Disclaimer: Although this is Uber fiction, two of these characters may sound a bit familiar. No infringement is intended.


Violence: No, nothing graphic. Talk of some violence, but not much.


Subtext: Yes, definitely. So if this isn’t your cup of milk, find something else to read. (There is a lot of good stuff to be read!) If you are too young to read this or it is illegal where you live, wait a while, hopefully both will change.


My Personal Disclaimer: I am new to this, so if you have something constructive to say, whether it be good or bad, let me know. I can be reached at Scout13@aol.com. Thanks to the Beta readers Barb and Leigh for their insight and encouragement!









Chapter 1


"My thesis sucks!"

Dr. Jeffries scooted back his chair until his ample rear end settled comfortably into the small indentation carved into the back of his seat. His smile was big and genuine as he shook his head slowly at his star pupil. "Kyle, it doesn’t ‘suck’ as you so eloquently put it. It just needs some polishing and a little more data in a couple of areas."

"Just like I said Dr. J, it sucks!" Kyle yanked her hair behind her ear impatiently and grabbed her pen again. "What do you want me to change?"

"I don’t want you to change anything. I want you to add a little, elaborate a little. Kyle, it’s almost publishable. Almost. I want it to be so good that I’ll be tempted to steal it for myself." He leaned his heavy elbows forward over his lap. "Now, listen to me," he said while impatiently scribbling on a note pad. "This is who I want you to go see. She’s my new grad assistant and she’ll work with you on this. She knows you’re coming. In fact, I’ve already told her a bit about you."

"I don’t need a grad assist Dr. J." Kyle moaned.

"You’ve got one though don’t you now." Dr. Jeffries chimed in smiling. "She’s very good Kyle. She can help you finish this thing. Go see her. Today!" Kyle scowled in response. "Go, now. Today!" Dr. Jeffries echoed while his chubby tanned hand shooed her out of his office.

"I don’t like this Doctor!" Kyle’s voice drifted back down the hall as he headed for the dusty wooden staircase.

"You’ll learn to love it, Kyle." Dr. Jeffries sang back cheerfully.

With that phrase ringing in her ears, Kyle jumped the bottom three steps and squinting in the dim sunlight filtering through the live oaks, read the name and address printed on the crumpled paper Dr. Jeffries had pressed into her palm.


"So you are the brilliant researcher in need of a little help, huh?" A cascade of black hair fell back from the talking head bent over notes to reveal a cock sure smile on a beautiful face. The words poked fun, but the small smile seemed to take the entire sting out of the words.

"Yes, I guess I am." Kyle could feel herself blushing. "In need that is, not the brilliant part." The raven-haired woman cocked an amused eyebrow. "Of help, with my research that is." Kyle could not get her words out right. Her tongue felt thick, useless. The woman was gorgeous.

"Well, I think maybe I can help you out in that area." The woman laughed, and pulled a pen out of her very organized drawer. Kyle gazed in astonishment at the books stacked neatly on their shelves. Stacked in alphabetical order at that. If she were alone, she would be up studying every title and knick-knack. Kyle prayed that curiosity was not a sin since it was her downfall. She stared momentarily at the single notepad on the desk and the reference books piled high, but in exact togetherness on the otherwise empty desk.

"I’m Anna by the way." The woman said, interrupting Kyle’s mental perusal of the office. "Annabelle, for real, but if you expect any help, you will never call me that." The voice was serious. Kyle nodded mutely in agreement.

"So pull out your books and lets see what kind of stuff we’re looking for." Anna nodded her head at the stuffed backpack Kyle clutched in her hands. Quickly Kyle dumped the contents out on the desk. Each book was stuffed with papers filled with little notes and post-its marking different areas of thought.

Anna’s cobalt eyes snapped with mock terror at the sight on her desk. "From the looks of it, we could have a ton of research on our hands." Kyle’s blush deepened, but she sat and scooted her chair forward ready to define each separate note. Now they were getting into familiar and safe territory,

"You do research from that?" Anna stared at Kyle over the pile of books and papers. Eyes locked and the blue ones never flinched until Kyle looked away. She could feel her heart racing and the heat on her face was downright embarrassing.

"Yeah, sure. I’ve got it all labeled." Kyle pointed at various pieces of paper sticking haphazardly out of the different books, trying desperately to get those eyes to look at something beside her. "White is for checked facts. Blue is for things I’m in the process of ‘fact checking’, and yellow is for ideas that I’ve got but have no books, articles, or reference materials to support them yet."

"Does Dr. Jeffries know this is how you do research?" Anna looked bewildered now.

Anna was from somewhere up north, so to Kyle, her speech was coming out fast and unintelligible to her untrained ear. It was making Kyle nod slower and slower, as if mental telepathy would slow this woman down. When it didn’t Kyle muttered, "Could you slow down by any chance? Of course he knows this is how I do research."

"Sorry, I talk fast when I’m stunned." Anna smiled. The woman looking over at her with the sea green eyes was breathtaking. Long hair with sun kissed highlights framed a slightly rounded face. Innocence and openness illuminated from the unclouded eyes and smooth face. Anna’s pulse quickened as she stared. Mentally shaking herself she continued, "And you’re sure you are the brilliant researcher he keeps telling me about?"

Dr. Jeffries had warned Anna that Kyle’s ways were a bit unorthodox and could be confusing to someone not familiar with them. His exact word had been something in the way of, ‘she has precise and well thought out conclusions when she speaks of her thesis. Her research methods are sound, but her notes and organization process tends to be lost on me. I think, that if she had a guiding hand, this thesis could be one of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.’ He enlisted Anna to be her savior.

Of course, two years ago, no one would have considered Anna to be much of anything except a scourge on the very society that she came from. If it had not been for the cajoling of her aunt, a dear friend of Dr. Jeffries, who through downright bribing had gotten her into the elite college, and directed her into Dr. Jeffries hands, he had no doubt she would be a wanted woman in many states. In his mind, he always said wanted, because he knew she was too smart to get caught by something as basic as law enforcement. Anna wasn’t out of the woods, and he knew it sometimes was a daily battle she fought with her mind and the impulses that he could sometimes see throbbing through her body. She was winning though, he had no doubt, but he knew the war was not over.

"I can’t make heads or tails of what you have here, Kyle." Anna sighed slightly as she shut another book full of the notes Kyle had meticulously taken. "Do you happen to have a computer?"

"No, but I try to get on one at the library and…"

Anna held up her hand in mock surrender. "Okay. Enough! Why don’t we meet tomorrow at my apartment, and we’ll see if we can put some of this stuff on my computer and get it organized. You might," Anna arched both eyebrows in a Groucho Marx imitation, "you might actually have something worth writing about in here, if only we can figure out where it all belongs."

Kyle turned red for the umpteenth time it seemed. Flustered and embarrassed at how much she wanted to please and impress this woman, Kyle quickly crammed her books back in the backpack, "Sure, all right. Tomorrow then."


"What movie are we going to see?" Anna was staring intently at the movie selection while she popped another pistachio in her mouth. Anna was sprawled on Kyle’s apartment floor, while Kyle had commandeered the couch. They were both taking a break from studying.

"I don’t care, just as long as it’s not one of those stupid comedies. I hate comedies." Kyle replied.

"You just go see the wrong kinds of comedies, they’re not all stupid you know."

"Well, they all look stupid to me. Give me some drama, some action, some suspense." Kyle had thrown her arms out doing her best acting imitation. It obviously wasn’t impressive; Anna was laughing.

They had been like this for two months now, and Kyle had begun to cherish her days with Anna as if they were all little separate Christmas presents. Kyle hugged a couch pillow in front of her, watching Anna across the room. For just a moment she would let the intensity of her feelings take over, just a few precious moments.

It had been over two years since she and Jan, her first, had broken up. Although there had been other dates, nothing had ever inspired the emotions of her first love. She wasn’t so sure she ever wanted those kinds of emotions again. The pain of that breakup had threatened to undo Kyle for two solid semesters. Eventually the pain subsided and their friendship had remained intact. Ironically, they were still apartment mates. A choice, her best friend Nora and everyone else had found odd, but actually turned into a great situation for Kyle since Jan was hardly ever home. She spent most of her time over at her boyfriend’s house. The boyfriend was the other oddity.

But unfortunately those intense emotions were back. Every day they seemed to multiply and divide themselves into little aching compartments in her body. Kyle sighed. She could hold these feelings in check though, and not let them overwhelm a friendship she was beginning to cherish. She was strong, mature, and more to the point, had no clue if Anna even had a gay bone in her body.

Kyle smiled slightly to herself at this one area of their friendship. For two months no topic was off limits. They argued and laughed over religion, sports, Southern authors versus Northern authors, and even over the movies. Everything, that is, but relationships familial or otherwise. Not one word was spoken about any relationships beyond their mutual disastrous high school proms. The avoidance hadn’t been mutual since Kyle was more than willing to talk about anything, but taking her cue from the sometimes-silent woman in front of her, she left the subject alone


"Kyle! Girl where are you? I’ve suggested three movies and you haven’t even given me one of your usual grunts." Anna threw the paper down and crawled over by the couch. She propped up on her knees staring at Kyle. "Are you okay?" She reached out a hand and brushed back a wayward strand of hair from Kyle’s forehead. Kyle stopped breathing. "I wonder sometimes, Kyle, what goes on in that head of yours. Sometimes I would just like to hop in there and take a look around."

"No you wouldn’t." Kyle had to get up. Now. "You would just try to find the cluttered department of my mind and straighten it up. I know you have ulterior motives!"

Anna laughed, "You’re probably right. I probably would have to straighten up and then take a look around".

Kyle managed to get up and was busy putting on her shoes. Anna seemed oblivious to the sudden commotion she had caused. "Did you pick a movie? I gave you three choices."

"Well, you just pick whichever one you want to see the most, I don’t care." Kyle was stuffing money in her jean pockets.

"All right, you’re in for it." Anna was off the floor and at the door.

"That is exactly what I’m afraid of."


The sky was full of stars. Fall always seemed to bring the clearest, darkest nights broken only by the occasional appearance of the Milky Way. Crossville was a cow town at heart. It was only the appearance of the elite small university over a hundred years ago that had saved it from the fate of a thousand other small Southern towns. There were enough hills to say it wasn’t the Delta, but there were enough soybean and cotton fields to say it was close enough. In the spring and fall huge tractors and reapers jockeyed for position on the two lane highways with every coed trying to find the elusive road to a more interesting place. There wasn’t one.

Except at night. Darkness softened every harsh small town defect and the blackened silhouettes of plows and combines somehow became acceptable mysteries. The lights from campus glowed a warm yellow gold in the distance, and even the occasional barking of coyotes seemed okay.

Anna and Kyle were riding the back roads and Crossville never looked better.

"I’m sorry about the movie."

Kyle glanced over. "Anna, I can honestly say… that was the worst movie I have ever seen!"

"You didn’t see it. You fell asleep!" They were both laughing hard.

"It proves my point. I have never fallen asleep in a movie in my life. The closest I have ever come was when I fell asleep in my waffle at the Waffle House after seeing Charlotte’s Web with my dad and sister."

"Well, see, you have done it before." Anna accused.

"I was eight years old, silly. Besides, I saw every gut wrenching moment of that movie. I have yet to recover. Poor Wilbur." Kyle rebutted.

"I know. What about Where the Red Fern Grows? Now that was traumatic."
"They had that movie in Baltimore? I thought that was only for Southern children."

"I hate to tell you, young lady, but Baltimore is considered the South." Anna retorted.

"South of what? New York?" Kyle continued curious. "Do you consider yourself a southerner?

"No, not really. I don’t consider myself much of anything really."

"Good." Kyle chirped totally missing the solemn tone of Anna’s voice. "Because with that accent, there is no way you are southern anything." Kyle hooted, and letting the sudden longing that the question evoked slip away, Anna smiled and hit her in return.

They had the top down in Kyle’s 1970 Chevy, and the wind felt cool and invigorating on their faces. It was the first of November, and the nights were just getting cool.

"Why did you pick southern women authors for your thesis, Kyle?" Anna turned serious again. Kyle could barely see her features in the orange dim glow of the radio controls, but knew from experience that Anna’s brow was wrinkled, and her eyes slightly narrowed.

"They’re strong women."

"They seem tragic to me."

"How do you figure that?" Kyle asked.

"Look at them, Kyle. Harper Lee only wrote one book in her life. Flannery O’Connor ended up dead before she was forty years old. Eudora Welty never married.

Kyle slowed the car almost to a stop and turned toward Anna, "She’s not noteworthy because she never married? That is a prerequisite for success?" Kyle’s voice was getting lower.

Anna knew she had hit a nerve. "I don’t mean it that way. Not at all, I just don’t see how you can say these are strong women."

Kyle sucked in her breath and let it out slowly. "Southern women are different. We don’t want to be wilting flowers, but we can never be the roses either. The Faulkner’s, the Tennessee Williams, they get to be the roses. They get the renown and become the legends, even if they were both a couple of certified drunks. ‘It’s what makes them a Southerner, my boy!’ Her tone mocked. "The women, they had to fight for every ounce of respect. Write twice as well and usually twice as much for a quarter of the recognition. All of that to still be labeled ‘tragic’. So what if they didn’t and don’t live exactly how you would like them to, it takes a lot more guts for a Southern woman to be a rose than it does for her to blend in with the daisies. So why not give them their due?" Kyle stared hard in the semi darkness, ready to defend the women some more.

"Calm down, Kyle. I swear I didn’t mean it as a slight. You’re right; I’m not a Southerner and I’ve never done anything that has required much guts. I always seem to take the coward’s way out, so its something I probably will never understand."

The silence engulfed them. For the first time since they had met, they couldn’t bridge the gap their different lives unknowingly created. Unsure of what to say or do, Kyle drove on, looking for a place to turn around and head back to town.

"Hey, Kyle, look. There’s another one of those silly signs with just a cow on it." Anna couldn’t stand the silence in her young friend and was willing to sound like an idiot to get her talking again.

"Y’all don’t have those?" Kyle asked, grateful to be talking.

"Are you kidding, I don’t even understand what it means."

"Cow crossing," Kyle replied.

"A what?" Anna was incredulous.

"A cow crossing. You know, so that people will know that it’s an area where cows cross the road."

"What, the cows just wander down to the sign and say, ‘Hey, I think I’m going to go visit Bubba in the other pasture.’" Anna was laughing, picturing the cow with a little purse wrapped over her hoof, a hat on her head, ready to go visit.

"You are truly a goob, Anna. You know what? I think you need one of those signs."

"I do not need a sign." Anna replied in horror. "What would I do with it?"

"Use it to decorate that monstrous apartment of yours." Kyle retorted. "It will add ambiance and culture to your life. Your first slice of a Southern college tradition." Kyle was delighted at the idea.

"And how are we going to get it?" Anna asked.

"We are going to pull it out of the ground."

In a flash they were out of the car and pulling and pushing the green sign pole with all of their might. It didn’t budge. Fifteen minutes later they were soaked with sweat and sitting on the ground leaning against the pole that refused to give up its spot in the earth.

"We are never going to get this thing, Kyle. Come on. I’m getting tired." Anna was brushing a rust covered hand across her face leaving little streaks of brown on the bridge of her nose. Kyle instinctively reached to rub it off. Her hand touched the cool point of Anna’s nose, and gently rubbed the rust spot. Kyle registered Anna’s warm breath on her wrist and let her finger drift softly down the side of Anna’s cheek. Their eyes locked for a moment and Kyle could feel Anna draw her head back and away from Kyle’s touch.

"I am so sorry." Kyle stumbled. "I wasn’t thinking Anna."

"It’s okay."

"No, I mean it. I just drifted to never, never land for a minute. I don’t know what I was thinking." Kyle was mortified.

"Kyle, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Let’s just go, okay?" Anna was standing now, brushing off her pants. The touch had felt like raw electricity running through her veins, and she was trying to sort through the conflicting emotions it sent to her brain; one of pleasure the other of past torments.

"Oh my gosh! I’ve got it Anna!" Kyle jumped up eyeballing the convertible with a critical eye. "Do you know what kind of engine this thing has?" Anna shook her head. "Well, I don’t know either but it’s big!" She answered herself. "Do you know how tough this car is? It’s a virtual tank!" She answered herself again. "Get in."

Kyle cranked the engine, threw the car in reverse and backed up a good fifty feet. "Hold on," she cried. Shifting it into double low, Kyle punched the accelerator. They jumped forward heading straight for the pole. Anna was grimly silent while Kyle let out a wild yell. With a huge thwack, they hit the pole and watched in amazement as it slowly bent and very regally lay itself gently down in the long grass. Kyle whooped. They both jumped over the doors and inspected the convertible for damage. Not a scratch. "Let’s load her up, Anna. You’ve got some decorating to do."

Anna looked at her with awe. "You are absolutely nuts, Kyle." She said slowly. "You are a nut."

"No, Anna, I’ll just never settle on being a daisy. That’s the motto here, Anna, never settle." Kyle replied grinning happily. "Never settle, because when you do, that’s when the real tragedy begins."


The semester was almost over. Kyle only had two more finals, and both promised to be a breeze, so most of her studying was done. It seemed as if the entire semester had flown by, and Kyle had barely noticed from week to week.

Since the one slip up the night of the cow sign heist as they now called it, Kyle had successfully kept all her emotions in check and had even convinced Nora that she was cured of all feelings except friendship with Anna. It was a lie, but it did Kyle no good to think otherwise.

Nora hadn’t been too thrilled with the sudden disappearance of Kyle for an entire semester. She had complained, and rightly so, that it seemed most of Kyle’s old friends were getting thrown by the wayside. Kyle didn’t have to explain too much of it to Nora and that was the true beauty of their friendship. They could ignore each other for a little while and there would be no hurt feelings. They would just pick up their conversation where they left off, as though it had only been a few hours ago.

Still, Nora had been insistent that Kyle come out for the big end of the semester party. The huge party had evolved over the semesters to include people from all over the state and even friends from as far as Nashville and Atlanta. It would be a big deal and if things went as usual, the party would spill out of the huge Victorian house, and into the surrounding overgrown gardens.

The gardens at one time had been a horticulture masterpiece, blending perennials and annuals delicately and tastefully in with English garden style rose beds. Over time, neglect of the house and the gardens had turned the beds into lush wild overgrowths. A perfect spot for hiding hordes of Lesbians from a conservative southern town, the party house would be rocking tonight.


Anna could feel the demons tonight. They were calling to her with the pull of the sirens. Looking out into the darkness, she swore she could see them as well. It took all her energy sometimes to not give in to the pull and countless nights had been spent walking the streets of Crossville and the campus studiously avoiding all physical contact, but burning off the fire one step at a time.

"Why isn’t this working tonight?" Anna’s steps echoed on the concrete sidewalk. Unconsciously she was avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk. The chants from the childhood game running through her mind; ‘Step on a crack and break your mother’s back’.

Well, she had done her own version of that time and time again, the wounds inflicted on both sides had been deep and the scars were tough and impenetrable.

"Just keep walking Anna. Just keep walking." She muttered and jammed her hands deeper in her coat, the long legs eating up the miles.

The video store loomed large. The neon sign bleated in the darkness, but to Anna it looked like an oasis to a thirsty traveler. Walking had exhausted her body, but her mind was still churning. She thought of Kyle and for once, let down her guard enough to realize she needed some help tonight, and in five minutes, she had two videos in hand and was headed for Kyle’s apartment.


The doorbell rang. Kyle went to answer it wondering if she and Nora had gotten their signals crossed and Nora was meeting her here. It was Anna.

"Hey, you. What are you doing?" Anna had a couple of movies in her hand. "I thought we might live the high life tonight and watch a couple of classics." Smiling, she held up the video boxes.

Kyle’s clothes and the mascara wand in her hand finally registered.

"Where are you going?" Anna asked.

"Umm, to some friends’." Kyle looked away, hesitant. "Just a little party, no big deal." She could see the hurt look crossing Anna’s face, but had no idea how to make it go away without crossing the unspoken barrier they had erected on this portion of their friendship.

Kyle hadn’t explained Anna to her friends, and she definitely hadn’t explained her friends to Anna. Now she was caught. Part of her desperately wanted to just tell Anna the whole truth and let the consequences follow.

The other half cringed. She wanted Anna in her life in whatever way she could have her. She shrank away from even the slightest possibility that she would say anything to jeopardize her friendship with this woman. Bleakly she remembered Anna’s reaction the night Kyle had touched her cheek. Kyle’s eyes clouded in indecision. Something she hated.

"I’m sorry to barge in. I guess I’ll just see you tomorrow or something." Anna backed up to the door and was searching for the knob behind her. The creases in her brow were evident.

"Anna, hold on a sec." Kyle paused. "Do you want to go? It’s not a big deal really, and I’m sure my friends would love to meet you, but I just…"

"Forget about it, okay? I’ll just see you tomorrow." Anna turned again.
Kyle took a deep breath and plunged in. "Come on and go, okay. It’s just going to be different, all right?" Kyle felt her voice raising an octave and willed it back to its normal tone. "Just go, and I tell you what, if there’s any explaining to do, I’ll just do it after the party. Deal?"

Their eyes locked momentarily, each of them aware that they were about to cross to a whole new dimension of their friendship. This would be the last chance to leave things the way they were. Anna shifted her gaze away, and as she turned the knob, her only words were, "It’s a deal."


The party was noisy, crowded, and smelly. Cigarette smoke hung in the air like a heavy seaside fog and held the smell of spilled alcohol down at nose level like a chained prisoner. It had taken them ten minutes to find a place to park. Cars and trucks were pulled up all the way to the front porch and had already lined both sides of the street for a quarter mile on either side.

Kyle led the way through the old breezeway that separated the two sides of the house. She stopped only to yell hello to a few people over the throbbing of the Joan Jett record being blasted through an elaborate sound system. Kyle spotted Nora heading for the kitchen, and tried desperately to catch up to her. Part of her wanted Nora to explain all of this away to Anna.

She needed to explain the butch women, the athletes, the sorority girls, the feminine girls, and the country girls. She even wanted her to explain the straight people that were invariably attracted to this odd crowd of lesbians

Anna had not said a word since they parked the car. In her defense, there had not been much opportunity. Each blink, each small frown or long glance at couples on the dance floor was causing Kyle to die a small death. She needed Nora to break the tension, but getting to her was proving to be an impossible task.

As they reached the small hallway between the screened in back porch and the kitchen, Kyle felt a pull at her hand. Anna, with her black hair falling slightly in her tanned face, motioned her head toward the back door. "Let’s go outside for a minute."

"Are you all right?" Kyle had known in her gut, this was a bad idea.

"I’m fine, Kyle, quit worrying. I’m fine. I just hate crowds." Anna glanced through the glass pane to the jumble of people everywhere. "Do you know all of those women in there?" Anna cocked her head toward the door.

They had stopped in an area off the back porch that at one time had housed a barrel used to catch rainwater. The platform for the barrel was still intact, as were the spouts that had directed the water. The music was a distant throb and the smell of smoke only came in small gusts on the night air.

Kyle leaned her head back on the peeling wooden boards and jammed her hands deep into her pockets, misery clouding her face. "I guess I’ve got some explaining to do, huh?" She just wanted to float away from here. She wasn’t ready to lose this friendship. Wasn’t ready to defend herself yet. Wasn’t ready for the accusations she could feel forming in Anna’s mind. She just wanted to hold on to these past few months for just a couple of more precious moments.

"Kyle." The voice was low, urgent. "How come you never told me?"

Kyle wasn’t ready to respond.

"Kyle." Anna was insistent. "Kyle!" Kyle kept her eyes closed as she felt Anna’s strong grip on her upper arms. She couldn’t face the anger just yet.

"You won’t have any explaining to do if you will just open your eyes and kiss me."


Three days had passed since the party. Kyle and Nora each skipped their one o’clock classes and made it out to Mack’s by one thirty.

Mack’s Supper Club sat on the side of one of the many two lane roads leaving Crossville. Kyle had no idea where the highway eventually went; she never made it a mile past the place. The building itself was made of cinderblocks and sported a huge aerial antenna sprouting from the roof. The driveway was gravel and on any given day, there were at least twenty to thirty beer cans strewn about. On Friday and Saturday nights, after the bars closed at 1:00 am, all of the frat boys and sorority girls hit Highway 82 to the Crossroads intersection. From there they would hang a right and eventually stumbled their way into Mack’s where he not only charged them five bucks a head to get in, but also a dollar a beer for the privilege of bringing beer into his place after hours. If you knew Mack well enough he would sell you a six-pack outside the back door for $8.00. If you didn’t know him, he may still sell you a six-pack, but then he would charge you another five dollars to get back in the front. It was a racket he loved to play on the Greek crowd. Kyle and Nora never had to pay to enter, and Mack always cut them a deal on the beer. He liked their kind he said. Nora thought he loved lesbians. Kyle figured it was because they came on rainy afternoons like this and listened to him practice his nasty little songs while they played pool. Both of them were probably right.

Kyle couldn’t eat. She couldn’t concentrate on the final exam she had left and was afraid that the one she had taken Monday morning had been a complete bomb. She finally called Nora, and here they were.

"So, you kissed her." Nora looked up as she struck the seven ball and it nestled easily into the right corner pocket.

"Of course I kissed her." Kyle had gone over and punched some selections on the jukebox. Her fingers had gravitated toward "Every Rose Has Its Thorn", "Groovy Kind of Love", "My Obsession", and "Crazy", by Patsy Cline. The songs were as scrambled as her mind. "Nor, I’ve been dying to kiss her for months. What would you have done?"

"Girl, you know I would have done the same thing." Nora couldn’t resist the next question, "How was it?"

Kyle didn’t answer her immediately, but instead bounced the rubber-capped end of her pool cue up and down on the concrete floor as she studied her options on the table. Nora reached over and stopped the cue in mid bounce. Her expression asked the question again.

"It was incredible," Kyle whispered. She stared at Nora hoping for understanding. Nora searched Kyle’s face and nodded once. Turning away, Nora knew two things: One, Kyle was very, very serious, and two, Kyle was in love.


The ride back from the party had been quiet. Kyle managed to regain some composure after the unexpected kiss, and moved through the crowd in a blissful trance. She knew from Nora that she had chatted away with everyone, introducing Anna to anyone that bumped into her. Judging by the crowd, Anna had met at least a hundred people. Nora insisted Kyle had been on an unusual roll and was talkative and funny all night. Kyle remembered none of it. She did remember being out on the makeshift dance floor with Anna while Melissa Etheridge blasted from the speakers, and then vaguely waving goodbye to everyone as the hour approached 3:00 am. The party was still in high gear, but Anna had had enough. Kyle, who had drank nothing all night, felt like a drunk. Anna drove home.

They arrived at Kyle’s apartment in silence, and quietly walked up the two flight of stairs, where Anna inserted the key and let them in. Kyle went in first and fumbled a hand along the wall to find the light switch. Anna’s hand gently grabbed her arm as she closed the door.

"Don’t turn the light on yet." She said as she turned Kyle gently to her. Hugging for a long moment, Anna leaned down and murmered near Kyle’s ear, "Are you okay?" Kyle mutely nodded her head. They stayed close a moment longer and Anna finally put some space in between them while both of her hands ended up lightly cupping Kyle’s neck and jaw line. From the glow of the streetlights Anna could see the gold flecks in Kyle’s green eyes. They looked like gold fourth of July sparklers. She leaned forward and softly pressed her lips to Kyle’s. Anna lingered there momentarily, and then sweetly let her lips nibble on Kyle’s lower one. Her lips trailed down to Kyle’s chin and worked their way along the strong jaw she held in her fingers, back up to Kyle’s closed eyes where she placed butterfly kisses on each lid before returning finally to Kyle’s parted lips. They let their tongues explore each other delicately until Kyle finally felt the pressure of Anna’s hand behind her head as the kiss deepened and the first flames of passion stirred.

"You taste so good," Anna murmered as the kiss finally ended. Kyle smiled.

"You’re pretty tasty yourself."

Anna returned the smile and let her forehead rest on Kyle’s shoulder. After a moment she finally lifted her head.

"Kyle," she whispered, "as much as part of me would like to, I don’t want this to go any further tonight."

Kyle let out a slow breath as she let her fingers tangle in Anna’s long dark hair. "I know, and its fine. It really is. But I just don’t know what to do. I guess I’m in a state of shock. I left here tonight wondering if I was about to ruin the beginnings of a wonderful friendship, and now here I am, holding you in my arms." Kyle lowered her head as she struggled for the right words. "I just want to be with you, Anna." She hurried her next words, "Not in a sexual way, not right now, but I can’t stand the thought of letting you go home. Not after this incredible night."

"We have a lot to talk about." Anna replied.

Kyle nodded and then grinned, "I think that, little missy, is an understatement!" They hugged again.

"Really!" Anna returned in mock surprise.

"Yeah, really."

"Do you have a t-shirt and some sweats?" Anna asked.

"You know I do. Fifteen pair probably." Kyle replied but eyed Anna’s long form skeptically, "Although on you they will probably be knickers"!

Anna kissed her gently again and chuckled. "That’s fine. So why don’t you and I put some on and let me hold you as we go to sleep."

Kyle kissed her back and smiled, "Spooning?" Anna nodded. "The perfect ending to a perfect night." Reluctantly releasing Anna from her embrace, Kyle turned down the hallway in search of sweats.

As they lay in the darkness, Anna could hear Kyle’s easy breathing, as she snuggled a little closer. Anna pulled her long arm around Kyle’s smaller frame just a little tighter and let the warmth of their two bodies lull her into semi consciousness. The demons were quiet and subdued right now, and Anna wondered if it had everything to do with the small blonde in her arms. For once Anna let that thought comfort her, and finally let sleep claim her as well.



Kyle tried hard to concentrate on her notes. Papers were spread out Egyptian fan style all around Kyle as she sat in the middle of a pile of pillows she had tossed on the floor. She had given up trying to study in her bed, even though it was usually a favorite study spot. Every time she focused on her notes, the words blurred and somehow images of Anna would magically appear. Then images of the bed would appear, and then images of the two of them in that bed would come next. It was a frustrating cycle. It was a wonderful cycle.

The past few days had disappeared like dripping icicles on a sunny day. They were beautiful and enchanting but melted away much too fast. They had holed up in Kyle’s apartment and crammed late into the night for their exams. They tried this tactic in Anna’s small apartment but the only places to sit had been the bed or the floor. The floor proved intolerable, the bed irresistible. They had ended up with notes all intermingled as they kissed and hugged, and kissed more.

Anna’s apartment was small, if it weren’t for the separate little kitchen and bathroom made out of an old closet, the apartment would have been a very small efficiency. A huge built in bookcase separated the bedroom from the living room. The window that overlooked the small porch usually lighted the living room. Anna had placed the Victorian chair they found at a back road flea market, in the way of the late afternoon sunshine. She said it was a perfect spot to study and feel the warmth of the sun on her face as she read. The tattered elegance of the chair and the bright yellow cow sign hanging on the far wall were at complete odds with each other, but Anna refused to eliminate either piece saying only that each had its use. Kyle agreed about the chair, but wasn’t sure why Anna had developed such an affection for the sign. She let it pass.

Kyle wanted desperately to just be there one day and quietly watch the sun begin its silent march down the sky, and like a sculpture that casts a perfect shadow, witness the beauty of Anna’s face as the warm rays washed their yellow gold rays over her. She envisioned Anna bending over her books and the coal hair falling over the pages from the tilt of her head. Anna, she envisioned, would absently tuck the wayward hair back behind an ear, and never look up from her studying. Absently she would let a marker do a slow spin between her fingers as she searched for some nuance she had yet to highlight. Then, before she turned to the next page, she would glance up and smile slowly at Kyle sitting silently leaning against the battered bookcase.

It was a perfect daydream, but Kyle knew it would never happen in that little place. Anna was unusually hyper there, and seemed much more at ease at Kyle’s place. She was constantly asking if Kyle wanted any thing, or changing out the tapes on her portable boom box. The boom box was nestled in the middle of the bookcase and surrounded by piles of tapes, many of them dubbed with handwritten labels on them. The rest of the shelves were covered with books and a few personal collectibles that Kyle had quizzed Anna incessantly about. Kyle smiled to herself, wondering how many times Anna had censored her stories trying not to reveal herself to Kyle. Now Kyle wanted to know everything there was to know about Anna, but felt like the secrets of Anna’s life were locked up back there in that little apartment. There would be plenty of time after their exams were over, and their only obligations were to Dr. Jeffries. Kyle couldn’t wait.

They had packed up their notes and came here two days ago, and now Anna was off taking her last exam while Kyle tried to study among the pillows. Anna’s exam started at six, and they had agreed to meet back here when Anna got through. Kyle wanted to be finished with studying well before Anna got back.

Even though they had both controlled it well, the tension had almost been unbearable. The pillows served as a much needed physical barrier. They were able to touch across the expanse of pillows though, and Anna constantly reached a hand over to gently rub Kyle. As Kyle bathed, she could remember every small touch and how it felt like a warm burn wherever their skin met. She looked one time expecting to see a small red spot from the heat, but of course there was none.

Kyle slowly leaned back letting the warm water engulf her. It felt so good to finally feel like she could relax and not worry about her last exam. She was as prepared as she could be.


"How was the test?" Kyle was toweling her hair dry and was leaning to one side to keep it away from her body.

"Easier than I expected." Anna tossed off her backpack and laid it by the door.

"Are you hungry"? It was already 9:30, and Kyle hadn’t eaten.

Anna eyed Kyle. The bath had made her face flushed and the dark green of the bathrobe set off her eyes. Anna could see the length of one muscular thigh as it peeked out from the folds of the thick terry cloth. "I don’t feel like eating. Do you?"

"No, not really." Kyle noticed the urgency in Anna’s voice and could feel her pulse racing unexpectedly. She slowly walked toward Anna and held her in a long embrace.

"You smell so good."

"Mmm, you do too."

Anna laughed. "I smell like a sweaty old exam room!" She nestled in Kyle’s wet hair and nudged it out of the way so she could kiss Kyle’s neck. "I’m going to take a shower myself, if you don’t mind."

"Of course I don’t mind." Kyle whispered.

"While I’m in there, why don’t you make us a pallet on the floor," Anna said in between lengthy kisses.

"A thousand and one uses for the pillows." Kyle smiled and teased, "Are we going to watch old movies in front of the TV?"

"Something like that." Anna answered in mock seriousness as they separated and she headed for the bathroom. "Hey, Kyle." Kyle turned. "By the way, don’t change your clothes." She smiled as she nodded at the soft robe. "You have on the perfect ensemble."


The only light in the apartment came from the glow of two candles lit on opposite sides of the room. The flames flickered and danced across the walls as if a symphony was playing privately for the candles. Anna lay quietly in Kyle’s arms.

"What are you thinking?" Kyle murmured.

Anna turned and faced Kyle. They had been talking like this for hours. Kyle could see the glow of the clock in the kitchen. It read 2:14.

"I don’t know exactly. Not much, but at the same time, a thousand things." Anna reached out a hand and rubbed Kyle’s shoulder. "I’m just so comfortable with you Kyle. As if everything in the world can work out somehow." Anna was quiet for a moment. "You seem so sure of everything. Its like you ask millions of questions, and then seriously look for the answers. You don’t seem to be scared of anything, but at the same time you can be so vulnerable. I don’t understand how you can just put your emotions out there, and not be afraid. I just don’t get it."

"There’s nothing to get." Kyle’s eyes were full of compassion.

"Sure there is Kyle. You remember what you said that night we got the road sign?" Anna had leaned up on one elbow. "You said ‘never settle, that’s when the real tragedy begins’. But how can you do that, Kyle? Never settle."

"You just don’t."

"No, Kyle, you can’t say that. That is a twenty three year old woman talking. There have got to be times when you are not going to be able to go after everything you want, times when you are not going to be able to have what you want. I know, Kyle, more than you know."
"Anna, you aren’t that old you know. Much too young to be so jaded." Kyle tried to tease the seriousness from Anna’s voice.

"I’m serious, Kyle. Sometimes, when you talk to strangers as if they were long lost friends, or when you believe so wholeheartedly in your friends, even when you smile at me as if I can do no wrong, I just want to scream at you and tell you life isn’t that way. There really are thorns on all of those beautiful roses. They will jump up and prick you one day."

"Every Rose has Its Thorn, huh?" Kyle smiled gently referring to one of Anna’s favorite songs.

Anna sighed and rolled on her stomach. "I know its corny isn’t it? But you scare me Kyle, you trust so much."

"Is that a character flaw?" Kyle smiled and scooted closer to Anna and rolled her onto her back.

Anna opened her mouth to answer, but Kyle quickly covered it with her own. "I don’t want any more serious talk out of you young lady." She slowly let her gaze drift from Anna’s face. The white ribbed tee shirt pulled tautly over the swell of Anna’s breasts. Kyle could barely see the outline of rose colored aureoles and let a finger glide slowly around the outline of the nearest one. A jealous nipple pushed against the fabric, demanding attention. Kyle’s hand moved lower until she felt the hem of the tee. Languidly, she pulled the shirt up until each full breast was exposed. She turned back to Anna’s face, "Is this all right?"

"Yes, yes." Anna was barely breathing.

Kyle lowered her head. A cascade of silky hair fell on Anna’s stomach, caressing and teasing as Kyle’s tongue gently licked the tip of Anna’s erect nipple. For an exquisite eternity, Kyle let her tongue move from one nipple to the other teasing them to hardness. Without warning, she took one completely in her mouth and pulled hard as Anna moaned with pleasure. After a few moments, Kyle lifted her head and moved upwards to once again kiss Anna. Kyle could feel the tightness in her stomach and could feel a deep heat start between her thighs as their kisses deepened. "I want you so much." Kyle whispered as their kiss finally ended.

"I want you too."

Kyle’s hand rubbed in small circular motions on the flatness of Anna’s belly. Occasionally she would detour up between Anna’s breasts before continuing the circles. Anna’s hand tangled Kyle’s hair and kept pulling her closer. Kyle could feel the short, warm bursts of Anna’s breath as her hand slid tentatively under the waistband of Anna’s boxers. Anna tensed.

"Is this okay?" Kyle focused hard, trying to see the depths of Anna’s eyes in the darkness.

With one swift motion, Anna wrapped a strong arm around Kyle’s waist, and turned her so that now Kyle was lying on her back, and Anna was leaning over her. Anna smiled a small smile. "Its perfect." She said slowly.

"Then why am I now lying on my back?" Kyle smiled back. "I thought I was in control of this situation."

"You definitely were." Anna stared at her finger as it traced Kyle’s mouth. Kyle could see the emotions race across Anna’s face. She stayed quiet letting Anna sort her thoughts. Anna suddenly shook her self and focused her attention as she nibbled at Kyle’s ear. "Quite wonderfully I might add. Its just that I’ve had this little vision in my mind of this night, and in my version, it had me making love to you first." She answered as her lips found Kyle’s once again.

"Well, I think I can handle that version." Kyle relaxed.

Anna slowly pulled the bathrobe open. The moonlight slanted low in the window, and the glow made Kyle’s perfect body look ethereal. Anna sucked in her breath. "You are gorgeous." She whispered. "The moonlight on your body and the reflection of the candles in your eyes…Kyle, you are exquisite."

Anna let her hands roam at random, a trail of heat followed every path. Kyle could hear small moans and was shocked to realize they were escaping from her throat. Anna moved easily on top of her and delicately placed one leg between Kyle’s thighs. Kyle let her legs relax and after a moment they were moving in an easy rhythm together. After a few moments, Anna pushed up on her knees and sat back. Her mouth moved to Kyle’s breasts, and blazed a trail of sensation past her navel to the inside of one thigh. Kyle had quit breathing long ago, focusing only on the movement of those lips across her body. With each small kiss Anna’ s mouth got closer and closer to Kyle’s core. Languidly, Anna rocked forward on her knees until her face was once again directly over Kyle’s. "Is this okay," she asked, "I don’t want to move too fast."

"Its perfect. You have me so turned on, Anna."

"Everything’s okay then." Anna asked again.

"Anna, I love you." Kyle stated the simple truth. "I trust you completely and forever. I know you would never hurt me."

Anna closed her eyes letting the words wash over her. She opened them slowly and looked into Kyle’s eyes. "You mean that don’t you?"

"What about loving you? Yes, I do."

"No, about trusting me."

"I do. I trust you, Anna." Kyle let both hands slide up and down Anna’s sides underneath her tee shirt.

Anna didn’t answer. She couldn’t answer. She just let the sensation of those strong hands fill her, as if filling up her soul. "Kyle, I want you to remember one thing," Anna whispered urgently as she felt the tears start burning the back of her eyes, "I love you. More than you ever will know." Kyle’s eyes were questioning. Anna leaned forward and tenderly kissed her. "Please remember that."

And with one quick push she was up on her feet, grabbed her pile of clothes and backpack, and was out the door.







Port Everglades was ugly. Pier 23 specifically was ugly. No amount of sprucing, washing or banner hanging could disguise the baby blue 1960’s style plastic chairs bolted together and placed in long rows throughout the cinder block building. No building this ugly could be the beginning for a wonderful vacation, was all Kyle could think as the hot wind goaded her on through the broken electric glass doors.

Nora and Kelley, who had been chattering incessantly two seconds earlier, stopped abruptly, and caused the rest of the group to plow into them like falling dominoes. "So much for grand entrances!" Lea muttered cheerfully under her breath while everyone stopped to gaze in awe. Women were everywhere. The baby blue seats were filled with nothing but women. The cruise brochure had promised it and they had all talked non-stop about this possibility, but here it was in the flesh. Eight hundred women were either seated, standing, or walking around in front of their group of five and all of them were about to get on the same ship. Together. "Heaven is here in front of me!" Lea was now doing a mock swoon, which had the whole group laughing, and had Kyle ducking slightly in the back.

Kyle’s only desire was to be inconspicuous. She still couldn’t believe she let herself be talked into something this bizarre. She had no desire to go on a cruise. She especially had no desire to be on a cruise like this alone. Talk about a fifth wheel! She would not be here now if it weren’t for Kelley and Nora, two of her best friends, doing an awful lot of pleading, begging, and cajoling.

They had just been married on Saturday, two days prior to sailing. Kyle loved the service. The service had been in the early evening at Holy Trinity, and the glow of candles served as the only light as Kelley and Nora walked down the aisle together. They both wore ivory. Kelley wore a simple tea length dress that accented the smallness of her delicate features, and Nora chose a feminine, tailored pantsuit. As they walked by, Kyle felt a rush of pure love for the two of them and the steps they were taking to signify the importance of their love for each other. Kyle was proud to serve as a witness for their union, but she would be lying if she didn’t admit, at least to herself, that she felt twinges of jealousy at the way they looked at each other as they recited their vows. Love like that had to exist for everyone didn’t it?

Kyle had to admit she didn’t truthfully know the answer. Oh, her memories of Jan were always a special memory but then there had been Anna…Kyle had loved her so completely and so naively that she never let herself fall like that again. And never would.

At the time it had been so short and fleeting, that she began to think she was chasing the ghost of a memory and not a real memory at all. In Kyle’s mind, Anna had been the One, and when she leaned down and scooped up her clothes that night, she had taken Kyle’s soul out the door as well.

Nora had known about her, but even she never knew the true depths of Kyle’s feelings, and never would. But now, for almost ten years, she confined Anna to just a momentary memory that she let come to mind during the last fleeting moments before sleep, hoping against all logic that the picture would carry into her dream world and the woman that had never been her lover would finally be just that.

Kyle sighed. So did love like Nora’s and Kelley’s exist for everyone? The cynic in Kyle insisted that it didn’t, but the young girl, the one with the innocent soul craved for the answer to be a resounding yes. Kyle let the thoughts drift away. There was only one answer she did know; that this was the part of their marriage celebration that she wanted desperately to avoid. And couldn’t!

Kelley and Nora asked their close friends to share their honeymoon with them by taking this cruise. It seemed ideal to them. A tip created for gay women to cruise to the Caribbean and Key West for seven days on the ocean liner. To Kyle, it reeked of nothing but pure torture.



"Crap this cabin is small". Kyle muttered to herself looking around. Her one demand was that she was not going to room with a stranger, so she had a room to herself. "Good thing," she thought ruefully taking in the small basic furnishings. She was going to need all the room she could get. The look was definitely Spartan. Whoever had designed these rooms had definitely thought out each square inch. The bathroom housed a shower, toilet, and nice sized sink and mirror all within a three-foot square space. In fact, Kyle was willing to bet that the same people, who amazingly designed her sister’s pop up camper, had a hand in designing this bathroom. The bedroom area itself had a small sitting area, at which to apply makeup, Kyle assumed. She also assumed that area was not going to get used a lot by many of the women on this boat. She smiled at the memory of many of the women who sported "natural" looks in the lobby. She didn’t mind, natural was good with her too. The two small single beds lined up side by side with a small bedside table crammed between them immediately brought back memories of college, Jan, and the dorm room with its two small beds separated by a little night stand. The nightstand had eventually found another home and the two beds pushed together to form a nice double.

The only problem, Kyle grimaced, was that these beds were only half as big as her little dorm room bed had been. And it didn’t look as if that little table was budging for anyone.

She couldn’t repress a grin at the thought of Nora and Kelley trying to celebrate their honeymoon. Their stories would keep all of them entertained and with Lea egging them on, the situation could only get funnier. For once, Kyle sighed quietly as she started to unpack in the compact but adequate closet, she was grateful she didn’t have to worry about making love, or more to the point, not making love.


"Hey, who is this Alexandra Shaw chick?" They were all seated at a huge round table directly in the middle of the dining room. They had all chosen the late seating for dinner and optioned to sit with each other every night instead of doing the sit around. This way, they all figured, they could catch up on all the day’s activities and plot out their assault on the next day. Kyle strongly opposed the sit around, not wanting to subject herself to all of the asked and unasked questions about her partner, or lack of one.

"So Kyle, are you going to do any singles stuff tomorrow?" Julie, Lea’s girlfriend was passing bread around to everyone as she spoke.

"No, I don’t think so."
"Why not? You know all we’re going to do tomorrow is be on the ship."

"Good." Kyle passed the bread on. "I’ll work on my tan and just read awhile."

"Uh huh, Kyle! No way!" Lea spoke up. "You are not going to spend this whole cruise reading. I am not even going to guess how many books you brought, but you are not going to finish one. Okay!" Lea leaned forward and her head swiveled from side to side like a quarterback frantically trying to round up his offense. "This is it women, no reading for Kyle. Everyone is going to have an assignment. Julie, yours is to get all the books from Kyle’s room. Kelley, your duty is to find all the singles activities. Nora, you scout out the crew. There must be cute crewmembers! It has got to be in the bylaws or something. Kyle…" Lea paused, waving a breadstick around for dramatic effect. "Kyle, honey, you are going to get laid!"

Everyone at the table was laughing now. Kyle included.

"I am not going to get laid, thank you! And I am probably going to read every book I brought plus a couple of yours if you keep it up little missy!"

Kyle used the phrase all of their Southern mothers used on them when they were way out of line growing up. "Little missy" meant you were acting way too big for your britches and you had better tone your attitude down a notch or two. Lea probably heard "Little missy" at least twice a day in her teen years, while Kyle knew she could count on one hand how many times she heard the term used in reference to her. Kyle sometimes wished she had rebelled a little bit more, but it seemed to not be in her nature. It seemed, after all these years, to somehow be a flaw.

"So who is this Alexandra woman and what does she sing?" Kelley asked, back on the original topic.

"I don’t have the foggiest idea, but I say we meet at the Rendezvous lounge," Nora arched her eyebrows and made her eyes wide in exaggerated glee at the ironic name of the lounge, "after dinner, and check her out. My itinerary says she starts at 10:15 p.m., so let’s get there a little early for good seats."

Kyle nodded her head in agreement with everybody else, letting the jubilant mood of the moment slide over her and take her in too. This cruise was no time for deep thoughts!


The Rendezvous lounge was engulfed with an excited low buzz. Their group of five commandeered a rounded bench seat and sat facing the stage. Kyle was sandwiched in between the two couples and twirled her drink straw. She idly watched the women in the room. People watching was going to be at an all time high this week and she couldn’t wait to just blend in and watch.

Others would have said that blending was not one of Kyle’s strong suits. With her short silky blonde hair that seemed to move and catch the light at every different angle Kyle was not an easy woman to ignore. Quite a few heads turned tonight when their group walked in, but Kyle was typically unaware. Large, pale green eyes were fringed by delicate eyebrows and lashes, just a trace of mascara and translucent lip gloss finished off a look that her friends envied, but Kyle only liked it because it took her less than ten minutes to get dressed every day. Her body was strong and muscular, but curves in all the right places gave her a feminine strength that was deceiving.

Kyle attracted quite a few women, but usually politely refused most requests for dates. The dates she had said yes to had all turned into good friends instead of romances by Kyle’s insistence, which was an ending that Kyle preferred but one that left others frustrated and unsure of exactly what would make her happy.

The lights dimmed and the opening act came out. In a matter of minutes, the comedienne had the entire crowd of lesbians in the floor laughing at themselves. No one was immune, and it was with a startled "No!" that the audience realized her routine was ending quickly in order to bring out the main act. Alexandra Shaw.

"And now ladies and you butch ones too! Alexandra Shaw!" The comedienne started the clapping and it was quickly followed by the applause of the rest of the audience.

The curtains clicked back slowly revealing a single microphone in a stand flooded with soft white, red and green spotlights. Out of the dimness of the side of the small stage Alexandra Shaw made her way, almost shyly, it seemed, to the light.

Kyle strained casually forward trying to get a good view around Kelley and Nora. With one startled glance her clapping stopped and as if in a haze, she heard the opening chords of the first song.

Kyle was sure there must have been words to the song, but she never heard any of them, only more clapping and different chords from the guitar as what appeared to be a different song filtered slowly into her head.

Nora, having loved the first song, glanced at Kyle for her approval. "Hey, Kyle, what do you think? You like her?"

Kyle nodded absently.

"You know what though. She looks kind of familiar. Kind of like somebody I knew somewhere before." Nora’s voice was loud in Kyle’s ear.

"Yeah, she does." Kyle stared. Shell shocked from memories.

"Oh my god. Kyle. Isn’t that Anna? You’re Anna? The one from school?" Nora was talking in a whispered rush. "That’s not her real name is it, Alexandra Shaw?" Nora’s voice was rising in Kyle’s ear, but somehow it was not bothering her.

"No, its not. Her name, that is. Yes, it's her. I’m pretty sure. Unless this woman does a great imitation of her or is her sister or something really wonderfully stupid like that, then I would say it is definitely Anna. Although she was never mine, Nora." Kyle intoned, nodding slowly.

Her jagged thoughts were just spilling out. Memories were crashing back to her like the huge waves she could feel slapping the sides of the boat. "I’ve got to get out of here, Nora. I can not sit through this."


The wind and the faint taste of the ocean it carried with it were welcome distractions. Kyle could feel the motion of the boat rolling gently under her feet. The motion lulled her earlier in the evening, but now threatened to send her retching over the side of the boat as she fought to keep her dinner inside where it belonged.

"I’m not sure it’s a good night to be standing out here." A late night storm had developed and the first few fat, lazy, drops were splatting noisily on the bright blue astro turf. Kyle looked up into the dark night, feeling the drops for the first time. Anna stood with her hands deep in the pockets of her jeans her eyes focusing on the stacked silhouettes of long lounge chairs tucked neatly against the side of the ship; harnessed together until sunshine tomorrow.

"So. It really is you." Kyle didn’t turn. Couldn’t turn, she felt, so her voice drifted back softly to Anna.

"Yes, Kyle, it’s me."

"You sing? And I am assuming Alexandra is a stage name or was that a lie too?" Kyle was still shocked by the unexpected appearance of Anna on that stage. She vaguely remembered a guitar sitting in the corner of Anna’s tiny apartment. She could, in fact, remember some off hand comment Anna made about not being good enough to play for anyone when Kyle asked her about it.

Anna laughed self-consciously. "Nothing fancy Kyle, I just do it here and there, and somehow got wrangled into coming and doing this. A favor to a friend of a friend, to sing for some small audiences, no big deal. And yes, of course it’s a stage name. One that one of the crew came up with." Anna moved closer behind Kyle. Close enough so that Kyle could feel Anna behind her. Close enough that she knew she would have to turn and face this nine year-old ghost.

"So, Anna, who knew?" Upon turning Kyle’s anger flared with the breeze that was pushing her blonde hair into her face. With an angry finger she jammed the offending hair behind an ear and continued. "Who would have ever thought we would ever run into one another again? Especially in the middle of the stupid ocean."

"Kyle," Anna paused.

"What, Anna? Don’t know what to say to me? Don’t know where to start a conversation like this?" Kyle’s voice was low, a sure sign of anger and frustration. "How about we just pick up with what we were talking about the last time I saw you. I think it had something to do with my eyes… Oh yes, the reflection of light in my eyes, or some such crap, right? Yeah. Right before you stood up and walked out the door." Kyle couldn’t stop the edginess, couldn’t stop the bitter sarcasm from spilling out, nor could she stop the tears that were stinging the backs of her eyes.

"Kyle, I don’t want to start this way. Please, just for a little while, I don’t want to start with this much…" Anna groped for words, "this much hostility. Just talk to me for a little while. Please." Anna moved and braced against the railing, steadying herself against the swaying of the boat. Her face illuminated by the glow of the deck lights. Kyle studied her. Nine years hadn’t done that much, she thought. Her jet-black hair was a bit shorter than Kyle remembered and at the moment, she honestly couldn’t recall if Anna had bangs before or if she had always worn her hair one length. Whichever was the case, Kyle decided objectively that the one length definitely suited her and set off the somewhat angular features of her chin and jaw and still accented the high cheekbones that belied her Indian heritage. As far as Kyle could tell, Anna looked as toned and fit as she had during school when she got in a three to five mile run every day. The only concessions to age seemed to be a slightly larger chest, and womanlier, curvaceous hips. Two attributes that Kyle didn’t feel were fair to label concessions to anything.

"Ok, Anna, what do you want to talk about?" Kyle felt the anger subsiding and a tinge of curiosity setting in. Curiosity had always been a weak spot. "Did you know I was here? On the cruise?" Anna nodded her head. "How?"

"Passenger list. We had one last meeting a day or so before departure for the entertainers to make sure we had our schedules straight. I was scanning the passenger list, and there you were. I wasn’t so sure it was you, but then further down I saw Nora’s name. I couldn’t remember her last name for sure, but the coincidence seemed too big." Anna was talking fast, a rarity for her, but glad to be on a neutral subject, she plowed on. Anna smiled for the first time, "I kind of thought maybe you two were together." Kyle wrinkled her forehead in question to the train of thought. Anna shrugged. "You know. I thought maybe after all the years of being friends, some big romantic spark may have developed." Kyle did have to laugh at that. Anna wasn’t the first to think that she and Nora should have been lovers. Friends questioned both of them unmercifully. She and Nora had always been able to say truthfully, that it would be like dating a sister.

Anna continued. "So many thoughts ran through my head! Lord, Kyle, I didn’t know what to think or not think." She stopped herself, not willing to reveal more. "Anyway, Nora quickly set me straight about that."


"Right after the show. She came marching right up in typical Nora style and demanded to know if it was me." Anna’s smile turned serious. "I couldn’t help it, Kyle. I had to ask her if she knew where you were. I promised myself I wouldn’t bother you, but when she was standing there in front of me, the question just popped out."

"Why Anna? Why do you care after all this time?" Kyle was not angry; she just wanted an honest answer. "I find it hard to believe that now, after all this time, you care whether I am on this ship or not."

Anna turned fully to face Kyle for the first time. Her look said she was being earnest. "I do care Kyle, I’ve always cared."

"Oh… Oh, crap! Please! Anna! I know you don’t expect me to…" The anger was back, "I know… Guess what Annabelle Stowe; I’ve grown up now. I’m not so dumb; I’m not so naïve, and I’m not nearly as sweet and nice as I used to be. You’ve always cared? Give me a big break here, ok!"

Anna could see Kyle’s jaw working nervously, and she suspected correctly that the rigid stance was not just to brace herself against the waves pounding the boat. The words welled up in Anna. Came so close to spilling over, that Kyle would have been astonished at the ocean of words that Anna wanted to say to explain herself. She had said the words a thousand times in her car, in her bath, and even in her dreams to an imaginary Kyle. In her imagination, the words were perfect, and Kyle immediately understood and forgave her. In reality, Anna knew this wasn’t the time to even try to say them. She stayed quiet.


It was just before 9:00am when Kyle heard knocking at her cabin door. Vaguely she recalled hanging the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door so she could recuperate from the previous weekend and the wedding.

Groaning, she got out of the bad and answered the door. Sleep had been just a wishful thought anyway after the shock of last night’s events. Pulling open the door she grimaced at Nora and Kelley standing in the hallway.

"I guess do not disturb is just for the cabin steward, huh?" Nora smiled slyly and paid no attention to Kyle’s words as she pushed her way into the room. They had both showered and were in tank tops and Nike shorts. Kyle could see the floral print of bikini tops through the whiteness of the tanks.

"Nora, you are about as far up the list as you have ever been. What possessed you to tell Anna where I was," Kyle sat back on the bed and leaned her head back into the corner where the bed and small closet met.

"Did you talk?"

"Yes, we talked." Kyle replied sighing.


"And nothing, Nor, we talked. That was it. Hey, how are you. What’s going on?" Sarcasm crept into Kyle’s voice. "On, and by the way, where did you disappear to for nine years? Not that I care mind you. Just wondering." Kyle scooted over and made room for Lea and Julie who had just finished eating the breakfast buffet.

"So are ya’ll going to do anything today?" Julie had put her cold hand on Kyle’s leg. The coolness felt good, a quiet reminder that this was not a dream, just surreal.

"We’re not doing anything you guys. Okay? Nothing. She’s working and singing tonight. And I am going to pretend she is not on this boat."
"You can’t just pretend that." Julie’s voice was soothing, always the psychologist.

"Oh yes, yes I can Jules!" Kyle’s forehead was wrinkled up with the earnestness of her words. "If I know where she is, I can be somewhere else. Easy as that."

"Is that what you really want, Kyle?" Kelly poked her head out from the small bathroom where she was brushing her hair. "You have nothing else to ask her about? Nothing that you’re curious about?"

"Man, I’d have a lot to say." Lea was curled up on the other bed. "I’d let her have it! Kyle you are letting her off way too easy. I would want some hard-core explanations. Some wailing! Some gnashing of teeth!"

"Lea, honey, you want that all the time, and that is just the times when you are getting along with me!" Julie interrupted with a laugh. Everyone joined in, knowing Lea’s propensity to be dramatic. Lea promptly jumped up and wrestled Julie back on the bed and pinned her down, paying no attention to Kyle and her lack of room.

"Stop you two! We all know where that leads! Wrestling leads to sexing and we have got to get a tan today." Nora smiled hitting them both with a handy pillow.

"Ya’ll go on. Let me get dressed and I’ll catch up with you later." Kyle yawned as she stretched.
Kelly looked up from the schedule she had been browsing. "Hey, there is big money bingo at 10:00 am. The perfect place to catch some single women, Kyle! Come on, what do you say?"

"Oh heavens! No, no, no. No bingo, now or ever!"

Kyle firmly shut the door on all of then as they filed out with promises to come get her if she wasn’t up on the deck soon. Kyle leaned against the door letting the absurd image of Anna calling out bingo numbers drift through her thoughts momentarily. "No bingo," she muttered to herself. "Not now. Not ever." And with that mantra chanting in her head, she turned on the shower to cold and stepped in.


"I am not telling another secret to you people!" Kyle’s little fruity drink glass tipped over and joined the other glasses perched precariously in the middle of the chaise lounges that had been pulled together. Five faces in varying degrees of sunburn were all laughing at each other.

"You haven’t told us one single thing we didn’t already know!" Lea was miffed at having told her wildest fantasy only to be ridiculed for thirty minutes straight.

"If you think I have a fantasy as good as yours Lea, you are off your rocker and one fruit drink past your limit!"

"Ramone! Another round of these lovely fruit things please!" Nora accosted their long-suffering waiter who had been serving the top deck all afternoon.

"Not another one." Kyle moaned. "You people are trying to get me drunk!"

"No we are trying to get you laid!" A chorus of voices all chimed in at once.

Julie lowered her voice. "And here comes a gorgeous dark, mysterious beauty that would love to have a chance at the job I bet."

Five pairs of eyes had a perfect view of tanned calves and long muscular thighs coming their way.

Kyle squinted up into the sunlight trying to make out the face, but the hairs standing on the back of her neck told her who it was even before the sun was blocked out by Anna’s tall frame.


A chorus of hellos answered her back. Never accuse a Southerner of not being hospitable Kyle thought sourly.

"Hey Kyle." Anna squatted down next to Kyle’s lounger. " I thought I might find you up here." She turned to the others and smiled. "I didn’t see any of you at big bucks bingo this morning."

Crap, she could be so charming when she wanted to be. Kyle rolled to her side.

"I told them we should go. I could have won!" Lea sang out happily. The potent drinks making her forget her vow, made three drinks earlier, of not liking Anna one bit.

"Well, there is always another morning. I’m Anna, by the way." Introductions were made all the way around. Anna glanced at Kyle. "Can I talk to you a minute?"

Nora was busy giving Anna the evil eye but Kyle ignored her. "Sure."

Kyle got up and followed Anna over to the railing. Anna gallantly tried to keep her eyes fixed on the top of Kyle’s head, but she kept getting drawn to the whiteness of the tank top Kyle had thrown on. It’s thin softness ended right above Kyle’s navel. The tanned small ripples of muscle in her abdomen stood out in sharp contrast with the floral bikini bottom and abruptly Anna’s thoughts were thrown to a time when her fingers were free to roam that same stomach.

"You having fun?" Anna smiled down at Kyle. Still awkward from the meeting the night before but determined to try again.

"If you can call having your friends trying to get you drunk and make you spill all your secrets fun, then I am having a blast." The drinks were making it impossible for Kyle to even attempt to be mad right now at this black haired beauty.

"Oh really? And have you confessed all your secrets or am I in time for a few?" Anna teased.

"I’ll have you know I have confessed none, but you are still too late to hear any because I have had my last drink!"

"Am I too late to ask you to eat dinner with me, then?" A small smile appeared and an eyebrow arched with the question.

Kyle looked out over the railing. Azure blue surface water met the dark green water from the depths and formed whitecaps that crashed into the side of the ship as she plowed straight ahead on her predetermined course.

"I’m sorry Anna, but it’s about ten years too late, give or take a couple of months." Kyle turned and found her way to her room without looking back.


The lounge was dark. Couples were seated in various booths with other couples, while others were front and center of the little stage. Kyle preferred the anonymity of the darkness by the bar. She talked to herself all day as the little yellow bus had caromed down the narrow, bumpy roads taking them to the Mayan ruins. She talked to herself as she weaved through the intricate paths and snapped pictures. She spoke with herself as she carried on conversations with everyone around her. Only Nora had sensed her distraction.

She managed to avoid Anna all day with her stern lectures to herself only to find herself here now, watching and listening to the songs she couldn’t comprehend two nights before. Anna commanded the audience through sheer presence. Her long legs were covered in faded blue jeans, and a simple white linen shirt that was open at the throat and offset the darkness of her skin dramatically. The leather strap of her guitar was placed easily around one broad shoulder. Her hair shined blue black in the spotlights and the lights threw sapphire sparks from her eyes. Kyle wondered how many women in the room were in love with her.

For a moment Kyle felt the eyes pierce the back of the room, making her feel like she was being singled out, but then chuckled at her paranoia.

The songs were haunting melodies of love and love lost accompanied only by the powerful husky voice and the acoustic guitar. It was simple and beautiful to hear.
One song into the encore, Kyle left.


"Do you think this may become our regular meeting place?" Anna emerged from the darkness. "Thank you for coming to listen to me tonight."

"How…?" Kyle shook her head in confusion knowing there was no way Anna had seen her.

Anna shrugged her shoulders. "I can feel you Kyle, I always could. I just know when you are near. I don’t know how else to explain it."

"You sing beautifully." Kyle avoided the statement.

"Thank you." Anna answered. She blew out her breath. "Kyle, I think we need to talk."

"Really? I thought we had covered it." Kyle tensed.

"No, Kyle, you know we didn’t. And I know you don’t owe me anything, much less a chance to explain, but it would really help if you let me try to explain."

"Oh really? And whom would it help? You think I need help, Anna?" Anger came quickly at the thought of Anna pitying her. She wanted no part of it.

"No. Me. It would help me." The answer was honest and simple.

"Oh." Kyle was ashamed at the self-righteousness of her earlier thoughts. Letting her hard, brick wall soften momentarily, she admitted to herself she did want an explanation. Needed it to put all this to rest. She chewed on the inside of her cheek before answering. "Sure, Anna, but can we sit down at least?"


"How do I explain something I am not so sure I understand myself," Anna’s hands gripped the sides of the chair twisting back and forth in unconscious movement. "Did I ever tell you who my parents were?"

"No, but I figured it out much later when I kept seeing them in various pictures with every celebrity known to mankind. You look like your father."

"Yep, those would be the ones, the ultimate famous people hanger on types. I don’t want to sound like the ungrateful brat, Kyle, but to understand any of it, you kind of have to understand my parents and my family."

Kyle’s eyes bore into Anna’s for a moment. She turned her eyes back to the darkness and let Anna continue.

"In some ways, I was the proverbial middle child. A little bratty, cute, ok on the smart side and loved sports like you couldn’t believe. If there was a ball to be thrown, hit, or caught I was going to be in the middle of doing it." The sigh was deep and the voice low. "Mother and Dad were always throwing a party for this person or that candidate and the parties had become second nature to all of us kids. We basically made our appearance and then disappeared much like the Von Trapp kids in the Sound of Music. I was always the first out of my little dress and outside wherever the party wasn’t pursuing whatever sport had caught my fancy that week.

"You wore dresses?" Kyle’s gentle smile and light touch let Anna know she was only trying to break the tension.

"Yeah, I wore dresses." Anna smiled slightly at Kyle’s words. "Anyway, this one particular party, I was twelve, we had made our appearance and then ducked out as usual. I had on my Joe Namath jersey and was tossing a baseball on the roof of the guest house and letting it roll off so I could catch it. It was maybe my second or third toss when a man caught the ball before it could fall in my mitt.

‘You know you have your sports mixed up.’ He grinned at me as if he knew a joke I didn’t.

‘What, you don’t think Joe Namath ever played baseball?’ I was cheeky and he was bothering my game.

‘Well, maybe he did. Maybe he did.’ He was still smiling at me and holding the ball tossing it and catching it out of my reach. ‘You’re one of Scott and Dee’s kids aren’t you? Annabelle right?’

‘Yes sir, can I have my ball back?’ He was handsome, in the way that older men are. Graying hair, marvelous blue eyes, and that presence that all famous people seem to have. Later on I wondered if I somehow flirted with him. Told myself I probably did. But all I remember is asking for my baseball and when he gave it back to me and went back to the party, I kept right on tossing." Anna looked down at her lap, remembering the air that day, the heat and the way it made the grass smell burned. Twilight was just slanting across the huge yard and had yet to reach her. The adults on the back lawn where already shrouded in darkness and Anna could make out the silhouette of her parents and the famous man laughing at some little joke. For years after, Anna swore the joke had been about her.

"Anna, please tell me this is not going where I think it is."

Anna laughed mirthlessly misinterpreting Kyle’s statement, "Trust me, its not a pity party. I did more than my fair share to make up for any wrong ever done to me."

"I don’t believe that."

"Kyle, there is one thing you better get straight in that head of yours. I am no saint. I never was, and never will be. I like to think that I am not still the person I became for a while," she shrugged in the dark, "but, who knows, I still catch glimpses of her all the time."

"Were you so awful?" Pain filled Kyle’s eyes.

"You of all people have to ask me that? Anna was incredulous. "After what I did to you? Good gods, Kyle, are you a saint?"

Kyle shook her head mutely.

"You want me to go on?" Anna asked.


"Ok." The monotonous tone came back into Anna’s voice as if a recording were telling cold, old facts. "Anyway, I became his pet. Somehow, I started going on appearances with him and his wife. To rallies and conventions and anywhere there was a place to get votes that summer. I found out later that it was supposed to be a growing experience for me. They even paid me a salary; put it in the bank for me." Again the laugh, "Can you believe that? A twelve year old with a salary."

"Did people not catch a clue? I mean, what was wrong with these people?" Kyle was furious.

"Why should they? Half the time my parents were standing on the podium with him, so if they thought nothing was wrong, then why would anyone else." Anna’s voice was stoic, resigned. "I’ll spare you the details, but needless to say, for the next few years I was his in every sense of the word."

"And that is why you thought you were evil? Because some bastard thought he could molest you?" Kyle’s eyes were green fire.

"Calm down, Kyle." Anna placed a calming hand on the rigid thigh. "No, that isn’t why. Like I said there is much more to the story."


Anna paused regrouping her thoughts. The hardest part was over in her mind. The part where she had no control, the part she could never really get settled in her mind. This next part she took full responsibility for, and although it wasn’t easy, it was her mess and she let the blame fall where it should, on herself. "I finally told my mother after three and a half years of all this going on. And although my mother was never there emotionally as the therapists would say, I trusted her to just help me make that nightmare end."

"Did she"?

"Mmmm, no. I think the only thing she ever asked me after I told her was did he have intercourse with me. I lied and said no." Anna paused, "That was the beginning."

"The beginning of what?" Kyle asked.

"I set out to destroy him." Anna’s blue eyes met Kyle’s in the flickering light from the ship.

"Destroy him?"

"Well, not just him per say, actually everyone I thought helped him gain power. The local party, his money supporters, my parents, anyone I could think of. I figured somehow they were all responsible and I took it upon myself to stop them."

"Did you stop them?"

"Honestly? No." A small wild grin showed her teeth. "But we sure did maim them and shake them up a bit. Quite a bit, actually."

"Ok, you hurt the party, you hurt him politically, sounds like you were taking some of your power back, Anna. How could that be so bad?" Kyle relaxed knowing she had heard the worst of it.

"It wasn’t so much what I did, Kyle. It was how I went about doing it." The sadness in Anna’s eyes was unmistakable. She knew this part of the story would be her last chance to talk to Kyle and even though she knew that it had to be done, it actually hurt worse this time to know she was going to lose this woman again.

And that is what she, Kyle, had become. A beautiful, vibrant woman, not the same timid scholar Anna had known ten years ago, but a confident spiritual woman with a good life, a good family and great friends it seemed. Anna craved that when she met Kyle. Had wanted Kyle to give her all the answers, to wash all her past deeds away in the purity of her soul. Anna had sucked up that goodness like a dry garden soaks up a morning shower. In one moment of clarity though, she knew she couldn’t live off Kyle’s goodness forever. She had had to find it for herself.

"Tell me Anna." It was a simple statement.

"We were so young, Kyle. I was fifteen and a half and had no idea what I was doing. But I learned fast. It was so easy to get more people like me together. Kids who were mad about something, college students who had political ideals, all sorts of kids, I was a natural at finding every weakness a person had and using it to make them think I was going to lead them to salvation from society. We were punks and rich kids but the rich kids knew poor kids and before I knew it I had a small army at my disposal ready to do whatever I asked of them." Anna couldn’t keep the energy from entering her body. After all this time, the thought of that rag tag army, her followers, still made her blood hum. "We were like a band of anti political amazons. Hit and run tactics. Everywhere the senator went I had a different group yelling and jeering. We put up posters blaming the establishment for whatever we could think of. We were like sixties kids ranting and raving about everything, but it was all pretty harmless."

"Sounds like it so far."

"Yeah, well then it changed."

Anna was silent for so long, Kyle thought she wouldn’t continue. "We would have these little get togethers in an old building downtown. As far from the big estates as I could get. By that time, there were about fifty or sixty of us coming from every type of dysfunction you could imagine. Every once in a while someone would bring somebody else and our little group would grow, only with my approval, of course. We only wanted people enamored with our cause. Whatever our cause was that week. It was always the anti cause of the senator so we were always evolving."

Anna closed her eyes remembering the night the woman had shown up. It was a little after eleven and the night was young for them. Anna had just given a little commanding speech and had broken everyone into groups so she was standing alone. The woman drifted out of the darkness into the pale light. The bare bulb cast a halo above her blonde hair and the large brown eyes surveyed the room slowly before coming to rest boldly on Anna. Days later, when Anna finally remembered to ask, no one claimed to know her or know how she had found their group. By then, it was just a technicality. Anna was smitten and in a web so delicate she didn’t even know she was caught.

"Carla had an aura about her that was undeniable. And before long, she was making suggestions. We could be more powerful. We could do more damage. I could be more powerful and do more damage." Anna sighed. "Just the thought of getting total and devastating revenge was enough to make me listen to her, but add to that that finally someone was paying attention to me, and you can imagine I was ready to sell my soul for her. And in the end, I did."

"What happened?" Kyle didn’t want to hear, was afraid to hear, but was more afraid to break this small bond she could feel re inserting itself. It felt so good to hear Anna’s voice again to feel her heat and her energy throbbing from her body. And Kyle silently admitted, to feel herself awaken.

"She said we needed money. I thought ‘no problem’. I had a trust fund from my grandparents and though I never thought about it, I figured I could get it. Of course it wasn’t that easy." Anna glanced at Kyle. "You know about trust funds, I’m sure. You don’t touch them until you are a certain age and it was irrevocable. And, of course, at that point I was never going to ask my parents to help me get it any earlier." The dark blue eyes narrowed. "I was so scared to tell her that I couldn’t get the money. Scared that she wouldn’t care for me anymore, and I was right.

What do you mean you didn’t get any money? The voice was furious.

"I couldn’t. I’ve never tried to get it out before. I can’t until I’m older."

"How much older?"


"Well now, little girl that is just too long isn’t it. How do you think we are ever going to stop your mean little senator with no money?"

"We haven’t needed it so far." Defiance returned momentarily.

"And you think these little hit and run tactics are going to do the trick? You are so naïve. So childish." The scorn dripped from her voice and without another word, she turned and left through the same dark door she had appeared through a week earlier.

Anna was a wild woman waiting for Carla to reappear. Everyone was a target for her frustration and insecurity and she worked her little army endlessly waiting for the brown eyes to appear from the darkness again.
Eventually they did.

Anna lay rigid beside the woman whose long fingernails were digging mindlessly up and down her arm.

"So tell me Anna, do you want to totally destroy your little senator?" The voice was cold.

"Yeah, you know I do. We’re getting to him. One little bit at a time. It’s working." Anna smiled, waiting for approval.

"It’s not working, Annabelle. And you are just stupid if you think it is!" Carla’s voice was on edge. "You need money to destroy him!"

"There has to be another way. You know I can’t get to any money. Not until I’m older."

"Oh, but I have a plan my little dear. A way for you to make lots of money." Carla smiled and increased the pressure from her nails.


"Drugs, my little sweet," Carla smiled triumphantly.

"I am not doing drugs!"

"Oh silly! No! You are not doing drugs. You and your little followers are going to sell them and make lots of money! Of course I will have my cut for setting you up, but you’ll still make lots of money.

Anna swallowed nervously at the thought. But knew she would never have to do such a thing. And she had the trump card to play. "It takes money to get drugs, Carla. And I don’t have any remember?"

"Don’t worry my little one. You do have something the man I have in mind will want and be very willing to trade for. Something I am sure he will like very much." The wild brown eyes ran the length of Anna’s body. "I know I did".

"It didn’t matter much to me at that point. I was dead inside. The thought of selling the drugs, using my body, it didn’t matter. I knew I wasn’t good for much else, so I slept with him. Time and time again, until he gave us the drugs to get started. Finally, my body had become my bartering tool and I used it and used it until I bypassed him and we moved on to bigger and bigger operations. Before long, my little rag tag army had created enough new junkies to keep us in business forever, and I had enough money to do serious damage wherever I wanted. Only my focus changed. The senator was just a by-product by then. I had a region wide drug trade and for a while I did whatever it took to keep it growing. Fighting, bribing, stealing, it didn’t matter." Shame burned in Anna’s shuttered eyes, but she continued

"So by the time I met you Kyle, I felt like I was in the twilight zone. After all I had done, and the places I had been, all of a sudden I found myself in this little utopia of a Southern Ivy League college. It was such a dream! You were a dream. We were laughing and playing like I always imagined my life when I was little. I mean pulling up road signs for god’s sake and hanging it on my wall! It was unreal." Anna let her rare full smile appear. "But that night… that night when you told me you loved me, you trusted me, I couldn’t bear it. Instead of releasing my soul, it bound up tighter. I knew there was no way I would ever be able to live up to that kind of trust. I mean, look where I took the kids who believed in me. I took them to hell and some of them never returned."

"I loved you so much, Anna. It was devastating to have you leave like that." Kyle whispered.

"I know."

Words became inadequate to try to describe the pain of leaving and the pain of being left. Silence filled the darkness, like deep water fills a newly made hole. Stars blanketed the sky and the hint of a quarter moon peeked from behind wispy clouds, like a small child hiding behind a threadbare blanket.

Anna gathered her long legs underneath her and pushed herself shakily from the chair, the weight of the silence becoming too much.

"I just wanted to try to explain." Anna looked down at the blonde head, wanting to reach out and stroke its silky strands. "I know it is way too late to say Kyle, but I am so sorry. I don’t think you will ever know how much."

Kyle nodded unable to speak, keeping her head down to hide the trail of hot tears that coursed down her face.

"Thanks for listening." Anna whispered. Getting no response she turned to leave.

Two footsteps into her departure a small voice floated back to her. "Anna."

Anna turned to face the voice.

"Thank you for telling me." The head was still bowed.

Anna paused, "You’re welcome." The darkness swallowed her up as she turned for the silence and solitude she knew she would find in the depths of the ship.


The Ocean Breeze blinked at them in the distance. It was constantly moving around, drifting, unable or unwilling to anchor off the coast of Cozumel. Anna’s sapphire eyes pleaded silently to Kyle. "Come on Kyle, don’t get on that tender yet. Just ride with me for a little while. I promise I’ll get us back here."

The previous morning Kyle intercepted Anna at breakfast and cajoled her into spending the day with their group. Kyle let her actions call a truce and it helped erase some of the worries pounding in Anna’s head. By unspoken consent everyone kept the day light and easy. The six of them played a fierce round robin match of shuffleboard, made no easier by having to calculate the sway of the boat before each push. Rules had changed constantly and drinks were gathered from Ramone at every chance. In the end no one could remember the score, so after a quick shower they moved to the casino to try their luck there.

Anna wandered over to the black jack table from the roulette wheel.

"So you’ve become a card shark huh?" Kyle felt the long arm lean down and brace itself on the edge of the blackjack table. Out of the corner of her eye Kyle could see the golden bronze tan that ran up the arm’s length and added depth to the play of muscles that bunched and released as Anna idly thrummed her fingers on the green imitation leather. She looked up to see piercing blue eyes gazing at her and then the two cards she held in her hand.

"Its your turn, are you going to stay or hit?" Anna inquired.

Kyle glanced at the two cards reconfirming the sixteen she was playing against the face card that the dealer was showing. "Hit me."

"Those are kind of tough odds aren’t they?" Anna’s forehead crinkled with a worried little frown.

"Yeah, maybe they are, but at least this way I have a chance of winning." She smiled as the dealer dealt her a three. "See?" Kyle smiled up and winked and then caught herself wondering what in the world she was doing.

The kick to her right ankle confirmed her worst fears. She was flirting. She glanced at Lea, the supplier of the not so soft kick, and gave her a glare.

The dealer finished offering cards to the right side of the table and flipped over her down card. An eight.

"I guess you were right. Nice play."

"You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em…" Kyle warbled off key as Nora and Lea chimed in.

"Please, please! I get it! No more." Anna playfully stuck her fingers in both ears. Kyle promptly stuck the tip of a tongue out at her in return.

After hours of bouncing back and forth between being big rollers and on the brink of total bankruptcy as Lea so dramatically described it, their group headed for dinner while Anna prepared for her evening performance.

Everyone went to listen and afterwards hit the bed early to be ready for the diving today.

"They said the tenders would quit running at 11:00 PM. Its 10:30 right now." Kyle glanced back at the tender slowly filling up. "I don’t particularly care to be stuck on this island all night you know."

Anna had to smile at that. Her memories of Kyle at school were of someone who didn’t care if she never got to anywhere on time, and she probably would have missed a boat just to see what kind of adventure came out of it.

Anna’s eyes narrowed for a minute, studying Kyle through the small slits. She knew it wasn’t the tender that Kyle was afraid of missing, and something in Anna wanted to set that straight. Wanted to make Kyle understand that she could trust her this time. Wanted to make Kyle hop on the back of this scooter and be as carefree as the girl she remembered. She also had a feeling she was part of the reason for that loss of freedom, so she waited patiently for Kyle to make her own decision this time.

"Hey, Kyle, I have it on very good authority that those tenders are going to run all night long. Regardless of what they told you on the boat." Anna couldn’t resist one more attempt.

Kyle began to waver. A storm of emotions coursed through her as she stood on the hot pavement that had yet to cool even though the sun dipped below the horizon over two hours ago. She wanted to get on that scooter and wrap her arms fiercely around the body she had dreamed of too many times in her sleep. Even during those times that she had forbade herself to think of Anna in her waking moments, at night, unexpectedly, the dreams would come. Sometimes they wouldn’t come for months. Sometimes they wouldn’t come for over a year, and then out of the blue, a whole series of dreams would begin on their own time schedule. They were impossible to ignore, and over time Kyle didn’t try to push them away but enjoyed them for what they were, dreams, a chance to live vicariously in her sleep with no punishment at the end, just a nice way to savor things that had never happened. Things she had finally accepted would never happen. Except now, here was that dream sitting in front of her on a little red moped that belched out too much black smoke.

Should she ignore this dream now? Her logical mind wouldn’t give her a straight answer, but somehow her heart was unwavering. With a small smile of defeat and with a small shrug of her tanned shoulders as she climbed on the back, all Kyle could think to ask was "Well, where exactly do you plan to take me?"

The beaches on the pier side of Cozumel weren’t much to look at, even under the cover of evening. Anna kept driving feeling the warmth of Kyle’s hands gripping lightly on her waist. Kyle let her chin rest gently on Anna’s shoulder as she let the humid Caribbean air cool her face. Anna felt the warmth of Kyle’s breath as it gently touched the area behind her ear before it was blown away by the force of the wind. Part of her ached for the warmth of that breath in other areas, but she quickly erased those lethal thoughts from her mind as she searched for the spot of beach she had seen earlier in the day.

Kyle leaned her head forward and pulled her knees up closer to her chest.

"Are you cold?" Anna glanced around, looking for the long sleeved shirt she discarded once they found this area. Small dunes secluded it from the other beach nearby and also acted as a buffer against the wind that picked up, as the night got older.

"Yeah, just a little. I think diving today gave me a chill down to my core." Kyle smiled. "Even though I took a hot shower in that huge bathroom, I think the longer stay in the depths of the ocean has won out," she said laughing slightly, "So, I’m a little chilly."

Anna moved closer with her long sleeved shirt in tow. They were sitting on a colorful Mexican blanket that Kyle had bargained for in her shopping trip earlier in the evening. It was the one item other than her leather backpack she had with her when Anna met her at the boat tender. Anna had been teasing her about her bartering skills, and the banter served as a nice tension breaker.

"Come here, Kyle, and let me wrap this shirt around you." Anna could see Kyle shiver visibly now and reached forward to pull her gently back toward her and the warmth of the shirt and her arms.

"No, that’s okay. I’ll be fine. Just lend me your shirt, that will be enough." Kyle pulled away.

"Kyle." Kyle stared quietly out at the blackness of the ocean. "Kyle, look at me!" Anna’s voice was insistent this time as she willed Kyle to turn toward her. "I am not going to hurt you, silly. I just plan on helping you get warm, okay?" The question held an answer in the tone of it, but Kyle wasn’t sure if she could let herself listen to that answer.

"I know, Anna. I just don’t want to… I just can’t let you… Oh, never mind. I just had better stay right here, okay." Kyle had the shirt now and was busy arranging it around her.

"I’m not going to do anything, Kyle," Anna was troubled by the wall she could feel Kyle erecting again. "I just want us to talk awhile, to ask you all those questions I haven’t gotten a chance to ask in nine years you know? It can’t be that hard to be friends again, can it?"

Kyle stared mutely ahead, ashamed at the tears that were forming in the back of her eyes. She blinked rapidly, willing them to go away. Anna would never understand.

Yes, Kyle was sure she could be a friend with this woman that Anna had become. She was sure that in time she would be able to call Anna up on the phone and talk over the week’s events and whatever wonderful thing was happening in Anna’s new part time musical career. She wanted to be that friend that Anna spoke of. To have this woman in her life the way she had hoped for before Anna closed that apartment door years ago. The easy camaraderie, the late night silly talks sessions, the serious talks about life, religion, and whatever else came up. Kyle wanted every bit of that back and a friendship to go with it. And she would have it too. Just as soon as she got over these strong emotions that were threatening to dissolve her into a crying heap on this warm white sand. As much as she hated to admit it, she wanted more.

"No, Anna, I’m sure it can’t." Kyle finally replied.

"Then scoot back and let me get you warm, okay. We’ll continue this saga of you, the bartering queen, and the reluctant Mexican blanket maker." Anna laughed lightly and Kyle was unable to see the tense working of her jaw as she steeled herself to feel this woman in her arms once again.

Anna had no intention of screwing this friendship up again. She would just learn to control her emotions this time. She was prepared to have Kyle in her life on whatever terms she could have her. Anna wasn’t an immature twenty-five anymore. Physical yearnings weren’t intolerable, but emotional ones were. In just a few days time, the thought of not having Kyle in her life at all had become just that. Intolerable.

"I am zee world’s beest barterer!" Kyle declared in her worst Spanish accent, and with the tension broken she let herself be wrapped gently in the same strong arms that had last held her an eternity ago.

******* *****

Time was passing slowly in her dream. Anna felt the coolness of the little fan in her apartment blow gently over her body as the heat within her grew. She stirred, not wanting to wake just yet. Deep in the recesses of her mind she heard the gentle lapping of water and wondered idly when she had finally remembered to get one of those tapes that were supposed to lull you gently to sleep every night. This one was working great. It was this incessant tension down deep inside her stomach that was pulling her out of this wonderful sleep.

Wakefulness came. Slowly. Pieces at a time, Anna could finally place the gentle breeze. They had fallen asleep on the blanket and the wind was caressing the sunburn on her exposed shoulders.

The tension inside her stomach took another moment of wakefulness to identify. Kyle, in her sleep, was delicately rubbing the lower portion of Anna’s stomach. Having fallen asleep, they must have curled up in the "spooning" position. They lay facing the same direction on their sides with Kyle in the back. Her arm draped over Anna’s body in sleep, and it was this small motion that had finally awakened Anna. All Anna knew was she was going to have to move soon. She couldn’t take this growing tension she felt stirring between her legs, no matter how innocent the situation was. "Mmm." Kyle muttered in her sleep as Anna began to move away.

"It’s okay, Kyle, go back to sleep." Anna whispered softly hoping Kyle would settle back into her dreams.

"Anna?" The voice was sleepy. Husky.

"Yes, Kyle, it’s me." Anna adjusted the shirt over Kyle’s shoulders.

"Oh, good, I thought I was just dreaming again." Kyle was mumbling sleepily. "Don’t leave this time, Anna. Don’t shut the door this time." Anna wondered if the words were meant to be heard by her, or anyone for that matter, or were they just private thoughts escaping in the unwary moments between sleep and reality.

"I’m not going anywhere, Kyle. Just go back to sleep." Unable to resist Anna leaned forward and planted a soft kiss on the lips that were slightly parted. One small kiss and the friendship could resume on its platonic scale. One small kiss on the lips of a friend was all that it was going to be. Then Anna felt the movement of Kyle’s lips in return. Her dry lips searched out Anna’s moist bottom lip and chewed on it softly, sleepily. Anna pulled back slightly, startled by the response. Unable to pull back any further, she leaned forward again to taste the saltiness of those sleeping lips just one more time.

"Anna?" The voice was more awake this time and the tone more puzzled.

"I’m sorry Kyle, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. Just go back to sleep sweet heart and I’ll wake you in a little while." Anna leaned over Kyle, talking gently.

"No, Anna, kiss me again." This time the voice was awake but low and husky in its demand.

"Kyle, I don’t want…"

"Yes you do want, Anna. Just the same as I want." Kyle’s eyes were dark against her tanned face, but Anna could feel the intensity of the stare. "Just don’t you dare leave me this time, Anna, don’t you dare leave it unfinished this time."

"I won’t." Anna promised as her lips searched for the softness of Kyle’s mouth. "You couldn’t drag me away this time."

With that promise ringing in her ears, Kyle entangled her hands in the black curtain of hair that enshrouded her face and pulled Anna gently to her.


"Do you think the makers of Titanic provide the jumping dolphins for us?" Anna leaned out over the rail looking at the school of dolphins racing and jumping the waves caused by the ocean liner. Kyle tucked neatly in front of her.

Kyle laughed, "I like to think they come of their own accord."

"I’m the king of the world! Anna spread her bronzed arms wide doing her best Leo imitation.

"Nice try but I don’t think so!" Kyle laughed again.

"King of all I see"? Anna waggled an eyebrow in mock hope.

"Ahhh. Nope! No dolphins under your rule that I can tell."



Anna turned toward Kyle and wrapped bronze arms around her waist pulling her closer. "How about you make me feel like a queen? Like the world is mine?"

Kyle tipped her head back to look into eyes that matched the sky behind Anna’s dark head. "Corny. Corny, but I like it!"

After much bribing and cajoling, they finally caught a tender around 5:00 am that morning back to the ship. The ship had raised anchor and was on her way to the Cayman Islands. Most of the passengers were either still sleeping or barely stirring so the front of the ship was theirs alone.

"I had a wonderful night." Kyle whispered.

"I did too." Anna smiled ruefully. "Although I have sand in places unfit to speak about!"

"You do, huh?" Kyle asked. "You think maybe one day I’ll get to investigate those places"? She teased.

"Hmmmm. Would you like to?" A soft voice answered in Kyle’s ear.

"Ah… yeah. I think I would." Kyle returned just as softly. "But you are going to have to clean that sand out from behind your ears before I go nibbling around there anymore. I still have grit in my teeth!" Kyle nudged back with her hips, grinning out into the blue expanse of water.

"Watch yourself, little missy! I didn’t hear any complaints earlier." Anna smirked as she nudged back.

"Anna?" Kyle was suddenly serious.


"We have a long way to go don’t we? I mean, we still have a lot to sort through, huh?" Kyle turned and looked up at Anna.

Anna was silent a moment, her painful confessions still ringing in her ears. Knowing there was so much more to tell. Guilt and sadness pushed their way inside competing for the joy that welled in her this morning, old feelings and insecurities running rampant for a moment. She fought them aside and let the joy win. "Yeah, we do. But this is a good start isn’t it? This. Us? It feels so good to hold you again, Kyle, as if the final piece of a puzzle tossed to the wind has finally been found."

"Yes it does, doesn’t it?" Kyle marveled. "Like holding the piece and turning it slowly in your hand, not knowing exactly how it fits yet, but sure that somehow it does?"

"Exactly." Anna agreed.

"Exactly." Kyle echoed and leaned into the warmth and smell of the woman she had never forgotten.


The ship bobbed in the waves off the Cayman Islands waiting patiently for the customs officials to clear the passengers for debarking. The six of them waited impatiently ready to climb on the first tender available. Two days in the Cayman Islands awaited them. After a dive in some local caverns and a quick snorkel at Sting Ray City, they planned to drive out to Hell and take a few pictures of the ancient lava rocks. From there, who knew?

Pale pinks and purples were crowding the sky, putting on a pastel light show as the six of them sat on the beach quietly watching. Kyle leaned back into Anna’s chest and wrapped her arms around the legs that were bent and cradled her gently.

"Hey you." Anna smiled into Kyle’s cheek.




"Think I could steal you away for a little while?" Anna murmured quietly.

"Sure." Kyle grinned. "What do you have in mind?"

"Now do you think I am going to tell you that?" Anna teased.


"Oh really, and what makes you say that?"

"Because if you don’t, I am going to tickle you until you cry." Kyle threatened. "And don’t think I don’t remember your ticklish spots!"

Anna quickly grabbed the hands that were starting to move down her thighs, "Oh no you don’t. And I’m not telling either. You will just have to wait."

Half an hour later Anna pulled the rented jeep into a dirt driveway almost obscured by overgrown palms and plants. Pulling a key out of her shorts pocket, Anna opened the door and beckoned for Kyle to go through first.

The early twilight captured the faint glow of a small lantern illuminating an antique table set for two. Two rattan chairs with cushions were pulled up close to each other, and two unlit candles adorned the middle of the table accompanied by a single white lily. A long slider door was thrown open with only a screen left as a barrier between the cottage and the ocean that roared in the near distance. Kyle moved over to it, hugging herself as she gazed at the white water hitting the rocks and spewing high in the air. It was breathtaking.

She turned back to Anna who was trying to contain a small grin.

"How in the world?" Kyle opened her arms and indicated the whole area.

"I have thousands of skills," Anna smiled easily and arched the cocky eyebrow in jest.

"Well, in this case, I may have to agree!" She walked over and hugged Anna fiercely.

"So its ok?" Anna pushed her back to look in Kyle’s eyes.

"Its perfect. Thank you."

"Then can I make one more small confession?" Anna held Kyle back, not letting her return to the security of her embrace yet.

Kyle swallowed. It had been such a perfect couple of days she wasn’t sure if she was ready to get back to their more complicated issues yet. "Sure. Of course you can."

"I took the liberty of asking Nora to pack you an overnight bag hoping you might want to stay here tonight." Anna tensed.

"Overnight?" Kyle repeated looking around.

"No. We don’t have to if you don’t want… we can always catch a boat back to the ship." Anna rushed ahead. "Its not a problem."

Kyle put a finger to Anna’s lips and traced them, quieting her. "Overnight, hmm?" She let the fingers brush a path across the warms lips again. "Then I would say a perfect night just got more perfect."

After a long hot shower, Anna plundered around the kitchen trying to finish up the dinner that had been prepared by Cederia, the island native woman who cared for the small cottage when no one was staying there, and left to warm in the small oven. Looking for a knife to cut the crusty loaf of bread, she heard a smothered oath coming from the bedroom where she had sent Kyle to shower. Heading to the closed door, knife and bread still in hand she yelled.

"Are you ok"?

"Oh yeah, I am just perfect. It’s Nora who is going to die a slow and painful death when I see her again!" Kyle shot back.

"Why, did she forget something?" Anna asked innocently, nibbling on a piece of the crust.

"Oh she forgot something alright!" The door opened to reveal Kyle wrapped in a huge bathrobe. Gold hair still wet and combed back from her face. Anna couldn’t resist. She leaned forward to steal a quick kiss. Kyle kissed her back greedily and then remembered her ire at her best friend. She held up the offending clothes. "It looks like my soon to be dearly departed friend, scrounged through all my underwear and was only able to come up with this!"

A pair of white silk panties with a touch of lace and a slight v that obviously dipped in a very strategic location was accompanied by a matching bra that seemed to be basically all lace with small slivers of silk for straps.

Anna tried to keep a straight face. "No boxers? No sweats?" She teased.

Kyle glared at her. "Not a single pair."

"Well then shucks, miss, I guess you will just have to make do with those won’t you?" Anna mimicked her worst Southern accent.

"I have now decided I am going to kill you too, young lady." Kyle growled into the throat throbbing beneath her lips.

"I think if you wear those, you will kill me, and I will love every moment of my death. In fact, I may beg you to prolong it for as long as possible." Anna growled back dipping her head down to capture the lips burning her throat and neck.

After a few moments Anna pushed her gently back. "Go get some clothes on so we can eat some dinner. I hear that stomach of yours."

"Can this be dessert?" Kyle questioned kissing Anna again.

"Oh, definitely. Definitely, little one."


They lay on the love seat on the screened porch listening to the surf rolling idly in. High tide had come and gone and had left the gentle lapping of the low water to soothe the darkness and its inhabitants to sleep.

Dinner had been a light affair and Anna had insisted Kyle come out and enjoy the night while she finished the dishes. Dessert had been taking up their time in between easy conversations.

"You are so beautiful, Kyle. You are such a beautiful woman." Anna’s fingers flowed through the gold strands of hair.

"I never thought you could be any more gorgeous you know." Kyle looked at Anna in wonder. "But that first night I saw you onstage, I knew I was wrong."

"What do you think causes that? Growing up?" Anna queried.

"I don’t know. Growing up, growing strong, becoming your own woman." Kyle answered. "I’m not sure. But I’m sure glad I found you again to see it for myself."

Eyes the color of the deep ocean locked with eyes the color of the sun kissed surface water and just as surely as those two worlds melt into each other in the ocean, the gentle love between the two women lying together flared into passion.

Lips collided together and then danced away to nip at each other. Tongues licked delicately on teeth and then finally pushed forward to capture each other in a timeless dance.

"Oh Kyle." Anna was breathing hard. Propping on two strong arms so as not to crush Kyle beneath her, she leaned forward and captured the full lips again.

"I know, I know." Kyle kissed back arching up wanting more contact, trying to will Anna to lay her weight on top of her, needing and wanting to feel the length of Anna along her body. "Can we go to the bedroom?" She managed to get the words out.

"Of course." With one swift motion, Anna was standing beside the small sofa, holding a hand out to the smaller woman.

They half stumbled, half walked to the oversized bedroom. Finally reaching the doorway, Anna moved behind Kyle and inched her forward until they were both standing at the edge of the bed. The ceiling fan lazily circling overhead created a small breeze cooling their overheated skin. One by one, Anna began to undo the small pearl buttons that held the sleeveless linen shirt together. Three buttons down, her hands stopped to roam the warm chest she had revealed. Breasts pushed up from the delicate confines of the lace and Anna stared down in wonder over Kyle’s shoulder at the response of the two nipples as she let her hands wander over them on their way up to gently massage Kyle’s breastbone. Kyle let her head lean back giving Anna all the access she wanted as she snaked her arms back and around to mold Anna’s hips closer to her body.

Anna’s strong hands moved back to their original task and soon the shirt was hanging open exposing the tight stomach and tops of curving hips still hidden by khaki shorts. With one hand caressing Kyle’s stomach, Anna moved the other one up to cup Kyle’s face and turn it to the side so their mouths could meet in a long unhurried kiss. Not liking the extra effort it took to keep their lips united, Kyle turned and faced the dark woman, letting her hands do their own dance of exploration underneath the hem of Anna’s shirt.

Anna’s hand dropped a little lower until it reached the button holding Kyle’s shorts. With the easy flick of fingers, the button was undone and soon shorts were sliding down muscular thighs to join the shoes Kyle had already kicked off.

Anna looked down at the sight before her. Pale moonlight softly illuminated the room just enough to show off the contrast of Kyle’s brown skin pushing against the white lace of underwear. "Remind me to tell Nora she is my new best friend." Anna murmured.

Kyle chuckled softly. "Well she is going to need one after this." After kissing the salty area between Anna’s breasts she decided forgiveness was in order. "But who knows, I may find it in me to forgive her."

Anna smiled in the dimness. Kyle’s insistent hands prodded Anna’s long arms into the air and pushed her shirt as far up the taller woman’s frame as possible.

"You are either going to have to finish this little task for me or bend over and let me continue." Kyle grumbled in frustration.

Smoothly the shirt came off with one pull of Anna’s hand and the strong arms were soon back around the woman who filled her like no other person ever had. Kyle couldn’t resist the temptations staring at her and began a series of small light kisses over firm breasts. "You taste so good."

A soft moan was her answer and then the pair found themselves lying on the coverlet of the king bed. Kyle sat up on her knees soaking in the sight of this apparition before her.

Was it possible to want something more now than she did ten years ago? A few days ago, she would have answered no, that time takes the edge off of need and want. Tonight, her answer changed. She wanted this woman, in more ways than her mind or heart could even imagine. She wanted Anna’s heart, and in the process hoped to release her own soul.

"Will you lift your hips for me, baby?" Kyle held both hands poised at the top of Anna’s shorts. Hips lifted, and as the cobalt eyes watched, Kyle gently slid shorts and underwear down the smooth legs and dropped them soundlessly on the floor. Without hesitation, she laid her body on top of Anna and let the heat from the two of them gather as they hugged in silence.

A slow tango of two pairs of hips started on its own accord. A larger frame pressing forward and then gently pushing back as the smaller body pushed forward in response. An orchestra of body parts followed the cadence set by the first two and soon soft moans joined as the only vocals. The white bra was cast aside with an urgent push, and hot lips found the prize that had been hidden beneath. Kyle, herself took off the only piece of clothing separating the two of them and kissed her way back up the long body she had to leave in order to do so.

"Anna, you are so beautiful." A wicked smile passed over Kyle’s face. "You may make me pass out you know, just looking at you." She teased.

"No little one!" Anna teased back. "We have to work for these little deaths don’t we? No cheating!" She let her eyes roam over the body hovering over her. "It is you who is truly beautiful, you know."

"You make me feel beautiful." Kyle answered simply.

Two hands met at the base of their stomachs and intertwined. The odd sensation of melding together so neither one could tell where one set of fingers began and the other ended, was an exquisite torture. Looking tenderly at one another, the hands parted and each traveled slowly to the other one beginning an exploration that would last for eternity.

Later there would be time for heated passion and hard, wild kisses. Tonight, this first time, was a chance to fulfill an unspoken promise made years ago.

Kyle’s fingers rubbed over the coarse hair, sucking in her breath at the heat and wetness there. Anna mimicked the action during her explorations.

Kyle shifted until her legs were straddling either side of Anna’s thigh and watched Anna’s face in wide-eyed wonder as her fingers slowly slipped inside. Anna slowly closed her eyes and let the sensation flow through her. Unknowingly her neck arched back exposing the pulse that thumped wildly on her throat. Kyle leaned forward to claim the pulse throbbing at the same pace as the beats she could feel deep within Anna. Rubbing her own hips up and down on the tense thigh, Kyle rocked her arm easily, letting the pressure build around fingers encased in hot velvet.

Kyle stared at the closed eyes enshrouded by dark lashes, willing them to open. They did.

"You know I have always loved you." Kyle whispered the simple truth.

Anna nodded, "And there wasn’t a day that I never loved you, Kyle. Your memory got me through more tough times than you can ever imagine".

Kyle nodded willing to believe the words. Anna gently raised Kyle’s hips off her thigh and with fluid grace slipped her fingers inside Kyle as well.
Breathing became an option as the two bodies pushed forward wanting the release their bodies demanded but wanting to prolong it as well.

Nature finally won out and Kyle gasped and moaned Anna’s name as she felt the exquisite tension finally release from her body. Moments later Anna experienced the same slow release and whispering gentle assurances to each other, the reunited pair fell asleep.


Hours later Kyle woke to long fingers tracing the outlines of her face.

Anna spoke the thoughts that were on her mind. "I thought you would always hate me, Kyle. I never imagined I would ever get the chance to be with you like this." She spoke with awe.

"I could never hate you Anna. I think you may have the key to my soul and I could never hate a person who held that." She answered feeling the tears in her eyes as she spoke.

"I hope not, Kyle." Anna leaned up and wiped away Kyle’s tears letting her own fall freely. "And I would like to spend a while just getting to know you again."

"That would be wonderful wouldn’t it? Kyle leaned into the warmth of Anna’s embrace again.

"Would you consider staying here with me a while?" Anna questioned.

"This is your place?" Kyle was amazed.

"Well, mine and my brother and sister’s. Inheritance." Anna shrugged.

"Oh. What about the cruise?"

"We could jump ship?" Anna asked hopefully.

"Perfect." Kyle grinned happily.


"Yep. The sun, the sand, diving and you. Not necessarily in that order!" Kyle teased.

"You’re awful!" Anna teased back. "New beginnings. New explorations. But I think we need to work on your order!"

"You think so, huh?"

"Definitely." Anna answered as she lowered her head for a kiss.


The end.