MEMORIES OF LOVE by Leslaureate

Feed The Bard: Please let me know if you like my work!



The closer Sunday approached, Jessica became as, if not more, nervous than if the arbitration was going forward. By Sunday she was a near basket case. On the way to the airport Shawn assured her she would take good care of Tasha in her absence and made Jessica promise to call her if needed. As a parting shot, Shawn reminded Jessica that she owed her for getting up at 4:00 a.m. to make the drive to the airport.

Jessica slept most of the flight; casually speaking to her seat mates the few times she was awake. During those times and especially during the final approach, she continued to repeat the phrase "no expectations" over and over to herself. To distract her thoughts she looked out the window, noticing how green the ground below looked. Once the plane landed, it felt like an eternity before she was able to make her way down the crowded aisle and disembark into the terminal.

Pulling up the handle to roll her piece of luggage, her eyes swept the terminal looking for Cynthia as she walked out of the security gate into the main part of the terminal. The person standing in front of her moved to the side revealing Cynthia leaning against a wall, holding a red heart shaped mylar balloon and watching the passengers walk into the main terminal. Finally seeing Jessica, a smile spread across Cynthia’s face, which, in turn, caused Jessica’s heart to beat faster. She pushed herself off of the wall, walking to Jessica, who began to walk towards her as well.

"Welcome!" Cynthia greeted excitedly, handing Jessica the balloon. The two moved to the side to avoid the other passengers leaving the security area.

"Hi! Thanks!" Jessica smiled taking the balloon. Setting her luggage down, she quickly put her arms around Cynthia, pulling her into an embrace. They both felt a great warmth as their bodies made contact. "Aren’t airports wonderful?" she whispered. "Two women can hug affectionately and no one else cares. I missed you," she added, holding tighter onto Cynthia.

"I missed you too," Cynthia whispered into Jessica’s ear, causing a shiver to run through Jessica. The two stood holding onto one another until Jessica finally broke the embrace, pulling back a little to look at Cynthia.

"How was the flight?" Cynthia asked.

"Long. I slept through most of it. But now I really have to pee!"

Cynthia chuckled. "Allrighty, go make a dash over there and I’ll wait outside the door for you." Cynthia pointed to the rest room across the passageway from where they stood. Taking the balloon back from Jessica, she rolled Jessica’s bag and watched as Jessica scurried into the restroom. She placed the bag down outside the entry and watched the other travelers pass by while she waited.

"Oh so much better!" Jessica announced exiting the restroom, taking the balloon back.

"Good! I bet you’re hungry too," Cynthia commented, leading Jessica toward the exit to the parking structure and pulling the luggage behind her.

"I am pretty famished. Should we go check into the hotel and then go get something?" Jessica asked as she followed Cynthia.

"We’re all taken care of at the hotel. I took care of it when I got in this morning. I figured it was easier that way," she added as Jessica tried to interrupt.

"You didn’t need to do that! I’ll take care of my bill you know," Jessica scolded.

"I know you will. It just seemed easier at the time to get both rooms. I have your key card, but you need to fill out some paperwork and change it to your credit card if you want. So, let’s go get something to eat now and then we’ll worry about the rest of the paperwork later. OK?"

"Sounds fine. And thanks."

Jessica followed Cynthia to the elevator to the parking structure and then to the rental car. Loading the bags into the back seat, they got in and drove away from the airport to The Flats, an area with restaurants and dance clubs bordering the Cuyahoga River. Cynthia parked the car and then guided Jessica toward one of the many restaurants lining the street. They were quickly led to a table on the patio overlooking the River.

"How do you know about this area?" Jessica asked, taking a sip from her water glass.

"I’ve had so many projects here that I’ve learned to maneuver around the area a bit. From what I remember, this area isn’t very gay friendly, so to speak, but in the summer it’s nice to come to because of the scenery. They have a dinner boat cruise on a paddleboat that goes up the River and back, but I haven’t tried that. But the boat is cool to watch."

The two settled in, both a little nervous to see each other again. Over dinner Cynthia described the project she was there working on, while Jessica filled Cynthia in on her latest work projects. After dinner, they decided to stroll about the area. As they walked and talked, what little discomfort they initially felt with the other disappeared. Jessica suddenly realized how tired she felt and asked to go back to the hotel to settle in and relax. Once back at the hotel, they stopped at the reception desk for Jessica to fill out her required paper work. When they went into Jessica’s room, Cynthia placed Jessica’s bag on the floor next to the bed.

"Would you be horribly offended if I just crashed tonight?" Jessica asked as she embraced Cynthia.

"Not at all. I have some things to finish preparing for tomorrow any way. How about I come by in the morning, we have breakfast, and I drop you off somewhere while I go work for a few hours? Maybe the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?" Cynthia suggested.

"Sounds good to me. Are you sure you don’t mind?" Jessica asked, looking up into Cynthia’s eyes. Cynthia smiled and lifted Jessica’s chin up as she placed her lips upon Jessica’s.

"Of course I don’t mind. I’ll see you in the morning," she answered, slowly pulling away, and turning to go out the door.

"Sweet dreams Cyn!" Jessica called out as Cynthia walked out to go to her own room. Jessica pulled out her toiletries and nightshirt and proceeded to get ready for bed

Cynthia sat on her bed, her computer on her lap, unable to concentrate on the work staring back at her on the screen. Her mind kept wandering to the woman in the room next door, less than 20 feet away. Anytime she thought of Jessica a smile lit up her face. She knew she had fallen and fallen hard.

She also thought how lucky she was. She knew how difficult it had been for Jessica to agree to try to work something out and to have forgiven her. For that she was very grateful. She didn’t understand how or why, but she knew better than to question what actually was, rather than what could have or should have been.

Her arms ached to hold Jessica. She thought she had been spoiled when she visited in San Diego, not having one, but two opportunities to hold Jessica for a relatively long period of time. She began to get excited as she thought of when she held Jessica all night as they slept on the couch. She wanted nothing more than to have Jessica laying next to her and to be able to make love to her, showing Jessica how much she cared about and loved her. She wondered if she would soon have that opportunity.

The last thing she wanted was to rush Jessica in any manner. She knew she had to let Jessica go at her own pace, but that didn’t quell her desire. Her thoughts slipped into a fantasy, picturing in her mind exactly what she wanted to do to Jessica if she had the opportunity.

Getting more aroused by her thoughts, Cynthia placed the computer on the bed beside her and put her hand down into the front of her boxers, touching herself as she wished she was touching Jessica. Feeling how her own wetness only fueled her desire, she imagined how each and every stroke caused Jessica to writhe with pleasure, until she had to stifle the moans caused by her own climax. Although the ache to be with Jessica had only increased, she felt spent. She turned out the light and laid down on the bed. Her eyes closed, she pictured holding Jessica as she slept. She soon fell into a peaceful slumber not knowing that less than 20 feet away, the object of her desire had engaged in the same exercise and was experiencing the same feelings.

* * *

At 7:00 am, Jessica opened her door to find Cynthia standing with a tray holding a coffee carafe and coffee cups. After greeting "good morning", Cynthia stepped into the room and placed the tray down on the table. She turned around for a more physical greeting, but found Jessica looking her up and down.

"What?" she asked perplexed.

"Why Ms. Jarvis! You clean up real nice!" Jessica complimented with a fake southern accent. She walked toward Cynthia, stopping right in front of her. "You look very nice and professional. That suit really does you justice."

"Thank you ma’am." Cynthia put her arms around Jessica, pulling her against her own body and bending her head to kiss her softly on the lips. "Good morning," she whispered, pulling away slightly and resting her forehead on Jessica’s.

"Good morning to you. Thanks for the coffee. I sure could use some." Jessica moved to the table and poured them each a cup, turning and handing one to Cynthia.

"I figured you’d need some. Thanks," she said taking the cup and sitting down on the chair at the table.

"I do indeed. I’ll just be a minute finishing up getting ready," she said taking her cup into the bathroom.

A few minutes later the two went down in the elevator and ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant. They then left and drove to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, where Cynthia dropped Jessica off and told her she would pick her up in front of the Great Lakes Science Center, located next door to the Hall of Fame in a few hours.

Jessica spent the day wandering around the two museums, looking at all of the exhibits. Taking a break for lunch, she ate at the patio restaurant overlooking Lake Erie. After shopping at the Science Center, she walked back to the Hall of fame gift shop to purchase a few momentos for herself and Shawn. As she walked around the shop, she saw a t-shirt and a sweatshirt she thought Cynthia would like, so she purchased those as well. She carried the bags and reached the Science Center just as Cynthia pulled up to the curb.

Driving back to the hotel, Jessica excitedly related her day to Cynthia. Cynthia laughed at Jessica’s exuberance. She was also a bit jealous that she couldn’t spend the day with Jessica and witness everything first hand. Once they arrived at the hotel, they quickly kissed in the hallway and separated into their own rooms to change. They had decided to go to a gay and lesbian nouvelle cuisine/seafood restaurant and dress up more than the casual meals they previously shared.

When Cynthia answered the knock on her door, she stood speechless. Jessica was dressed in black dress pants with an emerald green blouse and emerald earrings. The ensemble brought out the deep green color in her eyes. To Cynthia, she was breathtaking. Not saying a word, Cynthia suddenly pulled Jessica close to her, her lips quickly finding Jessica’s.

"Wow! Where did that come?" Jessica asked, breathless and surprised by the passionate kiss.

"I missed you today and think you look absolutely spectacular," Cynthia answered, kissing the top of Jessica’s head.

"Well, whatever it is, remind me to do it more often!" Jessica smiled, still holding onto Cynthia. "You look very gorgeous yourself," she added returning the compliment.

"Thanks. You ready to go?"

"Yep. Lead the way!" Jessica answered, giving Cynthia a quick kiss on the lips before pulling away.

As they drove to the restaurant, Cynthia pointed out various points of interest, including Abbott Field, home of the Indians baseball team. They soon found the restaurant and a close parking spot on the street. The building was Cape Cod style, complete with the weathered wood appearance. The two women were led to their table and each took in the ambiance of the dimly lit restaurant.

"So, are you enjoying yourself?" Cynthia asked looking across the table into Jessica’s eyes.

"Oh yeah! I missed playing with you today, but I had fun."

"I was surprised you wanted to meet me here. You did leave me speechless," Cynthia admitted with a shy smile.

"I was sort of surprised at myself, being so spontaneous and daring. But I’m really glad I did."

"I’m very glad you did as well. It doesn’t seem like I have enough time with you though."

"I know. I feel the same way. But we have tonight and tomorrow night," Jessica added optimistically.

"I know. I’m just being selfish," Cynthia pouted playfully.

"So, have you given any thought to your list?" Jessica asked, quickly changing the subject so she wouldn’t have to think about what little time they really had together this trip.

"List?" Cynthia asked perplexed. "Oh yeah, the list of things I want," she finally acknowledged. "Well, yes, I have given it more thought. I think we pretty much covered the major things: communicative, kind, honest, loving, affectionate, emotionally available, respectful, considerate, intelligent, attractive, spiritual, sexy, accepts me for me, not controlling. And, although I’m sure there’s more, there is one biggie we haven’t discussed."

"What’s that?" Jessica asked nervously.

"Doesn’t want kids," Cynthia said hesitantly. "I realized that I had no idea how you felt about that and I really started to worry. I know that there are a lot of lesbians our age that want kids, but I’m not one of them," Cynthia admitted, fearful of Jessica’s response.

"Don’t worry, the only kids I want are four-legged," Jessica answered as Cynthia visibly looked relieved. "I was wondering how you felt about that as well. I’ve known a few couples break up because one wanted kids and the other didn’t. To be honest, I wouldn’t know what to do with a small child. I wasn’t raised around younger kids so I have absolutely no experience or patience. I figure I have a hard enough time taking care of myself and Tasha, let alone an infant or toddler that would be completely dependent on me."

"Thank goodness! I was a bit worried about that. So many people, straight or gay, don’t discuss this early on and it just brings heartache down the line. You know, I wouldn’t even have thought to discuss this until about 5-7 years ago. It seems that’s about the time the lesbian baby boom started."

"I know, that and SDTs," Jessica added, slightly embarrassed.

"True. And, by the way, I’m clean and negative on all counts," Cynthia quickly added as the waitress brought their meals.

"I am too," Jessica admitted, embarrassed, after the waitress walked away. Cynthia grinned at Jessica’s apparent discomfort.

"Good, then we have nothing to worry about," Cynthia said nonchalantly, cutting into her meal.

"Sure of yourself, huh?" Jessica challenged.

"Nope, just rather hopeful," she admitted taking a bite of her food.

"We’ll see about that," Jessica said playfully.

"Sounds promising," Cynthia bantered back, smiling. "Dogs or cats?"

"Excuse me?" Jessica asked perplexed by the sudden off topic question.

"Well, I think you’re a cat person, but how do you feel about dogs?"

"I like dogs. I’ve never had one by myself, so I don’t have much to go on, but I do know they can demand as much attention and work as little kids. Like with Tasha, Shawn just has to go over and feed her at least once a day. But if she were a dog, Shawn would have to take her out to go potty and feed her at least 2 times a day or have her stay at her house, or I’d have to put her into a kennel. So, I’m definitely a cat person. How about you?"

"I love both, but with my lifestyle and the way I travel so much, I don’t think it’s fair to any animal. I’d need to settle down with someone or have a roommate before I’d get one."

"When was the last time you lived with anyone, be it lover or roommate?"

"Oh God, let me think…over 5 years ago. My last serious relationship ended two years ago, but we never lived together. Our schedules were completely off and neither of us really wanted to take that step of commitment to the other. I guess what we had was just convenient for both of us. She was a resident at a hospital in D.C. and I always traveled. We considered ourselves as a couple, but we only hooked up when we could. We did really care for one another, but it was never really enough for either of us. Like I said, it was convenient, but we weren’t ‘in’ love."

"So what happened?"

"She was offered a fellowship in Texas and accepted it. I wasn’t willing to relocate, so that was that. We parted amicably and with no animosity and we still keep in contact. She found the proverbial storybook romance shortly after she moved and they’ve been together since."

"What about now? Are you willing to relocate?"

"For the right woman, I would have no hesitancy to move. The beauty about my business is that I can do it from anywhere."

"Even San Diego?" Jessica asked softly, afraid of the answer.

Cynthia placed her fork on her plate and took Jessica’s hand with both of her own. "For you Jess, anywhere, even San Diego," she answered sincerely, looking Jessica in the eyes.

Jessica knew that for Cynthia, that would be the ultimate show of her affection. What few doubts she had left about Cynthia and her sincerity completely disappeared once she heard Cynthia actually speak the words. She knew that actions had to back the words, but she knew in her soul that Cynthia could be trusted completely with her heart.

"You don’t know how much that means to me to hear that," she admitted.

"I think I do," Cynthia responded, not breaking eye contact. "Because I think you understand what it would take for me to say it. I also think you realize that I now wouldn’t say anything like that unless I truly meant it."

"I do," Jessica whispered.

The waitress came up to the table, breaking the emotion of the moment. Taking their plates, she asked if they wanted desert. Both declining, she pulled the bill from her apron and placed it on the edge of the table, saying she’d pick it up whenever they were ready. Jessica quickly grabbed it away from Cynthia.

"This one’s on me. Are you ready to go back to your room?" she asked with a low, husky voice. Although subtle, the meaning behind the words were not lost on Cynthia and she could only nod her head affirmatively in response.

Jessica placed some money on the table with the bill. The two stood and quickly walked out of the restaurant to the car. Cynthia bent to unlock Jessica’s door and was embraced from behind. Maneuvering her way around to face her companion, she was met by a more passionate kiss than the two shared at her hotel room door earlier in the living. At first surprised, she relaxed and pulled Jessica against her, her mouth devouring Jessica’s as she leaned against the car for stability. Jessica finally pulled her head away to whisper in Cynthia’s ear. "Let’s go get more comfortable."

* * *

Walking into Cynthia’s room, they couldn’t close the door fast enough to converge together again as they had at the car. Now, they knew that they could let go of any inhibitions they may have had. Still standing, Cynthia’s hand roamed as she felt Jessica’s nipple through her blouse. Jessica reciprocated, but began to unbutton Cynthia’s blouse to gain better access. That action was all Cynthia needed. She quickly unbuttoned Jessica’s blouse and took it off of her. Standing back watching, she took Jessica’s bra off, revealing the mounds beneath.

"You’re absolutely beautiful," Cynthia complimented and she looked admiring Jessica’s upper torso. "More beautiful than I remember." She leaned down cupping Jessica’s right breast in her hand, slowly kissing it and then taking the hardened nipple into her mouth. Her actions elicited a moan causing her own excitement to increase. She soon paid the same attention to the other breast and could feel Jessica’s legs begin to shake. She slowly loosened Jessica’s belt and unzipped her pants, causing them to fall down to the ground. She placed her mouth over Jessica’s and guided her backward out of her pants and onto the bed.

"Hey, not fair," Jessica whispered huskily. "Yours have to come off too," she directed, unbuttoning Cynthia’s pants. After shedding the remains of their clothing, the two laid on the bed, slowly reacquainting themselves with the other’s body; exploring as if it was new and for the first time. Despite their prior urgency, they didn’t feel rushed and languished in slowly and tenderly bringing the other pleasure. Finally sated, they fell asleep in the other’s arms.

* * *

She knew she was on the ship, but she didn’t hear the voices. In fact, it was completely silent and she couldn’t sense the presence of any one or any thing. She saw the fog slowly clear away, the clouds dissipating and revealing an azure blue sky and bright sunlight piercing through the clouds. She couldn’t help but revel in the rays of light. It felt so cleansing. She felt as if she was finally at peace. The fear that had once gripped her was gone. The Sword of Damocles that once hung over her head had been removed. She finally felt free at last.

* * *

Her eyes fluttered open. She felt the warmth from the body laying partially on top of her and basked in the closeness she felt with her companion. For the first time she could remember, she felt completely content and whole.

"Morning sleepyhead," she greeted softly, feeling Jessica stir in her arms.

"Morning," Jessica croaked gaining her bearings as she awakened slowly.

"How did you sleep?" Cynthia asked, kissing the top of Jessica’s head.

"Like a baby. And you?"

"Well, someone wore me out last night, so I was pretty comatose. But very, very peaceful."

"Hmm, that’s good," Jessica said kissing Cynthia lightly on the lips before snuggling into her shoulder.

"I could really get used to this Jess. I really like waking up with you in my arms."

"Good, cuz I really like waking up in your arms."

"Then I think we’re set. But I bet you want me to call room service for coffee."

"You’re getting to know me too well. That would be great!"

Cynthia maneuvered to reach the phone without releasing Jessica. Craning her head to reach the phone she saw and was reminded of the package sitting on the nightstand. Calling room service, she ordered coffee, bagels, and cream cheese. Putting the phone back onto the receiver, she grabbed the package and put it on her chest in front of Jessica’s face.

"Jess, I forgot to give this to you before I left San Diego last time."

"You got me a present? How sweet!" she said grabbing the box, rolling onto her back and wiggling so her head still rested on Cynthia. She quickly opened the package, immediately recognizing the piece from when they were in the store back in San Diego. "Oh Cyn! Thank you! I was admiring it that day we went shopping. It’s beautiful!" Jessica thanked her holding onto the cat piece and admiring it again. "You shouldn’t have though. This was pretty pricey, which is why I didn’t get it that day!" she suddenly reprimanded.

"I saw that you really liked it. I wanted to give it to you on that trip, but the timing never seemed right. You’re beautiful and deserve beautiful things," Cynthia answered, bending her head down to kiss Jessica before she could attempt to argue further.

* * *

A feeling of sadness permeated the room as Jessica packed her bag. Cynthia sat on the edge of the bed silently watching her love and mindlessly playing with the shirt that Jessica had bought for her at the Hall of Fame. While much had happened, their time together had been far too short and both were extremely saddened by Jessica’s eminent departure. They had spent the evening before in, having ordered room service then making their way to the bed to make love into the early morning hours. Both were exhausted from their marathon, which didn’t contribute well to their current unhappy states of mind. Despite the intimacy they shared, neither had vocalized the true extent of their feeling to the other, nor had any future plans been set, yet alone discussed.

"Ummm…Jess?" Cynthia spoke, breaking the thick silence.

"Yeh?" she asked, looking up from her packing.

"I’ve decided come hell or high water I will be there for your arbitration. I want to be there for you."

Jessica stopped packing, looking at her lover. "Are you sure? I thought you had that big project that week. Hon, I don’t want you to ignore or have your work suffer. I’ll be fine just knowing you’re a phone call away."

Cynthia shook her head. "Well it would suffer if I wasn’t there with you. All I’d be thinking about is what was going on in San Diego and I won’t be able to concentrate on anything else. It’s not like I can’t do some work while I’m out there. Have laptop will travel, remember?"

Jessica sat down on the bed next to Cynthia, taking her hands into her own. "Are you sure? I couldn’t ask for anything better if you did. I’d love it if you could be with me."

"Positive. Plus I don’t think I can be away from you for that long," Cynthia smiled.

Jessica put her hand behind Cynthia’s head, pulling her head close to her own and gently pressing her lips on Cynthia’s. "Good, because I do really want you there and I couldn’t go much longer without seeing you as well."

The passion increasing as their kiss deepened, Cynthia gently pulled back. Looking into her lover’s eyes she couldn’t contain the emotions running through her. "I love you Jessica. I am deeply and passionately in love with you and think I always have been," she finally admitted aloud.

Jessica silently gasped at the heartfelt words she just heard and had waited so long to hear. "Oh God Cyn! I love you too!" she proclaimed, pulling Cynthia’s lips back to her own.

* * *

The next two weeks seemed to drag for both Cynthia and Jessica, despite their schedules being crammed with work to enable them to spend time together for the arbitration. They spoke daily, sharing their days and continuing to profess their love for one another.

As the arbitration date approached, Erin’s attempts to contact Jessica increased to a daily basis as well. Jessica was able to screen the calls with caller id, but she was still frustrated, and a bit concerned, with Erin’s inability to grasp the concept that their relationship was over and would not be rekindled. She reported Erin’s attempts to Bridget and gave the attorney a tape with all of Erin’s messages as evidence for the arbitration and other possible legal actions. Finally frustrated beyond reason, she called Erin knowing she would be at work and left a message instructing her ex to quit calling, they were definitely over and that she had moved on.

Cynthia arrived the day before the arbitration, showing up before expected on Jessica’s doorstep bearing a dozen long stem red roses. They were going to have dinner with Shawn and Jean to help allay any of Jessica’s jitters of the next day. Jessica had spent most of the day in Bridget’s office reviewing the case and practicing her anticipated testimony. Finally seeing Cynthia on her doorstep helped relieve the anxiety and stress she had experienced throughout the day. After getting over her immediate shock, she quickly pounced into Cynthia’s arms, almost knocking the other woman off balance.

"I’m happy to see you too!" Cynthia chuckled; holding tightly onto Jessica and taking care not to squish the flowers.

"You’re early! I was just getting ready to go pick you up!"

"I was able to get an earlier direct flight. I figured I’d just grab a cab and surprise you," Cynthia responded moving her head down to take Jessica’s lips with her own. The two stood in the open doorway kissing as if they would never see each other again, until a car honked as it drove by, breaking them from the spell.

"C’mon in! Why don’t you go put your things in the bedroom and change and I’ll go put these in water," Jessica suggested.

"Sounds good. Do I have time for a quick shower?"

"Only if I can join you," Jessica wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.

"Well then, I don’t think it’ll be that quick of a shower," Cynthia grinned.

"We’ve got plenty of time. You go put your things away, get the water going and I’ll be right in to join you," she impishly instructed turning to walk into the kitchen.

"Better hurry!" Cynthia smiled, patting Jessica’s rear as she turned around.

Shawn and Jean arrived promptly at 7:00, greeted by an extremely clean best friend. "Where’s Cynthia?" Shawn asked after they exchanged hugs and walked into the living room and sat down on the couch. "She’s drying her hair. She’ll just be a second and then we can go. Do you guys want anything to drink?"

After both friends declined, they looked at each other and laughed when they noticed the way Jessica’s blouse was buttoned improperly.

"What’s so funny?" Jessica asked perplexed.

"Ah, Jessica, it looks like you got dressed in a bit of a hurry," Jean laughed pointing to Jessica’s blouse.

Looking down to see what her friend was pointing to, she realized the source of her friend’s amusement. "Oh shit!" she quickly excused herself as the blush began to go up her neck and cover her face.

Walking back into the room several minutes later with Cynthia at her side, Jessica couldn’t look her friends in the face. After Cynthia exchanged greetings with the two friends, the foursome set off for the restaurant.

"A toast," Shawn raised her glass of wine and waited until her companions raised theirs as well. "To Jessica. May she get everything she wants and deserves tomorrow, including kicking some Erin ass!"

"To Jessica!" the other’s joined in clinking glasses with one another.

"Thanks guys. I appreciate all the support."

"We can’t tell you how much you deserve the best Jess. I have to admit I really owe you one," Jean said taking a sip of wine.

"For what? I haven’t done anything." Jessica asked puzzled.

"Yes, you did. You introduced me to this one," she answered using her thumb to point to Shawn.

"I’m glad, especially thanking me now as long as you don’t hate me later, " she giggled, jumping when Shawn responded to her comment by throwing bread across the table at her. "In all seriousness though, I think we have the Internet to thank for that and other things," she added looking into Cynthia’s eyes.

"To the Internet," Shawn raised her glass again, the four gratefully joining her in the toast.

Concluded in Chapter 8

Copyright 1999, 2003. All Rights Reserved

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