Disclaimer: Some of the places mentioned in this story are real and some are made up. All of the characters are fictitious and any resemblance they have of real people is coincidental. This story includes sexual scenes involving two women.





By M. E. Tudor


Chapter One


The sun was peaking over the mountain tops and reflecting in the glistening drops of dew on the grass. Robin Hawke stood on the porch of her log cabin home drinking a cup of coffee and studying the way the sun's light played upon the foliage of the plants in her yard.

The bare purple-gray mountains would soon be covered in snow because fall was quickly approaching. Robin could sense it in the air and see it in the changing colors of the leaves on the aspen trees.

Robin sat her coffee cup down and stretched out her arms towards the sky and said a prayer asking for guidance, courage and strength from the Great Spirit. Robin was not a profoundly religious woman but she had been taught that the Great Spirit was with you in all things. Her parents and grandparents believed that you should always ask to Great Spirit for guidance and give Him thanks for the good things in your life. For as long as Robin could remember, she had always started her day with a morning prayer.

Today she would begin a new expedition with a crew from Back Lands magazine and she would need all of the Great Spirits help on this trip. Her friend, Josie Whittle, who was the editor-in-chief of the magazine had called her last month and asked her to take a six people, which would include a new writer who was "a bit of greenhorn," as Josie had worded it, out on week long hike.

Robin was not excited about taking an inexperienced hiker out for a whole week but Josie had insisted that the new girl needed to have a better understanding of what their magazine was all about. Robin chose the easiest trails she could think of for this trip but she did chose one moderately difficult trail so that the new writer would get a real good view of the land surrounding Black Bear Mountain.

Back Lands was the preeminent hiking magazine and Josie had featured Outfitter's Inc., which Robin owned, many times. A lot of business had been created for Robin from the stories Josie had written about her and her crew so she felt obligated to fulfill any request that Josie made of her.

Robin finished her coffee and headed for Black Bear Lodge. Robin rented shop space from the lodge. They gave her a great rate because Robin's outfitting business generated business for the lodge year round. Robin had hunting and fishing expeditions from fall through spring. In the summer she had mostly hiking expeditions although she did have some fishing enthusiasts who would try their hand in the summer heat.

Barry and Tim, Robin's two most experienced hiking guides were going to go with her on this trip. They were already at the lodge when she got there. The three of them had met with most Josie's crew last night at the lodge and gone over the rules and safety tips.

The only person who had not been there out of the six that were supposed to go was the new writer. Robin was a bit concerned because she, more than anyone else, would need a good understanding of how things would work. The other members of Josie's team had been there at least once before. John and Tom, the two photographers had been there several times and Robin was quite relieved to have two more experienced hikers in the group.

Josie had paid Robin to provide the backpacks and most of the supplies. Robin had made sure no one packed excessive clothing so that their packs would not be unnecessarily weighed down and so they would have room for the essential things like their sleeping bags and rain coverings. The mountains of Colorado didn't get a lot of rain but you just never knew when a storm might suddenly blow up.

Robin had wanted to leave at five that morning but the writer still had not shown up. She had begun pacing in earnest at five-thirty. At six she called Josie, who assured her that the writer was coming. Josie had just talked to her and she was on the road there. Robin promised Josie that she would wait for her but she was getting more frustrated by the minute.

Robin made sure that everyone had eaten a good breakfast and checked everyone's packs again. By seven o'clock she was steaming mad and thinking about going ahead and starting and having Barry or Tim bring the writer when she got there.

She was standing with her arms folded across her chest, studying the trailhead when she heard a car racing into the parking lot of the lodge. She looked at her watch, seven-thirty. She refolded her arms and glared at the car awaiting its driver to get out.

Marianne Jones stepped out of her Mustang and fanned the dust away from her that had been stirred up by her arrival. She straightened her skirt and reached down to pull the lever to open her trunk. She was completely oblivious to the cold stare that was coming her way from the porch of the lodge.

John and Tom rushed over and began helping her unpack her trunk. The stopped and looked at each other when they saw the two suitcases of clothes, a makeup case and a laptop. "Marianne, Hon," John began, "Ah, did Josie not tell you just to pack the essentials?"

"I did." Marianne smiled sweetly at them.

They both turned to look at the furious woman who stood waiting. "Robin is going to shit when she sees this mess." Tom stated frankly.

"Who's Robin?" Marianne asked as she began pulling her things out of her trunk.

"She's the owner of Outfitters and the leader of our expedition. Didn't Josie tell you to be here last night because we were going to leave first thing this morning?"

"Oh yeah, I just couldn't get everything packed that quickly."

"But you've known for almost a month that we were going." John was getting a little exasperated with the small blond.

"I know," Marianne stated, flipping her strawberry blond hair out of her face, "But I didn't want to have this stuff all packed up when I was still using it."

"What the hell is going on? What the hell is all this?" Robin growled when she saw the load in the trunk.

"Who are you?" Marianne demanded.

"This is Robin," John supplied and stepped back as he felt the impending explosion coming from Robin.

Marianne looked up at the taller woman. Her dark brown eyes were almost black and she was not even trying to hide the fury behind them. "What's the problem?" She asked nonchalantly.

Robin's naturally reddish brown coloring from her Native American heritage turned to blood red as her fury grew. "Number one, you are extremely late since you should have arrived yesterday. Number two; there is no way you can take all this shit with you. Number three, I'm going to have to waste a lot more of our valuable time going through what you have and picking out only the essentials you will need on this trip and going over the safety guidelines with you, which means that we will not reach the destination I had hoped to reach today. That means that our expedition will take longer to finish than I had planned and that will make me late starting my next expedition."

"Oh," Marianne said simply and shrugged her shoulders like it was no big deal.

Robin growled threw her teeth, turned and stomped away. "Barry!"

Marianne, John and Tom finished taking her bags out of the trunk. Marianne was watching the tall dark woman out of the corner of her eye. She was talking quietly but still angrily to a smaller Native American man.

Barry listened intently to his boss's instructions. He knew that Robin was well past the end of her rope with the silly blond and she had made it his job to deal with her.

"Have Rodney bring you out on horseback when you are done." Robin was still almost growling in her anger. "Make sure she only brings what is absolutely necessary and don't let her talk you into bringing any extra stupid shit, like make up, okay."

"You got it boss." Barry nodded and headed over to where Marianne, John and Tom stood.

"Hi, my name is Barry White Feather." Barry said holding out his hand to Marianne.

Marianne took his callused hand and shook it firmly. "Marianne Jones."

Barry nodded and turned to John and Tom, "Robin is going to go ahead and take the rest of you out. I'm going to catch up with you later with Marianne."

John and Tom turned and went back to the rest of the group who were already putting on their backpacks and preparing to leave. John turned to Tom as they walked away, "Robin is going to throw her off the side of a mountain before this trip is over."

"You think?" Tom grinned and looked back at Marianne who was picking up some of her bags and following Barry, who had the rest of her bags, into the lodge. "I like her but she is not going to make it out here."

John nodded in agreement. The cute blond was a gifted writer but she knew nothing about hiking, hunting or being in nature in general. He wasn't sure why Josie had chosen her to write for their magazine but he knew that this hiking trip was going to be a very long one with Marianne tagging along.

Chapter Two


Marianne was fuming. She could not believe that she was not allowed to bring her makeup case or laptop on this trip. How on earth was she supposed to write about this journey? The silly little man had only allowed her to bring two changes of clothes and had insisted she bring the thick, terribly unfashionable gray socks. She could only wear the horrid hiking boots that Josie had bought for her and she was going to have to carry the heavy backpack and haul her own water.

She was really going to have to give Josie a piece of her mind when she got back. She could not believe she was making her go on this stupid trip in the first place. She knew enough about nature to write about it in their magazine. She just didn't understand why her taking this trip was so important.

The horse ride to the camp where Robin and the team from Back Lands were located was long and very bumpy, Marianne was sure her backside was going to be sore for a very long time.

Rodney, who had been flirting with Marianne from the minute he met her, announced that they would be arriving at the campsite any minute. Marianne couldn't imagine how he would know that when she couldn't see anything but trees and rocks all around them. Suddenly there was a clearing and Rodney stopped abruptly causing Marianne to crash into his back and grab him for support. He had been trying to get her to wrap her arms around him throughout the whole trip. She toyed with telling him that she didn't cuddle with men but decided not to since she wasn't sure how open minded the people in this area would be. He might be very against gays and leave her stranded in the forest. But now they were safely at the encampment with the rest of the crew who had also just arrived and was setting up camp.

Marianne allowed Rodney to help her down from the horse. She helped Barry and him unload their things. He mounted the horse and called down to her, "Marianne, you be sure to come see me before you head back to Denver." He smiled and winked at her as he turned away and pulled the other horse that they had brought with them back to the lodge. Marianne had smiled and waved back but was thinking that she would make sure to avoid him before she left to go back to Denver.

Robin had watched the exchange in disgust. Another flirt, just what she needed. She knew she was going to have a time with Sally, the nature writer from Back Lands, who had spent every trip they had ever been on trying to get into Tim's pants but Tim was married and wanted no part of her. She was afraid that might be a problem on this trip since Tim and his wife were separated right now.

She assessed the situation. Sally was already working on Tim by having him help her with her tent. John, Tom, and Brenda, the environmental writer, already had their tents up and were starting on the fire. Karen, who was a freelance writer, a mountaineer, and who Robin was certain was having an affair with Brenda, was finishing her tent. Barry was done with his tent and helping the little blond with hers. She shook her head; the woman obviously had no clue what she was doing.

Robin walked over to Tim. "I'm going to check the perimeter, I'll be right back."

"Okay boss." He nodded and went back to listening intently to Sally, who was telling him about the fall wild flowers she was wanted to try to take pictures of on this trip.

Robin returned to camp fifteen minutes later to find everyone's tent was up and they had begun to cook dinner. Barry was explaining how to use a compass to the little blond, Marianne. Robin studied her while she was not looking. She was very beautiful. Her thick strawberry blond hair fell at her shoulders with a slight curl inward at the bottom. Her sky blue eyes were very expressive and her full lips formed a simple bow. Her slight tan did not cover her spattering of freckles that covered her arms and a little bit on her nose. Robin looked away when she saw that Marianne was about to look at her. She had an air about her that was familiar to Robin, a haughty air as if she thought she was better than everyone there.

Robin walked away, shaking her thoughts of the past that had suddenly come upon her. She didn't even know why she had checked the little blond out like that. She was most likely straight and from the city. Both taboo as far as Robin was concerned.

Later, as they sat around the campfire, everyone shared stories about themselves. They had all hiked together, except Marianne, a few years before so they told some of the things that had been happening in their lives since then.

Marianne sat and listened carefully. She had only been at the magazine a few months and didn't really know any of her co-workers. She had worked with John one time on a story and knew he was married with two kids but other than that she only knew everyone else from having passed them in the halls. She had suspected that Brenda and Karen were lovers by the way they acted at the office, always going to lunch together and often arriving or leaving together. Sally was a garden variety slut. Marianne was sure she had slept with all the men at the magazine, including Tom who was the intentional bachelor.

"So Marianne, tell us about you." Marianne jumped when Sally suddenly swung towards her. "You haven't been out with us to share your story so give it up."

"Ah, well," Marianne stammered, this was unexpected and she wasn't sure how much she wanted to share with these people yet, "there's not much to tell."

Robin was intrigued by Marianne suddenly seeming uncomfortable. Was she hiding something? "Yeah, tell us about you. Where you're from originally and stuff like that."

Marianne looked at Robin's amused eyes and suddenly felt as if Robin had looked into her soul and already knew everything. Marianne dropped her head slightly and looked away from Robin's probing eyes. "Well, ah, I'm from Denver originally. I went to college at UCLA but came back to Denver to get my Masters at the University of Colorado at Denver. I used to write for Corporate Weekly in San Fransico. I don't have any pets, never been married and I've never been hiking."

"That was short and sweet." Brenda grinned at Marianne.

Marianne grinned back. She was certain that Brenda and Karen knew she was family but they hadn't had a chance to really talk. "Yep, that's about all there is."

"So what happened at Corporate Weekly?" Robin asked nonchalantly sipping her hot tea.

"I did an article that was not very favorable about Kinsey Oil Company and I wouldn't reveal my source so I was let go."

Karen raised an eyebrow, "I read that article. You said that Kinsey Oil was drilling on public lands with the permission of the President."

"Yep," Marianne reached for the pot of water on the fire to pour her a cup of cocoa but Robin stopped her and handed her a pot holder.

"It's very hot."

"Oh, thank you," Marianne hadn't even considered that it was sitting directly on the fire.

"So what really happened?" Sally moved the edge of her seat. "There had to be more to the story for you to get fired."

"Well, it was true, as you all know; it came out in the news that another reporter from the New York Times had actually gotten documentation proving it. I had documentation but I couldn't use it because it would have revealed my source and I wasn't going to do that because it would have put that person in danger."

"Danger?" That got John's attention.

"Yeah, the person who gave me the information would have most likely disappeared if it was found out that they were the one that leaked the story."

"So how did you get the source to tell you that? Did they just contact you and want to clear the air or did you do something to convince them to tell?" Sally wanted to know.

"I knew this person pretty well and I had been trying to get them to talk about the company for awhile. One night over dinner they suddenly wanted to tell me everything."

"So you were sleeping with them?" Sally was certain that she was right when the blush on Marianne's face began to spread to her neck.

Robin watched as Marianne turned crimson and looked away. Why was she so embarrassed? Reporters slept with people all the time to get stories.

"Let's just say, I didn't sleep with them just to get the story." Marianne stirred her cocoa, "So, Robin, tell me how you ended up doing this kind of work." Marianne desperately wanted to get off that topic; it was much too personal and too painful.

Robin grinned making Marianne catch her breath. She had been certain that a frown was etched on Robin's face. Her whole face changed when she smiled, it lit up like the sun coming up over the horizon. Marianne dropped her eyes when she realized she was staring at Robin's full lips stretched over her perfectly even white teeth.

Robin's grin widened when Marianne looked away. Maybe she would have to reassess the little blond. "My father started this business back in the sixties, before I was born. He would take sport hunters into the mountains on the Ute Reservation where few people traveled. I grew up hunting and fishing in these mountains so it was just natural that I take over the business when my father retired."

"Don't you have a brother?" Tom asked trying to remember the first time he heard her tell this story.

"I had a brother; he was killed in a rock climbing accident." Robin replied sadly, "It was about three years ago, I don't think you've been here since then Tom." Robin looked up at the sky, knowing her brother's spirit was always near, and "Red Bird, or Ben, as you knew him, was always very free spirited. He didn't want the responsibility so he never really partook in the family business."

"I'm so sorry." Marianne said softly.

Robin's eyes fell on her, "Its okay. He died doing something he loved, that's just how he would have wanted it." Robin stood, needing to shake off her sadness, "Let's get some sleep. Tomorrow's going to be a rough day. We are going to have to make up some time thanks to someone's tardiness."

Everyone looked at Marianne who dropped her head. She had almost started to like that woman but maybe she shouldn't be so quick to change her mind. She was obviously not going to let her off the hook so easily.




Chapter Three


The next day was rough just as Robin had promised. They hiked from five in the morning until seven that evening. Everyone was begging her to stop but she was determined that they were going to reach Black Bear Camp that night for a lot of reasons, most importantly there was fresh water there and a hot springs.

As they set up camp, Robin noticed Marianne sitting on the ground next to her tent which was not erected. "Having trouble?"

"I just simply cannot move one more inch. My feet and ankles have never hurt this bad in my life. I'm just going to sleep right here on the ground."

"Nonsense," Robin said grabbing Marianne's tent and erecting it.

"Thank you," Marianne said but still did not move.

"Take your shoes and socks off and let me look at your feet. You probably have a few blisters that need attended to." Robin pulled out the first aid kit she had packed in her backpack.

Marianne just stared at her for a moment but quickly took her shoes off when Robin reached for them. There was something so intimate about the way she was reaching for her that it gave Marianne chills. Robin must have noticed her shivering.


"Just a little," she lied. She was actually feeling quite warm, especially where Robin was holding her leg as she pulled off her sock.

"Oh yeah, you've got some nice first time hiker blisters." Robin commented as she reached for the ointment and bandages.

John and Tom came over to survey the damage. "Oh man, those are going to hurt like hell when she gets into the hot springs tomorrow." Tom commented with an empathetic wince. He had been there himself and knew how bad it was going to hurt.

Marianne stared at the three of them. " Hot springs? What hot springs?"

Robin chuckled realizing that Marianne hadn't heard anything else Tom had said, "There's a hot springs just fifty feet from here. We are all going to go down and clean up in it tomorrow."

"Oh...Ow, that hurts!" Marianne whined as Robin bandaged her ankles.

"Yep, going to really hurt tomorrow," Barry chimed in as he approached the group.

"You guys go away, you are not helping matters." The men shrugged and walked off leaving Robin and Marianne alone. "Try to leave your socks off for as long as you can tonight. If your feet get cold just pull the socks up to where the bandage is but leave the bandage uncovered."

Marianne winced and nodded. She was so exhausted she couldn't image that she would even notice her feet getting cold once she was asleep which was going to happen as soon and she got curled up in her sleeping bag that Robin was putting in her tent. "Thanks," She said as Robin crawled out of her tent and headed to the fire.

Robin turned back and flashed a quick smile that made Marianne's heart skip a beat. She decided that she didn't have enough energy to dwell on those feelings and quickly crawled into the tent and was fast asleep as soon as her head hit the small pillow that she had made with some of her extra clothes.

"Aren't you going to make her get up and eat?" Barry asked, knowing that Robin was big on making sure everyone had plenty of food for energy on the hike.

"Nah, I'm going to let her sleep. She'll be starving in the morning and will eat plenty so I'm sure she'll be okay."

Later, before Robin went to bed, she checked on Marianne. She knew that Brenda had looked in on her before she went to bed as well. Robin smiled at the sleeping beauty. Her blond hair lay in soft sprays across her face. Her mouth was slightly open and her hands were tucked under her cheek. She had covered everything up but her feet which were sticking out of the bottom of the sleeping bag. Robin touched them gently and felt how cold they were. She slipped a dry pair of socks on Marianne's feet and went back to her tent.

Robin closed her eyes and tried to sleep. She was frustrated that the blond vixen kept appearing in her mind. She's a city girl and probably comes from money, Robin told herself, and you don't need the complications.

The next morning was chillier than Robin had anticipated but she also knew that the weather in the mountains could change suddenly. She took her radio, walked quietly away from camp and called the lodge to check on the weather.

Marty, the clerk at the lodge was watching The Weather Channel when she heard Robin's voice calling on the radio. "How's it going out there?"

"Good. I'm just a little concerned about how chilly it is this morning. Are there any changes in the weather I should know about?"

"Not really, there is a system coming from the West but you should be back before it gets here. If that changes I'll send some people out for you guys on four wheelers or horses, just make sure you keep us updated of your coordinates."

"Okay, Rodney has a map of our route and where I plan to be each day so you could use that if for some reason you don't hear from me."

"Okay, Robin, I got you covered. Be careful and have fun, I hear you have a greenhorn with you, don't be too hard on her." Marty chuckled, knowing perfectly well that Robin wouldn't ever pick on a new hiker.

"I'll try. She's pretty infuriating though, I may have to have a little fun with her." Robin called back with a laugh, "Talk to ya later."

Robin went back to camp to find John, Tom, Barry and Tim pulling in more wood to build up the fire. "Don't make that too big; remember we will be moving on by ten o'clock."

"I know," Tim answered, "but some of us are washing out a few things and want to try to get them dry before we hit the road."

"Well, I understand that but we also don't want to leave behind any burning embers either so keep it relatively small." Robin warned.

She looked around the camp and saw Brenda and Karen huddling together in Brenda's tent while they were waiting for the guys to finish playing with the fire. Sally was down at the creek washing out some underwear and Marianne was still sound asleep. Robin crawled part of the way into her tent, "Hey sleepy head, wake up."

"I don't want to," Marianne grumbled.

"You need to get up and eat so we can all go to the hot springs."

" Hot springs..." Marianne mumbled and went back to sleep.

Robin shook her. "Come on now, you need to get up."

"Just a little longer please." Marianne begged.

"Sorry, Hon, you have to get up. Don't make me have to drag you out of the tent."

"She's done it before." John called over to Marianne from the fire.

"Burr, it's cold. I want to stay here where it's warm." Marianne continued to protest.

Robin leaned closer to her face, making her look into those dark eyes that sparkled with amusement, "Marianne, Sweetie, I will pick you up and haul you out of this tent."

Marianne's brows furrowed in frustration. "You wouldn't drag me out of here if I was naked would you?"

Robin sucked in her breath at the thought of this beauty being naked under that sleeping bag, "Are you going to get naked?" She asked, her eyes traveling up and down the length of Marianne's body.

Marianne shivered. She felt like hot coals had just raked her body. "I'll be out in just a second." She promised.

Robin chuckled, "Okay, but I will be back if you are not out here in five minutes."

Robin got out of the tent and went to stand by the fire. She didn't need to get warmed; her body was on fire just from the thought of the little blond being naked. Robin shook her head; she really needed to get laid. That was what was behind all of these feelings. It had been too long and as soon as she got the next couple of expeditions completed she was headed to the closest gay bar she could find.

There was the rustle of the tent flap, Robin turned to watch as Marianne slowly crawled out of the tent. She's straight, probably got a boyfriend and not someone I need to be thinking about sexually, Robin told herself and turned away from the view of Marianne's backside being slowly raised in the air.

Once Marianne had eaten and Sally had returned from the creek, Robin took the women to the hot springs to get cleaned up. Everyone stripped down to their underwear and got in the hot water except Sally who got completely naked and Marianne who sat at the edge of the pool. "Don't you want to clean all that sweat and dust off," Karen called to Marianne.

"It's too cold."

"The water's very hot, once you're in here for a little bit, your body temperature will go up and you won't feel cold at all." Karen assured her.

Marianne gave her a skeptical look, "Why isn't Robin getting in then?"

"She's keeping watch. The guys with us wouldn't mess with us but there are hunters and other hikers out here they may come upon us and intrude upon our bath."

"Oh," Marianne reached into the water with her hands. "Wow that is hot. Doesn't it burn your blisters?"

"Just a little but it's worth it to feel clean again."

"Come on chicken shit." Sally called as floated on her back, revealing her large breasts.

Marianne wondered if Sally was doing that to give Brenda and Karen a show. She wondered if Sally knew they were lesbians. She was enjoying the view herself. She had always been a lover of women's breasts. She decided to give in and get in. She stripped down to her underwear and slid into the steaming water. "Oh my God this feels good."

"I told you," Karen called from the center of the pool where she was washing Brenda's back. "Come on over and I'll scrub your back too."

Marianne looked at Brenda for her reaction. She didn't want to start anything between the two of them but Brenda motioned her over. Marianne slowly walked out to the couple and presented Karen her back. She closed her eyes and enjoyed being washed. When she opened them she saw Robin standing at the edge of the woods watching. Is she watching me? Marianne felt that she was. Her eyes seemed to be glued right on her. Maybe she's watching all of us but when she moved away from Karen and Brenda, Robin's eyes followed her. She smiled to herself; she would have to find out more about the infuriating Robin Hawke. Her gaydar had gone off when she first met her but nothing she had said or done had indicated that she was anything but a bossy tomboy.

"You guys need to wrap it up so the men will have a turn. I want to get on the trail soon." Robin called from where she leaning against a tree. She should have kept her back turned but she had wanted to see what that little blond hid under her clothes. She had a beautiful body. Actually very athletic looking for all of Josie's claims that the girl was sedentary, Robin made herself look away. She had to get a grip on her feelings. They still had four full days of hiking before this was over. It was going to be a long trip Robin decided with resignation.

While the men took their turn in the hot springs, the women finished packing up the camp, making sure all their trash was picked up and the fire was completely out. Robin had been preaching the "leave it as you found it" policy the entire trip. Of course all of the other members of this expedition were very familiar with the known hiking rule because they were all avid hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Marianne would much rather be walking through a mall than out in the woods.

Once they were back on the trail, Marianne was paired up with Sally who was explaining the importance of keeping nature the way that they found it. Marianne was fascinated by the fact that the blond seemed so dingy but knew every plant by its common and scientific name. Yesterday she had walked with Brenda who had explained the importance of the current environmental policies, which policies were in jeopardy of being over turned by the current president and which polices the magazine were pushing to have made into law.

Marianne had never considered any of the issues that she had been presented with on this trip. Having been a corporate writer, she had only been concerned with which company was making the most money, how they were handling their money and how it was affecting the economy. She had never thought about what companies might be doing to the environment to make the bottom dollar they were after.

Sally talked nonstop the entire day. Marianne was certain she would never process all of the information she had given her but between her and Brenda, she had become very enlightened about what issues the magazine was interested in. She still wasn't sure why Josie had chosen her out of all the applicants for this job to write for her magazine. Hopefully, when she got back to Denver, she and Josie would be able to sit down and discuss what role she was really supposed to play at the magazine.

It was late in the afternoon, as indicated by the sun starting to slide behind the mountains, when Robin finally signaled that they would be stopping for the night. Marianne was so glad. Her feet and legs had never hurt this much in her entire life. She quickly set up her tent and helped find firewood so she could sit down.

"Well, it seems that you have caught on real quick to what needs to be done before we get to rest." Robin commented as she watched Marianne lay down the wood she had gathered.

"I've always been a quick study." She smiled wearily.

"After we eat I'll take a look at your feet and make sure your blisters are healing okay." Robin said and walked off to start fixing dinner for everyone.

Marianne sat down, took her shoes and socks off, and surveyed her blisters. They still looked pretty ugly. It felt good to be able to stretch her feet out. The air, that was quickly cooling now that the sun had gone down, felt good on her overheated feet.

She watched as Robin, Karen and Barry starting opening cans, bags of dried food and heating water on the fire that they had built. She had never even been camping so all of this was new to her. Her parents thought a family outing was a trip to the country club. Her father is an accountant and her mother an administrative assistant and neither liked to do anything outdoors but play golf or tennis. She didn't even have friends growing up whose family went camping. Some of them went skiing but that involved staying at an exclusive resort not sleeping in the woods. Her mother was going to absolutely freak out when she told her about this trip.

Robin was watching the small blond out of the corner of her eye. She was completely exhausted. Robin watched as she rubbed the muscles on her legs and ankles; she would have to make a point to massage them for her later. Robin knew that this attraction she felt for Marianne was going to go nowhere but she couldn't seem to stop herself. She had felt Marianne's eyes on her back all day and had caught her watching her on more than one occasion. She wasn't sure what to make of it. She wasn't really getting gay vibes from Marianne but her gaydar had never been very good.

She had known femmes but Marianne was extremely femme. She was constantly checking her nails, albeit they were fairly short, but getting a lot of scratches on their high polish. She had insisted on bringing blush and lip gloss. Robin shook her head. She just seemed so too straight and had obviously never been camping. Robin would have to ask her about it later to know for sure.

Robin did ask at dinner. "No. My parents were not the outdoorsy types."

"So what did you do for fun?" Karen asked around a mouthful of beans.

Marianne poked at the food that she wouldn't be eating if she weren't starving, "We golfed, boated, shopped, went to the movies, stuff like that."

Robin and Karen exchanged looks and shook their heads. No one else made comment but Robin could see it on their faces that they would all see her as a little rich girl now. She hoped that it wouldn't affect the way the rest of them treated her on the rest of the trip.






Chapter Four


The trip had been a huge success so far. It was the last leg of the journey and the last night they would camp. They would be back at the resort by noon tomorrow. Robin was very glad. She usually hated to see a trip end but this one had been emotionally draining. The feelings she was feeling for Marianne had grown stronger the longer she was around her. Robin kept trying to shake it off. Marianne would be headed back to Denver tomorrow and she would probably never see her again.

They had set up camp next to the Dallas Creek. Everyone was trying to find the cleanest clothes that they had to wear for the next day when Robin announced that she and Tim were going to fish in the river to see if they could catch something to eat for dinner. Robin warned everyone else to stay up away from the river. "The river's running very fast its very slippery at the few places it is approachable. I know everyone would love to have some fairly clean underwear for tomorrow but we'll just have to wait until we get back to the lodge. I'll make sure everyone has access to a shower and the laundry room."

After Robin and Tim had left camp, Marianne grumbled, "I don't know why she won't let us just wash out one pair of underwear. It can't be that dangerous."

Brenda gave Marianne a look of warning, "If Robin says it's too dangerous, then it's too dangerous so don't try to go down there."

Marianne walked off with a huff. She felt that she had steady enough feet to lean into a stupid river and wash her underwear for two seconds. She decided she was going to try, the thought of wearing a dirty pair of underwear for one more day was more than she could stand.

She stood at the edge of the bluff and looked down at the river, there was a fairly flat place just below where she stood that she thought would be fine for her go down to wash her underwear. She headed down the bluff, "I'll show them I'm tougher than they think."

A short time later, Robin and Tim came back to camp with enough trout to feed everyone. They handed the fish to Barry who began preparing them. "Where's Marianne?" Robin asked as she looked around the camp.

"She was here. She was pretty pissed that you wouldn't let us wash out our underwear. Surely to God she didn't go down to the river anyway."

Robin looked up at the sky that was quickly becoming dim. "Everyone spread out along the bluff and call her name."

"Marianne!" Every one called out at different intervals until they finally heard a faint cry for help.

Robin, Tim and Barry rushed down the bluff where they heard the cry coming from. Marianne was in the water hanging onto a tree branch to keep from being swept away by the strong current. "Sweet spirit," Robin cried under her breath. When they got to the edge of the water Barry called up to Tom and John for them to get the rope he had in his tent. Tom and John got the rope and rushed down the bluff with it.

"I'm going to put the rope around me and climb out on the branch to get her. You guys will have to pull us in." Robin looked to the four men for reassurance that they would be able to bring her and Marianne back in.

"Don't worry, Robin. We'll bring you in." Barry reassured her.

Robin tied the rope securely around her waist and climbed out onto the branch. "I'm going to slide into the water in front of you. I'm going to hang onto the branch and I want you to wrap your arms and legs around me, okay." She told the very frightened Marianne when she reached her.

Marianne was shivering so hard she couldn't speak. She just nodded. When Robin slid into the icy water in front of her she was afraid of letting go of the branch but did as Robin instructed. She felt the water pull her forward as soon as she let go of the branch but she grabbed Robin and held on tight.

"Okay, start pulling!" Robin hollered at the men and began inching her way back along the branch toward the shore while the men pulled the rope and kept it tight in case Robin lost her grip on the tree. She finally reached a point where she was going to have to let go of the tree to get to the shore. "I'm going to have to let go of the tree," She called to the men. "Start pulling as hard as you can."

The men did as she instructed and when she let go of the branch they gave two great pulls and drug the women up on the bank. "Go up and tell the girls to get blankets and hot cocoa ready we'll be right up." Robin instructed Barry. She had the three bigger men help her and Marianne make their way up the bluff.

Marianne was frozen to the bone and still shivering so hard she couldn't speak. When they got to the camp Robin took her into her tent and began undressing her. "Wha... wha...what are you doing?" Marianne managed to get out.

"You have to get out of these wet closes right away. I don't know how long you were in the water and you could be hypothermic. We need to get you warmed up as quickly as possible." Robin explained as she continued to undress her.

A few minutes later Karen popped her head in the tent and handed Robin some dry clothes of Marianne's. She studied Robin's flushed face and gave her a wink. Robin grinned slightly, she was enjoying taking off Marianne's clothes but she wished it was under very different circumstances.

Once she had Marianne changed and wrapped up in blankets, Robin began taking off her own clothes. She watched Marianne's reaction. She didn't look away but she didn't really show any other expression either.

Robin mentally shook herself. This was a time of crisis, this woman was in danger of having hypothermia and she wondering if she found her attractive. She was going to have to get a grip.

Robin took Marianne out by the fire after she got dressed and wrapped up in a blanket. They sipped hot cocoa and tried to get warm. Robin watched the small woman who was nodding off. Robin had to keep her from falling off the stump she was sitting on twice. "Okay, it's time to get you in the tent. Karen, please bring me her sleeping bag."

"What are you doing?" Marianne asked sleepily.

"I'm going to put our two sleeping bags together and put you in my tent tonight. I need to be able to keep an eye on you to make sure you're okay."

"I'm fine, I'm just freezing and tired." Marianne protested wearily.

"Your freezing is what I'm worried about." Robin touched Marianne's cheek with the back of her hand. "You aren't warming up quickly enough." Robin set the tent up and put extra blankets inside the sleeping bags. "Come on." She motioned for Marianne to join her.

Marianne was too tired to protest and slowly, with Karen's help made her way to Robin's tent. Karen gave Robin a knowing grin. Robin blushed and looked away. She wondered if Karen and Brenda knew whether Marianne was gay or not. It doesn't matter, she told herself. After tomorrow she's going back to Denver, she's a socialite and she's not a nature person, you have nothing in common with this woman, Robin continued to chide herself. She finally got Marianne settled in the sleeping bags.

"I'm so cold." Marianne shivered under the blankets, "I'm so sorry I didn't listen to you. I could have drowned."

"Yes, you could have. You were very lucky but we do need to get you warm. There is another way to try to warm you if you are willing to try."

"Sleeping naked next to you, right? I think I saw that in a movie once but I didn't believe it really worked."

Robin shifted and began taking her clothes off. "Well, it does work. The heat of my body in direct contact with yours will start warming you up and I'm very hot natured so hopefully it won't take long."

"Okay," Marianne still wasn't sure that she liked Robin but the thought of cuddling up with a naked woman to get warm was very appealing. She had watched Robin undress earlier and new that she hid a perfectly beautiful body under the army pants and flannel shirt she was wearing.

Robin helped Marianne undress; now they were both naked. They got back under the covers and Robin scooted Marianne's naked bottom up against her. She draped her arm loosing across Marianne's stomach. She laid her head next to Marianne's. Her hair still smelled of perfume even though they had been on the trails for five days.

"Wow, you really are warm." Marianne scooted closer and pulled Robin's arm up across her breasts, hugging it to her.

Robin closed her eyes against the sensations that having her arm across Marianne's breasts was causing. She finally made herself relax when she heard Marianne's rhythmic breathings telling her that she was asleep. It didn't take much longer for Robin to fall asleep herself.

Chapter Five


Marianne's moaning woke Robin. Her body had warmed up and she was running a slight fever. Robin watched as Marianne tossed her head from side to side. She was obviously having a bad dream. Robin figured it was about falling in the river. She pulled Marianne closer, hoping it would either wake her or give her comfort in her dream.

She didn't stop moving and she began to mumble. Robin strained to hear what she was saying. She was calling someone's name.

"Amanda, please don't go." She whispered over and over again until she seemed to have fallen asleep.

Robin wondered who Amanda was and who she had been to Marianne. She settled down next to her again and drifted off to sleep only to be woken again by Marianne turning in her arms to face her. Robin opened her eyes. Marianne's eyes were opened slightly but Robin was certain she was still asleep. She was studying her face when Marianne suddenly leaned forward and kissed Robin's lips. Robin sucked in her breath. She was completely caught off guard and was even more surprised when Marianne kissed her again. This time Robin tentatively kissed her back. She was sure Marianne was dreaming about kissing someone else but she wasn't going to deny herself this little bit of pleasure.

Marianne hadn't been quite awake. She had been dreaming about the last time she had been with Amanda when she realized that she had actually kissed Robin and Robin had kissed her back. She had been wondering about her. She had caught her eyes lingering a little longer than straight women's do. Now she had no doubt. It was a nice kiss. It had been so long since she had been with anyone that she was really enjoying lying with her this way. She snuggled closer and heard Robin's intake of breath. She could feel Robin's heart racing against her breasts. Marianne grinned and tucked her head under Robin's chin.

They both settled back into sleep but Robin woke a short time later to find that they had become entangled in their sleep. Robin was now on her back, Marianne's face was pressed to her breasts and one of her legs was firmly wedged between Robin's legs.

Robin could feel the heat of Marianne's core pressed against her thigh. She tried to untangle herself but Marianne wouldn't budge. Robin waited a few minutes then tried to free herself again. This time she heard a low chuckle come from the little blond.

Robin looked down to see mischievous sky blue eyes staring up at her. "Why are you in such a hurry to move?" Marianne asked nonchalantly, hiding the rising need she was feeling.

"I... I just figured you must be uncomfortable." Robin whispered.

Marianne studied Robin's dark brown eyes. She couldn't hide her arousal. Marianne was not one to sleep with strangers but they had traveled together for a week so they weren't exactly strangers. Marianne watched Robin's pink tongue moisten her dry lips. She could feel Robin's desire for her. She had seen it in her eyes when they had talked before she fell in the river. Robin was not the type of woman Marianne would normally go out with but she wasn't interested in having a relationship with her, she just wanted to satisfy this aching need that had come upon her while she was sleeping. She could see that Robin had the same need. It would just be this one time. Tomorrow she would go back to Denver and she would probably never see Robin again.

Robin was holding her breath, waiting for Marianne to act. Any doubt she had about her being gay had ended when she kissed her. Now she was looking at Robin with such intense desire that it made Robin shivered slightly in anticipation of Marianne's next move.

As if Marianne had read her thoughts, she leaned up and kissed Robin. The kiss started slowly but Marianne inched her way up Robin's body and kissed her more passionately. Robin matched Marianne's kisses with her own rising need. Marianne sighed when she cupped Robin's full breasts and began twirling her nipples between her fingers. She got an immediate response with the sudden gush of heat coming from between Robin's legs. She pushed her leg more firmly between them making Robin gasp and kiss her harder. Marianne slid her hand between them and slipped her fingers into Robin's wetness.

"Oh my God," Marianne whispered. It had been much too long since she had touched another woman this way.

"Please," Robin whispered in need for Marianne to touch her more deeply.

Marianne sensed what she needed and slid her fingers deeper into Robin, touching the spot that made Robin arch into her. Marianne knew Robin was about to explode. She made quick work of taking her over that edge and covered Robin's mouth with her own to capture her cry.

Robin saw millions of tiny fireworks going off in her head. She laid back and tried to calm her breathing. Marianne's fingers were still inside her. She moved her hand down and took Marianne's hand that had just brought her to ecstasy. She brought her fingers to her lips and licked her fingers, tasting herself there. This inflamed Marianne's desire. She grabbed Robin's hand and put it at the vortex of her core and began to grind against it. Robin quickly slid her fingers inside Marianne and brought her to her peak almost as soon as she started exploring her. Marianne bit down on Robin's shoulder to keep her cry from being heard in the camp.

A few hours passed but they pleasured each other many times in the short span of time. They both lay breathless in each other's arms as the sun's rays started to shine through the tent. Marianne leaned up and kissed Robin softly on the mouth, "Thank you."

"My pleasure," Robin smiled. She studied her face for a few minutes and realized that Marianne was thinking the same thing she was, it was just this one time and once out in front of everyone else they would act like it didn't even happen. "So are you feeling warmer."

Marianne blushed, "Oh yes, thank you," and then she sneezed.

Robin put her lips to Marianne's forehead, "You're running a slight fever. I'll get up and get you some medicine for your aches and fever." Robin got up and got dressed while Marianne watched.

She does have a beautiful body, Marianne thought to herself.

"You go ahead and get dressed," Robin said as she opened the flap to the tent. I'll be right back."

"Thanks again," Marianne smiled and blushed again, "for everything."

Robin nodded with a smile and stepped out of the tent. She was glad no one else was up yet. It gave her some time to clear her head about what had happened last night. She didn't want anyone else to be able to read her expression and guess what had happened.

Marianne took her time about dressing. She, too, had to gather her thoughts. She hadn't even let anyone at the magazine know she was gay, although she was certain that Karen and Brenda had sensed it.

Marianne stepped out of the tent a half an hour after Robin had left to find that everyone else was just crawling out of their tents as well. Robin approached her with a cup of coffee and some pain relievers. Marianne looked into Robin's eyes but Robin already had her public mask on. Marianne thanked her and went to sit by the fire. She was still sneezing and starting to feel the effects of the fever.

Brenda and Karen had been studying both women ever since they had gotten up. Brenda brought Marianne some tissues and watched for any hint that something had happened between her and Robin but there was nothing. Brenda gave Karen a shrug as she came back over to her. She whispered, "If something did happen last night, they are both hiding it."

Robin didn't rush everyone this morning. She wanted them to enjoy the last day of the trip. When it was time to go, they took their time walking down that last leg of the trail which had some of the most spectacular views of the mountains and valleys they had hiked around.

Marianne was awestruck by the beauty. She had never looked at the nature the way she did now. She understood why Josie had wanted her to take this trip. It had completely changed her perspective about nature and the people trying to preserve it.

She understood the importances now of getting the message to the readers about what corporations were doing to save nature and to spoil it. She knew now what she could bring to the magazine.




Marianne rushed through the corridors of Back Lands magazine to the conference room.  She was running late for the meeting that Josie had called for this morning.  This was going to be one of those days, she could just tell.  She had spilt coffee on her new dress suit right as she was walking out the door so she had to go back and change.  She got caught in a traffic jam behind a horrific wreck and her lap top was not working so she couldn't work while she waited.  She left the hard copy of the story she had been working on laying on her desk at home and she tripped and almost fell on her face getting off the elevator. She was an hour late getting to work, fifteen minutes late for the meeting and she still hadn't had any coffee this morning.

She had felt off balance ever since she had come back from the hiking trip at Black Bear Lodge. She had a horrible cold for two weeks after she got home that she had been certain was going to turn into pneumonia. She had dreams about making love with Robin almost every night. On top of that, she had suddenly become very clumsy. Her mother would have fits if she knew that her daughter, who had taken six years of ballet classes, was tripping over her own two feet almost daily. She didn't understand what was happening but she hoped that it would clear up soon.

  Marianne knocked on the conference room door, opened it with a breathless "I'm sorry I'm late", and went to her seat.  Everyone was quiet while she was getting settled in her seat then she looked up and gasped.  There stood Robin Hawke in a dark blue, pinstriped suit with her long black hair flowing about her shoulders giving Marianne an amused look. Marianne felt her temperature rising and it was caused solely by the woman standing at the front of the room.

  "As I was saying," Robin went on with her speech about the problems with the new development company that was trying to buy the Black Bear Lodge and all the land surrounding it to develop a ski resort and a ski resort neighborhood.  "The Bankers Development Corporation is very heavy handed and has already secured the support of the local politicians.  The Ute Nation Council, The Colorado Environment Coalition and the Sierra Club have already started legal proceedings to try to stop the development.  I was sent here by those three organizations to ask you guys to put together some stories to try to reach more people who will call their local and federal politicians to try to stop the rape of the land on Black Bear Mountain ."

"You know you have my complete support and my staff will be at your disposal. We cannot allow these vultures to destroy such perfectly pristine land." Josie turned in her chair to face the rest of the staff. "Ideas?"

"I think we should do an extensive photo lay out of Black Bear Lodge and the land around it. I have a ton of pictures from the last three trips I've made up there. I'm sure I can put something together that will be awe inspiring." John said as he started typing on his laptop.

"Excellent idea John! I have a bunch of stuff from up there too. We'll have to get together and pick through our two stacks of pictures." Tom chimed in and got the thumbs up from John.

"I can write a story about the wildlife in the area and the importance of it not being disturbed so that it will continue to be good hunting and fishing land. I'll also cover what would happen to the habitat if it did get developed. That should stir up the hunters and fishers." Sally said as she began to type furiously on her laptop.

"Oh yeah, and I'll cover the environmental damage that will be done if it's developed." Brenda had already been typing. She stopped and looked at Karen, "You should play devil's advocate and cover the good and bad about jobs that could be brought to the area."

"That's a great idea!" Josie pointed at Karen, "Make sure you cover the impact to the environment caused by all the new traffic, not only of people living there but people commuting there to work." Josie looked up at Marianne who was staring at her notebook, "Marianne."

Marianne looked up. She tried to focus on just Josie but Robin was standing right behind her. "Yes."

Josie started to speak but closed her mouth and looked behind her at Robin who was studying Marianne intently. She looked back at Marianne who was trying to avoid Robin's gaze. She raised a questioning eyebrow and looked around the room to see if anyone else seemed to be aware of what was going on between the two women but everyone else was making notes. "Marianne I want you to find out about this company, The Bankers Development Corporation. See if anyone of your old contacts can give you the scoop on what they are about and see if you can get interviews with anyone from their upper management. See if you can't get the real story as to why they chose Black Bear Mountain, the lodge and surrounding areas." Josie stood, "Okay, does anyone have anything they want to add?"

Everyone shook their heads and started gathering their stuff. "I want preliminary ideas and research on my desk first thing Monday." She looked around a saw a few groans, "Well, I guess we are done. Let's get busy."

The writers all went to their desks to work. Josie watched as Marianne made a point to avoid having to walk past Robin. Josie and Robin went into Josie's office. "So what was going on between you and Marianne?"

Robin sat down in the chair across from Josie, "I don't know what you mean."

"Bullshit, Robin," Josie put her feet on her desk. "You were watching her and she was avoiding looking at you. What really happened on that trip?"


Josie regarded Robin thoughtfully, "You are full of shit. Something happened."

"You know socialites aren't my type." Robin looked away from Josie's intense gaze.

"I guess not after what Cameron did to you but there is still something between you two." Josie sat up and leaned towards Robin, "And between me and you, she's not as much of a socialite as she tries to pretend that she is. Her parents make good money but they were not that wealthy. They just put appearances of being extremely wealthy because her father wants to be on the same level with the partners at the accounting firm that he works at in hopes of making partner one day."

"Has he not been made a partner yet?" Robin knew little about the corporate world but she would think that a man his age, if he stayed with the company would have made partner by now.

"Nope," Josie shook her head, "and he's not going to. He works at Brandson, Brandson, and Wiseman. They are all family and they only allow family members to become partners."

"How do you know this?"

"They have done my father's company's taxes for years. He's good friends with Otto Wiseman, one of the owners. He knows Marianne's father too. That's part of the reason I hired her. She was having trouble finding work after she pissed off the wrong people when she worked at Corporate Weekly."

"Yeah, she more or less said that she's stirred up quite a hornet's nest."

"Oh yeah, and those people don't forgive and forget." Josie got up and made herself a cup of coffee, "Want one?"

"Sure. But won't that hurt her when she tries to get interviews for this magazine?"

"Maybe, it just all depends on who she approaches and how she approaches them. She's smart and a very good writer. I think she's going to pull off some great stories for me."

Josie handed Robin the cup of coffee. Robin sipped it thoughtfully, "She told us part of the story about her getting fired when we were out on the hike. She said that she had gotten a story about Kinsey Oil but wouldn't reveal the source. Sally got her to admit, more or less, that she was having an affair with the source. Do you know anything about that?"

"Why?" Josie propped her feet back up on her desk, "Worried about an old lover showing up to steal away your new conquest?"

Robin should have known that Josie would read right through her nonchalant attitude about Marianne. They had been friends for too long for her to be able to hide her feelings from her. "No, just curious."

"Humph," Josie snorted, "I'll tell you what I know if you tell me what happened on the hike."

Robin chewed her lip and tried to decide how badly she really wanted the information. She knew she shouldn't be worrying herself about a woman who came from, or pretended to come from a class of people she wanted nothing to do with.

Josie grinned as she watched Robin squirm in her seat, "Why don't you just admit that you had sex with her and get it over with."

Robin looked up sharply at Josie and dropped her mouth open. "I hate it that you can read me that easily."

Josie's smiled widened, "That's the best part about being close friends, you can't bullshit them. I know you can read me just as easily as I can you, so?"

"Alright, already," Robin dropped her head with a sigh, "After she fell in the river I was worried she was going to get hyperthermia so I had her sleep naked with me."

"What made you think she would want to do that?"

"Well, it wasn't a matter of her wanting to, it was a necessary precaution because she was in potential danger." Josie raised an eyebrow. "No, seriously," Robin assured her, "That river water doesn't ever get above fifty degrees and it got down to about forty that night. I really did not go into it with the intention of seducing her, honestly. I wasn't really sure she was gay, but I had caught her looking at me earlier on the trip in a way that made me wonder. What happened was, she began tossing and turning during the night and calling out a woman's name. Amanda, I think was what she said. So, I was trying to comfort her and keep her calm but she turned in my arms and kissed me. I guess it had just been so long since I've been with anyone, my body took over and things went from there."

Josie raised an eyebrow as she sipped her coffee, "Are you sure that was what she wanted?"

"I didn't force myself on her Josie, you should know better than that. She was a willing participant in what took place and believe me she gave as good as she got."

"Oh," Josie grinned and nodded her head knowingly.

"That's not why I came to town and don't you go getting any ideas about it either. I don't need or want a relationship, especially with someone who wants to play socialite." Robin got up to leave.

"Sit back down," Josie sat her cup down, got up and went around her desk to hug Robin who was still heading for the door. "You're being too sensitive about this. I was just teasing you, you should know that."

Robin hugged Josie back and sighed. "I know. I'm not sure what has gotten into me lately. I guess I'm just real testy over this ski resort thing."

"I know Honey and I'm going to do everything I can to help stop it but you can't let it get to you. You know everything happens for a reason. Things will work out." Josie steered Robin back to her chair and went back behind her desk to sit down. "So tell me more about what Marianne said about this Amanda person."

Robin laughed and shook her head at Josie's natural need to gossip. "She didn't say much but it sounded like she was begging her not to leave."

"Hum..." Josie rubbed her chin thoughtfully. "Otto told Dad that Marianne's dad, Mike, was trying to help her get over an event that had almost destroyed her. Otto said that Mike had not elaborated on it but we all had assumed that they were talking about her getting fired because of not revealing her source. What if the event was the Amanda person leaving her, or outing her to her parents? I haven't had a chance to get to know her well enough for her to tell me such personal things but my gaydar says that she is definitely family. Brenda and Karen think so too."

"Are they together?"

"Oh yes." Josie flipped her hand in a forward gesture to suggest everyone knew that, "I guess you haven't been to town since they hooked up." Josie's phone rang, "I'll have to fill you in on that at lunch. If you don't mind, I need to take this call."

"That's fine; I need to get some other stuff done anyway. Why don't you meet me at the Satire at one?"

"See you then," Josie said as she picked up the phone, "Hey, Mark!"

Robin waved as she left the room. She made her way across the main office and was looking in the various cubicles as she walked past. She stopped when she saw Marianne in a small cubicle on the next isle of cubicles and made her way over there.

Marianne was busy typing away at the email she was sending to Sonya Jensen at Bankers Development Corporation, whom she was hoping would give her an interview. She suddenly felt warmth rush all through her body. She looked up and turned to find Robin standing directly behind her. She jumped at seeing the sudden presence.

"Sorry," Robin smiled and leaned against the side of the cubicle, "I didn't mean to scare you."

Marianne smiled back warily, "Its okay, I was just absorbed in what I was doing. That happens when I write. Is there something I can help you with?" Marianne was trying desperately to keep her composure. Robin standing so close to her was completely unnerving her.

Robin wasn't sure what had made her come over to talk to Marianne but her coolness was making Robin wish she hadn't approached her. She wasn't sure exactly what she had expected but she definitely had not expected this complete coldness as if they were strangers. "No. I'm sorry to have bothered you." Robin turned and walked away.

Marianne let out the breath she had been holding. She had not expected to react so strongly to Robin's presence. She may have been a bit too curt but she didn't want to give Robin the impression that they could be anything more than business associates.

Her disastrous affair with Amanda Kinsey had cost her more than just her job. She had lost key connections in the business world and had been forced to come out to her parents who did not take the news very well. Besides the fact that she and Robin Hawke had nothing in common, she had promised herself that she would not become involved with anyone who was associated with any place that she worked or any stories she was covering.

To be continued...

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