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 kmmoon@prodigy.net.




Written by KM

Part 9


The seasonably cool weather had finally come to Central Florida to stay. Saturday was a picture perfect day, with a clear, cloudless blue sky and crisp winter air. The sun shone brightly, making its way steadily up the morning horizon, while flocks of black birds heading further south for the winter flew in formation from treetop to treetop, occasionally setting perch on an intervening power line. Jess and Robin rose a bit earlier than either had planned, and quickly readied themselves for the overnight trip to St. Augustine. Jess telephoned several bed and breakfast establishments in the St. Augustine area, finally securing reservations for Saturday evening at a quaint little inn that had an unexpected last minute cancellation. St. Augustine at this particular time of year was known to be a popular tourist destination, with the availability of accommodations somewhat scarce, especially on such short notice. But it appeared that fate was shining on the two attorneys that day, and everything just seemed to fall right into place.

Robin stopped over at her apartment to pick up some extra clothing and to check the answering machine for messages. As she gathered her things together, she listened as the last message played, her mother's voice filling the room with plans for their visit to Florida in just over a week's time. It was not something Robin especially wanted to think about at the current moment, preferring instead to focus her attention on the weekend at hand. There would certainly be ample time to dwell on all various and sundry things regarding her out-of-town visitors when she returned from St. Augustine. Robin finished packing and made a mental note to give her mother a call early the next week to further discuss her parents' travel plans. Until then, however, she just wanted to enjoy her time with Jess without any distracting or complicating thoughts. Vowing to do just that, she grabbed her duffel bag, locked up her apartment, and headed down to the front steps to wait for Jess.

The silver Mercedes pulled into the parking lot a few moments later, and Robin bounded down the steps at first sight, ready to greet the driver. She tossed her duffel bag into the back seat and slipped inside the car.

"Hi." Robin buckled her seatbelt.

"Hi. Got everything?" Jess began to pull out of the apartment complex, careful to dodge the incoming postman who was on his way to deliver the day's mail.

Robin grimaced. "Whoops, I forgot to check my mail. I've probably got a ton of bills piled up from the past few days. Could you pull around to the mailboxes for a minute?"

Jess complied and waited as Robin retrieved her mail. "Did you get anything good?" The older woman pulled the car out onto the main highway.

Robin thumbed through the stack of envelopes. "Just bills and some junk mail, and a few Christmas cards. Nothing….." She stopped abruptly and became very quiet.

"Robin?" Jess looked over to see Robin silently staring at an envelope, a stunned expression crossing her fair features.. "Hey. Is everything okay?"

The silence, however, continued.


Still more silence.

Something's wrong. Jess immediately pulled the car over onto a side street and parked at a nearby curb. "Honey, what is it?" Jess was confused and a bit concerned.

Robin hadn't opened the envelope, but rather continued to hold it lightly in her hands. She finally looked up and answered Jess's question in a quiet and barely composed voice. "I think this is a Christmas card." She fingered the return address. "From his parents."

His parents. Jess closed her eyes, the grimace she most surely felt nearly making its way clear across her face. Somehow, she managed to keep her expression neutral, having absolutely no idea how she was able to pull off that little feat. Well doesn't that all just suck to hell. She was careful not to betray any one of the myriad of emotions taking hold of her at that particular moment, ranging from irrational jealously to resentment to anger, as she sat perfectly still in her seat contemplating her predicament. One thing was certain. She absolutely did not need this. Not this weekend. Not ever. Damn.. Why did I let her put off that call to Dr. Richmond? Jess took a deep breath and tried to gain some semblance of control over her spiraling emotions. She finally succeeded in her quest, and divested herself of her own selfish thoughts, focusing her attention to where it should have been all along…..back to Robin. "Um…..would you like a moment to yourself to open it?" Jess really didn't know what to say.

"I wasn't expecting this. It sort of came out of the blue." Robin still made no move to open the envelope. "Maybe I should leave it for later."

Jess reached over and covered Robin's hand. "If you wait to open it, you'll be thinking about it. Are you sure you want to do that?"

Robin looked into concerned blue eyes, knowing that Jess was probably right. She watched as the dark haired woman opened the car door and stepped outside, allowing her a bit more privacy. Robin gingerly opened the envelope and pulled out the Christmas card, reading the religious holiday message inscribed on the front. Loose inside was a separate letter, which fluttered out as she opened the card wide. She picked up the engraved stationery and read the letter to herself, fighting the increasingly insistent tears that threatened to escape as she did so. The letter spoke of the holidays and wished her well. That was all very nice, but then the letter also went on to explain what David's parents had done with the ring. The ring. They had donated it to a local children's home, which in turn had sold it and used the proceeds to buy the children new clothes, a new group television, some Christmas gifts, and books for the children's library. The letter also made a point of noting that the books all carried a special inscription acknowledging the donors as David Mitchell and Robin Wilson. It was upon reading this last part that Robin lost whatever tenuous composure she had remaining, and just simply let the tears fall unhindered.

Jess walked alongside the desolate street. She was far enough away to afford Robin her privacy but yet close enough to see that Robin was becoming upset. Everything inside the older woman told her to go back to the car and comfort Robin, but a part of her still demanded that she stay put and not intrude on the private matter. Let her deal with this her own way. She stood by helplessly and looked down the length of road between herself and the Mercedes, watching the now quietly weeping form in the front seat. Let her deal with it her own way. She stared uncomfortably at her feet, and then looked back down the street and through the windshield of the silver car, sensing and almost feeling the building distress. Let her deal with it. And even as her mind kept saying it over and over again, Jess's feet rapidly picked up beneath her, entirely of their own accord. She ran at lightening pace toward the parked car, gaining unstoppable momentum until she finally closed the distance. She quickly opened the passenger door and gathered the smaller woman into a strong and comforting embrace.

"Shhh, honey. It's alright." Jess soothed. "I've got you, sweetheart."

Robin's tears slowed and then stopped. It was strange, but not really so, that the comfort of Jess's embrace would ease her sorrow. The younger woman pulled back, slightly embarrassed at the display of her own uncontrolled emotion. "I'm sorry."

A large hand brushed through the golden bangs. "No. Don't be." Jess kissed Robin's forehead. "Anytime you need to let it out, it's okay. You can't hold it inside."

Robin offered a timid smile. "Thank you for understanding."

"Are you alright now, or would you like to go back home?"

Home? Robin grasped Jess's fingers. "When I'm with you, Jess, I am home. I want to go with you, like we planned." She suddenly had an uneasy thought. Does she think I'm still not over him? "Unless…..you don't want to go anymore."

"I just….." Jess wasn't sure what to say.

"Go around and get back in the car, okay? I want to show you something."

Jess was a bit confused but complied, getting into the car and settling herself snuggly into the driver's seat. "Robin, you don't have to….."

"I want to." Robin handed her the letter from the Mitchells. "I would like it if you read this." Green eyes implored. "Please, Jess, will you read it?"

The dark head nodded reluctantly. "Alright." Several silent moments elapsed, as Jess first took the letter from Robin, and then quietly read its contents. Once she was finished, she understood what had touched Robin's heart so deeply, although she didn't dare speak openly to Robin about something that was obviously so personal.

Reserved green eyes met compassionate azure, and Robin suddenly felt a need to explain why she had become so emotional. "It's good to know something good came from everything. I feel better, almost like a heavy weight's been lifted from me. I can breathe again. I suddenly felt such relief." Robin sighed and then lowered her gaze to her fingertips. "But I'll understand if you don't want to be with me right now."

Jess was quiet for a very long moment, considering how to best respond. She definitely wanted to be with Robin this weekend, but at the same time, she didn't want to intrude on what was an extremely personal matter. She surmised that Robin was really asking for some reassurance, something to indicate that Jess wasn't going to up and run away every time David's name was mentioned. Jess thought about that some more. It was true that the thought of David made her crazy, on many, many levels. And she'd never even met the guy. But Robin needed to know that Jess accepted the burden Robin carried as if it were her own. For better or for worse. Finally deciding on the appropriate course of action, Jess looked over and gave Robin the sweetest crooked grin. "Robin, there is absolutely no way you can possibly get rid of me. I'm like crazy glue."

Green eyes blinked, a bit confused. "You're like what?"

"Crazy glue." Jess started the car again and fastened her seat belt. "You're stuck with me."

"I'm stuck with you?"

"Yes. And I'm very, very sticky." The silver Mercedes pulled out onto the main highway.

It's amazing how she can make me feel better. "I see. So there's no way to get unstuck from your stickiness?"

"Nope. Once you're stuck, it's quite permanent." The older woman grinned. "So, how about it? Feel like getting stuck with me in St. Augustine this weekend?"

Robin smiled. "I think being stuck with you in St. Augustine would definitely be on my top ten list of things to do."

"Is that so?" A dark eyebrow raised. "Care to fill me in on the other nine?"

"How about we discuss the other nine this weekend. Being stuck with you might just cause me to alter my opinion." Robin chuckled.

"Well, I intend to make sure that being stuck with me makes it all the way to number one on your list. And number two, and number three….."

"So, you want to be my whole top ten list?"

"And number four, and number five, and number six….." Jess playfully continued.

"I'll consider it."

"And number seven, and number eight, and number nine….."

"You've made your point, Jess." Robin grinned. "You can stop now."

"And number ten. Okay, I'll stop. I just wanted to make sure that we're clear on the matter." Jess glanced over at Robin. "And for the record, you're already my whole top ten list." She winked and then focused back on the road.

"You are very sweet." Robin chuckled. "Hopeless, but very sweet."

"You don't say." Jess quipped.

There was a long silence as Robin watched the passing trees rush by the side window. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"For knowing just what to say to make me feel better. I don't know what I'd do without you."

"I told you, I'm like crazy glue."

Robin gave Jess the most adoring smile. "And I'm stuck with you."

"Yes." Forever? Do you want forever, Robin? "I'm glad you understand that."

"I do." I absolutely do.


Later that morning, Jess and Robin arrived in St. Augustine and drove down the old city streets, finally locating the little Bed and Breakfast inn where they had reservations for Saturday evening. They parked the car and then entered the old Spanish-style house made of coquina shells and stucco. Inside, the Spanish architectural flair was evident, the inn boasting of a history dating back to the mid-1700's. The décor was tastefully appointed with lace curtains and wrought-iron and wood furnishings, lending a feel for the historical ancestry of the house itself. A main sitting room prominently held a versatile fireplace, together with comfortable sofas and chairs. Rounded archways depicted the Spanish architectural influence so common of the era. The entire living space and stair banisters were highlighted with tasteful holiday decorations, and strands of small white lights adorned an eight foot tall frasier fir tree which served as the focal point in the inn's great room. The decidedly sweet scent of the fir tree permeated throughout the entirety of the first floor of the house.

Robin and Jess were shown to their room, a fairly large area complete with private bath and a separate fireplace. The room itself contained a small sitting area near the cozy hearth, a table and two chairs set near the street-side window, and a four-poster queen-sized bed covered with a lovely handmade quilt bedspread. Hardwood floors and tasteful throw rugs completed the ensemble.

Robin marveled at the sight. "This is really nice, Jess, don't you think?" She took a seat in one of the chairs near the window and continued her survey of the room.

"Yeah." Jess put the duffel bags on the bed. "I didn't know we'd have a fireplace." She peered into the brick and mortar structure and noticed the fire logs neatly stacked next to the hearth. "It appears well stocked." She grinned thoughtfully. "We can make use of it tonight since it'll be kinda cool out."

"Cold, Jess. It'll be cold out tonight. I heard the weather report before we left." Green eyes playfully teased.

"Remind me, Robin, never to discuss the weather with you. It seems that you and I are simply unable to agree on the precise definition of cold."

"Fine. We'll just have to refer to it as 'not hot', then." Robin stood up and wandered into the private bath. "Oooh, look, Jess. There's a whirlpool tub in here."

A dark eyebrow shot up. Whirlpool. "Is that so?" Jess quickly followed Robin into the bathroom. "Hmm. Maybe we could try it out later. What do you think?"

Robin nodded, feeling a little shy at the thought. "Yeah, maybe we could do that."

"Good." The older woman walked back into the main room and began unpacking some of her things. "Want to head out and explore the city some this afternoon. There's a mission, the old bridge, and a huge fort we could go to, if you want."

"Sounds good to me." Robin unpacked her duffel bag of the few items she'd brought. "Um…..Jess?"

"Yeah?" The dark haired woman looked up from her unpacking.

"Could we….."

"Eat lunch first." Jess finished for Robin, the corners of her mouth smirking as she did so.

Robin smirked back. "You think you're so funny."

"Nope." Jess replied innocently. "I know I'm so funny." She quirked a grin. "And you love it."

"You are so goofy." Robin completed the last of her unpacking and pulled out a lightweight jacket to bring with her. "So, can we go eat?"

"You betcha, kiddo." Jess grinned happily. "I must keep your stomach happy." She eased up behind Robin and wrapped her long arms around the small body, whispering softly into the petite ear. "Besides, you need to keep up your strength. I have big plans for you and your stomach later on."

Robin felt herself blush. "I think I'm counting on that." She turned around and gave Jess a quick kiss on the chin. "Now, come on. Let's find someplace to have lunch. I'm starving."

Jess followed the younger woman out the door, an almost giddy expression crossing her dark features as she trailed slightly behind. I definitely have big plans.


Jess and Robin meandered down the brick paved streets looking for a place to eat, finally settling on a small sandwich shop with a beautiful view overlooking Matanzas Bay. Several sailboats were cruising out on the choppy waters, the swift breeze providing more than ample sailing conditions. The midday sunlight sparkled brightly off the waves, while several white caps were visible from the shoreline. It was a perfect day for walking around and about the old city, sight-seeing and enjoying the quaint charm the old town provided. The cool, crisp winter breeze carried a hint of hickory smoke from several nearby chimneys, infusing the brisk air with the wonderful scents of the winter season.

After a brief lunch, the two women made their way to the Castillo de San Marcos, a massive fortress built by the Spanish several hundred years ago in order to defend the St. Augustine coastline. The entire historic fort and its surrounding area had been declared a national monument now operated by the National Park Service. The symmetrically laid out compound constructed of coquina brick consisted of powder magazines, storage rooms, sentry towers, a large courtyard complete with cannonball stockpiles, a parapet lined with cannons, and what was once a formidable moat encircling the stronghold. An experienced Park Service guide gave a narration of the history of the Spanish fortification, and each area of the fort contained labeled placards detailing the purpose and significance of the rooms visited. The views afforded from the sentry towers overlooking the bay and the city proper were particularly breathtaking in their magnificence, and the defenses provided by the moat itself had yielded ample protection against invading pirates and British, alike.

Robin stood near the corner sentry tower looking across Matanzas Bay toward the old Bridge of Lions. It was hard to imagine that the coquina fort was nearly four hundred years old, and yet from her position near the sentry point, she could almost place herself in that period of time. It was a fleeting, but eerie, sense of displacement, and it felt very odd.

"Hey." Jess ducked her tall frame into the sentry tower for a quick peek inside, and then retreated to where Robin was standing. "Whatcha looking at?"

"Just watching the sailboats. It's really beautiful up here." Robin leaned herself nearly half way over the ledge of the parapet wall to peak at the moat below, and then continued to dip her body still further over the edge to gain a closer look at the fort's exterior walls.

The dark haired woman watched as Robin dangled herself precariously over the side of the fort, a petite foot now boosting the small frame high above the ledge. Jess stood by nervously for a moment, observing silently, before a sudden wave of panic overtook her. Don't fall. She instinctively rushed forward and abruptly grabbed Robin's waist from behind, swiftly lifting her up and away from the perceived peril. As she did so, an odd sense of déjà vu passed over her.

"Hey." The younger woman protested.

"Hey nothing. Get down." Strong arms released Robin from their protective grasp. "The sign says not to stand up there. You could've fallen." Anxious blue eyes suddenly met green. We've done this before, haven't we?

"I wasn't going to fall, silly. I just wanted to look at the outside of the fort. I wanted to see if there were any bullet holes." Robin hadn't picked up on the apparent similarity in events.

This is weird. Jess uncharacteristically fell mute, and turned to gaze in silent fashion across the choppy waters, her thoughts attempting to process the obvious but curious coincidence.

"Jess?" A small hand came to rest on the older woman's upper arm. "What is it?"

Azure eyes cast out across the crystal bay. "I…..um…..just had the strangest feeling when I pulled you off the ledge, like I'd done that before."

The comparison suddenly came to Robin. "You did, in New Orleans, remember? You saved me from falling overboard off the riverboat." She grinned thoughtfully. "Although I wasn't really going to fall."

The dark head nodded. "Yeah, I thought of that, and you're right. It was just like that, except…..I don't know." Jess let go a small sigh. "It was also something else. I can't describe it, only to say that I feel like I've done that several times. It was almost as though, if I didn't catch you, you were definitely going to fall. It's strange, and I can't explain it, but I feel like you fell once, and I couldn't catch you." She shook her head helplessly at Robin. "It's weird, and it's probably just my bizarre mind making stuff up."

It is kinda weird. Robin didn't know what to say. She, herself, had gotten an eerie feeling as she looked out across the bay just moments before Jess had arrived. Unexplainably needing some sense of contact with the taller woman, Robin cautiously peered around the sentry area to assess the location of the other tourists. Seeing no one else nearby, she closed the distance between herself and Jess, and wrapped her petite arms around the older woman's waist in a brief hug. "I think it's wonderful that you care about me and want to protect me." Sea green eyes locked onto cool blue. "I treasure that in you." Robin was absolutely serious.

Jess simply nodded, trying to shake off the disquieting feeling that had previously settled upon her. She broke away and stepped over to the stairs that led down into the open courtyard. "So, where to next, kiddo?" An eyebrow lifted. "You're the boss, you know."

"I'll remember that." Robin quirked a grin. "Let's wander around the fort for a few more minutes, and then watch the Spanish infantry musket demonstration. After it's over, we can make our way down to the old bridge."

"Fine by me. Lead the way, senorita." Jess winked.

Robin slid on her sunglasses and then led them both down toward the open courtyard area for a little additional exploration. Her mind, however, continued to ponder the previous events. What Jess had said earlier had affected her. Had we really done that before? It didn't seem possible, and yet the odd sense of displacement she had felt near the sentry tower came back to her. A flood of other thoughts came back, as well. Thoughts of the undeniable connection she and Jess had shared from the very beginning, and how it seemed that some inexplicable force had drawn them both together. Of how Robin initially had the feeling that Jess seemed somehow familiar, and how, as impossible as it might have been, Robin had sensed that she indeed had known her. Weird. Very weird. And then there were those blue eyes…..those irresistible blue eyes the color of the sky that seemed to reach out and grab her, capturing her heart in their penetrating gaze. Robin used her sunglasses as cover, and watched secretly as Jess walked beside her, studying the tall profile unseen as they made their way quietly down the courtyard steps. Her subconscious mind quickly made the unerring conclusion, one which her consciousness was, as of yet, unable to recognize. It's you.


Jess and Robin strolled down to the old Bridge of Lions, enjoying the crisp late afternoon air and waning sunlight as they leisurely walked along the brick paved streets. When they reached the bay, they stopped at the foot of the old bridge and surveyed their surroundings. Horse-drawn carriages carried passengers along the carriage route and could be seen loading and unloading their riders from the area adjacent to the Castillo de San Marcos fortress.

"I wonder why they call it the Bridge of Lions." Robin studied the expanse of bridge.

"Do you see those marble lion statutes guarding the bridge? They were put there when the bridge was built in the early part of the 1900's connecting the mainland to Anastasia Island. It was part of a revitalization of the city. I heard recently that some people want to renovate the bridge to allow for more traffic flow, but there is also a preservation movement that's started up to save the bridge." The dark haired woman studied the architecture of the bridge with its tiled roof towers and graceful archways.

The blonde head nodded pensively. "It's hard to think people would want to destroy a part of history like that." Robin stood and admired the bridge for another moment, then looked around the bayfront area in panoramic fashion, suddenly spying with interest the horse-drawn buggies. "Hey, Jess. They have carriage rides over there….." Green eyes sparkled, leaving the thought deliberately unfinished.

"Yep." Jess remarked, seemingly uninterested.

"They probably ride by all the historic sites." Robin continued the line of thinking.

Blue eyes focused their attention lazily across the bay. "Yep."

"So, maybe we could take a ride."

Jess continued her perusal of the water, fully aware of Robin's keen interest in taking the carriage ride, but curiously not uttering a single sound.

Blonde eyebrows knit together at the apparent indifference. "Jess, are you even listening to me?"

The corner of Jess's mouth quirked ever so slightly, betraying her teasing intentions. "Um…..I'm sorry, did you say something?"

So, she wants to play, does she? "Nope. Didn't say a thing." Robin abruptly turned and headed down the street toward the carriage coach stand.

Oh shit. Jess stood for a second, slightly stunned, and then raced to catch up with the rapidly retreating form. "Robin?" She finally reached the younger woman. "Hey, I'm sorry. I was just teasing." Jess, you're a complete idiot.

Robin didn't slow her pace until Jess stepped out in front of her and blocked her path. The older woman appeared so absolutely remorseful that Robin couldn't stand to keep up the charade any longer. She cocked her head to one side and broke into a devilish grin, mirroring Jess's previous words to her. "I'm sorry, did you say something?"

Jess stood there speechlessly, her mouth slightly open, as she considered the surprising response. Finally realizing the joke, she shook her head and offered a wry grin. "Well, that'll teach me."

Green eyes danced merrily. "Darn right, it will." Robin resumed walking, wagging a petite finger toward Jess in mock reprimand. "Don't mess with me, Bucko."

A playful pout. "But, I was just playing around." Jess followed Robin along the sidewalk toward the waiting carriages.

She is so absolutely gorgeous. Robin was thoroughly taken by the sight. "You are very cute when you pout, do you know that?"

"I'll have you know that I'm an expert pouter, Robin." Jess grinned rather proudly at her own accomplishment. "I could pout some more if it would help me get some more points under your point system." She eyed Robin hopefully.

Light brows knit together. "Don't bet the farm on that."

"If that doesn't work, how about this?" Jess produced two vouchers for the horse-drawn carriages and handed them to Robin.

"You got….." The blonde head shook in amazement. "When did you get these?"

"Before." Came the brief reply.

Robin nearly squealed in delight. "I can't believe you." A decidedly curious eyebrow arched above golden bangs. "Hmm. You seem suspiciously eager to accumulate points." Robin stepped up to the coach stand. "Any particular reason?"

Jess scanned the surrounding crowd, then lowered her voice a notch to make clear the intended point. "I don't think you really want me to answer that question at this particular moment, Robin." A blue eye winked, acknowledging the throng of people nearby. She then leaned in very close to Robin's ear. "At least, not in specific detail."

"Two, please." Robin handed the vouchers to the carriage driver, nearly croaking out the request as she did so. Has it gotten rather warm all of a sudden?


"You know what this reminds me of?" Robin sat back leisurely in the carriage seat. "Remember when we were in New Orleans and we took the buggy ride there?"

Jess glanced at Robin out of the corner of her eye, and drawled in her best southern accent imitation. "Why yes, Miss Scarlet."

A giggle. "That was a lot of fun, wasn't it?" The horses began their journey along the carriage route.

"That was a document review, Robin. Didn't you get the memo?" Blue eyes twinkled. "Document reviews are not supposed to be fun.." Jess furrowed her brows. "It seems my indoctrination techniques may have failed."

Another giggle. "Well, I think the fun part had something to do with who I was with, not necessarily the actual document reviewing itself." The horses' hooves clip-clopped their way down the Avenida Menendez.

"I see. So, are you saying then, if you had gone with someone else, you wouldn't have had so much fun?" Jess relaxed as the driver started to give his guide speech.

"Well, it would have depended on whether the person showed me a good time or not." Robin smirked.

Both dark eyebrows shot up in unison at the remark, and Jess's jaw dropped slightly as she sat in the carriage seat entirely astounded.

Green eyes took note of the dumbfounded expression. "Close your mouth, Jess. People are starting to stare." Robin patted Jess lightly on the arm.

The dark haired woman leaned over, not particularly caring at the moment who was or who was not staring, and whispered in the petite ear. "I better be the only one showing you a good time, Robin."

Robin suppressed a grin and gave Jess's arm another playful pat. "We can talk more about that later on. Let's listen to the driver now, okay?" She deliberately ignored the still wary look on Jess's face, and proceeded to cross one leg loosely over the other as she settled into the carriage seat. With her leg now serving as a convenient cover, Robin placed a hand on the seat between herself and Jess. She let her fingertips gently grasp the long fingers already resting in the tiny space between them.

Jess felt the tender contact and simply melted at the touch, the sensation quite exquisite. She has me so unbelievably hooked. The feeling the simple gesture invoked was indescribable, and Jess relished it throughout the remainder of the ride. After a one-hour tour of the historic district, the carriage rounded its last corner and Matanzas Bay came into view once again. She felt Robin release her fingers, and immediately found herself wishing that they could continue holding hands. But such wishes ignored reality. She shifted her attention back to that reality. "So, did you enjoy the ride, kiddo?" They both stepped out of the carriage.

"Yeah, I thought it was very interesting." The younger woman peered at the horizon and noticed a slight chill in the approaching evening air. "The sun's setting."

Jess nodded absently. "I have one more thing we could do, if you're interested. Well…..actually two."

"I'm game. What'd you have in mind?"

In what was becoming common fashion, Jess produced two more tickets. "Here."

Robin was truly baffled. "When do you have time to get these things without me seeing you?" She grinned and eagerly took the tickets from Jess, reading them silently to herself. "They have a riverboat here, too?"

Jess looked down at her feet, suddenly feeling uncharacteristically shy. "Yeah. It's a paddle wheel boat that goes around the bay and Matanzas River." She met Robin's gentle gaze. "At twilight, you can see all the lights that they put up along the waterfront this time of year. It's really very pretty, all lit up like that." Jess continued to focus on sea green eyes, speaking very softly and with a hint of quiet sincerity. "Will you go with me?"

Robin's breath caught. There was something about that particular moment that moved her far more than words could say, and the revelation took her quite by surprise. She suddenly realized that Jess had arranged, to a certain extent, to parallel the events the two of them had shared in New Orleans. That was our first time together. The significance of the sentiment was not lost on Robin. This is our first time together. She abruptly averted her eyes and blinked back the tears that threatened to fall.

"Robin?" Jess closed the distance between them, suddenly concerned. "Honey? What is it?"

Robin's voice was thick with emotion. "You are absolutely the sweetest person I have ever known." She took a deep breath in an attempt to regain some of her composure. "And I would absolutely love to go on the riverboat with you tonight."

A beaming smile graced the taller woman's face. "Good. And afterward, I know this great Italian restaurant we can go to for dinner…..that is, if you think you'd be hungry." Blue eyes held a hint of mirth.

That drew an immediate grin. "Like there'd be any doubt."

"Just checking." Jess led them both toward the municipal marina where they were scheduled to board the riverboat. After walking silently for a few moments, the dark haired woman glanced over at Robin. "Is everything okay?"

Robin nodded and cast a warm smile in Jess's direction. "Everything is very okay."

And it was.


The cool night air and surprisingly gentle breeze enveloped the passengers as the paddle wheel riverboat cast off from its berth at the municipal marina and headed steadily out into the Matanzas River. Its ultimate journey would plot a course along the shoreline, under the old bridge, and around the perimeter of the adjacent Matanzas Bay. As predicted, sunset brought the first glimpse of at least a million decorative white lights strung along like pearls up and down the glittering waterfront.

Jess and Robin stood out on the upper deck of the riverboat, leaning against the railing and admiring the brilliant view of the shore, as the boat cruised its way near the Bridge of Lions. The breeze had picked up slightly as they headed farther out into the bay, and the night chill began to settle its way upon the old city as the sun completed its descent into the horizon. Robin took the opportunity to don her lightweight jacket, shivering slightly in the cool breeze.

"Cold?" Jess stood next to Robin, their shoulders touching and their forearms braced on the ledge of the rail.

"A little." Robin looked across the shimmering water at the shoreline. "It's really very beautiful." She gazed up at Jess, suddenly awestruck as the now brisk breeze blew strands of dark hair haphazardly about the older woman's face. Jess's profile stood in stark relief against the twilight sky and the backdrop of endless white lights, and Robin surreptitiously took the opportunity to admire the remarkable and stunning features of the beautiful face before her. She noticed with considerable interest the way the dark hair framed intense azure eyes, and the way the strong cheekbones and well-defined jaw lines accentuated the gentle elegance in perfect symmetry. She was openly fascinated at the way the entire portrait exuded an incomparable quiet majesty and strength befitting the most noblest of royalty. It nearly took Robin's breath away, and she could not, for the life of her, take her eyes from the captivating sight.

Blue eyes found green. "You seem quiet tonight." Waves gently lapped against the side of the boat as the paddle wheel propelled them steadily forward.

"I guess I'm just a bit…..overwhelmed." It was the truth.

Jess smiled. "Me, too."

The smaller woman leaned slightly over the railing, peering in a curious manner at the water below. There was no bottom rung to prop her feet on, so she tried to be content with simply looking over the top ledge.

"Don't even think about it." A long finger pointed at Robin in strict warning.

The younger woman reacted in innocent fashion. "What?"

"You know perfectly well what, and I'm not saving you from falling twice in one day"

Robin giggled. "I'm not going to fall. I just want to look at the paddles down there." She bent over the top rail as far as she could, which wasn't very far. "Um…..Jess? Could you give me a boost?"

Blue eyes narrowed considerably, and Jess tried in vain to suppress a small grin. "I will do no such thing."

"Come on." Robin playfully whined. "I won't fall in. I promise."


Robin glanced toward the back portion of the deck. "Maybe that guy down there will give me a boost." She started to make her way toward the stern of the boat.

With lightening quickness, a long arm shot out and pulled Robin back, a low voice resonating in a petite ear. "I don't think so, Robin." Jess immediately encircled Robin's waist from behind, lifting her up and against the railing to better view the waters below and the large paddle wheel turning in constant rhythm. Long arms held on tightly. "Now, you've seen it, okay?" She gently put Robin down on the deck. "Happy now?"

With your arms around me, I'm happy. "Yes." Robin looked back over her shoulder at the older woman. "Could you do it again?" Green eyes twinkled in the moonlight.

This time, Jess couldn't contain the grin. "Absolutely not. People will stare."

"So, let them."

"How about if I just do this?" Jess pressed herself against Robin's back and placed her arms on either side of the petite body, grasping the forward ledge of the railing with each hand. She whispered softly into Robin's ear. "Will this work?"

It was the most complete and profound sensation of being snuggly wrapped in a cocoon of warmth that Robin has ever experienced. Jess's breath tickled the back of the younger woman's neck, causing her to momentarily forget the question. "Um…..yeah." She reveled in the sensation a moment longer. "Is anyone staring?"


Robin sank back further into the circle of warmth. "Jess?"


"Earlier today, at the fort, I…..um….." Robin whispered. "Felt it, too."

"You felt it?" Jess wasn't quite sure she understood exactly what Robin meant.

The blonde head nodded. "Just before you came over to the sentry, it was strange, but I felt like I'd been there before. I know it's weird."

Jess tried for a logical explanation. "Sometimes the mind can imagine things that seem real. Maybe that's what happened to both of us today." Not entirely comfortable with the nature of the conversation, Jess shifted to Robin's side and deftly changed the subject. "We're almost back. Can I interest you in dinner?" She already knew the answer.

"Of course you can, but only if you let me buy." Robin insisted.

"Not necessary. I invited you here, remember?"

"I know, but you've paid for everything else." Robin's hand gestured widely in front of her. "Let me pay for something."

It was apparent that Robin felt a need to contribute to their weekend, even if in a small way, so Jess acquiesced. "Alright. You win. You're buying." Jess grinned. "And it just so happens that I'm starving."

"You keep stealing my lines, Jess." Robin teased. "You're going to have to come up with your own."

"Fine. How about if I just say I've suddenly developed a voracious appetite." Jess spoke the last part a bit seductively.

Robin swallowed. Are we still talking about food? Green eyes fixed on cool blue. "Then I guess I would say we're pretty evenly matched, appetitewise."

A dark eyebrow arched at the thought. Maybe we should skip dinner.


The Italian restaurant was quietly nestled in a cozy section of the old city overlooking the bay, the large windows providing a perfect view of the strands of white lights dotting the coastline. Jess and Robin sipped leisurely on their glasses of Chianti and admired the glittering decorations in the distance, as the tabletop candle flickered and cast a soft glow around them. It provided a decidedly intimate ambiance which they both found quite to their liking, and gave them an opportunity to wind down from the rather hectic pace of the day. They relaxed in companionable silence as they awaited their meal.

Robin spoke first. "This weekend is really wonderful, Jess. Thank you."

"I'm glad you're enjoying it. I hope everything meets up to your expectations." Blue eyes hid slightly behind dark bangs.

There was something in the way Jess said the last part that caused Robin to take pause. Expectations. The full meaning of the word became clear. She looked down at the tablecloth and fingered the decorative lace patterns stitched in the fabric. "I have no expectations, Jess." She responded softly. "Everything about this weekend is a bonus to me."

Jess nodded, grateful for the sentiment. "Me too." Any additional words seemed redundant.

Trying to lighten the mood a little, Robin leaned forward and rested her forearms on the table, green eyes now twinkling. "So, tell me, what does a junior partner like you want for Christmas, anyway?"

That drew a deep chuckle. "Well, there's nothing I really want that I don't already have. You don't need to go and buy me anything."

"Oh, come on, Jess. Surely, there's something." Light eyebrows knit together. "Do we need to take another trip to the mall?"

Jess shook her head vehemently. "I don't think that will be necessary, Robin. Besides, I can only stand to have so much fun once in a great while." A dark eyebrow lifted in careful consideration. "Unless, of course, I get to ride the train again." She smirked happily, and then decided turnabout is fair play. "What about you, kiddo? What does an up and coming young associate like yourself want for Christmas?"

Robin's wide smile met her eyes. "Well, you see, there's this really great sporty looking BMW that I've had my eye on."

The older woman's jaw dropped. "You want a car?"

"It's not just any car, Jess. It's really cool. Besides, it has a back seat, and room enough for even the tallest person to fit comfortably without complaining." Robin gave the older woman a sarcastic grin.

Jess really had no response to that statement.

"So, other than that, which I'm saving up for myself, I guess I really can't think of anything I'd really want for Christmas." Robin took note of the waiter heading their way with the main course. "We'll have to continue this conversation later." She grinned. "The food's here, and I'm starving."

"Imagine that." Jess retorted. "It may interest you to know that my voracious appetite has also kicked in."

Robin brought her hand up to shield her face, a faint blush crossing her features. I can't believe she did it to me again.


Upon finishing their dinner, the two women made the short walk back to the Bed and Breakfast inn located only a few blocks away from the restaurant. It was still fairly early in the evening, and the city continued to bustle with holiday sight-seers. They approached the inn and went inside, immediately surrounded by the quaint furnishings and the cozy warmth of the fire blazing in the great room's fireplace. The sweet scent of the frasier fir tree filled the area, and the tiny white tree lights gently twinkled from amidst the glittering garland. Robin and Jess paused for a moment to admire the enchanting sight, and then headed up the stairs toward their room, entering it quietly.

"Are you tired?" Jess wasn't quite sure why she asked the question.

"No, not really." Robin hung up her jacket. "I need to wash up for a minute. Would you make a fire? It's kinda cold in here." She caught herself in her minor faux pas and amended her statement. "I mean, it's kinda 'not hot' in here. She grinned and entered the bathroom.

Cerulean eyes twinkled in amusement as Jess complied with her request, proceeding to arrange the previously furnished wood neatly in the fireplace and light the firelog. "All ready." The dark haired woman proudly proclaimed as Robin returned. The nicely roaring blaze of the fire provided immediate warmth throughout the room. "You get all warm and cozy. My turn to wash up."

Several minutes later, Jess stepped back into the dimly lit room. The fire continued its steady blaze, as the crackling of the wood echoed slightly, and haphazard shadows danced lazily against the stucco walls. Robin sat in one of the chairs next to the fireplace, absorbing the warmth as the flames flickered. A small lamp stood on the weathered wood table by the window, providing the only other light in the small, but cozy space.

Jess walked up behind the chair where Robin was seated and leaned down, speaking succinctly into a delicate ear. "Where is he?"

Startled by the question, Robin jerked her head around and looked at Jess, extremely confused. "What?"

The older woman straightened up. "You heard me. Where is he?"

A perplexed look. "Um…..who?"

"You know perfectly well, who."

Still perplexed, Robin countered. "Jess, there's no one here but us."

"Don't play innocent with me, Robin. I know he's here." With disbelief clearly evident, Jess walked over to window. "Is he out there on the roof?" She opened the window to look at the rooftop above the first floor of the inn, and then closed the window again, frowning slightly.

Robin watched in utter amazement.

"Is he under the bed?" Jess proceeded to kneel on the hardwood floor and check underneath the queen-sized bed, finding nothing. "Or how about inside this closet?" Jess walked across the room and opened the closet door, immediately shutting it again. "He can't hide forever, Robin."

By now, Robin was getting a little worried. "Jess, I…..I don't know what you're talking about."

"Of course you do." The dark haired woman strode purposefully back over to the fireplace where Robin was sitting. "You specifically told me he would be here." Blue eyes bore steadily into green.

A sudden smirk crossed Robin's face. "So I did."

"So tell me where he is." Jess demanded.

"No." Green eyes narrowed in defiance. "You have to find him yourself."

At this, Jess considered her options, tapping her chin lightly. "Could you maybe give me a little hint?"


"How about if I walk around the room and you tell me if I'm warm or cold?"

Robin feigned exasperation. "Oh, very well." She relented. "Start walking."

"Alright." Jess rubbed her hands together and walked over to the front door. "Here?"


"Hmm." Jess next went over to the table and chairs. "Here?"


A frown. Jess crossed over to the bathroom doorway. "Here?"

"Warmer." The younger woman watched in amusement.

An excited look from Jess. She stepped over next to the fireplace. "Here?"

"Very warm."

Blue eyes twinkled in anticipation. Jess slowly walked over to the chair and stood directly in front of Robin. "How about here?"

Robin stood up. "Hot." She whispered and then leaned into Jess, feeling an almost magnetic pull.

Jess's heart was racing. She bent down and gave Robin a lingering kiss, then pulled back, her voice but a breathless whisper as she studied sea green eyes. "So, where is he, Robin?"

Robin, herself, could barely speak, but managed to issue the soft command. "Find him."

The dark haired woman encircled the petite body in a tender embrace and whispered gently. "Come over here with me." She led Robin over to sit on the edge of the bed, and knelt on the floor in front of her. "Would he be in your shoes?" Jess slowly unlaced the shoes Robin wore, and removed them one after the other, looking inside each thoroughly as she did so. "No, he's not in there." She paused. "How about in your socks?" Jess proceeded to remove and check each sock in similar fashion. "Hmm. Not in there, either." She gently caressed Robin's feet and leaned down and placed soft delicate kisses on the top of each dainty foot. "Where is he?"

Robin's breathing quickened as the light caresses continued. Her eyes fluttered briefly at the loving kisses bestowed on her feet and ankles. "Keep looking."

"Is he in your pockets?" Jess raised up on her knees and reached out to lightly examine each of Robin's pants pockets, probing inside until she was sufficiently satisfied. "No, he's not there either."

The anticipation was steadily building. "You'll have to look harder, then." Green eyes lock onto blue.

Jess brought her hands to Robin's waist and glided her hands just underneath the edge of the knit sweater, trailing her long fingers gently across the smooth stomach. "How about here?" She lifted the sweater slightly, inspecting the area, then leaned down and bestowed the same fluttering kisses to the bare skin of Robin's stomach. "I still don't see him." She whispered.

Robin couldn't think. All she could feel were the moist, soft kisses covering her skin. "Look some more." She whispered back.

Complying, Jess slipped her hands fully under the soft fabric and brushed her thumbs in circling motions over the bare skin for a brief moment, before proceeding further. She looked up and into sea green eyes shaded by the dim light, and then grasped the edge of Robin's sweater, pulling it up swiftly over the blonde head. Her eyes sparkled as she finally found what she'd been looking for all along. "Ah, there he is." Jess grinned. Her hand took hold of the small good luck charm dangling from around the younger woman's neck. "I win."

"Yes, you win." Robin tenderly brushed the dark bangs.

Blue eyes fixed steadily on green. "Can I claim my point prize?"

"Yes." Robin stroked a soft cheek with her fingertips. "Can I receive my trial reward?"

Jess nodded. "Yes." She felt Robin's fingers reach down, and with deliberate purpose, tug her sweater up and over her head. Jess wrapped her arms around Robin's bare shoulders, kissing the base of the petite neck, and then quickly glided up to plant several kisses on the soft lips. She moved her hands around to unfasten Robin's bra, removing it with ease, and then effortlessly climbed up on the bed and laid Robin back against the pillows. Jess lifted the small charm from around Robin's neck and set it on the nightstand, before easing her own body down slightly on top of the smaller woman. They were both breathing heavily by now, as their kisses intensified, and Jess felt the smaller hands reach tentatively around her back. "It…..um…..unhooks in the front."

Robin made quick work in that area, and then threaded her fingers through the long dark hair. "Jess, I don't….." The younger woman fell silent, a somewhat hesitant expression crossing her features. It wasn't as if Robin hadn't thought about this before, but here they both were, and she had absolutely no idea what to expect. She looked into the blue eyes positioned just above her own, and whispered softy. "Do you know what to do?"

Jess smiled in gentle reassurance. "I think I have a pretty good idea." She lavished Robin with tender kisses and then whispered softly into the nearest ear. "How about if I do some things, and you tell me if they're okay, and we'll see if it works? Is that alright?" Jess nibbled a delicious earlobe.

"Um…..yeah." Robin was quickly losing all coherent thought. She whimpered as the large hand trailed down her neck and briefly brushed and then explored her breast on its journey southward. The hand then moved to unfasten the button on Robin's twill pants and slowly lowered the zipper. Robin whimpered again, and before she knew it, the pants and everything else had been whisked away. The tall, warm body quickly closed upon hers.

"Is this okay?" Jess found a particularly sensitive area and proceeded with her nibbling.

Oh God. Robin had never felt anything like it before, and her senses were definitely on another plane altogether. "Um….um….yeah." It was the most coherent thing she could manage. She was somehow rational enough, though, to return the previous favor and swiftly divest Jess of all remaining clothing items.

For Jess, there was something just so instinctive about it all, as if she had known all along what to do and how to do it. That in and of itself was interesting because she, like Robin, had absolutely no experience in this particular area. "Is this still okay?" Jess continued the relentless nibbling.

Robin nodded but couldn't speak, the pressure building rather quickly. She felt long fingers trail down the outside of her thigh and then move to the inside, tracing back up and sending shivers throughout her body. Robin stifled a moan and clutched her fingers tighter through the long dark hair, all intelligent thought having temporarily escaped her. Long fingers gently touched and stroked and massaged seemingly all the right places, as the pressure finally reached its precipice. Her release came quickly, as she cried out and wrapped her arms tightly around the strong body next to hers, and just held on.

Jess whispered tenderly. "I love you, Robin. Hold on to me, sweetheart." The older woman pressed herself against Robin for several moments until she felt the petite body finally relax. She leaned down and gently kissed the soft lips once again as a lingering shudder passed through the smaller frame. Jess smiled and regarded Robin almost shyly. "Did it work?"

Green eyes blinked and then focused on blue. The glow of the fire highlighted Jess's beautiful face, leaving Robin almost mesmerized. "Yes." She touched her fingers to the shadowed cheek and smiled. "It definitely worked."

"Was it like you thought?" Jess whispered softly.

"Better." Robin turned on her side and pushed herself up on one arm. "It was absolutely and totally amazing." She leaned in and gave the older woman a delicate kiss. "I want you to feel it, too, Jess." She locked her gaze on the deep blue eyes in front of her. "Can I…..see if it works for you?"

Large hands captured the blonde head, and the older woman brought Robin's sweet lips down to meet her own. "Yes." Jess spoke softly. "Try doing what I did, and we'll see if it works."

The blonde head ducked and began kissing Jess in ardent fashion, her hands touching and stroking in much the same way Jess had done. She tenderly nipped and tasted the slightly salty skin of Jess's neck and then trailed even lower, stopping to linger at certain intriguing places. Robin added a few interesting things of her own, which she curiously and somehow instinctively knew, as she brought the dark haired woman toward an intense and spiraling release. She braced herself as Jess finally arched and clutched to her body, the older woman exploding and rapidly cascading over the same precipice Robin had visited just moments before. "I love you, Jess." Robin repeated softly. "I love you." She felt Jess's heart beat wildly beneath her, and then finally calm its rhythm as they both remained very still for several moments more. It's funny how I knew what to do. "So, did it work?" Robin asked lazily into a nearby ear, already knowing the answer.

Jess grinned lazily back. "It more than worked. It was….." She took a moment to find the proper word. "Incredible." Long fingers reached to entwine with Robin's, and Jess slowly and deliberately brought their joined hands up to meet her own lips. She kissed the petite knuckles repeatedly. "You're incredible."

"So are you." Tender kisses met the dark eyebrows.

"So….." Those same dark eyebrows waggled a bit. "Want to check out the whirlpool tub in there?"

Robin couldn't help but grin. "Oooh, that sounds…..interesting." A blonde eyebrow arched. "Would you wash my back?"

Blue eyes sparkled in the waning firelight. "Well, now, that would depend. Would I be required to wash just your back, or are there other areas that need washing, too?"

"I think all areas pretty much need washing." There was somewhat of an anticipatory hitch in Robin's voice.

"I see. There is one condition, though."

"And that would be?" A petite finger traced the strong jaw.

"I would have to be awarded many, many points for my back washing skills."

Robin chuckled and then considered the request. "Deal. But don't forget about all the other areas, too."

Jess smiled, then leaned over and kissed Robin soundly. "I can guarantee you, Robin, that I will definitely not forget about the other areas."

"Good." The younger woman appeared to contemplate something for a brief moment. "And, of course, after you're finished, it will be my turn to wash your back."

Oh. "Okay."

"It's only fair, after all, that I return the favor."

Oh. Jess swallowed. "Right."

Robin cocked her head and fought hard to suppress a teasing grin. "So, should I simply wash your back, Jess, or are there other areas that need washing, too?"

Jess grasped the covers and pulled them up and over her head in mock surrender. I am definitely in so much trouble.


Brilliant rays of sunlight streamed in through the lace curtains and cast warm shadows against the wall of the inn's quaint bedroom, as the morning sun rose high above the old city's horizon. Both Robin and Jess had slept in just a little, whether from an inclination to catch up on much-needed sleep or simply due to the comfort of their being together. The small body stirred and a sleepy green eye opened to find a still slumbering form curled up snuggly to her side. A long arm was wrapped protectively around her waist.

Robin took a moment to silently contemplate the situation further. They had spent part of the night in the whirlpool tub, making sure they were both thoroughly clean, before finally crawling back into bed and falling asleep snuggled against each other. Robin felt herself blush at the memory of the prior evening's events. It amazed her even this morning how wonderful it all had felt. It just seemed so comfortable and so completely natural to be with Jess in that way. Natural. She shook her head at the thought. Robin wasn't sure if she, herself, would consider their relationship natural, even though it certainly felt that way. She mentally recalled the previous evening, and chuckled lightly under her breath as several scenes played out in vivid fashion in her mind.

"I heard that." A low voice raspy with sleep piped up.

"You're awake."

"Yep. Have been."

Robin peered up at the still closed eyes. "For how long?"

"Long enough to catch you snoring." A slow grin edged its way across Jess's face.

"I do not snore."

"You never heard yourself. Believe me when I tell you that you definitely do snore." Blue eyes were now fully open wide.

"I don't believe you. How come you never mentioned this before?"

Jess bit her lower lip lightly. "You got me there, kiddo. Alright, you don't exactly snore, it's more like a small squeak, and it's really quite adorable." She gave Robin light kiss on the temple. "That's why I like waking up first and watching you sleep. I find you very cute."

This little admission made Robin blush all over again. She shifted slightly and an unexpected realization suddenly took hold of her. She cautiously lifted the covers and peered underneath them. "Um…..Jess?" Robin let the covers return to their previous position, her blush deepening severely. "We're um….."

Dark brows knit together in thought. Jess lifted the covers slightly and surveyed the situation, before letting the linen fabric gently flutter back down to its original location. "Not wearing anything?"

"Um…..yeah." Robin didn't understand why she suddenly felt so self-conscious. It was silly, really, considering everything she and Jess had shared the previous evening.

"Does that bother you?" Jess asked quietly.

How do I answer this? "I have to admit it's different for me. I guess I'm just used to waking up wearing something."

Jess lifted one hand and turned Robin's face toward her own. "Listen to me, honey. I don't ever want you to feel uncomfortable. If something doesn't feel right for you, please don't be afraid to tell me. I think we have to talk to each other about what we think and how we feel."

The blonde head nodded cautiously. "Alright." Robin took a deep breath and then released it. "Jess, I feel better wearing something when I sleep."


"But Jess, I don't want to….."

Jess stopped her mid-sentence. "No. This is important. Let's agree that if one of us isn't comfortable with something, anything at all, we won't do it. Period. And we have to promise to tell each other if we're not comfortable with something. Deal?"

Sea green eyes gauged gentle azure, reading their open sincerity. "Deal." Robin snuggled against Jess's side. "Can I say one more thing?"


"Waking up this way does have its benefits." Robin smiled against the bare skin of Jess's collarbone.

A dark eyebrow shot up. "Such as?"

"Your skin feels really, really good next to mine."

That drew a low chuckle. "I aim to please."

Robin giggled. "That reminds me." She propped herself up on one elbow. "Last night…..um…..how did you know what to do, if you hadn't…..?" She left the thought deliberately unfinished.

"Well….." Jess drawled. "I said I'd never been with a woman before. I never said I was naïve." She had what could only be described as a self-satisfied smirk on her face.


"And how about you?" Both eyebrows lifted behind dark bangs as a wide grin eased its way across the angular face. "You certainly seemed as if you knew what you were doing."

Robin promptly turned an adorable shade of pink, and then buried her face in Jess's shoulder. I just knew. "I just knew." She mumbled.

Jess's smile softened and warmed at the admission. "Me too. I just knew." They snuggled together for a moment longer until a blue eye peered over at Robin. "Want to…..um…..try it again?"

As if on cue, Robin's stomach rumbled. Loudly. "Well, now, it seems I have quite a dilemma, here." She grinned and considered her options studiously, weighing them with careful deliberation. "Breakfast…..Jess. Breakfast…..Jess." Green eyes danced. "Hmm. What shall I do?"

Jess watched in near disbelief. She's not really considering going down to breakfast, is she? "If you want to go downstairs to breakfast, Robin, it's okay. We can go." Jess tried unsuccessfully to keep from pouting.

I can't take my eyes off of her this morning. "Alright. I've made my decision." Robin grinned happily. "Breakfast can wait."

"But your stomach's growling." Did I just say that?

Robin chuckled. "That's true, but I do remember you promising to take care of me and my stomach this weekend. Something about big plans, as I recall." She lifted a blonde eyebrow. "As I see it, taking care of my stomach is definitely your job, Jess, and should be the number one priority. I expect the works."

The works? "Now, there's an invitation I simply can't refuse." Jess gave the stomach in question a gentle squeeze, then proceeded to dip down and brush her lips lightly against its silky soft skin. "So tell me, Robin, are you sure you wouldn't rather go downstairs to breakfast?" Soft, moist lips kept up their assault.

"Um…..no." It was becoming difficult to think.

"Because we can just get dressed and go." Fingers trailed lazy patterns on the bare skin, causing goosebumps in their wake.

"Um…..no." Coherent thought was but a memory.

"It's really no problem if you want to head downstairs, now." Jess smiled against Robin's abdomen, the long, slender fingers continuing their sensual onslaught. "It's up to you."

"Um…..um….." Robin forgot the question.

Tender lips resumed their expedition. "Or not."

Oh God. Robin finally found her voice again, albeit with tremendous difficulty. "Or not."


Later that morning, after a delayed breakfast, Robin and Jess headed out to wander the Spanish Quarter. They proceeded onward through the famous city gates still standing guard after nearly five centuries. They strolled up and down St. George Street looking at the old historic buildings and window shopping in the many quaint little shops that lined the city's oldest street. At one point, a confectionery caught Robin's eye, and they absolutely had to go inside and sample the sweet treats. Chocolate, of course.

As they meandered down near the main plaza, the church bell of the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine began its harmonic chime. The cathedral, itself, was situated adjacent to the plaza square and well within Jess and Robin's immediate view.

The older woman watched silently as the throngs of people made their way inside. "Today's Sunday." Jess mused out loud. "It's time for noon Mass."

A curious expression crossed Robin's face, one which Jess couldn't read. "Yeah." Robin leaned against a nearby lamppost, as an errant thought came to her. "Are you Catholic, Jess?"

The dark haired woman's face held a bit of regret. "Not practicing. Used to be." She kicked the ground uncomfortably. "You?"

Robin studied the length of the old bell tower as the chiming continued. "Same."

Jess silently took in this bit of information. Same? "How long has it been?"

"Not long, just since….." Robin closed her eyes briefly in a vain attempt to conceal her lingering sorrow, and whispered. "Since David died." She abruptly averted her gaze away from the cathedral.

That soon? Jess watched the play of emotions cross the younger woman's face. "Oh." She really didn't know what to say.

Robin looked blankly ahead. "I just can't forgive Him."

"You can't forgive who?" Jess wasn't sure she understood.


Jess's eyes betrayed her shock at the admission. It was quite disturbing on many levels. "You can't forgive….."

"God." Robin supplied again, and then blew out a long breath. "I really don't want to talk about this right now, Jess. Not this weekend, okay?" Green eyes pleaded with the older woman just to let it go.

But we need to talk about this. Jess knew the whole issue would likely come back at them later on, but she relented, totally against her better judgment. "Alright." She hesitated. "But, will you call Dr. Richmond tomorrow?"

Robin's shoulders slumped. "If I have time, I will."

Not good enough. Jess moved in front of the smaller woman and ducked her head, looking her squarely in the eyes. "Promise me, Robin, you'll call."

Their eyes remained locked. "I promise I'll call and make an appointment, but it'll be after the holidays. Don't push me on this, Jess, please.

The dark haired woman sighed and then, quite reluctantly, acquiesced. "Okay. After the holidays, then." Wasn't it 'after the trial', Jess? Now it's 'after the holidays'. Something's just not right. Jess tucked the issue away for later, determined not to let anything unpleasant spoil their weekend together.

"Thank you." Robin smiled gratefully and quickly changed the subject. "So, what do you want to do next?"

The Spanish mission's definitely out. Jess led them back in the direction of the quaint St. George Street with its myriad of little shops. "Well, let's see. We've done just about everything except the winery and the lighthouse."

"And lunch." Robin cheerfully reminded.

Jess feigned surprise. "Lunch? We just had breakfast."

"That's true." Robin turned thoughtful. "But I worked up an appetite this morning."

"From window shopping?" Sometimes Jess was quite clueless.

Robin blushed slightly and barely suppressed a grin, finding a nearby crack in the pavement suddenly very interesting. "Um…..right. From window shopping."

Window shopping. The taller woman stopped and stared at Robin. who was, by now, grinning rather sheepishly. Oh. Amused blue eyes twinkled. "I see."

"So you understand why it's important for me to keep up my strength."

"Absolutely." Jess quipped. "So you can do more window shopping."

"Exactly." Robin turned into the nearby pizza parlor. "I'm so glad you understand the dynamics involved."

I most certainly do.


After a leisurely lunch and another stroll down by the bayfront, Jess and Robin headed over to the San Sebastian winery for a quick tour. It was absolutely fascinating to Robin that there was wine made exclusively from Florida grapes. She was quite surprised that grapes even grew in Florida, let alone the fact that there were several active wineries and vineyards throughout the state. The winery tour provided a comprehensive overview of the art of grape-growing, focusing specifically on the grape varieties indigenous to the state of Florida. These included the popular muscadine grape and its various hybrids. The tour also demonstrated the process for fermenting the grapes, aging the wine, and then bottling the finished product. Jess and Robin decided that they couldn't possibly leave without purchasing several bottles of the vintage wine made exclusively from Florida grapes.

"That was fun." Robin grinned as she opened the car door and slid into the passenger seat.

"Glad you enjoyed it." Jess placed the newly acquired bottles of wine in the back seat and climbed into the car. "So, where to next, kiddo?" She started up the ignition. "You're the boss."

"I'm glad you realize that." Robin chuckled. "Saves me from having to always remind you."

Jess narrowed her eyes. "Wise guy."

"And don't you forget it, either." Robin fiddled with the radio, trying to locate a light rock music station. "How about if we go to the lighthouse and then head on back home?"

"Sounds like a plan, Stan" Jess pulled out onto the main highway.

"Stan? Is that a new name or just a term of affection?"

"You don't need to be coy, Roy."

Robin stared at Jess in utter disbelief. "I'm trapped in a car with a nut."

"Like I told you before, I resemble that remark. You could always hop on the bus, Gus."

Robin was completely dumbfounded. "You're impossible. Give me the key, Lee."

"What?" Jess knew the tables had been turned.

"I'm driving. Pull over."

"But I….."

Robin shook her head. "Nope. If I didn't know better, I'd say you had a little bit too much wine back there, but I know neither of us had more than a sip."

"I was just saying the words to the song." Jess playfully protested.

Robin gave her a frank look. "Jess, think about the title of the song."

"Fifty Ways to Leave…..oh." Jess sheepishly replied. "Sorry."

Robin chuckled. "It's alright, and I suppose you can keep on driving. But let's just listen to the songs on the radio, okay there, Bucko?"

"That's the second time you've called me Bucko. Is that a…..term of affection?" A blue eye peered expectantly over at Robin.

The blonde woman hesitated, then smirked. "No comment." At Jess's overly chagrined expression, Robin broke out into a fit of giggles. It was really quite charming, the gentle teasing and light banter that she and Jess so naturally shared, and it warmed her up in the most delightful way just thinking about it. She finally regained her composure and cast a wide smile at Jess. "You are so much fun. I absolutely love being with you."

Jess glanced over at Robin fondly. "Same here, kiddo."

"Um…..Jess?" Robin sobered somewhat. "I wanted to thank you again."

"For this weekend? Not necessary."

"Well, yes, for this weekend, but also for sticking with me earlier and not pressing me too much." Robin fingered the seatbelt buckle. "I know it must have been very difficult for you." Her tone was guarded.

Jess sensed that Robin was referring to her continuing emotional issues concerning David, especially the incident at the cathedral, and most likely her receipt of the Mitchells' Christmas card. "Like I said before, I'm like….."

"Crazy glue." Robin supplied.


"And you're very, very sticky."


"And I'm stuck with you."

"Absolutely correct." Jess gave Robin a very tender smile. "We're stuck with each other."

Robin nodded. "We're stuck with each other."

"For better or for worse."

Robin nodded again. "For better or for worse."

"Good." Jess focused on the road. "Because I quite like being stuck with you."

"Crazy glue and all?"

"Yep." Jess winked. "Crazy glue and all."


© Copyright 10/20/2000

To Be Continued in part 10………..

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