb.
"Good, because I have morning breath, too, so we're even." Jess stretched out fully on top of Robin and traced the small lips in a similar fashion. "I don't mind, if you don't mind."
"I don't mind." Robin reached up around Jess's neck and drew her toward her, kissing her soundly. She broke the kiss, and then stared into azure eyes for a moment, before claiming the lips once again. And this time, the kiss was different. Almost as if by mutual consent, the kiss deepened, and for the first time since they shared their first kiss, their kisses became long, and slow, and now deep.
After several languid kisses, Jess broke away first, a lazy smile on her face. "Wow. That was amazing."
Robin took a moment to regain her senses and nodded. "Yeah. You taste very good, even if you do have morning breath."
"You taste good, too. I think we should do that more often." Jess leaned down and nibbled across a fair jaw line.
"I think you're right." Robin reached up and claimed the lips above hers once again in a repeat performance of the previous kisses.
They broke away once more and Jess slowly rolled off of Robin and onto the bed. "Could I interest you in some breakfast?"
Robin raised an eyebrow. "Do you have to ask?" She sat up and stretched.
"I stand corrected." Jess rolled out of bed. "There're eggs and toast and coffee, but not much else, since I need to hit the grocery store again. Meet me in the kitchen." She padded out of the room.
A short while later, Robin located Jess in the kitchen, dutifully fixing a breakfast of eggs and toast. "I see you have everything under control."
"Yep." Jess turned around, and then quickly glanced down at Robin's feet, suddenly laughing quite hysterically.
Robin followed Jess's glance. "Don't start with me, Jess. My feet are cold."
Jess tried to compose herself. "I think we have to have certain rules in this house, Robin. Rule number one, no bunny slippers."
"Very funny. I still say you're jealous because you don't have any. But if you'd rather I leave, I'll just take me and my bunny slippers on home." Robin chuckled and turned to exit the kitchen.
Jess reached out and playfully grabbed the back of Robin's night shirt. "Not so fast." She grinned. "I suppose we could have an exception to the rule just this once."
"Good." Robin went to the table and poured herself a cup of coffee, then looked around for the milk, finding none. "We're definitely going to have to take you grocery shopping, young lady. It seems you've been quite lacking in that department recently."
"Well, maybe I should just hire you to take care of all my grocery needs from now on." Jess fixed the plates of eggs and toast and set them down on the table.
"You're always trying to get me to do your grunt work for you." Robin feigned exasperation.
Jess sat down and buttered her toast. "That's because you excel at all grunt work activities."
"Flattery will get you absolutely nowhere, Jess, so give it up." Robin took a bite. "I recommend an immediate grocery shopping refresher course, starting today."
"Yes, today. You're coming with me to the grocery store, so when I do my grocery shopping, which by the way is one of my Sunday chores, then you can do yours." Robin wagged a reprimanding finger at Jess. "And hopefully you will get into the habit of making your grocery shopping a priority from now on."
"I have a better idea." Jess took another bite. "I'll give you a list of grocery items, and when you're doing your shopping, you just pick up mine. Sounds simple enough."
"Yeah, I do all the work. That defeats the purpose of training you to do it yourself, Jess. I think you need a little hands-on experience." Robin thought about what she had just said, and before Jess could offer a snappy retort, Robin quickly responded, pointing her finger in warning. "Do not say it, Jess. Do not say it. I'm warning you. Do not say it."
"Who, me?" Jess arched a dark eyebrow innocently. "I wouldn't dream of it." She was, in all actuality, dying to say it and sat silently for a few moments stifling her reply.
The snappy retort came anyway. "But I've never considered my so-called hands-on experience a prerequisite for grocery shopping, Robin. How do you figure that works?" She winked.
Robin shook her head flabbergasted. "You just couldn't let it go, could you? Just this once." Robin narrowed her eyes. "You are so hopeless."
"So you keep saying." Jess teased and then smiled sweetly. "You ought to know by now that it's an endearing character trait of mine."
"The jury's still out on that one, Jess."
"And since we're on the intellectually stimulating subject of grocery shopping 101, I wanted to ask you something." Jess became more serious.
"Okay." Robin poured herself another cup of coffee.
"I was wondering if you would think about something. You already have a key here, and I kinda like having you around, and not just for your grocery shopping expertise." Jess smiled a bit shyly. "What I'm trying to say, though not very well, is that I have three extra rooms. One is the guestroom, another I use as an office, and the third I don't use at all. I was wondering if you would maybe consider living here. You could have any of the rooms you wanted. We'd just move everything around. I know you have your apartment and probably have several more months on your lease, and you have all your own things. But, you could live here though, if you wanted to. If you'd rather not, then that's okay, too. Will you think about it?" It was one of the longest questions Jess had ever asked.
Robin sat quietly, patiently listening as Jess completed her rather lengthy question. Robin had to ask herself, though, whether she was ready to live with someone else. With Jess. It would mean being together at work and at home, and sharing everything. Sharing a life. She thought about that. Barely two weeks ago Jess wanted to slow down, and now she wants to live together. Robin wasn't sure at the moment how she felt about that. Not to mention the fact that it might call attention to their relationship in ways she definitely was not ready to handle. She reached across the table and gently grasped Jess's hand. "I'll think about it, Jess. Thank you for asking."
"Okay. Just let me know whatever you decide." Jess attempted to act almost nonchalant about the whole thing.
Robin sought to lighten things up a little. "Um ..Jess?" She looked at Jess with a semi-bored expression. "You wouldn't just be asking me to live here so you can have your own personal grocery shopping grunt, now would you?"
"Ah. I see you found me out. Would that have any bearing on your decision?" Jess raised both eyebrows playfully.
Robin considered the question. "I guess it depends on how much hands-on experience would be involved."
"I see. As a matter of fact, there would indeed be quite a bit of hands-on experience required."
Robin nodded, deep in thought. "Then, I imagine it might just influence my decision."
"Just as long as you're informed. I believe in full disclosure."
"I am fully apprised, counselor." Robin chuckled. "On a serious note, though, I do foresee that there may be at least, one, tiny little problem."
Jess furrowed her brows. "And what might that one, tiny little problem be?"
"Guess who's coming to visit?"
Jess looked at Robin out of the corner of her eye. "Who?"
"I'll give you a hint. They're from Detroit and they're related to me." I think.
Jess frowned. "Oh. And when would this be?"
"Christmas. So, I think whatever happens, I should still keep my apartment at least a little while longer because it might not be such a good thing for them to think I was living here."
Jess pouted. "Right."
"Jess." Robin smiled. "I said I should keep my apartment a little while longer. I didn't say I should sleep there."
"Right." Jess's expression brightened. "Right."
"Good. Now let's get going." Robin stood up to clear the breakfast dishes. "We have quite a bit of grocery shopping to do today." She and her bunny slippers padded out of the kitchen.
Grocery shopping, parents visiting, living together. Jess, you've absolutely lost your mind.
© Copyright 09/03/2000
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