Chapter 38

Glasses and bear mugs clinked in toast, and Hank William's Jr. blared from the jukebox in well lit bar. From under hooded eyes, Max Sr. watched the goings on around him as he leaned against the back of the booth. It was early but it was never too early for a drink in his book. The men sitting around him vied for his attention by telling ribald jokes, patting him on the back and buying him drinks. He held them all in contempt because in his eyes they were only weaklings. All of them are weak, and I have to keep them in line just like that family of mine. The only kicker is that I don't have to worry about them letting me down.

He sneered as he thought of his son. What a useless waste of space. Maybe if he had practiced on those whores he called girlfriends before Michelle he woulda known what he was doin. Damned fool. Damned stupid fool. I can't believe that he's a son of mine. He smiled absently at the sound of his name. Another one promised to help find his daughter-in-law. Max Sr.'s smile turned sinister. He smacked the young man on the back. "I know you will." Max got even more comfortable in order to watch his house of cards built itself. It was not a house made flimsy but one put together firmly with much thought. It was one that would remain standing.

Beatrice sat numbly in her favorite spot in the room, in which she seemed forever pasted, the kitchen. With hanging head, she stared at the pastel green table cloth until dark spots appeared. After each breath, she tried futilely to squeeze through the darkness that prickled before her eyes.

It did not work.

She had to face the harsh light of day, teeming in through the windows and glaring off the sunny yellow surface of the kitchen. Even in late June, the ever fluctuating weather sputtered hot instead of the coolness of days before, but the heat stayed outside hindered by the artificial coolness of the air and maybe the cold hearts that lived inside. Hopelessness. It was an emotion, a coldness, a feeling that Beatrice was tired of but knew well. It sat in the middle of her chest as if it belonged there. What do I do?

Sad eyes raised from the table to take on the crass light surrounding her. Beatrice wiped nervous hands on her long gray skirt. Then, began wringing them as her mind fluttered to and fro.

Busy eyes peered out the window, seeing the bright yet subdued day. Tiny, leaves grew plentiful on the bush just outside, and the lush branch whisked against the semi-closed window, making a slight scratching sound. Needing something else to focus on, Beatrice listened further, hearing the cars drive by on the paved streets.

Closing her eyes, she could picture the mostly white houses with black sashes, gleaming in the sunlight, but Beatrice did not dare look. Outside symbolized a freedom that she could never have. A freedom that Michelle had that was sure to come to a close soon. She squinted already shut eyes, wishing for another reality but knowing that it was not possible. Salty tears eased their way down and left a pale trail down sallow cheeks. "I'm so sorry Michelle. I wish that I was strong enough to do more." She shook her head in defeat.

Her husband had called in favors and made promises of money that they did not have. Since it was obvious that the police would be of no help, Max Sr. sweet talked his drinking buddies, buddies that were truck drivers and wandering men. He bribed them with non-existent monies to look in every crack and crevice that they passed through for a certain little blonde and her child.

Beatrice's head hung again in silent acknowledgement. They would find her or break their necks trying simply because they didn't want to disappoint him. Her husband was the kind of man that other men looked up to, took orders from and maybe even killed or stole for. Beatrice shuddered. The police would have been gentle with her if they found her. They will not. He gave those animals the license to do whatever they wanted as long as they brought his grandson back.

Her hands clenched at her side in uncharacteristic anger. "She's a human being for God's sake not garbage to be thrown out!" She paused as the tears came steadily now along with the sobs wracking her willowy frame. "I am too." Beatrice muttered. "I am too."

Through bleary eyes, she peered out the window again. The bright light refracted somewhat by tears that continued to fall. They were easy words to say, but do I believe? Can I? Thinking of the petite blonde, Beatrice blinked the tears away. I never knew anyone so brave. Coming back here would kill her, and I think what's left of me would die too. Gathering reserves from somewhere deep and almost non-existent, Beatrice stood up on watery legs and shuffled toward the window and the light that beckoned. "I can't let that happen. With whatever is left in me, I have to do something."

Beatrice continued to stare in wonderment at the outside world, a world she had not stepped foot in what seemed like eons. She stuck her chin out defiantly. "I know it's too late for me to be free, but it isn't too late for her. Maybe it's time Michelle knows that she has a friend back home."


Not too far away, in a dirty white one story house hidden by over grown grass and lined with filthy windows, Marsha, sporting a perpetual scowl, sipped her mid-morning tea. She cringed at the bitter taste. There was no sugar and no money to buy any.

Standing in front of the window in her battered flowery housecoat and oily unwashed blonde hair, Marsha watched the cars go by and her life drain away. She took another sip of peppermint tea. There was no cringe this time. He's using my money to find her. I just know he is. When did she become so important? She's useless and always has been. What makes her better than me? I want to see her back here and stuck just like I am.

The cool blackness of hate bubbled and gurgled inside her. "She's taken everything from me: my youth, my husband along with everything I have left." The combined darkness of hate, jealousy and loneliness made her irrational and brooding. She doesn't deserve this. None of it! She's a little nothing that needs to be left to rot in a dark, little room just like I was. It would teach her. It taught me.

Marsha sobbed then cried out as her shaking hand tilted the hot contents of the cup onto her appendage. She let the cheap china fall to the floor with a crash. Simultaneously, darkness crashed around her, weighting her down into a slight crouch. The cars continued to pass by with their drivers unaware of the screaming women hidden in the dirty white house. "I have nothing! Nothing!


Max Jr. stood tall and stone cold sober, but still, he drowned in self pity. He peered into the bathroom mirror at his red-rimmed eyes and haggard features and whispered, "He doesn't believe in me anymore. He doesn't believe at all."

Max wiped his face with a trembling hand, knowing that the words were true. Understanding dawned with his father's feral smile and gloating tone as he explained his new plan that did not include his son at all. Max leaned forward over the sink ignoring the cold that bit into his naked waist as he waited for any emotion to come. His grip on the sink turned white knuckled as the minutes extended. He sobbed out loud in disappointment.

"Baby?" The feminine voice asked. "I'm sorry I didn't catch your name, but are you alright?" A petite redhead just as naked as him sauntered up behind him. Max did not flinch or acknowledge the softness pillowed against him but watched avidly as a long fingered, long nail hand trailed up and down his hairy torso. "Are you crying? Maybe I can make you feel better."

Max grabbed the appendage and watched in detachment as it was dwarfed by his own. She saw it. She saw me weak. Everyone has seen me weak. I can't stand it anymore! His mind bellowed violently. The violence became a reality. The woman cried out, "Hey, you're hurting me!" Max continued to squeeze and twist the hand under his, enjoying the sound of breaking bones. The redhead let out a blood curdling scream.

Max Jr.'s heart jumped to attention, pumping life back into him, pumping emotion back into him. He only felt one thing, satisfaction. The redhead's features changed and morphed into those of a frighteningly familiar blonde. I can get her back, dad. I can!

Spinning himself around, he twisted the redhead's arm behind her back and an audible pop resulted. Dark eyes soaked in the fear written plainly on the morphing face. His blood roared. Of its own volition, his other hand closed around the woman's throat. He could feel the life beating frantically there. His penis stirred then hardened at her strangled gasp. Max rubbed it against her belly with purpose.

Canting his head to the side, he observed the changing color in the redhead/blonde's face and increased the pressure. The pulse that was so strong before had dimmed considerably. She clawed at him, pathetically, with a free hand as she continued to gurgle through her closing throat. Max remained silent, refusing to miss a moment or a sound. I would do anything for you, daddy. He could kill for him; steal for him; take orders from him. He shook the redhead like a ragdoll until her body went limp. Max let her slide bonelessly to the floor. He stood above her. His heart hammered against his chest and his erection saluted the still air. Leaning forward, Max stared down at the body with disdain. Spitting on the woman's remains, he whispered hoarsely, menacingly, "Michelle."

Chapter 39

Bobbi covered her mouth with her hand and tried to tug her twitching lips into a downward position. She chuckled at her own antics when it refused to work. The goofy grin remained. Despite the long day ahead, the smile just refused to go away or falter. She peered down at the file on her desk, scanning it and trying to familiarize herself with it, but the other thing, the most important thing flashed in her head like a neon sign. We kissed. Oh boy. Did we kiss.

The scene continued to unfurl in her mind and replay itself over and over as if it was on some continuous loop. Each time her body hummed with excitement and unmitigated joy. The doctor squirmed in her swiveling chair, unable to be still. She's what has been missing. Everything has been out of sync for a long time--my mind, my body, everything. Now, things are coming together all because of her.

The brunette coined the day as PK (post kiss), and with the shining of the morning sun, Bobbi found that while most things stayed the same, some changed. Their morning with Billy took on a whole new meaning. Not that she had not noticed before-- the sway of full breasts, the flex of forming muscle and the sexy curl of sweaty hair, but now, she was free to acknowledge and to look, causing missed steps, red faces and unsteady breathing. Awareness was a walking breathing entity around them, leading to touches and looks that spoke volumes while they scorched the air around them. If it's gonna be like that from now on there are gonna be a lot of cold showers. . .a lot.

Bobbi thought back to the dinner the night before and found herself chortling. After the fiasco Shelia unwittingly propagated, dinner went off without a hitch. Well, without a big one anyway. Bobbi had forgotten that Shelia and Reggie were present. Just like that, they disappeared in the background as the brunette's gaze, mind and senses remained zeroed in on the petite blonde next to her. Their hands touched and grasped each other both under and on the table; thighs brushed and meshed; and eyes met and refused to stray from one another. When Bobbi finally realized that she had been ignoring her guests, she found two sets of eyes staring back at her in understanding. It was what happened after dinner that still caused the doctor to shiver.

At the door handshakes and hugs were exchanged along with the promise of phone calls. Bobbi watched the couple disappear and mesh with the darkness. A slow smile curved her lips as the energy from the blonde next to her permeated and scattered her senses yet again. Bobbi turned to it, embracing the feelings with both hands. Her smile widened as she looked down at the woman who had come to mean so much. Green eyes sparkled up at her, and the doctor saw herself there, barely hidden in flecks of brown and green. 'Who would have thought it? Who would have thought that I'd end up here?' Some voice in the back of the doctor's head whispered.

Bobbi opened her mouth to speak but only an unexpected gasp escaped as tiny, cool fingertips traced sculpted cheekbones then moved on to full lips. An intense ball of heat and feeling settled in the doctor's stomach before it spread outward to her limbs and shined in her eyes.. Obviously, drawn to the intensity she saw, Michelle took a step forward, causing the heat from their bodies to mingle. Finally able to acknowledge what was between them, Bobbi basked in it. She covered the smaller hand with her own and brought the open palm to her mouth for a lingering kiss. The brunette grinned in satisfaction as green eyes darkened. Michelle was the first to break the sizzling silence between them. "I-I liked them," she uttered. Her tone was subdued out of respect for the sleeping baby.

The doctor stared at her friend in confusion.

"Your friends. I like them, especially Shelia."

Bobbi chuckled, "I bet. I'm sure that they like you too."

Michelle paused before speaking again.

"But I like this better. I-I can't seem to stop doing . . ." The blonde utilized her other hand, bringing it up to caress the side of Bobbi's neck. "Is that normal?" Her tone of voice matched her expression inquisitive, curious, and more than a little hopeful.

Bobbi shook her head softly. "No. At the risk of sounding cliché, this is special." 'There's nothing remotely normal about this. I think it's a once in a lifetime deal,' she thought.

"Oh, I like it anyway. I just didn't know I had it in me to do this. . ." Her free hand began a journey similar to the one before it. "To feel this."

The doctor closed her eyes briefly, soaking in the warm of Michelle's touch. She opened them and murmured, "Neither did I. I guess we're both finding it in each other."

A red flush slowly covered the blonde's face. Bobbi's brow wrinkled in concern, but before she could speak, the blonde revealed her plight. "Um, can I tell you something? It may sound silly, but. . ."

"Sure. Anything." The brunette did not hesitate to answer. She let tiny hands pull her toward the couch where they jostling Taz from his position on the floor.

They sat down as close as possible to each other with thighs and shoulders touching. Michelle's blush deepened. "I'm sorry. Am I crowding you? I can't seem to get close enough."

One side of Bobbi's mouth turned up in a teasing smirk. "Having you in my lap wouldn't be close enough." 'And that would be, B the randy teenager talking! Shut up!' The doctor admonished herself.

Green eyes widened and her face turned impossibly darker. Michelle's gaze shifted to thoughtful then skittered away as if she was contemplating that very image. "Oh."

Thinking she had gone too far, Bobbi muttered, "Sorry. I just. . ."

"No, it's okay." The blonde interrupted. "It sort of goes along with what I wanted to tell you. Uhm. . ."

The doctor nodded patiently. "Okay, go ahead. Take your time. I'm listening."

Unable to stop reaching out to her source of heat and light, Michelle took Bobbi's hand. "Um, when I first starting reading fan fiction. It, uhm, made me realize what I was feeling for you. It sorta gave it a name. It scared me because I've never felt this before. It's so intense that sometimes it is too intense." She peered into azure. "I hope that I'm explaining this right."

Bobbi grinned. "Yeah, I'm getting you."

Michelle nodded almost imperceptibly. "Good. Uh, how long . . .have you felt this way?"

Bobbi bit her lip in contemplation then jumped in surprise when small fingers pried her bottom lip from its hold. The fingers lingered and their eyes met before green traveled down to moist lips. Bobbi felt her breath leave her as her heart accelerated. The possibility of another kiss left her wrapped in sensual anticipation. The brunette flicked the tips of the invading appendages with her tongue, causing jade eyes to shoot back up to meet her gaze. The air between them thickened. Michelle let out a surprised sound before breathing turned harsh in an attempt to fill her suddenly scorching lungs.

"Chelle," Bobbi voice was thick and needy. "D-don't touch me like that right now."

Managing to look hurt and intrigued at the same time, the blonde let out a breathless, "Why?"

"Because we'll only start kissing again just like in the bedroom."

The flush returned, and Michelle's breathing turned absolutely ragged as her gaze fell to full lips. "How-how is that bad?"

Bobbi bit back a whimper as the green stare made her burn. She tried hard to remember why it was indeed bad. "Uhm, talk? Yeah, talk." She said with relief. "We need to talk, but after we could. . ."


"Oh God, yes," was the doctor's hoarse reply.

Michelle nodded and with great reluctance let her hand fall away. "Uhm, what were we talking about again?" She slowly tore her gaze away from the doctor's mouth to look in her eyes.

Bobbi blinked. "Uhm. . ." She bit her lip but quickly let the flesh loose when she saw the blonde's hand ascending. "Sorry. Guess I'm picking up habits from you." She smiled bashfully. "Err, I think you were asking me how long?"

Michelle's face lit up. "Oh, yeah. That was it."

Bobbi took a deep breath, willing her mind and libido to settle. "To be totally honest, I don't know. All I know is when my patient died, I realized a lot of things, and when I cleaned out those rooms, I sorta cleaned house inside me too. It freed up a lot of space and before I knew it, you filled it. I may have felt this for a while, but there was so much inside me that I could barely recognize one emotion or feeling from the guilt I was carrying with me."

The blonde's eyes widened and she squeezed the hand in her own. "I understand. I think it was the same for me. When Max or momma touched me, it always left me so cold, but the first time I touched you and you me there was this warmth. It got steadily hotter, and I wanted more of it." Michelle blushed as blue eyes stared at her intently, but she refused to look away. A large hand cupped her cheek.

"Look at you now so strong and beautiful, and you want me. It's almost too hard to believe." Bobbi's touch was as soft as her gaze.

Fair brows scrunched in confusion. "No! Look at you. I bet you could have anybody. I don't understand why you want me. I've never done this before, and a lot may be fixed, but I'm still broken inside. There are times when I'm so unsure of myself. I don't know which way to go, but I have a choice now. That's the good thing. Why? Why do you want me?"

Azure eyes turned sad but still held determination. Bobbi leaned forward until her cheek brushed the blonde's, until her lips met Michelle's ear. "Because. . ." Michelle gasped and tried to jerk away from the sudden sensation. With a strong hand still against the petite woman's face, the brunette stopped the escape. "Shhh, it's okay." She tried to calm her friend's erratic breathing by giving her a chance to get used to the touch. After a few seconds, a small hand wrapped around her own. She took it as a signal to proceed. Bobbi kissed the ear in question, smiling at the shiver that resulted. "Because you make me ache. You make me need, and you make me feel," she whispered raggedly. Michelle whimpered in response. She leaned into the words.

" It was you that made me realized that all those emotions were okay that any emotion was okay. You gave me my life back. You make me strong. It's you. I couldn't help myself." Bobbi kissed the obliging ear again, and another shiver erupted. She pulled back slowly, placing a soft kiss on the blonde's cheek. Their eyes met, and she continued. "And that doesn't even scratch the surface." 'Not even a little bit,' she thought.

Green bore into blue. The look passing between them was intense and unwavering, encasing them in a world that only existed for the two of them. Bobbi sat still while the blonde searched each feature for assurance and truth. Michelle opened her mouth to speak, but Bobbi watched as she sucked in much needed air instead. Her free hand settled over her heart in an attempt to control its erratic beating. A moment passed before she tried again. "I-I didn't know someone could feel that way about me. It's kinda hard to swallow." Her voice was husky with disbelief and hope.

The brunette smiled ruefully and leaned in again until their foreheads touched. "I'll help you swallow it even if I have to say this everyday."

Michelle brought the larger hand back to her face. "You would do that for me?"

Bobbi nodded. "I'd do anything for you. Don't you know that by now?"

"I'm learning," Michelle countered. "God, I can still hardly believe that this is happening with Max and his family still looking for me no less. This should feel wrong in the face of all that, but it doesn't. It just feels like I belong."

Bobbi's smile was one of derision. "It's so easy to forget that they're out there, especially with you overcoming a lot of the stuff they put you through." The doctor trembled at the sudden emptiness that invaded her. "I can't lose you, and I want you to know that I'll fight, lie, and do whatever I have to in order to keep you safe." She shook her head vehemently and full lips pursed into a fine line. "And I do mean whatever Chelle that goes for if they find you or not. You understand?"

Bobbi saw the blonde's throat bob in a hard swallow. "Yeah, I understand," she husked out. "Where do we go from here?"

Although it was slow coming, Bobbi's grin turned genuine. "Anywhere you want to, and we can go as slow as you want."

Michelle let out an uncharacteristic snort. "That's good because I have no idea where I'm going. Does this mean that I'm like the women in the stories? Are you like them?"

Bobbi sat back up and tucked the blonde into her side. "I can say that I am. I've been attracted to females as far back as I can remember, but this is the first time that I've felt something this intense." She paused. "I can't speak for you Chelle. That's something that you'll have to decide on your own."

Michelle sighed. "I figured as much, but how will I know if it's just you or women in general?"

Bobbi shrugged but still managed to look thoughtful. "You just know. If you find yourself admiring the way women look, feel, move, smell, I think that would be a big clue."

"Mmm, so it's okay if it's just you?"

"Yeah, I-"

"But I did find Reggie. . .intriguing," Michelle interrupted.

A dark brow raised high in question. "Intriguing?"

Bobbi watched as the flush invaded the blonde's face once more. "Okay, I thought she was gorgeous," Michelle added shyly.

The doctor blinked then let out a bark of laughter that thankfully did not wake Toby. Michelle covered the brunette's mouth with a small hand as a precaution. Blue eyes continued to shine with mirth and Michelle joined in on the gentle laughter.

Always vigilant, Bobbi saw the petite woman's expression change to one of seriousness. "What is it, Chelle?"

"Um, are you sure slow is okay? No one has ever touched me, besides Max always made it hurt and it always made me feel dirty. I-"

"Shhh, I don't mind at all if it's what you need." Bobbi pulled her in closer and bent down to brush her forehead with gentle lips. The wrinkles of consternation disappeared, and Michelle hummed into the caress. The doctor moved down to a pert nose and gave it the same treatment. A louder hum resulted.

"Do you want me to go on?" Bobbi asked, reveling in the tenderness and warmth of the exquisite moment.

"You promised," the blonde squeaked.

Bobbi's heart constricted. "Yes, yes I did, and I always keep my promises to you."

Her head bent further until their lips were a whisper away from each other. She held things there, absorbing from under hooded eyes the flushed look of anticipation on the blonde's face; the lushness of full lips; and the smell of sweet breath. Bobbi let out a tiny whimper of surprise when small hands wound in her hair, bringing their mouths into full contact. The connection was tentative at first with just a gentle clinging of moist lips, but it was enough fuel to start a slow fire. Basking in it, the doctor was content to let Michelle lead. Bobbi groaned low in her throat as the blonde brushed and lifted, nipped and sucked. She opened her mouth to whisper, "Fast learn-" It ended in a moan as a teasingly, curious tongue stole her words and breath.

"Phew!" Bobbi fanned herself with her hand as her grin spread even wider. She covered her hammering heart with a hand and ended up grasping the pendant around her neck. I wonder if she knows how much I'd rather be with her right now? I want to spend more time with her maybe outside these four walls if she's ready. The doctor peeked at her watch and growled. It was almost Noon. And where am I spending my lunch hour? With patients who called in at the last minute. Thank you Janine. The smile evened out as she recalled the disappointment in Michelle voice as she told her about her two last minute appointments. Bobbi heard it clear as day even if it was over the phone. "I'll make it up to you, Chelle. I just hope you're up to it." Blue eyes peered down at the gold chain. This thing never worked for me. All I need is her.


Janine pressed herself against the door at the sound of the doctor's voice. Realizing what she was doing, the nurse jumped back in embarrassment and smoothed a hand over her purple scrubs before absentmindedly checking the ponytail at the top of her head. What am I doing? This is not me not me, not anymore. I'm better than this. If she saw me out here, I'm sure she would freak, and I wouldn't blame her.

I have to bide my time with Bobbi. I have to take it slow and be real with her. I want to be real with her. I think she's the only one who could understand who I am, and who I used to be. I won't use underhanded tactics to get another woman, especially this one. It would dirty things somehow, but what was she so happy about this morning? I've never seen her like that.
A pang of jealousy made Janine cringe inwardly. "I want to be the one to do that to her. I would love to cause someone to look happy, especially Bobbi" she murmured quietly.

Absently, she patted her shirt pocket, feeling the melting Hershey Kisses mash against her breast. Without another thought, she raised a fist and knocked on the door. The 'come in' never came, but Janine let herself in anyway.

Lost in her own thoughts, Bobbi did not look up until her door creaked open. She groaned warily from somewhere deep inside. Not now. Please not now. Bobbi smiled as hard as she could. "What's up, Jan?"

Not waiting for an invitation, the nurse plopped down in the chair in front of the desk. She smiled, "Not much, what's up with you boss lady?"

Ugh. "Um, just reading over some files."

Janine fumbled in her pocket, trying to grasp the handful of chocolates. "I got something for you just encase you needed a sugar rush." With a triumphant grin, she placed the Kisses on the doctor's desk.

Bobbi tried to ignore watchful eyes by peering back at the file in hand. She tried hard to keep the sarcastic edge out of her voice. "Oh, more kisses. Thanks." She did not know if she succeeded, refusing to look up. Damn, damn, damn! I need to do something about this. It could get way out of hand.

Janine began to figet in embarassment as she recalled her outburst. "I just want to thank you again for being there for me. I didn't know who else to go to--"

The doctor looked up and gave the nurse a small smile, "It's okay. I know what you're going through or rather I can empathize. I should really tell you about my family and stuff one day. You;'d see we have a lot more in common than you think. I know how hard it can be to be alone. It seems like a blessing at first, but then--"

"It becomes a curse," Janine finished. "You really do understand me don't you?" Her eyes gleamed with fascination and wonder. I've been looking for this for so long, but running from it at the same time--somebody who knows and understands.

Bobbi groaned inwardly when she realized what she had done. I did it again!! This friendship thing is hard. I want to try to be her friend, but I don't want to give to much. I've got the feeling that she's taking it the wrong way. She smiled tremously, "Uh yeah, I guess you could say that, but then again that's what makes great friends." Ugh, that's a good enough save, I guess.

Janine lowered her eyes, knowing that she was revealing too much. I'm scaring her, but how else do I do this? Everything just feels better when I'm with her. God, that sounds so pathetic. The old Janine. . .well, I'm not her anymore. She put a cap on her thoughts, refusing to acknowledge that the woman she used to be--the conniving, manupilative, but ultimately lonely woman, was still there smoldering under the surface. "Uhm, I guess you're right." The nurse rose from the chair. "I, uh, better go in case someone comes in early."

Bobbi sighed and watched as the other woman disappeared behind the door.


Michelle leaned back into the plush leather chair as she scanned the words and pictures on the computer screen on information about Minnesota's colleges, but it was all gibberish to her. A smile tugged at the corner of her lips as her thoughts continued to whirl around the raven-haired doctor. God, I didn't know that I had it in me to touch or kiss her like that. When I'm around her, I feel like I'm starving for . . . for everything. I guess I would be since Max deprived me of what I obviously needed. I never knew anything could feel that way. Maybe she's the only one who can give it to me, but am I ready for a relationship? I know she wants to be with me. I believe her, and I heard every word she said. But, what if I can't give her what she needs? I'm too new at this. I want it, and now that I have it, I still don't know what to do.

She sighed and rubbed a hand through short locks. I told her that parts of me were still broken inside. Are they? Michelle looked down at the sudden nudging against her socked feet. "What do you think, boy? Do I have it in me to do this?"

Taz whimpered in confusion then wuffed.

She stared at him then glanced to the side at Toby, who played with his favorite toy on a blanket barely a foot away. Convinced that things were going smoothly, Michelle muttered, "Well. . .yeah, I guess you can't hear my thoughts. I'm almost there Taz. I can feel it, but there's still so much I want to do. I want to be able to talk to other people and not be so scared. I want to have friends. I want to learn what I couldn't. I want to get a job-a real job. Maybe doing what Annie does. There's just so much, but what if they find us Taz? What if. . ." She let out a broken breath as old fear crept upon her. "What if they find us and take it all away, including Bobbi? I tried not to think about that yesterday, but it's a new day, you know?"

Taz growled loudly. "Wuff! Wuff!"

"I know. I know that I need to look at the now, and I would fight tooth and nail before I let them take us again anyway despite what was in that dream. It's just beyond me though, boy. How could she want me? How could she care about me that way with so much hanging over my head?"

"Wuff!" His bark was one of admonishment.

"But, I guess she does too, huh?" Michelle sighed and picked at the thin material of the purple sweat pants. Her mouth twitched as a slow smile formed despite the perilous thoughts.. "You should have seen me yesterday. God, I didn't even recognize myself. I-I just went for it. . .went for her. I didn't know I could be so bold, but I think she brings it out in me. It was. . .it was. . .ugh, I don't even have words to describe it. Incredible isn't strong enough. I never thought about things like kissing because I didn't think it was possible for me even with being married to Max. I mean, I didn't think about it until Bobbi, and I wanted to kiss her, Taz. I wanted to kiss her something awful."

Michelle peered at the Husky who looked up at her silently through bright blue eyes. She chuckled and felt herself color in embarrassment. "I wish I could do it right now, but I won't get to see her till this afternoon." The blonde brought her hands to flushed cheeks and groaned inwardly. She quivered, reliving previous encounters. "That is too far away. How am I going to. . ." Her thoughts jumped to Annie, and the need to share this new experience blossomed tenfold.


A short gust of hot, dry wind blew around her as Michelle buckled Toby into the stroller. She threw a thin blanket over his bare legs to ward off the cold of the library. Bending down, she smiled at her son as she adjusted the white, race car imprinted t-shirt that matched the red shorts that the blonde just covered. In return, he gave her a toothless grin and waved the keys in her vicinity. Standing back up, Michelle smoothed a straightening hand over her own t-shirt, feeling the cool imprint of the colorful parakeet slide past her fingers. After hefting the diaper bag over her shoulder, she aimed them toward the library entrance.

Without even an ounce residual fear, she entered the library. Knowing Annie's schedule, Michelle spotted the older woman, clad in purple spandex, immediately behind the desk checking out a customer. The younger blonde tried to clamp down her giddiness, but inwardly she felt a warm glow that was powerful enough to manifest itself outwardly also. Michelle nodded her head and smiled at the passerbys that spoke as if she had done it a million times before. Quickly pulling behind the woman chatting with the clerk, Michelle was content to wait her turn.

Annie cut her eyes sideways and fair brows raised in question. She nodded at the woman patron and handed her the last scanned book, which sent her on her way. Michelle cleared her throat and moved forward. It's probably written all over my face. I kissed a woman!

The older blonde clapped her hands, causing bracelets to jangle loudly. "Something happened!"

Michelle's eyes widened in alarm and she let out a gasp. "How did you know?"

Annie chuckled. "It's written all over your face. You didn't have to say a word."

Michelle's shoulders slumped as she let out a long breath before a bright grin took over her face. "Am I that obvious?"

" 'Friad so, but it's probably only to people that know you." Annie paused to coo at Toby, who obligingly offered his keys for a taste. "He's a generous boy."

"Yeah, but he only does that to people he likes."

Annie's face flushed red. "Well. ..that's good to know." Her attention shifted back to the younger woman. "This is what the third or fourth time you've been here without books? I'm beginning to think you like me." She uttered with a teasing smirk twisting her lips.

Michelle ducked her head but the smile stayed. "Um, aren't you supposed to like friends?" I think that I pretty much liked her on the spot.

Annie's smirk turned into a full-fledged smile. "Ahh, we're friends now are we? Well, that's good to know too."

Michelle met the other woman's gaze. "Well, I've never had any before Bobbi. I thought it was time to make another."

Annie waved her hands in a dramatic flourish, "Then friends it is." She paused to wave the other clerk over. "Why don't we go sit down? I know you're dying to tell me what happened."

Michelle laughed, "Let me guess. That's written all over my face too?"

Annie ambled toward an empty table near the back. "Ohh, you're a fast learner."

Michelle blushed crimson and paused to collect herself as shivers of remembrance crept up her spine. "Um, that's what she said."

It was Annie's turn to have the look of surprise. "Sit. I see you have much to tell."

Michelle pulled the stroller up beside her and had a seat in the hard plastic blue chair. Nervous hands fidgeted on the wooden tabletop, and not very old habit reasserted itself. She bit her bottom lip. Come on, Chelle. This she should be cake. That is a friend sitting in front of you. Somebody you're learning to trust. "Ah, I don't know where to start."

Annie nodded and smiled in understanding. "Take your time. Anywhere you want is-"

"She kissed me," the Michelle interjected.


"Um, but I sorta kissed her more. We, uh, talked and admitted that there's more than friendship between us."

Annie leaned in and took her friend's hand. "You listened to it didn't ya?"

Michelle continued to bite her lip around the grin.

"So did you, um. . ." The clerk wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.

It left the younger woman confused. "Huh?" Is she asking if we. . Oh, she is! "No! No. I don't know if. . . I mean. There's a lot you don't know. I've never, um, with a woman, and my husband, he, uh. . .Made me feel like trash every time he touched me that way. Her face darkened with the color of anger. The fire shined even in her eyes.

Annie squeezed the younger woman's hand. "I know that there's a lot more to you than what you tell me. Just know that you don't have to tell me. It makes no difference, but either way, I'm here."

"Okay," Michelle replied breathlessly. Another person who understands. She took a few calming breaths before speaking again. "To be honest, I've been reading some stuff on line about. . .that. Can I ask you a question?" God, I can't believe I'm so in the dark about so many things. I feel like a child.

"Go ahead."

"Do you think that she'll want to do that. . soon?"

Annie smiled softly. "You can't even say it can you? Especially with it concerning you."

Embarrassed, Michelle looked away. "I-"

Annie refused to let her. "No, no it's okay. Why can't you say it?"

Their eyes met. "Uhm, I-I never wanted to before. My husband. . . I had to. It's what a wife is supposed to do. That's what I was taught."

The clerk's voice lowered to a soft whisper. "When you touch and kiss her, how do you feel?"

The words spilled out without thought. "Sometimes, I can't breath. I feel hot and heavy, my skin seems like it's on too tight, and I can't get close enough to her." Her voice trailed off.

Annie beamed, "Well, I would hazard a guess that she feels the same thing. Do you want to make love with her?"

Michelle's eyes widened and she snatched her hand away. "I-I don't know. I feel so much, but I don't know how. He-he always made it hurt. I don't want to hurt that way again." Fear made her heart flutter in her chest. And the scars. I've gotten used to them, but what if she's disgusted by them? "I'm scared, Annie. I didn't really think about this before."

Annie approached with a gentle voice. "There are really good things about relationships though, Jo, when you're in one with the right person, there's no need to rush because there's patience and what seems like all the time in the world." She touched the younger blonde's hand tentatively and was relieved when one covered her own. "It's okay to be scared for whatever reason."

Didn't I learn that a while back? It's okay to be scared. "That's what Bobbi said. We could take it slow."

"See. There's no rush. Explore what you have now, and talk to her about this when you're comfortable enough to. She'll understand."

She's right. I know Bobbi. She means what she says. "Okay, I'll give it a try.

"This won't be the last time that the doubts will creep up. You're only human with human insecurities, but the trick is not to let them get the best of you because that could mess things up for both of you." Annie squinted as if she saw something around the air. "Just be careful of the things around you."

Huh? What does that mean? I guess I'll figure it out. "I'll try." She paused. "How do you know all this? I've heard the saying, 'the older the wiser,' but you're not old."

Annie snickered. "Let's just say that I've had my ups and downs in the love department, and with hindsight being what it is, I should have taken my own advice." She fanned her hand in the air. "That's all water under the bridge. I have my friends. . ." She smiled at Michelle, "and some family in St. Paul. I do okay."

"Ahh, I think I can understand that."

"Good." The clerk stood up. "Now, can I show you something today? Maybe a nice how-to-book?" Fair brows wriggled again.

Unable to help herself, Michelle covered her mouth to smother the laugh. "No, but you will be one of the first to know when I'm ready for that." She glanced at the clock on the far wall. "Right now I have to get home. I think someone is in need of a sandwich about now." And I need to see her to just . . .remember what it is that I want. Maybe it will help some of these doubts go away.

Michelle rose and moved toward the other blonde. Without warning, she wrapped her arms around the older woman, giving her a hug. It's nice knowing who your friends are.

Startled, Annie stood stock still before she returned the embrace. "You don't do this often do you?"

"No," Michelle answered.

"Then, I'll consider it a gift of sorts from a friend."

Michelle stepped back and smiled. "I guess it is."

A few minutes later, Michelle and Toby were on their way out the door. Going with a voice that she was compelled to listen to, Annie jotted down her number as she called out her friend's name. They met halfway between the desk and the exit. "Here. I don't want you to feel pressured to do the same, but here's my number. Call me anytime."

Michelle stared at the numbers a few seconds before looking up. She swallowed the ball of emotion that sat lodged in her throat. It is really, really nice to know who your friends are. The blonde reached out a hand and squeezed the clerk's forearm. "Thanks," Michelle whispered.

Annie nodded and watched her go. Blue eyes squinted again . "Please be careful, Jo or whatever your name is. I got a strange feeling," the clerk murmured to the air.


The kitchen was full of banging. Cleaned up from his own meal, Toby was still in his high chair. He held his favorite keys in both hands and continuously struck them against the hard plastic surface with cooing glee. Used to the noise, Michelle gave the slice of bread one more swipe with the knife in an attempt to get the excess mayonnaise off. She wiped off her hands before wrapping the two bulky sandwiches in saran wrap. After putting the mayo away, as an after thought, she reached back in the refrigerator to grab a container of bottled water. I hope she doesn't mind me showing up like this. Michelle sighed and looked down at Taz who sat nearby licking his chops after finishing his own lunch. "You don't think she'll mind do you?"


"Yeah, you're right, but she'll probably be busy, so we won't get to see her. Good thing I already ate just in case. It's weird not having her here for lunch." The blonde went silent. "You really don't think she'll mi---"

"Wuff!" The bark was loud, and Taz looked slightly irritated.

"Okay! I heard you the first time. I should be more sure about things, but this is totally new to me." Michelle blew out a breath, disturbing her bangs. "I don't know what's wrong with me. I know I want this. Maybe I'm scared to screw it up. I'm just. . .ugh! I just need to see her for a minute." With a new sense of urgency, she let out another sigh and walked over to scoop up her little noise maker, procuring him in the nearby stroller. After bagging the doctor's lunch, she muttered, "Let's go guys."

Before the blonde could open the door to the hallway, the phone began to ring. Michelle peered at it with exasperation and chose to ignore it. There were more important things.


Beatrice huddled her body against the phone booth and peered left to right cautiously for familiar cars or faces. After searching her son's room for loose change and possible bills, the haggard woman set out to walk the three mile trek to the local Jiffy Mart. She did not stop to sniff the fresh air or peer at the neighbor's gardens. She did not pause to savor even the slightest stint of freedom the situation warranted her. This wasn't for her.

It's the only way. He won't know. I had to do it. The phone rung for the third time, and Beatrice jumped as a young man ran past her. She let out a long shaky breath. She has to know, and this way gives me some protection. The phone rung for the fifth time. "Please, Michelle. Pick up." Her voice was pleading and fearful. She wiped at the sweat gathering at the back of her neck. The hazy sun beat down hard on her frame.

The phone rung for the sixth time then clicked. "You've reached the Waszinski residence. No one is home right now.. . " Beatrice wanted to cry, but she sucked in the tears with a hard breath. "It's okay. I can do this another day. I can." With a trembling hand, she hung up the phone and started the walk back with the sun radiating behind her.


Bobbi stood at the reception desk and chatted with her Noon appointment as he attempted to make his way out the door. She felt Janine beside her too close and moved over a bit. "Can you recommend to me a good ear, nose and throat man?" The patient asked.

Bobbi smiled and nodded as she turned to sift through the rolodex. "Give me a second."

A small hand descended covering hers and lips hovered dangerously close to her ear as they uttered, "Don't worry. I got this."

The brunette gnashed her teeth in frustration and fought the urge to snatch her hand away. Damn it! Maybe that's what I need to do. So, she did, and got a certain satisfaction at the surprised gasp that resulted. I don't play these games lady. Not anymore.

Glancing up, a flash of blonde and the sight of black and white hind parts gave her pause. Her breath left her as she finally put the pieces together. Chelle, how did you know that you were just what I needed right now? I think you just saved this woman from hearing some very choice words. . .today anyway. Bobbi could feel and almost hear her heart as it hammered against her chest in excitement. Slowly but surely, the goofy grin returned as the brunette beside her was forgotten. Get in there dummy! "Um, office. I have to go," she told the confused nurse and patient.

Hurt and on automatic pilot, Janine wrote down the doctor's number and handed it to the man without even looking at him. Her eyes were riveted on the retreating woman. What am I doing?! This is all wrong! All she does is run away from me. What am I doing wrong?


Before she got to the door, Bobbi ran a hand over the blue t-shirt and faded jeans, swiping off any speck of dust or lent. Nervously, she patted her hair, looking for loose tendrils to sweep back inside the scrunchee that held the ponytail in place. Satisfied, the doctor pushed the cracked door open and sighed inwardly in relief when it did not creek.

Taz was the first to spot her. He wagged his tail enthusiastically. Bobbi brought a finger to her mouth to shush him. Toby, who sat in his stroller facing her, was a different story. The now vigilant infant cooed loudly and shook his keys with abandon at the sight of her. Bobbi grinned and shook her head.

Busy placing the bag on the doctor's desk, Michelle peered over her shoulder to see what the commotion was. Oh, she's here. She spun around quickly, using the sides of the desk to steady herself. Her smile was shy but sincere. "Uhm, hi. I thought you might get hungry, so I brought you some sandwiches."

Bobbi did not say a word. She couldn't. The blonde was a sight for sore eyes. A sight that she was drawn to. She stepped closer to it. Her eyes were riveted, taking in every expression and every breath. They were even bold enough to take in every curve hidden beneath the sweat pants and t-shirt. Need coursed through her veins like never before. No, don't scare her. Try to calm down. Bobbi opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. She remained speechless, but moved forward nonetheless, obeying her instincts to move closer to the source of fire.

Michelle blinked. She could already feel the approaching heat. I need this. I needed to feel this. "Bobbi?" She waited for the other woman to speak, but no words were forthcoming. Their eyes met, and Michelle got lost in the intensity swirling in crystal blue. This is for me? That look? It's all for me. Her breath caught then came out in a gush, and the blonde lost hope of finding it for the moment. Her insides began to tingle, and an electric jolt of awareness shimmied down her spine, pushing the tingles outward. She blinked again and found that Bobbi stood directly in front of her--a touch away.

The doctor swallowed and tried vehemently to gain control of the overwhelming emotions. Her body screamed for ravagement and crushing kisses. She gave her head a mental shake. I know that would scare her. She deserves more than that. Bobbi took the final step forward, bringing their bodies into contact. A low groan rumbled through her chest. She lowered her chin slowly, until their foreheads touched. Blue eyes closed as she tried to maintain control despite the hoarse whimper that greeted her. "Chelle," Her voice was thick, scratchy. "I missed you." Of their own volition, strong arms encircled the blonde, bringing their bodies into closer contact. I didn't know anything could feel so right.

Michelle let out a long breathless sigh. For these few minutes, everything clicked and fell into place. She returned the embrace. "Missed you too."

Eyes opened and met. The air fizzled to life around them. Blue eyes fell to pink lips. "Can I?"

Michelle nodded quickly. "Please."

Lips met. There was no reluctance and no hesitation just deep exploration. Mouths opened moistly seeking comfort, alleviating need and building it up again. Michelle balled the lab coat at the doctor' s back into her fists as she held on. The need for more and to get closer drove a shy tentative tongue inside the brunette's willing mouth. Bobbi moaned in acceptance, and Michelle whimpered with gratefulness and growing arousal.

Taz sat silently.

Bobbi felt her knees quiver along with the body against her, but they kissed on. That is until a different kind of whimper passed Michelle's lips--one that spoke of reluctance and the need for air. They parted slowly, sucking in air in ragged gasps.

Bobbi's libido protested with a scream, but she gritted her teeth and ignored the sound for now. With fingertips, she traced the blonde's swollen lips and flushed features. "Did I tell you. . ." she stopped to catch a breath, "that I really, really enjoy lunch with you?"

Michelle closed her eyes in an attempt to regain equilibrium. The heat and spicy scent of the doctor's body hindered success, so she met it head on. Green eyes opened, and she attempted to give as good as she got. "You just did." She released her death grip on the brunette's lab coat but didn't break the embrace.

Bobbi chuckled throatily. "I guess you're right." She grinned. "I'm glad you here. I was probably going to try to sneak out between patients to see you anyway."

Suddenly shy, Michelle looked down and she sucked in a breath at what she saw two hardened tips standing at rapt attention and peeking through the thin layers of the doctor's t-shirt and lab coat. Intrigued, Michelle looked down at her own breasts and saw the same. The urge to touch both sets was strong. That feeling is new. I like it. Further embarrassed, she jerked her head up to see curious blue eyes examining her. "Really?" She squeaked.

Bobbi tapped her nose with a fingertip. "It's okay to look at that Chelle. It just shows that we're attracted to each other."

Totally red faced, Michelle ducked her head in affirmation. "I know. I just never noticed before."

Bobbi bent to brush the blonde's forehead with her lips. Bold one minute and shy the next. I wouldn't have it any other way. The doctor smiled at another squeak of embarrassment as Michelle hid her face in the brunette's neck. "We have a ways to go. Don't we, Chelle?"

"I'm sorry," the petite woman mumbled. I have no idea what I'm doing here.

"No, no. It's okay. As slow as you want, remember? I meant that."

"Okay, " Michelle added softly. I believe her. I do.

Wanting to draw the blonde out, Bobbi changed the subject. So what did you do with your morning?"

Michelle looked up with a hesitant smile. "Um, I spent a little time on the computer. Then, I went to go see Annie." Jade eyes lit up with wonder.

Bobbi felt the sting of an almost foreign emotion. It was the same jealousy she felt the second time they went to the library. Oh, you're just being stupid!" "Oh, really?" B!

What's that look? "I think. No, I know that I made a real friend." Thanks to you. She extended her height and brushed the brunette's full lips with her own. "Thank you for showing me how." Eyes sparkled with affection.

Bobbi swallowed and returned the brief kiss. See! You heel! I should have known better. "Oh, I think that's something we both picked up, but I'm happy for you. You're day sounds a lot better than mine. In fact I'd rather have spent I with you. You wanna write me a note to play hooky?" Blue eyes drooped and lips pouted with the plea

Michelle snickered. "I don't think that I carry any weight around here."

"I don't know. I think you carry more than you know." Suddenly feeling like a clumsy teenager, Bobbi searched for the right words to ask her next question. "Um, Chelle?" Her hands itched to disappear into her jean pockets, but she kept them lazily wrapped around the blonde instead. "Uhm, I was wondering if you want to maybe spend some time together outside the house?" Michelle's gaze was steady and thoughtful. "Um, I mean, if you're ready of course. I don't want to rush you, but there's this thing on the Fourth of July. They have it every year. I haven't been since I was little. People picnic and watch the fireworks, and I was wondering if. . ."

Michelle's heart surged then dropped into her stomach. She's asking me out! Max never even did that! God, momma look at me, and you thought you could keep me down forever. She could not fight the smile that took over her face or the giddiness that made her squirm. So, with a squeal that closely resembled one of Toby's, Michelle screamed, 'yes,' and launched herself back into the doctor's embrace. She wound her arms tightly around the brunette.

Bobbi's eyes extended to the size of saucers. She let out a relieved breath and laughed as she lifted the blonde clear off her feet. "This is great!"

The loud shrill of the office phone broke their playful celebration. Bobbi muttered under her breath as she released the blonde and reached for the phone. She groaned loudly when she saw the intercom button flashing. It was Janine. "Yes?" Her tone was brusque.

Completely taken back, Janine was stunned into stuttering. "Um, y-you have you're next appointment waiting in exam one."

"Be right there," she barked. She hung up the phone with an audible click and turned back to Michelle with a smile. "Ah, well duty calls. We'll talk about it when I get home this afternoon. It's my turn to do dinner, so why don't you pick a movie for us to watch?"

"Okay, I can do that." She paused and her voice lowered. "Just hurry home okay?"

"Will do." Bobbi leaned in for a quick but lingering kiss. "I gotta go."

Michelle chuckled and reached up to brush the brunette's swollen lips. "You've got my lipstick all over you. Here, let me."

"No, it's okay. I got something that will get it off better." An idea took shape in her mind.

They broke apart completely. Bobbi waved the lingering Husky over, knowing he was probably dying for attention. "Hey, boy. Pink might be your color."

Taz whined and gave her a strange look.

Bobbi chuckled and kneeled in front of the cooing baby. "Hey, Peanut." She tweaked his nose. He gurgled and gave her a happy grin, and on cue, tried to hand her his keys. Bobbi laughed outright. "Don't you ever change, peanut. I'll see you two tough guys later." She rose after leafing a hand through the child's dark blonde hair. Green and blue met and as if the as if the last few minutes had not happened at all, the gaze smoldered. Whoa, girl! With her thumb, Bobbi traced moist lips one last time and growled at the resulting shiver. "Mmm yeah, Chelle, you'd better get outta here before you end up not leaving at all."

Michelle felt like she had just gained her breath only to lose it again. "Kay." A couple of minutes and another static charged look later, Michelle and her entourage exited the office and entered the hallway.

Hearing voices, Janine swiveled around in her chair. Her heart stopped in her chest as the sour taste of bile washed up into her throat. Who the hell is that?! Is that the friend she talked about? She followed the figures with her eyes as the disappeared down the hall, hoping the woman could feel the hole she was burning in the back of her head. Her attention switched as Bobbi came out of the office. Janine's insides quaked as the doctor got closer and closer. She felt the blood drain from her face, and inside she screamed at the sight of swollen lips and the evidence of lipstick that the doctor did not have before. Her hand balled into a tight fist and blunt nails dug hard into her palm drawing out stinging pain. Any pain was better than this. Anything. Oh God! I didn't move fast enough. It doesn't work---this being up front and real with people. It doesn't work. Anger and desolation seeped into her every pore.

Bobbi saw the ashen features of the nurse and her insides churned. I'm sorry Janine, but I didn't see any other way.
I hope you enjoyed the update and learned a lot. Tell me what you really think at Minerva

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