Disclaimer: See Part I.
Acknowledgement: The poems quoted herein are used with permission of the author and are contained in 'Poetry from the Featherbed' by pinfeather, Copyright 2003 by pinfeather. Published by Dare 2 Dream Publishing, a Division of Limitless Corporation, Lexington, South Carolina 29073 (http://www.limitlessd2d.net).
Thank you: to Em for finding the time in a busy schedule to Beta read and for your courage in handing out kick butts and telling me when things "dont work." Your suggestions and critiques are invaluable. Thank you Frenchie for keeping me on the straight (or is that bent?) and narrow, for your keen eye and always helpful suggestions. (The words of praise dont hurt, either!)
Note: This story is a back-story to Message in a Bottle. Each story stands on its own.
Feedback: Suggestions and constructive criticism are welcome; spam and vitriol are
not. Encouraging words and a pat on the back are more than welcome. That having been said, read on and let me know what you think. email@example.com
LOVES JOURNEY FOUND
Copyright © Saggio Amante 2004
All rights reserved.
Anxious lovers everywhere,
Parted from each others care
Know by heart the sad refrain:
When will we two meet again?
Someday ("Poetry from a Featherbed" by Pinfeather)
Part 4 - Thursdays are for Thanks Giving
Marina looked at the grandfather clock on the other side of her office for what seemed to be the hundredth time in the last half hour. When the minute hand finally reached 4:30, she stood up, snapped the briefcase on her desk tightly shut and strode rapidly out her office door, pausing only long enough to say to her secretary: "Ill be back on Monday, Carol. If anything important comes up, see if Cathy can handle it. If she cant, call me on my cell."
"Yes, Ms. Perelli," Carol replied. The spring in Marinas step and the unusually happy lilt in her voice surprised Carol, and she wondered what or who had produced such a positive effect on her usually stoic boss.
Marina walked briskly to her car and dropped her briefcase in the storage area behind the seat. She grimaced as she felt the heel of her shoe rub against the beginning of a small blister on her right foot, and she couldnt wait to change into some more reasonable footwear. She considered high heels worse than Chinese water torture and cursed the inventor whose name she refused to commit to memory.
She slid into the drivers seat and removed the offending footwear, tossing them on top of her briefcase. The shoes were joined quickly by a tailored suit coat. She pulled her blouse out of her skirt and opened several of the top and bottom buttons. Then she slipped her feet into a well-worn pair of running shoes and sighed happily at the familiar comfort. Ah. Thats more like it! she thought as she put the Corvette into reverse and moved easily out of the large parking spot which bore her name.
Weaving her car in and out of the afternoon traffic, Marina let her mind focus on the small blonde woman who had consumed her thoughts for the better part of three days.
After last nights last nights what? phone fuck? No, it was more than that. It was it was it was just plain incredible.
Marina felt the red rise in her cheeks as she realized that she was singing at the top of her lungs, with the top down, in prime time traffic. Christ, I hope none of the banks clients see me, she thought, looking in the rear- and side-view mirrors to see if she recognized anyone in the cars surrounding hers.
She drove over the bridge to Kiawah Island and stopped at a small, tasteful shopping area. A quick stop at TJs for a bottle of Cristal, then to the flower shop next door for one lavender rose, and finally a box of handmade chocolates from Marones and she was ready to go. Her arms loaded, Marina walked back to the car and headed home with a happy heart.
Over and over the same kiddie song began to ring through her mind - "A frog he would a wooing go, mm, mm; a frog he would a wooing go, mm, mm." By God, Im going wooing! She laughed aloud. Ill be damned! The thought delighted her.
Marina pulled into her driveway and almost leapt from the drivers seat. There was a spring to her step that she hadnt felt in a long, long time. She felt light, like she was floating through time. She loved the feeling.
After putting the Cristal in the refrigerator to chill, Marina placed the rose in a small crystal vase and then changed into her running clothes. Flinging open the French doors to the living room she ran down the steps and onto the beach, running as fast as her legs would carry her, wind at her back. When she reached a bend in the beach, she slowed to stop in front of the small cove where she and Lizette had watched the sun set and rise.
Marinas mind painted vivid images of the small blonde. She still felt the imprint of Lizettes back against her breasts as they sat together watching the sunrise. She could feel the heat generated between her legs as Lizette leaned back against her, and could almost smell the fruity, soapy scent of the curls that had brushed against her cheek. She recalled the words exchanged in the phone conversation of the previous evening and felt the hot swell of desire rising.
The loud shriek of a gull pulled Marina from her reverie. Turning back toward the house, she ran against the wind. Her body screamed for release, and she welcomed the pinpricks of pain from the sharp seeds of sand that the strong wind threw against her body.
Lizettes plane would be arriving at the Charleston International Airport at 8 p.m., and Marina did not plan to be late. The anticipation of seeing the small woman consumed her.
Marina took a shower and rifled through her closet, pulling out a pair of black slacks that draped neatly over her firm buttocks and thighs. She added a cream-colored silk blouse that accented her olive complexion and tucked it in at the waist, careful to leave the top buttons open so that the swell of her breasts were visible at the V. Next, she slipped on her favorite pair of black, Harley-Davidson Stilettos, and then looked through her jewelry box, selecting an onyx/platinum pair of stud earrings with an infinity design. As an afterthought, she added a matching pendant hanging off a platinum chain which was just long enough to allow the pendant to rest softly against her full breasts. Damp, dark curls framed a face graced with intense blue eyes and soft full lips. She checked herself out perfunctorily in the bedroom mirror and then walked out of the bedroom, through her front door and into the dark night, full of anticipation.
Marina arrived a half hour before the ETA of Lizettes flight. She pulled her Corvette into a private spot at the airport reserved for administration and gave silent thanks to Peter Bradford, president of the airlines on which Lizette was flying. Peter was a customer of the bank and had become a close personal friend of hers as well. She headed up to the VIP lounge and ordered a scotch and water. Glancing up at the flight information on the overhead monitors, she was relieved to see that Lizettes flight was marked "On Time."
Time passed slowly. Marina sat, counting each tick of the clock, rolling over in her mind how she would act - what she would say to the small blonde who was winging her way back into her life.
Downing the last of her drink, Marina looked up at the monitor and felt her heart catch as she read the flashing word, "Delay," now appearing after Lizettes flight number. She picked up the red phone next to her chair, pressed the button for the operator, and asked to be connected to an airline rep. The only information she was able to find out was that Lizettes flight had mechanical difficulties and was being re-routed to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. Damn it! She thought. What else can happen?
Marina picked up the phone again and dialed Peter Bradfords private number.
"Hi, Pete. Its Marina again. Listen I have a bit of a problem here."
"Ms. Grayson is on Flight 224."
"Ah, the one re-routed to Greenville-Spartanburg."
"So you know about that."
"Of course. Nothing to worry about. A minor mechanical problem but we thought it better to land it at GSP and send a new plane for the passengers in the morning."
"The morning! Shit, Pete, dont you have anything else tonight or can you get her a flight on another airline?"
"Sorry, Marina, no can do. Theres nothing else out of GSP to Columbia or Charleston tonight. Gonna have to put her up at the airport and fly her in tomorrow. Sorry."
Marina sighed with resignation. "Look, Pete, can you do me another favor?"
"Sure, anything for you, M, you know that. Come on up to the office. Ill wait for you."
Lizette sat thinking about what she would do when she saw Marina. Her resolve to take things slowly had dissolved rapidly after the phone conversation of the night before, and she was burning with anticipation of their next meeting. Although she was a white knuckle flier, she completely forgot that she was 30,000 feet up in the air with nothing but a thin piece of metal between her and a rapid descent to destruction. The only thing she could think of was the beautiful dark-haired woman who was waiting for her at the airport.
A loud "thunk" brought Lizette quickly back to reality. The seat belt sign flashed on, and she heard the captains calm voice over the intercom.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts. We have encountered a minor mechanical problem. We are being diverted to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. Please remain calm. Let me emphasize, this is a minor problem, but in an abundance of caution we are going to land at the nearest airport. Arrangements have been made for your accommodations and another plane will be arranged for you in the morning. We apologize for any inconvenience, and we thank you for flying Dixie Airlines."
Lizette felt the blood rush from her head. She had to keep reminding herself to breathe. Its going to be all right. Minor mechanical difficulty. Its going to be all right. Minor mechanical difficulty. The mantra kept repeating itself over and over in her brain as she dug her fingernails into her palms. She felt the plane begin its descent and started to pray, the words a jumble in her brain, prayer a foreign rite from the long-distant past.
The plane landed with a jarring bump and then shook violently as the pilot threw the engines in reverse to slow its progress down the runway. It wasnt until the plane finally taxied to a stop at the terminal that Lizette was able to relax slightly. She remained in her seat, her insides trembling, until the last passenger deplaned. Then she stood and reached into the overhead for her briefcase. She jumped when she felt a hand on her shoulder.
"Ms. Grayson? Im sorry; I didnt mean to frighten you. Im Linda Graves with Dixie Airlines."
"Thats all right. Im just a little jumpy. Not a very good flyer, Im afraid." Lizette looked at the other woman and wondered why she had sought her out.
"Dont worry about it. We all get a little shaky when things like this happen."
"Oh. Do they happen often?"
"Actually, no. They seldom ever happen. Im sorry that it happened on your flight. Will you come with me, please, I understand theres a call waiting for you in the VIP lounge."
Lizette followed the woman down the ramp and into the airport. She wasnt surprised by the announcement that there was a call waiting for her. She was certain the call must be from Marina. It had to be; no one else knew what flight she was on. She hurried into the VIP lounge with Linda and watched as the other woman picked up the nearest phone and dialed an extension.
"I have Ms. Grayson, here," Linda said, then turned holding the phone out to Lizette.
Lizette was surprised to hear a male voice at the other end of the line. "Yes?"
"Ms. Grayson, Im Peter Bradford. Im president of Dixie Airlines. Sorry for the inconvenience tonight," he said congenially. "Ive got a friend of yours here who is pretty worried about you." He handed the phone to Marina.
"Lizette? Are you all right?"
Lizette felt her knees weaken at the sound of the husky voice at the other end of the line. "Im fine. Im not so sure Im ready to get on another plane, though."
Marina could hear the tremors in Lizettes voice. "Look. Theres no plane out of there tonight."
"Theres no plane out of there tonight." Marina repeated.
"Shit!" Lizette said before she could stop herself.
"My sentiments exactly," Marina chuckled. "Lizette. Listen. I, uh I took the liberty of sending a driver. Hell take you to Nonnas, and you can spend tonight with her."
Lizette interrupted. "Nonna?"
"Yes. She lives in Greenville. Ive already talked to her. Shes expecting you."
"I dont want to inconvenience her. Thats very sweet, but I can stay at the airport hotel and catch a flight out in the morning."
"Nonsense. Nonna will never forgive me or you if you are so close and dont stay with her. Please, Lizette. Shes waiting." Marina held her breath and waited.
"All right," Lizette said with hesitation. Then she laughed and said teasingly, "You sure got yourself a pack of trouble when I sat down at your table, didnt you?"
"The best trouble Ive seen in a long time," Marina teased back. "Now go on and catch that ride. Ill talk to you in the morning if not before."
Lizette hung up the phone and walked out the door of the lounge. She smiled when she saw the tall, uniformed chauffeur standing there with a sign that said, "Grayson." Not exactly the "ride" I was expecting, she thought.
Marina laid the phone back in the cradle and turned to the tall man looking out the office window. "Thank you, Peter," she said softly.
"Anytime, M. Want to tell me whats going on? I havent seen you this engaged since Corey."
A look of pain passed fleetingly across Marinas face at the sound of Coreys name. "Not tonight, friend, but soon. Say "hi" to Rocky for me," Marina said, referring to Peters long-time partner.
"Sure. Well need to get together for dinner soon. Rockys into a French phase right now. Hes been cooking some pretty astounding stuff."
"I look forward to it, Peter. Thanks so much for tonight. I need to get going."
Peter kissed Marina on the cheek and walked her to the door. He watched her fondly as she walked through the terminal, turning back to his office as she reached the exit.
Marina got into her car and left the Charleston airport. She pulled her car onto the highway and headed home to pack a small bag, then drove on to the Embassy Suites where she convinced the manager to let her into Lizettes room once again. It was amazing what running the biggest bank in town could accomplish. She quickly packed a bag for Lizette, doing her best to guess what clothes and accessories the young woman would want or need, all the while praying that she would be forgiven for invading Lizettes privacy. She threw the small bag into the backseat next to her own, and then followed the signs to I-26. With luck she knew she could make the drive to Greenville-Spartanburg in a little less than 4 hours.
The limo driver pulled into the driveway of a small ranch house whose windows were ablaze with light. He stepped out and opened the backdoor for Lizette.
"Thank you so much," Lizette said, handing him a tip.
"No thank you, maam," the driver said, tipping his hat to her. "Everythings been taken care of . Glad to be of service. Have a good night."
Lizette turned and walked toward the front door of the house. She smiled broadly when the door opened and Nonna stepped onto the porch, holding out her arms to the small blonde woman. "So, my Lizetta just couldnt stay away." She laughed happily and pulled Lizette into her arms and against her ample bosom.
Lizette didnt resist but stood enjoying the comfort of the older womans arms around her. "Thank you, Nonna," she whispered into the large breasts.
"So, we go inna the house," Nonna said stepping back, "and Ima fixa you some food. You too skinny." Nonna turned and ambled into the house, shaking her head. "Too skinny," she continued to mumble as she made her way to the kitchen with Lizette following closely behind.
Marina pulled into the driveway of her grandmothers home. It was after 3 a.m., and she was exhausted from the drive. She slipped her key into the front door lock and let herself quietly into the house. Thank you, Nonna, she thought as a small nightlight lit her way into the living room.
There was only one other bedroom besides Nonnas, and Marina knew that it was now occupied by Lizette. She was certain that she could easily slip into that room and slide into bed next to the small blonde without even awakening her. As tired as she was, the image of lying next to Lizette stirred her. Marina wanted very badly to hold the small blonde in her arms, but she knew in her heart that tonight was not the night for that dream to come true. She removed her boots and set them to the side of the couch. Then she removed her clothes carefully and laid them across the back of the old recliner in the corner of the room. She lay down on the couch in her underwear and covered herself with a multi-colored throw that Nonna had crocheted many years ago. She was asleep almost before her head hit the pillow.
Lizette awoke with a start and turned her sleep-filled eyes to the clock on the top of the tall bureau across from her bed. She had a mild feeling of panic as she realized it was 9:30 a.m., and the airline had told her the flight to Charleston would be leaving at 11:00 a.m. Jumping from the bed, she rushed toward the bathroom. "Damn it!" She swore under her breath as she stubbed her toe on the leg of the bed. She threw on her clothes, freshened up in the bathroom, and headed downstairs. She could smell the pungent smell of Nonnas expresso wafting through the house.
As she passed the living room door on her way to the kitchen, Lizette was surprised to hear a small snore. She smiled to herself and turned into the living room, certain that Nonna had fallen asleep in her chair waiting for her to get up. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw the dark head lying on a small pink pillow. She stood staring at the long, lean body sleeping so peacefully on the couch, one leg thrown out from under a multi-colored throw. She watched the rise and fall of Marinas breasts and felt her own breath begin to move in synch with the sleeping womans.
Even in sleep, Marina felt Lizettes eyes on her. She pulled herself up from the depths of slumber and stretched lazily. Opening one eye and then the other, she struggled to focus and smiled as she stared up into laughing green eyes.
"You are full of surprises," Lizette said smiling.
"Is that bad?" Marina put her arms up over her head and stretched some more, arching her back until her spine made small pops.
"Not at all," Lizette laughed.
"Im thankful youre safe," Marina said.
"I was never in any real danger," Lizette replied. "Thank you for coming here."
"Youre welcome. Now would you mind turning around so I can get up? I dont have a lot on right now."
With an amused smile, Lizette turned her back to Marina. She tried to stifle a laugh that began to rise uncontrollably from her center. She might have been successful had it not been for the loud thump and the angry "Damn it!" that resounded from behind her. Turning quickly, Lizette saw Marina sitting on the floor, her legs tangled in a pair of black pants, biting her lip to keep from laughing. Unable to control themselves, the two women broke into hysterical laughter.
Lizette held her hand out and Marina allowed the smaller woman to help her up. With as much dignity as she could muster Marina reached down and pulled up the black slacks, and then reached over to grab her silk blouse and pull it on.
Lizettes amber eyes drank in the tall dark-haired woman as she dressed.
"Like what you see," Marina teased.
"Very much," Lizette replied seriously.
A voice called loudly from the kitchen. "Hey, you girls behavea youselves! Come getta you breakfast!"
The two women looked at each other and burst out laughing uproariously, until each was gasping for breath.
When she was finally able to breathe again, Marina held out her arm. "Shall we?"
Lizette took Marinas elbow and let the dark-haired woman lead her to the kitchen where they encountered a beaming Nonna.
"Sit!" Nonna ordered.
The younger women looked at each other and said together, "Mangi! Mangi!" as they sat at the kitchen table.
Nonna lovingly slapped Marina across the back of the head, and then reached across to pinch Lizettes cheeks before she could duck away.
The three women sat in the kitchen enjoying the warmth of each others company and the delicious breakfast Nonna had prepared.
Finally, when she could eat no more, Lizette rose and began clearing the table.
"You girls resta," Nonna ordered. "Ima getta that."
Lizette knew better than to argue and sat back down at the table with Marina while Nonna cleaned up the breakfast dishes.
"Thanks, again, for coming to get me," Lizette said. "I really appreciate it. Getting back on a plane is not on my list of top priorities right now."
"No problem. Listen, I hope youre not too upset but I went by the hotel and picked up some of your things for you. Theyre out in the car. Thought you might like a change."
Lizette raised an eyebrow. "How did you get into my room?" She asked with a tinge of irritation in her voice.
"The manager is a customer of the bank," Marina said. "Look, I hope you wont be angry at him. I pressured him and well if youre going to be angry at anyone, be angry at me."
"Im not angry. In fact, I appreciate it very much," Lizette replied, surprised that she meant it. She hated it when someone invaded her space without invitation. But somehow this Marina was different. She smiled softly at the dark-haired woman.
And Marina knew she meant it. She reached over and touched Lizettes hand. "Thank you."
Lizette laughed. "We seem to be saying that a lot lately thank you, I mean."
"We do dont we."
Nonna moved quietly out of the kitchen and busied herself in another part of the house while the two women sat in the kitchen and talked.
The two women sat together lost in their own thoughts until Marina broke the silence.
"Lizette, we have to talk about what happened and about what is or is not going to happen."
"I know. I just dont know where to start."
"Well, here is not the place anyway. I uh I was wondering. You still have a couple of more days here, dont you? I mean, your schedule hasnt changed, has it?"
"No. Yes. I mean. No my schedule hasnt changed; and, yes, my flight out is not until late Sunday evening. Why?"
"As long as were in this area, theres someplace Id like to take you. Someplace where we can talk. Its a place very special to me. Will you come with me?" Marina inhaled and held her breath, waiting for a response.
Lizette knew immediately that she would not and could not say "no." She smiled softly and nodded, lifting Marinas hand and placing it against her cheek. "Yes," she replied. "Ill come with you."
Marina turned Lizettes hand over and placed a soft kiss in her palm. "You wont be sorry. Stay here. I have to make a phone call."
Lizette sat drinking the last of her espresso as Marina went off to make her call. I wonder what you have in mind, she mused as she sat waiting for Marina to return.
The wait wasnt long and, when Marina returned, she handed Lizette her small bag. "Why dont you go freshen up and change. I want to talk with Nonna for a few minutes and then well get going."
Lizette went upstairs to change while Marina said her good byes to her grandmother. When Lizette came downstairs, the tall woman was waiting at the door, ready to go.
"Ciao, Marina. Ciao, Lizetta. You comma backa soon." She stood in the doorway and watched the two women drive off, waving at them until the car moved out of sight.
The little red Corvette made its way from Greenville up through the mountains into North Carolina. The two women in the car were full of anticipation, neither quite sure what this day would bring.
In just under two hours, Marina turned down a side road leading through thick woods, then pulled up to a cabin on the side of the hill. A large porch stretched the length of the front of the cabin and held a couple of rockers and a wooden swing.
"What is this place?" Lizette asked.
"Its a magical place," Marina replied. "Youll see." She walked around the car and held the passenger door open for Lizette to exit, then led her up the stairs into the cabin.
"Pick whichever bedroom youd like," Marina said as they entered, motioning to two rooms separated by a large bathroom.
Lizette walked to the large room on the left and looked in. "This one will be fine,"
she said, wondering what was going on.
Well, Lizette thought as she looked around the large bedroom. I asked for slowly. But, after the other night, I thought Jesus, I dont know what I thought. Actually, I think I didnt think. Ive never been so confused in my life!
Her reverie was broken by the arrival of Marina with her bag. "Here you go," Marina said. "Im going to go in and change. Be back in a few. Make yourself comfortable."
Lizette put her clothes in a bureau drawer and laid her nightgown on the bed. She walked into the large bathroom between the two rooms and was delighted to see a large Jacuzzi in the corner of the room. She set her toothbrush in a cup on the sink, and walked back into the living room just in time to meet Marina there.
"Hey, there," Marina said. "Im going to run into town and get some groceries. Want to come along?"
The two women got back into the small Corvette and Marina navigated the mountain roads expertly. A half hour later, they pulled into a small shopping center fashioned like something out of the old west. There were numerous stores that seemed to have everything they needed and in no time, they were back in the Corvette with a trunk full of groceries and several bottles of assorted wines. By the time they got back to the cabin, both women were hungry.
While Lizette put up the groceries, Marina began throwing together two large spinach salads with dried sweet cranberries, sliced apple, pecans and gorgonzola cheese. She made a sweet Dijon-balsamic dressing and drizzled it over the salads, then set them on the table. Next she uncorked a bottle of wine and poured two glasses.
Lizette put up the last of the groceries and sat down at the table across from Marina. She took a forkful of salad and rolled it around in her mouth, enjoying the combination of tastes. "This is wonderful," she said, spearing another forkful and raising it to her mouth, then washing it down with some wine.
"Glad you like it. One of my favorites," Marina said as she took a forkful for herself.
The women finished their salads and rose. "Leave those," Marina said, indicating the plates. "We can get them later." She picked up the unfinished bottle of wine and her glass and followed Lizette into the living room. She walked over to a cd player and put some cds in it, then turned it down low so that the music played softly in the background.
Lizette sat on the large couch in front of the fireplace. The fireplace was banked by bay windows which gave an open view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. "This is beautiful," she remarked as she took a sip of her wine. She dropped her shoes on the floor and drew her legs up under her.
Marina sat down on the opposite end of the couch.
Lizette continued staring out the window not knowing what to say and hoping that Marina would start the conversation.
Marina sat staring at Lizette knowing what she wanted to say but not knowing how to start the conversation. Finally, she just leapt in. "Lizette. Look at me." She waited until Lizette turned her green eyes to look directly at her.
Marina took a deep breath and continued. "God, youre beautiful. Im sorry. I didnt mean that. I mean, I did mean that. But "
The dark-haired womans discomfort amused Lizette. She knew that if she had been the first to speak, she would have been twice as tongue-tied, and she let Marina continue to struggle to find the words.
"But this is going so fast, and we need to slow down, I think, get to know each other. Come on, Lizette, help me out here. You were the one who wanted to go slowly." Marinas amber eyes begged Lizette to say something.
Lizette let Marina fumble with her words. When Marina stopped speaking, Lizette replied. "Youre right. I wanted to go slowly. I still do. But I am so attracted to you it hurts, and thats a very foreign feeling for me. Im excited and Im scared to death at the same time. And Im embarrassed as hell about my performance on the phone the other night. There, Ive said it."
Lizettes words came tumbling out one after the other in rapid succession. She hardly took a breath at the end of one sentence before going on to the next.
"You think thats funny?" Lizette asked.
"No, not you. I think its funny that I was trying to figure out how to tell you that I was embarrassed as hell about my performance on the phone the other night, too. But you know what? I wasnt embarrassed at all. I was turned on. It was incredible, and Im not sorry one bit!" Her amber eyes challenged Lizette to tell the truth.
Lizette sighed. "That was a lie. It was incredible, and Ive never wanted anyone as much in my life. So what are we going to do about that?"
The ball was back in Marinas court, and she wasnt certain how to return the service. She wanted to make love the small blonde-haired woman more than she wanted anything in her life, but she wanted it to be right, not just a quick night of animal lust and an even quicker good-bye.
Marina moved down the couch until she was closer to Lizettes. "I think we are going to go a little more slowly and learn a little more about each other," she said, reaching out to take Lizettes small hands in her own.
"Lets play a game," Lizette said.
"Yes. Ill ask you something about yourself; then you ask me. No holds barred. The only rules are that we can refuse to answer, but if we do answer, the answer has to be an honest one. OK?"
Marina thought a moment. "OK, you first."
"Your favorite author."
"What kind of fiction?"
"Jesus, are you always this precise?"
"Yes, bankers are precise. Its a trait of the profession, Im afraid."
Lizette groaned. "Youre not going to make this easy, are you. All right. Tell me what kind of fiction you like and what authors."
"Romance. Lesbian. Radclyffe."
"Radclyffe Hall? Well of Loneliness? Thats an old one."
"No, the modern Rad. Anything by her."
"Action adventure, mysteries, legal, political. I just love to read." Marina shifted in her seat. "My turn. Favorite music?"
Lizette didnt hesitate. "Rumours. Fleetwood Mac. Dido. Sarah McLaughlin. Melissa Etheridge. Tracy Chapman. God, there are so many. I dont know where to start or end. Me next. Favorite movie."
"Thats easy. War and Peace. First love?"
Marina felt Lizette stiffen. "Remember your rules. You dont have to answer."
Lizette relaxed. "No, Ill answer. You just caught me off guard. I wasnt expecting that question, at least not yet. My first love was Bobby Murtaugh in the first grade."
She hesitated. "But my first real love was a woman named Constance."
"We didnt work. She wanted more than I was willing to give. And she gave less than I wanted to have. We were mismatched from the start. We gave it a try for a while and then gave up. Shes a good woman, just not for me."
"Im sorry. She was lucky to have you."
"How could you possibly know that? You dont even really know me."
"I know, inside I just know." Marina brought Lizettes hand to her lips and kissed her fingers. "No one else?" She asked.
"No fair. Thats two questions. My turn. Your strongest love?" Lizette knew by Marinas body language that she had touched a sore spot. "You dont have to answer."
Marina took a deep breath. "Corey," she said tightly, the pain evident in her amber eyes.
"What happened?" Lizette whispered, and felt her own heart ache as tears welled up in Marinas eyes. She pulled the taller woman to her and ran her fingers through Marinas dark hair as she laid her head on her shoulder.
"She died. Three years ago. Cancer. We were together seven years." Marina stayed still, her head on Lizettes shoulder and enjoyed the feeling of the small fingers stroking her hair.
"Im so sorry. I didnt know. Do you want to talk about her?"
"No. Not now. One day, perhaps, but not now."
"Do you want to stop playing?"
"No. Go on."
"Its your turn, then."
"So it is," Marina said. "Tell me about yourself. What do you love? What do you hate?"
"Thats not exactly the way the game is played."
"I know; I know. Can we just talk?"
"Of course," Lizette responded. "Why dont you stretch out and lay your head in my lap, and well just talk."
Marina stretched out and laid her head in Lizettes lap. Lizette continued to stroke her hair and temples as they talked, exchanging little pieces of their lives.
Darkness descended slowly invading the living room until, finally, they could no longer see each other.
Marina sat up slowly and took Lizette by the hand. "Come with me," she said. She rose and grabbed a light blanket from the back of the couch, and then led Lizette out to the front porch. The two women sat in the porch swing, covered by the light blanket.
Lizette started to speak.
"Shh. Dont scare them away," Marina whispered.
"Scare whom?" Lizette whispered back.
"Just watch. Dont move and dont say a word."
Almost as soon as Marina stopped speaking bright lights began at the edge of the forest. Dim at first they increased in intensity, then began to flitter round and about, to and fro, like small children playing a game of tag. The lights changed in color from white to blue to white again. A group of lights flew together and landed in the grass, giving a neon effect to the front lawn, then darted away in an explosion of blue.
Lizette sat mesmerized. Marina placed an arm around her shoulders and she laid her head back against Marinas shoulder. The light show continued for almost two hours and then, as suddenly as it had begun, it stopped and the women were once again plunged into darkness.
The two women continued to sit still staring into the darkness until, finally, Lizette spoke. "That was awesome, magical. What in the world was it?"
"The faerie garden," Marina responded. "Im glad they came out to greet you. They dont always."
Marina rose and took Lizettes hand, leading her into the cabin. She walked her to the door of her bedroom, then leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. "Good night, Lizette," she whispered.
Lizette reached up and touched Marinas cheek, then slid her hand behind Marinas neck and pulled her head down. She kissed Marina softly but deeply on the mouth. "Good night, Marina," she said turning into her room and closing the door behind her. She leaned her back against the bedroom door and stood there waiting for the click as Marina walked across the hall and into her own room. When she heard Marinas door close, she slipped out of her clothing and into bed, wishing that she were not alone in the dark night.
Marina walked into her bedroom, closing the door behind her, and sat down on the edge of the bed. Slowly, piece by piece, she undressed, dropping her clothes in a heap on the floor. She slipped naked between cool sheets and fell asleep, dreaming of the small blonde lying just a few feet away behind an unlocked door.
Continued in Part 5
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