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
Trial day. After meeting at the office early Monday morning, Jess, Robin and Phil Jones headed over to the courthouse for the first day of trial. Most of that first day was spent selecting the jury. Jess knew well that there was a definite art to jury selection, and in her experience, selecting jurors was to be taken as seriously as the presentation of the entire case itself. Everything else was ready to go. All exhibits had been organized and placed neatly into binders. Exhibit boards had been prepared, colorfully emphasizing the key issues of the case. Pre-trial briefs and motions had all been filed. Jury instructions had been agreed on, and the witnesses had all been lined up. All that remained was the selection of the six jurors and one alternate who would ultimately decide the fate of the case. So, upon arrival at the courthouse, that was exactly how the first day of trial was spent. The entire day was devoted to voir dire questioning of various jury pool members, trying to find just the right blend of backgrounds and experiences for the people who would ultimately sit on the jury.
After a long first day and after having finally agreed upon a jury, Judge Hancock swore the jury members in, and then let everyone go home for the day, planning to start fresh early the next morning. Jess, Robin and Phil regrouped back at the office and discussed trial strategy until the early evening hours. Phil finally returned to his hotel, and even though it was getting late, Jess still had yet to review her opening statement and prepare her cross-examination of the witnesses scheduled for the next day. Jess and Robin retired to Jess's office to discuss the upcoming witness schedules.
"What do you think of the jury?" Jess closed the office door and quickly walked behind her desk, sitting down in her burgundy leather chair.
Robin considered the question. "It's not as if I have any experience with these things, but according to their voir dire answers, I think we did pretty well." She sat in the chair by the window and bit her lower lip lightly. "Except maybe for juror number three. He seemed a bit shifty-eyed to me."
Robin chuckled lightly. "Yeah. Didn't you see that nasty look he gave juror number five. I think we definitely need to watch those two."
"Alright. You're the official juror watcher." Jess handed Robin her legal pad. "Now, let's go over the scripts for tomorrow."
"When is Anne Carver scheduled?"
"They're putting her up on the stand on Wednesday to close out their case. We'll take the opportunity to discredit her, and then move right on into our case." Blue eyes twinkled. "We can rehearse her script tomorrow, okay?"
"Right, chief." Robin's stomach chose that particular moment to growl. "Um, Jess? How about we get something to eat first."
Jess couldn't help but grin. "What did you have in mind?"
"Hmm." Robin tapped her finger lightly on her chin in thought. "Pizza or Chinese. You pick."
A dark eyebrow arched. "If we get Chinese, can I have ..?"
"Yes." Robin chuckled.
Jess was mildly perplexed. "You don't even know what I was gonna say."
"Yes, I do." The blonde head nodded. "And yes, you can have the shrimp with lobster sauce."
"Huh. It seems I might be a bit too predictable." Jess playfully swiveled in her chair.
"Nope. You're just you. Let me go call in the order." Robin left Jess's office and made her way down to the kitchen to retrieve a menu from the assorted menu selection. As she neared the kitchen, she unexpectedly ran into Keith who was busily working on a last minute demonstrative exhibit for the case.
"Hi, Robin." Keith ran his ran his hand through his light blond hair. "So, how are things going so far?"
"Good." Robin stopped for a moment to casually engage Keith in conversation. "We picked the jury today, and tomorrow we do opening statements and start their case. Jess and I are just going over some of the preparation now." She started to make her way toward the kitchen again.
"Hey, Robin?" Keith stopped her progress. "Are you going to the holiday party next week?"
Whoa. 'Holiday party' was the politically correct euphemism in the modern business world for Christmas party. "Um ..yes, probably." Why? Robin asked the next question carefully. "Are you going?"
"Yeah. Uh ..will you be going with someone? I mean, I know you haven't been in town very long, and if you're not bringing someone, we could maybe go together, if you'd like." Keith seemed quite sincere in his offer.
How did I miss this? Robin smiled politely, albeit a bit awkwardly. "I'm not bringing anyone, Keith, but I'll probably not stay at the party too long. This trial is scheduled to last all week, and then I have relatives coming in from out of town, so I've really got a lot going on. I may just go for a short time." I'm rambling. Robin tried to let Keith down gently. "Thank you for asking, though. It was nice of you to think of me. I'm sure I'll see you there."
Keith nodded. "Okay. But let me know if you ever need an escort." He bowed in exaggerated formality. "I'm at your service."
"Thanks." Robin nodded back. He's very sweet. A mental sigh. But I'm not interested. The young associate turned and once again headed toward the kitchen, calling back over her shoulder down the long hallway. "Don't work too late tonight, Keith." She entered the kitchen and pulled the desired menu off the bulletin board, proceeding to order the requisite Chinese cuisine. Once that particular task was completed, Robin sat down in one of the vinyl kitchen chairs for a moment, shaking her head to herself in mild disbelief. It seemed that things were getting more complicated. How should I have handled that with Keith? She mentally pondered her available options. Should she have pretended she was indeed going to bring someone to the holiday party? For that matter, when it came to firm functions, should she attempt to put on false airs, and routinely parade endless men to various events for appearance's sake? Should she accept offers from Keith or Paul or anyone else just to keep suspicions at bay? That seems dishonest. Or is it okay to go to these functions alone? All the time? Or is it okay not to go at all? How would that look? An audible sigh. There were just too many questions and too many complications. I need to talk to Jess.
After waiting a few moments, Robin dashed out to the small Chinese restaurant down the street to quickly pick up the requested food. She returned in short order, and immediately made her way back up to Jess's office, food in hand. She opened the solid wood door and entered the office, setting the food containers on a corner of the otherwise paper covered desk.
"Ready to eat?" Robin stepped back and closed the door.
Jess looked up from her papers. "Sure. Let me try to clear some of this stuff out of the way."
It was as if Jess and Robin had done this particular thing a hundred times before. They efficiently set out the paper plates and utensils, and then spooned out portions of the Chinese food onto their own plates. For several moments, they ate together in silence, neither one speaking or offering any conversation.
"Is everything okay?" Jess swallowed a bite of her shrimp with lobster sauce.
Robin nibbled at her egg roll. "I had a conversation with Keith earlier. He ..um ..offered to escort me to the firm's holiday party next week." She wasn't sure how Jess would react to the news.
"Oh." Jess considered the situation. "Do you want to go with him?" Jess thought perhaps Robin wanted to attend the party, but not alone ..for various reasons.
"No." The young associate sighed heavily and then put her chopsticks down. "But we should discuss how we appear in public, don't you think?"
"What are you saying?" Jess pushed her plate away and sat back in her leather chair.
"I ..um .." Robin fumbled. "I don't know the etiquette here as far as the firm is concerned. I mean, is it okay to go to these things alone, or if one of us wants to go, should we be seen with someone?" Robin looked tentatively at Jess. "We haven't really talked about the party. What are you going to do? Are you going?"
Jess met Robin's eyes, considering how to answer. "In the past, I never really went to many of these things. Wasn't my style to stand around and chit chat all night. As for whether I'm going next week, well, quite frankly, I really haven't thought about it, considering the trial and all." She grinned, somewhat mischievously. "And I've also been a little bit preoccupied with ..um ..other things." A blue eye winked to make her point.
Robin blushed. "Well, do you want to go?" Green eyes cautiously queried.
"Only if you'll be there."
"I want to go, yes, but I need to know what the firm's expectations are when it comes to attendance at these type of functions, and if it's okay to go alone or not go at all sometimes." The young associate slowly resumed eating. "It just doesn't seem right to go with someone if the only purpose is present an image ..a false image." She looked seriously at Jess. "That would seem like a lie."
Jess understood Robin's point. Where do you draw the line between keeping things quiet and creating false images for appearances sake? "I think we may need to consider all angles of this. We don't have to decide on anything tonight, but I think we should think carefully about a few things.
"Okay." Robin was hesitant.
"First, we agreed to keep things between us quiet because of the potential concerns that the firm may have, and because our relationship is no one else's business, right?"
"Okay, so there are consequences with keeping things quiet. It's unavoidable, but we have to watch ourselves in public. That means firm events. I agree with you that it isn't a particularly noble thing to bring along some poor soul just to keep up appearances ..that is, unless you have a prior understanding." Jess tried to give Robin an option if she chose to go with it.
"Okay. What if I want to go alone, or we both want to go alone, or we both don't want to go at all?"
"Well, to be honest, it's best to go to these things most of the time and show that you're a team player. So, I'd say it's better to go alone rather than not go at all." Jess smiled wryly. "I haven't followed that rule much." Blue eyes then stared pensively into green. "If we both go alone, eventually, after a period of time, people will start to wonder why we never bring anyone. It's only human nature to speculate and to notice things like that. The gossip mills are never lacking."
Robin blew out a frustrated breath. "So it's a catch-22 situation. We can go by ourselves and generate gossip that we never bring anyone, thereby risking that the firm could become suspicious." She sighed. "Or we can not go at all, and then risk not being seen as team players."
"Or one or both of us could go with someone ..um ..male of course, as long as the guy knows ahead of time that it's just a simple evening at a party and nothing more. I don't think that we should leave him with any false impressions." Jess actually appeared quite sad as she said this. The idea of Robin with anyone else bothered her more than she wanted to admit.
Robin shook her head solemnly. "I don't want to be with anyone but you. Being with someone else, even at a casual party, seems like a lie, because the whole time I was with them, I'd be thinking about how much I'd really rather be with you. Do you understand?"
"Yes." The dark head nodded slowly. "I understand. Come here for a minute." Blue eyes beckoned.
Robin stood up and stepped around the desk as Jess rose from her chair. They met half way, and Jess wrapped her arms around Robin in a gentle hug. It was meant as a reassurance, to affirm their connection to each other, and remind each of them what was real and important. They stood in the comfort of their embrace for several moments, neither noticing how much time had actually transpired.
"Why is everything so complicated?" Robin finally whispered, her voice a bit shaky.
"Robin, honey, we have each other. We know that. No matter what else, right?" A large hand rubbed the petite shoulders in a soothing motion. "We don't have to decide anything tonight. Let's just get through the trial, first. Okay?"
There was no answer.
Jess pulled back slightly, and caught a glimmer of moisture in Robin's eye before the young associate abruptly turned away. At that moment, Jess nearly lost her composure. I dont' want to hurt you. She and Robin were definitely going to have to discuss this matter more fully later on. It was now becoming all too clear to the junior partner that the toll of keeping their relationship clandestine would likely be very great. The irony of the situation was, the toll of having their relationship found out would probably be just as great. It's a catch-22. "Robin, look at me, sweetheart." She waited as Robin complied. "We're in this together. You told me that, remember? We'll work this out. I promise."
Misty green eyes regarded blue. "I believe you."
"Good." Jess smiled warmly. "Now let's finish eating so we can get back to work, and maybe we can get done here at a decent hour tonight." She gave Robin quick hug and then sat back down in her leather chair, looking directly across the desk. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah." Robin resumed eating. "I just have one very important question for you."
Jess picked up her chopsticks and took a bite. "Okay."
A blonde eyebrow slowly arched. "Can I have some of your shrimp?"
The next day, the trial went much as expected. Each counsel gave an opening statement, and then the opposing side began presenting its case in chief. Robin observed the proceedings with avid fascination, and assisted ably in locating and presenting all the proper exhibits to be used for the day's witnesses as they testified. At one point, during a potentially critical part of Jess's cross-examination of a witness, Robin noticed that juror number three appeared to be nodding off. As improbable as it may have seemed, at that precise moment, Jess turned toward Robin, and the young associate subtly signaled out the dozing juror. The junior partner promptly requested a short recess so that the jury could take a much needed break. All day long, it seemed to go pretty much the same way. Jess and Robin worked together like a well-oiled machine, each almost instinctively taking cues from the other, as if they had done this type of thing a hundred times before. Everything just seemed to click.
And so the day ended, and several points were made in favor of both the plaintiff and the defendant. Once court had recessed late that afternoon, Jess, Robin and Phil returned to the office to review the day's events and to briefly strategize for the next day's testimony. After a small catered-in dinner, Phil finally returned to his hotel, and the two attorneys retreated to Jess's office to continue with their trial preparations.
"How do you think it went today?" Jess stood at the large window and looked out at the night sky through the reflected glass.
Robin sat down in the chair next to the same window. "You made some good points on cross-examination." She hesitated slightly.
Robin sighed audibly. "The testimony is kind of .." She didn't quite know how to put it. "Well, Jess, it's boring." Robin grinned sheepishly. "It's not you, it's just that the technical and financial terminology is rather tedious. I think more than one juror dozed off today, and I'm not sure I blame them."
"Yeah." Jess nodded. "I was thinking that, too. I think we may need to change things up a bit." She turned from the window and regarded Robin for a moment. "Anne Carver's on tomorrow. You and I have been over her script a dozen times."
Jess brought her hand up to her chin pensive y, then stared seriously into sea green eyes. "How would you feel about taking her cross-examination?"
The young associate's mouth fell open slightly, stunned surprise at the question evident. Robin remained silent for a moment before finally speaking. "You want me to ..I mean, you know I don't have any courtroom experience."
"I know. But you know the script, and you've seen me cross-examine the witnesses we've had so far." Jess leaned up against the side of her cherry wood desk. "Besides, you found a key piece of evidence. You deserve a shot at her." Jess paused. "But I don't want you to feel pressured to do this, Robin. If you'd rather not, it's not a problem."
The young associate thought seriously about Jess's offer. If truth be told, Robin was absolutely itching to have a crack at a witness. All day long, she had mentally reviewed all the angles and all the questions she would have asked, as Jess simultaneously proceeded to brilliantly cross-examine and pick apart each witness's testimony. A grin slowly edged its way across the young associate's face. Let me have at it. "Will you help me rehearse?"
Good going, Robin. Jess grinned rather proudly. "You betcha, kiddo. You're going to do great. The jury will trust you, and they won't think you're putting something over on them. Put that in contrast to the deception by Anne Carver, and you'll have the jury hanging on your every word."
The blonde head bowed in bashful uncertainty. "You have such confidence in me. How can you be sure it'll work?"
I know you. "I know you." Jess replied simply. "And remember, Robin, I'll be right there at the counsel table. If you get stuck or she says something you weren't expecting, you can just look at me, or you can pause and come over to confer for a moment." She grinned and arched a dark eyebrow expectantly. "So, ready to rehearse?"
Robin nodded, now quite confident herself. "Yep." She rubbed her hands together. "Let me have at her. She'll be toast when I'm done."
Jess shook her head in amusement. Ooooh, I may have created a monster.
Wednesday's proceedings went much as predicted. By mid-day, the opposition was ready to put Anne Carver on the stand as their last witness before resting their case. Jess had surmised that opposing counsel would gloss over Anne Carver's background and get right into the heart of her testimony, and that's just what he did. What Anne Carver said on direct examination was damaging, and Jess could sense that the over-all tide was favoring the other side. Of course, the jury had not yet heard Robin's cross-examination of Anne Carver, nor had Jess had a chance to put up her case. But still, the defense had to play all its cards perfectly in order to sway the jury, and Jess knew it. There was more riding on the cross-examination of Anne Carver than Jess wanted to admit, and although her confidence in Robin was solid, she wondered if she may have put too much pressure on the young associate.
After the lunch break, Judge Hancock called the afternoon session to order, and the bailiff led the jury back into the courtroom. The proceedings were now scheduled to start with the cross-examination of Anne Carver.
"Ready?" Jess gave Robin a confident smile.
Robin nodded with equal confidence. "You bet." After brief introductory formalities and a change in court reporters, Robin got to the main line of her questioning of Anne Carver. "Ms. Carver, you mentioned in your direct examination that you have fifteen years of experience in the field of accounting. Is that correct?"
"Yes." Anne Carver appeared quite sure of herself.
"Let me hand you Plaintiff's Exhibit 32, which is your resume. I see that it notes the names of the firms at which you have worked during the past fifteen years, correct?" Robin was laying the foundation for future questions.
"Okay. If you would, please read for the jury what you list on your resume as your educational background."
Anne Carver remained quite confident as she read for the jury her stated educational background. Jess watched the proceedings with keen interest. The jury, at this point, was mostly asleep, but Jess noticed opposing counsel suddenly straighten up in his chair at the last question.
Robin continued her cross-examination. "Now, Ms. Carver, you just stated that you graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland in 1981, is that correct?"
"Yes." Anne Carver's self-confidence never wavered.
"Are you sure that it was 1981?"
"Could it have been 1980 or 1982?"
"No, it was 1981." Anne Carver's voice became uncharacteristically defensive.
"And it was the University of Maryland?"
Jess watched as the members of the jury perked up and shifted in their chairs to pay closer attention. So far, Robin seemed to be making a good impression. She was not disrespectful to the witness, and she projected an air of honesty and wholesomeness that made her quite likeable, especially in the jury's eyes. You're doing great, Robin. Opposing counsel was nervously tapping his foot lightly on the tiled floor.
"I want to remind you that you are under oath here, today, Ms. Carver. Did you graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland?"
"Yes." Anne Carver remained poised.
"Ms. Carver, let me show you a document we received a few days ago. Your Honor, I'd like to offer this document as Defendant's Exhibit 15." Robin handed copies of the exhibit to the judge's trial clerk and to opposing counsel.
Opposing counsel immediately stood up. "Objection, Your Honor. This is the first we've seen of this document. It was not disclosed to us previously."
"Your Honor, Defendant offers the document for impeachment purposes." Robin explained.
Judge Hancock took the document from his trial clerk and reviewed it. "Overruled. You may proceed, Ms. Wilson."
Robin handed the document to the witness. "Would you please read for the jury what it says at the top of Defendant's Exhibit 15?"
Anne Carver looked nervously at Plaintiff's counsel then back to the document. "University of Maryland, Office of the Registrar."
"And what does it say just under that?"
"Certificate of Non-Attendance." The witness replied flatly.
"And is that your name and social security number reflected on that document?"
A moment's hesitation. "Yes."
"Does the document say that according to the University of Maryland, Registrar's Office, there is no record of your attendance or graduation from that school in 1981 or any other year?"
"Well, that's what it says." The witness attempted slight evasion.
"It says that, but that would be incorrect?" Robin queried.
"I don't know why it says that because I graduated from there. I have my degree."
Robin arched an eyebrow. "So are you saying that the Office of the Registrar is wrong, then?"
"They are wrong, because I certainly graduated from there. I'll have to check into why they don't have me listed as graduating."
Jess watched earnestly as opposing counsel hung his head. While it was true that he certainly had questions of his own regarding Anne Carver's background, he hadn't checked her credentials thoroughly, and it was possible that this was all just a huge mistake. Or she could be lying. Ethically, he couldn't let her perjure herself if he knew she was not being truthful. But still, he didn't know for sure, so he kept quiet. Jess also noticed that the jury was now on the edge of their seats as the testimony progressed. That's one way to wake up a jury. She smirked. Now, go in for the kill, Robin.
"Okay, Ms. Carver." Robin continued. "You also stated on your resume that you graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA in 1984. Is that correct?"
"Yes." The witness answered hesitantly.
"Once again, are you sure it was Harvard Business School?"
"Yes." The witness sensed that a trap had been set.
"Ms. Carver, let me show you another document we received a few days ago. Your Honor, I'd like to offer this document as Defendant's Exhibit 16." Robin handed copies of the exhibit to the judge's trial clerk and to opposing counsel in the same manner as she had done so before.
Opposing counsel slowly stood up and voiced his objection weakly. "Objection. This document, again, was not disclosed to us previously."
"Your Honor," Robin smiled disarmingly, "Defendant offers this document for impeachment purposes."
Judge Hancock, again, took the document in question from his trial clerk and reviewed it. "Overruled. You may continue, Ms. Wilson."
Robin handed the document to the witness. "As you did before, Ms. Carver, would you please read for the jury what it says at the top of that document?"
Anne Carver swallowed nervously and then read the document. "Harvard University Business School, Office of the Registrar."
"And what does it say just under that?"
The witness hesitated, then complied. "Certificate of Non-Attendance."
"And, once again, is that your name and social security number shown on that document?"
The witness sighed. "Yes."
"Does the document say that according to Harvard University Business School, Registrar's Office, there is no record of your attendance or graduation from that school in 1984 or any other year?"
"It says that."
"Would that be incorrect?" Robin queried.
The witness was boxed in. "Well, again, I certainly graduated from there, so I don't know why they have no record of it."
Robin offered a knowing smile. "Let me make sure I understand your testimony, Ms. Carver. You're saying that you graduated from the University of Maryland and from Harvard Business School, but both schools' registrar's offices have no record of your attendance or graduation, and you don't know why? Is that your testimony?"
"So, both schools' registrar's offices are wrong, and they both, coincidentally, made the same error. Is that your testimony?"
The junior partner was doing her best to hold back a beaming grin. The jury was visibly shaking their collective heads, and opposing counsel was furiously writing on his legal pad, no doubt trying to salvage his case. Now, put the icing on the cake, Robin.
The young associate made eye contact with Jess for a brief moment, then sought to drive the point home. "Alright, then, Ms. Carver. You have fifteen years of experience in accounting, as you've noted, once again, on your resume. Is that correct?"
"Yes, it is."
"Okay." Robin walked over and stood directly next to the jury box, forcing the witness to look into the jury's eyes. "Then, in your considered experience, Ms. Carver, if a person did not have an undergraduate degree or a master's degree in business administration or any related field, would such a person, in your experience, be qualified to render a bid on a project such as the one that is at issue in this lawsuit?"
"No." The witness answered firmly. "But I am qualified."
Robin shook her head. "No further questions, Your Honor." The young associate casually returned to the defendant's counsel table and was promptly greeted with a warm smile from Jess and a nod of approval from the client, Phil Jones. Judge Hancock took the opportunity to call a recess and let the jury take a short break before commencing with the defendant's case in chief. Immediately, Anne Carver was huddled over at Plaintiff's counsel table, an animated conversation obviously taking place.
The junior partner couldn't stop smirking. It was all turning out better than she could have hoped. The jury was now wide awake, and the entire plaintiff's case was in serious trouble. Jess was quite proud of Robin. This was Robin's first foray into courtroom litigation, and she had hit a home run. It confirmed what the junior partner had known all along. Her own instincts had been right, even from the beginning, on the decision to include Robin on her trial team. All Harry's questions and concerns not withstanding, Robin was just the person Jess needed on this case. Robin was smart, had great instincts of her own, and was a hard worker. She also got along well with Jess, which was no small thing, and she projected a wholesome and honest image, which was something the lawyering profession seriously lacked. The junior partner grinned. Things were definitely starting to look up.
The remainder of the afternoon proceeded with the presentation of the defendant's case in chief, and all throughout the day, Jess had an uncharacteristic glint in her eyes. Robin knew she'd done a good job with Anne Carver, a fact which was confirmed when during the last break of the day, Jess passed a note to the young associate which simply stated:
'Good job today, kiddo. You've earned a reward.'
Robin looked away and promptly blushed.
It was late in the evening when Jess had finished her last bit of preparation for the following day's witnesses and eventual closing arguments. She was tired, dead tired, but all in all, it had been an overwhelmingly productive day. Robin did great. She smiled briefly at the thought and turned off her computer, packing her briefcase before heading home. She was just about to leave when she heard a small and unexpected knock at the door. Robin peeked in, then slipped inside the office.
"You're still here." Robin smiled and closed the door behind her.
Jess eyed Robin suspiciously. "I thought you left hours ago."
"Nope, I was sifting through my in-box and e-mails. They really do seem to accumulate." Robin chuckled lightly to herself. "Are you leaving now?"
"Just packing up." Jess walked over to where Robin stood, warm blue eyes regarding the smaller woman fondly. "I am so proud of you. Have I told you that?"
Robin blushed and then grinned widely. "I think you might have mentioned that a time or two today. Thanks." A mischievous blonde eyebrow shot up. "So, as I recall, you promised me a reward for my good job. Care to fill me in on what it might be?"
A dark eyebrow arched in response. She wants to play. "Here's the deal, kiddo. You tell me what I win under your point system, and I'll tell you what your reward is." Jess figured she might as well try to finagle Robin into telling her what her point prize was going to be.
The young associate tapped a petite finger lightly against her chin in thought, then shook her head decisively. "No deal."
"No?" The junior partner feigned an exaggerated hurt expression. "How come?"
"Well, the way I see it, I've already earned my reward, and you're still working on your point totals. It's only fair that should I receive my reward now, while you will just simply have to wait." Robin playfully tugged at the cuff of Jess's suit sleeve. "You thought I'd cave in and tell you, didn't you?" She smirked.
"Well, you can't blame me for trying." Jess offered a sheepish grin, and then stepped a bit closer to Robin, locking clear blue eyes onto green. "Are you sure there's nothing I can do to persuade you to tell me?"
Robin's breathing quickened a bit. "Nope. Nothing."
"Okay, then." The junior partner turned nonchalantly and grabbed her briefcase, walking purposefully over toward the door.
"Hey, not so fast." Robin raced up to her. "You can't leave yet."
"Why not?" Jess teased.
"Because I was promised a reward and I intend to collect it." Amused green eyes danced merrily.
She is so damn cute. Jess was simply helpless to resist the game. She abruptly set her briefcase down, and in one fluid motion, gently spun Robin around against the closed solid wood door. She pressed herself against the younger woman and whispered softly into a petite ear. "We're not in the appropriate setting, Robin, but I'll give you a little hint of what I had in mind." With that, Jess nibbled the small earlobe and then proceeded to nip her way down the petite jaw line, finally placing several soft, lingering kisses on Robin's sweet lips. Jess broke away, smiling blue eyes meeting dazed sea green. "Hold that thought." She winked.
Robin swallowed several times. "Uh ..yeah. I mean, I will." How is it possible that she can make me feel this way?
"Good. Now, let's go. We've got another long day ahead of us tomorrow." Jess opened the door and strode out toward the elevators without so much as a backward glance.
The young associate lagged behind for a moment, then scurried off after the junior partner. I might have to rethink my decision. She can definitely be quite persuasive.
A cold front blew in just in time for the wrap up of the trial activities. The sights and sounds of the holiday season infused the air, and now with the colder weather upon the city, it really seemed to feel as if Christmas was near. Robin found herself actually missing the snow and the festive winter atmosphere she had become accustomed to up North. Florida, it seemed, was somehow quite lacking in the winter department. The trial had continued on for the remainder of the week, with the defense team putting on its case, and Jess, in Robin's opinion, doing an absolutely brilliant job. And so, as the trial approached its conclusion, Robin found herself sitting at counsel table Friday morning waiting rather impatiently for closing arguments to begin. She let her mind wander briefly, quietly musing about the upcoming holidays. Christmas. Parents. Christmas and parents. Here. Robin frowned visibly. This is not good. She never understood why everything always seemed to be so complicated.
Twirling her pen lightly, Robin's mind drifted to the junior partner sitting next to her. She had really wanted to spend Christmas with Jess. They hadn't discussed it, with the trial taking precedence over almost everything else during the past couple of weeks, and for all Robin knew, Jess was planning to go to her mother's for Christmas. But now, with Robin's parents visiting, it was all but certain that she and Jess were just not going to be able to spend Christmas together this year. And that really sucked. She frowned visibly again. That really big time sucked. She pondered the situation a bit more. Perhaps she and Jess could spend some time with each other after Christmas, and then maybe celebrate New Year's together. Robin considered that thought for a moment, her disposition lightening up just a bit. That could work.
Her mind, quite on its own and almost on instinct, led her tangentially in a different direction. So, what to get Jess for Christmas. Robin considered the matter. What do you get someone who has everything? The fact was, she didn't just want to get Jess any old thing. She wanted whatever she picked out to be special, and meaningful, and ..what? And significant. Robin mulled that thought over. Significant, how? Her concentrated musings were abruptly interrupted by Judge Hancock entering the courtroom, followed by the jury, and the bailiff announcing the commencement of the day's court proceedings. She reluctantly decided to leave her Christmas deliberations for another time.
Within moments, the proceedings were underway and closing arguments began, with each side giving its summary of the case and the evidence presented during the week-long trial. The jury, to its credit, sat and listened attentively as the attorneys for each side spoke and made their points. Robin watched closely as Jess summed up the testimony and the key points made in favor of the defendant by each witness. Jess made particular reference to Anne Carver's lack of credibility, and Robin felt a curious quiet pride fill her as Jess spoke. Jess was good, there was no denying that, and Robin recalled Harry's assessment of Jess's litigation skills when he had first assigned Robin to work with her that mid-October day. "It's really something to see her in action." Robin recalled his words exactly. Yes, it most definitely is something seeing her in action. The young associate openly admired Jess's technique of drawing the jury into the defendant's point of view, taking note in particular of Jess's stance and the body language she projected to the jury as she made her final argument. The quiet intensity in the tone of her voice absolutely captivated the audience. She's amazing.
Time passed quickly, and closing arguments for both parties concluded right before the lunch hour. Judge Hancock proceeded to immediately read to the jury their jury instructions, charging them on their task in their deliberations on the verdict. Once the jury instructions were completed, everyone rose as the judge and the jury exited the courtroom for the midday recess.
Jess blew out a long breath and threw her legal pad in her briefcase. "Okay. Now, we wait. Let's go on back to the office for lunch."
Robin packed up the exhibit books and files and then gathered her briefcase and laptop. "I'll arrange for someone to come and pick up all the exhibits later." She followed Jess and Phil out of the courtroom, and all three of them headed back toward the office. As they walked down the long tiled corridor, Robin gave Jess a gentle squeeze on the arm. "You were great."
The junior partner glanced quietly at Robin. "Thanks. We'll see."
When they arrived back at the Roberts & McDaniel office suite, Jess escorted Phil into the main conference room where lunch was ready and waiting for them. "So, what do you think?" Phil asked as they entered through the conference room double doors.
"It's always hard to tell with juries." The junior partner sat down, eyeing the selection of sandwiches that had been brought in, and finally deciding on ham and Swiss cheese on rye.
After a few moments, Robin entered the conference room, having secured a paralegal to pick up the trial materials at the courthouse later that afternoon. The young associate selected a turkey on whole wheat sandwich and listened intently as the conversation between Phil and Jess progressed.
"I think we've got a good shot, Phil." Jess took a bite of her sandwich, not really tasting it. "One thing to consider. If the jury's out for a long time, it probably goes against us. That generally means they've decided in favor of the plaintiff and are spending a lot of time figuring out the money damages. We obviously don't want that."
Phil selected his own sandwich and nodded. "Right. Let's hope for a quick verdict after lunch, then." He poured himself a soda. "Jessica, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you and Robin for the great job the two of you have done, whatever the outcome is for us. I know how diligently and hard you both worked to put this case together under sometimes quite difficult circumstances. I'll be speaking with Harry soon, and I'll be sure to let him know what a terrific team he has in you two." He nodded appreciatively and then turned to face Robin. "And you, young lady, did an especially outstanding job with Anne Carver. Harry, might just have to watch out that some other law firm around town doesn't snatch you away from here." He grinned. "Thank you both for your hard work. RSJ Industries appreciates the extraordinary effort."
Jess gracefully accepted the compliment. "It's our pleasure, Phil." Blue eyes tracked over to where Robin sat quietly eating her lunch and taking everything in. The young associate looked up and silently met Jess's gaze. "I certainly wouldn't have been able to do nearly as well without Robin, here." Jess smiled warmly, a blue eye slyly winking in Robin's direction as Phil was apparently too busy eating his sandwich to take notice. "Let's just hope for the best this afternoon."
And so, for several hours that Friday afternoon, they waited. And then they waited some more. It was now becoming quite late in the day, with still no word from the jury. Jess, at first, took everything in stride, but then couldn't help but become increasingly worried that things were just taking far too long for comfort. As the afternoon crawled interminably on, she finally became resigned to the fate that the jury had probably just flat out decided against them. It was all but evident now. The jury was talking about the money, and the question was, just how much money were they going to award the plaintiff? Damn. And she'd had such a good feeling about this one, too. A moment later, Jess's secretary, Angie, stepped inside the junior partner's office.
"What is it, Angie?" Jess fidgeted slightly, her hands playing with the glass paperweight that usually sat on her desk.
"Judge Hancock's office called. The jury's back and he wants everyone over in his courtroom in thirty minutes." Angie waited for Jess's reply.
An audible sigh. Here we go. "Alright. Would you go over to the conference room and ask Robin and Phil to meet me at the elevators in five minutes?" Angie nodded and then left the office. Jess stood up and took a deep cleansing breath, mentally bracing herself for the expected loss. She shook away her worries, put on her suit jacket, and gathered her briefcase. She took a step forward, and then paused uneasily as an errant thought crossed her mind. I'd hate it if we lost Robin's first case. And then she promptly chastised herself for her momentary lapse. Winning or losing a case is not personal, Jess. Don't make it such. She shook her head in rebuke at her own foolishness. But still ..
The junior partner strode out the office door and onward toward the elevators, her demeanor reflecting an air of confidence she absolutely did not possess. She met up with Robin and Phil waiting nearby.
"Ready?" Jess gave a confident smile.
Phil grinned. "Ready. Let's go."
The three of them headed for the county courthouse located about two blocks away from the office building. It was a rather pleasant walk down the main avenue. The cloudless blue sky and cool winter air served to invigorate the weary trial team as they walked briskly toward the newly built and extremely modern looking tall courthouse building. The city had placed festive holiday decorations all along the main avenue, the colored garland glittering in the late afternoon sunlight, and the strings of lights swaying gently in the winter's breeze. It was apparent that the evening would bring colder air across the local area, and it now seemed that it might be a bit easier for everyone in town to get into the holiday spirit.
Once inside the massive courthouse structure, the trial team slid easily through the metal detectors and took the elevator up to Judge Hancock's courtroom. Plaintiff's counsel was already in place when the defense team arrived, and all parties took their seats and waited with veiled nervousness for the arrival of the jury.
Robin tapped Jess's hand lightly as they sat at the defendant's counsel table. "You did a good job." She whispered and smiled warmly. "Even if the jury doesn't see it our way."
Jess nodded, careful not to let her doubts show. "Thanks."
A moment later, Judge Hancock entered the courtroom, and the bailiff proceeded to lead the jury into the room and over to the jury box. Robin noted that not one member of the jury looked over at either counsel table. Is that good, or bad? As soon as everyone was situated, Judge Hancock fumbled for a moment before putting on his wire rimmed glasses, and then directed his attention toward the jury foreman.
"Mr. Foreman, has the jury reached a verdict?"
The jury foreman rose from his chair. "We have, Your Honor."
The bailiff retrieved the jury verdict form from the foreman and handed it to the judge for his review. Judge Hancock read the verdict silently to himself, then handed the paper back to the bailiff to return to the jury foreman.
Judge Hancock proceeded. "On Count One of the plaintiff's complaint, what says the jury?"
The foreman's voice echoed slightly in the large, vaulted ceiling courtroom as he read from the verdict form. "We, the jury in this cause, find for the Defendant on Count One of the complaint."
A collective sigh came from the defendant's table, while a muffled groan emanated from the opposite side of the room.
"Alright." Judge Hancock continued. "On the last count, Count Two of the plaintiff's complaint, Mr. Foreman, what says the jury?"
The jury foreman again read the verdict form in similar fashion. "We, the jury in this cause, find for the Defendant on Count Two of the complaint."
Wide smiles combined with relief greeted each other at the defendant's table. Defeat and distress was evident on the plaintiff's side of the room. Judge Hancock quickly thanked the jury members for their time and effort, and without further ado, gaveled the trial proceedings to a close.
Robin turned around and spoke briefly with Phil, as he again thanked her for all the hard work she and Jess had put into the case. The young associate glanced across the courtroom and spied Jess engaged in an intense conversation with one of the jury members. Isn't that juror number five?
The courtroom emptied out quickly, and one of the paralegals from the firm arrived in time to collect all the trial exhibits and case files and return them to the office. Robin waited patiently as Jess continued her discussion with juror number five, while Phil exited out into the hallway to call his office and inform them of the trial's successful outcome.
Jess ended her conversation and walked back over to where Robin was standing. "Where's Phil?"
"Out in the hall talking to his office. What was that all about?" Robin gestured toward the area where Jess and juror number five had stood moments ago.
"Oh, I was just talking to him about why it took them so long to reach the verdict." The junior partner chuckled lightly. "You'll never guess, but it seems our juror number three was the only hold out. He apparently wanted to give the plaintiff some money."
"Ah, the shifty-eyed one." Robin smirked.
"Right. Juror number five said that he and juror number three mixed it up a bit, and they almost came to blows a couple of times. Since it's Friday afternoon, the other jurors were finally able to convince juror number three that the plaintiff had not met its burden of proof, and he eventually ended up agreeing with everyone else to find in our favor."
Robin shook her head in amazement. "I knew we had to watch out for that guy."
"You had him pegged. From now on, I dub you the official juror watcher." Jess grinned and then shook her head in amazement. "It just goes to show you that you never can tell with juries." She lowered her voice. "I'm almost embarrassed to say that when we came in here, I was sure we had lost the case."
Robin's eyes grew wide. "Really. You hid it well." She furrowed her light brows. "But it looked to me like you had the jury pretty well convinced." The blonde head nodded in affirmation. "I knew you did a good job."
"Correction." Jess strode with Robin out through the courtroom's double doors and into the mostly empty corridor. "We did a good job. Don't leave yourself out of this." She scanned the hallway looking for Phil. "Now let's collect Phil and get back to the office so we can brag a little bit." She twitched a dark eyebrow teasingly. "I love to brag."
The busy week had finally concluded, and by everyone's assessment, it had been a resounding success. Phil Jones was quite pleased with the trial's results and the success, in particular, of the trial team. He made sure Harry Roberts and Gordon McDaniel knew how delighted he was with the firm's work on the case. After meeting with Harry and Gordon, Phil caught a late flight back home to New Orleans. Robin left the office shortly thereafter, mentioning something about taking care of some small errands. Jess lingered about the office awhile longer, chatting amicably with Harry about the week's trial events. She made sure to acknowledge the contributions that Robin made to the trial's favorable outcome, and Harry seemed quite pleased with the results. Finally, after almost everyone else had gone home for the weekend, Jess let herself unwind from the adrenaline rush of the day, and headed herself wearily out the office door.
She drove her silver Mercedes homeward through the city streets, the blinking of the Christmas lights on the passing lamp posts serving as a constant reminder of the holiday season. She hadn't let her mind think at all about the upcoming holidays, preferring instead to dwell on trial preparations, rather than on things that contained a fair degree of uncertainty. Now, however, as she made her way silently home, her mind absently turned to those uncertain matters.
Christmas. Robin's parents were coming down to visit. That meant, obviously, that Jess and Robin wouldn't be able to be with each other on Christmas day or even Christmas Eve. Robin would be with her family, and that was really a good thing, but Jess was more than a little bit disappointed at the unfairness of it all. Damn. She and Robin should be spending Christmas together, Jess reasoned, feeling a bit of self-pity in the process. Jess had idly entertained the notion of bringing Robin with her to Tampa to visit her mother, either at Christmas or some other time. Mom would like her. She smiled at the thought. But shit. Christmas is definitely out. She frowned unhappily, then considered other options. Perhaps they could both plan a trip to Tampa around New Year's. That would be good, wouldn't it? Face it, Jess. You want to bring her home to meet your mother. It was a quaint notion, to be sure, but it also seemed to be quite important at the moment. Would mom understand about us? Should I even tell her?
Jess stopped at a red light and turned on the radio, festive Christmas carols interspersing between the regular light rock music selections, all of which served to distract the junior partner momentarily from her train of thought. As the light turned green, she resumed her silent contemplation. The fact was, Robin hadn't mentioned Christmas. As far as Jess could tell, Robin was planning on spending all of her time with her parents. An uncomfortable and bothersome thought crossed Jess's mind. As much as Jess wanted Robin to meet her mother, Robin may not want Jess to meet her parents. The two of them were keeping things quiet between them, and it would stand to reason that Robin wouldn't want to advertise or acknowledge their relationship, even in a casual manner. And the more Jess considered that possibility, the more it bothered her. She shook her head, chastising herself for her own foolish thoughts. Why such a long face, Jess? You know you're not exactly what her daddy had in mind for his little girl.
Jess proceeded onward toward home, her disposition a little sullen, notwithstanding the big trial win and despite the otherwise festive nature of the holiday season itself. She arrived at her house and pulled the silver Mercedes into the two-car garage, her preoccupied mind completely unaware of the blue Miata parked neatly at the curb. She stepped out of the car and walked over to the door, turning off the house alarm. Proceeding through the doorway and into the house, she stopped abruptly as she glanced ahead and took in the sight before her.
Flickering candles adorned the dining room table set elegantly for two. More candles glowed from the living room, their soft light casting a soothing warmth throughout the space, while a fire danced its way in harmony within the brick fireplace. Soft jazz music filtered from the stereo in the far corner etagere, and a decidedly enticing aroma emanated from the direction of the large kitchen. The ambience was, in a word, enchanting.
Robin leaned casually against the kitchen entryway, green eyes watching with undisguised interest as Jess first walked inside the house and then absorbed the intimate setting. The younger woman was dressed in a pale blue cashmere sweater with navy blue twill pants, and she stood motionless against the wall patiently waiting for Jess to finally look over and meet her quiet gaze.
The junior partner set her briefcase down, and then glanced around the room once again before slowly tracking azure eyes to formally greet sea green. In the soft glow of the candlelight, Jess was openly mesmerized as her focus locked onto the petite form leaning quietly against the far wall. She looks good. The dark haired woman slowly walked over to where Robin stood, her gaze never leaving the petite form as she silently approached. Her pace quickened somewhat, finally closing the distance between them as she rushed into the waiting embrace.
"Hi." Jess kissed Robin softly. "What did you do?"
Robin smiled. "It's just a little celebration dinner for us. I thought you might like a quiet evening together." Green eyes met blue. "It's been so long, you know."
"I know. It smells wonderful. What is it?" Jess poked her nose inside the kitchen and sniffed.
"Someone's favorite seafood with a little stuffed crab."
"I'm starving." Jess felt her resolve crumbling. Although she was very tired, her senses were now on collective overload, and had been ever since she walked through the door moments ago. Combined with the lingering adrenaline from the week-long trial, the entire scene left her simply unable to think about anything except Robin. She placed her hands on the wall on either side of Robin's head and leaned down to kiss the soft lips again. "I'm starving."
Robin smiled. "You already said that. Besides, isn't that's my line?" She patted Jess's stomach lightly. "Why don't you go and change into something casual, or take a quick shower if you want. Dinner won't be ready for about another thirty minutes."
"I suppose I could do that." Jess nodded. "But don't start without me." She winked and then proceeded down the long hallway toward the master bedroom.
Twenty minutes later, Jess returned to the living room, freshly showered and wearing dark beige twill pants with a light yellow brushed cotton button down shirt. She watched with interest as Robin entered the living room from the kitchen bearing two glasses of chilled sparkling wine.
"You got champagne?" A dark eyebrow arched in question.
Robin grinned. "Of course." She handed a glass to Jess. "You can't have a celebration without a little champagne." She raised her own glass slightly in toast. "Congratulations, counselor, on a terrific win."
Jess clinked her glass against Robin's. "Congratulations, yourself, counselor. You had a very important hand in our win today." Blue eyes held a tender warmth. "I am so very proud of you."
"Thanks." Green eyes danced. "To us, then."
"To us." Jess took a sip. "We make a great team, don't we?"
"The best." Robin took several sips of her champagne. "Are you ready to eat, now?"
"Yep. I'm starving."
Robin grinned. "There you go with my line, again. Come on. Dinner's ready." She stood up and led Jess toward the dining room.
I could definitely get used to this. And her daddy doesn't get a vote.
"What are you thinking about?" Jess slid down lengthwise on the plush sofa, pulling Robin along with her. Dinner had been wonderful, and quite romantic. But now, both Robin and Jess were very full. And very, very tired. The fire crackled in the fireplace, and there was very little light in the room, save for the flickering flames of the fire's glow and the few small candles situated on the corner end tables.
Robin nestled herself alongside the inside portion of the sofa and propped her head up lazily on one hand. "I can't believe how happy I am right now. I can't believe how happy you make me feel." She traced a dark eyebrow. "Sometimes, I think it can't be real, that I can't possibly feel the way I do about you. I don't know if you know what I mean."
"Tell me." Jess shifted almost on her side to better listen to what Robin was saying.
"It's a little embarrassing to talk about."
"It's just me." The larger hand stroked the side of Robin's cheek and then remained there briefly. "Don't be embarrassed. There's nothing, absolutely nothing, that could ever change the way I feel about you."
Robin breathed a heavy sigh. This was obviously something that had been on her mind for some time. "I ..I know we joke around, and tease one another and all, but I've never actually felt these ..things for a woman before." Robin was very shy as she spoke. "I've never wanted to ..um ..touch a woman before, and I guess I'm a little bit nervous about that."
"Do you want to touch me, Robin?"
Robin's breathing quickened, the question all at once taking her by surprise. She swallowed with considered difficulty, and then nodded her head mutely.
Jess reached out and took a petite hand into her own, bringing the palm slowly to her lips, and kissed it lightly. She then, in deliberate fashion, brought the same hand down to rest on the swell of her breast, and covered the smaller hand with her own. "Touch me, Robin," she whispered.
Oh God. Robin moved her hand tentatively back and forth over the cotton fabric of Jess's shirt, feeling each and every soft curve as she did so, her gaze never leaving Jess's face the entire length of time.
"How's that?" Jess could barely breathe. "Is that okay for you?"
Robin nodded. "Yes. You?" Robin continued the motion.
"Good." Jess closed her eyes and felt her breath catch. "I have to tell you a secret." She swallowed. "I think I'm more nervous than you are."
In response, Robin took one of Jess's larger hands and brought it up to the front her own sweater, resting it lightly against her chest. "You can touch me, too, Jess." Before she had time to think, she heard herself gasp as she felt Jess's hand brush her breast through the soft fabric of her sweater, almost whimpering at the gentle exploration.
"You feel good." Jess hand continued its journey. "Are you still doing okay?"
Robin nodded, unable to speak coherently.
"Do you want to stop?"
"No." Robin finally managed, and then resumed her own gentle explorations.
They began kissing and exploring each other fully clothed, hands seemingly everywhere, and the intensity escalating at a strikingly rapid rate. Jess placed her fingers underneath the edge of Robin's sweater to lightly stroke the bare stomach, and Robin moved her way down and kissed the soft flesh at the base of Jess's neck, heading decidedly southward. Jess suddenly pulled back, her mind screaming in silent warning. Slow down, Jess. Slow down. She took a second to catch her breath, willing her heart rate to slow its pace, and then tenderly stroked the blonde head in front of her. "Um ..let's not rush this, sweetheart, okay?"
Robin buried her face in Jess's shoulder. "I'm sorry."
That startled Jess. Sorry? "Honey, what are you sorry about?" Are you sorry we went that far?
Robin winced. "I don't know what I'm doing, and I pushed you. I didn't mean to .."
"Shhh." Jess hugged Robin tightly then looked directly into sea green eyes. "You did not push me." She smiled fondly. "The fact is, I want to be with you more than anything, in every way imaginable." She became somewhat serious. "I know, Robin, that these physical feelings we have for each other are new for both of us, and I don't want to ..I wouldn't want to ..I just ..oh, hell." Jess was curiously having a hard time saying what she really wanted to say, so she finally just blurted it out. "I want our first time to be special."
Robin turned her head and looked up, studying the angular features of Jess's face for several moments in the shadow of the firelight. She noted the smooth planes and fine lines barely visible in the dim light, the striking beauty almost causing Robin to lose what little composure she still had remaining. Finally, she rested her blonde head back down on the broad cotton covered shoulder, breathing deeply Jess's familiar scent. "I love you so much, Jess. I want our first time to be special, too. I admit that I'm scared ..not of you, but of me. I'm afraid I won't know the right things ..but yet, I want to be with you so much. I know that doesn't make sense."
Jess noticed the slight tightening of the fine muscles in Robin's jaw as she spoke, and she thought she should try to offer some reassurance to the younger woman. "It makes perfect sense to me. Let me say this again for you, so you'll know I really mean it." She spoke tenderly, but sincerely. "If all we ever do is hold each other, it will be enough. There is no pressure. Whatever we do or don't do doesn't matter, as long as we're together." She kissed Robin's light eyebrows, then grinned broadly. "But let me assure you, Robin, that you were most definitely doing all the right things."
A green eye peered up. "I was?"
"Yep. That's one reason I wanted to slow down. You were making me crazy." Jess grinned.
"Yep. And you could have had your way with me."
Robin giggled. "Really?"
"Yep. And I would have been absolutely helpless to resist your charms."
Robin giggled again, now feeling more at ease, and then pursed her lips in thought. "Well, then, it's a good thing that we stopped when we did. You were having the exact same effect on me."
"I see." Jess considered that statement for a moment, and its implications. "So, I guess we could say that we're both ready?"
The blonde head nodded. "I think we could say that."
Jess traced a long finger over a petite shoulder blade, an idea forming in her mind. "What are your plans this weekend?"
"Um ..well, I was planning to sleep in tomorrow and catch up from the long week, since we had to work late every night. My boss is a slave-driver, you know." As if on cue, an involuntary yawn escaped Robin's mouth. "Sorry. I guess I'm more tired than I thought."
Jess thought it was rather cute. "We'll discuss your so-called slaver-driver boss another time." She kissed the top of the blonde head. "So, after you're finished sleeping in tomorrow, did you have any other plans?"
The smaller woman lifted herself up on one arm. "I had planned to spend the weekend with you, unless you need to do something."
"What about your Sunday chores?"
"They could wait." Robin shook her head, slightly bewildered. "You are definitely a bad influence on me. I seem to be putting things off." She grinned "Pretty soon, I'll be just as bad as you are when it comes to grocery shopping."
Jess gave her a crooked smile. "There are worse things, Robin." She playfully brought her index finger up to touch the tip of Robin's nose.
"You are so absolutely hopeless." Robin grasped the offending finger and kissed it. "And I absolutely adore you."
In an odd sort of way, that was one of the nicest things anyone had ever said to Jess. "Well, if you can tear yourself away from your chores, would you perhaps be interested in taking a road trip with me?"
"Road trip?" Robin was intrigued.
"Yep. I was thinking that maybe we could go up to St. Augustine tomorrow, and come back Sunday?"
"What's in St. Augustine?" Robin hadn't heard of the place.
Jess stroked her fingers through the blonde hair. "Well, it's about three hours away on the coast, and it's the oldest city in the United States. They have quite a few historical places, and a fort, and they decorate the city up for the holidays. It's very quaint, and they have some very nice bed and breakfast places to stay." She hesitated briefly, then softened her voice. "We could have a special weekend."
Green eyes locked on blue for a moment, absorbing their intent. A special weekend. "Yes."
"Yes, I want to go to St. Augustine and have a special weekend with you." Robin said it and she meant it.
"Okay." The older woman grinned. "But this time, I'm driving." She held up a finger in warning. "No arguments."
Robin laid her head back down, resting it in the crook of Jess's neck. "Fine. No arguments." A beat. "But I'm bringing Al."
What? Who's ..? Dark eyebrows furrowed. Oh. "Why? Do you think we'll need him?"
"Well, not necessarily for luck." Robin let her fingers travel to the top button of Jess's shirt, plucking at it lightly. "But it'll be your turn to try to find him."
Jess thought for a moment and then swallowed. Oh.
"And then when you do find him, I believe you'll have enough points to claim your prize."
Jess swallowed again, now audibly. Oh.
"And, of course, I'll expect to collect my trial reward at the same time."
Oh boy. "I see." Jess grasped the still plucking fingers. "You have yourself a deal, Robin."
"Yes One trial reward in exchange for one point prize. Have I understood you correctly?"
"Yes." Robin grinned against Jess's neck. I can't wait.
"Good." Jess felt the velvety soft lips smile against her skin. I can't wait.
© Copyright 10/01/2000
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