Disclaimer: No infringement was intended upon using a few lines from the song Lucystoners, written by the exceptionally talented Amy Ray!! Warning, extreme sexual content ahead, but judging by the title, you already know that. This is the third installment in a series of stories and in order to understand some of the plotlines you may want to read the first two, if you haven't already done so that is. Feedback to:
"…And I will need those quarterly reports by the 15th at the latest in order for Corporate to approve them before distribution to the appropriate divisions. Sincerely, Darcy Gardner, Vice President for West Coast Operations…blah, blah, blah and all the usual. That's it for today's dictation, Carla. Send one out to that idiot Paulsen at the plant and keep two copies for the files." Darcy clicked off the dictation machine and leaned back in her chair.
A promotion higher into the executive levels of the company hadn't made Darcy's job much more appealing, and dealing with morons who didn't know how to do their jobs was driving her stark raving mad. No, actually most of the time I'm just bored with it all. Stark raving bored. Is there even such a thing?
The brunette closed her eyes and pictured the one thing that provided an oasis of sanity in the desert of the inane in which she usually resided. Wilder McNeil, her love and her lover, always brought her back down to safe ground when the stress became almost Everest-like in its size.
Wilder's touch, her sense of humor, her love…there were so many good things about the barmaid that Darcy felt she could never adequately inventory it all. It had been almost five months since they had told their parents of their feelings and admitted them to each other. It was good, very good.
Neither of them had felt the urge to jump into living together though there were plenty of nights they stayed at each other's apartments. Wilder had once even joked that maybe they weren't lesbians after all because neither she nor the executive felt the need to rent a U-haul and move in together. Darcy and Wilder just seemed more comfortable keeping their own space... for now.
Darcy opened her eyes and turned slowly in her chair. Two large picture windows showed a spectacular view of the busy San Francisco business district. One of the perks of her new job was a corner office, but sometimes she missed her old one. She particularly remembered one steamy afternoon when she had looked out the window of her old office and saw Wilder looking up at her. It was the start of an unforgettable end to her workday.
Oh well, Darcy thought, at least I got to bring Carla with me. Her secretary enjoyed the raise in pay as much as Darcy and was one of the few people at the office who knew about her relationship with Wilder. Darcy was very proud of Wilder, but she wasn't ready to share her with everybody just yet. Just selfish I suppose, she chuckled to herself as she turned back to the mounds of work still to be waded through.
It was nearing noon and Darcy was more than ready to stop for a quick bite of lunch. She opened the top desk drawer and glanced into it. Besides the usual office supplies, there was a small, yellow Post-it note with reminders for her day. It was a habit she had picked up from her earliest times in the business world, and if the tasks she assigned herself on those notes weren't completed, somehow it felt like she wasn't through for the day.
Today's note was brief. There were a few small work related items, but in between each one were the words Call Wilder. Darcy remembered what had prompted her to write that directive over and over. She had spent the evening working at Wilder's apartment, slipped into Wilder's bed and then snuggled close to the blonde barmaid when Wilder finally got home after three a.m. Wilder was the hardest worker Darcy had ever known and the executive was touched when she went to the refrigerator in the morning to pour herself some orange juice and found a brown bag with her name on it.
Wilder had taken the time to pack her a lunch even though she had been on her feet all evening. A note written in Wilder's flowing script accompanied the simple fare.
Go out there and knock their socks off and after they're sockless, come back and knock off mine.
I love you. W.
Darcy had ambled back to the bedroom and just watched Wilder sleep for a minute. It was amazing that the blonde had art school during the day, worked at the bar at night and still found time to do small things that warmed the executive's heart. Darcy picked up the phone and dialed Wilder's number.
Within the private garage of a San Francisco apartment complex, Wilder McNeil worked diligently on her final art project. Welder in hand, the artist wielded the blue flame with expert precision. Metal molded against metal and russet sparks jumped into the air with an explosion of orange lightning. Dark protective gloves shielded her hands from the savage sparks and a transparent mask covered her face. However, both items seemed at odds with Wilder's choice of clothing. The faded denim dungaree shorts did little to protect her skin. A sheen of sweat covered her flesh and beads of perspiration trickled down the sides of her face.
The large, double garage came part and parcel with Darcy's loft apartment. The executive had given Wilder free rein to use the garage for her final arts exam preparations. Little did she realize Wilder's project involved such a conglomeration of junk metal. The scent of molten alloy alone was enough to repel other residents. A strong, heat infused aroma seeped around the underground parking facility like the early morning fog across the bay.
Headphones sitting snugly in her ears, Wilder sang along as she reinforced the base of her structure.
"...Rolling Stones most fearless leader,
Gave the boys what they deserved,
But with the girls he lost his nerve...
Woohoo now... Ooooooo!"
Usually the barmaid worked better during the afternoon, but she found she was unable to get back to sleep after she heard Darcy leave for work that morning. The warmth left behind by the executive's lithe body soon faded away, leaving a cold, unwelcoming absence in Wilder's double bed. Rather than attempt further slumber, Wilder rose, intent on a morning of creativity.
Turning off her blowtorch, Wilder placed it upon a set of metal stepladders. She took several steps backwards and studied the sculpture before her. It was almost complete. The vision within Wilder's mind had taken form before her. Many weeks of hard work were finally reaching fruition. The artwork was large, but its structure stood together in four portions, which Wilder could easily dismantle when transporting it to the university.
"Testing One… Two... Three in the market place,
Well it's a demographic base disgrace,
Stupid secret white boy handshake,
That we'll never be part of
So when it's DJ Blow in the..."
Wilder paused as she felt the distinct sensation of a vibration coming from her back pocket. Pulling the headphones from her ears she lifted the visor from her face and pulled Darcy's home phone out of her dungarees.
"Wilder McNeil's hot and steamy bordello of iniquity."
"If I didn't have caller ID I'd be getting worried right about now. I tried you at your place, but there was no answer."
The barmaid smiled to herself as she wiped another droplet of sweat from her brow. "Prices are a dime a minute, five cents after six, but for special customers... well, we can work something out."
Darcy played along. "And what counts as special?"
Wilder sat down on the lowest rung of the ladder. "Only you," she said quietly. "I missed you this morning. I woke when you left and then couldn't get back to sleep."
"I'm sorry I woke you. I wanted you to get a little more sleep. You came home so late last night... this morning! So, I take it that you being at my place means you're working?"
"Just about finished."
"And when am I going to see this masterpiece of yours?"
"Soon," Wilder replied. She heard Darcy's silky chuckle ripple down the phone line and shivered. "What?" she asked curiously, loving Darcy's laugh.
"You've been saying that for almost two weeks now. Tell me… how far will I get if I attempt to use my feminine wiles to get a sneak peek?"
Wilder felt her inner body temperature rise further, increasing the stifling, blowtorch-induced inferno of the garage. "I'm not working tonight, you know."
Of this fact, Darcy was well aware. It had been almost a week since the couple had spent the evening together. What with Darcy's added, work-related responsibilities and Wilder's busy bar and school schedule, she felt bereft of her lover's company. "I do have a meeting this afternoon and Lord knows how long it will take, but…"
"You'll try?" Wilder interrupted, hopefully finishing her sentence.
"Count on it." Darcy checked her watch. "Damn it."
The executive sighed down the phone line. "I've got to go… meeting."
Wilder pouted, though she knew it would do little good when she was on the wrong side of the phone line. "Okay."
"Pick that lip up!"
Pulling the receiver from her ear, Wilder looked at it in surprise. "How did you…?" She placed the phone back against her ear. "Never mind… tonight!" It wasn't a request. "You have a hot date waiting on you."
Darcy closed down her laptop and placed a stack of folders upon it. "Pretty full of yourself, aren't you?"
"Full of myself… no. Confident… yes. Come on, Darcy, admit it… Has there ever been anybody else to make you feel the way I do?" Wilder lowered her voice. "Just one look… a touch… a kiss… you know what you do to me. Fire licks every nerve like a savage beast out of control and hungry for passion. It's been a while, baby, and I'm famished." Wilder suddenly rose to her feet; she didn't want this to get out of control. "Anyway you have a meeting. Let me know what time you finish." She smiled slyly. "I'll be waiting!" With those words, Wilder disconnected the line.
On the opposite side of the phone, the receiver fell from Darcy's grasp and her head dropped to the desk just as Carla entered her office.
"Darcy… there's only five minutes until the meeting."
"She'll be the death of me," Darcy mumbled, once again feeling bereft and strangely unfulfilled.
Carla smiled at her boss, instinctively knowing whom Darcy was talking about. "Not a bad way to go though, right?"
The executive's laugh rumbled in agreement.
With only a minute to spare, Darcy entered the boardroom. Her near tardiness wasn't noticed, however, as the usual pre-meeting buzz was louder than normal. Taking her seat, she nodded her greeting to several other executives within the company. The whole upper management team is in town. I wonder what's up? she thought.
The meeting came to order with the entrance of Jake Warring, the company CEO. His commanding presence silenced the noisy gathering and all eyes were on him as he assumed his seat at the head of the table.
"Good morning, people," Warring began. "This will be a brief meeting. I just wanted to bring you all up to speed on our latest acquisition project. There hasn't been much publicity on this because we didn't want the stock price of the other company to go through the roof when it became known we were interested in it. Well, I would like you all to know that the contracts have finally been signed and delivered just this morning. We are now the majority owners of Timber West Limited!"
The enthusiastic applause that greeted the announcement was especially gratifying to Darcy. It had been on her recommendation that the company had sought out a business relationship with its newest purchase in the first place. Hours and hours of research had finally paid off. Warring didn't glance in her direction though as he raised his hand to silence the gathering.
"This new acquisition brings five field offices and two major plants into our fold and it's the first time we have a presence in Canada. After the papers were signed this morning, I discussed the situation with the members of the Board of Directors by phone and they agreed with my decision. Timber West Limited and its properties will be placed under the auspices of the person responsible for bringing this opportunity to our company. Thank you and kudos to Darcy Gardner." He looked at Darcy now, and smiled as he did so.
The executive was stunned. Never in her wildest imagination did she dream the company would reward her by placing a whole new division under her supervision. She couldn't speak as she received congratulations from several managers and envious looks from a few others.
"That's it for now people. Each of you will receive a packet from Corporate detailing the acquisition and what each of your divisions will need to know and do to bring Timber West Limited into the corporate family. Direct all inquiries to Darcy Gardner's office. Thank you for coming." Warring stood, effectively adjourning the meeting. "Darcy, would you stop by my office for a few minutes, please?" It was not a request and she knew it.
"Certainly, Mr. Warring. I'll be there immediately," Darcy said as she began to gather her files from where she had deposited them mere minutes earlier. She made her way through the other managers to follow the CEO to his office. It was the biggest and most luxurious one in the building and it made Darcy's look like a cracker box.
"Come on in," Jake Warring said, noticing her arrival in his office. "You looked a little surprised in the boardroom, Darcy," he said with a chuckle. "I was going to call you this morning, but I wanted to see the look on your face firsthand. You did a hell of a job on this project. The people in Mergers and Acquisitions said they had never seen such a thorough job of researching out a prospect." He waved his hand at a chair in front of his desk
"Thanks, Jake. You shocked me, no question about that," she said as she took the seat he indicated. "I never expected to get the division placed under West Coast Operations. I figured maybe you'd want to put someone fresh in charge of a new Canadian section."
Warring sat behind the desk. "I considered it, but I think Timber West will become better assimilated into the corporation if we have one of our experienced people working with them and not somebody new."
"I appreciate you giving me this trust. It's going to be a big job pulling in a whole other company. Give me a little time to get it all accomplished, okay? The difficult I can do immediately, the impossible may take a day or so longer."
Jake laughed at that. "Well I don't expect you to be Wonder Woman on this. Effective immediately, I want you to promote Carla to be your Executive Assistant and have her pull two people from the temp pool to be your new secretaries. Another couple of hands on board should help."
"It certainly can't hurt, Jake. I'll let Carla know about the situation right away." She rose to leave, but Warring motioned her to keep her seat.
"I want to tell you something before you go. I took a chance on you when I became CEO a few months back. You had been trying to push this company forward for a long time and I swore if I ever got in a position to put some of your ideas into practice, I would. You haven't let me down, Darcy. You've been very patient and put in an extraordinary amount of time on the things I've asked you to do and you will not find me ungrateful. I hope you enjoy the little bonus you're going to find with your next paycheck."
Darcy smiled wryly. "Thank you, Jake. More money is always welcome; trying to find the time to spend it seems to be the problem."
Warring considered this. "Maybe you can spend a few of those dollars on your trip."
His statement confused the brunette. "I don't know what you mean. I don't have any vacation scheduled and it's not likely I'll get some anytime soon with these new duties."
The CEO pressed a button on his intercom. "Alice, did Travel get the arrangements made I asked for?"
"Yes sir," came Alice's disembodied voice. "They were delivered while you were in the boardroom. I placed them in your in-basket."
Searching his in-basket, Warring came up with a hefty packet. "Got it, Alice. Thank you." He tossed the packet across at Darcy who caught it easily. "We need someone who knows the Canadian company thoroughly to go up there and start the ball rolling with the transfer of authority. You are that authority now, Darcy, so it might as well be you. I'd like you to leave next week. You'll need to visit the plants in Victoria and Calgary. Once they are in line, the field offices will run smoothly enough."
Darcy examined the packet. "How long do you think it will take?" she asked, thinking to herself how she and Wilder hadn't been separated for very long since the End of Summer Barbecue.
"I hope two weeks will do it," Warring said. "One week in Victoria and one in Calgary, starting next Monday. That's what I told Travel to arrange anyway. I don't think you'll need to be on the job all day, every day though. Maybe you can fit in some sightseeing and fun while you're there."
"Maybe," Darcy said, with an obvious lack of enthusiasm for the idea. "Maybe if I don't take a whole week in each place I can get back here quicker."
"Now that would be a shame, Darcy. I was hoping you'd be able to mix business with a little well-deserved relaxation." Jake Warring was barely able to hide his grin of amusement as he raised his hands in mock surrender. "But if you're sure you don't want to take some time off I suppose I can cancel both tickets and change the schedule."
"Both?" Darcy asked.
"Well, I took the liberty of having the arrangements made for a party of two." He waited as she absorbed what he was saying. Jake Warring was another of the very few in the company who knew about Darcy and Wilder. He stood and moved around his desk to his Vice-President. "Take the time, Darcy, and take Wilder to Canada."
The dark-haired executive thought about it for a moment and then smiled. "I'm going to do it, Jake! Two weeks above the border it is. I'm going to tell you thank you right now from the both of us. When Wilder hears about this, I think she's going to be very happy."
Maneuvering her truck into the empty parking lot of 'Leather and Chains', Wilder killed the engine and exited the vehicle. It was a relatively warm San Francisco afternoon and the sun peeked sporadically from behind light, wispy clouds. After a shower and change into a pair of jeans and one of Darcy's plaid shirts, Wilder remembered she needed to stop by the bar and pick up her paycheck. Mona, the new owner, arrived at four p.m. to get the bar ready for its evening's entertainments. Wilder pulled open the double doors of the bar to be greeted by a shriek of excitement.
"Wilder, girl, what brings your sexy ass down here, honey?" Mona's Hispanic accent was thick and brassy. "It's your night off, Chica!" The larger than life bar owner greeted Wilder with an overwhelming bear hug.
"Oh, Mona, you know I can't last a day without one of your kisses!"
"Honey, don't you know it's true." Mona planted a kiss upon Wilder's cheek. Her head of thick, curly black hair momentarily engulfed the blonde. It was self-styled on 'Her Majesty, Queen Cher.' "Honey Cheeks, if I thought I had any chance in making your toes curl, like that lady of yours, I'd be laying my best moves on you."
"Mona, you know I like my women with just a little less…" Wilder paused to choose a phrase diplomatically. "Lower attachments!"
"You won't be saying that when I have the final operation, babe. I'll be one hundred percent woman with my own special brand of frosting."
"Yeah," Wilder took a step backwards to lean against the bar. "And it's that extra frosting that scares me!"
Mona walked around the bar and pulled out two glasses from underneath the counter. "Too much woman for you to handle?" she asked, while half filling the glasses with soda.
Wilder laughed. "Hey, I've never met a woman I couldn't handle. It's just that I've got both hands full with one very special lady, and I kind of like it that way."
Pushing one of the glasses towards Wilder, Mona asked, "So tell me, how did you meet this woman of yours?" One painted red nail glided around the rim of her glass. "I've been here for three months now and she's never graced my fabulous establishment with her presence."
A warm smile lit up Wilder's face. "Hmm… I've known Darcy since I was seven years old and she was fifteen."
"She moved into the house next door to ours."
"Eight years between you two, huh? Next you're going to tell me she was your babysitter!"
Wilder grinned and sat on a stool opposite Mona. "Actually, she was."
Mona folded her arms and leaned against the bar, facing Wilder. "Please tell me I'm not about to hear something possibly illegal!" The club owner wafted her face with her right hand in faux distress. Silver bangles jingled around her wrist.
"God no," Wilder laughed, "but I had a crush on her from virtually day one! She, on the other hand, saw me as a little sister. I was the scrawny kid from next door who used to sit on the sidewalk waiting for her to come home from school... just to see her smile was enough to make my day." Wilder stared down into her drink, almost embarrassed by her confession. "I didn't have any words or even a recognition of my feelings. I just knew the girl who lived next door was 'way cool.'"
"So skip to the interesting parts, Chica. When did the two of you hook up?"
"Ah… now that's an interesting story!"
"Baby girl, I ain't going nowhere. Now spill it!"
Wilder took a drink as memories of how she and Darcy came together flooded her mind. "Well, as strange as this may sound… it was actually a bet."
The barmaid shook her head. "No. During a late night phone conversation, in which Darcy and I discussed her lack of sexual satisfaction with men, I basically bet her I could give her the best sex she'd ever had. Four orgasms in one night to be exact. I suggested maybe she'd never had good sex with a man because she was looking in the wrong place... so to speak."
"And she took your bet?"
"After ironing out the stakes… yes."
"Whoa!" Taking another glass from a top shelf, Mona poured herself a shot of whiskey. She drank the liquor down in one gulp. "Maybe I should be sitting for the rest of this. What were the stakes?"
"If Darcy won and she wasn't completely satisfied, then I'd treat her to a weekend at that famous spa in Napa… plus she'd get bragging rights over me."
"And if you won?"
"Unlimited Sexual Favors."
"Favors… yes." A sly grin encompassed Wilder's lips.
Mona blinked several times, long black lashes fanning rouged cheeks. She remained silent and Wilder wondered if she had finally accomplished what was considered the impossible. Was Mona lost for words? The club owner's silence, however, didn't last long. "Oh Lord, I knew it when I woke up this morning; the day had to get better than that awful dream I had about being a bikini waxer at the Miss America pageant!"
"How could you possibly have a bad dream about that?" Wilder asked, deciding Mona needed to impart her knowledge on how to have such 'interesting' dreams.
"All the contestants were drag queens! Imagine my shock when I got down to the enjoyable part of my work." Mona patted her forehead. "I woke up in a cold sweat! Anyway, anyway… that's enough scary dreams for one day. So did you do it?"
"Rock her world to the power of four?"
Wilder smirked. "Well put it this way… I never had to fork out for a weekend in Napa!"
"Oh, Mi Amore, you make your boss lady so proud." Mona reached for another bottle of liquor. "This is something to celebrate."
"Ah, no." Wilder covered her glass with one hand. "Driving."
"Of course, of course." Mona studied Wilder for a moment. "Let me guess… declarations of hidden feelings plus the discovery of deep-seated emotions equaled a blossoming love! Chica, I want to meet this woman of yours. You have to bring her down here one evening, or even better, during the day. No loud music, scantily clad women and pulsing bodies to divert my attention." Mona nodded enthusiastically.
Wilder drank down the last of her soda. "Uh huh. Why am I worried all of a sudden?" She rose from the barstool.
"Oh hush, baby, I promise not to scare her!" Mona walked over to the till and opened its drawer. She took out a small brown envelope and handed Wilder her paycheck. "I won't run her through the bar initiation or…" The bar owner stopped talking as the telephone began to ring. "Interruptions, interruptions... let me answer that… don't go anywhere!" The whirlwind breezed out through a private staff door.
Wilder smiled in the empty bar. She chuckled quietly to herself and sat back down, looking at the empty glass before her. Unlimited Sexual Favors. It had been months since Wilder last pulled that wild card. It wasn't a matter of the couple falling into a routine, as it was a simple case of two willing partners engaging in the act of making love whenever they so desired. Lifting the transparent container, she swirled around its remnants as her mind wandered. A warm ache coiled within the deep recesses of Wilder's stomach. Unlimited Sexual Favors. It had been at least four months, but the young barmaid felt the growing urge to re-introduce that facet back into her relationship with Darcy. She smiled slowly, excitedly, as a torrent of possibilities ran through her head.
Darcy turned the key in the lock of the door to her apartment, while juggling her briefcase and several bags. She heard the unmistakable sound of The Indigo Girls coming from the sound system inside and knew Wilder had beaten her home. The barmaid had become enamored of the womens' music and the poetic lyrics since she first heard them on the jukebox at 'Leather and Chains.' Darcy had to admit, the sound was growing on her as well.
Opening the door, the executive's breath was momentarily halted by the sight of a very sexy blonde lighting candles in the living room. Wilder wore low-slung black jeans with a tucked-in red silk shirt. She was singing softly along with the music. Turning, she spied Darcy standing in the doorway.
"That's what I like in a date…promptness." Wilder approached the brunette and relieved her of her bags. "And showing up bearing gifts is a nice trait too." She leaned up and gave her lover a tender and all-too-quick kiss. "I picked up some Chinese food; I didn't feel like waiting for something to start boiling when I've been simmering all day." She leaned in again and deposited another, slower kiss on Darcy's very grateful lips.
"Come in out of the hallway," Wilder said in a slightly louder voice when the kiss broke. "You've already captured me, there's no need to rub the neighbors' noses in it." She pulled Darcy in and kicked the door shut behind them.
"You know, Mrs. Maheris already knows you're a nut, you don't have to keep trying to impress that fact on her," Darcy said as she kicked off her shoes. "God, that feels good."
Wilder continued into the kitchen. "Oh hell, you know we're the only thing in this whole building worth her time at the peephole. This is better for her than an afternoon at the Senior Center."
"Probably," the executive agreed. She set her briefcase down near the door. Work was not on her agenda this evening. "Am I ever glad to see you," she said as she came up behind Wilder and wrapped her arms around her.
"And I'm glad to see this," Wilder replied, pulling out a very good bottle of champagne. "A night together is something worth celebrating, but you really pulled out all the stops."
"Open that while I get a couple of glasses, will you? I think we've got something more than a one week reunion to celebrate." She pulled open a kitchen cabinet and took two flutes from the shelf there.
"That would be reason enough for me, but I'm up for whatever you want to celebrate, as long as we eventually celebrate naked." Darcy blushed as Wilder worked on the bottle, smoothly sliding the cork out with only a soft pop and not a drop spilled. Darcy directed them to the couch, where she held out the flutes for Wilder to fill.
Placing a thoughtful look on her face, Darcy said, "Here's to…oh, I don't know…how about we drink to the Vice President of West Coast Operations, the whole new division under her supervision and the bonus soon to be on the way to her bank account?" She smiled with pride; she knew Wilder understood how much this meant to her.
"No shit?" Wilder asked. "Well, all that hard work you've been doing has finally paid off. I'm really happy for you. And I'll drink to that toast." They clinked the glasses together and took a sip of the bubbly liquid. "Damn, it's not every lesbian in San Francisco who has such a brilliant and successful girlfriend. Let's drink to me, too." That made Darcy smile and they sipped once again from the glasses. Wilder moved closer to kiss Darcy long and sweet.
"Now that's what I call a damn nice bonus," Darcy sighed as the kiss broke. She set their glasses on the table and moved into Wilder's arms. For a moment they just held on, relishing the other's nearness.
"How does your schedule look coming up?" Darcy asked, breaking the comfortable silence.
"Better. My project's coming together a lot faster than I anticipated, which is perfect timing now that your deal has gone through. I predict many nights like this coming up for us."
"That's what I want too, to spend as much time with you as I can. I love you and I've missed you. I know we've seen each other, but it's not the same as knowing that every single day we'll be coming home to each other." Darcy took a deep breath and mentally crossed her fingers. She sat straight up and looked Wilder in the eye. "Now for the big question. Can you work two weeks out of your calendar completely? Right away I mean?"
Wilder looked at her partner with alarm. "You're not sick or anything, are you?" Darcy was quick to reassure her.
"No, no, I'm fine. It's nothing like that. I just thought maybe you'd like to get away with me for a little trip."
"Are you planning to elope with me? You know our parents would kill us if we did anything like that and spoiled them being able to throw one of their famous parties." She winked at the brunette. "I kind of liked how the last party turned out."
"Give me some credit for being smarter than that. There are some lines even a fearless executive doesn't cross. Look, Jake Warring wants me to personally bring the new operation in line. He wants me to put a face to the corporation and get to know the key people. He's sprung for two tickets and a fat expense account for the trip. The two tickets are for me and you, in case there was any question."
Wilder seemed impressed. "Very sweet for a corporate fat cat. No wonder I liked him when we met at Christmas. Okay, when do we need to go? And where are we heading? A girl likes to know what to pack."
"Monday," Darcy replied quickly. "And it's Canada." She waited for Wilder's reply.
Wilder digested the itinerary and then nodded. "Okay, done. I've always wanted to see Canada on a Monday." She thought for a moment. "That's a lot to get done in a short time. I'll need to pack, talk to Mona at the bar, get a bit more done on my project…"
"You probably need to get started on all that right away, huh? I would have given you more notice, but this is all I had," Darcy said by way of explanation.
"Oh, I think it can wait until morning. I have other plans for tonight." She pulled Darcy closer again. "At this moment, however, I need an executive decision."
"Chinese food now or just naked right away?" Wilder could feel and hear Darcy's short laugh.
"That's a tough one, but I have to tell you, I have always preferred my Kung Pao reheated." She moved back and looked directly into Wilder's eyes with a gaze as heated as the very first night they were together. "In case I wasn't clear, that means 'naked.'" Wilder whooped, as she pulled a very willing Darcy up from the couch and toward the bedroom.
"Hey," Wilder said as they reached the bedroom door. "How do you say 'do me' in Canadian?"
Four days later, Wilder was gazing out the window of the cab, looking in the direction of the soon to be rising sun. The horizon of the east bay was already pinking slightly. She had been quiet as they finished their final bits of packing. There was no doubt in Darcy's mind that something was bothering Wilder, something she hadn't shared yet and that, in turn, bothered her. Wilder was a free spirit, open and loving, and if there was something she was holding back, it was important. She reached for Wilder's hand as the driver maneuvered the cab smoothly in the morning traffic.
"Tell me," Darcy said quietly. "Please." Wilder didn't turn her face from the window as she replied.
"You're going to think I'm acting like a child." Her warm breath fogged the window slightly as she spoke. That sentence alone was enough to give Darcy an inkling of what the difficulty might be. Whatever the origin of the current problem, Wilder was sensitive about the difference in their ages. Darcy hadn't thought of Wilder as anything but an extremely attractive and sensual woman in a very long time, but she knew Wilder was concerned about it.
"Not ever," Darcy assured her, squeezing Wilder's warm hand. The barmaid did look back then. The oncoming traffic highlighted the earnest look on her lover's face.
"I don't like to fly." The statement was simple, but it confused Darcy.
"You're afraid to fly? I didn't know that."
Wilder shook her head. "Not afraid; I just don't like to fly. I've always had this feeling like something bad is going to happen to me if I fly. It's nothing like a crash... more a feeling of doom. When you said we were going to Canada, I hoped we would be taking the train." The admission was tough for Wilder, but now that Darcy knew what the problem was, she was sure the blonde would be fine. She smiled at her partner.
"I can understand feeling some nervousness, that's natural. At the same time, I have flown dozens of times and there's never been a problem. It's safe, fast and definitely more convenient for trips like these." Darcy saw the unconvinced look on Wilder's face. "If you really don't want to do this, we can turn the cab right around and get an Amtrak heading north today. I just want you to be comfortable, no matter what we do."
Wilder chewed softly on her lower lip. "No, it's just something irrational that I need to face and overcome." A determination came into the barmaid's voice. "Let's do this thing."
"That's the woman I love," Darcy said as she laid her head on Wilder's shoulder.
"I'm not loving this at all," Darcy said through gritted teeth. "Not one little bit."
"Relax, babe, it's just all part of flying, right?" Darcy listened closely for any sarcastic tone to Wilder's voice, but not hearing any, she shrugged.
"Yeah, you're right." She settled down in the seat next to Wilder's in the boarding area for their flight. The fact that their flight was now forty-five minutes late due to mechanical problems was only the frosting on the cake for their flying experience. The fact that they would miss their connecting flight in Seattle and have to sit in that airport for three additional hours for the next flight out to Victoria, would be the cherry on the frosting on the cake.
Northern Airlines had only recently opened routes into Canada and things were still a little confused. Add to that the fact Darcy had been having an incredible run of bad luck, and you reached the level of frustration the executive was currently feeling. The women had entered the International Terminal and looked for the Northern counter. Not immediately seeing it, Darcy moved to the Information desk.
"Excuse me, can you direct me to the Northern Airlines counter?" she asked in a pleasant voice.
"The counter is in Domestic Terminal A, which you can get to by taking the inter-terminal shuttle. You can walk too, but it's quite a hike. Check-in for all flights is there."
"Even for an international flight to Canada?"
"Yes, ma'am. I only know because I've had to answer that same question at least a hundred times this week. San Francisco International puts all Canadian flights into the domestic terminals. I really couldn't tell you why."
"Okay, Terminal A, it is." Locating the shuttle entrance, she smiled at Wilder as she hefted her briefcase and pulled her suitcase behind her. "Good thing we gave ourselves a good head start. We've got plenty of time."
On arrival at Terminal A, the long line at the Northern Airlines ticket counter dismayed Darcy. It was something the executive had hoped to avoid by arriving early. A glance at Wilder showed she was taking it in her stride though. After a half hour in line, in which the counter seemed both overworked and understaffed, the women arrived in front of a ticket agent.
"Flight 318 to Seattle with a connection on Flight 1976 to Victoria, British Columbia," Darcy said, as she handed the tickets to the counter person. "Darcy Gardner and Wilder McNeil."
"Very good," the woman, whose nametag read 'Pam', replied. She tapped the keyboard in front of her several times. "Did anyone other than yourselves pack your bags today?" Both women replied in the negative. Although Darcy knew these questions were mandatory for security, she hated answering them all the same. It must have been worse, Darcy realized, for the people who had to ask them minute after minute, hour after hour, every day.
"Have your bags been with you at all times?"
"Well, mine's been in my possession a lot longer than I'd hoped this morning," Darcy said, with a forced smile. Pam was not amused.
"Is that a 'yes', ma'am?" Pam asked, not proceeding with the check-in process until she had the required answer.
"Yes," Darcy replied meekly
"I just need to see your identification, please, and you'll be on your way." Darcy and Wilder brought out their drivers' licenses and handed them to the airline representative.
"I need current identification, ma'am," Pam said to Darcy, as she handed back her license. "This is expired."
"It can't be!" Darcy exclaimed incredulously. "I just got my extension in the mail and it's…" She stopped short when she remembered the envelope from the Department of Motor Vehicles sitting on the coffee table in her apartment. "I mean, I did get the extension and I guess I forgot to attach it to the back of my license." Fishing through the paperwork in her briefcase, as passengers behind her grumbled, Darcy brought out her passport and handed it over.
"Fine," Pam said. "You're all set and your luggage will be checked through to your final destination. Security checkpoint is down the hall and to your left. Have a nice flight."
Wilder and Darcy followed Pam's directions and stood in yet another long line to reach the first security person. Their boarding passes and identification were checked again and they were directed into a shorter line to be X-rayed and screened. Removing their shoes, they waited for a tray to put their footwear and carry-on items in. Wilder leaned in and whispered in Darcy's ear.
"Okay, look around. If you had to put money on somebody here being a terrorist, who would it be?"
Darcy's eyes opened wide as she turned back to look at Wilder. "Wild, geez. Keep it down, would you? You're not supposed to talk about terrorists or bombs or…"
"Is there a problem, ma'am?"
Darcy peered around to find a large Transportation Safety Administration screener directly behind her.
"Oh no, not with me. I'm just waiting to be screened." The agent moved to the side to show Darcy that she was next. Hurriedly she put her belongings in a tray and moved through the X-ray machine. She stood waiting for her things on the other side, as Wilder passed through. The burly agent moved behind the woman looking at the scanned picture of the inside of Darcy's belongings and gestured at the screen. He spoke quietly to the other agent and both sets of eyes turned to the executive.
Oh no, the executive thought. Not me, not today.
"Could you bring your things and step this way ma'am? We'd like to check out a few things a little more closely. There are two objects we can't identify in your briefcase." Darcy complied, but as she ran over the objects in her briefcase in her mind, she couldn't for the life of her think of what the T.S.A. agent was talking about. She had flown many times with just the same carry-on.
"Two cylindrical metallic objects in there," the man intoned as he had Darcy open the briefcase. She continued being baffled until he removed one of the cylinders. Then she traded baffled for mortification. She recognized one of Wilder's Christmas gifts followed by another. Darcy shot a glance at the barmaid who was waiting further up the concourse. Wilder shrugged and mouthed, 'Sorry'.
The innovative packaging had amused Darcy when they were sitting around the Christmas tree, but now she was just embarrassed. The screener unscrewed one end of the metal tube and out dropped a lacy black thong, right onto the agent's table. Darcy squeezed her eyes tightly shut as she felt the heat of a blush creep up her neck and face.
"And the other one would be…?" the agent asked.
"Red," Darcy choked out.
"Have a nice flight, ma'am," he said as he closed and returned the briefcase to the executive. Darcy slipped her shoes on and left the security area as rapidly as possible.
"I'm going to kill you," Darcy whispered as she caught up with Wilder.
"See? I told you I had a feeling of doom about flying," said Wilder, as they made their way to their gate. That she managed to keep the amused grin off her face, spoke volumes about her self-control. Still, Wilder planned to wipe out Darcy's memory of these events with a trip she would never forget!
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