Disclaimers: See Part I
Copyright © Saggio Amante 2003, 2004.
All rights reserved.
Regina woke first, her body wet from the heat generated by the smaller form pressed against her like a second skin. She smiled lovingly at Lydia and lay there in the morning light listening to the soft sounds of her lover's breathing, consciously changing the pattern of her own breathing to match Lydia's. She stayed as still as possible, luxuriating in the feeling of not being able to tell where she ended and Lydia began. She ran her hand lightly down Lydia's side and smiled when she heard the smaller woman moan and felt her begin to stretch against her.
"Hey, there, sleepyhead," Regina whispered, placing a kiss on Lydia's shoulder. "Time to get up."
"Wanna stay here forever, Gina," Lydia mumbled sleepily, grabbing Regina's hand and placing it on her breast.
Regina extracted herself from Lydia's grasp, slid away from her, and got out of the bed.
"Get back here," Lydia moaned. "Gina Bramante, you get back in here or you are so cut off."
"That'll be the day, hot stuff," Regina laughed. "You know you can't get enough of me. Come on now, up and at 'em. We've got a big day ahead of us."
Lydia rolled over on her back and stared at Regina with a small pout. She crooked her finger at the taller woman and said throatily, "Come here, baby. I will make it very worth your while."
"Lydia!" Regina growled with a glint in her eye. "Get out of that bed, now!"
"Geeeeena," Lydia purred as she arched her back and gave Regina her best come hither look. "Come and get it."
Regina swallowed hard, crooked an eyebrow, and then gave a running leap onto the bed almost flipping Lydia off as she landed. She grabbed the smaller woman and began to tickle her unmercifully.
"No fair!" Lydia screamed through her laughter. "Gina Bramante! Stop that this instant."
"Give up?" Regina asked.
"No, no, no. Stop it, Gina. Oh, god!" Lydia gasped.
Regina grabbed Lydia's wrists with one large hand and pinned them above her head as she continued to tickle the smaller woman.
"Give up?" Regina asked again.
Lydia's breath was coming in rapid gasps. "I give up. I give up!" She shouted as she let her body go limp.
"Much better," Regina said, collapsing on top of her lover with a self-satisfied grin, releasing Lydia's arms as she did so.
"Gotcha, now," Lydia laughed as she threw her arms in a vice-like motion around Regina's back and began to move sensuously against her. She sensed a subtle change in the taller woman's breathing and smiled to herself as she felt Regina's body respond to her teasing.
Regina and Lydia spent the morning in bed, alternately dozing and making love. Such days were few and far between with Regina's heavy concert schedule and Lydia's ever-looming deadline. In ten days' time, they would be headed to Paris for the start of Regina's European tour. Both of them looked forward to getting out of the States for a while and eagerly anticipated returning to the place where they first met.
Lydia woke first and lay watching the rise and fall of Regina's chest. 'God I love you,' she thought. 'You consume me, Gina Bramante.' She rose and pulled a silk sheet over her sleeping lover, then she placed a tender kiss on Regina's forehead and headed for the shower.
The smell of coffee invaded Regina's senses as she awoke. She lay there thinking about Lydia and the love and passion that they shared. 'You are my soul,' she thought. 'What would I ever do without you?' She rose slowly and padded to the bathroom. She dreaded the day ahead, one of packing and phone calls - two of her most despised pastimes. She sighed internally as the cold water showered down over her, thankful that its sting against her skin was clearing her sleepy brain.
Lydia sat at her laptop, her fingers flying across the keys. She barely noticed her lover enter but felt her presence immediately. "Good morning, or should I say afternoon, darling," she said. "Coffee's on, and there are some cinnamon-raisin bagels in the fridge."
"What, no breakfast?" Regina pouted.
"Sorry, love," Lydia replied. "I'm really on a tear right now. I've almost finished the rewrite on the main scene for this section. If I keep up this pace, I should have the final scenes completed before we leave for Paris. That should thrill Edgar. I can polish the script while we're over there."
"Well, glad to see something inspired you," Regina said.
"Not something, sweetheart, someone. Care to guess who?" Lydia laughed. "Now go away and leave me alone. I know you have to pick up your things at the theatre. I should be finished by the time you get back, and then I'm all yours."
"Promises, promises," Regina said dolefully as she headed for the kitchen and some bagel and coffee.
"Love you, G," Lydia called out.
"Love you more," Regina called back.
Katherine sat at her computer typing rapidly. Her session with Dr. Singer had gone exceptionally well. Therapy over the years had helped her cope with the trauma of what happened to her, but it was not enough. Until she began working with Singer, she had continued to mask her thoughts and deny her feelings. She had learned how to touch others though not in a healthy way; she always demanded complete control and had little or no interest in how her partner felt. The negative association she experienced when touched had always been so powerful that the only way she felt safe was to never allow herself to be touched. All that began to change the moment she met Laurel.
'Love at first sight is a silly, irrational notion,' she thought. 'I've never been silly or irrational in my life.'
'Maybe not silly,' her alter ego butted in. 'But you certainly haven't been living a rational life.'
'Hmmm. Well, I guess you have a point, A.E.' Katherine conceded.
'Holy, shit, this is one hell of a breakthrough if you're agreeing with me,' A.E. responded.
'Buzz off, A.E. I've got work to do before I can call Laurel.'
'I'm buzzing, K.G., but I'll be back."
Katherine was finishing a chapter when the phone rang. She let the answering machine pick it up but punched the stop button as soon as she heard Laurel's voice.
"Hi, there. Sorry, Laurel. I've been working all evening and screening my calls."
"Oh. Do you want to call me back?"
"Uh, no. I just finished, and I was going to call you as soon as I shut down the computer."
The two women were silent, then both began to speak at once.
"Would you like to come up."
"Would you like to come down?"
They laughed. "Yes."
"O.K.," Laurel said. "You first."
"Whatever you prefer," Katherine offered.
"How about you coming up here?" Laurel asked. "The door will be unlocked."
"Give me five, and I'll be right up." Katherine responded.
Laurel heard the door click open and turned to see Katherine enter. She walked toward her smiling and felt warmed by the smile she received in return.
"Hey, there," Laurel whispered as she stood on tiptoe to place a kiss on Katherine's cheek.
"Hey there, yourself," Katherine whispered back as she gathered Laurel in her arms and held her against her. She laid her chin on the top of Laurel's head and basked in the sweet smell of lavender in her hair. "I missed you."
Soft music played in the background, and the two women began to sway against each other in time to the music. "I missed you, too," Laurel sighed. She stepped back and took Katherine's hand, leading her to the large sofa.
Katherine sat and leaned her head back against the sofa.
Laurel sat next to her at an angle, her knees tucked up under her. She poured two glasses of wine and handed one to Katherine.
Katherine shifted her position sideways on the couch so that they were looking at each other. She looked into Laurel's eyes and wondered at the affection and patience she saw there.
"We need to talk," Katherine said.
"I know," Laurel responded.
"Laurel, I ..... oh, Jesus, this is so hard ... "
"It's all right. I'm here. We don't have to do this tonight," Laurel said as she put down her wine glass and took one of Katherine's hands between her own, holding it in one hand while stroking it with the other.
"Yes, we do. I do," Katherine replied. "You don't know me. I wish I could say I was a nice person, but I'm not. There are things in my life that I've never shared with anyone but I know that if this ... we ... are going to go anywhere in this, uh, relationship, or whatever it is that's going on here, then I have to be completely honest with you, and I've never been completely honest with anyone in my life."
Laurel sat silently, knowing intuitively that Katherine had to continue at her own pace. Katherine took a deep breath and continued.
"When I was a child, " she began. The hours passed quickly as Katherine told Laurel her story. She gave her the unvarnished truth, left nothing out. She spoke not only of her own pain but also of the pain she had caused others. When she was finished, she sat looking into Laurel's eyes expecting to see disgust and horror reflected there; instead, she saw only love and compassion and tears of understanding.
"Oh, K.G.," Laurel said, "I am so sorry."
"Why? It wasn't your fault."
"Of course not, but nothing like that should happen to any child, ever! I wish that I could take away your pain."
"You already have. Or at least eased it," Katherine replied. "I can't promise you that walls won't come up, and I can't promise you that I won't try to take control, but I can promise you that I will try with all my heart to keep a balance between us. Knowing what you know now, are you still willing to try to give us a chance?"
Katherine held her breath until, without hesitation, Laurel replied. "Yes, K.G. I won't give up on us. I feel a connection with you that I have never felt before. This is a journey worth taking together. I know it's going to be a difficult one, but I'm willing to work on it if you are."
"Oh god, yes. I've never wanted anything more in my life!" Katherine choked.
Laurel saw the sincerity in Katherine's eyes. She paused a moment, then asked, "K.G., would you mind if I met with Dr. Singer?"
Katherine hesitated. To agree would mean there was no turning back. She took a deep breath, then exhaled audibly. "I would like that very much. I've already spoken to her about you. In fact, it was she who suggested I let you 'have your way with me' if you tried to touch me again."
Katherine smiled an almost shy smile. "Thank god it worked. Without her 'exercise,' the other night might have turned out much differently."
"So, I'm just an exercise?" Laurel teased.
"Oh, no, no," Katherine responded with pain in her voice. "Oh god, Laurel, never. I just meant ... "
"Hush, K.G.," Laurel said, placing two fingers against Katherine's lips. "I'm just teasing." She reached across the space between them and pulled the taller woman to her breast, rocking her gently and stroking her cheek. "It's going to be all right. We're going to be all right. You'll see."
To be continued in Part 8
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