All That Matters

 

by

 

S X Meagher

 

 

Chapter 12

 

Somewhere over the Great Plains, Kylie nudged Blair and said, “How about a little stroll through the cabin?”

“Ugh. I hate walking around. I mean, it’s not like there’s anywhere to go.”

“Come on, sweetie. I’ll go with you. We’ll walk up and down the aisles for a minute, and then you can make a pit stop.”

“Who says I have to go?” she asked, a tiny scowl on her face.

Kylie leaned over and kissed her nose. “You always have to go. Now come on, let’s stretch a little.”

Grumbling, Blair got out of her seat and started to make her way down the aisle. She followed Kylie’s admonition to keep her hands at waist level so she could grab onto a headrest if the plane hit any turbulence. One of the doctor’s hands was resting on her shoulder, and even though she felt silly, Blair had to admit that it was very reassuring to have her partner's caring presence beside her. As was so often the case, she drew more than her share of attention, the most vocal of her admirers women in the grandmother age bracket. On their first lap, a few people smiled and nodded, but on the second, a couple of the women engaged her in conversation. One woman, probably in her sixties, stopped her and asked, “When are you due, honey?”

“December,” Blair said. “I hope he’s on time. I need that extra tax deduction.”

The woman wasn’t quite sure how to take the comment, but she laughed. “Is this your first?”

“Yeah. My last, too,” she said without hesitation.

“Oh,” the woman said, “are you having a difficult time, dear?”

“No, not particularly,” Blair said. “I don’t see the point in stretching my body to ridiculous proportions when there are thousands of kids available for adoption.”

“Oh, I’ll bet your husband won’t want to stop if you don’t have a little boy in there,” she said, patting Blair’s belly without permission.

“My husband’s the one who coerced me into this,” Blair grumbled. “He’s the last guy who gets a vote. Besides, we're getting divorced.”

The woman’s eyes widened so dramatically that Kylie was afraid they were going to pop out. Feeling sorry for her, the doctor urged her lover forward, then leaned over to whisper, “She’s a little grouchy today. You know how it is.”

Happy to be talking to a sane person, the woman nodded gratefully. “Oh, my, yes. I have six of my own. I never had to fly while I was pregnant, though. It’s a good thing to keep her moving.”

“Doing my best,” Kylie said, dashing through the plane to catch her partner as she reached their row.

“I’m finished. I refuse to have strangers pawing me today.”

“They’re trying to bond with you, honey. They’re welcoming you into the mom club.”

“I don’t wanna be in the fucking mom club,” she groused, loud enough for their seatmate to hear and give Blair a startled look.

“What’s wrong, baby?” Kylie asked softly. “Tell me what’s bothering you.”

“Nothing,” she snapped. Turning her head away, she pushed her seat as far back as she could get it and closed her eyes.

Kylie waited a moment to let her calm down, then she reached over and took her hand. Bringing it to her lips, she kissed it, then laced their fingers together. “Do you mind?” she asked.

“No.”

Well, at least she didn’t punch me when her fist was close to my mouth, the doctor mused. I hope this mood lifts soon, or it’s gonna be a long weekend.

 

ĄG

 

The Schneidhorsts were at the gate to meet them, and Kylie wished she had a sign that read “Danger! Tread carefully!” Blair’s mood had not only not improved, it had gotten worse, and Kylie fervently hoped that Blair's seeing her parents would serve to improve it.

“My God! You’ve gotten so big!” Werner said, and Kylie cringed, waiting for the explosion.

But it didn’t come. Instead, Blair launched herself into her father’s arms and cried piteously. Both Werner and Eleanor stared at Kylie, looking for an explanation, but she didn’t have a clue as to why Blair was upset, so she made the "I have no idea " gesture.

Eleanor put her arm around her daughter’s shoulders while Werner continued to hold her. It took a long time, but Blair finally stopped sobbing long enough to choke out a greeting.

“Tell me what’s wrong, sweetheart.” Werner said.

“I’m sick of people and I’m sick of airplanes and I’m sick of being pregnant,” she sniffed. “I wanna go back to normal!”

“My poor baby,” Werner soothed. “I know how hard this is for you. But it will all be over soon, and you’ll be so happy with your baby that you won’t remember one bit of the struggle.”

“Is that true, Dad?” she asked, her tear-streaked face looking to him for reassurance.

“Yes, baby, it’s true. I promise you.”

“The day we brought you home was the happiest day of our lives,” Eleanor said. “All of the struggles we’d gone through to have a baby faded away. All that mattered was that we had you. I guarantee you’ll feel that way, too.”

“I hope so,” Blair sighed. “’Cause right now that seems like a long, long way off.”

           

 

ĄG

 

When they reached the Schneidhorsts', Kylie changed into a pair of jeans and a pastel flannel shirt and announced that she was going out for the evening.

“You’ll have dinner with us, won’t you?” Eleanor asked. “We’re planning on eating in an hour or so.”

“No, but thanks. I have a friend from college who lives at the north end of the park. I thought I’d wander around the neighborhood a little, then head up there to meet her for dinner. I want the three of you to have some time alone.”

“That’s not necessary, Kylie,” Werner insisted. “We’d like you to stay.”

“She’s antsy, Dad,” Blair said. “She’ll feel better if she’s outside for a while. Now that she walks the dogs every day, she’s finding that she actually likes to walk around and get some exercise.”

“That’s true,” Kylie said. “I don’t enjoy being a couch potato anymore.”

“Well, I hope you know that we’re happy to have you, Kylie. You really don’t need to leave,” Werner said.

“I know that,” she said. “I’d like to be outdoors for a while. I haven’t been able to snoop around the neighborhood since I was in college.”

“Have fun,” Eleanor said. “You have our number if you need it, don’t you?”

“Yes. I have it programmed into my cell phone.” Turning to Blair, she said, “Call me if you need me. I’ll have my pager on.”

“Don’t get lost,” Blair said. “It’s been a long time since you’ve been in the city.”

Kylie chuckled, saying, “If I do get lost, I’ll never admit it.”

Blair walked her to the door and stepped out into the hallway with her. “Are you sure you don't want to be here for this?"

“I don’t mind. I think you’re right, and that this’ll be easier if it’s just the three of you. Besides, in case they’re unhappy with me, I want to give them time to curse my name for a bit.”

“They won’t be unhappy with you,” Blair said.

“I hope it goes well,” Kylie said, bending to kiss Blair gently.

“Sorry I’m so grouchy. You probably don’t even want to come back.”

“Yes, I do,” Kylie said. “And you’re not grouchy — you’re pregnant. Your mood is all part of the pregnancy syndrome.” She kissed her again and added, “I love you, Blair. I’ll be thinking of you all evening.”

“I’ll page you with the all clear when we’re done talking,” Blair said. “I’ll key in your birthday so you’ll know everything's okay.”

“Deal. Hope it goes well.”

Blair watched her partner walk down the hall, wishing she could go with her and put off her talk for another year or two. Taking in a breath, she went back into the apartment. Her parents were sitting in the living room, both of them giving her a slightly puzzled look. “Is everything okay, honey?” her mother asked. “Are you and Kylie getting along all right?”

“Oh, sure,” she said, sitting down. “We’re fine.”

“You looked so bereft when you got off the plane,” Werner said. “We’re worried about you, honey.”

She shook her head. “I didn’t like being on the plane. Normally, I don’t mind flying, but I feel defenseless these days. When the steward was talking about how to evacuate in case of emergency, I had an image of people running over me to get to the exits. I’m not used to feeling vulnerable like this.”

“That must be hard,” Eleanor said. “I know how independent you are.”

“But you had Kylie with you,” Werner said her. “She’d make sure you were safe.”

“I know,” Blair said wearily, “but sometimes I get tired of having to rely on her — not just her,” she emphasized, “on anyone.” She patted the part of her rib cage she could still find. “The baby’s so big now that he’s pressing against my diaphragm. It’s hard for me to breath when I exert myself the slightest bit, and that makes me feel so weak.” A frown settled onto her face, and she said, “I hate to feel weak, and sometimes when I do, I take it out on Kylie. I know that’s unfair of me, but it pisses me off that she’s healthy and hearty, and I get winded tying my shoes.”

“Sweetheart,” Werner said, “I know that you know this, but Kylie’s gone so far out of her way for you that you have to try to be civil to her. Remember, she’s only your roommate.”

She hadn't planned on starting the discussion so early, but she saw the opportunity and took it. “This is gonna come as a surprise, but things have changed between us, Dad. She’s not only my roommate. I've fallen in love with her.”

“P … Pardon?” he asked.

“We’ve fallen in love, and we’re going to raise the baby together.”

“You’re joking!” Eleanor gasped. “You’re not gay!”

“I'm probably not," she admitted., "but it doesn’t matter. I love Kylie, and I want to partner with her.”

“And this is what Kylie wants, too?” Werner asked, still confused.

“Of course she does, Dad. This isn’t something I decided on my own! We've talked about it, and it's the right thing — for both of us. I’ve loved her for a while now, and adding a sexual component seemed like the next logical step.”

“Decision? Logic?” Werner stood up and started to pace around the living room. “What kind of words are those to talk about love?” He stopped and stared at his daughter. “You sound like you're talking about a real estate deal.”

Offended, she scowled at him for a moment. "I wasn't lucky enough to get the artistic gene from either of you, but I do feel love, you know. Maybe I don't express it poetically, but it's still real."

"Blair, your father didn't mean to hurt your feelings," Eleanor said, "but you do sound very dispassionate about this."

"Look, I'm not the most passionate person around. I never have been, and I never will be. But I love Kylie and she loves me. Isn't that what matters?"

"But what does this mean?" Werner asked. "Are you making a lifelong commitment to each other?"

Blair sighed dramatically. "I made a lifetime commitment to David, and look where that got me. Kylie and I have an understanding. We're going to stay together until we stop loving each other. It’s impossible to predict how either of us will feel in five or ten years. I certainly hope we're together a very long time, but I can't predict the future."

"So you're living together until you don't want to be together any longer," Eleanor said. "Is that right?"

"How's that different from my marriage?" Blair asked. "We made a vow and then we broke it. I don't see why the semantics change a thing."

"Is that what you'll tell your child?" Werner asked. "A child needs stability. He or she needs to know that both parents will be there."

"Dad, at the rate I'm going, this child is gonna be in therapy while he's still in diapers. I never should have agreed to have a baby with David, and I never should have had artificial insemination. Now David doesn't want to have anything to do with the baby. So before he's even born, he's lost his father. His crazy grandmother thinks I'm a pervert, and she'd sue for custody if she thought she could win. Wondering about the terms I use for my relationship with Kylie is gonna be way down on the list. He'll be in high school before he and his shrink get to that."

Both of the Schneidhorsts stared at their daughter as if she were speaking in tongues. "I don't think this is going very well," Blair announced. "I hate to be such a baby, but I've gotta have some dinner. All I had on the plane was a pack of almonds. Can we eat soon?"

Eleanor nodded, not saying a word. She walked into the kitchen, and Werner said, "Why don't you take a shower and change clothes, honey. You've had a tough day."

"Okay. I'll be back soon."

She walked into her former room, and Werner ducked into the kitchen. He looked at his wife, and she returned his worried gaze. “I thought being a parent would get easier by the time she was nearly middle-aged,” Eleanor sighed.

"What in the world is going on here?" he whispered. "Which grandmother is crazy?"

"God only knows," Eleanor said. "All I know is that I'd love some wine with dinner, and I'd like to start right now."

 

ĄG

 

For the first half-hour at the table, Blair’s conversation was limited to, "Thanks for making dinner so quickly, Mom."

Eleanor finally steeled her nerves and brought up the loaded topic again. "I know you're feeling very emotional, Blair, and I don't want to upset you, but I'm trying to understand everything that's happened."

"I know that," she said, "and I am emotional, but I wanted to talk to you both in person. I'm sorry it's going so poorly."

"That's all right, honey. Let's start over again, okay?"

"Okay."

"Can you tell us how this started?" Werner asked.

"A couple of weeks ago," Blair said, "Kylie had started to date a woman, and I realized I was jealous of her. I started thinking about it, and I discovered that I was sexually attracted to Kylie. I knew that she was attracted to me, too. I mean … I knew."

Eleanor nodded. "I saw that when we visited."

"I didn't see a thing!" Werner said.

Blair and her mother exchanged subtle, knowing looks. Eleanor asked, "Then what happened?"

"Kylie broke up with the woman, and a few days later I told her that I thought I was falling in love with her."

"Was she surprised?" Werner asked.

"Yeah." Blair laughed a little. "I told her after I'd kissed her. She was very surprised by the kiss and by what I said."

Werner's brows rose, but he didn't say anything.

"So, this dawned on you when you realized you were jealous," Eleanor said. "You weren't attracted to her before."

"I don't think I've ever been attracted to a woman before, Mom, but Kylie's special."

“This seems so … convenient,” Eleanor said, wincing as she spoke. "I know that sounds harsh, but you have to see how this looks from our point of view. You've always been heterosexual, but you move in with a lesbian who's a wonderful, generous person, and all of a sudden, you're in love with her, and she's going to help you raise your child."

Blair stood up and stared at each of her parents. “What’s going on here? Are you accusing me of using her?”

“I'm not accusing you of anything, Blair, but you’ve never shown an interest in being with women,” Eleanor said. “This seems like you’re choosing Kylie simply because you need a partner.”

“How dare you question my motives! I would never use Kylie, or anyone else, like that!”

“This is so sudden, Blair," Werner said. "We know you and Kylie are close, but this is a very big decision.”

“Why is it such a big deal? We care for each other, she’s always wanted to have a child, we both want to have a partner. Can you think of anyone better for me to be with?”

“She’s a lovely woman, Blair,” Werner said, “and if this is really right for you, we have no objection at all, do we, Eleanor?”

“No, of course not. Kylie’s a darling woman, but I’m not convinced she’s the person for you, honey.”

“And how do I convince you of that?" Blair asked, the tone of her voice unmistakable. "Shouldn't I be the one to judge who the right person for me is?"

“Blair," Eleanor said, "I assume you had a reason for telling us this in person. I can only guess that it was so we could discuss it. Shutting me off with a sarcastic reply isn’t very helpful.”

“I apologize,” she said stiffly.

"Please sit down," Werner said. "We have to be able to discuss this calmly."

Blair complied, staring at her folded hands. "Now, Blair, neither your mother nor I think you're consciously using Kylie, you're not that type of woman. I think we're both worried, though, that you're falling into this relationship because it's the solution to a lot of your problems. It also sounds like it's giving Kylie a lot of things she wants, too."

"So we're using each other, rather than only my using her?"

"Please stop being sarcastic," Werner said, raising his voice. "It's not helpful!"

"I'm sorry," she said quietly. "I thought you'd both be happy about this."

"Blair," Werner said, "we can only understand what you tell us. We weren't around to see how this relationship developed. We don't see how you and Kylie act around each other. This is a very big surprise for us, honey."

"I know that," she said, "and I wish you were around us more. Then you'd see how much we love each other." She pursed her lips together and said, "Maybe we need to let this settle a little bit. I've got a throbbing headache, and I'd love to lie down with an ice bag for my head."

"Go lie down in the living room, honey," Eleanor said. "I'll bring you some ice in a minute."

"Okay." She stood up and held onto the table for a moment to adjust her balance. She walked over to her mother and kissed her head, then did the same to her father. "I'm sorry for being so bitchy. I don't know what I was expecting, but this wasn't it." She laughed softly and walked out of the room, saying, "I don't know why I can't have normal parents who throw the Bible at me for having a woman lover."

 

ĄG

 

Blair made a stop in her room before she went to the living room. She called Kylie’s cell phone and said hi when the doctor answered.

“Hi — are you okay?”

“Yeah. You can come home whenever you want.”

“Tell me what happened. You sound upset.”

“No, I’m not, really. They were fine about the gay thing — like I thought they would be. They’re not sure it’s the right choice for me or you, for that matter. But they’re not angry with either of us, honey. They like you.”

“Sure you don’t want me to come home now? I can see Janice some other time.”

“No, you go on and see your friend. Stay as late as you want. Dad's always up until midnight or one o’clock. I’ll tell the doorman to buzz you right up.”

“Okay,” Kylie said warily. “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Kylie,” she said, thinking, No matter what my parents say.

 

ĄG

 

Kylie arrived at the apartment at ten o’clock, and Werner let her in. She stood in the entryway, noting Blair’s absence. “Hi,” she said, a bit of her nervousness showing.

Werner put his arm around her shoulders and gave her a squeeze. “Come sit with us for a while, Kylie. Can I get you a drink?”

“Sure. Do you have any Scotch?”

“I do, indeed. How would you like it?”

“On the rocks.” She started to walk into the living room, and Eleanor saw her eyes dart around the room.

“She’s in bed, dear. I checked on her a minute ago, and she was sound asleep.”

Kylie looked at her watch, saying, “It’s only 8:00 in L.A. It’s not like her to conk out quite that early.”

“Today was hard for her,” Eleanor said. Werner handed the doctor a glass and sat next to his wife.

Kylie nodded, taking a tiny sip of her drink, trying to make it last so that she would have something to do with her hands.

“Have you been in this situation often, Kylie?” Werner asked, a playful twinkle in his eyes.

“Uhm … which situation is that?”

“Talking with the parents,” he said, smiling.

“No.” She shook her head rather forcefully. “Actually, once before. I think that’s enough for one lifetime.” She quirked a grin at the couple, and they returned her smile.

“Blair’s a little upset with us,” Eleanor said. “We want you to know that we have no objections to your being together, Kylie. We’re both very fond of you.”

Lifting an eyebrow, Kylie asked, “What is your objection? I’m sensing that you have one — or more.”

“Only one,” Werner said. “This is such a major decision for Blair to have made so quickly. Over dinner she admitted that she’s not attracted to women in general and that she never has been. Choosing a lesbian relationship when she doesn’t consider herself a lesbian seems … strange … to both of us.”

Nodding, Kylie said, “I can understand that. It does seem a little strange — even to me. I’ve known many women who considered themselves primarily straight, but every one of them has had at least a glimmer of attraction for women. Blair’s the first one I’ve ever met who swears that isn’t true for her. But she's so loving and affectionate with me that I believe her.”

“We don’t want to question her decisions, Kylie, but we’re both worried that she’s making this decision based primarily on her circumstances.”

Again, the doctor nodded her understanding of their position. “I think that’s possible,” she said. “I, uhm … I think that at this point, I’m much more head-over-heels than Blair is. But that’s not necessarily such a bad thing,” she said earnestly. “I know she loves me — she shows me in so many ways that she cares deeply for me. We love being together, we have lots of the same interests and we share the same feelings about raising children.” She polished off a bit more Scotch, looked contemplative for a moment, then said, “She reminds me of how my brothers and sisters treat their spouses. They’ve all been married for quite a while, and they seem comfortable with each other. It’s obvious that they love each other, but they’re not all dewy-eyed about it. That’s how Blair seems. I recognize that she’s made this decision with her head as well as her heart, but I honestly think we can make a go of it — even if Blair’s heart never skips a beat when she sees me.”

“But don’t you deserve that, Kylie?” Eleanor asked gently.

“Well — thanks, Eleanor — I do see flashes of it. It’s not consistent though.” Her brow furrowed. “She seems afraid to really let go.”

“That’s our girl,” Werner said. “She’s always been cautious.”

“She has been,” Eleanor said, “but it’s hard to love with caution.”

“I’ll be frank,” Kylie said. “I'd love it if Blair were wildly passionate about me. But of all the things that are important to me, that's the one thing I’d give up. I’ve had relationships where the woman was mad for me, but we didn’t have the things that allowed us to grow together and work towards a common purpose. Blair and I have that,” she said. “I think we have the elements that we need to have a very satisfying partnership.”

“We trust the two of you to make the correct decision,” Werner said. “I only hope you both get what you need out of this.”

“I'm already getting what I need,” Kylie said, a broad, confident smile on her face; “and I’m going to love Blair with everything I have for the rest of my life. She’s a dream come true for me.”

Werner looked at the earnest woman sitting in his living room and wished with all his might that his daughter had expressed the same sentiments for her. He went to Kylie and wrapped her in a hug, then Eleanor did the same. “Welcome to the family, Kylie. We’re very glad to have you.”

 

ĄG

 

Sneaking into bed, Kylie lay quietly, knowing that if she lay still long enough, Blair would settle down and sink back into a deep sleep. She was quite certain that her partner was still asleep, but the smaller woman turned over and draped both an arm and a leg over her, using her as a second body pillow. Kylie kissed the top of her head and tucked an arm around her, smiling when Blair snuggled even closer. She was almost asleep when Blair let out a whimper and woke abruptly. Blinking her eyes confusedly, she tightened her hold and shivered. “Kylie?” she asked, her voice shaking.

“I’m here, honey. Go back to sleep. You must have been having a bad dream.” She started to run her hand over Blair’s back, trying to calm her.

“Kylie? Do you believe I love you?”

Sitting up halfway, Kylie leaned over her and looked her right in the eye. “Of course I believe that. Of course.” She bent her head and kissed Blair tenderly. “Do you believe I love you?”

“Yes.”

“Then that settles that, doesn’t it?” Kylie soothed. “Go back to sleep, sweetheart. You’ve had a tough day.”

“Are you sure you believe me?” she asked again, her voice sounding a little frantic.

Still leaning over her, Kylie’s expression grew sober. “There isn’t a doubt in my mind. You might not be all goofy over me, and you might not write me love poems, but that doesn’t diminish the reality of your love. You don’t have a thing to worry about, Blair. My faith in you is rock-solid.”

Blair threw her arms around Kylie’s neck, sobbing softly. “Promise me you’ll always believe that,” she begged.

“I promise,” Kylie said, kissing her repeatedly. “I swear that I’ll always believe in our love.”

 

ĄG

 

On Saturday morning, Werner and Eleanor gave Kylie and Blair a ride up to Lake Forest. Both of the younger women had insisted that they were happy to rent a car, but their offer was firmly rebuffed. “We really do appreciate how much you’ve gone out of your way for us,” Kylie said, “but we probably should have rented a car. There’s a good chance that no one in my family will want to give us a ride back downtown.”

Werner blinked in surprise. “With all of those people?”

“Yes, we’re united as a family,” she said, “united in never going out of our way for one another. One good thing is that I have a couple of nieces and nephews who are just at or past driving age. I’m sure I can bribe one of them into taking us.”

“I have a chamber recital tomorrow at 3:00,” Werner said. “Anytime before that I’d be happy to come get you.”

“No, I’m mostly teasing,” Kylie said. “Someone will take us.”

“Now, what are your plans?” Eleanor asked. "I know you're here for a conference, but Blair didn't tell me the schedule."

“My conference starts on Sunday at3:00,” Kylie said, “and it’s at the Water Tower Ritz-Carlton. Blair’s flight is at 5:30, so we thought we’d go to the hotel together, then she can catch a limo to the airport.”

They arrived at the Mackenzie house at 10:00, and a group of the younger nieces and nephews came out to greet them and ineffectively help with the luggage. “See what I mean, Werner?” Kylie joked. “I’m sure there are quite a few able-bodied people in the house, but only the tiny ones try to help. It’s survival of the fittest at the Mackenzie house.”

Kevin came bounding up to Blair, but when he reached her, he turned shy and latched onto Kylie’s leg. “Hey, Kev,” his aunt said, picking him up. “Wanna say hi to your Aunt Blair?”

His little strawberry blonde head nodded, and Blair leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. “Hi, Kevin; we missed you.”

He held out his arms, and Blair gamely accepted him. Because of her belly, he rode so high in her embrace that he was as tall as his aunt, a fact that he found entirely wonderful. But after letting him cuddle for a moment, Kylie whisked him away and put him astride her shoulders, making him taller still. “I’m the biggest,” he crowed to all.

“Come on in for a bit,” Kylie urged the Schneidhorsts. “You can say hi to my parents.”

“Not home,” Kevin said. “Nobody’s home but the big kids.”

“Really?” Kylie asked. “Are you sure?”

The other kids agreed with Kevin, so Werner and Eleanor decided to take their leave. “It’s been wonderful seeing you both,” Eleanor said. “And I’m very sorry that I upset you, sweetheart. I know you always think things through carefully. There's no crime in that.”

“It’s fine, Mom,” Blair said. “I was very grouchy when we arrived. It wasn’t a good day to talk about a loaded topic.”

“We’re very glad that things are working out so well for you both,” Werner said. “And we’re elated to have Kylie in the family.” He placed his hand lightly on Blair’s belly and said, “Take care of our grandchild, sweetheart.”

“We will, Dad,” Blair said. “We’ll see you both in December.”

“I’ve never looked forward to a date with such pleasure,” Eleanor said, hugging both of the women. “You two take good care of each other.”

“We will,” Kylie said, tucking an arm around Blair.

They watched the car pull away, and Kevin asked, “Who wants to play with me? The big kids just yell at us.”

“We’ll play with you, Kev,” Kylie said. “We’ll show those big kids a thing or two.”

           

ĄG

 

Later that evening, the entire group gathered at the local country club for the gala birthday party for Kyle. The affair was much larger than Blair had realized it was going to be, with most of the Mackenzie’s extended family, and dozens of their friends and colleagues, in attendance. They’d been on their feet for hours, greeting family and friends, and when Kylie saw an opening, she directed her partner to a quiet corner and demanded that she put her feet up. Without argument, Blair did, sighing with relief when Kylie pulled her shoes off and started to rub her feet. “Oh, you’re a goddess,” Blair said. “The best hands in the world.”

“Having fun?” Kylie asked. She took a linen napkin and scooped out some ice from a water pitcher, then rubbed Blair’s swollen ankles with the cold cloth.

“I am,” Blair said. “Everyone in your family has made it a point to welcome me to the clan. They’re teasing me like one of the group, too. It’s nice.”

“I thought Alan was a little out of line,” Kylie said, scowling. “My dad even told him to knock it off, and he never gets involved.”

“I thought it was funny,” Blair said. “Calling you the world’s laziest lesbian cracked me up. What did he say? Something like you’re too lazy to even use your own turkey baster?”

“That was the gist,” Kylie said. “I guess the good news is that he feels comfortable with you. He wouldn’t have done that in front of Stacey, and she was around for years.”

“Yes, Carly told me that everyone already liked me better than Stacey. She doesn’t seem to have many fans around here.”

“They never seemed to care for her. I’m not sure why, but they’re going much easier on you.”

“Oh, it’s probably because I’m pregnant. Everyone has a soft spot for a big belly.”

“I love your belly,” Kylie said. She put both hands on Blair and smiled at her, their eyes locking together. "I love every part of you." She leaned over and kissed Blair tenderly, letting herself get lost in her embrace.

A loud throat clearing got her attention. "Oh. Hi, Chris," Kylie said, giving her sister a guilty look.

"That kinda stuff doesn't play in Lake Forest," Chris teased. "You two act like you're still in California."

"We're in love no matter where we are," Kylie said, looking at Blair dreamily.

"I hate to break the spell, but I've gotta pee," Blair said. Chris held out her hand, giving Blair a little help, and Kylie put a hand on her butt for added safety. "It's like hauling a car out of a ditch," Blair grumbled.

Kylie patted her ass and said, "Hurry back, babe. I'll be right here."

"I'll keep an eye on her so she doesn't kiss anyone while you're gone," Chris said, taking Blair's seat.

Blair laughed, then went to the restroom, hoping there wasn't a line. Chris put her arm around her sister's chair and said, "Inquiring minds want to know: How'd you lure her over to the dark side?"

"The usual. Charm, wit, good looks, money, a loaded gun."

Chris elbowed her playfully. "Come on, I really wanna know."

"Well, if you must know, she made the proposal."

"Are you serious?"

"Yep. Surprised the hell out of me. As I think the whole damn world knew, I was desperately in love with her, but I didn't think I had a chance. She thought differently, and she kissed me one night and told me she loved me."

"Wow. Are you really telling the truth? It was her idea?"

Kylie sat back and gave her sister a wry look. "Am I that unattractive?"

"You're gorgeous," she said. "You look a lot like I did when I was your age." She put her arm around Kylie's shoulders and gave her a rough hug, then kissed her cheek. "I'm happy for you, baby sister. I hope that Blair knows what it's like to be a lesbian mom. It can be pretty tough."

"I know that," Kylie said, "but she's going into this with her eyes open. I know she loves me, Chris. We can work through anything if that's true."

"I guess you're right," Chris said. "It's hard to picture you with a built in family. I have this image of you as my little sister, the lesbian lady killer of Los Angeles."

"That was never true," Kylie laughed. "The truth is that I've hated being single. Winning Blair's heart has been the best thing that's ever happened to me."

Blair walked around the corner as Kylie said this, and she leaned over and gave her partner a warm kiss. "Let's pay someone to take us home," she said. "You're too cute to share with all these people."

 

ĄG

 

Twenty dollars and fifteen minutes later they were back in Kylie’s room. On the way home, Blair mentioned that she was a little worried about Mackenzie because he'd been unnaturally still all evening. As soon as they were in her room, Kylie undressed Blair so quickly that sparks nearly flew, and now she was on her knees, her cheek resting against Blair’s stomach. Soft hands palpated the flesh, her face a mask of concentration. “Come on, Mackenzie, let me feel you,” she soothed, her voice so gentle and sweet that Blair’s heart nearly melted. She slid her hands through Kylie’s waves, so intimately connected to her that she felt as though they were one. Kylie tapped gently, urging the baby to react to her touch. “Come on, baby boy. Come on.”

Finally, the baby reached out and kicked one of his feet, causing Kylie to jump. “Did you see that?” she beamed. “He reacted to my touch!”

“He loves his mom,” Blair said, smiling down at her.

Kylie slowly got to her feet, staring at Blair as if she’d grown a second head. “I’m gonna be somebody’s mom!”

“You sure are,” Blair said, hugging her as tightly as she could. “And you’re gonna be stupendous!”

 

ĄG

 

“Aunt Kylie?” a small voice whispered, the sound accompanied by tugging on her shirt.

“Yeah.” She turned over and spied Kevin, holding his pillow.

“Can I sleep with you? For a little while.”

“Sure, buddy.” She reached down and swept him onto the bed, then settled him between her and Blair. “You’ve gotta be quiet, though. Aunt Blair and the baby have to get their sleep.”

“Okay,” he whispered. “Is the baby sleeping, too?”

“I think so,” she said quietly. “Tomorrow, we’ll let you put your hands on Aunt Blair’s tummy. I made the baby kick tonight. Maybe he’ll do it for you tomorrow.”

“He’s inside Aunt Blair’s tummy?” he asked slowly. “Doesn’t the food hit him?”

Stifling a laugh, Kylie said, “It’s not exactly her tummy. It’s close by. There’s nothing in the little space he’s in except him. Nothing to worry about, buddy.”

“Okay,” he said. “Night, Aunt Kylie.” He snuggled against her until he was comfortable, giving her a couple of good shots with his bony knees.

Kylie reached over the child and placed her hand on Blair’s belly, sighing to herself. Now, this is heaven.

 

ĄG

 

Blair woke groggily on Sunday morning, reaching down with her eyes still closed to pat Kylie’s hands. Startled at the smallness of the hands, she opened her eyes and discovered Kevin sitting cross-legged between her and Kylie, his expression as sober as his aunt’s had been the night before. His little hands pushed against her in various spots, then he looked at her and whispered, “Is the baby still sleepin’?”

“I think so,” she said. “Did Aunt Kylie tell you she felt him kick last night?”

“Uh-huh. Make him do it,” he said, pressing a little harder than she liked.

“He’ll do it when he’s ready, honey. You can’t make him.”

He stared at her for a moment, then asked, “Why?”

“’Cause he’s a tiny baby. He doesn’t even know we’re talking to him.”

Looking at her dubiously, he said, “Aunt Kylie can make him.”

“What can Aunt Kylie do?” Kylie asked, her voice sleepy and deep.

“You can make the baby do stuff.”

“Hmm …” Kylie murmured, sensing a challenge. She scooted down and tugged Blair’s shirt up, exposing her belly to Kevin’s startled gaze.

“It’s huge!” he gasped.

“Thanks, pal,” Blair said, smiling thinly. “There’s a lot of baby in there. He needs room.”

“Put your hands on Aunt Blair,” Kylie said. “I’ll make him move … eventually.”

“The landlord of baby manor has to go to the bathroom in the near future,” Blair said. “Make it quick — and don’t press anywhere, or I can’t guarantee a dry bed.”

Kylie pressed her lips close to Blair’s skin and started to sing some silly song about ducks and frogs and catfish in a swimming hole. Blair had never heard her sing before, and while the doctor would clearly not win any contests, there was something terribly appealing about her deep, smooth voice. After a few lines, the baby seemed to take notice, and he kicked a good one, making Kevin squeal. “I felt him!” he cried.

“Bathroom break,” Blair proclaimed, scampering off the bed.

“That was fun! Sing the song again.”

Kylie lay back down, and soon Kevin curled up against her, his head burrowed into the crook of her shoulder. By the time Blair came back to bed, Kevin was sound asleep. She looked at her watch and saw that it was just 7:00 and got in quietly. Kylie was still singing softly, and as Blair reached out and took her hand, she asked, “Happy?”

“Never been happier,” Kylie said, and Blair could see that it was so. “I’m gonna love bringing our son into our bed and cuddling with him in the mornings. I know how good it feels to be comforted like that.”

“I know how good it feels to be comforted by you,” Blair said. “Our baby is a lucky little guy.”

 

ĄG

 

When Blair woke again, she was cuddled up in Kylie’s arms, and Kevin was missing in action. “How’d I wind up here?” she asked sleepily.

“Kev woke up and started fidgeting,” Kylie said. “I plunked him out of bed, and the second he left, you started inching towards me like a little snail. It was cute,” she added, dropping a kiss onto Blair’s head.

“Hungry,” the smaller woman said. “How ‘bout you?”

“Yeah. I’m starved. Go hop in the shower, and I’ll strip the bed and get us packed.”

“’Kay.”

By the time they got downstairs, there was not a bite left to eat, but the table was still full of guests. “Well, here are the sleepyheads,” Kyle said.

“Hungry sleepyheads,” Kylie said, smiling at her father. Turning to Blair, she asked, “What would you like, honey? I’m sure we have whatever you have a craving for.”

“Oh, don’t go to any trouble,” Blair said. “I can have some cereal.”

“How about some shredded wheat?” Dorothy suggested. “The roughage is good for you.”

“That’s fine,” Blair said, but Kylie was having none of it.

“She’s not much of a cereal fan,” she said. “How about some eggs, honey?”

Blair took a breath, torn between playing by the Mackenzie house rules and letting Kylie do what she clearly wanted to do. Deciding that her allegiance should always be to her partner, she said, “If you really don’t mind, I’d love a soft-boiled egg and some toast.”

Kylie gave her a wide smile and said, “Of course I don’t mind. Anybody else?”

“I wouldn’t mind an egg,” Laura, Chris’ partner, said. “We got up late, too.”

“Chris?” Kylie asked, ignoring her father’s narrowed glance. “How about you?”

She shrugged and said, “Can you handle sunny side up?”

“For you? Definitely.”

“This is turning into a regular diner,” Dorothy sniffed. “I thought I could relax now that the dishes were done.”

“We’ll clean the kitchen, Mom,” Chris assured her.

“That’s what you always say,” the older woman said, then stood to leave.

Kylie intercepted her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I promise we’ll clean up properly, Mom. I’m sorry we got up so late, but I have to make sure Blair gets fed properly. It’s my job now.”

The older woman nodded, then gave her daughter a pat. “It’s all right, Kylie.” She turned to the table and said, “Don’t forget, we’re going to church together. All of us,” she emphasized, looking at Chris’ children. "We leave at 10:45. Got it?”

“Yes, grandma,” the unhappy children grumbled.

Kyle’s beeper went off, and he headed for his study to return the call. Now that the elder generation was gone, Blair leaned over and asked Chris, “What kinda church do we go to?”

Giving her a sly grin, she said, “We’re Episcopalians, Blair. Do you mean to tell me that Kylie doesn’t take you to services every Sunday morning?”

“I don’t wanna go,” Carly whispered harshly. “Why do we have to go to church whenever we come here?”

“It’s important to your grandmother,” Laura said. “It’s an hour out of your week, honey. It won’t kill you.” She looked over at Kylie and said, “Besides, we’ve violated one of the sacrosanct principles of the Mackenzie family already today. I think that’s enough revolution for one weekend.”

 

ĄG

 

The church was only about seven blocks away, so the entire group trooped over together. On the way back home, Dorothy took Blair’s hand as they were leaving the church and urged her to stay behind and walk with her at the rear of the gaggle of Mackenzies.

“Well, you’ve been with us twice now, Blair. Having second thoughts about joining the clan?”

“No,” she said, smiling warmly, “I think I might join even if I didn’t love Kylie. I’ve always wanted a large family.”

“We are that,” Dorothy said. “I wanted to apologize for making a scene at breakfast today, honey. I’m a little set in my ways, and sometimes I forget that my children are all adults with their own families. I hope I didn’t make you uncomfortable.”

“No, not at all,” Blair said, squeezing her hand. “Every family has its own rules.”

“My ways might seem rigid, Blair, but honestly, having seven children would have driven me mad if we hadn't had order. Without set mealtimes, I would have been a slave in the kitchen. I had some predictability to my day when I knew that breakfast would be over and the kitchen would be clean by eight o’clock when the school bus came.”

“I don’t know how you managed,” Blair said. “Did you have any help?”

“You mean outside help? Goodness, no! By the time the little ones came along, the older children were mature enough to help out. I would have felt like a spendthrift hiring someone to do chores that my children should have been doing. Besides,” she said, “it’s good for a child to learn responsibility. They’ve all managed to be good spouses, so I guess we did something right,” she said.

“I can only speak for Kylie,” Blair said, “but I can’t imagine a better spouse.”

“You do seem happy together,” Dorothy said, a trifle dubiously. Turning her head slightly, she gazed at Blair for a moment. “Are you sure this is the right choice for you? I’d hate to have Kylie’s heart broken if you found out you couldn’t be happy with a woman.”

Blair returned her gaze and nodded. “I can understand that you have doubts about me, Dorothy, but I truly love Kylie. Obviously, I can’t guarantee that things will work out — but if they don’t, it won’t be because we’re both women. That’s not a big issue for me.”

“I hope that’s true,” Dorothy said, “because I can see how much my baby loves you. She’s never been like this about anyone, Blair, and I can’t help but worry about her.”

Blair squeezed her hand and said, “I worry about my baby, and I know exactly where he is at all times. I understand that you feel protective of her, Dorothy, but so do I. I swear that I’ll do my very best to take care of her precious heart.”

Her eyes crinkling up from her smile, Dorothy said, “Forgive me for interfering, Blair. I know you're both adults and that you’ve thought this through. I’m sure everything will work out for the best.”

“I’m sure it will, too,” Blair said, “but I think you’d feel better about us if you spent more time with us. Is there any chance that you’d consider coming out after the baby’s born?”

“Really?” Dorothy asked slowly. “Have you and Kylie discussed this?”

“No, but I know she’d love to have you,” Blair said. “I think it would be nice to get to know you a little, Dorothy. Kylie’s planning on taking some time off after he’s born, so we could all spend some time together.”

Dorothy gave her hand a squeeze and said, “We’ll see how you feel about it when the time gets closer, Blair. You might decide that you two want to be alone.”

Chuckling, Blair assured her, “I think we’ll be crying for help, Dorothy. A woman with your experience is gonna be in demand!”

 

ĄG

 

It took a few phone calls, but Kylie finally found a nephew willing to give them a ride downtown — for nearly as much as it would have cost to take a limo. Jason dropped them off at the hotel at 2:30, and after a short wait to check in, they were shown to a very nice room. “Damn, I’ve never seen so much marble,” Blair said while peeking at the bath.

“This is a nice place,” Kylie agreed. She wrapped her arms around her partner and said, “Only one thing would make it nicer.”

“A bigger mini-bar?” Blair asked.

“You. In my bed,” Kylie said, her expression sober.

“Oh, you’ll be home in a few days,” Blair said lightly. She patted her partner and said, “I should get going, honey. I have to check my bag.”

“Leave it here,” Kylie said. “I don’t want you walking through that huge airport with your bag. I want you to take everything out of your carry-on that isn't essential, too.”

“Kylie …”

“I insist,” she said, giving her a no-nonsense look. “I hate the thought of your being at the airport alone. I’ll feel better if I’m not worried about your having to struggle with your luggage.”

Seeing a very determined look, the smaller woman stopped arguing. “Okay,” she said. She went to her carry-on and took out a few things. Kylie hefted it and pronounced it still too heavy. Rolling her eyes, Blair did as she was told and left only a few snacks, her book and her CD player. “Better?”

Lifting the bag, Kylie nodded. “Good job.” She cuddled Blair close and said, “I’d better kiss you goodbye now. We don’t want to cause a scene downstairs.”

“What are you planning on doing?” Blair asked, batting her eyelashes.

“I plan on showing you how much I love you and how I wish you didn’t have to leave. I’m not sure I can say all of that with a kiss, but I’m sure gonna try.”

Looking up at the tears welling in her partner’s eyes, Blair tried to reassure her. “Honey,” she soothed, brushing her hand across Kylie’s cheek, “it’s only a few days. We’ll have lots of short separations through the years. You can’t take them so seriously.”

The doctor nodded, obviously trying to control her emotions. “It’s … probably because you’re pregnant. I’ll toughen up over time.” She was trying to sound flippant, but Blair could hardly bear to look into her eyes and see the sadness that suffused them.

“Come on, Doc. Walk me downstairs, then you can go play with your doctor friends.”

Kylie enveloped her in a hug, holding on tightly. “I’m gonna miss you so much,” she whispered, her voice raspy and thin.

“You’ll be home before you know it,” Blair assured her. “Months from now, when the baby wakes you up six times during the night, you’ll wish you were on a business trip. Store up some uninterrupted sleep while you can.”

“’Kay.” Kylie nodded and wiped at her eyes. She dipped her head and gave Blair one of the most tender, emotion-filled kisses that the smaller woman had ever been gifted with. The doctor's heart started beating faster, and she knew she was on the verge of crying again, so she pulled away and tried to rein in her emotions.

“I hate to leave, but I've gotta go, honey," Blair said. "The limo will be here.”

Kylie picked up the carry-on and slung it over her shoulder. Taking Blair’s hand, she led the way out of the room, and they rode down on the elevator in silence. The limo was right on time, and the driver hopped out to take Blair’s bag. “Is this all?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Kylie said. “We’ll be ready in a minute.”

He nodded and took her cue, getting back into the car to give them a moment of privacy. The doctor placed a soft, light kiss on Blair’s lips, squeezed her hand and opened the door. Blair got in and lowered the window, keeping her eyes locked on her partner. “Bye,” she said softly.

Kylie didn’t say a word. She nodded and watched the limo pull away, standing there until she lost the big, black car in the heavy Michigan Avenue traffic.

 

ĄG

 

Good God, if we have to go through that every time one of us leaves home … She looked out the window, watching the Chicago skyline pass by while she tried to occupy her mind. After a minute, she dug into her carry-on and found her book. She’d been in such a bad mood on the trip out that she hadn’t read a bit, but she was determined to make up for it now. Three days of reading and listening to music and going to bed at an obscenely early hour. I think I’ll have ice cream for dinner tonight … huh … maybe I’ll have ice cream for breakfast, too. With a sly smile she thought, This is your last chance to revel in your baser instincts, Blair. No supervision for three whole days! She patted her belly. You’re finally gonna know what junk food really tastes like, Mackenzie. You're old enough to withstand a barrage of fat and cholesterol for three days.

She forced herself to concentrate, and before she knew it, they were pulling into the departures area for O’Hare. She tipped the driver and headed for her gate, feeling a little like she was playing hooky. Damn, why am I getting such fiendish pleasure from the mere thought of three days alone? She considered the question for a moment, mulling it over while she waited. God knows I love Kylie, but she does tend to hover.That’s one thing that was nice about David. He realized that I was like a cat when I was sick or grouchy. I wanted to crawl under a piece of furniture and be left alone.

She let herself consider how Kylie treated her and couldn’t help but smile. She’s so determined to make me feel better — no matter what’s wrong with me. It’s absolutely infuriating sometimes, she thought, chuckling to herself. No matter how grouchy I am, she can pull me right out of it. Hell, I haven’t had a sustained bad mood since we moved in together.

Boarding began, and she took advantage of her condition to get in line with the other passengers who needed special assistance. Taking her aisle seat, she settled in and watched the rest of the plane fill up. Might as well plan my little vacation, she thought happily. Tonight, I’ll have some ice cream and lie on the sectional and watch TV. Her smile faded when a troubling thought invaded her consciousness. That won’t be any fun. It’s only fun when Kylie and I cuddle together. That sofa’s too big for one person. Okay, she decided, maybe I’ll lie on the sofa in the living room and read my book. Grumpily, she recalled that reading was only satisfying when Kylie rubbed her feet. She thought about one night the week before when they’d sat on opposite ends of the sofa to read and had wound up spending the time giving each other foot massages which had eventually turned into something quite a bit more intimate. Well, maybe I’ll go for a swim, she thought. But then she remembered the last swim she’d had, and how they’d played in the water together after she made love to Kylie. It won’t be any fun to swim alone.

She thought of her partner’s face when they were in the hotel room, and suddenly, it hit her. She couldn’t bear the thought of leaving Kylie Her heart started to race, and her stomach started to spasm as she watched the last few passengers board. Her vision began to narrow, and her whole body was covered with sweat. She knew she was on the verge of panic, and she did the only thing she could think of. She grabbed her bag from under her seat and started to head for the door. The flight attendant gave her a puzzled look and asked, “Are you all right?”

Blair realized that she was crying, hot tears streaming down her cheeks. “No, I’m not,” she sobbed. “I have to get off!”

“Pardon?”

“I have to get off!”

“You can't get off, ma'am. Once you've boarded, you have to stay on the plane."

Blair pointed to a few passengers still coming up the Jetway. "You're not ready to leave! I have to get off!"

"I'm sorry, but we have rules that can't be broken."

Thinking quickly, she stroked her belly and said, “I think I’m in labor. I’ll never make it to L.A.” Seeing the hesitation in the woman’s eyes, she added, “What makes more sense? Letting me off now or helping me deliver this baby yourself?” The attendant still wasn’t convinced, so Blair said, “I had my last baby after three hours of labor. My doctor says this one will come faster!”

The attendant got on the phone and called the gate, and a few seconds later, someone from the airline ran up the walkway with a wheelchair. Blair got in and let the man question her and check her ticket and her identification. A pair of officers from the airport security company came over and got into the act, and after ensuring that she hadn’t had any checked luggage, they allowed her to leave. “Would you like us to call an ambulance?” the young man asked.

“No, a cab is fine,” she said. “I’ve got a couple of hours to get to the hospital.”

He put her into the first cab in line, and stuck his head in the window. “Good luck, ma’am,” he said.

“Oh, I’m a very lucky woman,” she said. “I’m beginning to realize how lucky.”

 

ĄG

 

The cab deposited her at the hotel at 6:30. For once, Blair’s charms failed her, and she couldn't convince the clerk to let her into Kylie’s room. He did, however, agree to hold her bag while she searched for her partner. The conference didn’t formally start until Monday, but there was a cocktail party to kick things off tonight. Kylie had said she was planning on catching up with some old friends there and hoped to have dinner with some medical school classmates afterwards. The cocktail party was scheduled until 7:00, and Blair fervently hoped that Kylie stayed until it was finished, or she wouldn’t be able to find her for hours.

The fates were kind, and when Blair talked her way past the registration table, she was able to pick Kylie out of the crowd easily. She felt her heartbeat pick up and a fluttering in her stomach when she saw her. Her palms grew moist, and she actually felt a little lightheaded. Reminding herself that it was just Kylie, she stopped in her tracks and let herself feel how wrong it was to think like that. This wasn’t just Kylie. This was the woman she had chosen above every other person in the world. This woman was the most important person in her universe, and she was determined to show her how true that was.

Marching over, she sidled up alongside her and put her hand on the brunette’s back. The dark head whipped around, and Kylie gasped in shock. “Blair!”

“Changed my mind,” the smaller woman said, looking very shaky.

Blindly handing her glass to the man she had been talking to, Kylie threw her arms around her partner and squeezed her so tight, she lifted her off the floor. “I’m so happy to see you,” she whispered fervently.

“Me, too,” Blair sighed, "I couldn't leave you. I couldn't."

They held each other for a minute, drawing furtive glances from dozens of people. Kylie finally pulled away and said, "Were you frightened to fly alone?"

"No, no," Blair said, shaking her head. "I couldn't leave you!"

Kylie cocked her head, not understanding. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a man shifting his weight from foot to foot. “Oh!” Kylie turned around and said, “Damn, Ethan, I forgot you were even here!”

“I assume this is the woman responsible for your talking my ear off,” he said, “so I won’t take it too personally.”

“Ethan Levine, this is Blair Spencer. Blair, Ethan’s one of my study buddies from med school.”

“Nice to meet you,” Blair said, extending a moist, shaking hand.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said. “I always knew Kylie would finally settle down. She obviously shopped very carefully — but it was clearly worth it.” Clapping his friend on the back, he said, “You’ve done well for yourself, Kylie.”

“Not a doubt in my mind,” she said nodding, her eyes never leaving Blair’s.

A few other people came up, and after meeting Blair, they said they were heading out to dinner. “I think we’ll pass,” Kylie said. “I don't think Blair's feeling well."

"I'm not myself," she agreed. "I'd love to go up to our room."

They bid goodbye to the medical crowd and took the elevator to their floor, Kylie looking Blair over the entire time. When they reached their room, she grasped her shoulders and asked, "What's wrong? I know something is."

"Nothing's wrong," Blair said. But she was pale and shaking, and Kylie immediately went to grab her medical bag. "Kylie, please!"

That stopped the doctor short, and she walked back and put her arms around her partner. "Baby, something's wrong! You look like you're frightened to death. You still haven't told me why you decided not to go home!"

Dropping her head against Kylie’s shoulder, she said, “I did.” She looked up. “This afternoon it finally hit me. You’re my home.” Kylie was too stunned to reply, so Blair said it again. “You’re my home,” she repeated, a fiery certainty sparkling in her eyes. Linking her hands behind Kylie’s neck, she tugged her down until their lips met. Pouring every bit of the emotion she felt into her kiss, Blair melted into her partner until she could feel her knees weaken. “I love you so much, Kylie. It … it frightens me, but I can’t hold back.”

"It frightens you?"

"Yes. More than I can tell."

“Don’t be frightened,” Kylie soothed. “I’ll never hurt you, sweetheart. I swear!”

“I know,” Blair said. “It’s not that … it’s … oh, I don’t know what it is, Kylie. I’m scared.”

“Don’t let love frighten you,” Kylie said. “It’s freeing, sweetheart. Trust me.”

“I do.” The smaller woman nodded. “I do trust you.”

"That's what love is," Kylie said fervently. "It's jumping out of a plane without a parachute, but knowing with every fiber of your being that you're safe. Your lover will protect you. No matter what. It's blind faith, Blair. Totally blind faith."

"I've never … ever felt this way before," Blair said, tears filling her eyes. "I'm so frightened, Kylie. Please, please don't hurt me." She held on to her lover with all of her might, sobbing so hard she felt sick.

"I'll always be there for you, Blair. I'll catch you. I promise I'll catch you."

 

ĄG

 

Kylie undressed her partner with unflagging tenderness, then quickly discarded her own clothing. They lay together, wrapped tightly in each other’s arms, while Kylie smoothed Blair’s hair and placed a stream of gentle kisses on her brow. “I was on the plane,” Blair said quietly. “I saw the last few passengers get on, and suddenly, I knew I couldn’t leave you. Thank God I’m pregnant, and the attendant bought the story that I was in labor, or I would have had to be sedated!”

“Oh, sweetheart, that must have been frightening,” Kylie murmured.

“No, that didn’t scare me. I was doing something then. What frightened me was that I realized I can’t keep trying to hold back. You’ve taken all of my defenses from me, Kylie, and that scares me half to death. I’ve … I’ve never let anybody in like I have you.”

“I haven’t either,” Kylie said softly.

Blair lifted up a little and looked into her eyes. “You haven’t?”

“No. Not fully. I always had to be sure the person I was with loved me as much as I loved her. I was always very cognizant of not giving too much — of not being taken advantage of.”

“But you’re not like that with me,” Blair said, a little startled.

“No, I’m not. I’m not even sure why,” she said thoughtfully. “From the start, something about you made me want to be unselfish. You make me want to give to you — without any desire to keep score.”

“Luckily for me,” Blair said, chuckling wryly. “I’d be so far in the hole, I’d never get out.”

“That’s not true,” Kylie said. “You give me so much, sweetheart. I don’t have a single complaint.”

“I do,” Blair said. “I want to show you more of myself, Kylie. I want to really let you in — all the way in. I feel like I’ve been so withholding with you, and I’m so very, very sorry for that.”

“You’re cautious,” Kylie soothed. “I know how you feel, even though I can tell that it’s hard sometimes for you to show it.”

“Do you know?” she asked earnestly. “Do you really know?”

“Yeah, I do,” the larger woman said. “I’ve known from the beginning, Blair. Every once in a while, you really let it show, and that lets me see that it’s there. That’s enough for me.”

“I wanna do better,” Blair said. “I don’t want to show you once in a while. I want to show you every single day, Kylie. If I can’t show you, I won’t be able to show the baby, and I never want him to have to guess how I feel about him.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Kylie said, rubbing her partner’s belly and nuzzling her neck and hair. “That little guy’s gonna be slathered with love. He’ll never doubt you, Blair.”

“I don’t want you to doubt me, either, Kylie. I’m gonna do my best to show you how I feel.”

Drawing back momentarily, the doctor said, “You showed me today. Getting off a plane is a pretty dramatic demonstration.”

“That’s the most foolhardy — and the bravest — thing I’ve ever done,” Blair admitted. “It felt great.” She kissed Kylie, slowly sucking on her lower lip, and said, “It felt great because I was coming back to you. You know what else would feel great?”

Grinning sexily, Kylie said, “Uh-huh, but I’d rather hear it from you.”

Blair wrapped her arms around Kylie’s neck and pulled her close, whispering, “I’d love to have you make love to me. I want it slow and gentle and tender, and I want you to pack as much emotion as you can into it.” Pulling away enough to look into her eyes, she asked, “Will you, baby ?”

“No question,” Kylie said, “but you have to do the same.”

“I’ll give it my very best,” Blair pledged, “tonight and every night.”

 

ĄG

 

Kylie had to leave early and found her resolve severely tested by Blair’s warm, naked body which was plastered up against her own in such a delightful way. But the first lecture of the day concerned her specialty and was one of the main reasons she’d agreed to attend. So she forced herself to rise, and she spent just a minute staring at her partner’s beautiful body, only partially covered by the sheet.

Blair hadn’t stirred, so before she left the doctor wrote her a note, urging her to order a good breakfast and eat every bite. The note rested upon the open room service menu, and Kylie mentioned a few of the choices that she thought would be most healthful.

When Blair woke, she looked at the note, shaking her head at Kylie's supervision. “Not today, Doctor Mackenzie,” she declared aloud. “I’m going out for pancakes!” Grabbing the phone, she dialed and waited for her father to pick up. “How would you like to take your favorite daughter out for pancakes this morning?” she asked.

“Blair?”

“Do you have another favorite daughter?” she asked.

“Well, no, but why are you here?”

“Long story, Dad. I’m gonna take a quick shower and hop in a cab. I’ll be by to pick you up in an hour.”

 

ĄG

 

Werner opened the door to Blair’s knock and blinked in surprise when she walked in mumbling, “Everything was going fine until you and Mom had to get involved. Now I’m crazy in love — fighting my way off airplanes and making a complete fool out of myself.” Turning, she faced him and demanded, “Happy?”

“Sweetheart, I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about! What’s this about fighting in an airplane?”

She chuckled and said, “Let’s walk over to Clark Street and get some of my favorite pancakes. I’ll tell you all about it on the way.”

“Are you sure you want to walk? That’s quite a distance.”

“After you see how many pancakes I eat, you won’t question my decision,” she said.

 

ĄG

 

When they reached the street, she tucked a hand around his arm and said, “What you and Mom said the other night really got to me, Dad.”

“Honey, we’re both sorry for that,” he began. “You’re an adult, and we have to stop treating you like you’re still our little girl —”

“No, no, I’m glad you talked to me,” she said. “Just because I’m an adult doesn’t mean I can always see myself clearly. You both made me take a look at the way I was behaving, and I didn’t like what I saw.”

“Tell me what you’re unhappy with, honey.”

“I got really freaked out that night, Dad, and when Kylie came home, I practically got down on my knees and begged her to believe that I love her.” She laughed softly and said, “Of course, she said that she didn’t have a doubt in the world about that — but that’s how she is. She’s so careful never to hurt my feelings — even when they deserve to be hurt.”

“She’s a very kind woman, isn’t she?”

“Yeah,” Blair said. “She’s the best. Anyway, I tried to pay more attention this weekend. I really tried to focus on how she is around me, and I realized that she’s much more expressive about her feelings than I am. She made the baby move by touching me on Saturday night, and I was so moved by her joy that I almost wept.”

“Oh, that must have been wonderful for her,” he said, his eyes tearing up a little.

“It was magical — for both of us,” she said.

“You know,” he said, “that’s one of the things that I missed being able to do with you.”

“Oh, you’ll have your chance,” she said. “After I eat, he goes wild.” She gave her father’s arm a squeeze and said, “I felt really close to Kylie all weekend. Much more so than normal. Then, yesterday, we were saying goodbye at the hotel, and she got very emotional. I tried to make light of it, but it really got to me, Dad.”

“I can see that it would have,” he said.

“Anyway, I put myself into my usual mode and started thinking about how cool it was going to be to have three whole days to myself.” She laughed wryly and said, “By the time they were ready to close the doors on the plane, I realized that I didn’t want three days to myself. I didn’t want to be away from Kylie for three minutes — much less three days! I convinced the flight attendant that I was in labor, and after the airport police questioned me, they let me go.”

Werner’s eyes were nearly round with alarm. “Honey! That’s pretty drastic stuff! They could have arrested you!”

“I know it! But that's how focused I was on being with her! I've completely lost my mind, Dad, and I think you and Mom are to blame."

He smiled fondly at his daughter and said, "I don't want you to try a trick like that again, honey, but I'm very glad that you've decided to try to let your feelings show more. I know it will make both of you happier."

"I promised Kylie that I’m going to try my best to be more open and show her how I feel. It’s not gonna be easy,” she predicted, “and it scares me to do it — but I have to, Dad. I have to.”

“It’s uncontrollable, isn’t it?” he asked.

“Yes! That’s exactly it! It’s uncontrollable.”

He reached over and patted her gently, a wide smile on his face. “My little girl’s in love.”

 

ĄG

 

Before they went to sleep that night, Kylie said, “This probably won’t interest you at all, and I swear you won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t want to come, but I’m doing a little presentation tomorrow.”

Blair sat up and stared at her. “You are? Since when?”

“Since they asked me to come. One of my partners was supposed to do it — that’s why it was important for one of us to come and take over for him.”

“Tell me more about this,” Blair asked.

“Well, it’s pretty technical,” Kylie said, “but it’s about this new technique we’ve been using. Normally, when a woman undergoes in-vitro fertilization, we implant seven or eight fertilized eggs, hoping that one or two will attach.”

“Yeah, I’m familiar with that,” Blair said. “That’s one of the big reasons I didn’t want to have IVF.”

“Exactly,” Kylie said. “A lot of women are really worried about having quads or even quints.”

“Count me in,” Blair said, raising her hand. “What are you guys doing differently?”

“We’re implanting fewer eggs — usually four, but we’ve varied the implantation technique a bit. We’ve been having a lot of success with it. Usually, you have a fifteen percent chance of attachment to the uterine wall. With our method, we’re getting about a twenty-five percent success rate. And if a couple is really worried about multiple births, we only implant three eggs. Most people are willing to risk triplets.”

“That’s really cool, Kylie, and I understood it,” Blair said, beaming.

“Yeah, you did now, but you won’t when I talk in doctor-speak,” she said. “Anyway, I’m doing it at 2:00, so if you’re not busy, you might want to drop by for a few minutes.”

“I’ll see what I can do, Doc. Are you nervous about it?”

“Huh? Nervous?” Kylie shook her head. “No, I don’t get nervous when I talk to my peers. It’s shoptalk, honey.” She gave Blair a little kiss and added, “But if you come, I might be a little nervous. You always make my palms sweat.”

“Same goes for me. And you know how I get when I see you in doctor mode.”

“I enjoyed having dinner with your parents tonight,” Kylie said, “but it’s room service tomorrow night. I don’t want to be away from you for a minute.”

 

ĄG

 

The next afternoon, Werner and Blair made their way to the meeting room where Kylie was scheduled to speak. Blair was suitably impressed by the size of the crowd, and she and her father had to take seats in the last row. Kylie was standing at the front of the room, talking to a few people, and Blair commented, “Doesn’t she look nice?”

“She’s a beautiful woman,” Werner agreed. “She knows how to dress.”

“No, her personal shopper knows how to dress,” Blair said. “She has a woman who picks out all of her clothes and sends her things on approval. This woman really knows what looks good on Kylie. She hardly ever sends anything back.”

“Well, however she accomplishes it, she looks great.”

Kylie checked her watch and strode to the podium, clearing her throat to get everyone’s attention. “Good afternoon,” she said, her voice ringing out clearly in the large room. “I’m Kylie Mackenzie from L.A. Reproductive and Fertility Associates, and I’m filling in for Peter Martini. Dr. Martini is one of my partners, but he couldn’t be with us today.”

“She doesn’t seem nervous at all, does she?” Blair asked.

“Cool as a cucumber,” Werner said. “She’s a natural.”

Blair watched her lover perform, marveling at how effortless it seemed for Kylie to speak to several hundred people. The presentation was way over her head, but she didn’t mind a bit; she enjoyed watching Kylie as much as listening to her. When the doctor was finished with her prepared remarks, she fielded questions from the audience, and after a little while, it became clear to Blair that Kylie wasn’t performing — she was teaching and learning at the same time. Her concentration was razor-sharp, and when someone asked an insightful question, she gave it her full attention, often engaging the other doctor in conversation — trying to work out an obscure issue. It was absolutely fascinating to watch, and Blair was struck by the thought that her lover could be an excellent teacher.

All too soon for Blair, the hour was over, and she and Werner stayed in their seats while many of the doctors gathered around Kylie to continue their questioning. The always-aware woman spotted Blair and Werner, and she dashed up the aisle to say, “I’m gonna be a while. I hate to have you wait until all of these guys are finished grilling me.”

“We’ll go down to the café,” Blair said. “When you’re finished, come find us.” She stood and kissed Kylie’s cheek. “You were awesome.”

“Thanks,” the doctor said, blushing under the compliment. “I’ll see you soon.”

 

ĄG

 

After about half an hour, their server brought a phone to the table. “There’s a call for you, ma’am,” he said.

“Hi, honey,” Blair said when she picked up.

“How’d you guess?” Kylie asked.

“Call me lucky. What’s up?”

“I’m still stuck here, and after this, I really should go to another talk. Is that okay, Lucky?”

Blair answered, laughing. “Sure, no problem. We only wanted to sing your praises for a while. We can do that later.”

“I’m gonna be here until 7:00,” Kylie said, “then I’m free. I’m starving, though, so why don’t you order some room service for us and have them deliver it around then.”

“You’ve got it. Dad’s got to go soon, so I’ll keep myself entertained until then.”

“Have fun, and thank your dad for me. Maybe we can have lunch tomorrow.”

“I’ll ask,” Blair said. “My mom’s gonna take tomorrow morning off so we can have a little more time together. Having lunch with you would work out well.”

“See what you can work out, honey. Talk to you later.”

Blair hung up and shrugged. “I guess this is what happens when you’re married to a doctor.” She smiled and added, “It could be worse — at least she doesn’t play golf.”

 

ĄG

 

As soon as Kylie got back to their room, she quirked a grin at her partner and said, “I don’t know where you’ve been, but I hope you go there often.”

“I was at the spa,” Blair replied. “Do I look particularly beautiful?”

“Particularly,” Kylie said. “You’re cheeks are pink, your eyes are sparkling and you’ve got a healthy look that just glows.” She came closer and sniffed, saying, “You smell like … cucumber … and avocado.”

“Good nose, Doc. I had a facial, and that’s exactly what they put on me.”

“What else did you have done?” Kylie asked, looking for clues.

“A couple of things. Had a manicure and a pedicure.”

“Nice,” Kylie said, lifting a foot and inspecting the pink nails.

“And I had a bikini wax.”

“Yow!” Kylie clapped her hands over her vulva, recoiling in horror at the mere thought. “How can you stand that?”

“It’s not that bad,” Blair said. “Zip zip and you’re done. Lasts for weeks and weeks.”

“You don’t have to do that for my sake,” Kylie said. “I don’t mind if you’re a little fuzzy.”

“I like to be neat,” Blair said. “The 70’s are over, babe.”

Kylie pulled at the waistband of her partner's boxers and peeked inside. Drawing her finger down the neat blonde hair, she said, “I didn’t know this was a fashion statement. But I’m very happy with the way you’re groomed, so I guess I shouldn’t complain.”

“No, you shouldn’t. But you should get out of your nice clothes and wheel that cart over here. I’m starved!”

 

ĄG

 

On the way back to Los Angeles, Blair snoozed off and on, her head resting on Kylie's shoulder. They were nearly home when the blonde woke up and stretched in her seat. She smiled up at Kylie and said, "This was the best trip of my whole life."

"Your whole life? Really?"

"Really. It was wild and scary and crazy, but so very worthwhile. I learned things about myself and about us that are probably the most important lessons I've ever learned. Things are gonna be different from now on, Kylie. You and Mackenzie are never, ever gonna have to guess how much I love you."

"We both know it," Kylie smiled, patting the baby gently.

"You're gonna know it, and you're gonna hear it," Blair promised. "That's as important as knowing it."

 

Continued in Chapter 13