Disclaimers: See Part 1
Thanks go to my Beta reader, Bookie, for all of her hard work.
Rachel went to work in the ER after spending most of the day nursing her hangover and apologizing profusely to her lover for being an ass. 'I swear, dear Lord, if you get me through this shift, I will never drink another Hurricane from Patti-O's for as long as I live.' She solemnly prayed. 'I will never give my lover cause to worry, or puke to mop up again. Just please keep my head from exploding and my dinner in my belly till I can get out of here and crawl in bed with the angel of mercy waiting for me at home.' Her meditation was interrupted by the opening of the trauma doors and the hustling of the EMTs through with a writhing, bloodied form lying upon their gurney. 'Well, here we go.' Rachel took a deep breath and kicked into high gear.
The next eight hours flew by as the ER received trauma after trauma, from car accidents to gunshot wounds. Life in the ER was never dull.
When her shift ended, Rachel covered her soiled uniform with a clean white lab coat, jumped into Cherry and headed home to Meg, relieved that she had no work on Friday, except to attend Dr. Morgan's group therapy session. She groaned at the thought, but determinedly pushed it away. "I will NOT let my fears run my life!" Rachel proclaimed, squaring her shoulders and forcing her mind to concentrate upon the desirable little blonde in her bed. She turned on her car stereo to the Golden Oldies channel and sang along, "Oh, yeah! I gotta woman...way across town...she's good to me...Oh yeah! I got me a woman...way across town...she's good to me...Oh yeah!" as she raced home to her lover, her heart filled with hope for the future.
"Yes, I will. I'll call you as soon as she gets home. Thanks for being here for her, Tory. I don't think we have to worry about a repeat performance. I've never seen anyone so contrite in my life. She cooked lunch, cleaned the dishes, washed our clothes, mopped the kitchen floor and scrubbed the toilets all before leaving for work at 2 p.m. Oh my stars, you should have seen her..... Speak of the devil. I just heard Cherry pull up. She's home. I'll talk to you tomorrow, Tory. Thanks again."
"Don't mention it. Just, take good care of my girl. She's all the family I've got." Tory said.
"I will. I promise. Good night."
Meg put the phone down and went to the front door to greet her partner. She opened the door and peered out at Rachel's smiling face. "Hey lady."
"Hey yourself. Can I come in or am I still in the dog house?"
Meg giggled. "You're forgiven. Come in here and give me a hug."
Rachel grinned from ear to ear and swooped her lover into her strong arms, spinning her until both women fell onto the sofa too dizzy to stand upright. They giggled like a couple of school girls until Meg noticed the odor emanating from her lover's uniform. She held her nose and squinched up her face, indicating her displeasure.
"What? .....It's just a little blood, betadine, urine, and emesis."
"Oh, gross! Laundry room, go! .....And, take a bath, will ya!" Meg directed.
Rachel laughed heartily. "Ok, ok, I'm going. Geesh, some people." She went to the laundry room, stripping her clothes off as she approached and throwing them into the washing machine to clean, then traipsed back through the living room naked as the day she was born.
"RACHEL?!? What are you doing?" Meg exclaimed, eyes wide. Her partner stopped short to look into sea-green eyes.
"I'm going to take a shower so I will no longer offend your finer sensibilities. Isn't that what you wanted?"
"But, you're naked!"
"Of course I'm naked. I don't usually wear formal attire to bathe, madam." Rachel wiggled her eyebrows and proceeded along her way.
Meg stood flustered, at a loss for a smart retort. A moment later, a dark head peaked out from the bedroom. "Would you care to join me?" She asked hopefully.
The question took her totally by surprise. Her insecure lover had never before made such a request. She didn't know how to respond at first, not wanting to cause anymore emotional trauma. But, feeling this to be a sign that her partner was really trying to overcome her fears, she decided to take the chance. "Are you sure about that?"
"Sure, I'm sure." She smiled, sweetly.
"In that case, I'd love to." Meg wiggled her eyebrows at her lover and began removing her own clothes as she quickly walked through the bedroom and into the bath.
The couple took turns soaping up the sponge and washing those hard to reach places for one another. When they were finished with that, they took turns washing each other's hair. Rachel had to sit on the side of the tub for Meg to reach her dark mane. "Good golly, but that feels wonderful, Meggie." She moaned with pleasure as her partner lovingly massaged her scalp and took the opportunity to assess how well her shoulder was healing.
"Your incision is swollen, love." Meg palpated the area, getting a hiss in response. "You've been over doing it, working so many hours."
"Yeah, I know. I'm taking the whole weekend off."
"Good girl. I'm glad you're being good to yourself for a change."
"Have I really been that bad, lately?" Rachel asked, contritely.
"Yep. At least for the past week or so..... I can't tell you how relieved I am that you're getting a grip on this whole group therapy thing..... Do you realize that this is the first time you've let me help you bathe since your surgery? And, it's the first time you've ever pranced around nude for my enjoyment..... I am very impressed. I'd say you are making great progress. And, I am reaping the benefits."
Rachel blushed and felt a sudden urge to grab a towel and cover herself, but she fought it. She knew how much Meg was enjoying their intimacy and she was determined to overcome all of her fears that presented a barrier to their happiness. "I'm still not totally comfortable with my body, but I know you are and I'm trying....."
"Shhh, I know, Rach. And, I know how hard you are trying. Facing your fears is awfully difficult, but you can do it. You are doing it. I am so very proud of you, love." Meg kissed the top of her partner's dark head. Then reached for a dry towel. "Here, let's get you warm and dry before you catch a chill."
The women lay in bed, holding hands and talking about their hopes and dreams for the future until fatigue pulled Rachel into a deep and peaceful sleep.
Meg awoke at 0700 with a heavy feeling across her chest and an incessant tickling of her left ear. She opened her eyes to see her lover's left arm and leg strewn across her body with Rachel's head resting in the curve of her neck, breathing into golden hair causing it to flutter against the owner's ear. She hated waking her peacefully sleeping friend but nature was screaming for her to make a visitation to the porcelain altar. She tried to gently extricate herself and was pleased when Rachel just rolled over and continued lightly snoring.
While showering and drying her long blonde hair, Meg thought of ways to keep Rachel's mind off the therapy group they'd be attending this evening. 'I wish we could make love all day, but that might create more anxiety than not. Next best thing she loves to do is work out, so the gym and a good massage should pass the morning. Of course, that's what we do every morning. What can we do that's special, that will relax her...... The Zoo in Audubon Park.' She went to the bathroom window and opened it, checking the weather. 'Perfect. Not too warm and not too cold. You never know what you're gonna get this time of year in New Orleans. I could take her for a nice long walk in the Zoo and a late lunch. She'd like that. Right now, I think I'll fix us breakfast and let her sleep in.'
Rachel stood just inside the kitchen, quietly admiring the little blonde at the stove. She smiled at how cute Meg looked with her Saints T-shirt on and, she suspected, nothing else but her Bugs Bunny slippers. Her smile turned into a lascivious grin at the thought. She snuck up behind the object of her desire and gently wrapped long arms around a slim waist hugging her against full breasts. She nuzzled into golden hair and moaned her pleasure.
"Mmmmm, good morning..... Sleep well?" Meg inquired.
"I honestly never remember sleeping better than I did with you in my arms last night..... God, but you're good for me, Meggie..... Thanks for sticking with me."
"My pleasure. But, you have to let go of me or I'm going to burn this 5 star breakfast I've been slaving over all morning."
"Whoops, OK." Rachel released her lover. "What have we got here?"
"We have French toast, Spanish omelette and bacon. Would you serve the orange juice and milk from the fridge, please ma'am?"
"Sure thing. Mmmmmm...mm, it smells heavenly. What did I ever do to deserve you? You're beautiful, smart, successful and you can cook too? I'm just about the luckiest woman in New Orleans."
"Just New Orleans?"
Rachel walked up behind the irate little woman and kissed her cheek. "Did I say in New Orleans? I meant the universe."
"That's better. Now grab a couple of plates. Breakfast is served." Meg and Rachel ate their feast while flirting and teasing each other. They both treasured this respite from the stress that had plagued their growing love.
"Hey li'l bit, you wanna join the morning kick boxing group since you'll be tied up tonight?" Tory asked Meg, who was busy rubbing out the sore muscles of Rachel's long legs.
"Kick boxing? You've been taking kick boxing?" Rachel asked, surprised she was unaware of the fact. "How long have you been doing that?"
Meg blanched. For some reason she didn't want Rachel to know that she'd been taking kick boxing ever since she was attacked outside of the gym and her love had nearly been killed. "Just a few weeks. I really enjoy it. Great exercise."
Rachel turned over to face her partner. "Why?"
"What do you mean 'Why?'?"
"I mean, you never struck me as someone who would like any kind of violent.....fighting type....."
"Rach, let me explain..... I was really thrown by what happened to us. Then when Tory told me about the kick boxing class that the gym would be hosting, I jumped at the chance to do something for myself that would empower me, make me feel less of a victim." Meg looked into worried brown eyes, longing for a glimmer of understanding.
Rachel sat up and heaved a deep sigh. "I understand that, Meggie, I do, really. I just want you to promise me that you won't put yourself in any danger because you think you can handle yourself now." She looked deeply into sea-green orbs. There was something there that worried her. She wasn't sure what. But, she wanted to support her lover in whatever was important to her. "OK?"
"OK. I promise not to turn into some peewee vigilante out searching for bad guy butt to kick."
Both women laughed at that. "OK, Xena, Warrior PeeWee, go kick some butt." Rachel quipped.
"Hey, but don't hurt anyone. You'll make my insurance premiums go up." Tory piped in and plopped down next to her best friend. "How ya doin today?"
"Tor, I feel great, light, like a great weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. Now, if I could just stop my shoulder from throbbing....."
"Did you hurt it working out this morning?"
"No. I only worked my lower body today. Lifting the patients in the ER got me. I think I'm gonna have to call Robbie and have him take a look at it if it doesn't start feeling better by Monday. I'm taking the weekend off to rest it and Meg is watching me like a mother hen....."
"Let me take a look at it..... Oooh, yeah, got some swelling and a little bruising there. Bet that smarts."
"Here, let me put a hot pack on it for a few minutes and see if it helps any." Tory hopped up to retrieve the item as Rachel turned to watch her lover, who proved a formidable opponent on the mat.
"She's something. Isn't she?" Tory stated upon her return. "I've never seen anyone take to that so fast and with such acumen."
"Tor, why didn't you tell me she was taking kick boxing?" Rachel asked as she continued to admire her partner.
Tory sighed, positioning the hot pack over her friend's shoulder and covering it with a towel. "She asked me not to. She thought you might react just the way you did."
"I don't like it. I'm afraid for her." Rachel couldn't hide the catch in her throat.
"I know, baby. But you have to let her do what she needs to do. You of all people know how headstrong Meg is. She won't do anything stupid."
"I hope you're right."
"Of course, I'm right. Now, keep this on till I come back. I have another client."
Meg's class finally disbanded and she rejoined her partner. "Whew, I need a good scrubbing." She proclaimed as the sweat dripped from her nose and chin. "I'll shower, then we can take a ride over to the Zoo. Would you like that?"
"Yeah, the Zoo sounds great, but we should pass by the house and get our sweaters. It's suppose to get cooler as the day goes on."
"All taken care of. I packed them this morning. I'd hoped you'd say yes."
"That's my girl..... How's about some company in that shower?" Rachel wiggled her eyebrows.
"Why, Miss Vincenti, you're just full of surprises, aren't you?"
Rachel let the spray from the shower head massage her sore back and shoulder as Meg finished washing her hair. "Gosh, that feels so good. Wish we had a shower head like this at home."
Meg paused at the inference that Rachel's home was their home. She liked the warm feeling it gave her. "We can pick one up at Home Depot today. They're fairly expensive, but if it helps with your pain, then it will be worth it. Besides, there are some fringe benefits to having one of those babies."
Rachel looked innocently into her lover's eyes. Then, the light of comprehension shown and a grin slowly spread across her beautiful face. "You're so bad."
Meg ran her hand from Rachel's long, elegant neck, down between her ample breasts to her curly, soft bush. "I love the way you feel. You're so soft. And, I love the silver tips of your pubic hair. It reminds me of a winter's morning."
The tall beauty shivered at her lover's touch, then stopped short. "Winter's morning? Well, I like that. Instead of hot sex, my mons reminds you of the cold chill of a winter's morning."
"That's not at all what I meant, Rach." Meg was totally taken aback by this reaction.
Rachel stepped out of the shower, wrapping a towel around her dripping form. She walked over to the mirror and disrobed, staring intently at her body. She touched the silver at her temples and the laugh lines around her eyes, then stroked the slightly lose skin at her throat and winced. Her hand reached down and swiped the droplets of water from her mons and stared at the barely graying curls there and sighed. "I hate getting older."
Meg walked up behind her with a towel wrapped around her torso. "Hey, it beats the alternative."
"It's not funny." Rachel pouted as she covered herself.
"What's wrong, love? You've never worried about getting older before. Why now?" Meg asked as she pet Rachel's dark head.
"It just dawned upon me how much older I am than you. Look at you, nary a gray hair nor wrinkle. You're so young and beautiful. Oh, I realize I'm just a kid at heart and will probably never really grow up. But, that won't stop my body from continuing to sag, gray, and becoming decrepit."
"Hey, I happen to love that decrepit old body of yours. Our age difference has never been an issue before and I don't know why on God's green earth you want to make it one now. So, cut it out. You're just looking for something to worry about. Besides, there are any number of women at this very gym that would give a month's salary to get up close and personal with that bod."
"Yeah?" Rachel turned to look at her lover.
"Don't get any ideas, Tiger. You're mine and I intend to utilize my new found kick boxing skills on any one who gets too close. Got it?" Meg gave her partner a mock intimidating glare.
"Got it." Rachel took Meg into her arms and kissed her sweetly. "I love you, my Meggie."
Meg felt the tears burning the backs of her eyes and took a shuddering breath. "I love you too, Rachel."
The Zoo was fun and the women enjoyed the cool, crisp fall air. Rachel bought an ice cream in spite of the chill. "How can you eat that?" Meg asked in awe.
"What can I say? I like ice cream."
"But it's 50 degrees out here."
"And your point would be?" Rachel retorted as she licked the chocolate and mint treat.
"Oooooh, look!" Meg pointed to a huge group of pink Flamingos against a backdrop of maple and sycamore trees whose fall foliage caused a cornucopia of colors. "Look at all the different colors. I wish I had a camera."
"Wow. That's awesome. Let's go see the exotic birds exhibit." The two friends locked arms and proceeded to enjoy the sights.
The women walked and giggled at the antics of the animals until they both had to give in to their gnawing hunger. "How about you letting me buy you a late lunch. We can eat anywhere your heart desires." Meg said.
"Anywhere?" Rachel asked hopefully.
"Anywhere at all. Where would you like to eat?"
"Little Tokyo on St. Charles Avenue. I want Sushi! Yeah!" Rachel yelled. Sushi was her all time favorite food.
"Awww, that's gross." Meg complained.
Rachel put on her best pouty face. "You promised I could eat anywhere I wanted. Anyway, you don't have to eat sushi, too. They have tempura and teriyaki and steaks....."
"Ok, ok. We'll eat at Little Tokyo. But, next time it's Ruth's Chris Steak House."
Rachel grinned and danced a little jig. "I'm gonna have fresh salmon, barbecued eel and uni."
"How can anyone like the taste of a woman and not like sushi? I just don't get it."
"I'm sorry, my love, but eating a woman won't give me worms. Excuse my bluntness." Meg spouted.
Rachel's eyes got round as saucers. "Worms? Yuck! That's gross!"
"My sentiments exactly."
They enjoyed their dinner, Rachel forgetting all about worms and such. After having a hot tea to wash down the meal, it was time to head for Dr. Morgan's office and their first group therapy session.
Meg noticed the slight tremor in Rachel's hand as she placed the key in the ignition. "Rach, why don't I drive?" Meg offered.
It took Rachel a moment to process what her friend said then, looking down at her hands, she nodded. "Good idea." She switched seats with her partner and took a deep breath, trying to force down her meal, which was threatening to make a return engagement.
"Here." Meg reached for the Tina Turner CD and slid it in the car's stereo. "Let's sing. It will help keep our minds off what we have no control over."
Rachel nodded and they both broke into song along with their favorite singer. Their voices were loud and strong, if not melodious and pleasing, and they enjoyed themselves despite their trepidation concerning their destination.
"Here we are." Meg stated as she pulled in front of the parking meter. "Let's do it." The little blonde jumped out of the Mustang and ran around to open Rachel's door for her. She reached in and offered her hand to her lover, who sat stock-still, staring out the windshield at nothing. "Come on, Rachel. You can do this. Just take my hand and hold on to me..... Hey, I love you..... Please, Rach." Meg quietly beseeched the terrified woman. Rachel looked down at the proffered hand and slowly took it in her own. "Good girl." Meg stated as she helped her partner to her feet and walked slightly ahead of her into Dr. Morgan's office, following the signs up the steps to the conference room where the session would be held.
Rachel allowed Meg to lead her, barely aware of her surroundings, to a love seat in a slightly shadowed area of the room. "Would you like some coffee, love?" Meg asked. The grip on her hand tightened and Rachel shook her head "No". "Ok. Try to relax. Take slow deep breaths." Meg encouraged.
Dr. Morgan observed Rachel and Meg's entrance and the look of terror on her client's face. She excused herself from the conversation she was participating in, feeling her presence was needed elsewhere. "Hi there. Glad you made it. How are you doing Rachel?"
The tall woman stood abruptly at the sound of her therapist's voice. "I'm here." Was all she could say. The butterflies in her stomach were making her fear that she'd have to make a break for the lady's room at any moment.
"That's half the battle, Rachel. All you have to do is sit and listen today. I'll introduce you, but you don't have to say a thing if you don't want to. I do ask that you remain throughout the session and please do speak up if you feel you can." Dr. Morgan said, gently, keeping her hand upon Rachel's forearm. "Is that OK with you?"
"Yeah..... That sounds OK." Rachel looked up briefly into Dr. Morgan's sympathetic eyes, then sat down as abruptly as she'd stood. Meg looked at her old friend and smiled. Ricky smiled back and nodded in understanding.
"Well, let's begin, shall we." Dr. Morgan announced. Everyone took the seat they were accustomed to. There were sofas and over-stuffed chairs to keep the atmosphere casual and warm. "We have a new member with us today. This is her first time ever in group therapy, so she's just as nervous as you were on your first days. Let's welcome Rachel and her partner Meg." Dr. Morgan pointed out who was who. She expected no acknowledgment from her client. She was not disappointed. Rachel could feel herself blushing as her ears began to sting. Her first impulse was to run out of the door and never look back, but the constant pressure of Meg's hand holding hers and the soothing rubbing of a small hand upon her thigh kept her seated.
The session went by in a blur of comments and very familiar scenarios. Rachel was in awe at the similarities between her experiences and emotions and those of the other women in the group. By the end of the session, she didn't feel quite so isolated, quite so alone in the world. 'Maybe this was a good idea. Maybe they can help.' Rachel thought to herself as she got up the courage to look around the room at the faces of her peers, for that was truly what these women were. 'Amazing, they all look normal to me. They could be anyone's mother, sister, teacher, doctor. They don't look different at all. Some are even smiling and seem happy to be here. I guess I've got an awful lot to learn.' Rachel began to relax and really take in what was being shared.
Before Dr. Morgan ended the session, she asked Rachel if she wanted to share with the group. The tall dark beauty felt her heart pounding like the hooves of a racehorse in her chest and her mouth went dry, but she was compelled to speak. She cleared her throat and looked around the room at the faces of the women present. "Yeah.....uh.....thanks, Dr. Morgan. Thank you all for being here. It's been quite a revelation. I guess there may be hope for me yet." She smiled sincerely. "I don't know how to talk about what happened to me. But, maybe I can learn, huh? I think maybe I can..... Well, I guess I'll see y'all Monday night."
"Very good. I hope to see you all here on Monday night. Thanks for coming. Anyone want to go for coffee and beignets?" Dr. Morgan ended the session and a few of the women stayed behind to speak with their new group member and offer encouragement.
"Hi, I'm Patsy. Some of us like to hang out at Café' du Monde after our session. Would you and your friend like to join us?"
Rachel looked at Meg who squeezed her hand, offering encouragement. "Sure. We could use a hot cup of cafe au lait. I'd like to hear more about how the group dynamics work. If you don't mind talking shop."
Patsy chuckled. "Not at all. That's what we're here for. To help each other." Rachel smiled timidly. "Let me introduce my friend here. This is Ellen. She doesn't talk much until you get some caffeine in her. Then, you can't get her to shut up."
"Hey, I resemble that remark." Ellen quipped, then pushed Patsy toward the exit. "See y'all in a few." Both women waved as they walked out of the door.
Rachel looked at her partner, laughed, and pulled her into a hug. "I like them."
Meg hugged her back. "Me too. Let's get to know them better."
"I'd like that..... It's gonna be OK, isn't it?" Rachel quietly asked.
Meg looked up into the eyes she loved. "It sure is."
To be continued in part 6 of The Awakening.
Tell me what you think. JonyakaLena@webtv.net
December 21, 2000
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