White Nights
(Chapters 42-43)


Copyright© 2001

*See Part 1 for original disclaimers.

*Additional Disclaimers: There is a such place as Hole in the Mountain Park. I described it the best I could, but I am not sure if any holiday functions are held there. Can you say poetic license? There. I thought you could. The use of the song lyrics from "Ice Cream" is done so without permission. Also, thanks to Stewie for the idea for the date.

**Big Note!! I am in the process of doing rewrites of the rewrites (if that makes sense) some things may change dramatically. I have also decided to add to or bulk up the character of Janine Williams. She's a little weak. I now believe. This is fair warning.

Chapter 42

With Toby in tow, hovering over her hip and playing in her hair, Michelle peered out the heavy metal screen door intrigued by the scene before her--an array of neighbors, sitting in lawn chairs, scattered about the surrounding yards. They laughed, kept a watchful eye on their children, and battled the heat with the help of paper fans. It was late morning, and the kids some big and some small were already out and about, brandishing fireworks. The sun beat down steadily, but it did not stop them from lighting sparklers or fire crackers to celebrate Independence Day. The pair standing in the doorway had gotten used to the loud pop along with the sweet tang of left over smoke some time ago. It all mixed with the smell of barbecue, creating an interesting aroma and joyous atmosphere.

Standing in the shadows, Michelle avidly watched the kids with shiny eager faces and new short sets, running across the green lawns, filling the air with laughter and excitement. A pang of regret gave her pause. This was never me. Do they know how lucky they are? I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure Toby experiences these joys. I'm not a kid anymore, but I don't think I could ever repay Bobbi. It's because of her that I'm seeing this --that I'm open to this. I can't wait to be apart of it. Maybe I'll finally feel part of this town and these people. I never belonged before.

"Ow!" A particularly hard tug on her hair derailed Michelle's train of thought. The blonde turned to her son, who grinned at her, displaying a large amount of pink gums. She grinned back at him. "Well, I'm glad you're feeling better, little man. Good thing too. Today is a special day for all of us, I think. It's a big step that could mean a lot of things." I think our relationship needs this. God, that's a funny word to me. It never meant anything until Toby and Bobbi, but this is the best thing in my life. I want this to work, and I want to see where we can go. Going out like this will make things seem more real and less like an unbelievable dream. I'm still nervous about it. It's like I could just wake up at any moment, and it will all be over. That scares me.

Toby gurgled and yanked on her hair again. She chuckled, "Okay. Sorry about that, and thank you by the way. You're saving mommy from getting a little down in the dumps." She leaned in and kissed him on the nose, then glanced back outside, almost getting lost in the pastoral scene. Green eyes squinted as she spotted two familiar figures making their way up the adjacent sidewalk.

Clad in his new B.U.M gear, Kevin narrowed his eyes and looked over at his friend angrily. “I can't believe ya didn't get'em, Cam.”

Cam ducked his head and looked away. He mumbled, “Told ya that they don't sell'em anymore every since that dude's hand got blown off.” The lanky boy shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his new Nike shorts and kept on walking.

Kev rolled his eyes and held up the big pack of Black Cat firecrackers. “Well, this little pissy things ain't gonna do nothin'. You coulda at least got cherry bombs.”

Cam shook his head. “You don't make sense sometimes, Kev. Why ya gonna blow up trashcans when you'll prolly be the one that ends up cleanin up the mess?”

With a quick hand, Kevin aimed for his friend's head, intending to give him the customary smack, but Cam was quicker. “Hey, I just got a hair cut!”

”You're bald!!”

”Then it's gonna hurt worse if ya do that!”

”You're such a wussy. Why'd ya get it shaved anyhow!”

”I told ya the ladies like that kind of thing these days.”

”They don't like ya anyhow. Maybe if ya stop starin at'em like a stalker ya could get some action.”

”I don't stare!”

”Yeahun, with you're mouth wide open,” Kevin added with malicious glee.

Red faced and angry in his own right, Cam launched himself at his friend and wrestled the pack of firecrackers away. “Dammit Cam! Give those back!”

The other boy broke into a run, heading toward a very familiar yard. Kevin followed close behind.

Michelle watched their antics in amusement and surprise. Toby gurgled as if he enjoyed the show also.

A little taller than his friend and possessing much longer arms, Cam held the fireworks up high, forcing Kevin to leap upward for them. He muttered, “Wuss,” and cursed under his breath as he swiped through the air.

”Take it back,” Cam yelled.

Suddenly, he stopped jumping. With a playful sneer, Kevin glared at his friend, and in a sing song voice, he uttered, “I can't take it back ifin' it's all true!”

Michelle rolled her eyes. These two are very strange. She cleared her throat. “Uh, hi boys.”

Both young men squealed in surprise. Cam dropped his arm, and Kevin ceased the opportunity to snatch the fireworks back. “Ha!”

Michelle chuckled. “Having fun?”

Kevin sobered and removed his Packers cap, revealing shaggy hair. “Uh, sorry Ms. We were just foolin. We didn't see ya.”

Michelle smiled. “Oh, it's okay. You're not bothering me.” You're entertaining me. She said to herself.

Kevin nodded. “Still, didn't mean to come over here.” He glared, from the corner of his eye, at his friend, and with a quick jerk of his hand, smacked the other boy soundly in the back of the head.


Blushing slightly, Kevin looked up at the blonde woman. “Um, sorry. I owed him one.

Michelle bit her lip to keep from laughing outright. After composing herself, she asked “Uhm, you guys going to the park?”

Their heads moved simultaneously in a nodding motion. “Yah! “

Michelle blushed as she thought about her impending date. “We're going too.”

”Oh yah?” Kevin asked rhetorically. “You'll love it. The food kicks a. . .um. The food is great!”

Rubbing the back of his head, Cam added his two cents. “Yah, and the fireworks display is the shi. . .um.” He looked at his friend for help. Kevin shrugged.

The petite woman snickered at their sweet attempts of chivalry. “It's okay. I know what you mean.” Toby cooed loudly, making his presence known. Cam's eyes lit up, as if he had just seen the baby, and he pushed his face up against the mesh screen. “Ohh, woo woo?”

Michelle glanced at Kevin and their eyes sparkled with mutual amusement, even more so when Toby gurgled back in response.

”Woo, woo woo?”

The petite blonde looked at her son and shook her head in amazement. They're strange but cute. Where are my manners? “Would you two like to come in? Bobbi's around the house somewhere. I'm sure she'd love to see you.”

”Ah, nah. Can we just stand here and talk to ya? Gonna go. . .” The blonde boy held up the pack of fireworks. “. . .soon.”

Michelle blinked. “You want to talk to me?”

Kevin blinked back. “Well, yah. You're a nice lady, and any friend of Doc B's. . .”

Michelle's smile was huge and the blush on her cheeks went deep. “Sure. Thanks.” People see me—the real me. First, there was Bobbi, then Annie and now these two. God, this feels so good.

”Woo woo boo?” Cam continued, ignoring the other people around him.

Within a few moments, Michelle was talking to them as if she had known them for years.


Bobbi reached under her shirt and expertly removed the red sports bra, throwing it into the washing machine with the other bright colored clothes. She poured in a generous amount of Tide, slammed the lid to the washer, then looked around in exasperation for the top to the liquid detergent. The doctor muttered to herself as she peered, without luck, between the washer and dryer. Bobbi twirled around scanning the basement floor, seeing only a scattering of clothes, a few boxes, and an old folding table. A nudge against her leg that was immediately followed by a whimper garnered her attention. The brunette turned and glanced down to see Taz holding the cap to the detergent in his mouth. The Huskie wagged his tail in response to the doctor's gaze.

Bobbi beamed at the dog, then kneeled down to retrieve the item, giving him a scratch behind the ears in thanks. "I swear that you're human sometimes, Taz. It's down right scary." She paused. "How did you know. . ."


"You're right. I shouldn't ask. Let it remain one of life's great mysteries." Bobbi smirked as she screwed on the cap.

The brunette pulled the bunched, green t-shirt from under her unencumbered breasts, then smoothed a hand through her hair. "It seems like a regular day. Doesn't it, boy?" Bobbi let out a long breath. Slowly, a smile formed. "But it's not. It's like I'm on this long slow ride that's going higher and higher, and you know what? I'm lovin' every minute of it. Your mom is some kind of woman, and she deserves the world."

Deciding to take a seat, Bobbi hopped on top of the washing machine. Her socked feet bounced playfully against the side of the machine. Taz sat down near her and gazed up at the brunette. "These last few days have been perfect. Janine called out of work." Taz growled. "Yeah, me too. I didn't want to hurt her, but she couldn't seem to take no for an answer. I just hope she gets over it. She's a great nurse. Plus, with the past few days with your mom, I really, really need get a shower massage. I swear I could get used to waking up next to her. To top it off, she's gonna drive me crazy—the way she smells, tastes, and looks at me. No one has ever done that before, and I guess that I'm responding to it." Everything feels so right with her.

Bobbi rubbed nervous hands across her face. "She's going on her first date today, boy, and it's with me! Can you believe it!? I haven't really been out in public like that for years." The doctor's voice was laced with excitement.


"Yes. You get to go too. You're part of this family." She paused. "Wow, you know. I didn't think I'd ever be a part of one again. I didn't know if I wanted to, but I guess life is funny that way, huh? I hope Mom and Stevie are looking down at me. I hope I make them proud."


"Yeah, I still think about them a lot actually. They would love, Chelle." I wish you guys were really here to share this with me. The tiny room was filled with a pensive silence. After a while, Bobbi sighed, breaking from that line of thought. "Just think. It's gonna be just the four of us with good food, good company, good music, and. . ." Bobbi groaned suddenly. "Romance. What about romance? This is still a date" Getting panicked, she asked the Huskie pleadingly, "What am I gonna do? I've never done romance before!"

"Wuff!" Taz backed away.

"Wha. . .what do you mean I'm on my own?!"

"Wuff!" The Huskie continued to move toward the stairs leading to the exit.

Sky blue eyes widened. "Oh, no you don't!" In hot pursuit, Bobbi vaulted off the washing machine. "Don't you dare leave me hanging! I don't know what I'm doing here."


"Well, I'm sorry that I didn't think of this before!" She chased the dog up the stairs, stopping when she got halfway, only to groan once more. Why am I chasing him? I really am on my own with this. Why on earth didn't I give her candlelight right here at home? The answer smacked her right between the eyes. "She wasn't ready till now," Bobbi murmured.

At the top of the stairs, Taz wuffed in agreement. He sat down against the door, leading to the kitchen.

The doctor began walking upward again. After getting to the top, she paused and looked down at the Huskie. "I guess that I'll have to play it by ear, huh?"

"Wuff!" Taz wagged his tail vigorously.

Bobbi smirked and reached for the door. "Thanks. You've been so much help. I mean that," she added sarcastically. Oh, I just love this pressure. Please don't let me make an ass of myself.

Upon entering the kitchen, the sound of loud laughter wafted through the open door, surrounding them. Some of it was masculine and some distinctly feminine. Curious, Bobbi followed the sound.


Michelle felt a slight touch against her leg. She glanced down, and Taz gazed thoughtfully back up at her. "Well, hey there, boy."

"Whoa! I still think he's the coolest dog I've ever seen. I never knew dogs could have eyes that color," Kevin commented enthusiastically.

"Yeah, he is something special," Michelle added.

"Oh man. He's looking at us like he understands what we're saying," Cam remarked.

"Great Cam, ya gonna try to talk to the dog now?"

"Cut it out, Kev. I'm not stupid."

Michelle pressed her lips together to keep from laughing. "You've boys known each other for a long time?"

Kevin answered, "Yah. Grew up together pretty much."

The petite woman nodded. "You've always been like this with each other?"

"Yah. How'd ya know?" Kevin inquired.

"Woman's intuition." Michelle gave a quick glance down at her son, who rubbed his nose against her shoulder and cuddled into her body. Aww, he's sleepy. You do need a nap, little man. You got a big day ahead of you.

Bobbi crept up stealthily. Two pairs of surprised eyes greeted her from the other side of the screen door. She held a finger up to her lips, shushing them.

The hair on the back of the Michelle's neck prickled with awareness. As she turned her head, arms encircled her waist and a familiar warm scent greeted her.

The eyes of the onlookers enlarged to the size of saucers, but as if it was the most natural thing in the world, Bobbi lowered her head and nuzzled the blonde's neck. The doctor mumbled, "Boys," in acknowledgement of their presence. I don't think I care anymore what anybody thinks or sees. Those were old fears, and this is a different time.

Cam waved goofily while Kevin sputtered, "Uhm, h. . hi Doc."

Michelle stiffened at first then melted into the woman behind her. She shivered deliciously at the feel of heat and the hardened tips of the doctor's breasts scorching her t-shirted back. The blonde felt each pass of the turgid peaks as if there were no barrier between them. She bit back a whimper and tried to control her breathing as fire exploded from somewhere deep inside. What is she doing to me?

Some voice in Bobbi's head screamed for her to move away, but with Michelle's acceptance of her presence, the doctor's body refused to obey. Who am I kidding? I can't be good all the time. What the hell has gotten into me anyway? Bobbi increased the pressure and closeness of her embrace as if trying to get the blonde under her skin. God, she's like a drug. The brunette felt its effects careening through her body, making each part tingle. Suddenly somewhat disoriented but lucid enough, the doctor looked up at the visitors. "Boy's. We'll see you at the picnic, okay?"

Kevin and Cam, with eyes still wide, nodded simultaneously at the two women. Stunned back to reality by the slight click of the door, the boys turned and started back down the walkway. Kevin glanced at his friend. "Man! Doc B is a player to get a woman who looks like that. Her cool points just went way up!" The two boys hi-fived each other in agreement and continued up the sidewalk

Michelle spun around slowly to look up at the taller woman. She swallowed hard as she got lost in the doctor's intense gaze. "I thought. . .your practice."

Bobbi's smile was slow and sexy. "It suddenly didn't seem as important as touching you."

"Oh." The blonde's breathing increased again as did her heartbeat. I love what she does to me. It's like I'm falling but safe at the same time. Green eyes fell from deep blue to full lips. "Um, can you. . .can you put Toby in his crib?" She asked breathlessly.

Bobbi licked her lips already anticipating the taste of the blonde's mouth. "Uh, yeah. Um, I didn't embarrass you did I?"

"No. Can you take him please?" Her tone was urgent and her eyes brimming with need. Michelle took a step forward. The air was thick and heavy between them, laced with a sensual charge.

It was Bobbi's turn for a hard swallow. She reached for the groggy baby. "I. . I got'em. Can we, uh. . .?"

Anticipating the question, Michelle interrupted with the answer. "Oh yes." Please. Now.

Bobbi scanned the immediate area for said item of furniture and spotted it near the couch. She walked briskly toward it and placed Toby gently inside. The doctor turned around, intending to beckon her friend toward the couch only to almost bump noses with her. Green eyes burned into her. God, if I don't kiss her, I'm gonna . . . "Chelle. . ." An explosion did occur, but in the form of a moan from the doctor's mouth when the blonde's lips brushed against hers.

Completely discombobulated, Bobbi fell back against the couch, bringing Michelle with her. The blonde lay somewhat sprawled on top of the doctor, and refusing to relent her claim on the brunette's lips, Michelle wiggled until she was comfortably splayed over Bobbi's thighs. The doctor arched her back and leaned in, increasing the contact of their bodies. How does she do this to me? Her thoughts scattered when a curious tongue began to tease her bottom lip. Bobbi opened with a groan, drinking in the taste of the blonde with each flick of her tongue. Her skin felt tight and each inch of it was sensitized to even the soft cotton of her clothing. Her nipples were the most effected. They stood proud and firm, vibrating with need.

Michelle whimpered and wound small hands through sable locks, pressing herself into the source of heat. She trembled at the feel of big hands roaming her back, branding her skin. The sensations swallowed her whole, leaving her raw and aching. Tongues battled, then surrendered, only to begin the war over again. For long minutes, they fell into each other, getting completely lost.

Without making a sound, Taz discreetly moved away, heading for his water dish in the kitchen.

With a loud groan, Michelle tore her lips away and leaned in until their foreheads touched, using the time as a reprieve to suck in much needed air. With eyes still closed, Michelle's scattered thoughts slowly came together again. I never knew that I could be so hungry. It's for her. It has to be her. Green eyes opened slowly to see azure orbs peering at her with an intensity she had never seen. The blonde's found a new home, tracing the expressive plains of the doctor's face.

Bobbi bit the inside of her cheek, needing the pain to counteract the pleasure arcing through her body like a live wire. She repeated the question that she asked herself minutes before. How does she do this to me? I've never been so close to losing it. . not with anyone.

Michelle cleared the sandpaper from her throat. "B?" The brunette's gaze began to excite her all over again. The blue eyes seared her.

"Mmm?" Bobbi did not trust herself to speak. As if they had their own agenda, her eyes dropped down to the blonde's swollen lips. It was a mistake that sent her leaning in again, covering the petite woman's mouth with her own. A few short, deep kisses later, Bobbi relented.

Their foreheads touched once more as they fought for breath. Michelle pulled away first, only to glance down. Her eyes widened and were riveted immediately on the doctor's swollen nipples. I did this to her. I never knew someone could respond to me that way. Oh God, look at them. The palms of her hands itched with the need to touch. I can almost feel them.

Bobbi groaned inwardly when she realized where the blonde's stare settled. Her insides quaked with the knowledge and pulsed with need. Yesss, touch them. The doctor closed her eyes in an attempt to gain some equilibrium. When baby blues opened, her groin twitched as she continued to examine the blonde's heated gaze. I want her too. I'd be lying otherwise.

The blonde's hands moved from Bobbi's face to wind around her neck. With her decision made, she encircled Michelle's wrists and brought each hand to her mouth for a kiss. Their eyes met, and the doctor tried her best to convey need and caring through her expression. Bobbi intertwined their fingers and placed them over her breasts. She watched Michelle closely for any sign of fear. There was only surprised wonder.

Michelle reveled in the softness under her hands. Nothing had ever felt so natural, so right and so good. Unsure of what to do next, she glanced up at Bobbi for guidance. Her breath caught at what she saw. The brunette's face was flushed a brilliant red and blue eyes glittered. "It's okay, Chelle. Touch me," The doctor husked. Her voice had lowered an octave, sending corresponding chills down the blonde's spine.

Michelle gasped as hardened tips bore into her palms. "I felt them. . .against my back. I felt them," the petite woman whispered hoarsely.

Bobbi ground her teeth hard. The honest innocence behind the blonde's words sent a jolt of arousal through her stomach, making it clench. "Did you like it?"

Michelle's eyes strayed from blue ones to gaze down at their joined appendages. Needing more, the blonde experimentally squeezed the flesh under her hands. Her heart jumped to her throat at the sound of the brunette's moan. “Oh yes. Very much.”

Bobbi willed her hips to be still, but the flood of liquid heat that settled between her legs did not help matters. The feel of warm curves on her lap further hindered the cause. She clamped down on the inside of her jaw hard, tasting blood almost immediately. Somebody help me here. I so don't want to scare her.

Unaware of the brunette's plight, Michelle maneuvered her fingers, leaving her thumbs free. Compelled to touch, she pressed then flicked the hardened tips of the doctor's breasts, making the two points of study more pronounced.

"Oh God!" Bobbi cried out. The cry turned into a moan as her hips lost their battle and began to undulate upward, seeking a most delicious contact.

The blonde's breath caught then came out in a shaky whoosh. Damp heat enveloped her, and as if they had done it a million times before, her hips began to mesh softly with the doctor's. She whimpered at the friction that ensued. It's supposed to feel like this. It should have felt like this. Damn you, Max! Michelle's body stiffened despite the pleasure sifting through her. Damn you! Her mind screamed. Desolation and old pain crashed into her, forcing a sob from her throat. She fell forward, burrowing into the doctor's chest.

Bobbi sobered almost immediately. Ah, shit, B! You idiot! See what you did? Without a second thought, she wrapped her arms around the blonde, squeezing her tightly. The brunette's throat bobbed in worry and fear as tears wet the front of her t-shirt. "I'm so sorry, Chelle. I didn't mean to push you."

After a few seconds of sobbing, Michelle cried, "No." She wiped at her eyes with the backs of her hands. "Not you." She paused then the tears fell in earnest. It was not a pretty cry but a heart wrenching one, full of painful sobs. "What he did. . ." she uttered brokenly ". . .all used up. How can you . . .you want me? H. . .how can you touch me?" Insecurities bombarded her.

Bobbi squeezed her eyes shut and muttered, "Jesus," as her heart shattered right down the middle, making her chest ache. That son of a bitch I could kill him! Anger made her blood boil. A huge ball of emotion lodged in her throat, choking her. Instead of speaking, Bobbi pulled the blonde closer and began to rock her as a gesture of comfort.

Michelle cried for the little girl lost, the stifled woman, and the person it took her so long to become. While it was painful, striping her down to emotions in the purest form and leaving her raw, at the same time, it was cleansing. She sat there open and absorbing all the warmth and energy the doctor had to offer. It felt real and true like nothing ever had before. It pushed her insecurities away for the time being, leaving her basking in the glow that the two generated together.

Long minutes later, Michelle hiccuped and wiped at burning, red eyes. She glanced up to see worry etched in every feature of the doctor's face. She must be so tired of me falling apart like this. Blue eyes met hers, searching for a glimmer of the positive. Michelle provided it with a sparkle of green. In response, Bobbi leaned forward, placing a kiss on the blonde's clammy forehead.

Michelle hiccuped some more then tried to speak, "Aren't you. . .tired of picking up the pieces?"

Dark brows scrunched as Bobbi shook her head. "No, 'cause they always add up to something beautiful."

Jade eyes widened in surprise. "You make it so easy to believe you."

"Then you do that because I mean it. Look at you. Look at what you've become, so strong from the get go, and even more so now. It takes strength to face what you did, and it takes it to cry and heal. I should know. I didn't cry for years not until you came. You were right the other day when you said the best revenge is living well. You're doing it. You're a step away from a job and college. You amaze me, really."

Michelle blushed and ducked her head. "Sometimes I can't believe all those years happened, especially when I look at myself now. It makes everything so hard to believe. . the past and the present. You know what I mean?" She glanced back up. "I mean. It was me who called the college and asked them for information, but it all seems like some fluctuating nightmare that goes from bad to good."

Bobbi nodded, "Yeah, I think that I understand, and let me tell you. It's very okay to be insecure about what you're feeling. Hell, I just about pinch myself every morning." The comment earned her a warm chuckle from the blonde. The brunette smiled in response.

"Can I ask you something? Do you still think about what happened to you even though you've come to terms with it?" Michelle inquired. With each word the doctor spoke, the blonde's mood lightened.

Bobbi pursed her lips in thought. "I think accepted it is a better phrase. It'll be a long time before I'm over all of it. Same as you."

"Yeah," she paused. "I'm so sorry about all this, but do you want to hear something weird?"

"Go ahead."

"It gets more intense between us every time we, uh, touch, and sometimes I feel that old pain. But, most of the time it falls flat to what I'm feeling with you. It's like it flushes out somehow." Michelle muttered.

"I don't think that's weird at all. I think when you're not used to feeling, and you start to feeling so much all that old stuff gets pushed to the surface to make room."

"Mmm, that makes sense. I'm just happy I get a chance to feel and see what relationships are supposed to be like."

"Yeah, me too." Bobbi's voice trailed off. Should I ask her? "Um, is that what the tears were about?"
Their eyes met and gazes held. "Yeah, mostly," the blonde answered quietly. "I felt better afterward. I hate how Max still has this ability to get to me every once in a while."

Bobbi hugged her close. "Yeah, I know you do. Listen, if you're not up for it, we can cancel this afternoon and just do something at home."

Michelle shook her head vigorously. "Oh, no way. That'll give him a victory somehow. I want to do this. We need to."

Bobbi smiled. "Yeah, it will sort of makes it official. We're a couple."

Michelle flushed. I love the sound of that. She beamed. "There is that, but I heard that the fireworks are the shit and the food kicks ass."

The doctor let out a bark of laughter. "Oh no, they're rubbing off on you!" Michelle joined in on the laughter. It died down to a chuckle. Bobbi buried her nose in blonde hair. "You still nervous?" She mumbled.

"Uh huh."

"Good. Me too. We can stumble through this together."

Pale brows rose. "But you've done this before? The dating?"

"Yeah, but it never meant anything. I was just going through the motions. It was a means to an end. This is much, much different. I care. I care a lot."

The blonde's insides warmed with the admission. She makes me feel so good. "Me too. Didn't think it was possible, but I do." They went quiet. Still, something nagged her. What does she mean a means to an end? "Means to an end?"

Oh, shit. Bobbi shifted as the blonde's head turned, and green eyes looked up at her again. "Um, yeah." She blushed under the scrutiny. "It all, uhm, lead to the physical." Her voice squeaked on the last word. "That's all I, er, wanted at the time."

Despite of what was said earlier, Michelle felt herself deflate, making way for unresolved insecurities. How could I be so stupid? "Oh. So, I'm just---"

Bobbi tightened the embrace. "Don't even think it. Let alone say it. I meant what I said about caring about you. Truth."

She makes it so, so easy. I want so much to believe everything. Michelle sighed with relief. "Oh. Then, how did I get in?"

Bobbi did not miss a beat. "Remember what I said earlier about making room?"


"Well, that's part of the reason. The other part is . . .well just you."

"Just me?" Michelle asked incredulously.

"Yep," Bobbi countered.

"It's as simple as all that?"

Bobbi chuckled. "There's nothing simple about it or you."

Feeling particularly articulate, the blonde responded, "Oh."

"Yeah, oh, big time."

Michelle snickered. "Sorry. I just don't know what to say sometimes." Her nose scrunched, and she began to wiggle.

"Mmm, it's okay. What's wrong?"

"Leg is falling asleep." Michelle flexed it, cringing at the sudden pins and needles feeling. "I must weigh a ton. Let me up."

Bobbi snorted. "Please. You're a lightweight. I bet that I could carry you to the kitchen and back without breaking a sweat."

The blonde rolled her eyes. "Riiight, but later. Don't we have to start getting ready to go to the park?"

"Uh huh, in a minute." With a grunt, Bobbi stood up with Michelle in tow.

Michelle squealed then laughed as the brunette started a light sprint toward the hallway. "You're nuts!"

"Uh huh, but I'm your nut." Bobbi turned sideways to enter the kitchen.

Laying down, Taz jumped up at the sight. He whimpered and canted his head to the side. The Huskie's tail wagged happily at the sound of laughter, and he gave them one last look as he padded out of the kitchen to the living room towards Toby.


Without a lick of enthusiasm, Janine puttered around the Jiffy Mart, picking up soap, shampoo, and other products and throwing them into the cart. She gave a baleful glare to every person who dared smile at her, and in Ivanhoe, there were a lot of folks who dared. The sound of fireworks and the smell of old fashioned barbecue made her cringe. I just wanna to crawl up under the covers until I figure out what the hell I'm gonna do exactly. Maybe I just need to stay under there. She sighed and shook her head. Damn Independence Day. At least I don't have to face mother and pretend. Entering another isle, she gave an evil look to an old woman, who opened her mouth to speak. The woman stared back in confusion then shuffled away.

What am I doin? These people haven't done a damn thing to me. They're just tryin' to be nice. I would have killed for the people at home to act like this. Get a grip Janie. The brunette made her way to the check out counter. A young boy was in front of her talking to the storeowner. "Thanks, Mr. P. I guess I'll see you and Mrs. P at the park later, huh?"

The old man behind the counter cackled, "Yah, but we gonna be a little late. Don't move like we used ta."

Janine watched the boy go and stepped up in line. "Afternoon," she said with confidence. Mr. P smiled back as he watched her put the contents of the cart on top of the counter. "That be all fer ya?"

"No, actually. You can give me some information. What's this about a park?"

"Ah, new here?"

The nurse nodded.

"Well, every year for a while now most of the people round here go to the big park over in Lake Benton. There's fireworks, food, and good company."

"Most people?"

"Yeah, a good passel of 'em."

"Can you give me directions?"

"Sure, sure. I can write'em down fer yah."

Janine's heart lurched in her chest. She could not figure out if it was because of excitement or dread. Maybe this is the chance I need. She's got to be there, and she'll probably bring the blonde with her. I guess that I'll have to play this by ear. Please, be there.

Chapter 43

Bobbi removed the key from the ignition and turned to her companion. “Well, here we go. You ready?”

With wide eyes, Michelle looked out at the gathering of people all of whom seemed to be talking and laughing. Well, here goes nothing. At least I don't feel like bolting like I did the first day we went to the library. “As I'll ever be. I guess you were right about my outfit. I just wanted to fit in.” She looked down at her faded Wranglers and soft pink t-shirt.

The doctor reached over and squeezed a jean clad knee. “I don't think you'll have a problem fitting in. Besides you look great, even in your sweats.”

Michelle chuckled, "You think so?"

"Mmm hmm, the words adorable and cute come to mind."

A smirk formed on the blonde's face chasing away the last vestiges of her nervousness.

"Ohh, look at that a smile and a laugh. I think you're ready for this crowd." Bobbi countered. No worries, Chelle, I know you can do this. I can do this. You mean more to me than anything in my life, even medicine. I know that now. I refuse to hide.

"Wuff!" Taz stood up in the backseat..

"Nooo, I don't think they'll ever be ready for you, boy," the doctor added.

Michelle snorted in agreement. They both turned to the back to see a blue-eyed stare boring into them. Bobbi raised her hands in surrender. "Okay, okay. I guess we'll see."

She glanced toward the petite blonde and whispered out the side of her mouth, "Remind me to spell out my words from now on. He is way too smart for his own good."

Michelle snickered. With each laugh and each piece of conversation, her comfort level increased. They both laughed out right at the sudden loud coos coming from Toby. "Looks like somebody else is excited about this," the blonde glanced in the direction of her son.

"Mmm," Bobbi narrowed her eyes and searched through the diaper bag. "Well, I brought some Oragel just in case he goes from excited to moody. Let me get his stroller out, and we can start looking around."

As Bobbi strapped the squirming child, clad in a tiny baseball outfit, into the stroller, Michelle scanned the terrain of The Hole-in-the-Mountain Park. There was green as far as the eye could see. The smell of pine and fresh grass was strong but added to that of cooking food. The red pines stood tall protecting the park goers from the strong rays of the sun and providing shade for those picnicking right under them. The area was peppered with picnic tables, barbecue pits and grills, and platforms being constructed by the partygoers. A gentle nudge got her attention. Bobbi grinned down at the blonde. "So whatcha think?"

"It's beautiful. Sorta like time forgot it." She pointed toward the lake her gaze had yet to encompass. "I don't think that I've ever seen water that clear before." Michelle watched in awe as boats meandered by. "And you'd think all the noise would be irritating with people talking, fireworks going off and stuff, but it all meshes together somehow. I don't know how to explain it."

Bobbi canted her head to the side. "Hmm, I think you pretty much did." She let her own eyes wander. "It hasn't changed much at all. I haven't been here for a very long time." God, people in the city don't know what they're missing.

Pale brows rose, crinkling her nose. "Why not?" Michelle asked.

The doctor shrugged. "I came with a date, but I wasn't into her or the park. Didn't want to be a part of anything anymore, at least not till now. It's nice sharing all of this with you. Sort of like we're making our own memories." Her smile was wistful.

"Really?" Michelle paused and turned to the brunette. "But, I think we've made a lot of memories already."

Bobbi beamed. "True." Very true, Chelle. Some are burned on my brain. She peered over her shoulder at the Cherokee. "Hang on. I forgot the blankets."

While waiting for the doctor, Michelle kneeled down to study her son. Deft fingers adjusted the blue bib, and after licking a finger, she smoothed a lock of dark blonde back into place. Toby shook his keys in her direction and gave her a gummy grin. The blonde tweaked his nose. "Right back atcha, kiddo." We've come a long way, little man. I should be scared to death that someone will recognize me, but I'm not her anymore. I have to hang onto that because the alternative. . . She could not bring herself to even think it. Michelle was yanked from her thoughts by another nudge. The doctor handed her the blankets. Bobbi frowned at the somber look covering the blonde's face. "Hey, what's wrong?"

Michelle gave her companion a wary smile. "Just hoping for an awful lot."

"Nothing wrong with that, but it helps if you believe too." The brunette paused. "Do you. . .believe?"


Bobbi rubbed the blonde's back in comforting circles. "That's a start, a huge one." Their eyes met, and Michelle saw the conviction and confidence that shined in sky blue. She simply nodded in acknowledgement, knowing sometimes words were not needed. Seeing enough, Bobbi muttered, "C'mon, let's go find somewhere to sit." Hang in there, Chelle.

After paying the fifteen dollar a piece for the cover charge, they wove in and out of small groups of people, coming to a grove with a smattering of trees and short grass covered with dandelions --some in full bloom some not. Curious onlookers observed, smiled and went back to their own business. Some sat at tables while others lay on blankets. Somewhat away from the others, Bobbi found a near perfect spot, giving them some privacy. With a smirk, she peered at her friend. "You wanna do the honors? Or do you want a table?"

Michelle almost bit her lip but thought better of it. "I, uhm, like this better. We get to lay. . ." her voice trailed off as she straightened one of the folded blankets with a crisp flick of her wrist, fully intending to hide behind it.

Bobbi chuckled and moved behind her. With gentle fingers, she pushed wisps of blonde away from the petite woman's ear. After clearing the pathway, the doctor leaned in. "It's okay. I like laying next to you too."

Michelle shivered at the feel of moist lips so near her ear. "That's not what. . . I mean." Liar. "Oh, damn," she sputtered and did not even attempt to hide the dark flush. The blonde felt the doctor's grumble of laughter against her back.

"Wow, three curse words in one day. I'm gonna have to have a talk with those boys." The doctor continued to snigger. Hmm, maybe I can do this romance thing after all. "Let's get situated here. You hungry yet? We didn't exactly eat lunch."

Michelle stepped away and kneeled to smooth out the blankets. She immediately missed the warmth at her back. The blonde glanced over her shoulder. "Yeah, anything but. . ."

"Beef. I know."

Michelle grinned. "You go ahead. It's about time for Toby to eat too."

"Sure thing. Be back as soon as I can." Bobbi motioned for Taz to follow. Michelle watched them go before hefting Toby from the stroller.

Now situated in the middle of the blanket, Michelle uncapped the still warm bottle. Toby reached for it eagerly, dropping his keys and lunging for it. The blonde woman scooped him up instead. "Oh no, you're not too big to still eat while sitting on my lap." Bright blue-green eyes stared up at her, and Toby gurgled as if replying. He began to suck greedily from the bottle, and tiny fingers closed around his mother thumb.

Michelle took this time to scan the area again. How am I supposed to establish myself in this town if I don't get up and do anything? Am I ready for that? I shouldn't even have to ask because I know I am. I wouldn't be here otherwise. The blonde adjusted the child on her lap. I figured that I would be a nervous wreck today. A date. Me on a date with a woman. That is so far from anything I've ever dreamed, but it is my dream now to be with her. There is no way that I'm turning back Me on a date with a woman, with Bobbi. It's perfect. I need this. Michelle glanced up to see a couple of women coming her way. They slowed as they neared her, whispering amongst themselves as they studied the woman and her baby. The blonde's first instinct was to panic, but that ceased as smiles creased their faces. Here's my chance. I can do this. The two women stopped. The tall blonde kneeled. "Oh my God. He is the most gorgeous baby!"

Michelle blinked and glanced down at Toby, whose curious eyes took in the guests. He squealed and grinned around the bottle in his mouth. Michelle resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Thank you. I think that he knows it too."

The tall woman laughed. "He's gonna be a heart breaker when he grows up."

Toby pushed the bottle from his mouth, and his toothless grin got wider. He reached out his hand then let it fall, forgetting that he did not have keys to offer for the moment. Michelle smirked. "You know that he's just eating all this attention up?" I can't believe this. It seems so easy. She looked up into the soft brown eyes of the other woman, seeing sincerity and kindness.

As she chuckled, the stranger motioned to the much shorter redhead behind her. "Well by all means, we can give him all he can handle."

The redhead stepped around her friend and leaned down with her hand outstretched. "Where are my manners? I'm Cheryl, and this tall drink of water here is Tammy. We were just looking for somewhere to set up and got distracted."

Michelle looked at the offered hand, and without a second thought she shook it. "I'm . . .Jo, and this little guy is Toby."

"Well, it's nice to meet both of you," Cheryl added.

Tammy pointed a thumb over her shoulder. "What she said." The blonde began to coo at the baby. "You're husband must be a happy man."

Michelle waited for the coldness to seep in at the mention of her marriage. It never came. She blinked in confusion, then smiled in realization. You're not here today. Are you Max? "I. . I don't have a husband. I'm here with a friend."

Tammy's brown eyes widened. "Oh, well I just inserted my foot didn't I? Who needs a man anyhow?" Tammy pitched forward slightly at the playful push her friend gave her. She smirked, "I forgot. She does." Cheryl gave her friend a mock slap on the back.

A sudden grumbling sound made all three women look down. Cheryl patted her belly. "Wasn't mine, but that food sure smells good. Of course it's always good."

"Gotta agree with you there." There was another loud grumble. "Now, that was mine!" Tammy chuckled. She glanced down at Michelle. "That must mean that it was you the first time." The smirk appeared again. "We're gonna go get food soon. Do you want us to bring you something?"

Michelle smiled at their courtesy. No one back in Pine River was ever this nice to me. Ever. "No, that's where my friend went. She should be back soon." Pale brows raised in concern at the look that passed between her two guests. "What?"

"Nothing," said Tammy rather quickly. "Mind if we keep you company until she comes. Might be awhile those lines can get long."

Liking the other women's presence, Michelle nodded. "Sure okay. Do you want to sit down?" Whoa, would you look at this? I believe all right. This is me.

"Great!" Tammy replied as she made herself comfortable a few inches in front of Michelle and the baby. Cheryl rolled her eyes at her friend's antics and found a spot also.

Toby squealed in delight and reached out for the blonde across from him. Tammy laughed. "He really is something else. He's so sweet. Makes me want to go out and have one." Cheryl groaned. Tammy shushed and dismissed her with a wave of her hand.

Michelle held the bottle in front of her son. He took it eagerly. She let out a grateful sigh. Not ready to have everybody holding you yet. She peered up at her new friends and chuckled. "Well, he seems to want to be that one at the moment."

Tammy beamed. "I see that, but it's okay. I'm not gonna ask to hold him. You don't know me like that. We can just sit and stare at him for a while." The sideways smirk appeared for the hundredth time.

Cheryl threw her hands up. "Oh, she's a laugh a minute. Don't let her weird you out. She's not acting." She shook her head. "But, she's damn near flirting," Cheryl added under her breath.

No one heard.

Michelle settled in with confidence. "So, how long have you two been coming here? This is my first time." At a lot of things, but it won't be my last. I won't let it be.


Bobbi made her way through the throng of people. She stood on tiptoes to see which table of food held what. The lines that led to them were long, twisting and loud with laughter and chatter. The doctor sighed and clenched her jaw. Looks like I'm gonna be here for awhile. She peered down at the Huskie at her side. "Guess I should have left you with your mom. I hope she's okay by herself." Taz whimpered. Bobbi went quiet, and her mind whirled as she remembered earlier today. Well, if she can take those two on. She'll be just fine. A warm burst of feeling infused her, recalling the kisses they shared. Ohh, not now. Think cold. Think anything.

"Doc B!"

The doctor jolted at the sound of her name. She turned and looked around. She heard it again and glanced way in front of her to see a man waving his arm high in the air. He motioned for her to come forward. The brunette did not hesitate. Ohh, the luck. The Huskie followed. As she got closer, Bobbi recognized the man almost immediately. Keith Polinski gave her a cheek splitting grin as he ran a hand through his shock of red hair. His wife Karen huddled close and beamed at her as well. "Didn't expect to see ya here!" Keith uttered.

Bobbi chuckled. "Let's just say I was compelled to come this year. Where's your kids? I wanted to take a peek at the baby."

"Oh, they're with my sister," he answered.

"Bobbi why don't you scooch in line with us instead of waiting back there?" Karen asked.

"Great thanks." After a minute, Bobbi leaned and murmured in Keith's ear so his wife would not hear. "Didja get that problem taken care of? Or is she still talking. . .dirty?" Bobbi watched in amusement as the man turned a shade darker than his hair.

"Um.. . yeah. We, uh. . ." he sputtered. Keith cleared his throat and adjusted his t-shirt. "Yes, well, uhm, did you get your houseguest taken care of?"

Bobbi felt the smile steal over her face, and she did not do a thing to stop it. "Yeah, and let's just say that she's taken care of me too."

Keith glanced at his wife. "Well, that's good to hear. You spent way too much time in that house alone. We missed you at the Centennial."

The doctor nodded. "Sorry about that, but you're right. I did. Not anymore though. I kinda like this better." I like it a lot. "She's here by the way, if you want to stop by and say hello. I'm sure she remembers you, helping to deliver your baby during a snowstorm and all. We're on the other side of the lake by the big grove of trees."

Taz sat quietly watching the whole interplay.

Keith nodded. "We'll do that, but is it okay for her to be out like this? Yah seemed to want to keep things secret."

Bobbi sobered. "We still do, but she can't stay cooped up forever, so we decided to take the risk. There's enough people here for her to get kinda lost in the crowd."

They moved up in the line.

"She's a nice woman, so ya just better look after her good," Karen added. "And we'll come find ya if we get a chance."

"Oh, you can count on that." God, I'm pathetic. I've gotta get back to her. Missing her already.

They moved up even more in the line, giving Bobbi the chance to maneuver. Taz stayed close by her side. The doctor grabbed a couple of plates and smiled charmingly at the servers. Leaving the a couple of the male holding ladles and forks flustered and some of the people behind her grumbling, she smirked down at the plates piled high with potato salad, green beans, baked beans, hot dogs, ribs, chicken, and Ruffle potato chips. Bobbi wiggled her hips at the feel of the cold cans of soda resting in her jean pockets. She turned back toward the Polinski's , who were busy gathering their own food. "If I don't see you two later, I'll try to drop by on my home visits in a few days, okay?"

They both waved at her in acknowledgment and watched her walk away. Keith eyed his wife. "Did she seem different to ya?"

"Yah, very different like she's happy."


Janine bobbed and weaved through the crowd, scanning it and looking closely at every tall brunette that passed by. She smiled at the people who smiled at her and even shook a few hands in greeting. Kids ran passed her, chasing each other and lagging behind their parents. What am I doing here? I sure as hell don't belong. These people are nice and genuine. Me, I don't know what I am, and I sure as hell don't know what I'm doing. What I need to do is get a grip. I can't force anyone to see me, to notice me. I know this. What am I doing? This isn't going to accomplish anything. I know this too. A tall, leggy brunette, clad in shorts and a tank top breezed by her a few feet away. Janine's heart stopped then began to thud double time. She let out a pained breath. It's not her. I should just walk away from this. I should, but I want her. God, help me.


Bobbi hummed the words to "American Woman" as she walked through the crowd. It turned into a whistle that soon became impossible to sustain with the wide smile forming on her lips. I feel like a teenager. Well sorta, but I don't remember feeling like this. Romance, yeah I can do it. I think I could do just about anything for her. Maybe I do need to make an ass out of myself to show her how much she means to me. She's gonna remember this day. She passed through an area of dense with picnic tables and people to make her journey back to Michelle quicker. Bobbi's heart fluttered as the grove of trees came into view. Okay, here goes. She peered down at the Huskie that had not been far from her side the whole time. "I'm ready. What do you think?"


"Most definitely. Let's go."

Dark brows raised in surprise at what she saw. Michelle was talking and laughing with two women. "Well, that's something I definitely didn't think I would see." Bobbi stood there and watched. "Remember, boy, when she was even scared to talk to me?"


"Look at her. She has the strength that most of us wish we had, and I don't think that she really knows it. Chelle's really comin' into her own, and she brought me with her." Bobbi's eyes were trained on the petite blonde seeing the way her nose crinkled when she laughed and the way the slight wind ruffled her hair. The afternoon sun shined on blonde locks making them almost white. She was a vision. The light gravitated toward her as did the two women as they leaned forward vying for her attention. Bobbi was utterly enchanted, and her heart fluttered in acknowledgement. So beautiful, and she wants to be with me.

Michelle felt a tingle race its way up her spine, causing gooseflesh to form. The feeling of being watched was strong. She glanced up and felt the breath leave her. The tingles grew to electric jolts that careened throughout her body. Blue met green, and there was if no one else existed. Michelle heard Tammy and Cheryl's voice as if they were distant echoes. The only audible sound was the roar of her heart. The petite blonde sat trapped in a sparkle of blue. It felt like drowning, but there was no fear, only a curiosity of what it would feel like when she was completely submerged. She looks at me as if I'm the most important thing in the world, and I feel that way.

Forever drawn to the petite woman, Bobbi moved forward. Taz followed her lead, but did not waste any time getting back to his mistress. Confused by the blonde woman's lack of response, Tammy and Cheryl screeched at the arrival of the dog. Taz ignored them and took his place by Michelle's side, but her attention was elsewhere.

The two women turned and followed Michelle's line of sight. They then glanced at each other. Tammy took a long look at Michelle's face and stood up. She helped her friend up too. They both felt the thickening and charging of the air around them as the tall brunette got closer.

Bobbi felt a slow, sexy smile form as she finally go to the blanket. She peered down at the blonde. "Hey, you," she muttered huskily. God, the way she looks at me. It makes me feel like I could take on the world and win.

Michelle closed her eyes for a second, enjoying the shiver that shot through her body. "Hey," the blonde whispered back. Toby squealed and began to squirm in earnest with the appearance of the doctor.

Bobbi chuckled. "Hey there, Peanut. I see you made some friends."

Michelle blushed. "Oh, sorry. This is. . ." What were they're names again? What on earth does she do to me?

Seeing the other blonde's plight, Tammy introduced herself and her friend.

Bobbi nodded. "Nice to meet you. I would shake your hands, but I'm a little over run here." All sets of eyes looked at the plates in her hand.

"It's okay. We were just keeping Jo company. We're about to leave anyway," Tammy muttered. She grabbed her friend by the arm. "It was great meeting you and Toby, Jo. Hope you have a nice time here."

"You too," Michelle murmured distractedly.

The two women walked away. Cheryl nudged her friend. "You didn't have a chance from the beginning."

"I know, but wow, I want someone to look at me like that someday." Tammy commented.



Putting Toby on the blanket, Michelle stood up on her knees to take the plates. She looked at them with wide eyes. "Wow, who's going to eat all that?"

Bobbi sniggered. "We are, and Taz is gonna help." She fished the drinks out of her pockets. "A Dr. Pepper for you and one for me." The doctor plopped down on the blanket. "Seems like I was gone forever."

Michelle snatched a chip from one of the plates and murmured, "Felt like it too."

Their eyes met, and the air sizzled. Bobbi reached out a hand to cup a cheek. Busy fingers bypassed soft skin to go to the softer, wetter kind. Michelle whimpered as a thumb traced over her bottom lip. The doctor sucked in a breath.

"Bobbi?" Michelle squeaked. Her belly clenched in need.

"I know," was the brunette's hoarse reply. Reluctantly, her hand fell away. Bobbi cleared her throat. She said it was all right to touch her, but maybe I wanted a little more than that. With shaky hands, she popped the top to her soda and took a long swig. Every time I touch her. It gets harder to stop and much more intense. Needing a distraction, she reached for Toby, who came into her arms gladly. "You missed me didn't you, Peanut?" Toby cooed and shoved the keys in her face.

Bobbi glanced back up at Michelle to see her biting her lower lip. "Ah, ah, ah!"

The blonde blushed and let go of the piece of flesh. "Oops." I almost did it. I almost asked her not to stop.

"Uh huh, oops."

"Can I ask you something?"

Bobbi munched on a chip. "You know you can."

"It's really going to be like that every time isn't it?" Michelle's gaze was steady.

"Whatcha mean?" She paused and studied green eyes. "Oh, you mean.. . Oh God, I hope so."

"That's good to know. I. . I didn't want you to stop right then."

The doctor swallowed. "Then one of us has to be stronger because I didn't either."

Jade eyes widened. "I guess we're in a fix then, huh?" One that I'm not sure I want to end.

"Mmm, you could call it that, but I wouldn't have it any other way."

The petite blonde swallowed nervously. Will she think the same way when she sees the scars? "I don't think I would either, but I'm not ready for it to go—"

"And that's okay." Bobbi interrupted. "I'll wait as long as you need me to." Shower massage. Gotta get one. "Now, let's not worry about that right now." The doctor threw a hot dog in Taz's direction. He snatched it out of the air. "Let's eat before it gets cold."

Michelle nodded and poked at the barbecue pork rib. Bobbi watched and chuckled. "No, no that's finger food. The fork is for the side dishes." She leaned over the blonde's plate. "Let me?" She sat Toby on the blanket.

"Sure." Michelle responded as she shoved the napkin in her t-shirt collar.

With quick hands, Bobbi took the rib apart and lifted it towards the blonde's mouth. "It's messy food. You're supposed to get it all over you."

Michelle cupped the doctor's hand and took a bite of the meat. With sauce covering her lips, the blonde spoke, "Oh, this is good!"

"Mmm hmm, told ya." She dug a fork into the potato salad. "Here you take the rib and try some of this too." She lifted the fork the petite woman's mouth. Bobbi smiled as the blonde groaned at the taste. It's like watching a kid experiencing everything for the first time.

With her mouth full, Michelle mumbled, "What about you. Are you gonna eat?"

"Yeah, but I like feeding you better."

Michelle chuckled, "Does this mean that I get to feed you too?"

"Hmm, I think I'll like that too." The brunette threw another hot dog in the Huskie's direction. It landed by Toby, who fingered it happily before Taz had a chance to get his hands on it.

Michelle reached over, pilfering the doctor's fork and scooping up baked beans with it. "Here you go."

Bobbi opened wide and hummed in contentment. "These are good too. Not too sweet just the way I like them."

They traded forkfuls of food back and forth chuckling at the near misses. Bobbi gulped down the rest of her soda. "Ohh, that was so good." She glanced at Michelle, who was looking at her strangely. "What?"

Michelle covered her mouth with a hand in an attempt to choke back her laughter. It came anyway. "You . . .look like Toby after he's had his cereal!"

"Oh, har har." The doctor wiped at her mouth and cheeks with the back of her hand. "Did I get it?"

Still brimming with laughter, Michelle answered breathlessly. "No, but you smeared it real good!"

Bobbi rolled her eyes and chuckled. "You know you're one to laugh. Miss I got a barbecue sauce mustache."

Faking indignance, Michelle cried, "I do not!"

"Unh huh. You 'd better see to it too. It could be dangerous when it hardens. Something might start growing under there." Blue eyes were wide and frightened.

Michelle howled loud and deep with laughter. She doubled over and held her stomach. After a few minutes a few stares later from both the dog and baby, the laughter died down. The blonde raised a napkin to wipe her mouth, seeing a smear of sauce coloring it. "God, I don't ever remember laughing like that."

"Me either. We need to do it more often. You have a beautiful laugh by the way." Bobbi added.

A flush stole over the blonde's face. So sweet.

"You're full of surprises too. I didn't expect to see you talking to anyone when I came back. It's like you're blooming more everyday."

Michelle shrugged. "They were nice and more into Toby than me. He's what do they call it? A chick magnet."

Bobbi let out a bark of laughter. I wonder how I'm doing so far? "You having a good time?"

The blonde did not hesitate to answer. "Yeah, I am. Things come so easy between us."

"Noticed that months ago." She glanced up at the afternoon sky. "God, it's so beautiful here." Her gaze went back to her companion. "Of course, it's beautiful right here too." So mushy, and it keeps coming out. Bobbi waited for the blush and smiled when it came. "Get used to me saying things like that to you. You're gonna hear them a lot."

Michelle beamed. "I kinda got that feeling." She reached out for the doctor's hand, resting on her knee, and intertwined their fingers. The petite woman brought it to her lips and kissed the back of the appendage. She pressed her mouth into soft skin and closed her eyes, savoring the moment. She means so much to me.

Bobbi watched in reverent silence. She did not give a damn about who else was watching. How can one person make me feel so much? I didn't know it was possible until now. She smiled softly when green eyes opened and met hers. "What's that for?"

Michelle grinned back shyly. "For everything." A comfortable silence stretched between them as their gazes turned from each other to Toby, who chewed on his keys and scooted around the blanket under Taz's watchful eye. Long minutes later, Bobbi threw the Huskie a rib bone as she moved the plates out of the way. She sighed in contentment and lay down on her stomach. Big hands reached out to the grass, picking a bunch of dandelions. I bet she would love this. Anything to see you smile, Chelle.

Michelle watched out of curiosity as the doctor's long fingers worked busily. She scooted closer. "What are you doing?"

"Hmm, oh, when I was little we used to make jewelry out of these." She paused as she linked the last flower. Sitting up on her elbows, Bobbi smiled. "This one is for you. Can I?"

"Ohh, that's so sweet. No one ever . . ." She leaned forward, feeling a soft brush against her hair as Bobbi put the string of flowers around her neck. The doctor pushed bangs off the blonde's forehead and graced it with a kiss. "I know--something special just for you."

Michelle tried to swallow the ball of emotion lodged in her throat. "You make me feel. . ." She turned away as the warmth between them swamped her.

Bobbi placed fingers under the other woman's chin, lifting her head. "It's okay. Tell me."

The blonde hesitated for only a second. "Like. . .I deserve the world."

Bobbi cursed the blonde's family once more. "Oh, you do, Chelle, and a whole lot more."

"I look into your eyes, and I believe it," Michelle whispered. The look between them intensified. "I wish I could kiss you now." Michelle felt a frission of awareness snake up her spine, leaving her whole body tingling.

The doctor's breath quickened. "Why don't you? Is it because of the people around us?"

"No, I don't really care about that, remember?"

"Then, what?"

"Because. . .I feel like I'm going to explode." Michelle husked.

Bobbi bit off a whimper as her stomach knotted almost painfully. "Oh, God, Chelle." Her hand slipped around the blonde's neck, pulling her forward until their foreheads touched. Their breaths mingled. The doctor closed her eyes briefly, trying to calm herself. When they opened, she whispered, "Maybe we should walk around."

Michelle nodded, "Yeah, maybe you're right."

Bobbi threw the plates into the trash receptacle nearby while Michelle put Toby in his stroller and folded the blankets. Meeting up again, the doctor pushed the stroller, the blonde carried the blankets, and Taz followed behind them.

Bobbi scanned their surroundings. "Let's go check out the stands they were building. Should be something interesting over there."

"Okay, sounds good." Michelle brought her hand up, caressing the soft flowers around her neck.

Bobbi smiled at the action. "Like those don't you?"

Michelle grinned back. "I love them, and I'm not taking them off." I have to find someway to keep these. “You should have shown me how to make them. I would have made you one.”

”It's okay.” Bobbi fiddled with the chain around her neck.

”What does that charm mean anyway? Does it have something to do with medicine?”

The doctor's expression was thoughtful. “In a way it could, but it's really the Chinese symbol for strength. I was gonna get a tattoo of it, but I chickened out at the last minute. I don't know why I still have it. It never worked for me. I consider you more my good luck charm.”

”I could say the same for you, Me and Toby's life has really changed for the better.” Michelle commented. After a few seconds of silent contemplation, with a smirk, she added, “Would you get that tattoo now?”

Bobbi stopped mid-stride. “Hell no. It would still hurt.”

Remembering Kevin's favorite word, the blonde muttered it under her breath playfully, “Wuss.”

Blue eyes squinted. “Hey, I'm standing right here you know. I heard that. You're just full of yourself aren't ya?”

Michelle nodded her head and smiled sweetly, “Uh huh.”

”You are so gonna pay for that.” Bobbi scanned the crowd. Satisfied that no one was really watching, she swatted the blonde's posterior region. The brunette smiled in satisfaction at Michelle's squeal. “I really, really need to have a talk with those two boys.”

Michelle chuckled in delight and moved out of the way of roaming hands. I love this playfulness between us. I'm having so much fun!

As if watching a tennis match, Taz's head went from side to side with great interest.

The couple began walking again. Bobbi pointed. “Hey that looks like a souvenir booth over there.” They turned to the right heading for the crowded booth. With a hand at the blonde's back the doctor pushed her way through the crowd, seeing that most of the people standing there were not even customers. Pretty soon, they stood in a short line, peering at the various stuffed toys, key rings, calendars, t-shirts, etc. “Know what you want?”

”No, let's get closer first,” Michelle responded

The line thinned out even more, revealing two familiar figures up front. Bobbi pursed her lips and smiled almost evily. “I think that I'm gonna have a little fun with those two.”

Michelle chuckled. “Then this should prove to be interesting.”

Bobbi pushed the stroller closer and leaned forward tapping Kevin on the shoulder. When one turned, the other one followed. “Boys,” she said with saccharine sweetness.

They brightened upon seeing the two women. “Hey, Doc B!” Kevin nearly shouted.

”And friends.” Cam added.

”Hey guys,” Michelle said by way of greeting. She rolled her eyes as Cam nearly tripped over himself trying to get to the baby.

”So, what's up doc?” Kevin inquired. Cam nudged his friend then hi-fived him for the use of the pun.

Bobbi narrowed her eyes and tried to look as menacing as she could without making herself laugh. She saw two sets of eyes widen, and a pair of green ones shine with mirth. “I want to know who—“ She did not even get to finish the sentence.

Kevin pointed toward his friend. “He did it!”

Cam smacked the appendage away. “Nuh uh! I've been standing here with you the whole time.” He paused. “What did I do?” Cam asked out of sheer curiosity.

Michelle sputtered out a bark of laughter, and as the blue gaze turned on her, she laughed harder. Knowing that her little skit was blown all to hell, Bobbi began to chuckle too. “You didn't do anything. Now, what's good at this booth.”

The two boys glanced at each other before glancing back at the women. “Weird,” Kevin muttered.

”I heard that!” Bobbi exclaimed while the blonde woman went through more fits of laughter. “He's calling us weird?” The doctor whispered out the side of her mouth, causing Michelle to nearly double over.

After sobering a few long minutes later, they found themselves scanning the booth again. Michelle pointed toward a row of stuffed animals. “Hey those look like Taz! They even have sun glasses on!”

Bobbi nodded her head, motioning for the vendor to bring one down. The brunette handed it to her companion. “You like it?”

”Hold on a minute.” Michelle sat the blankets on the counter before retrieving the stuffed toy. She held it in front of Taz, who sniffed it , sneezed, and gave her a strange look.

”I don't think he likes it,” Bobbi snickered.

”I want it anyway. I think they're cute.”

”Well, he should go nicely with the rabbit I bought you a while back.”

”Mmm, I think he will. I sleep with her almost every night you know.”

”Oh. . .you do?” For some reason the admission made the doctor weak in the knees.

Kevin and Cam watched the exchange in wide-eyed silence. “Um, we're gonna go, Doc. I hear there's a fireworks stand a little further down.”

”Okay, guys. We'll stop embarrassing you. Anything else interesting around here?”

Kevin blushed. “I hear there's karaoke somewhere around here.”

”Ah, really?” An idea began to grow. If you can't embarrass yourself in front of a lot of people for the woman you care for, who else can you do it for? You are so gonna remember this day, Chelle “Well, we'll let you go fellas. See ya.”

Michelle smiled and muttered, “Bye,” as the two boys turned to go.

Bobbi grabbed the blankets and set the on top of the hood of the stroller. “There that's better. Now, you're free to carry your little puppy.” She dug money out of her pocket, and gave it to the vendor. “The nerve of them calling us weird, huh?”

Michelle chuckled, “Yeah, right.”

”Well, c'mon. Let's go exploring.”

They went from booth to booth, picking up desert of homemade sticky buns, cotton candy, and fruit icees along the way. A stop to the bathroom was made also to change Toby and relieve themselves. Finally, Bobbi spotted what she wanted to see. The sounds of Gloria Gaynor's “I Will Survive” surrounded them as did the off key vocalizing of the man singing and dancing on top of the platform. The doctor smiled in an effort to get rid of her sudden fit of nerves. “Um, why don't you take him? I'll be right back.”

Confused, Michelle pulled the stroller closer to her and watched as Bobbi disappeared in the crowd. Taz went to follow but was told to stay where he was. What is she up to?

Again, Bobbi pushed her way through the crowd and commenced to paying off people who were ahead of her in line. As the man began to end his song, the doctor sorted through the music titles, trying to find something to fit the moment. Her eyes brightened. “Whoa, didn't expect to see that one here,” she whispered to herself. “It's perfect.”


Slightly exasperated and near giving up, Janine wandered toward the larger crowd, hearing the awful vocalization of the man on the stage. What is the point in this? I have to keep asking myself. I'm so tired of hurting people, but I'm tired of being hurt too. Bobbi made that go away for just a little while. She sifted through the melee of people, craning her neck to look here and there.


Bobbi got up on stage and whispered to the technician to adjust the microphone volume. She peered into the crowd looking for the blonde but had no success. I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't sing! She swallowed the nervous ball in the throat and spoke into the mic. “Um , excuse me, but will, uh, Jo, please come forward. Please let her through. She's in a pink shirt and blue jeans with a nice looking dog and cute kid by her side.” God, I'm sorta outing the both of us with this, but I don't recognize any of these people.

Michelle looked around at the sudden murmuring of the crowd. That voice. No way. Couldn't be. The people around her looked from let to right until someone poked her from behind. “Hey, I think she's talking about you.”

Michelle glanced at the man then scanned the vicinity to see quite a few eyes on her. Whoa. “Um, what?”

”The woman on the stage. She's asking you to move up front. You're Jo, pink shirt, nice dog and cute kid, right?”

The blonde looked down at her attire. “Yeah—“

”Then go on up there. I'll help make way.” He paused and cupped his hands around his mouth “I found her. Let her through!” He screamed. The crowd parted like the Red Sea. Some folks smiled at her while others just looked on in intrigue. What is going on here? This is way too strange. Michelle got to the front and glanced up to see Bobbi standing there with mic in hand. Her confusion multiplied. One azure eye closed on a wink, and the doctor mouthed the words, "It's okay." She flipped her unencumbered hair back out of the way and with a brisk nod signaled the platform owner to start the music. Bobbi cleared her throat and began to sing along with the words on the screen. Okay, here goes nothing.

Your love is better than ice cream
Better than anything else that I've tried
You love is better than ice cream
Everyone here knows how to fight

The brunette's voice shook with nervousness but she continued to sing, albeit rather badly.

Michelle's mouth dropped open and her heart jumped into her throat. A heat infused her, pooling an incredible warmth into her insides. She's singing to me! I'll never forget this day. Never!. The blonde beamed as she looked up at her friend, hoping the brunette could see the appreciation and awe that she was feeling. A few cat calls, boos, and claps made Michelle flush with embarrassment, but it was worth it. She watched the doctor move slowly across the stage. She was the picture of beauty. The white t-shirt made her skin seem darker. The muscles in her arm flexed slightly as she worked the microphone. Sable hair fell down her back in a slight wave, and she stood tall, majestic. The faded jeans clung to her legs making them seem like they went on forever. The doctor looked good but sounded terrible, but to Michelle it did not matter.

It's a long way down
It's a long way down
It's a long way down to this place where we started from

Shocked at the sound of the doctor's voice. Janine moved quickly through the throng of people, pushing her way toward the front. She got closer and closer. Until, she could actually see what was going on. The nurse's heart lurched in her chest then shattered. She covered her mouth to hide a sob. I'm tired of hurting. So tired.

Bobbi peered down at Michelle, and she could not take her eyes away. She kneeled down, needing to be closer. The blue gaze was intense. Believe every word I'm singing, Chelle. The doctor continued to warble.

Your love is better than chocolate
Better than anything else that I've tried
Oh, love is better than chocolate
Everyone here knows how to cry

Michelle stood there mesmerized as their months together flashed before her eyes. She was always there during the good, the bad and the worst. This is who I want to be with. I don't care if I'm gay, straight, or whatever. I finally know what I want, and I'll do what I need to do to keep it.

It's a long way down
It's a long way down
It's a long way down to the place where we started from. . .

After a few seconds, the music died down, but the air was still alive with the sound of laughter, whistles, applause, and some mutters of disgust. Bobbi ignored them all. Yep, made a huge ass of myself, but she loved it. I think. She sat the microphone down in the appropriate spot and jumped off the stage, landing right in front of the petite blonde. The doctor smiled shyly and slipped her hands deep into her pockets. "Um, so what did you—"

"You're incredible. You know that?" Instead of waiting for an answer, Michelle pulled the taller woman into a fierce hug. "Thank you so much for making this day so special." Her voice was hoarse and full of emotion.

Bobbi buried her face in wheat colored hair. " Thanks, but this one isn't over yet," she mumbled. So this is romance. I can do this everyday if this is the result. The doctor pulled back and glanced at some of the people who were still staring. She grabbed the blonde's hand but decided to place it at the small of her back, leaving the blonde's hands free for the stroller. "C'mon. It's getting dark. Let's go see what other trouble we can get into."


Purposely disappearing back into the crowd, Janine watched them go. Everything hurt. Her head throbbed along with each beat of her heart, and it felt as though she was moving through mud. Her feelings and reality put her at a crossroads of sorts. The need to go nurse her wounds was great, but the need to see, to believe and to understand was greater. With her decision made, Janine followed the couple from a discreet distance.


Bobbi found a spot as close to the lake as possible. She spread the blankets out under a copse of trees that still gave them a view of the rapidly darkening sky. She sat down and waited for the blonde and baby to join her. Taz lay down by her side. The doctor smiled and scratched behind his ears. Astute blue eyes scanned their surroundings, seeing very few people. Good.

Michelle cooed at Toby, and he yawned in return. "Somebody's sleepy, huh?"

The baby gurgled.

"Well, let's get out of this stroller and onto a blanket." That's where your mother's going to be. I need to be near her right now. However, for the moment, her face creased in concern. "Bobbi? Should we be worried about bugs being this close to the water?"

The doctor grunted and reached for the diaper bag. "I thought about that. Got some stuff for Toby and us too." She rifled through the bag, finally pulling a can of Off and a bottle of special lotion for the baby. "Here you might want to go ahead and put this on him, and I'll get up and go spray myself. The fumes might bother him."

After feeding Toby again, Michelle headed away with the spray can in her hand, glad for the strategically placed lamps strung up in the lower trees. As she made her way back, a strange look covered her face. Laying on her back but propped up on her elbows, Bobbi frowned in worry. "What is it?"

Michelle shrugged as she took her place on the blanket. "Don't know just a strange feeling."

"You didn't see anybody did you?"

"No. It was probably my imagination," Michelle answered.

"Okay, if you're sure." The brunette let her voice trail off as a smile formed. She patted the other side of the blanket. "Come over here then. We can look up at the stars until the fireworks start."

"Kay, I'm coming." Michelle glanced at Toby to see him asleep. She sighed in contentment as she took a seat. She lay on her side using her elbow and arm to prop her up. "Will we be able to see the fireworks from here. It seems kind of out of the way."

"Yeah, but I hope this tapers off some of the noise from them."

An easy silence lapsed between them. Michelle took this time to think about the day. She's been so good to me, but I thought she said that she was concerned about her practice? "Bobbi? What you did today was so wonderful, but there were a lot of people there. I know you did it for me, but I don't want your practice to get into trouble."

Bobbi turned toward the blonde, hearing the note of worry in her voice. I should have said something before. "You know, I can't believe that I said that now? That is not the most important thing in my life anymore. You guys are. I refuse to end up like my father. I know a good thing when I see one. I've been a part of this community for years including when I was little, and some of my patients know me from then. I don't think that I'm going to loose them, but if I do, I'll just do what I have to."

Flustered by the doctor's admission, it took a minute for the blonde to respond. "I sorta came to a similar decision myself. I know what I want now. I'm sure of it. It's you. Knowing this, it's still so hard to digest that you did all of this for me."

"Well, I did it for you and us. I did it for our family. I've been stumbling around for a long time, trying to find I didn't know what. I know what it is now. I look at all of you, and I know exactly what it is."

Michelle reached out for the doctor's hand, intertwining it with her own. "We've come a long way. Haven't we?"

Bobbi squeezed the hand in hers. "Very much so." Silence surrounded them except for the murmur of voices from further away. It gave them time to savor the moment and the admissions that had just been made.


Janine fought the bugs buzzing around her with half hearted slaps and gritted teeth in an attempt to keep from being discovered. She suddenly wished for a pair of jeans and a long sleve t-shirt rather than the brief shorts and tank she was wearing. The nurse ached to move closer and hear what was being said, but she blanched at the idea. It will only hurt worse, and doing this is not helping.


Michelle tried to follow the brunette's line of sight but was not having any luck. "What are you looking at?"

"The pattern of the stars." It was like watching the brightest of jewels sparkle against a black canvas. Bobbi lay flat on her back and pointed toward the night sky. "What do you think that is?"

Michelle lay down and narrowed her eyes in an attempt to see what the doctor was seeing. "Where? There?" She pointed to a spot just to the side of the brunette's raised arm.

"No, no." Bobbi took the blonde's hand and angled it. "Here. Where this big glob is. What does that look like to you?"

The petite blonde squinted and moved her head to the side. "A cow."

Bobbi sputtered. "You're kidding? That is so plainly a horse. I don't know anything about the constellations, but that is definitely a horse."

"Mmm, looks like a cow to me. "See those little round clusters in the middle of the body? They're spots. See a cow."

The doctor snorted. "If you say so." She peered at another area for a minute. "Now, that looks like a crouching tiger. What do you think?" She moved the blonde's hand toward the sight.

"I don't think so. See how the ears stick up and are long. It's a rabbit."

Bobbi groaned then chuckled. "I haven't done this since I was a kid, and Stevie and I used to get into arguments all the time just like we just did. He used to get so mad that he would go get mom to agree with him. The funny thing was," the doctor laughed, "she always saw something completely different."

"Must have been a lot of fun being with them like that." It must feel a lot like I'm feeling now—content, settled and safe.

"Yeah, it was. I still miss them, but it's a little easier with you here." She paused and looked out at the lake. "Hey, I got an idea. Do you wanna go wade in the water? We still have a few minutes before the fireworks start."

"Sure. Let me get my shoes off and roll up my jeans."

Taz stayed behind and moved closer to the slumbering child.

Michelle watched and waited for the brunette to test the water. Bobbi stuck her foot in tentatively. "Ohh, it's warm! C'mon in." She waded out further, letting the water creep over her calves. The blonde followed but stopped when the water started soaking into her jeans.

"I'm getting wet!"

"So what! It's part of the fun!"

Michelle chuckled and went further in. "Ohh, this feels good!" She inched up beside the brunette.

"Yeah, just what the doctor ordered."

The blonde rolled her eyes at the smart remark and splashed water in her friends direction, soaking the front of her jeans. Green eyes widened. "Whoops!"

Blue eyes narrowed. "Uh huh." Hesitating for only a second, Bobbi retaliated.

Water splashed everywhere and giggles filled the air. "Are you having fun now, doctor?" Michelle asked between peels of laughter.

"Oh yeah!" Bobbi lunged, intending to grab her companion.

Michelle squealed and bolted out of the way, heading back to the shore. The energy dispensed laughing slowed her down, but she made it to the grass unscathed before hands grazed her back. The blonde wiggled out of the way and broke into a run, with the blankets in sight.

Bobbi laughed and followed.

Out of breath, Michelle leaned against a tree for support. She tried to take off again when the brunette came into sight, but this time, she was not quick enough. "Gotcha!" Bobbi wrapped strong arms around the blonde, bringing her into direct contact with her body. They were both drenched. Michelle shivered at the contact that was at once cold then unbelievable hot. Her torso felt naked, even more so when breasts touched. She sucked in a breath at the surprisingly arousing contact. Remembering all the touches, kisses and near misses of the day sent a strong bolt of arousal shooting through the blonde, landing in the pit of her stomach to trickle down to parts south, causing her to arch into the doctor to seek closer contact.

Bobbi let out a startled moan at the result of petite woman's actions. A thick, syrupy heat infused her, making her feel heavy and damp. She groaned at the feel of small h ands tangling in her hair. Oh, God. "Chelle—"

"God! Kiss me, Bobbi! Please?!"

Their lips met with savage intensity, rocking them both. Twin moans filled the air. Bobbi pressed the blonde into the tree. The need to get closer was paramount. Tongues and lips meshed moistly, greeting each other in an erotic dance. Bobbi slid her hands from back to hips, pulling Michelle into the heat of her body and keeping her there. They were both startled by the reverberation of an explosion, but they clung to each other nonetheless. Worried, unfocused eyes looked around then up to see the sky exploding in an array of colors that changed as they shimmied down in blues, greens, and reds. Toby let out a wail to protest the noise.

Michelle chuckled and buried her face into the brunette's neck, grazing the skin there with her lips. "I guess the fireworks started," she mumbled.

Bobbi swallowed as lips passed over a particularly sensitive spot. "Oh, yes they did. Big time. Happy 4th of July, Chelle." They held each other and a few more kisses were shared before the broke apart to deal with the irate baby.


Still hidden behind some trees, Janine sobbed quietly but forced herself to watch. I don't know. I just don't know anymore.

Taz's head lifted at the minute sounds. His ears twitched and he sniffed the air, before casing the area with keen eyes. Seeing nothing, he laid back down, but ears remained perked waiting to hear the foreign sound.


Some time later, they walked through the main area toward the car. Bobbi glanced at the woman walking beside her. "So, did you have a good time?"

Michelle smiled. "I can't imagine it being better. I don't think that I'll never forget it."

"Good, that's what I was aiming for. C'mon. Let's get you and the Peanut home."

"Wuff." Taz barked, clearly offended.

"And your little dog too!"


"Okay, your big dog!" Bobbi chuckled, and Michelle joined in.

"Hold that thought. Let me run to the bathroom. I don't think I can hold it till we get home."

"Okay, do you need me to come with you?"

"No, it's okay. I recognize this area. I'll be okay getting back to the car. You take Toby and go on. I'll meet you there." As Michelle turned to go, the doctor motioned for Taz to follow.

Aware of the dog, Janine followed from a distance.

Taz waited outside the stall door and moved away at the sound of the toilet flushing. He straightened up to his full height as another woman entered. He canted his head to the side recognizing the scent from the doctor's office.

The nurse headed straight for the sink, trying to mask her fear of the dog and of herself. She ran her wrists under cold water, hoping to slow her pounding pulse. I've warded women off before, but it never made me feel like this. Now, it just feels wrong.

Taz looked up at his mistress as she opened the stall door. Michelle smiled down at him. "Let me wash my hands, boy, and we can go." The Huskie followed her toward the sink, keeping a wary eye on the other woman.

Janine turned around, surprised by the gentle tone of the blonde's voice. Her eyes widened at her first real look at the petite woman. She's beautiful. She observed a little longer. And she looks vaguely familiar. I never forget a face or a name that's what makes me a good nurse. Green eyes flicked her way.

Michelle smiled softly at the woman. "I didn't know anybody else was here." I guess once I started this. I can't stop—the new me. "Did you enjoy the day?"

Janine nodded and tried to smile. She failed but succeeded in avoiding the blonde's eyes. Michelle tried to move forward, but a nudge against her leg stopped her. Taz growled, now in tune with the confusing vibes teeming off the brunette. "Taz, stop that. She didn't do anything?" He growled again. Michelle pulled him back. "I'm sorry about that are you alright?"

Again, Janine nodded, but refused to meet the other woman's gaze. She moved away slightly. Her mouth opened to speak, but her voice came out in a hoarse whisper. "I. . .I thought I saw Bobbi here."

The blonde smiled at the mention of the doctor's name. "Oh, do you know her?"

"I'm. . .the new nurse she hired." With every word, the brunette's heart threatened to beat out of her chest.

"Oh? It's nice to meet you." Michelle held out her hand again. What am I doing, there's something strange about this woman. She won't look me in the eyes, and Taz was about to have a fit.

"Bobbi and I. ." she started. Pulling courage from somewhere, Janine raised her head and met the other woman's eyes. What she saw staggered her. Wrapped in that beauty and hidden deep in jade eyes was innocence and so much pain. She recognized it well. Oh God, I can't do this. Not now. I don't. . . Janine turned and ran from her thoughts and from the woman in the bathroom. She stopped and stumbled into nearby bushes, emptying the contents of her stomach.

Michelle blinked then looked down at the Huskie. "Okay, you told me so, but there must be something about her. Bobbi hired her after all." Refusing to cap of a perfect day with weirdness, Michelle shook her head and left the bathroom. They found their way to the jeep without any trouble. After letting Taz into the backseat, she got in herself.

Bobbi smiled at the blonde. "Ready to go?" She started the engine.

"Yeah, it's just that. . . ah, nevermind. I'll tell you later."

A dark brow rose. "Well, okay, so what do you want to do when we get home or are you tired?"

"No not really."

"Me either. It'll be kinda hard to top this. I don't think the day could get any better." Bobbi added as they turned off onto the highway.

Michelle grinned and fingered the dandelion necklace. "I agree totally." Perfect.

You thought Janine was going to do the deed didn't ya!? LOL don't you just love surprises. Please tell me you liked it. Drop me a line at Minerva

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