By Lena

DISCLAIMERS: There are none. These characters and this story belong to me and me alone, so don't plagiarize. This story contains a loving relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under age or this type of love is illegal in your neck of the woods ............ SCAT!!!

WARNING! This story deals with the sensitive subject of incest and it's aftermath. I have tried to treat this as delicately as possible. I feel it is important, so that the victims know that they truly are "the victims", that this subject be openly examined.

Rating: This story is rated "R" for mature subject matter and sexual situations.

Dedication: In loving memory of Josephine and Evie. With a big ole hug to Liz , Val and Vi, who always believed in me. All of these ladies taught me about unconditional love and loyalty. I'm blessed to have had you in my life.


April 29, 2000


Rachel Vincenti loved the high she got from pushing her body to its limits. Endorphins were her drug of choice. She admitted to enjoying the admiring glances she received from other women, some of whom would give a weeks salary for a chance to bed her, but it was the sense of confidence and wholeness with her body she really desired.

Her work- out buddies never understood why a woman who looked like Rachel, never had a steady girlfriend. They had assumed she was gay, since it was a predominantly lesbian gym, but they never saw her out with the same woman more than two or three times. No one could seem to get close to the enigmatic beauty. Most often she was seen out with her best friend, Tory, the auburn haired owner of the gym, who always seemed close by whenever some woman's advances became too much for the tall, dark haired woman, with the almond shaped black eyes.

Rachel was on her favorite machine, leg pressing 500#'s, loving the feel of the burn in her thigh and calf muscles. The sweat made her long limbs shine with vitality. Meg admired her at a discreet distance, walking on the treadmill, trying not to trip over her own two feet as she became entranced by rippling muscles. 'God, she's beautiful. Look at her move. I gotta meet this woman.' Meg was new to the neighborhood. Having finally decided she'd be more comfortable living among her own kind, she'd moved to the mostly gay and lesbian neighborhood off Rue Esplanade in old New Orleans. It was a new and wonderful freedom. 'I wonder if she's attached? Guess I'll never find out if I don't talk to her.'

Rachel got up and stretched her powerful leg muscles, with relief. She then went to work out her biceps and triceps, enjoying the perusal of the petite, shapely blond on the treadmill. 'She thinks I don't see her watching me. I wonder if she likes to dance? Well, I could just walk up and ask her.' Rachel mused as she walked up to the treadmill and rested her long arms over the hand rail and gave the little blond a sexy smile.

"Hey, my name's Rachel. What's yours?"

The little blond was so taken aback by the woman's boldness, she nearly tripped off the treadmill. Rachel whipped around and caught her before she fell unceremoniously upon her arse.

"Whoa, hold on. I gotcha." The powerful woman grabbed the diminutive one around the waist with one arm and pulled her in close to her sweaty body.

'Oh God, can a person die of embarrassment? Now, she's holding me. Geesum Petes! I must be turning ten shades of red. I can feel my ears burning. But, it feels so good to be held by this woman.'

"Thank you. I'm so embarrassed. You Ok?" The blushing woman asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Are you alright?" She looked amused.

"Only my pride is hurt, I'm afraid. Ummm, You can let go of me now."

"Oh. Sorry. Let's try this again. I'm Rachel." The statuesque brunette held out a long elegant hand.

"Meg. Pleased to meet you, Rachel." Meg took the proffered appendage and looked into her deep dark eyes.

'Those eyes. They're the color of the ocean. I could drown in them.' Rachel mused.

"Whew, I really need a shower. Would you like to go get a cup of coffee with me at the True Brew after I get defunked?" Rachel smiled, hopefully.

"That would really hit the spot. I need to shower too." The blond grinned happily as they both walked into the locker room and took separate shower stalls.

Rachel brought her terry robe into the shower with her. She didn't want her naked body seen. That was a rule of hers that she'd never broken. She tried not to ogle the other women who had no such hang ups and walked around the women's locker room naked as the day they were born without a care in the world. It bothered her. That was something she reserved for private intimate moments. After showering, she retrieved a change of clothing and went into a dry stall to get dressed.

Meg left the shower stall wrapped in a towel, retrieved a change of clothing and went back to the stalls to change. She'd always been a little shy about being naked in front of strangers. She was pleased to see that her new friend seemed to be that way to.

Feeling refreshed and energized, the ladies proceeded to walk to the coffee shop.


Rachel opened the door for her new friend and got her order, then went up to retrieve two mocha latte's.

"So tell me about yourself. You from New Orleans? What kind of work do you do? Do you like to dance?" Rachel wiggled her eyebrows suggestively and grinned.

"Well, let's see. I am a native of Covington, Louisiana, I have a PHD in Psychology and yes, I love to dance." Meg smiled and blushed.

'God, she's so cute.' "Would you like to go dancing with me?" Rachel asked hopefully.

"I think I'd like that a lot. When would you like to go?"

"How's tonight? We could go eat at La Peniche and then dancing at Ruby Fruit Jungle." Rachel sipped from her cup.

"Oh, well, tonight? I guess that would be alright. I don't have any clients to see in the morning. Ok, just let me go home and change, then I can meet you at the restaurant for about 1930."

"No sense in us both driving. Do you live around here? I could pick you up. I live straight across the neutral ground from Whole Food Grocery."

"Yeah, actually, I walked too. I live on N. Dupree." Both women smiled at the fortuitousness.

"Then I'll pick you up, say around 1915. Let me walk you home so I'll know the house." Rachel held the door open for her friend and they walked in companionable silence, just enjoying the scent of sweet olive in the air.


"You didn't tell me anything about you. What do you do?" Meg asked.

"Well, there's not much to tell. I have a Master's Degree in Nursing. I do mostly Health and Fitness Education in Hospital based diabetic programs, High School Health and Safe Sex programs and I teach a Health and Fitness course at Tory's Gym. It's not all that exciting, but it's needed and the Hospital Corporation I work for pays handsomely. I still work PRN at Charity's Emergency Room. It keeps life say the very least." Rachel remarked.

"What do you like doing the most?"

"I like lecturing to the fifth and sixth graders in my sex education classes. I hope to educate them before they can be taken advantage of." Rachel's face turned sad.

Meg thought to pursue the subject further, but they'd reached their destination. "Here we are." Meg smiled, indicating her home.

"Oh! Ok. I'll pick you up at 1915 then. I'm looking forward to it."

"Me too. See you later."


The women enjoyed their meal and light conversation about their favorite music and movies. They laughed at the latest Hollywood gossip

over who's sleeping with whom and who has the best boob job. Meg found the silly topics a nice break from her usually heavy fair and Rachel's sense of humor wickedly witty.

Rachel asked for the check and both women reached for it. "Oh no, I asked you out, remember?" Rachel raised an eyebrow at her companion.

"Rachel, let's get one thing straight. I pay my own way. We are equals. If you want to pay for your own meal and I'll pay for mine, that's fine. Gosh, I don't mean to sound insulting. It's lovely that you want to pay for me. And, I may need you to at some time. But, I can afford to pay for myself tonight. Ok?" Meg looked stubbornly into Rachel's eyes.

The tall brunette raised her hands in surrender. "Ok, ok. We'll go dutch. If that's what makes you happy. You pay for yourself and I'll pay for me. Not a problem."

The women paid their respective bills and got up to leave. Rachel reached for the door to allow Meg to pass through. "Um, is it Ok if I hold the door for you?" Rachel looked down at her date with a grin.

"Yes, you may. I confess I like your chivalry very much." Meg grinned back.

"Why, thank you ma'am. It's my pleasure." The women walked out onto the sidewalk into a star filled evening.

"It's a beautiful night. Would you like to walk off some of that meal?" Rachel asked.

"Sounds like a plan. How far is it to the club?" Meg let Rachel take her hand.

"Only about six blocks. Not far. Do you mind me holding your hand?" Rachel asked almost sheepishly.

"No..... It feels nice. You are a nice woman, aren't you, Rachel?" Meg asked sincerely.

The taller woman blushed, feeling her ears burning. "I hope so, Meg. At least about some things I am, I guess.....So you're a shrink, huh?"

Meg chuckled. "Yep. Want to try out my couch?" 'God! I can't believe I said that.'

"Is that an invitation?" Rachel chuckled as she raised a dark eyebrow under her bangs and grinned lasciviously. Seeing the "deer in the headlights look" on Meg's flushed face, Rachel decided to let her embarrassed date off the hook. "You never know where we might end up..... So, where do you practice?"

"My office is just off Rue Esplanade. It's not far from the gym. I love the convenience."

"Beats the hell out of driving way across Lake Pontchartrain in all that traffic. Here we are." Rachel opened the door for Meg and they were virtually deafened by the sound of dance music permeating the atmosphere.

"Do you want something to drink?" Meg yelled into her date's ear over the pounding music.

"No, thank you. I came here to dance. Let's hit the floor." Rachel pulled her partner onto the dance floor and let all of her inhibitions disappear.

The women laughed and moved to the music, enjoying the connection between mind, body and rhythm. Rachel felt goose bumps on her arms as her spirit rose and she became one with the music.

"God, she's beautiful, so graceful, like a panther. I wonder if she's as dangerous." Meg lusted after the dark woman, who moved with such abandon. "I wonder what it feels like to hold that body. If they'd just play a slow song, I'd find out. Maybe I could pay off the Deejay."

Meg had a plan that she was sure would get her what she longed for. When the music stopped, Meg fanned herself with her hand and blew hot air through pursed lips. "Whew, I'm thirsty. That was quite a work out." She smiled at her partner.

"Can I get you something to drink..., or is that too butch." Rachel gave her a knowing grin.

"That would be great. How about a glass of ice water and a peach wine cooler. I'll catch the next round. Ok?" Meg gave her a knowing grin right back.

"Ok. This is about the cheapest date I've been on in years." Rachel laughed as she battled through the bodies to get to the bar.

Meg took the opportunity to work her way over to the Deejay. She slipped him a twenty dollar bill and told him to play some slow songs.

"Like what?" The orange haired youth asked.

"Crazy" by Patsy Cline. Everyone has that CD. And how about some KD Lang. You know, romantic. If you do this for me, there will be more cash where that came from. Do we understand each other?" Meg gave the youngster a "no nonsense" glare, then walked off to find her date.

"There you are. I was wondering where you ran off to." Rachel handed Meg her drinks and they grabbed an empty table.

"I had some business to attend to, if you know what I mean." Meg grinned.

Thinking that she'd run to the bathroom, Rachel just nodded.

"What's that you're drinking? It looks yummy." Meg asked.

"A Mimosa. I get my vitamins and booze all wrapped up in one." She held her drink up proudly.

"You are a health nut. Aren't you?"

"Yep. I admit it. I think I am addicted to endorphins. But there are worse things to be addicted to." Rachel put on a serious face.

"Yes, I can vouch for that. I deal with my client's addictions daily. Some have lost everything that mattered to them because of their addictions. It's tragic. At least you are addicted to something that improves your quality of life." Meg raised her wine cooler in a toast. "To healthy addictions. Maybe I could get addicted to broccoli. What do you think?"

"I think I have some great recipe's I could loan you." Rachel smiled and winked at her new friend.

"Oh boy, you are disgustingly healthy." Meg rolled her eyes and took a big gulp of her drink, when the piano intro to Patsy Cline's Crazy came over the loud speakers.

"Ooooh, I love this song." Meg stood up and took the Mimosa from Rachel, then held her larger hand in her own. "Dance with me, Rachel." As Meg looked down into dark pools, a stab of desire ran through her belly to her groin.

"Love to." Rachel followed the petite blond onto the dance floor. She took Meg's right hand and gently curled it into her left, then wrapped her right arm around the small of her partner's back and held her close. Slowly and gracefully she moved to the music, her smaller partner following her lead effortlessly. 'God, she feels so good against me, so right. It's like our bodies were meant to be together, moving as one.

Meg's left hand rested upon a well muscled shoulder as her partner's chin lightly brushed against her temple. The smell of the dark beauty was making her head spin. Tilting her chin down, she was able to enjoy the cleavage she'd felt gently brushing against her. 'I think I died and went to heaven. She is just so perfect. I want to kiss her. I just hope she doesn't reject my advances. I don't know hardly anything about her. But I do know she likes to be dominant. I hope not so dominant as to reject my making a move on her. Well here goes. Sink or swim, Marguerite.' Meg looked up, surprised and delighted to see the eyes looking down at her filled with the fire of desire. 'Oh yes, this is a good thing.' The little woman ran her left hand up behind her partner's neck and gently pulled her down so their lips nearly touched and their breath mingled. A soft, warm tongue licked full lips then pulled back, running a wet trail down a succulent neck, stopping at the pulse point to suckle gently.

A ripple of pleasure ran through every fiber of Rachel's being, enjoying the ministrations of her partner's tongue. "She is making me so aroused.' Rachel leaned down and captured moist lips, tongues explored, as their arms wrapped around each other, their bodies gently rocking back and forth to the music. When they came up for air, the music had stopped and they just stood their, swaying, gazing into each other's eyes. The spell was broken when a hard bass rhythm came pounding over the loud speaker. Rachel broke into dance and Meg followed along with her.

The two new friends danced and cuddled and kissed till exhaustion forced them to call it a night and walk back to Rachel's car. On the drive home, Rachel held Meg's hand on her own thigh, rubbing and tracing the small blue veins under the skin. Meg gazed up, studying her profile, her high cheek bones, aquiline nose and strong jaw. She was a handsome figure for sure, but there was a gentleness there. Almost a vulnerability. She was an interesting character. And, possibly the most sensuous woman Meg had ever encountered.

Stopping in front of Meg's house, Rachel jumped out and ran around the car to open the passenger door for her. 'Yes, I could get used to this.' Taking the smaller woman's hand, she helped her out of the car and walked her to the front door.

"I had a great time tonight, Meg. Can we do it again sometime soon?" Rachel asked shyly.

'She's blushing. I don't get it. So many contradictions in her personality.' "That sounds like a plan. What about tomorrow night. That's if you are fee." Meg smiled.

"I'm covering for a friend at Charity's Emergency Room tomorrow evening, but what about going roller blading with me in the morning? That's if you are free." Rachel asked hopefully.

"Perfect. It will have to be pretty early, though. My first appointment is for 1130." Meg replied staring up into smiling almond eyes.

"Don't you eat lunch? You work the strangest hours." Rachel looked puzzled.

Meg laughed. "Sure, I eat lunch. Most of my clients work. Inevitably one will only be able to see me on their lunch hour, which varies from 1130 to 1330. So I've planned my day in such away that I can be available for them. I eat before I go to work. I'm usually booked from 1130 to 1830. I have a lite supper, then work on my case files. It's worked out really well for me. I can go work out in the Gym every morning, if I can drag my butt out of bed, or run my errands. I like it. I'm not much of a nine to five type."

"I'm impressed. That was a smart move. I like a person that can improvise. So, you want to meet me at Tory's gym at 0800? We can go skating in City Park, then get breakfast at the City Park Coffee House. How's that sound?" Rachel beamed.

"Sounds great, except for one little detail."

Rachel frowned and furrowed her brow. "What's that?"

"I don't own any in line skates. In fact, I haven't been on skates since High School, so you'll have play teacher." Meg smiled sheepishly.

"Oh, is that all? Don't worry. Tory has a whole slew of roller blades she keeps on hand at the gym. I'm sure she'll have a pair that will fit you. So, meet you tomorrow morning?" Rachel was relieved.

"Tomorrow morning it is. I look forward to my first skating lesson. I just hope I don't break anything important, like my neck." Meg laughed.

"Don't worry. I promise, you won't break your neck. You might bruise your butt, but your neck? Not a chance." Rachel giggled as Meg grimaced and rubbed her soft round buttocks.

Rachel had an uncontrollable urge to hug her new friend. 'She's just so cute.' When she pulled away, Meg's expression had changed from amusement to desire.

Rachel just stood there gazing into sea-green pools. 'Gosh, she's got the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen. I could gaze into them for days.'

Meg couldn't look away. She wanted this woman in her bed, but didn't want to chase her away by jumping her bones. "I'll see you tomorrow, then."

"Um, yeah tomorrow..... I want to kiss you again." Rachel stated as she moved closer to her quarry.

"Please......" Meg stood on tiptoe to meet the much taller woman half way. Their lips met ever so gently. Rachel left her lips, then placed little butterfly kisses upon her forehead, cheeks, eyes and nose as her hands stroked her long golden locks. 'I'd better get out of here while I still can. You don't really know her yet. Don't get careless.' Rachel placed a sweet kiss on her date's moist lips, then pulled away and waved goodnight.


Meg slept soundly, dreaming of a dark, dangerous looking woman screaming in ecstasy, firm breasts heaving under her sweat soaked body. She would have some difficulty keeping her hands to herself today.

Rachel fought to awaken from her recurring nightmare. 'Come on Rach, you know you can trust me. I wouldn't hurt ya. I promise. Just put your hand there. It feels so good. I can make you feel good too. A well muscled teen age boy took a little ten year old girls small hand and placed it on his penis, which was sticking out from his jockey's . His khaki uniform pants were crumpled on the floor of his bedroom. Oh, yeah, that's right. Now, rub it.....' The dream changed locations. She was a little older, young breasts had begun to bud and wispy pubic hair lightly covered her sex. The teen aged boy had more body hair and his penis had grown to an impressive size. He forced the naked, squirming, begging eleven year old girl onto the cold tile floor of his parent's bathroom. 'I'm not gonna hurt you, Rach. Don't you want to make me feel good. I want to make you feel good.' The molester claimed as he held her shoulders down, kissing and sucking her undeveloped breasts. She kicked and fought, but he was much larger and stronger than she. 'Feel me, Rach.' A large calloused hand pulled her small hand to his penis and moaned when she wrapped her fingers around his girth. 'I'm gonna fuck you, little cousin. I'm gonna make you feel so good.' He climbed higher on her body, rigid with terror, and placed the tip of his penis at her virginal sex and he pumped. His arousal was so great that he ejaculated shortly after tearing her hymen. She screamed and cried in pain, fear and humiliation as he fell upon her The scene changed again to the floor of the bathroom in her parents' home. 'Oh God! What's happening. Aye, aye, aye it hurts!' The young dark haired girl sat on the toilet and rocked herself, holding her lower abdomen, moaning at the painful cramps that seemed to last for hours. Then, the pain having subsided, she curled upon the bathroom rug and fell into an exhausted sleep. When she awoke, the blood between her thin legs had nearly dried, but the evidence of her miscarriage lay still on the floor, not more than two inches in length, it's little black eyes and nubs, where there would have been arms and legs, discernible through the blood. "NOOOOOOOOOoooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Rachel shot out of bed like a canon ball and ran to the bathroom of her cottage to throw up. Beads of sweat peppered her forehead and chest. "Shit! What the hell brought that up. I haven't had that nightmare in a long time. Fuck! That bastard is still haunting me. Why can't it just go away? That was thirty years ago, for Christ sake!" Rachel brushed her teeth and walked into the living room, picking up her guitar from it's stand. She began playing a classical piece requiring great concentration to keep her mind off the past.


Meg arrived at the gym twenty minutes early. She had hoped to get the chance to chat with Tory and get to know her better. She figured her chances with Rachel would improve if her best friend approved of her.

She was surprised to see that her friend had arrived before her and was working out, a sheen of sweat making her body glow in the flourescent lighting.

Rachel attacked her weights with a passion, trying to defuse the anger she'd been feeling since her nightmare. She'd learned many years before to get her anger out in a constructive manner. Pushing her body had always worked for her. She ran on the elevated jogging track until she was exhausted. The exertion cleared her head and gave her the sweet buzz she craved.

Meg watched her new friend in absolute awe. 'She'll kill herself. I've never seen anyone push so hard. It's like she's got the devil himself chasing her. What is it with that woman.'

Meg got on the treadmill until Rachel was ready to join her.

"Good morning, cutie." Rachel said as she practically vibrated with energy, her tank top saturated, sweat dripping from her chin and nose. "How's about a great big hug." The taller woman threatened, wiggling her eyebrows, an evil grin gracing her angular features.

Meg ducked away from her predator and ran to hide behind Tory, who'd been enjoying the show. "Oh no, you two." Tory held a hand against each woman's chest, preventing them from moving any closer to her. "Rachel, go take a shower. You reek! Meg, you go try on those skates on the counter." Tory looked from one woman to the other, her expression letting them know she would brook no playing this morning."

Rachel winked at her quarry. "Yes, mother. I never get to have any fun." The dark haired beauty stuck out her lower lip and loped to the showers.

"God, she's adorable when she does that." Meg exclaimed.

"Yes, she is. Sometimes I wonder if....."

"Wonder what?" Meg searched Tory's eyes for the answer, but the older woman looked away.

"Nothing. Try those skates on. I have work to do."

Rachel returned quickly in her biking shorts and a clean tank top. "Hey, Tory, you have any knee and elbow pads we can borrow. I'll bring them right back."

"Sure, they're in the storage closet hanging on the wall rack..... Y'all be careful. Don't break anything important, ok."

"We'll be careful. And, thanks for the loan." Meg said.

The women collected their things and headed out of the building.

Rachel walked up to a shiny cherry red 1964 Mustang. "Wow! Rachel, is this yours? It's beautiful! Where'd you get it?"

Rachel opened the passenger door for Meg. "I found it about five years ago and have been working on it every since then. I had a rental car last night cause my neighbor was putting the new CD player in for me. He's a body man and had to make some small adjustments to the dash to accommodate the more modern sound system. I'm afraid I don't have all the original parts to the engine, so modernizing a few things wasn't an issue. It's not, technically, a classic, except to me of course. She's my baby." Rachel slipped onto the black leather seat and stroked her stick shift as if it were her lover. "Just listen to her purr. There's one thing I can say about Cherry that I can't say about many other areas of my life. I get back exactly what I put into her. She's always responsive." Dark eyebrows wiggled as she winked at her amused passenger.

"So "Cherry" is my competition?" Meg asked.

"Nope. Cherry has no competition." Rachel responded cockily.


Meg bravely tackled roller blades on concrete, holding onto Rachel's hand for balance. She found it all very exhilarating, but her calf muscles were screaming at her to stop. She did not complain. The last thing she wanted was to have Rachel think she couldn't keep up with her. Who ever bagged this dynamo would have to be quite the athlete.

Rachel finally took pity upon her protege and helped her out of the skates and treated her to a mocha latte' and croissant before returning her and the skates to Tory's gym. "That was fun Rachel. Let's do it again sometime." Meg said with enthusiasm.

"Yeah, it was fun. I hope you didn't over do it, though. You're new to this kind of thing."

"Nah, I'll be fine. I've gotta run home and get a shower before work. Would you thank Tory again for loaning me her skates?"

"Sure..... Umm..... Look, Tory has an open house party the first Saturday of the month, which is this Saturday. She has music and dancing, free food, and soft drinks. However, you bring your own booze. Tory doesn't like drunken women. Anyway, I always help out and I wanted to invite you to come. It's kinda "uptown casual" attire.

You'll be surprised at all the local celebs that show up. Women you never dreamed were gay. I've had some very interesting conversations at these shindigs. It's women only, of course. She always advertises in the Gambit and Times Picayune's Friday entertainment pull out section." Rachel had to stop and take a breath. It was suddenly very important to her that Meg come.

"Ok. Sounds like fun. What time should I be here?"

"The party starts at 2000. But, if you want to help us get set up, you could meet me here about 1830 or 1900." Rachel said.

"I'd love to help out. I'll be here early then. Thanks for asking me. I look forward to it." Meg turned to leave when Rachel called her attention back.

"It just dawned on me that I don't have your phone number." Rachel ran to the business counter and retrieved a pen and pad. She wrote her phone number down and handed it to Meg. Meg took the pad and wrote her home, work and cell phone numbers down for the beauty she so much wanted to know better.

"See you Saturday." Meg walked away, feeling all was right with the world.


Both women dressed to impress the other. They were each aware of their mutual attraction and how much they wanted to act upon that desire. Rachel decided to play it by ear. She wanted to be sure the adorable little Psychologist was worth the tremendous emotional and spiritual effort and energy it would cost her to maintain the relationship once it got intimate. She depended upon Tory's judgement in these matters and was grateful for the opportunity for her friends to spend more time together. It was important to her that the woman she might be becoming involved with and Tory like each other. She was the only one in the world Rachel really trusted, the only one who gave her unconditional love and acceptance. The only real constant in her life for the last twenty-five years. Although there was only a few years difference in their ages, Tory was both mother and friend to her, her protector and advisor. She alone knew all her secrets, all of them.


"Hey, I really appreciate you helping out like this. We usually wear ourselves out before the party even gets started. The only way Tory can afford to do this every month is if she doesn't hire any help. Help is always on a volunteer basis and, needless to say, that usually winds up being me and Tory." Rachel said as she dragged the weight benches against the wall.

"Oh, I don't mind at all. I think it's great that y'all do this. What a great opportunity to meet interesting people and for Tory to make new clients."

"Yeah, it's really worked out well for her."

"And you? I bet you've met a veritable bevy of beauties through these little soirees." Meg grinned and winked knowingly at her friend.

"I've met a few really interesting women. And I've gone out with a few of them once or twice, but nothing serious. It's more of a group thing for me. I enjoy spending a little time with the group and then I go back to my "Cherry"." Rachel wiggled her dark eyebrows and winked.

"I must admit, Rachel Vincenti, you are an enigma to me. I just can't figure you out." Meg shook her head.

"Must you figure me out, Meg? Can you just take what I can give and leave it at that." Rachel was suddenly very serious and looked like she might cry.

Meg felt her heart break at the look in her friend's gently pleading eyes. She quickly walked up to Rachel and embraced her. "Awe, Rachel, I'm sorry. I didn't mean anything by it. We'll take it slow. I know we've only been seeing each other a week, but I do care for you and I love being with you. You're my friend. You can depend on me. I didn't mean to push your buttons just then. Forgive me?" Meg batted her long blonde lashes at Rachel and the big brunette's heart just melted.

"Forgiven. Now help me move this damned bench. I feel like a pack mule."

At 2000, the gym filled with chic, elegant women of every persuasion. Most of those new to the monthly soirees flirted blatantly with Rachel, but to no avail. Those who'd attended before knew it was a waste of time and energy. She obviously enjoyed the attention and gave as good as she got, but then just walked away or included as many other women into the conversation as possible. She danced every dance and with sometimes more than one woman, but the rare slow dance was reserved for a certain long haired blonde beauty. It was then that she felt that safe warm fuzzy feeling she was beginning to associate with Meg. It just felt right to be in her arms, to nuzzle her neck and to kiss her sweet lips.

'God, I want this woman. I want to give her pleasure beyond her imagination. I want to love her. I think I already do.' When the romantic ballad ended, Rachel took Meg's small hand and led her through the guests up to the jogging track, which was also covered with women, some just talking, some mostly groping. She pulled a key from her hip pocket and unlocked the only door up there. Quickly she pulled Meg through and locked the door behind her.

Meg's heart beat wildly as she allowed herself to be led through the murky darkness. Suddenly the room filled with dull light from a goose necked floor lamp that Rachel turned on. "Where are we?" Meg looked around at the rather large studio with its sofa and huge overstuffed chaise lounge, kichenette and wet bar. There was an entertainment center with TV and stereo, which was being pumped into the gym. The ceilings were ten feet high with several drop ceiling fans. One wall was all windows from floor to ceiling that led out onto a balcony. "This is really nice. I like the feel of it." Meg said.

"This is Tory's hiding place. She controls the sound system from here. Mostly, she just lives here instead of going home. I actually live in Tory's house. She hasn't been able to stay there for more than a couple of days since Claire died. Too many memories. Which is the same reason she can't sell me the place. Their bedroom hasn't been touched in two years. Even her clothes are still in the closet. I know she goes in there sometimes when I'm at work. I know the scent of her cologne. But, I've never mentioned it. She asked me to give up my apartment and move in her house, so I did. I love it. At least she lets me pay her rent and help around the Gym to compensate her." Rachel walked over to the entertainment center and lifted off a 5X7 photograph of Tory and a petite short haired blonde in shorts and a t-shirt sitting on "Cherry", holding hands and smiling for the camera. "This is Claire. They were together for sixteen years. I've never known any two people to be so in love, so totally devoted to each other and their life together." Rachel was unaware of the tears leaking from her eyes. "Sometimes I think I'm the only reason Tory didn't kill herself after the cancer took her lover. She knew I needed her. I don't know what life would be like without her. And, I don't want to find out." Rachel carefully put the frame back where she found it.

Rachel felt Megs arms circle her waist and her small, warm body hugged tightly against her back. "I'm so sorry. That must have been a nightmare for you both. I'm sure you cared very deeply for Claire too."

The weeping woman turned around and buried her head in the smaller woman's neck as small, gentle hands stroked her long dark hair, whispering words of comfort.

When Rachel was able to compose herself she looked at Meg and giggled, shyly. "This isn't exactly what I had in mind when I brought you up here..... I'm sorry I spoiled the mood."

"Please, don't be sorry, Rach. This is the first time you've really let me into your heart. I feel honored that you trust me enough to let your defenses down..... Thank you." Meg cupped her friends still damp cheek. "Why don't you go wash your face. Do you have any make up with you. You look like you've been crying and I know you don't want to upset Tory."

"No, shoot! I didn't expect to need a repair job." Rachel smiled.

"Not a problem. I brought my purse in the trunk of my car. I have some translucent powder, eye shadow and lip gloss that will perk you right up. Be back in a jiff." Meg turned on her heel and headed for the door.

"Meg, please ask a couple of the girls to go with you. Ok?" Rachel asked.

"Sure. Be back in five minutes." She winked at her friend as she slipped through the door.


'Holy Smokes! It's standing room only down there. Where's Tory?' Meg perused the crowd of women below the track she stood upon until she gave up trying to spot her new friend. 'Well, I'm just gonna run out to the car and back. With all these people around, who'd bother me?'

When Meg walked through the downstairs, she thought about the woman waiting for her, who only asked her to do one little thing for her. 'Alright, alright, I'll find someone to watch for me.' Meg spotted two women chatting by the front door and approached them, asking them to accompany her as she ran to retrieve her purse from the trunk of her car which was parked just at the turn of the block. The two women didn't want to disrupt their flirting and agreed to watch her from the door.

Meg thanked them and walked briskly down the sidewalk. She was unaware that the two women, whose assistance she'd engaged, had quickly returned to planning the rest of their evening together, disregarding their promise to watch out for the petite woman, who was a stranger to them.

'Well, her five minutes are up.' Rachel had washed and dried her face, fixed herself and Meg a cup of coffee from the kitchenette and was beginning to be concerned. The dark haired beauty walked out onto the jogging track and searched the crowd below her for her friend. She didn't see her, but did notice the two women talking in the front doorway. She quickly ran down the stairs and maneuvered over to them. "Hi, Kris, have you seen a little woman, really cute with long blonde hair? She had on a kind of teal colored silk shirt."

"Sure. She went to get something out of her car and we were waiting for her....." It had just occurred to her that the little blonde had not yet returned. "Oh, Rachel, I'm sure she's fine....."

Rachel didn't wait to hear anymore. She ran passed them toward Meg's car, calling out her name, the two women slowly tagging behind. She reached the automobile, whose trunk was still open. A cold lump filled her heart with fear as she turned in a circle, straining her eyes to see any sign of her friend.

"MEG.....? MEG ANSWER ME. WHERE ARE YOU?" Rachel shouted frantically into the night. She stood as quietly as she could, trying to hear any sound over the thumping of her heart.

Meg heard her friend nearby and new she had to make enough noise to draw her attention. The hand held against her mouth was dirty and she could smell the stench of beer and cigarettes on the breath of her attacker. The knife he held to her throat cut into her delicate flesh. She pushed herself back against the outer wall of the gym to escape further damage.

It was an impulse really. She just forced her mouth open as wide as she could, twisted her head as far as she could and bit down with all the strength her terror gave her. Her attacker yelped in pain, releasing his hold just long enough for Meg to scream "RACH!!!"

Rachel heard her and ran like a bat out of hell toward the sound. She saw him, standing with his body pressed against Meg and she felt a rage like she'd never known before. She didn't really think how she would stop the man, she just dived on him, pulling him off of Meg with incomparable strength. Meg slid down the wall weak with fear and relief.

Rachel grabbed the assailant by the front of his shirt and, using all the leverage her superior height gave her, slammed his head into the old brick wall, over and over again, experiencing an almost orgasmic thrill at hearing his screams.

"Rachel, stop!!! You'll kill him." Meg yelled in panic at the horror before her eyes and managed to pull herself to her feet, leaning against the wall for support. She reached out and grasped her friend's shoulder, effectively breaking her concentration. "RACHEL!!!" The distraction was all the assailant needed to break away from the enraged woman's grip and run away holding his bloody head in his hands.

Rachel turned back toward her prey and ran to catch him. "NOOOOOooooo!" Rachel screamed as he ran away, far out of the reach of her anger. Meg started screaming for someone to call the police. The two party guests had already assessed the situation and were heading back for help.

Meg turned back down the alley and limped in the direction her friend had run and stopped short at seeing her standing still, head facing downward, her right hand pressed underneath her right breast.

"Rach? Rach, you ok?" She could hear the sirens racing down Esplanade. "The police are coming. Rachel.....? You're scaring me."

The tall beauty did not turn around, but seemed to sink slowly to her knees.

"OH, GOD!!! RACHEEELLL!!!!!" Meg ran to her stricken friend and caught her as she listed back toward the pavement. Meg rested Rachel's upper body upon her lap and gasped in horror at the blood oozing across her white silk blouse like some macabre Rorschach test.


"What's up with all the sirens?" Tory ran to the front doors of the gym as two women came running towards her screaming as they ran.

"CALL 911, CALL 911."

Tory turned back inside and dialed the phone as the two women plowed through the doors.

"What happened!?!" Tory demanded.

"Some guy attacked the little blonde and Rachel's beating the shit out of him." The words rushed out of their mouths and into Tory's heart.

"911, may I help you?"

"Need an ambulance at Tory's Gym on Rue Esplanade."

"Mam, what happened?"

Tory had already handed the phone to one of the two witnesses and ran out of the doors with her first aid kit as fast as she could run.

Meg held her friend, applying pressure at the wound beneath her right breast. She had slowed the bleeding down a little, but she knew it didn't look good.

"Please Rach, please don't die." Meg said as she gently kissed Rachel's forehead. "Why didn't you let him go? Awe, Jesus, Rach, why didn't you just let him go?"

Rachel looked up into Meg's eyes which were filled with pain and took a deep enough breath to speak. "Because I don't want you to hurt like I do, Meg..... I love you." Huge tears fell from the weakening woman's eyes as she took another deep breath, wanting desperately for this special woman to understand what only Tory had ever understood. "He hurt me Meggie. I don't want to hurt anymore." A violent coughing fit racked Rachel's body, showering her friend's blouse with tiny dots of red foam.

"RACHEL!?!" Tory slid to the ground next to her best friend and assessed the damage. "Awe, shit! Don't try to talk, baby. Your lung is punctured. There's an ambulance on the way." Tory said and made a pressure dressing, applying it tightly under her friend's ruined blouse.

Rachel had another coughing spell and more evidence of her sucking chest wound spewed onto both her friends. "Sorry, I ruined your party."

"Shut the fuck up, Rachel." Tory placed her finger on her friend's bloody lips.

"She needs her head elevated more so she can breathe." Tory helped Meg lift the limp weight high against her chest. The police had arrived and were interviewing the two witnesses as the ambulance drove up and the EMT's jumped out with the stretcher on wheels.

Meg explained to the EMT's what happened as they called in her stats to the E.R. at Charity Hospital. "Miss, we need to treat your injuries too."

"Well you can just do that on the way to the hospital cause I'm not leaving her." Meg insisted.

"Are you a family member, mam?" The other EMT asked, totally devoid of expression.

"She's her sister." Tory jumped in. She new the rules and new how important it was to Rachel for Meg to be with her.

"Go with them Meg. I'll meet you there after I clear everyone out." Tory squeezed the younger woman's hand and ran back into the gym.


The emergency room doors burst open as the stretcher carrying Rachel Vincenti rolled through. The EMT's were met by the trauma team, who immediately transferred her to trauma room #1, where they were joined by Dr. Robert Marino. Report was given as the trauma physician did a physical assessment. He'd already informed the Director of Nurses that the on-call operating room staff needed to be alerted, as well as Dr. Larimer in Pulmonary. Troy had called ahead and made sure everything was in readiness. Every minute would be precious if her best friend were to survive.

Rachel was immediately hooked up to humidified Oxygen and a pulse oximeter was taped to the middle finger of her left hand. "Get her typed and cross matched for six units of packed red blood cells, I need a central line and an 18 gauge peripheral line. Start an IV of one-half normal saline wide open and a plasma expander, whatever's within reach. What's her vital signs?" Dr. Marino communicated to his staff.

Tory ran into the trauma room in time to hear her friends vitals and cringed.

"BP 90/40, Respiration 44, pulse thready and rapid. Patient is diaphoretic, pulse ox. reads 74% oxygen saturation."

"Let's get those portable chest films, a CBC, SMA22 and arterial blood gases. As soon as that's done we'll get her into the O.R."

"Robbie, can you assist in the O.R. I trust you more than anyone with Rachel." Tory asked, nearly desperate for her friend.

"I already planned to. I can't stick through the entire surgery but I intend to be there to make sure everything is moving on the right track.

Try not to worry to much. We'll take good care of her. If anyone can survive this, she can. Rachel is the healthiest creature I've ever met." Robert Marino chuckled and patted his old friend on the shoulder, wanting to comfort her.

"Robbie, there was a young woman with Rachel. Do you know where she is?" Tory wanted to fill Meg in on the condition of their friend.

"No. But if you look at that schedule on the wall, you should find her."

"Thanks..... for everything." Tory kissed her friend's cheek as she went in search of Meg.

"There you are. Are you Ok?" Tory asked, relieved to find Meg so quickly in the mass confusion of the ER.

"Yeah, just a few stitches in my neck and shoulder and some bruised fingers." She tried to make a fist and winced. "Do you have any news on Rachel?"

"They're prepping her for surgery now. She should be in the OR in about ten minutes."

"I need to see her before she goes under." Meg walked quickly to Trauma Rm. #1 and asked to speak to the patient.

"I'm sorry miss, but you can't be in here." One of the nurse's turned to gently urge Meg out of the room, when Tory stopped her.

"For Christ sake, Evelyn, let them have a moment. It may help Rachel fight if she has more to fight for." Tory said.

"You know the rules, Tory. And you are no longer on staff at this hospital." Nurse Evelyn always resented her previous supervisor's rapport with the patients and ER physicians. 'She always thinks she's better than everybody else. Damned dyke.'

Dr. Robert Marino heard the arguing and went to investigate. "Let's break the rules. I said she could see Nurse Vincenti. Now give them a moment of privacy.....please." Robbie smirked at his least favorite nurse as she walked passed him. 'She needs an attitude adjustment.'

Meg walked quickly up to Rachel, careful not to disturb any of the tubes or wires and kissed her gently on her forehead. Rachel was panting for breath and in considerable pain. Her blood oxygen saturation had increased to 94%, but she still felt like she was in a fog. She looked into pained green eyes and reached for the bandages on her friend's neck and shoulder, with a worried expression.

Meg took her friend's hand in hers and kissed it. "I'm alright. Just a couple of stitches. Thank you for saving my life." Rachel looked like she wanted to say something so Meg piped back up. "Don't try to speak." Meg brushed dark bangs out of somewhat unfocused eyes. "I know you are hurting inside, Rach. But, right now we need to patch up the booboos outside. They're going to take you into surgery now and make it all better." The two friends grinned at Meg's use of baby talk. "Now listen to me....., I love you, Rachel..... I need you. Do you understand what I'm saying?" Rachel nodded as a tear fell down her cheek and into her ear. "Good. I need you to be strong for me....., for us." Meg struggled to hold back the sob in her throat. "I'll be here when you wake up." Meg leaned down and kissed her forehead, then rubbed her soft cheek with her own. "I love you, Rachel." She whispered in the raven haired beauty's ear, making her heart soar with joy.

"It's time. Let's get you all patched up." Dr. Marino and his crew quickly rolled their patient out of the trauma room with IV drips and monitors.

Meg and Tory held hands as they watched the most important person in their lives rolled away, both painfully aware they may never see her alive again.


Both women sat in the waiting room just staring into space, when Tory finally spoke. "Meg, why don't you let me call you a cab. I'm sure you have to work tomorrow. No sense in us both sitting here."

Meg looked over at this new factor in her life and smiled. "I've got a better idea. Why don't I buy us a cup of coffee and we get to know each other better."

Tory grinned. "You got a deal, as long as you let me buy the next round."

Meg nodded and they headed for the coffee machine.

The new friends sat in the empty surgery waiting room, telling stories and getting to know each other.

"Rachel and I met in high school. She was long and lanky, kinda awkward, like her muscles hadn't caught up with her bones. People thought she was stuck up because she stayed to herself. But, we were thrown together on a research project and I got to know her. She was shy and insecure. But she was also smart. Anything that interested her, like English and physiology, she excelled in. Unfortunately, she had lousy parents. They never took any interest in her. They were too busy boozing it up and beating on each other. If it weren't for her grandmother, Lord only knows how she'd have turned out. She's a great friend and I love her like a sister. But, her family really screwed her up. And, not just her mom and dad....."

"What do you mean by that?" Meg was intrigued.

"By what?"

"Not just her mom and dad screwed her up. What did you mean?"

"Look, Meg, there are some things you should hear from her. It's not my place. I wish I could say more, but she..... Well, I just can't betray her trust. I hope you understand." Tory looked absolutely sick.

"I do..... Tory, Rachel said some things when I was holding her out there on the pavement. I asked her why did she have to fight the bastard. Why couldn't she have just let him go? She said she didn't want me to hurt the way she did. Then she said in this childlike voice, "He hurt me, Meggie. I don't want to hurt any more....." Meg rubbed the tears from her cheeks with the back of her sleeve. "What did she mean by that, Tory? If anyone knows, you do."

Tory shook her head and stood to pace the room. Then stopped at the wall and leaned her forehead against the cool surface. "Oh, my poor Rachel. She should tell you all this herself. It's not my place."

"Damnit, Tory. I can't help her if I don't know what's going on in that beautiful head of hers. She was in such horrible psychic pain, that she nearly beat a man to death."

Tory spun around to look at Meg. Shocked by what she'd just heard. "What are you saying?"

"I'm saying that, if I hadn't been there to restrain her, she would have killed that man. She just kept beating his head against the brick wall, over and over, screaming, "No, not again, not her, leave us alone". I was terrified. I've never seen such rage before."

"Oh, my God..... Forgive me Rachel." Tory let out a sigh of resignation and sat down beside Meg. She looked up to heaven as if in silent prayer and poured out her heart.

"Like I told you before, Rachel's parents didn't give her any attention, but she has and older cousin who sure did. He was six or seven years older than her and lived just down the block. She tagged along with him like a puppy. He was her hero. He was the neighborhood bully and she was his little mascot. Everyone in her grammar school thought they were brother and sister. They have the same coloring and he use to walk her to school. She totally idolized and trusted him. He gave her the attention she was starved for and his parents tried to give her the affection that her parents never did." Tory stopped to take a sip of her cold coffee before proceeding with the story. "When Rachel was ten years old, her cousin began molesting her. He really fucked with her head, telling her if she told on him no one would believe her and they'd send her back where they got her from and she'd have no family anymore and have to be with strangers. You see Rachel was an adopted child. Unfortunately, in those days, the follow up by social services wasn't very thorough. Anyway, he kept telling her that he was the only one who loved her and he just wanted her to make him feel good." Tory grimaced, a look of disgust on her face.

"That bastard! How could anyone do that to a child!?!"

"He didn't just do it once. He caught her several times over the next year. You see their grandmother had become seriously ill and their parents were with her most of the day. So Rachel was place under Joey's supervision. Like keeping the canary in the protective custody of the cat. The last time it happened, he had her on his parents bathroom floor. She has nightmares about lying on her back on ice cold tile as he forces his dick through, tearing her hymen and ejaculating. It was the first and only time, that she's been able to recall anyway, that he ejaculated into her. Well, you know the old saying, "It only takes once."

"My poor Rachel. Pregnant at eleven years old? How did her parents take it?" Meg kept shaking her head and rubbing her tired eyes.

"She never told them. She miscarried on the bathroom floor at her parent's home. She was all alone and scared out of her mind. She didn't even know that she was pregnant. Christ, she was just a little girl. She was more interested in horseback riding than in boys."

"Jesus, Tory, didn't anyone help her?" Meg started to cry anew.

"Not a fucking soul. Her grandmother died during all this and that pretty much took the attention of all the adults. Her grandmother was the only one in her life she could depend on. She did tell a neighbor, but nothing came of it. I guess they either didn't believe her or just didn't want to get involved.

They tell kids these days to go straight to their parents or the police. They tell them what inappropriate touching is and that not all adults tell the truth or have to be obeyed. She didn't know any of those things. The damage to her psyche is very deep. She still has nightmares. She's never had a successful long term intimate relationship."

"That's so sad. She's an incredibly beautiful woman."

"Yes, she is, both inside and out. And there have been a whole slew of women, and men, who've tried to bed her. She might take a woman out to dinner or dancing, maybe to the zoo, if she likes them a lot. She's even had sex with some of them once or twice, until they want to reciprocate and she runs away. So, knowing how she is, she tries mostly to do things as a group. It's safer for everyone that way. We do a lot of stuff together, too. We're really the only family either of us has left. My partner died of cancer two years ago." Tory looked away and took a deep breath.

Tory turned back toward Meg. "You are different. I've never seen her take to anyone like she has to you. She wants to be with you all the time. I think she really loves and trusts you. Maybe, you can break through and help her with her intimacy issues. Your being a Psychologist may give you a better insight into her needs. With you she can let her inner child out to play. I've rarely seen her do that with anyone other than me and Claire. For all her physical attributes and her vast nursing knowledge, she's still that same frightened and betrayed little girl. It breaks my heart sometimes when I see the pain on her face as she watches mothers with their children. If things had been different, I think Rachel would have settled down with a nice woman and raised a couple of rug rats. Life has cheated her, Meg. She deserves so much better."

Meg reached out and hugged Tory, both women crying on the other's shoulder. "Thank you, Tory. Thank you for telling me. I want to make her happy. I know you have risked her trust in you and I appreciate it."


Both women jumped to their feet when Dr. Marino entered the waiting room with a huge smile on his beard stubbled face, a small geekish looking Dr. Larimer by his side. "She made it through the surgery just fine." Dr. Marino announced. "Oh, thank God!" Meg hugged Tory. "What can we expect in her recover?" Tory asked.

"Well, it'll be a tough road for the next few days. We had to crack one of her ribs and cut her a good bit to get where we had to go. She has a chest tube, 69 stitches and a dozen staples. She's gonna be really pissed at how long it'll take before that shoulder will work right again. We've replaced two units of PRBC's and she's on her third transfusion right now. I've ordered one more after this. She lost a considerable amount of blood. She'll be going to ICU for a couple of days when she leaves recovery."

"She's gonna be alright, though?"

"I think she has a fighting chance. Umm, I'm sorry I didn't catch your name."

"Meg Poche'. I'm Rachel's friend." Meg shook hands with her friend's savior.

"Hi, Meg, I'm Robbie Marino. I work prn with Rachel in the E.R. and this is Dr. Larimer. He's our excellent Pulmonologist. As I was saying, the next forty- eight hours are crucial. There are many possible complications, the worst being an embolism. We've ordered heparin shots and IV antibiotics to prevent infection. Lord only knows what was on that knife. A lot depends on Rachel's state of mind, but you seem to be the best medicine for that." Robbie grinned at the exhausted little woman.

Meg blushed and thanked both doctors. "When can we see her?"

"I'm afraid you'll have to wait til she reaches the ICU and they are very strict about upholding visiting hours."

Meg's face fell. "Please, there must be some way I can see her."

"Well, we may be able to help you get in the ICU for more than just a visit. After all, a patient in Nurse Vincenti's condition certainly would require sitters round the clock. You and Tory can alternate shifts." Robbie winked at his new friend. "I'll be sure to write an order to that effect and I will name you both as her assigned sitters. Now I have to get back to the E.R. Dr. James came in for a few hours to cover for me. I suggest one of you goes home and gets some sleep. Rachel won't be coherent enough to know what planet she's on for a few hours. The other one can take first shift when she's transferred to Intensive Care." Robbie and Dr. Larimer left, feeling pleased and proud.

Meg and Tory hugged each other again, each saying a silent prayer of thanks. Meg was the first to speak as she released her embrace and headed back toward the coffee machine with Tory close at her heels.

"I think Rachel needs us both to be here when she wakes up. Then, we can discuss shifts. How's that?" Meg said.

"I think you're right. Why don't we go to the ICU waiting room. They usually have a couple of recliners in their. We can nap til she's transferred. I'll tell the receptionist to let us know as soon as she comes up."

"Now I know why Rachel admires you so. You're one smart cookie." Meg chuckled. "Let's go put our feet up."


"Oh, God." The words slipped out before Meg could stop them. The psychologist took in all the tubes, wires and noisy contraptions that were attached to the pale, dark haired woman in the fully automated bed. 'She looks so battered and frail. I should have let her kill the bastard. Ok, girl, suck it up. She doesn't need you falling apart on her.'

Meg pulled a chair up to the bedside and took Rachel's hand. "Rachel? Rach, it's me, Meg. Can you hear me?"

Rachel's eyes fluttered open, and followed the voice to it's source. She couldn't concentrate for all the anesthesia she'd been given, but she was aware of the golden haired angel calling to her.

Tory sat on the arm of Meg's chair and leaned toward her best friend. "Hey, Rachel, it's me, Tory, and Meg. We've been waiting for you to rejoin the living."

Rachel's bleary eyes slowly focused on the two people most dear to her heart and smiled.

"Do you know who we are?" Tory asked.

Rachel nodded her head, then feeling her hand kissed, searched out sea green eyes and tried to speak.

"Meggie?" Rachel whispered weakly. Feeling the scraping of her chest tube, her breath hitched in pain and eyes widened at the creepy feeling of having some fifth appendage hanging out of her side.

"Shush, now, baby. You have a chest tube and a lot of stitches and staples going around your right shoulder. So, take it easy on yourself." Tory said.

Rachel's eyes registered the information and she nodded. Then she gently tugged on Meg's hand, signaling her to come closer. She tentatively took a deeper breath to speak. "Meggie, did you say you love me?" It was barely a whisper, but Meg heard every word.

"Yeah. I did and I do love you, Rach." Meg nearly choked on the knot of emotion in her throat as she kissed the hand she still held.

Rachel smiled. "Me too." Then fell fast asleep.

To Be Continued in Part 2 of The Awakening by Lena

Let me know what you think.

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